An American in Paris: Day 3

Lizzie does Paris

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Travel Journal Continued…

“Today, it is simply perfect outside. A little bit on the windy side, but the skies are blue and the sun is shining. It’s Louvre day.

Lizzie does Paris

Lizzie does Paris - The Louvre

I find the Louvre to be rather overwhelming. My cousin Sterling did recommend a book she let me borrow that has the whole contents mapped out and well explained. But I preferred to just wander my way through this time around. When I return one day, (and I absolutely will return one day!) I’ll bring that book and make a concerted effort to seek out all the art, artifacts, antiquities, etc. that most intrigue me and hunt them down. A Louvre scavenger hunt…that’s what I’ll do next time!

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Lizzie does Paris - The Louvre

Lizzie does Paris instastory - The Louvre

Part of feeling a little “Meh” at the sight of the Mona Lisa stems purely from my overwhelming reaction to Monet’s Waterlillies. In comparison, I just have to say…the Mona Lisa didn’t do it for me. It’s not her fault that Monet so completely stole my heart the previous day!! But the response of the crowd…and boy, do the crowds respond to her, that made it very interesting to watch. People fought their way to the front of the line…just to find out that yes…she really does live there.

Lizzie does Paris instastory - Mona Lisa Louvre

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Lizzie does Paris - The Louvre

Throughout my Paris adventures…you’ll see plenty of photos taken by someone else. More on that later. But a quick note…some people get it right (pictured below) and some people don’t know what they’re doing. Hedge your bets and ask lots of different people. If you keep trying, eventually you’ll get one you like!

Lizzie does Parie - the Louvre

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Look…I’m not shy about taking selfies! Especially when I’m by myself. Yep…I want a picture of myself in this magical place. And yep…I can probably do it better than a stranger passing by. So, yep…I’m taking selfies!!

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I got a little Pain du Chocolat before leaving the museum and in line I met a charming man from Turkey who was an artist and was immediately drawn to me because of my bright hair. We chatted over our tea and Pain. He drew me a picture on his business card and requested that we stay in touch.


Next stop: Notre Dame. I walked over there and as I did, the skies continued to open and the day grew brighter and more picturesque!!

I mean…

Lizzie does Paris - Notre Dame

Lizzie does Paris - Notre Dame

I had a mind to attend morning mass at Notre Dame today, since it’s Sunday, but I’m glad I skipped it. Catholicism really is not for me and listening to just a sliver of their afternoon service left me with the sense that sleeping in was the right choice for me today!

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Here’s an example of a stranger NOT getting the picture I was looking for. I wanted Notre Dame to be in it, but look what they captured instead…a charming action shot of me being candidly me. This is what I love about what a complete stranger can add to your gallery. Let them try!

The Cathedral is as breathtaking as one could imagine. Outside it towers above you, tall and majestic. The inside is equally as gorgeous. Though I wondered to myself ‘how do people attend church in places like this?’

Lizzie does Paris - Nore Dame

Lizzie does Paris - Notre Dame

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It feels too grand and monumental compared to my church at home. It seems too much of a landmark to be able to actually worship here. But perhaps that is putting a constraint on God that does not exist. He is as present here in this massive behemoth as he is in the most intimate chapels. So perhaps it’s merely me that can’t seem to connect to His spirit here. That’s not God’s fault at all!

While I was here, I added an extra stop on my pilgrimage (which you will hear more about in the next post.) I lit a candle for my Gran, who just passed away in August. And I lit one for Wally, my dear friend who was taken away, just months ago. I lit one for me and I lit one for the people dearest to both of them. And it was very powerful!

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I stopped for some lunch right next to Notre Dame. I had my first glass of New Year’s Eve champagne!!

Lizzie does Paris - lunch time

My waiter is quite the charmer and wanted to take a picture with me. I’m not sure if the maitre’d meant to take a selfie or just didn’t know how the camera worked, but this is the souvenir I went home with that day:

Lizzie does Paris

On my way to Saint Chapelle, I stumbled upon Pont Neuf…aka: one of the many (now that it’s so popular) Love Bridges…aka: the purpose of my emotional pilgrimage. Luckily, I thought to put my family’s ribbons in my purse this morning, just in case. I had no idea when I was going to find it, but here it is.

Lizzie does Paris - Pont Neuf (Love Bridge with locks)

My pilgrimage was completed on New Year’s Eve. How perfect is that. But more on that later!!


