Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Paris Proust Files: Amazing photographer, Nichole Robertson of Little Brown Pen!

all photo credits:

I'm really excited for this month's Paris Proust Files interview-ee, Nichole Robertson of Little Brown Pen!! She's one of my favorite bloggers, and her photos are heavenly. She doesn't just photograph Paris, she immortalizes it.

Some how her pictures capture more than just the things in them, the snaps convey a mood, a feeling that only Paris has. A bike on a street corner. A sign. A cafe. A secluded street. They are all oozing with Parisian charm and coordinated with a color scheme as if they were meant to be together.

Can't afford a trip to Paris? Just browse the photos -- you'll be there in spirit!
Her etsy shop:
Her blog:

This month I'm giving away 2 sets of her photos -- worth 45$ each (photo collection 5x5 in black, and in blue), so you won't want to miss this one!! To enter, comment below on your favorite Parisian photo or Retweet this blog & be sure to put me in there so I see it @ShaNeSaisQuoi. I'll randomly select 2 winners in just 2 weeks, April 15th.

Thanks Nichole for doing the interview!
Good luck to the contestants! I'm sure you're gonna love these :)

Virtues: What do you like most about yourself or your writing that you think you can say without sounding too conceited? What makes you so flippin' amazing? (You know this is what people mean when they ask 'what are your strengths', don't look so shocked.)

I live in the moment. This isn't always the right choice, and in fact, very often the wrong choice, but I trust my instincts and go for it. I have very few regrets.

Faults: What do you like LEAST about yourself or your writing that you think you can say without sounding too pathetic?

When I make silly public grammar mistakes. I love grammar. I love to get it right, and it really irks me when I get it wrong.

Chief characteristic: Define yourself or your writing in 1 word that I can repeat to other people when I talk about you behind your back, ie:

He/she is so meticulous.

Men: Is there anything about Parisian men that doesn't make you roll your eyes? What do they do that makes you think, "Oh yah. That one's def from Paname!"?

I think Parisian men are very well dressed. I can spot them from a mile away when I'm in NYC. I always laugh when they walk past me speaking French and confirm my suspicions.

Women: What about the Parisian women? Quite the bag of 'tude eh? Or are we the ones who require re-wiring?

I don't find Parisian women to be rude unless we're talking about the employees at Monoprix. You can depend on being greeted with a unique Monoprix scowl no matter which one you're in.

Heros: If you could be any Frenchie who would you be, and why? (Good luck choosing. Between the painters alone you're totally screwed trying to pick one...*evil laugh*)

Marion Cotillard. She's smokin.

Emotions: What about Paris brings out the 16yr old drama-queen in you: happy, sad, mad, excited, love, hate; what brings out these emo-spaz-attacks? What do you love/hate most about Paris?

I love the light in Paris. From the way the sunset glows between the buildings, to the engineered lighting on the buildings. There is something inimitably Paris about the light.

Places: In what Parisian hood would you love to live in? We all have our favorites! Why is it yours, what makes it all that?

The 4th. We lived on Rue St. Paul and the surrounding blocks are still my favorite. There's always a buzz, something delicious to eat and some wonderful antique treasure to ogle. And it's close enough to Rue de Rosiers and the falafels.

Wishes: What typical French characteristic do you wish you possessed? (If you say ability to to eat mounds of Camembert and stay thin, I may smack you.)

The ability to know exactly when the bakery is putting out the fresh-baked bread. Cmon - how do they know?!?

Motto: What's your motto when in France? How do you minimize the hardships of life abroad?

Paris is much like New York to me. You can't get riled up about the crowds, the feistiness, the pushing or the pace. Just roll with it and appreciate the energy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

15 Things I learned in Istanbul...

Ok, I hope you're prepared to read the most superficial blog about Istanbul ever written. If you're looking for history, or culture, or something else super-intellectual, get your judgmental ass to Wikipedia.

15 Things I learned in Istanbul...
We went to this historic city to celebrate my mother in law's birthday. They have some sentimental attachment to this ancient, historical, amazing city and wanted to share it with us kids. (Thanks again mom & dad!!)

I started making lists of things I thought my seventeen-year-old untraveled self would find weird... and being stupid, I've decided to share my findings with you all.

1) You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a stray cat in this town. I think the rabid felines may outnumber people.

2) They really enjoy saying "VeryNiceVeryNiceVeryNiceVeryNice"+piece of crap they're trying to sell you. (They're big on repeating things until you want to smack them.)

3) Istanbul has the highest rate of unibrows per capita in the entire world.

4) Turkish is hard for Americans. I don't think I even learned how to say 'yes'. I did learn how to say 'please', but ironically no one says that here.

