OK, we’re back in Paris. My first stop, after dropping my stuff off at the hotel, was the Louvre Museum. I’ve wanted to go there for years, and a museum seemed like the perfect place to start my vacation. Not too stressful, lots of art, maybe a little meal. Nothing too crazy. Meanwhile the place is 8 miles long, I had no map and I was late to pick up my audioguide. They were nice and gave me one anyway? But for the life of me I could not figure it out. So I just walked around, headphones around my neck, completely lost. I don’t think was the only one, a lot of people were wandering around with the headphones off.
After getting lost in the Egyptian section, then finding myself in the basement viewing the medieval stones that are the museum’s foundation, I finally found my way to the painting galleries. The walls are filled with landscapes and religious iconography. There are small canvasses tiled on walls and paintings so large that they fully occupy walls that are longer than my studio apartment. It is an onslaught of artistic endeavor. I tried to find the Mona Lisa, but I got turned around and found a hall of Objets d’Art and from there I somehow found Napoleon Bonaparte’s apartments.
Red velvet and gold everywhere. Crystal chandeliers, and paintings of cherubs on the ceiling. It’s garish and unbelievably tacky, but also sumptuous, luxurious and outlandishly royal. What’s wild is now understanding what was in my mom’s head when she decorated. A lot of people are copying this oplulent style unconsciously. I remember going to the homes of relatives and seeing elements of this and now here it was in front of me. The whole thing made me sad about my lack of pillars and corniches and gilded flourishes. Don’t get me started about the dining room.
I got there at about 4pm and they close at six, so it was a sprint. Next time I’m downloading a map and prepping before I get there, but for a first time I feel good with how much I saw. It definitely lived up to the hype. It was also the first time that I used my Nikon dslr since I bought it two years ago, and I got some lovely images. It was my first time going to the little Maxim’s shop in the lower level and my first cannelle. My first day in Paris and I ended up sitting on a bench with the sun beaming down on me just being grateful for being there.
It’s funny how people get information. I live in New York, and I follow a few people from my city and yet no one was posting about the lemon themed oasis called Citrovia. There’s basically a whole lemon art installation on 9th Avenue and 33rd. I only found out because I randomly picked up a free newspaper.
Since I have open time in the afternoons, I decided to head over after work. It was one of those hellishly hot days where you start to question whether or not New York is a hell mouth (it is, but we hide it better in the winter), and a shady, citrusy park seemed like heaven. It’s sort of interactive, but you can’t walk on the grass or step on the huge lemon discs spread all over the front lawn, so no selfies lying on them.
It’s kind of wild. Why lemons?
I love lemons, but I’m also partial to limes and oranges, and all three colors of fruit together would have been pretty interesting. Why not strawberries? I love red. Or kiwis because they’re so weird. Ooooh! A watermelon park because it’s THE summer fruit!
For no reason whatsoever I took myself to the Russian Tea Room. It wasn’t my birthday, I didn’t have a date, I wasn’t meeting friends. I just wanted to see what it was like. This was the middle of the night some day last week, probably prompted by an instagram photo. Idk. It was just impossible to resist, so I made a reservation for high tea. I mean, I like tea.
I got a text reminder about my reservation so I looked up the menu to prep and realized that while I like tea and sandwiches, I couldn’t imagine sitting there by myself pouring tea and eating sandwiches. So I had the business lunch, then proceeded to add a cocktail and tea. That’s my problem. Once I’m at a place, I’ll just get whatever I want because I hate to tell myself no. Also, I’ve never had a Moscow mule and I was really curious. Now I know. And I ate borscht that I hadn’t made myself.
In case you’re wondering, I wore a plain black skirt, V-neck Gap cotton tshirt, and august silk cardigan with Nike skate shoes (they look like vans, but since everyone has vans…) clean but not showing off. There’s me, just a plain Jane eating lunch in a restaurant as lushly beautiful as a boudoir. Btw, that chandelier is all red Christmas ornaments and it is stunning.
