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Posts tagged ‘photography’

Epilogue: 14 days gone…and it is Groundhog Day again

Golden_Colorado_Howdy.jppI have been staring at my computer all afternoon knowing that I have to write, but not knowing what to say. We have now been back in Colorado for 14 days. It could be 14 years. It is amazing how quickly one can fall back into old habits and routines and how easily a former life seems to slip away. Some days I feel like my life in France never was.

Coming back to Colorado has been like being Bill Murray’s weatherman in the great existential film Groundhog Day. While I have changed immensely, I have been dropped into a life that hasn’t changed at all and I feel like I am living in a sort of Nietzschesque state of eternal recurrence. It is as if I am residing in an alternate universe on a parallel train track never scheduled to intersect the French life I left behind. What bothers me the most is that while I can intellectualize my former life in France, I am having a really hard time feeling what that life felt like, and I am slightly terrified that I will lose that happy girl who lived in that stunning city and felt like she could do anything.

Don’t get me wrong; being back in America is easy on so many levels. I am having a ball chatting up everyone on every subject. It is great to be back in a friendly land where the customer is always right, service is given with a smile and wink and everything is AWESOME. People are so nice here, and you can quickly become BFFs with your waitress over a 90-minute meal, or be ready to exchange Christmas cards with your Verizon/iPhone sales rep after a couple of days battling the “home office” and their quirky rules.

I no longer have to look up vocabulary and practice phrases before I go to the doctor or vet or hardware store. If the shopkeepers dare to give me lip, or sneer or roll their eyes (not likely) when I order or have a question, I can easily give it right back to them using adult words, not toddleresque French or tears. If I order a vegetarian meal, no one looks at me like I am an alien with two heads. Everyone here knows what quinoa and chia seeds are and how to pronounce them correctly, and I have found mean-lean-green juice on offer on more than one menu.


The postwoman is super pleasant and super efficient. There are even these nutty grocery workers called baggers, who are actually trained to carefully bag your precious food items instead of throwing them down the conveyor belt as if they were bowling for bucks. Xcel, the Colorado version of EDF, will cheerfully let you and your family light up and heat your house after a simple 2-minute phone call without even considering asking you for proof that you have a bank account or a signed lease. The water meter man is free to stop by whenever he likes and doesn’t need you to stay by the door all morning long, meter reading in hand.

Yep. Life is easy peasy, nice and breezy in the U.S. of A.


So why do I miss France so much?

Would it be masochistic to say I miss the challenge? That I miss not knowing what to expect? That I miss being kept on my toes and discovering new people, places and things every day? There is something to be said for being the odd-(wo)man-out, and for the strong friendships forged as you struggle together against the tide.

I do miss the myriad of cultural offerings, the artisanal bakeries, the Seine, my vélib and feet as my sole source of transportation and our cozy apartment life where it was harder to hide behind closed doors. I miss the architecture and human-made splendor, the tiny cars, my Pilates studio and the French dedication to esthetics, beauty and perfection. I miss fantastic window displays and spending the afternoons licking them. I miss being around people from all over the globe with different ideas and realities. I do NOT miss being from the “greatest country in the world”.

I do miss making mistakes and being forced to learn new things and being forced to live. I miss the tiny triumphs of simply making it through the day or even just making it through an hour. Am I crazy to miss the bustling city vibe of that big, but small foreign town that I called home for three years? Maybe I am crazy, but still, I miss the smells, the sounds, the days, the nights, the tastes and textures, the language, the laughs, and those yummy French leeks. Of course I miss my sparkling tower. Mostly I miss my friends.


I have gone from a humming city of 2.34 million, to a teeny town of 19,186 folks, living their straightforward lives and cowboy dreams.

I suspect that this transition will continue to be tough, but it is a First World problem, and I am determined to spin it in a positive direction. We all have our Punxsutawney Phils and never-ending Groundhog Days, and I have promised myself to try to see my old life with fresh eyes and not fall into a rut or take the easy path.

Please check in as I figure out small town life and empty nesting, try to come to grips with American values and politics and hopefully find a little bit of la belle France in Colorado.



No. 365: France, je t’aime–au revoir et merci

France_je_t'aime.jpgAs I sit here waiting to board the plane, butterflies in my tummy and anxious doggie on my lap, it is time to say au revoir to France and this blog. It seems like just yesterday when I sat down to figure out how this whole blogging thing worked, and now it is 365 days later, and I am writing my final post. It has been a great ride and one I feel very privileged to have taken.

My heart is full of gratitude for every minute of our life in France, the good, the bad, the ugly and the great. One of the greats has been discovering this creative community of fellow bloggers and readers, and feeling a connection to you. Those moments of feeling, “Hey! I get that,” or “Wow, I feel your pain, joy, embarrassment or excitement,” or, “Yowzah! That’s super cool.”

The best part of being part of this cyber community has been learning something totally new or feeling something I never felt before, and secretly wishing I could be there with you. There are so many imaginative and kind voices in the blogosphere. Thanks for sharing your stories, photographs, art, brilliant words, and generous comments.