5) Turkish is easy for the French. Know how they say thank you? 'Mersi'. What about 'excuse me'? 'Parrrrrrrdon'. And the ever-important 'sausage'? Well, they say 'sosis' my friend. Basically, just take 75% of the French language and write it phonetically. You'll be fine.

6) They Reeeeeally like kebabs. I think 9 out of 10 dishes were some form of Kebab.

7) They rather enjoy "Nixe" (pronounced as in France as "Nyks"), and "Puman" (as in "Puma") shoes over there. A good deal at only 4€ a pop!

8) Lamps are freaking EVERYWHERE. They have no shortage of light in this city.

9) Just *try* to smoke somewhere in this city... I dare you. It's pretty much forbidden everywhere you go. They like to tell you multiple times within the same 3ft of space that smoking is not allowed just in case you should shift your head slightly to the right or left a few inches.

10) A 2hr cruise on the Bosphorous river will cost you about 75% less than a beer at the airport.

11) At the Bazaar you should negotiate the price of the ultra-fake Ray-Bans you're buying to at least 1/3rd of the starting price, any less and you will "break hearts". (The Turks are very sensitive souls.)

12) This place reminds me a little of "Pimp my appartement"... turkish style.

13) The restaurant business is cut-throat. If you want to get ahead you must absolutely SHOUT "Scuse Me!! Scuse me!!!! Lady!!! Hey!!!!!!" and shove your menu in front of potentially hungry patrons, then almost have a fist-fight with other menu-hoisting screamers from neighboring restaurants.

14) Driving, crossing the street, and any other road-related activities mean you're putting your ass on the chopping block. Traffic laws are more like traffic advice... that no one ever takes. Avoid the perilous street at all costs.

15) The pita bread is about 3 feet long. Hope you're hungry.

It was a wonderful trip filled with tid bits of my French family's history. This was where they had a drink while on their honey-moon, this was the market where they took the kids all those years ago, this was the hotel grandma recommended, this was the mosque with the diamond the size of your FACE.

Ahhh memories, now I have some to share there!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What is this strange, odd feeling??

© Pixel Noir flickr
So, a quick little note today.... nothing special really, just wanted to share something really odd with you. My life has really changed. I mean, seriously, a lot. If change were measured on the earthquake scale, we'd be talking Japan-sized change.

My day went like this today...
I woke up... read emails from bed & tweet until my legs feel like they're not made of rubber. Then I mosey into the kitchen, fry up a couple of eggs and toast (or burn) some bread to go with. Have a cup of tea on the deck and sit in the sun, listening to the birds tweeting. Then I get to work managing a portfolio of really interesting projects with an awesome group of international people. I'll probably call my parents later, just to say hi.

Most days have been like this for the last couple of weeks and today, I realized something weird was happening. I looked up at the blue sky, listening to those birds, feeling the warm sun, thinking about all the cool/fun things I was going to do today to help my company and clients... something very unfamiliar came over me.

I felt totally, sublimely HAPPY.

There was no pre-thought that began with, "If I can just do this... or just be that... or just get this...". I was just feeling *good*. I suppose it has been a while if it's having such a profound affect on me today.

I love Paris. I love my job. I love my husband. I love my friends. I love my family. I love my life. Not in that order.

Today... is a good day. I hope wherever you're reading this from, you too are feeling a little bit of that.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why don't people say "lick the cat's butt" anymore?

Good (bleeping) GOD has it really been a month? A whole MONTH since my last post?

I suppose starting with the biggest life changes and moving on to bowel movements would be the proper way to get the ball rolling. (I need to keep you all waiting for the most important news, don't I? And it's always poop-related, isn't it? Yes. Yes, it is.)
No time to write multiple posts, so you're getting a digest. (Oh, the irony.) (PS: I went overboard with the parenthesis as well. Deal with it.)
In the last few weeks I have:
- quit a job (again)
- started another one full time immediately (again)
- been in 4 different countries in the space of 5 weeks (here's my damn passport)
- driven over one thousand miles (need-a-neck-rub-badly)
- celebrated what seems like countless birthdays (including mine, like 5 times too many)
- had my 5yr wedding anniversary (woot)
- gotten to see my family & friends state-side (double woot)
- went to my first Drupalcon (yee-haaw)

- spent the most consecutive days on or hovering over a toilet in my entire life. (who invented Imodium? I'm gonna tackle that guy or gal w/ a giant HUG.)

And now, a few details...

The job.
It was just time. Time to seize my destiny. Time to shit (ugh... *shudders*) or get off the pot. I had been courted by an American firm for a while, and just couldn't deny that it was where I really wanted to be.

