An American in Paris: Day 1

Ok, now you know how I made it to Paris.

Lizzie does Paris

Friday, December 29th, 2017

But I’ll bet you’re wondering what I got up to when I finally made it over there.

Before I even left for Paris, I created a very tentative list of things I wanted to do, along with a vague outline of when I might cross each thing off my list. Traveling with a strict schedule is just not how I do things. I wanted to leave a lot of space to change my mind, add new things to the list and choose days I thought would be best for each item.

Here’s the Master List:

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I landed at Charles de Gaulle airport at about 1:30pm on Friday afternoon, December 29th. I opted to rely on wifi in places and turn my phone on airport mode to avoid roaming charges while in Paris. This meant that simple tools like my GPS and the internet were not available to me, except when I was in my hotel or at a cafe that had wifi. It also meant that I had to rely on my scrappy travel skills (of which I have many!)

An excerpt from my travel journal upon arriving in Paris after finding my way to my hotel:

“Finding my bearings in Paris makes me feel like it’s my first time in New York City all over again. There’s a feeling that I truly have no clue where I’m going or what I’m doing. I don’t speak this language and maybe I’ve been out of the big city game for too long.

But, there’s also the absolute knowledge and confidence that I am capable of mastering this. Flying solo can be a little scary initially, but also exciting and energizing! I’d forgotten that feeling. It’s not something I feel very often in Winter Park, Florida.

On the plane, I sat next to Max, a very kind, young guy, probably a bit younger than me in age if not in spirit. He gave me some recommendations and we shared laughs throughout the flight. I was reminded that there are new friends waiting around every corner, if you’re open enough to look for them. Brave enough to talk to them.”

Interjection: This was the start of a flood of writing that began the moment I landed in Paris and has not stopped since I’ve returned home! And I was certainly grateful to be reintroduced to the writer in me, all over again!

“My hotel, Libertel Gare du Nord Suede on Boulevard Magenta in the 10th Arrondissement, is so charming and tiny. It’s the absolute perfect size for me and my solo adventures! It’s cozy and has the right number of hangars for the Paris wardrobe I brought with me. More than just coincidence, I think!

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I laid down to take a quick 30 minute cat nap, here on Day 1 of my adventure, and woke up an hour and a half later than anticipated. Apparently my body had other plans. Once I finally woke up, I felt rested and ready to walk and see and EAT. Above all…EAT!!

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Interjection: I just sat down to my first dinner in Paris and I’m implementing a new rule…wine and dessert will be ordered at every meal! No exceptions!

My neighborhood is charming! I think I’ll be using that word a lot in Paris. There’s a lot to see. Plenty of hustle and bustle and I find it surprisingly easy to navigate, given the language barrier. As I took the opportunity to get the lay of the land in my Arrondissement, I passed my hotel 3 separate times without meaning to. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble finding my way around. It really does feel somehow like I’m back in New York, but maybe all big cities have this energy and I’ve just forgotten what it felt like.

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Also…I feel like I’ve found a familiar part of myself, long forgotten and abandoned.

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Thrift Store Cosplay Day 19

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Thrift Store Cosplay fashion blogger nerd post Instagram challengeDay 19: Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City

This should be no surprise to you…I’m a Carrie Bradshaw through and through. I’ve taken the Buzzfeed quiz, so I know it’s true! It’s the hair…the fashion sense…the love of shoes…the independent lifestyle. And while I haven’t been on the dating scene in quite a while, in the past…I was all about that bass. If you need a refresher course in my dating adventures, click here!

I’ve been on my fair share of dates, just like Carrie. I’ve kissed my fair share of guys, just like Carrie. And…well, that’s where the comparison in dating ends!!

One of the things I love about Carrie and can identify with her most is her single status, which lasts well into her 40’s in the show and the movie. And while she does eventually tie the knot with Mr. Big (another place we differ, cause I’m an Aiden girl) she spends plenty of time solo.

