This Moment: Paris 20 May 2013

Cars speed down the narrow cobblestone road outside the hotel. Pigeons peck the ground. A man in an acid green uniform sweeps detritus into the gutter. Foey, Senso, Yolo and indecipherable tags are graffitied in black over the On passé La 6 stenciled on the facing brick wall. A bird chirps in clipped bursts in the tree outside my window. Motos line the alley. The curtains are open and a light is on in the apartment opposite. I now understand the urge to peer into the private lives of others. A woman with flyaway blond hair pulls a small suitcase up the street. The morning air is brisk. Pigeon voices murmur like muffled protests. We are going back to the city of the dead, Pere Lachaise cemetery this morning. I wish to find Colette and Oscar Wilde. My daughter Jim Morrison. An entire city block of marble that holds the bones of the famous dead. One more day is all that is left of our time in Paris. In the Louvre's women bathroom, I felt an urge to take out my pen and write my name in the hollowed out crevice between two marble wall tiles knowing it would be grouted and sealed, so that something of me would remain behind. Surreptitious graffiti as proof that I was here. The city feels familiar, as if we are returning to a place I've been before. Paris feels like home. After we have flown back across the ocean to our desert, the city will exist, in the land of dreams.

Travel Photo Essay: Paris 2013 14-21 May - First Impressions

To say Paris is a gorgeous city, is an understatement. At every turn, my daughter and I were greeted with stunning views and experiences.

And the people! The people are gracious, friendly, and above all, patient, even when visitors stumble about trying to understand the subtleties of the culture or massacre the beautiful language. Don't listen to the well-intentioned advice about wearing money bags, or  horror stories about gangsof pickpockets, or tales of common rudeness.

We felt safe everywhere: on the streets, bus, metro, and train, cafes, restaurants, markets, museums, galleries, stores, neighborhoods, etc... We also felt welcome, despite shortcomings with language and local culture.

My daughter and I are spending the year learning the language via Rosetta Stone Francais, and plan on going back to visit for at least a month.

First Day: We landed at CDG around 9:33 after close to 24 hours of flying, connecting flights and a couple delays, we were in a taxi and at our hotel by 10:30. We dropped our luggage and headed up rue du Chemin Vert.
We seated ourselves at a small table at a cafe across from Pere Lachaise Cemetery. We ordered coffee and hot chocolate. Then we ordered brunch. My first meal in Paris was Salade Nicoise. My daughter had crepes.We learned that drinks are served in the area in front of the cafe, and meals are served inside.

Street scene on Rue du Mènlimontant.

We stumbled on to the entrance for Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours. The entry to the church is a portal through apartments. Walking down the street I would have never known it was a basilica/church. This photo is taken from the opposite side of the street.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery is a literal city of the dead with its own street names and map of its permanent residents. We came back to spend more time here the last day of our stay.

Grand and delapidated doorways are a ubiquitous sight in the city. We had no idea what their purpose was until we saw people enter and caught a glimpse of the courtyard and apartments through the open doors.

We jumped on a bus and rode through the city. We passed the Place de la Bastille July column on our way through neighborhoods. History and beauty are on every corner. Paris is a gorgeous city and I will admit, it was love at first sight. We were gobsmacked the entire bus ride.

This is a view of Seine and Notre Dame cathedral in the distance.

Champ de Mars Bus 69 dropped us at its last stop in front of the Eiffel Tower. We could not believe our luck. Bus 69 was our go to bus the duration of our trip.

The weather was mercurial, overcast and then sunny as you can see in the photo below.

A carriage horse resting in the park opposite of the Eiffel Tower. A local resident was taking photos also, and suggested I capture the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Artist of the Day: Women - Caitlin Shearer

The Librarian , A4 cardstock print
LOVEHEART, A4 cardstock print
The Gentlewoman , LARGE cardstock print
Indulge Me, A4 cardstock print
Stink Bugs A4 cardstock print
All five of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia based artist Caitlin Shearer's marvelous watercolors has fit the ever-changing mood of my day. Exactly
artist bio: Caitlin Shearer: a 23 year old Illustrator and textile designer from Sydney, Australia.

Paris 2013

Paris in Color Notes, Nichole Robertson, Author of Paris in Color

I've never been to Paris...until now.

I am flying out for the City of Lights, the city of art, fashion, food. The City of Everything. And not to be overlooked: beautiful sounding curses. I am a purveyor of expletives.

I have a general idea of what we will do and explore, but I don't feel the need to race to every museum or point of interest. I am excited to wander, with purpose, and aimlessly. I am looking forward to sitting and watching. My plan is to split time between the usual tourist sites and local cafes and restaurants, shops and galleries.

One of our first few stops will be to a local Morrocan restaurant that serves vegetarian fare, a cafe and boloungarie.

I am obssessing over which shoes to pack (my favorite shoes are impractical for walking on cobblestones-sany uggestions?) and clothes I should pack. I'm limiting myself to a small suitcase so that I am forced to edit my choices.

I have packing anxiety. I have at least one packing dream a month that usually involves packing at the last minute, packing too much, usually of the wrong thing, or of luggage seams bursting at inopportune times.

This has to be a disorder with its own name. Google time!... (and this is what I found: Packing Anxiety Disorder).

Whatever I pack won't matter one bit, (well, maybe the shoes matter). 

Paris will be gorgeous. The food will be delicious. I will fall in love with another city.

I will post images once I'm back.

Artist of the Day: In A Man's World - Anna Magruder

In a Man's World - 8x10
in a man's world
Distance - 9x9 Print
Book of Poems - 12x12 Print
book of poems
Coast - 9x9 Print

In A Man's World reminded me of an essay I read recently by Tara Mohr. The thesis is that women do no take criticism well,  that criticism  of any kind is taken personally, rather than as a means to modify and improve. Mohr posited that one of the reasons for this may be:

On an even deeper level, my sense is that women cope with living in a highly patriarchal world by trying to find safety and legitimacy through their own competence, through doing everything right.

Criticism can feel like a gash in the middle of something very important we are building – something that will shelter us and keep us safe.

This resonates.

I've been a crazy perfectionist for as long as I can remember. I'll admit that although I've found some criticism helpful, a lot has felt deeply personal and connected to my worth.

I also have to admit that I am not even close to doing everything right. But I have the impulse.

Intellectually, I know that doing everything right doesn't equal success, or happiness, or appreciation, or acceptance. 

Further, doing everything right is not a safety net. Nor does it ensure equal pay for equal work. That is just the reality of the world I live in.

Doing everything right is exhausting. I'm tired.

I think a better plan is doing everything the best I can, without the pressure or judgement of "right."

I love the idea of doing my best, even if it not's perfect.

What about you?
artist bio: My favorite subjects for my oil paintings are people and faces. Many of my images are inspired by found photos as well as photos from old yearbooks. Drifting between realism and surrealism, I love recreating vintage America, often re-imagining the lives and stories of the characters on my canvas or just exploring the emotional color of faces in the crowd. Find out more at: