bananas on the wall

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M and I fancy ourselves hip to the coffee scene.  Side note: I don’t drink coffee.  I’ve never been able to palete the stuff, all inky and bitter.  It’s peculiar then, that I average 5 cups of strong black tea a day, hold the sugar and milk, s’il vous plait.  C’est un mystère.

Long story short, M’s love – actually let’s call it a passion- for coffee has lead us on a year long tour of the best coffee shops New England has to offer.  Naturally, we made a priority of hunting down the first few establishments to make it to Paris in its “coffee revolution”, as M refers to it.  We were searching for the cool and the crafty.  Those with artisan beans, resplendent glass coffee maker thingies (which M knows all the names of, that fancy guy) and a well-tiled floor.

Well, ask Paris and you shall receive.  We listened to the summer of love next to hanging bananas at coolest, teeniest Boot Café.  We sipped beet juice and discovered the world’s best iced tea (thé vert with ginger, lime, and mint) at Blackburn.  We read the world news with Bruce Lee, over crunchy avocado toast (with more ginger, chives, poached egg and paprika) and smooth yogurt (topped liberally with housemade granola, diced pears, and apricot compote) at Fragments, blues rock record spinning.  There was a refreshing and beautiful bowl of greek yogurt, cold brew and beakers of cold water alongside some friendly fellow tourists, honeymooning across Europe at Cotume Café.  An early morning at Strada gifted us with quiet, excellent caffeination.

The best thing about Parisian coffee shops?  Your cup is your rent check, and as long as you’ve got something to sip, you’re welcome to stay.  Relax, recharge, enjoy.  C’est la vie Parisienne…

a poppy in normandy

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On Wednesday we visited the D-Day beaches.  We looked out over Omaha and Pont du Hoc and the somber sites that changed the world’s perspective of Normandy forever.  We stood amongst the craters of hallowed earth blasted by US bombs and under bunkers from which German soldiers slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Allied troops.  These cliffs saw some of history’s most devastating battles.  But before we saw those cliffs, something incredible happened…

As we were leaving our cozy little cottage at La Beauverie (Bissay’s, as it’s known), I mentioned how I’d been thinking about my grandfather, whom we all called Poppy.  He was a member of the Fighting 36, an American soldier in the second World War.  He was awarded a Purple Heart after surviving a gunshot to his back in the south of France.  He was Sicilian, with tight curls and a secret meatball recipe.  He traveled from Italy into France and across Europe to liberate, and he was younger than I am now when he did it.

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This morning we were walking down the hill towards our car, ready to drive to the coast to see Omaha, when M stopped and turned.

“Hey, look” he pointed.  I was a few steps behind, but immediately recognized the orange-red blossom.  A single red poppy poked up through the overgrown grass, softly waving in the breeze.

We had walked up and down this hill numerous times in the past few days at La Beauverie.  There were daisies, dandelions, and camomile.  Spiky purple clovers exploded up in clusters, and soft lacy elderflowers sprayed the entire property with their cottony cloud.  This bright flower stood alone, beckoning.

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When I approached and bent down, I was surprised yet again.  The dress I’d chosen to wear that day, one of very favorites (I call it my “lady dress” for it’s retro, feminine style), is printed with- yes, poppies.  Can you believe I’d never realized what type of flower they were before this moment?

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It’s hard to describe what I felt upon connecting all of these things, or seeing the fields full of fiery flowers around the beaches of Normandy.  To my shock, when we returned to the estate tonight, my poppy had been trimmed away with many of the other wild flowers by the property’s landscapers.  Though I admit I’d been looking forward to visiting my bold blossom again that evening, it didn’t make me sad exactly.  It felt right.  My poppy came, and did what it- what he-needed to do.  My heart is full.

 

final photo by Michael Collins.

the colour in anything

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To burn like cedar, I request another dream, I need a forest fire…

When the curtain rose and James Blake’s echoey beats leaked out, I became aware of every sense.  Jet-lagged as I was, my eyes widened, ears hallowed, body tilted forward- quite literally I sat on the edge of my red velvet seat.