Donc, au revoir for now. Don’t count me out. Check this space in the near future as I am sure I have a story or two in me about the next stage of our adventure: empty nesting, maddening Americans, reverse culture shock, small town ramblings, large portions and deep-fried food, and of course, return trips to la belle France.

Who knows, maybe I can even come up with 36.5-things-I-love-about-Colorado?

See you on the flip side. Au revoir et merci bien.




No. 363: Goodnight Tower


No. 362: Taz in France

No matter what country I was living in, I would love my little dog Taz. He’s my dog and he is always glad to see me. It is virtually impossible to be unhappy when he is around. He makes my days better and I would be crazy for him no matter where we were.

But what I love about having Taz in France is that he has a little bit more street cred than he has in the USA. He has rights.

Dogs in France, especially little dogs, are welcomed to participate in the public life of their “people”. Taz is welcomed in cafés and boutiques, hardware stores, wine bars, and some boulangeries. Although my neighborhood marché has a picture of a black dog with an “X” through it on the automatic glass doors, the cashiers still let me bring him in and tie him by their tills where they smile and fawn over him. While I shop, he happily sits and waits and watches Paris go by.

They say that every dog has his day. Well Taz has had quite a number of groovy days among the French. You might even say he’s become one cool cat.


No. 355: Being Covered with Croissant Crumbs


You know it is going to be a great day when you start it covered in croissant crumbs.

Why in the world can no country besides France make perfect croissants and pain au chocolat?


No.354: La nuit à Paris

I love Paris when the sun comes up. I love Paris in the morning as the clouds burn off. I love Paris on a drizzly afternoon. And I even love Paris in the bitter cold dusk. But there is something so dreamy and thrilling about la nuit à Paris.


night_Paris_2.jpgnight_Paris_3.jpgnight_Paris_8.jpgnight_Paris_6.jpgnight_Paris_7.jpgnight_Paris_9.jpgnight_Paris_10.jpgnight_Paris_11.jpgnight_Paris_12.jpgYes. If pressed, I suppose I would have to say la nuit à Paris will be missed most of all.



la nuit à Paris: Paris at night

No. 353: les Jardins

One thing I admire about the French is their ability to relax and take the time to smell the roses. Paris is full of small and large jardins (426 to be exact) and green space where you can go to recharge and escape the hustle and bustle of big city life. These jardins make Paris a truly livable city and are one of the things we will certainly miss from our life here. Here is a sampling of a few of my favorites.

Les Jardins du Luxembourg surround the Luxembourg Palace built for Marie de Medicis in 1615 (and which now houses the Senate). This huge park never ceases to astonish me with its abundant flowers, sprawling lawns, and gorgeous fountains. There is something for everyone here from toy boat sailing and playgrounds to chess and tennis matches, and of course, the best green reclining chairs found anywhere in Paris–perfect for kicking back, reading, and relaxing.

The Champ de Mars home to my beloved Eiffel Tower is one of my favorite places in Paris. Although it is obviously very touristy, it still feels like a local park. I love my daily walks with Taz through the broad alleyways and flowering trees. It is both a peaceful refuge and a rockin’ party and the perfect place to gather for a picnic.

The Rodin Gardens are another hidden treasure of Paris. Surrounding the house (and now museum) in which Rodin worked, they provide a calm respite from the clatter of the city and are the perfect place to appreciate his magnificent works of art. The Rodin Gardens heighten the beauty of his sculptures and fill my artistic soul.

Le Jardin du Palais Royal has a long royal and not-so-royal history, and at one time was the hotbed of prostitution and revolutionary rumblings. Enclosed by the Palais Royal courtyards and arcades, I like it because it is not an obvious garden, not a garden one notices from a distance. It is truly a quiet retreat, right in the middle of Paris.


The Bois de Boulogne, a former hunting ground of the kings of France has become the place for Parisians to relax, bike, run, boat and picnic. It is huge and includes the Parc de Bagatelle, the jardins and greenhouses of Auteuil, the Pre-Catelan jardins, and the Zoological jardins. Superman and I ride our bikes there nearly every Sunday. It also has a fabulous network of lakes, perfect for rowing and soaking up the sun.

Les Jardins de Bagatelle situated in the west part of the Bois de Boulogne, has a long and complicated history attached to the French royal family and their “favorites”. Once used as a discreet rural hideout, away from the court, it is now home to some of the most spectacular rose and iris gardens in the world.

Des Jardins des Plantes is a botanical garden located in the 5eme arrondissement between the Paris Mosque, Jussieu University, and the Seine. The National Museum of Natural History is part of this huge complex along with an impressive greenhouse and an animal menagerie.

Les Jardins Albert Kahn were created by Albert Kahn over a period of 15 years from 1895-1910. A believer in universal peace, Kahn created a complex of gardens from around the world including a Japanese garden and village, a French garden, an English garden, a Vosges forest, a blue forest of Atlas cedars and Colorado spruces, and a prairie gold forest.

Le Parc des ButtesChaumont located in to the northeast of the 19eme arrondissement–is the third largest park in Paris. Commissioned by Napoleon directed by Haussmann, and designed by Jean-Charles Alphand—it is full of steep hills (great for rolling), water features, and artificial cliffs and buttes…and you are allowed to sit on the grass.