I still procrastinate and sometimes I give up on things but I’m trying to push past that into a state of immediacy. Before the troubles I would say soon, or I’ll get to it, or maybe next week. Now I’m trying to grab at things and effect change in my life by doing instead of waiting. I had lunch at the Russian Tea Room because…why not?
It’s been six months! And looking back, it was an eventful, if lonely, six months. From January first to right now I’ve been to Philadelphia, got pedicures, went to the movies and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, went to work, went to my first estate sales, went to a bunch of sample sales, went to vintage sales. Made friends with people on Clubhouse, then had that blow up in my face (reminding me that people are desperate for connections right now and I need to watch who I get comfortable talking to). I took horseback riding lessons! I can now ride a bike and a horse, so if the world goes nuts I have two new means of survival transport.
Because of course horses will be running the streets in full English saddles. But let’s go on.
I’m much better at cooking and now I’m starting to look for new recipes and ingredients because I really like cooking and posting pics to my Instagram. That satisfies me and gives me a record of how creative I am. It feeds my ego and makes me believe in myself. I’m better at my reselling business, too. I look for new ways to buy inventory and I’m going to take a sewing class for my upcycling ideas (love to start them, then get bored/discouraged halfway through and stop. This must end!), and I’m going to start looking at fashion magazines again. That keeps my eye informed, and gives me ideas to expand on. I’m reading books again! I had stopped, and back in 2019 realized that I was just going to work and coming home and just staring at screens like a zombie. Now I’m up and awake and reading and remembering to take a book with me when I go out.
I literally used to win awards in elementary school FOR READING, but about six or eight months ago couldn’t read a book without getting bored. That’s some wild shit.
Things I like:
Taking pics of my stuff and selling the stuff
Paying taxes. Yes. I am an adult making enough (barely) to be in a tax bracket.
Cooking and taking pics of my food. I’m going to make videos soon.
Making soap. Yep, taking a soap making class soon.
Taking classes. Bike riding, sashiko stitching, visual merchandising, horseback riding, soap making…taking classes is fun and even if you don’t use the info that second, it will be in your mind when you need it.
Being consistent. I blog every Saturday, because it’s good for me and it gives me something to look forward to. Being consistent is good for your mental health.
Walking, riding my bike, doing my exercises.
Being alive. I like it, it’s working for me.
Making things. I love spray painting, making soap, stitching things, making paper and taking photos.
What I hate:
I’m not dwelling on that shit anymore. Stuff happened, some good and some things that were so bad that I had to pretend they never happened. I’ve had a year and a half to think things through, and I’m just going to let all of that die and keep it moving. I’m on my own and I’m going to make the best of the life I have right now. If anyone has issues with me and they don’t say anything, then there are no issues. I refuse to dwell on or stress out about what I don’t know about. I am minding the business that pays me.
Had a crappy day so my blog post is late. 10 o’clock last night my WiFi disappeared. Luckily I have books and I had some relaxing music downloaded and I was sleepy. But at 5 am I was up and the WiFi was still out. I tromped to the subway to use the free WiFi and signed up for WiFi on my phone, which I’ve been putting off. Then I wasted all morning calling the company I get WiFi from and going to a brick and mortar store where I wasted an hour waiting only to be told that they had no compatible hotspots.
And then I spent another hour wrangling a hotspot out of these people, who should have offered to replace the one I had in the first place. Then I found out that I’ve been overpaying for years and have a mass of money on my account so I don’t have to pay the bill for awhile. Just a wild ride, and every twist pointed out how little I’ve paid attention since setting up the account. Hopefully I’ve got it all squared away so that I can have another five years of taking my wifi for granted.
The last horror was finally getting into a state of peace, partially achieved by lighting a citrus scented candle. As I passed the windowsill where the candle was, I noticed a mass of ants crawling which then had to be dispatched. Right now I’m eating pancakes, watching Upstairs, Downstairs on my phone and feeling itchy.