The dancers were lined up and still. Clad in that quintessential, elementary French blue, they looked more like paper dolls than actual humans, each more perfectly cut than the next.  At the snare’s first kick, in unison they ticked a ronde de jambe to B+ and snapped up to elongé.  It was unmistakable Serenadian goodness, a current choreographic genius’s nod to old world classicism.

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The four lines moved separately from one another, but in decided consonance, each painting its own layer of the music.  Forsythe’s choreography braided steps together effortlessly, showcasing technique and timing in a celebration of 21st century dance.  Movements were bright and loud, but never boastful.  The ladies tilted hips and flexed hands between turned-in footwork while the men maintained Blake’s syncopated baseline with precise profiles and brisés on the upbeat.

The six movements which followed were pure balletomane bliss.  Much like the soulful, poetic electronica, Forsythe’s neo-classical choreography ranged from spritely to wrenching.  A la Jerome Robbins, much of the ballet felt like it was being danced by the dancers for each other, rather than for the audience.  Parts of it looked like the most fun anyone could have on stage, ever.  Others were magnificently tender.  Blame it on the lack of sleep if you will, but a haunting pas de deux between Léonore Baulac and François Alu nearly brought me to tears.

And how I told you what I’d do, if one day I woke and couldn’t see the colour in anything…

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What an important piece of ballet history.  Sitting in Le Palais Garnier (dream come true) witnessing all of this was an unforgettable night in my development as an artist and spectator.  There is so much more of this French travel I want to share with you, all in good time…
I noticed I can still ghost the streets
I noticed just how slow the killer bee’s wings beat
And how wonderful, how wonderful
How wonderful you are…
lyrics by James Blake.

parisian secrets

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On our very first night in Paris- not the one that followed our first full day of walking, but the one that happened right after we deplaned- we made friends.

After a visit to my old stomping grounds, we took our fresh fruit finds to the Canal St. Martin to fulfill a nutella-flavored dream I’d been having since my last visit to Paris.  We gathered up some good goods (camembert, baguette, wine) and found a spot along the canal.  After settling in, all ready to get our picnic on, we were halted by the sad, sad, realization that…we had forgotten our wine opener.

In a sudden burst of energy that must’ve been a combination of resourcefulness, jetlag, and wine desperation, I decided to as the bobo-looking Parisians next to us if we could make use of their corkscrew, s’il vous plaît.  They were gracious toward my broken Frenglish, and even helped me pop the top.

A while later, full of cheese and ready to tuck ourselves in for the night, we stood to leave the canal, turning to give a wave and a nod to our wine heroes.  Instead of the half-smile one might’ve expected (if you’ve spent your life in America, perhaps), the strangers called out to us.

“Where do you come from?”  They wafted the air in front of them, pulling us in.

“Les Etats-Unis!  Boston.”  We were met with hugs.

The friendly pair asked us about everything.  What were our travel plans?  Were we married?  In love?  You look very much in love.  How could you not love this guy though?  He is looking into my eyes right now I think I feel myself, comment dit…melting!  They hugged us a few more times (actually, M got a few double cheek kisses from the man who was surely falling for him), and sent us off with a list of insider recommendations jotted on the backside of my boarding pass.

“You must know what you’re doing already, though,” the woman winked at me. “Parisians  try to keep this place a secret.”

the time we walked across paris in a day

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On our first day in Paris, we walked.  And walked, and walked and walked…

Starting from our artsy flat near Canal St. Martin (with its fantastic, minimalistic, desert-ish decor), M and I hoofed it across the 11ème in search of a morning baguette.  A few “je voudrais” and 1 euro later, we walked bread in hand to Oberkampf.  Stopping in at L’Oiseaux I spotted an old ostrich friend and knew we were close my Voltaire.  As we made our way over to my old stomping grounds, a wave of nostalgia walloped me in the form of familiar scents.  A greeting from the poissonnarie’s metallic catch du jour, a nose kiss from the corner boulangerie.  A sweet, alluring exhale from the strawberries at my favorite fruit stand, and an oily embrace from outside the fromagère.  We crept up on Cité Industrielle through the brown-bagging pseudo park.  The rainbow of street art just outside our apartment had since been painted over, but the welcome of its shady trees shone just as vibrant as ever.