Me? I’m not looking for Mr. Big and I do enjoy being solo. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for an Aiden or a Mr. Big or a Burger or a Petrovsky or any of the other kinds of men Carrie dated and loved on the show. It does mean that if none of them come along, me and my hair are perfectly fine with that! We’ve got other things to do…

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Tank and Skirt from Goodwill

Pink heels from Salvation Army

Thrift store Cosplay Day

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Dating and Star Wars

Star Wars blog post

It was a blind date…plain and simple. I walked into it with the lowest of expectations, because experience had taught me to be cautious and common sense had taught me to be sensible. I wasn’t bitter or jaded about the endeavor…not yet, at least. Just realistic, something I try very hard not to be on a regular basis.

I walked in head held higher than my hopes. Because I am a people person. Talking…I’m good at that. And after all, a blind date need only go on as long as you want it to. What’s the worst that could possibly have happened?

We sat down, ordered drinks and immediately dove for the basket of bread at the same time. Bread is a comfort food and clearly we were both feeling the kind of discomfort that can only come when a friend of a friend sets you up with a friend of a friend’s friend. Or however the hell fate had brought us together that night.

The first question he thought of was “what’s your favorite movie?” A seemingly innocuous question for anyone…anyone but me, that is.

Because I don’t just have a favorite movie…I have a favorite movement. I have a favorite fandom! I have something that dominates a lot of my brain space and most of my wardrobe!! I have…STAR WARS!!!

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Now, when it comes to dating, there are a lot of things…”skeletons”…that belong in a person’s closet until someone know’s you better than what is possible on a first date. My love of Star Wars turned out to be a skeleton that I should have left buried in my closet. But this was before I knew that I wasn’t supposed to tell boys on dates that I liked loved LIVED Star Wars.

Moments after the question came tumbling out of his mouth, I quickly responded with a short and sweet, “Star Wars!”

Intrigued, he opened Pandora’s box and asked, “Oh yeah, which one?”

I smiled to myself and said, “All of them.”

“No!” he said. “Which of the movies is your favorite one?”

“Well,” I said. “The Empire Strikes back is arguably the best of all of them. Though, we have to ask ourselves…where would we be without A New Hope? And yet, if I’m being honest…it’s Return of the Jedi that tugs hardest at my heart strings. Something about the Throne Room scene has always captivated me the most. As Luke wrestles with his darker nature, the Emperor slowly starts to lose his grip on his most prized apprentice. Which brings me to the prequels…I personally love all of them too. The overarching story of Anakin Skywalker’s descent into darkness and inevitable betrayal of the Jedi forces me to ask so many questions about the movie franchise I grew up with and love dearly. That’s so interesting to me. Sure…sure…they’re flawed movies. But that doesn’t diminish their value to the franchise overall, in my opinion. Does…does that answer your question?”

With a vaguely terrified look on his face, he responded, “I liked the first one.” As he rolled his eyes and ducked his head, I knew…this date was over.

Now, some may think my answer was a bit showy, possibly a display of nerd elitism…but I assure you, it was an answer that came from the purest place in my heart. A place that just wanted to find commonality in the midst of adversity. And yet, this man was immediately disinterested in me based on my lengthy answer to his simple question.

I’ve learned over the years that this question is best answered with much more care than I gave it on that date. Perhaps I should have said less and smiled more. But that’s just not who I am. And isn’t the point of a first date to get to know the other person and show them who you are? Wasn’t that what I was doing? Like a bull in a China shop, I had wrecked the whole damn thing.

I set my bread down on my napkin, thanked him for his time and I left. The look on his face told me all I needed to know. In his eyes…I was a freak. A Star Wars freak! Little did he know…that was perfectly fine with me!

I didn’t leave the date because Star Wars is a deal breaker…though now, it totally is! I didn’t leave because he seemed mildly intimidated and borderline afraid of me. I left because I may not have known him, but I know me! If he was turned off by my passion for Star Wars and couldn’t even understand it in the least, meaning he didn’t feel as passionately about anything as much as I do about that galaxy far, far away….then, what was the point of wasting an hour of small talk on him. Or of him wasting his time on me?