I went to my first estate sale this week. It’s something I’ve built a fantasy around, but most are out in the suburbs or New Jersey so it seemed like too much trouble. Somebody I’m not speaking to now found this one for me on Clubhouse (I’m only mentioning them because I didn’t find this on my own, and want to illustrate how information gets exchanged on there), and it turned out to be an hour from my job and near a bus route. So I went from thinking it was impossible to planning the day and time I was going. Just that quick.
I am going to admit right now that I used this trip as an excuse to get a burrito. The burrito had farro instead of rice, and lean pork instead of beef and this was a business trip, so… Anyway. Managed to get to Port Authority full of food, and only stood at the wrong gate for half an hour. Then I miraculously managed to pull up to the right gate in the neck of time to catch the bus. Magic. It was definitely the burrito that saved me.
The directions were perfect (well, I blinked and missed my stop and had to wait for a bus back and it turned out that I could have walked 🤦🏿♀️), and I was able to find the house easily. There was a line and one woman was loudly complaining, which felt inappropriate on the doorstep of someone’s home. People came flying out with big bags of stuff and then the hardened regulars shouted ‘anything left’, which felt weird to me. Because I could see this happening to me after I’m dead and it gave me chills.
I still went in, but I stayed quiet and patient, looking around the pretty yard with the wishing well, trees and bench feeling strange. Someone thought carefully about this yard and everything in it. Someone chose the monogrammed stone planters that flanked the door and the red paint that made house seem both warm and dramatic. When it was finally my turn to go in, I realized that even though I was uncomfortable I just had to see what the place looked like. And it was just as adorable inside, I can’t lie.
I’m didn’t want to take too many pics, but there was sooooooo much stuff! Housewares, furniture, bags, jewelry, shoes, racks of clothing, Christmas ornaments and chatchkes. At first I felt weird, but then I just started looking and evaluation, realizing that I was touching 90s and Y2Kvintage that had been in use. There some bags that were a little tatty, but would have been at home on SATC. She really liked leather booties with stilletto heels. And embroidered shoes. And colors. And costume jewelry.
I started curating s collection with a theme and I even negotiated a deal on some higher end items when disaster struck… they expected cash. I have some emergency cash I keep around, but I never use it. And they didn’t have WiFi so I couldn’t move money to my PayPal. I thought for a second and ended up leaving everything. Now I realize that I could have asked them to total it and send me an invoice and then I could have picked up my stuff later, but I wasn’t thinking. I just assumed that the universe was telling me to get out of there and leave that dead lady’s stuff alone.
Even though I left empty handed, I’m glad I went. Now I thinking about writing a will with instructions as to how to handle all the stuff I’ll be leaving, passwords to my online shops and blog, plus how the money in my accounts will handled. I’m not sure how long it will be before I brave another estate sale, but it was a good experience overall. At least now I’ve done it.
When quarantine hit in March, I had to recognize that everything that I was procrastinating about was related to transportation. I had put off renewing my passport, learning to swim, learning to drive and buying a bike. The cold reality of my situation as that I could not outrun a zombie with my little fat self and I had no wheels to ride on and if someone said swim to the vaccine I was gonna be assed out.
That’s some harsh shit to realize.
I sent off a passport application (finally) but the DMV is closed so I can’t get the permit to drive yet. The place where I want to take swimming lessons is closed until September. So… I bought a bike. It took two months to arrive, but I bought a bike.
I got ripped off on the first bike I chose, then I found this beauty. The Adventurer 6 speed folding bike, $169.99 on the Camping World website. I thought that a folding bike would be better for someone living in a studio apartment, but I found out that that bike was heavy for me to carry folded, so it’s been set up like this since I got it. I did some group bike lessons with Bike New York, but I didn’t take the street riding class because the lady who ran it was nasty. Yes, I will avoid using a free service if I’m treated badly. Surprise. So technically I could ride, but I was very nervous about going out in the street on my own. It took some googling but I finally found someone who would trade money for bike riding lessons.