M and I continued down towards the Seine until we reached the Louvre.  We peeked into glass pyramids and strolled through Les Tuileries, stopping to recline in coated green chairs.  We considered a ride on the famous ferris wheel, and filled our lungs with warm, lavender-scented breeze.  Crossing the river, we pressed on by Mussée d’Orsay and sifted through dusty books and old maps.  We hiked our tired bones up le Champs Élysées, noshing a shared nutella banana crêpe until we reached l’Arc de Triomphe.  We marveled at the speed and disorder of traffic circling the ancient monument, and boarded the metro back to our side of the city to ready ourselves for le Palais Garnier.  Oh, what a way to spend the first day.

midweek reads

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I can hardly contain my excitement to board a plane for France with my best friend tomorrow night.  I cannot be distracted from Parisian plans, but if you’re looking to take your mind off of things…

FBP’s Marissa Parmenter on sexism in the ballet world for Dance Magazine.

NYCB just got sportier.

Addicted to the Hamilton soundtrack right now.

Go Jeff!

Will I really be watching this live a week from tonight?

…and walking barefoot through these country roads, too?  pinch me.  swoon.

Vintage Paris Opera Ballet.

Currently consulting.

 

 

 

photo by Anna Ray Studio.

le matin parisien

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I can hardly believe I’m off to France Thursday night.(!!!)  Inspired by creative goddess Erin and her recent vacation à Parii, I’ve decided to create my very own make-believe Paris morning.  The details, if you’d like…

Wake up in the softest chemise to the sound of Edith Piaf and the smell of buttery croissants.

Sip black tea from a big mug and pour over the intimate journal of George Sand.

Light some baies and plan the day with doodles and more croissants.

Explore, sleep, repeat.

 

 

hello, sweaty july

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Greetings from the hottest day of the year.  Let’s backtrack…

If you are looking for something original to do on the 4th of July, consider walking around your nearest city (bonus points if it’s the Creative Capital).  While everyone else burns at the beach, take advantage of the quiet.  Stroll from one end to the other and hit every nook and cranny (winky face).  Explore with iced tea and curiosity.  Consider trying the old penny walk trick or making a list of things you’re thankful for over yummy samiches (extra bonus points if you get free pickles, too).  Feel the sun, find the shadows.  Download a timer cam app (no one is around to take a cheesy couplish photo for you, and no one is around to watch while you struggle to capture yourselves in the frame).  Take touristy pictures.  Sit down on every bench, read about famous singers you never knew lived (and died) in the area, pretend you go to RISD (and then Brown).  Choose your favorite building on the block, and then choose again.  Regale your patient manfriend with every architectural fact you’ve learned in the past month, and feel dang smart doing it.  Trek home, commence nap.  Wake, pack picnic, and place yourself under fireworks.

Actually, forget all that.  Continue running away to the beach and leave the secluded city to us. :)

 

photo of me by Michael Collins, photo of us by iPhone-gen youth taking exorbitant amount of selfies.

goodbye, sweet june

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June began with a wedding and ended with a window.  The weeks between brought sunshine, studying and sugar.  Most days were dominated by a study of the social history of Providence as chronicled in architecture (one of the best college courses I’ve taken thus far) and twirling about with Free People.  In the sugar department the aforementioned gourmet donuts via new kids on the block, pvdonuts, do indeed taste every bit as good as they look.  You can’t call yourself a pvd kid until you’ve tried one, and they are well worth the wait.  So go get ’em, guys.

In travel news, it seems Watch Hill always calls us without warning.  But I’m not complaining; our spontaneous trips to Westerly always yield good conversation and a refreshing shift in perspective.  Together we leave with a deeper understanding of each other, the kind only an empty beach, popcorn, and pinot grigio can invoke.  And of course, Olympia Tea Room never disappoints- sometimes Marcia even offers free cake…

 

 

cutesy couple photo by Michael Collins.