Some people just aren’t meant to be together. And we were a case in point.

I choose my words more carefully when on blind dates these days. I keep my skeleton in the closet longer than I used to, but not too long. I won’t hide who I am. And if they don’t like it, I ain’t interested. And, come on! There are way worse skeletons you could have in your closet than some handmade Padmé cosplay, a Darth Maul lightsaber, a wardrobe full of Star Wars t-shirts, a book case full of Star Wars novels (both Legends and new Disney canon) and the ability to recite from memory most, if not all, of the original trilogy.

Hell, a first date spent debating the evils and virtues of Jar Jar Binks would be a success in my book. Is that too high a bar to set? I think not!

& The City

It’s been almost 2 years since I moved away from New York City. Some days it feels like just yesterday that I was walking the concrete jungle and trying to find my way in the city of dreams. And other days, the whole 8+ years I lived there feel themselves, like a dream. I haven’t been back since a whirlwind visit last year for a friend’s wedding.

Not for lack of wanting too, it’s just the timing hasn’t worked out. And to be honest, I feel like a part of me never wants to go back. What if I remember how much I loved it and I want to stay? What if I have another anxiety attack like my first time back after moving? New York was such a roller coaster city for me. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

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No matter how I feel about the Big Apple or why I had to move away, I still consider it home. I’ve blogged about this before, but I found myself in New York City. I became a writer. I started this blog there. I created my web series there. I was bold and I was creative and the thing that makes New York…NEW YORK, somehow ended up making me…ME!!

You can’t deny that there’s something about New York that can bring out our inner angels…or demons. New York forces you to be yourself…”after all, everyone else is taken.” Isn’t that how the quote goes?

The truth is…I miss New York. Maybe not the winters…I’ll always be happier in the sun. But I miss the pace. I miss walking 47 blocks after work on a Wednesday, just because. I miss sushi delivered at midnight and brunching all day with friends. I miss cab rides (who thought that would happen.) I miss my friends. Sometimes, when I’m delirious, I even miss dating in New York…though not too much!

I’m excited to return to the City. I want to see how it’s changed. I want to see how I’ve changed. I want to see if it still feels, even a little bit, like home. We’ll see what happens.

New York is unpredictable by nature. The only thing you can rely on is that it’s unreliable! As a hurricane, I can relate.

Today, I feel like this:2.jpg

I hope I find that who I was back then and who I am today are working together to make me who I’ll be tomorrow.

After all, I wouldn’t be me without New York or Florida or California. So…New York, I’m coming back for ya! Please be kind, I’m a little rusty!!

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Unrealistic Friendspecations

Unrealistic Expectations from Friends TV show blog nerd

As a single, 30-something who was living in New York until a short time ago, I relate to the beloved TV show, Friends, on so many levels. Too many to count. There is no show that means so much to me and has influenced my life the way Friends has (with Seinfeld coming in at a close second.)

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I didn’t watch Friends when it first aired in 1994. I was only 12 and my parents did not find it appropriate viewing material for a 12 year old girl. They were right, of course. But that didn’t keep me from wanting to watch it and it certainly didn’t keep me from tuning in the minute I was old enough and watching it till it ended in 2004, when I was a junior in college.

Looking back, I now know that it played a huge part in my eventual move to the big city. The entire first year I lived in New York felt like a dream, like I was in an episode of Friends. I’d see a street sign or a coffee shop and dream of Central Perk and the 6 most quotable characters in the history of TV. Tell me you don’t say this in Chandler’s voice when you read it “Could I BE wearing any more clothes?” Well, Joey doing Chandler’s voice, but I’ll bet you knew that too.

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As much as Friends will always have that place in my heart and that finale will continue to make me cry even after I’ve seen it dozens of times, I do think that Monica, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Phoebe and Rachel created some unprecedented expectations of what friendship could look like, but usually doesn’t. Where most shows up to that point (again, besides Seinfeld) were about family units or couples getting together, Friends was something altogether different. A set of 6 inseparable Friends who created a family away from family. They did everything together and remained connected for 10+ years (we know they are still together in TV land somewhere.)