Lizzie does Paris - Map

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Next stop: Saint Chapelle, a recommendation from my cousin, Sterling and her husband, Wesley. They preferred it to Notre Dame. And I have to say I agree, as far as the interior is concerned. There was a significant amount of construction happening around the exterior and the pure majesty of Notre Dame’s exterior is truly hard to beat.

But Saint Chapelle sure gave it the college try!

Lizzie does Paris - Saint Chapelle

But the interior makes think of a line from the song ‘Maria’ in West Side Story: ‘…say it loud and there’s music playing, say it soft and it’s almost like praying.’

Lizzie does Paris - Saint Chapelle

That is the best way I can accurately describe the differences in the 2 churches. Just blocks from one another. One is big and bold and makes you think of bright, loud music. The other is a whisper when you step inside. It’s intimate and close and I could just imagine…when you find God inside Saint Chapelle, He’s sitting on a bench. He looks up…sees you and He nods, beckoning you to come over and join Him. You tiptoe, as not to upset the quiet you find there. You take a seat and He speaks so softly and…’it’s almost like praying.’

Lizzie does Paris - Saint Chapelle

After Saint Chapelle, I trekked it back to my little room at Libertel Gare du Nord Suede…Room 105 for a nap and a costume change. It was New Year’s Eve after all. And I had a date with a Tower…

Today was rather exhausting and I took a longer nap than planned, something that is becoming a habit over here. I rallied pretty quickly and changed clothes. It was finally time to break out my pretty, flowery dress and pointy-toed shoes. I don’t have that much walking planned for tonight, so they should serve me well. (I’ll do a whole blog about my Paris wardrobe…don’t worry!)

Lizzie does Paris
Dress from Goodwill            Belt & Shoes from OMG Thrift

I have a date with a tall, sparkly tower named Eiffel and she will not be kept waiting.


I MEAN….anything I was dreaming of absolutely pales in comparison to how she shines! I’m so glad I saved her for tonight…on New Year’s Eve.

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She and I will start the night off right. I’m trying to remember if I felt this way about Times Square when I first saw it, or the Statue of Liberty. I think I felt really close to this when I saw Niagara Falls for the first time. I am small and the world is so big. These wonders have been here long before I came around and will remain long after I’m gone. Generations have stood here and had their breath taken away…just like me right now.

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Legacy is something that I have thought a lot about this year. What we bring into this world…what we leave behind. Do we leave it just as we found it? Or do we make our mark and change what we see for the better? The Eiffel Tower has me thinking more and more about Legacy. What is mine? I did not anticipate these to be the thoughts running through my head. But here they are, just the same.

Every hour, on the hour, she sparkles like a diamond. I stayed for 2 hours and watched her sparkly night show twice.

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At the base of her, there was a little market with such things as mulled wine (Vin Chaud) and pretzels. Crepes and hot chocolate. Seeing as I had big plans to eat a fancy dinner somewhere later, I opted just for the hot wine.

I found a perch to drink my wine and watch my Tower (for tonight, she shines just for me!) I considered staying for a 3rd sparkly showing, that would make 3 hours of Eiffel Tower gazing, but leave it to some sleazy man to come and try to borrow a piece of my perfect night. I let him talk to me for a little while. He spoke no English and seemed harmless enough. I was surrounded by people and in no real danger. But he just kept talking and weaseling and when he Skyped a friend of his to show off the “Très Jolie American” he’d found…and when that friend texted him ‘She sleep white you?’ I was officially done. He showed me the text and I LAUGHED IN HIS FACE, to be quite honest with you!

Allow me the briefest moment to rant…This brassy, assy Frenchman merely called me beautiful. Is that all it takes these days? It’s the most basic thing you can do for a women, call her beautiful! Women are beautiful…this is simple fact! You don’t get props or sex for having eyes. AMIRIGHT?!!

Side Note: It has taken me years to feel like I deserved more than a sloppy compliment from a stranger or anyone else for that matter. And there’s no turning back now!!

Lizzie does Paris - Champs Elysees

Moving on…These shoes were a mistake for New Year’s Eve. While the soles of my feet are holding up just fine, it’s the pinky toes that are suffering the worst of it. This is what happens when you don’t plan for all contingencies. Such as, going off schedule and deciding to take in the New Year’s Eve shindig at the Champs Elysées. That was not part of my plan! In fact, it definitely was not originally on my master list, I just added it moments before diverging from my well thought out and perfectly formed original plan…which included the Eiffel Tower, a fancy dinner and then my warm, comfy bed.