So I said "adieu" to my French colleagues (who are a lovely, dedicated crew that I'll miss joking around with), and "if you're ever in Paris..." to my UK colleagues (who are a twisted bunch that I am gutted & heartbroken to leave behind), packed up my things and headed home to my new office.

My bedroom. I love working from home, but fear that becoming slovenly is inevitable. I'll check back with you after a few more weeks of this to let you know the degree of hagitude attained.

Went to Mexico with close US buds to get some fun & sun, then a quick stint in WI/MN with the fam, then off to IL for Drupalcon Chicago! I'll take it in bits for you, a lot to chew on here...

Chapter 1: Cancun.

Loved it. That place was an effing PALACE. Ugh. Beautiful. So beautiful you could puke. And did I ever, but I'll get to that in a bit.

I had an adventure.
- I went repelling off of a tower. (leaning off a tower should not be done by anyone prone to heart-attacks)
- I zip-lined! (can you say "WEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeee")
- I visited ancient Mayan sites led by a creepy old man with a ponytail. (Seriously, he reminded me of the drug cartel villains in those shitty nineties movies like... Crocodile Dundee II, but I digress.)
- I went snorkeling in underground caves (my personal fave moment.)
- I drank dirty monkeys on a white sand beach while watching the clear blue sea roll in & out. (and yes, I thought "this is the life" every second of it.)
- I went boogie-boarding & took wave-punch to the gut. (Thank you strange mexicano who pulled me on to the sand after I was knocked windless in the surf.

Note to readers: DO NOT go boogie-boarding by yourselves. I don't care how lazy/drunk your friends are, at least make them watch while you get pummeled by Poseiden.)
- I drew cheesy hearts in the sand with the year & initials in them. (you would too.)
- I listened to mariachi bands (they sound exactly like the 3 Amigos guys, it's uncanny.)
- I had a thousand unforgettable memories with my hubs (weeeeee again)

I can't stress how awesome that trip was. It was doubly cool because my bestest WI buds were there to share it with hubs & I. Really made the trip fun sharing our sunburn stories and thinking up new and strange drinks we *had* to order because all that shit was F-a-REEEEE*!!! (*in the sense that we had already paid for the all-inclusive vacation.)

Chapter 2: Wisco & St Paul

Cold. As. Effing. F*CK. Dear sweet little baby JESUS am I glad I don't live in that arctic snow-drift forsaken by the lord himself. Despite the nipple-freezing cold, I did rather enjoy staring at my nephew for hours on end, trying to make him burp and catching up with the fam.

Amazing as Mexico was, this was my fave part of the trip. We did some of the classics: went to the pharmacy & made inappropriate jokes about products, quoted favorite movies while eating papa-johns, talked about how much the baby looks like his parents, except he's much much cuter than their ugly mugs.

We also watched Portlandia, which had been previously unknown to me. (CACAO!!) This has begun a whole new slew of inside family jokes, (Ya gotta get OUTTA THERE!!!), that no one else will understand (We put birds on things!).

All told, there's nothing like family, and I'm so very very very happy to get to see mine again so soon in 2011!

Chapter 3: Chicago.
Had so-oh much fun at Drupalcon, met loads of cool people, listened to tons of lectures and passed out hundreds of cards & stickers. Small-talked my ass off and became aquainted with my wonderful new colleagues! It was short, but sweet and I'm so grateful I got to be a part of this amazing crowd.

Chapter 4: Touristitus.
Know what I didn't love so much? The rocket-propelled vomitarrhea. I'm not sure if that's a real word, but it perfectly describes what I went through in both Cancun & Chicago spoiling several perfectly perfect vacation days. Fucking miniature microbe sons-a-bitches.

I don't know what it is about stomach illnesses, but lately they have been tag-teaming my poor, exhausted, little ass. On the food poisoning meter, I think I must've been 'rounding 9, 9.5 by the time the last day of our trip in Chicago came around and my 2nd bout with touristitus had struck.

I thought Mexico was bad, but it was really nothing compared to round 2 in chi-town. I was just, knocked flat on my back. I think I'll look back on this and laugh, but I'm not *quite* yet recovered (nearly 5days later), so I think I'll hold off a couple more days before I begin chuckling.

In any case, I'm very very very glad to be HOME! I am looking forward to a regular routine until my trip to Istanbul at the end of the month, and lots of sitting around the house, working and (of course), licking the cat's butt.

By the by, promise not to wait a month until my next post: it's a give away from Little Brown Pen, so it should be a good one!

xx S
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