Think of all the Christmases and Thanksgivings they spent, not with their nuclear families, but with each other. Think of their trips to Vegas, Barbados and London. The jobs that were forgotten the minute something came up. The family that was forgotten in lieu of the family unit that was created in New York City. Shared life stage and values bonded them in a way that has just never been seen since Friends left the small screen. How I Met Your Mother touches on those element and at times feels similar, but it doesn’t manage to touch the level of nostalgia and love that people (and I) have for Friends.

At the same time, what was created between the 6 of them is as unattainable in real life as a Ross and Rachel friendlationship is. People don’t drop everything to go to Barbados with you, much less for a work conference they have no interest in. You’d be lucky to have one or two good friends show up at your destination wedding, much less the whole pack (minus a pregnant Phoebe.)

I can’t even get some of my friends on Skype most days, much less entice them away from their families, their jobs and their lives to come play with me at Disney. It’s less a complaint and more a realization that real life is just that much harder sometimes, than an episode of Friends (realization may be a little strong.)

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I miss what I found in New York and the brief moment that I grasped onto what it was like to have capital F, Friends. A group of people who were pursuing things the way I was. People who were bonded together in the face of a strange, transient city like New York.

Sure, we didn’t drop everything for each other, every single day. And because New York is so expensive, we all really did have to work most of the time, making it very difficult impossible to sit around in a coffee shop all day, talking about relationships and about our feelings. It just didn’t happen. That’s a beautiful dream that only can live in TV land.

But I think that’s what made Friends so popular and such a strong show with staying power. That kind of Friendship is what we all hope to find. The kind that can last 10+ years and weather being on a break and children and marriages and stuff. When you find that kind of capital F, Friend…hold onto them and never let them go!!

And now…my favorite Friend, Chandler:

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Having a Moment

I was recently described by someone as “busy…in a good way.” As in, always working, always going, always doing, always trying. I do think of that as a good thing. I like to stay busy. I like to think of new projects to try, new songs to write, new blogs to post, new Instagram challenges to complete, new workouts to do. Busy is a very good word to describe me.

Last night when I got home from my long, busy day, I looked up and the moon was so bright. The stars were so pretty. I felt compelled to lay down in my drive way and just stare up at the sky, listening to one of my Spotify playlists. I can’t tell you the last time I just looked up at the stars and thanked God that He made them for me to look up at.

There were days when I was living in New York City that I begged God for a chance to stare up at the stars. But the lights of the city blind us to how bright the stars can be. The moon isn’t quite as awe-inspiring when  you’re standing in the middle of Times Square. So after 8 years, I forgot to stop being busy and to look up.

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But last night I remembered. I couldn’t even take a good picture of what had my busy brain standing still. That gif I found is cool, but it’s not what I was looking at. My phone couldn’t accurately capture the beauty of the moment. We live in such a technologically advanced age and still, transcendental moments like that can’t truly be shared with a photograph. There’s something about the experience that just can’t be translated by pixels.

Do you know all the things you miss when you don’t stand still for a moment? Florida is hot and in May, well, it’s not the hottest it can get, but it can be pretty sweat inducing. But at 10pm  when you’re not moving a muscle and you are lying on the ground watching stars, you can feel a breeze. I actually got a little chilly on a May night in Florida. I could smell Jasmine that has overtaken the fence and I could hear planes as they flew by, taking people to destinations that I dream of seeing one day. As the people on those planes slept on their night flight, I watched them and heard them and smelled jasmine and felt the breeze.

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When I was little, I used to think the crescent moon was a completely different moon from the big round one. Of course, as I got older, I learned about lunar cycles and how the light of the moon changes with seasons and ocean tides. And how the crescent and the full moon are the same moon. They just look a little different.

I laid there contemplating how when you watch clouds, you actually have something to watch because clouds change shape as they move through the sky, but stars are constant. They sit proudly in the night sky. They don’t have anything to prove. They don’t need to entertain.