As I wait for the big show to start (the posters said it began at 21h, only 30 minutes to go) I can’t help but laugh. Because in the 8 and a half years I lived in New York City, I never once stepped foot in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Wouldn’t be caught dead there, is more accurate. But I guess…when in Rome Paris.

Lizzie does Paris - New Year's Eve Arc du Triomphe

As I wait for the big show to start (it did not start at 21h like the posters said it would) I am reminded why I never had an interest in Times Square, or any other event with 8 billion people in attendance, on New Year’s Eve.

Lizzie does Paris - New Year's Eve Arc du Triomphe

As I wait for the big show to start (apparently it does not start at 21h 30 either…time is coming and going so slowly now) I have a very short Asian woman tucked in at my arm pit…and though I try moving around to dislodge her, she will not be deterred. There is a swarthy Frenchman right in front of my vaping with what smells like cotton candy.

I’m never eating cotton candy again!

Lizzie does Paris - Arc du Triomphe

As I wait for the big show to start (it has to be soon…right? It has to be soon! RIGHT??!!) I can’t help but be thankful that my toes are frozen, because that is helping with the pain. These shoes were a perfectly fine choice for what I originally planned. But as we all know now…I did not follow the plan. I went off script…off book…off the map. And now I am close to no longer owning pinkie toes. Though, it is the least useful of the toes…so I do suppose it could be much, much worse!

Lizzie does Paris - Arc du Triomphe

As I wait for the big show to…….IT’S STARTING!!!!!!!!!!!

Lizzie does paris - New Year's Eve Arc du Triomphe

Lizzie does Paris - Arc du Triomphe


Sometimes we do things because we feel obligated, we think we should be doing one thing when all we want is another thing altogether. There was no one around for me to disappoint. If I hadn’t gone to the Champs Elysées and had settled for my beloved sparkly tower to end the night, no one would have known the difference. But sometimes the person we are worried most about disappointing is ourselves. There was a younger, more outgoing (if you can imagine), bolder, more fascinating, more personable, more energetic me once. And perhaps it’s my younger, 20 something-self I was trying to keep up with.

Lizzie does Paris - New Year's Eve Arc du Triomphe Champs Elyees

Yes…it was the first and the last time I will ever do a big city shindig on New Year’s Eve. But I’m glad I did it, after all. It’s Paris. It’s New Year’s Eve. It’s the Champs Elysées and the Arc du Triomphe. It’s days after my 35th birthday. It simply had to happen! And, if I’m continuing to be honest with myself (and why stop now) that 20 year old really knew how to coordinate a night!”

An Emotional Pilgrimage

Sunday, December 31st, 2017 (cont’d)

2017 was challenging for me, to say the very least.

Not only did my Granny pass away at the ripe old age of 96 years old, after a long battle with illness, but a dear friend from church was murdered in cold blood…senselessly, carelessly, confusingly.

It’s something that I’ve spent the majority of the past few months wrestling with. And something that has caused many a night of sleeping on tear-soaked pillow cases.

One night in particular, I was beating myself up about my grief. “Why can’t I move on?” I asked my cousin Sterling. She gently told me that what was happening to me emotionally seemed to be what I needed most, even if it wasn’t what I wanted! She suggested I give myself until Paris and to not even think about being hard on myself about my grief for one single, solitary minute…no, longer than a minute, months and months of forgiveness, even!

Murder is a heavy thing to deal with. Death is not something you get over in a day. Is there a time that can be devoted to “getting over it?” She thought NO and she is one of the smartest people I know, so I thought it best to agree with her. I let her clear-headedness and discernment guide me in a time when I could not rely on my own.

She also suggested that when I got to Paris, that I could try to do something symbolic, something that would release this emotion into the universe and let it go like a balloon on the back of the wind.

I resolved to take a ribbon to Pont Neuf (one of the many Love Bridges…not the original.) You may have heard about it and the locks that people flock there to lock onto the bridge in the name of LOVE.

I went with a ribbon because I’d heard the Parisians were worried about the locks eventually weighing the bridge down from the unanticipated weight. So ribbons it was for me.

Between the time of Wally’s murder and my trip to Paris, another thing happened. A secret emerged that really changed a lot of things for me. Something I can’t and won’t share. But what you need to know is that I was angry about it! Truly, deeply angry. An anger I don’t know that I’ve ever felt was constantly bubbling inside me, threatening to burn me up and leave nothing behind.