I stalked their website until they finally posted lessons were available and I pounced. By the power of my enhanced unemployment check I paid $150 to have another human being coach me on how to ride in the street. One misty early summer morning I met my teacher in Prospect Park and for an hour and a half I got tutored on how to feel like I wasn’t going to die the minute I wheeled my bike into the street. I’m not being sarcastic or dramatic. This was the only thing keeping me from riding the bike I had sitting in my apartment, and it was worth every penny to have someone professional to ride with that first time.
I don’t ride every day (yet), but I can go riding with confidence now. My arms are starting to relax and when I go I stay out longer. I went from doing one loop around my block to turning up and down unfamiliar territory, albeit within six blocks of my building. I fell down one morning and got back on the bike. I have to stop and rest because this quarantine weight is kicking my ass. But I love the joy of coasting down the road on two wheels, with the breeze on my face. I love having the choice of walking or riding. It’s a process, but I have wheels and I can finally be out there using them.
PS, don’t forget to wear you’re helmet. This is the free one that I got at a street fair from the D.O.T. a few years ago. If you need a helmet look here.
Hope you guys are getting through quarantine, phased openings and re-lockdowns ok. It’s a wild situation, so do your best.
It has been a wild week, to be sure. I think we all know what I mean. EVERYTHING is different.
And maybe that needed to happen.
So the corona virus has rolled across the world and in addition to the possibility of sickness and death, you have the choice of going broke if things don’t get back to normal. I started a Roth IRA 7 years ago and it’s only in the last few years that I could make regular contributions. I’m watching that progress melt away second by second, which is both frightening and exciting. I never had money to lose before, so I’m kind of winning. I also read a book called Depression Era Economics by Paul Krugman and it’s keeping me calm to know that if you just wait, the market will regenerate itself. If people are selling and selling, someone is sitting around waiting for the prices to drop low enough and then it will be buy, buy, buy.
If things work out ok. Which they will.
Here in New York it’s like this:
Normally, you can’t shoot a train platform without a few people messing up your photo, but not so much now. It is not as much of a problem getting a seat on the train, and nobody pushes right up next to you. Part of that is that people are biking or uber pooling, and the other part is that businesses are slowly shutting down, so there’s not as much reason to go out. I just got told that the rest of my gigs for March are cancelled since department store shopping is considered nonessential. You can get restaurant delivery or shop online, though.
One thing that fell by the wayside was my styling class at Fashion Institute of Technology. I had signed up for a visual merchandising class where I would learn to build sets and style photoshoots (yeah, I was a photographer and did branch out into styling but that was ages ago). I really wanted to brush up my skills, work on updating my portfolio, maybe style on the side, and definitely try to get more visual merchandising jobs. But corona happened.
It threw the school into a tizzy about a month in. My class was very hands on, and all about group projects and suddenly they were like, all classes are online. I thought about it and decided not to continue because worrying about my economic survival is not good for my creative process. Guess what? Can’t get a refund. You either take the online class or die. So the photo above and one lecture just cost me $600.
At least I can write it off on my taxes.
I just got a Target Red Card, so just in time I had a large amount of money for emergency food shopping. I also shopped at Jacks and Dollar Tree. I got yogurt, fresh berries and fruit and as late as Thursday night Target was still stocked up. The Key Food near my place was completely out of toilet paper, but I got a few rolls at Dollar Tree. I usually stock up, because a grownup should know when they’re almost out, but I was down to my last five rolls and I started reading about how people were stockpiling. I also have napkins and paper towels, but still.
When I finally got to settle in and self quarantine, I roasted some pork belly chunks (super cheap) and had them with rice (put the rest in the fridge for another meal) and a spoonful of black beans from the massive can I bought. I live alone, so my food will last for awhile, but I’m already telling myself not to get crazy and overeat. The first uncertain days had me binge eating, but now, since I don’t know how long this will last, I’m sticking to four meals and rationed healthy snacking. I found some empty plastic bottles that I’d been saving for no reason, so I filled those with water and they’re in the freezer.