I laid there for 30+ minutes and walked away with probably as many bug bites on my arms and legs, because that’s what happens when you lie on the ground feeling breezes and smelling jasmine and watching planes and contemplating stars. You don’t even realize you’re being bitten, because the beauty of the moment outweighs the pain.You don’t care because something bigger is happening. You have become a part of something bigger. In that moment you aren’t just a girl lying on concrete, staring at the stars…you are a Queen of Narnia. You know the path is before you and the world is behind. You have transcended even just for a moment to be a part of something good and true and something you don’t even understand because you are a soda can and God is the ocean (thanks Francis Chan.)

I’m sad the moment ended, but moments have to come to an end. That’s the nature of moments. That always makes me think of the Sondheim musical “Into the Woods.” My second favorite musical of all time. The baker’s wife has a moment in the woods with Cinderella’s prince and after it’s over she wonders…”What was that?” Moments leave us wondering why we can’t have more of them. But then she sings some of my favorite lyrics in Broadway history…

“Oh, if life were made of moment,

Even now and then a bad one-!

But if life were only moments,

Then you’d never know you had one.”

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Come join #TheSweatPack

#TheSweatPack

2016 is in full swing at Nerd in the City and Lean Girl’s Club. We are determined to make this year count for more than just 12 sheets of pretty calendar paper!! This is THE ONE! I say that every year. Because every year it’s true. Every new year is a chance to make it. And this one is no exception. Exciting things are happening for me in 2016 and I hope they are for you as well. The moral of the story is that life is moving forward. It doesn’t stop because we aren’t ready for what’s coming around the corner.

We can either jump on board or get bumped and bruised from trying to fight the flow. Trust me, I’ve been on the bumps and bruises side of life. I fought for love that wasn’t right for me. I fought to leave New York, when New York wasn’t quite done with me, and then I fought to stay there long after it was. I’ve fought against jobs that were right for me and for friendships that were wrong. I wish I was a quick learner, but when it comes to making the “right” choices, it takes time. And if someone is telling you that it’s easy…they don’t know what they’re talking about! No one has it easy.

That’s why it’s so important to reset every year. Give yourself a chance to start fresh. If you gained weight (like I have) forgive yourself and move on. If you lost a job, accept the change and move on. If you lost a love, find a place for them in your heart and move on. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

If fitness is an area that you have been struggling with (like I have) please join Grace from Lean Girl’s Club and me over on Instagram for our 2016 fitness challenges. Every Monday we’ll be starting something new. Last week Grace and I were all about the stairs.

She took the stairs,
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I took the stairs…

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and some of you took the stairs too…

Taking the Stairs Fitness Challenge Blog Collaboration Lean + Nerd
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This week we are jumping rope. So Step 1: Get yourself a jump rope and then show us what you got. We’ll be doing this challenge all week, so there’s plenty of time to jump in! (See what I did there!!) 😉
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I Dream of Comic Con

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This is the first year in a while that I won’t be attending New York Comic Con. Trust me…I’m aware of all the fun I’ll be missing out on.
image The great thing about a virtual schedule is that you can over schedule yourself with no problem. So here’s my very busy virtual schedule for New York Comic Con! Hoping I’ll make it out there next year and never miss another one again!

Thursday, October 8th
11:00am – 88MPH: A Celebration of Back to the Future
12:30pm – Andre the Giant: The Man Behind the Legend

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1:30pm- Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Panel
2:45pm – The Walking Dead: An Inside Look with Robert Kirkman
3:00pm – How Harley Quinn Conquered the World

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4:00pm – Game of Thrones: A Panel of Ice and Fire
5:30pm – DC Superhero Girls
5:30pm – Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Sneak Peek
7:00pm – Sean Bean brings Legends to NYCC

Friday, October 9th
11:00am – Star Wars: A Galaxy of Fandom
12:15pm – Social Media for Creators
12:45pm – Felicia Day Spotlight