So, I made a vow to release this anger as well on the bridge and I offered the same to my family members who might be feeling sadness or anger of their own about this secret, about Wally’s murder, about the death of our Granny. All of these were big things to wrestle with and I wasn’t alone in needing a gesture to symbolize a new year.

What started as a small gesture turned into an emotional pilgrimage.

I wasn’t sure which day I would end up at the Love Bridge, so I kept my little ziploc baggie full of my family’s tokens, with me at all times. In case I happened upon it when I wasn’t expecting to be there, I wanted to be ready.

Lizzie Does Paris - Love Bridge locks
This is my ribbon for my Granny. I wrote her favorite saying on it, “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do or do without.” I also wrote the initials MHROTD on there. Another favorite of hers. She faithfully wrote it on birthday cards and in the memo line on checks for years and years. I think I’ll get a tattoo of it some day! It means: Many Happy Returns of the Day.
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This is the ribbon I tied on for Wally Worman, my lost friend! I wrote “Farewell, Dear One” on there. “Dear one” was a term of endearment we’d often hear him call people. I thought that was a fitting tribute to that kind man!
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This is my cousin, Sterling’s contribution in honor of our Granny. You have no way of knowing this but, Florida oranges are a very fitting tribute!!!
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My father forgot to give me his ribbon, so I had to improvise. I always carry a hair tie on my wrist. So I took one and added it in honor of my dad…in honor of his mom (My Granny.)
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And finally, this one is more of a totem than a ribbon. My Aunt Beck (my father’s older sister) made this herself and sent it along to be added to the bridge. And let me tell you…this bridge has never seen it’s equal! Each piece on the totem is symbolic and personal. She sent this in honor of her mother (my Granny.)

I wasn’t prepared for it when it happened. I stumbled upon the bridge somewhere between Notre Dame and Saint Chapelle on Day 3 of my adventure. How interesting it was to find the most touching moment between me and God and have it not be in either of the churches I’d stepped in that day, but rather outside on a bridge full of locks. God met me there.

Lizzie does Paris - love bridge locks

As I tied each ribbon on, I let go of what I was holding onto.

Lizzie does Paris - love bridge locks

I symbolically let go of what each family member who’d taken me up on my pilgrimage was holding on to.

Lizzie does Paris - Love bridge locks

And when I walked off that bridge after fulfilling my mission…I felt lighter, like a burden had been lifted. I felt lighter, like a darkness had receded. I felt lighter, like a candle had been lit. I felt lighter, like the souls of those I came to honor.

On this, the Eve of a New Year, as I prepared to say goodbye to 2017 and welcome 2018 with open arms, I let it all go. I forgave the secrets that had hurt me personally. I accepted hard truths about the world that I had been either unwilling or unable to accept. I remembered that these emotions, these big mountains cannot be climbed or healed by big symbolic gestures alone. Rather, the practice of forgiveness is something to consider each and every single day. Some days harder, some days easier.

The journey I took travels forward with me as I walk off this bridge and into the future that awaits me. The ribbons I tie here for me and my family…they stay, but we walk forward…lighter, better, bolder, brighter!

I think it’s fitting that I chose the word “Bright” as my word for 2018, because with this weight lifted from my shoulders…forgiven, not forgotten, I sure do feel Bright!

30 Days of Nerdy Hair

Day 11: Kira from Xanadu

Today’s hair comes from Xanadu. The romantic tale of the roller skating Muse, Kira and the down-on-his-luck Sonny. Their love transcends the boundaries of the gods. And yet this movie could not transcend the depths of bad movie hell. In fact it is said to be the movie that inspired the creation of the Razzies, otherwise known as the worst movie ever awards. It has since become a guilty pleasure favorite to watch and also ridicule. The fact that it’s a pretty bad movie doesn’t stop Olivia Newton-John from have nerd worthy hair!

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You need a couple spools of ribbon and an air of the heavenly to pull this one off. Both of which I happened to have this morning… go figure!!

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Tomorrow’s is a tough one, so definitely check back to see if I accomplish what I set out to do.

30 Days of Nerdy Hair-Nerdvember

Day 2: Frida Kahlo

You can be a nerd for just about anything. And history is just one of the many things I can nerd out about. So today I chose a historical figure in the art community, Frida Kahlo.

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She of the braids, ribbon, flowers and unibrow. I decided to dump the unibrow and just do the hair.

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