I had a gig at Home Depot merchandising for Carhartt, and I bought myself a money plant and a new succulent baby. It’s wild, but I’ve been collecting crystals and buying candles and oils and sage, and setting intentions for the last few months so now my apartment is a nicer place to be. I have a salt lamp going and stocked upon the little bulbs that make it glow. I got the cutest little clock. It’s been months since I could just sit in here and relax, and now I have things in here that are conducive to relaxation. I can see that progress that I’ve made and it’s calming me down. I feel really grateful that I have a place to live at a time like this.
I’m also going to have time to thoroughly clean this place and really get into the feng shui method that I started with and then ran out of energy to complete. I got Feng Shui for Dummies to start with, and now I can look at creating a floor plan and budget for remedies.
And I’ve been talking to my family. I started a group chat with my brothers. We don’t talk all day, but having this conversation on my phone to look at and engage with is amazing after years of estrangement. Talking to my mom is really precious now. All it took was the threat of human extinction to make me see that.
Last but not least, the pins I designed came in and I’m a little excited! Things got backed up because of the virus, so I don’t have them listed anywhere yet and I need to stay in the house so I can’t really be worried about selling them. BUT! It’s exciting to have made something from scratch like this. I really love this image, though. I think I want to make more things out of it, including tshirts. My online stores are closed right now while I figure out what I want to do, but this image will be a big thing in the coming months.
How are you holding up? Are you remembering to wash your hands and not touch your face? Are you making sure to stay in contact with people? Have you made plans for the what ifs of the situation? Did you get some toilet paper?
I didn’t manage to make it anywhere near a beach this summer because I made six or seven different plans for myself and none of them included relaxing. One of my plans was getting into background acting but I’ve been too busy for auditions. I signed up with Central Casting and haven’t had time to go back with my wigs and glasses to update my look. And every time they text me about a job I either don’t get picked or I’m working that day.
But the universe loves me, so I usually get what I want. Not as much as I think I want, but just enough to let me know I’m on the right track. Like back in the crazy days of blogging when random emails sent me running out the door to fashion shows and product launches, I got a random email looking for paid audience members. Kinda like background acting, and it was an adventure.
We went out to the studio, got breakfast and then worked hard to be good, responsive audience members. I have never clapped so much in my life. We worked through two tapings (with a break for a catered lunch) and then they dropped us back in the city. Not a bad adventure.
The show stars Kimberley Locke, a singer -songwriter who happened to come in third on American Idol in 2003. She’s paired with co-host Dr.Steve Salvatore and together they lead the audience through topical questions, heart wrenching true stories and health, food and beauty segments. The show debuts September 9th on these channels.
This has nothing to do with Friends or that sad movie with Colin Farrell. This is real.
I had to go into Manhattan today to run an errand and decided to find some lunch afterwards. I was really looking for Sweetgreen, but then I saw this Luke’s Lobster tucked off of Fifth Avenue and I just knew. This was the place where magic lived. It also happens to be the place where I got a delish lobster roll two years ago, but at their Brooklyn Bridge Park location. I didn’t know that I was ready for another one, but there you go.
It was refreshingly cool in the rustic little space after the blinding hot sun outside. How cute is the bottlecap barrel? It also reminded me that I had planned to go to Martha’s Vineyard this summer… I currently have two jobs, so I can’t go anywhere on vacation. I guess I just needed this maritime themed timeout.
Perfection. Just chunks of fresh lobster mixed with mayo, lemon butter and Luke’s Lobster seasoning ensconced in a buttery toasted bun. I took a little taste after I photographed my lunch and decided to just sit outside and eat instead of waiting. I never, for any reason sit outside to eat. I have a whole fear of someone just snatching my food or my purse while I sit around conspicuously consuming a plate of privilege. I like to eat inside where it’s safe. But it just felt like too much to have to wait. Sometimes you just have to sit yourself down and enjoy the moment.