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1:30pm – The Cute Side of the Force: Drawing Star Wars Creatures with Lauren Perry
1:45pm – Marvel: Iron Man and The Avengers
4:30pm – Once Upon a Time: An Evening with the Dark Swan
image 5:15pm – Screen Junkies Presents: Honest Trailers and Movie Fights
6:00pm – Marvel TV Presents: Agents of Prime time
7:00pm – Con Man: A Series 13 Years in the Making

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Saturday, October 10th
11:00am – Chick’s Kick Ass: The Ongoing Epic
11:15am – Thrilling Adventure Hour
11:30am – Firefly Reunion

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12:15pm – Disney – Lucasfilm Publishing Presents Star Wars: The Journey to The Force Awakens
12:15pm – Epic Reads Book Club
1:15pm – The X-Files

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2:45pm – Marvel: Cup O’ Joe
2:45pm – Women in Geek Media: The Sequel
5:00pm – Netflix Original Series Marvel’s Jessica Jones and Daredevil

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Sunday, October 11th
11:00am – How to Draw with Katie Cook

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12:00pm – Lucasfilm Presents: Star Wars: A Galactic Readers Theater
12:15pm – Minority Report Panel
12:15pm – DC Entertainment: All Access

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1:15pm – The Amazing Economics of Star Trek
1:30pm – Women of Marvel
1:30pm – Warner Brothers Televisions Takeover Featuring Gotham, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Blindspot, Supergirl and Person of Interest
2:30pm – Geek: Constructing Fandoms

If you’re going to NYCC, I hope you have a magical time!! And don’t forget to share pics on social!

Get ready to see a whole lot of this kind of stuff from sad fellow nerds who will be missing out on mecca:
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So…That Happened

Exactly 1 year ago, I debuted the first episode of my web series, So…This Happened on You Tube. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I started that little adventure.
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The other day I was asked what I’m most proud of in my life and I’d have to say that my series is one of the coolest things I ever did. (With lots of wonderful help from lots of wonderful people, of course.)
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To tell you the truth, I’m a bit of a quitter. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s true. As I’ve gotten older it’s become less true, but it’s still there. Creeping up on me in weaker moments. Catching me unawares when I know better!!

In high school, I was in the marching band and I played the oboe and the flute. Summer after my junior year a couple of my closest friends moved away and so I quit the marching band…right before my senior year. It made no sense. Why quit something I had given years of my life to. And that I really enjoyed. But the prospect of finishing without those friends just didn’t seem appealing, so I skated through my senior year. A little like a ghost.

The same is true of my studies at the piano. I had been taking lessons since I was 5 years old. When I was 15 I had this teacher that was really hard on me. She was often belligerent and she would cut my nails down to the nub. Rather than tell my parents that I was unhappy, I just quit after my teacher threatened to cut my acrylic french manicure. The manicure I had spent $40 on for the homecoming dance. Some people might not consider dedicating 10 years of my life to something as quitting, but I loved and love playing piano. I could have switched teachers, I could have told my parents. But I just quit.

Quitter! That’s me. If I don’t want to do it…I won’t. I dream big and then get bored. So to not only start a project, but to see it all the way through to completion… that is a major accomplishment for me.
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The series is something that should never have happened and almost didn’t. But then came along a friend who believed in my vision and some strange amount of determination to continue on.

When I think about the new projects that I want to do, I remember that feeling of accomplishment and pride and I know that if adversity comes between me and my goal…it has no chance. I am a fortress, an albatross. A Patronus flying towards fears and saying “Bring it on!” I will see my goals through!! I may take the long road and I still have to fight to put in that extra elbow grease and also fight the desire to watch Netflix instead sometimes. But that’s because I’m human!! Maybe you can relate!
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If you missed out on my little web series…don’t worry, it’s all available on You Tube and I hope you like it! Here’s the trailer:

And don’t miss out on my newest series, Cross Country Nerds with author, Jonas Lee:

I’m always up to something. Make sure to subscribe or follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc so you don’t miss a thing!

And as always…stay nerdy!