Friday, March 23, 2012

Ten Years and Two Puzzle Pieces

even then
even when
I barely knew
you knew
you knew

from the beginning
it was
too perfect
too painful

how could it ever work?
this Thing

I was so sure that
the reality of every day
would tear apart
what we had

it was the pain
I was sure
that made us so perfect

but you insisted
you were sure
and I could not
turn away
could not

it hurt
to breathe

we wanted to
but the desire
was so strong
it was a need

and certainly



here we are

I let you
and you took care of me

and now

here we are

taking care of each other

Happy Anniversary, Hubby...a whole decade and it still feels exciting and fresh...yet I don't even remember life before you.  I really am the lucky one.

*In addition to my 10-year wedding anniversary, there was another anniversary of sorts this month...when I was off gallivanting to Paris, this little blog celebrated its THIRD year! Happy blog-a-versary to me/it!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Life, in Lists: French Lessons

Was it really just four days ago that I was sitting in a hip little restaurant on the Champs-Ellysees, wearing my new Lanvin stiletto booties, yet another glass of Bordeaux in my hand, feeling oh-so-glamorous and gorgeous and relaxed, Hubby at my side? Seems impossible. I have spent the last 2 days recovering from jet lag, helping Hubby recover from a virus, and getting the kids recovered from a week-long of spoiling a la grandparent-style. I had to chuckle today when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror: hair frizzy and sticking out, bags under my eyes, not a lick of make-up, clutching another armload of dirty laundry. That certainly does not look like that woman who was strutting around Paris, all full of wine and cheese and anniversary sex...
When you have kids, reality sets in really, really fast.
But I can't complain one bit. In fact, I've literally laughed at the disparity of what my life has been in less than a week. The woman I was, for a few precious, indulgent days, and that mom I am the rest of the time. How lucky are we that we had it? How glorious those 7 days were...
Today I found myself singing "I Love Paris" under my breath as the kids were getting into yet another little piece of melodrama. That's the thing with vacations without the kids: you are a much better parent because of them.
But it wasn't all wine and cheese and shopping...I actually found Paris to be incredibly educational. Some of the lessons are silly and frivolous, but some have a little more power to change my everyday life, even if just a little bit, if I can remember them.

Little Lessons I Picked Up While in Paris:

1. The French no longer hate Americans. They are not snippy or unpleasant, even when you butcher their language. In fact, we found that just about every single person we dealt with went out of his or her way to understand, assist, and please us.
2. French women are not preoccupied with trying to look younger. They are just walking around, looking their ages and looking incredibly put together and effortless and simple.
3. You should always look put together. Even when buying a baguette for breakfast. Or walking your incredibly cute dog.
4. French dogs are waaaaaaay cuter than American dogs.
5. French kids are waaaaaaay better dressed than American kids.
6. French dogs and French kids are waaaaaaay better behaved than American ones. No joke. For real. It was astonishing. The only time we heard a kid yell was when we were having a picnic by the Eiffel Tower and the silence was abruptly disturbed by children racing and playing Tag. They spoke English. The dogs do poop everywhere, but given the lack of grassy patches, I suppose that's not really their fault. And not even one single dog tried to lick my toes or jump on my legs (my friends know I HATE that).
7. Sex toy shops do not have to be seedy or gross or make me feel like I have to shower afterwards. In fact, in Paris, many are decorated nicer than the Bloomingdales in the U.S.
8. There is no shame in being sexual...or sexy...or in love. PDA is so not a big deal in Paris.
9. Carbs are not the enemy.
10. Neither is cheese.
11. Ditto for alcohol.
12. Have wine at Every. Single. Meal.
13. Relish Every. Single. Meal.
14. Have an actual conversation over your meal. Save your Facebooking and your texting and your apps for the Metro. We did not see one person on the phone at a cafe or a restaurant or a bar. Even the people who were eating by themselves (which could be listed as yet another lesson: Eating alone is no big deal) simply sat and ate, smoked, read, or pondered life.
15. You shouldn't have to apologize if you spend an hour nursing your espresso or your wine while you take up a table to finish your book. In Paris, they never bring you the check until you ask for it.
16. Use really big spoons for dessert.
17. Butter is good.
18. If the coffee is good, it doesn't actually need all that cream and sugar and occasional dollop of artificial flavoring.
19. French people really, really like American music. This worked out well for us when we went to a hip French nightclub and were pleasantly surprised that every other song was straight off American top dance charts (Who thought we would ever find ourselves dancing to Pitbull in Paris?!?). However, it got pretty annoying when nearly every cafe and restaurant was playing late 80's and early 90's tunes. (Bananarama over crepes? Really??)
20. It is not, apparently, a big deal to wash your hands at a public restroom sink while a man is using the urinal right beside you. (Two times in Paris, and I still can't get over the co-ed bathroom deal.)
21. Consider wearing sensible shoes. (I was shocked to discover that my color-blocked 5-inch stilettos were, by far, the highest and fiercest in the nightclub. I mean, c'mon, ladies, this is Paris. I don't care if you have to walk cobblestones and take a bus or a all are the birthing center of all things high fashion! But then, as I found myself to be the only girl standing in her stockinged bare feet at the taxi stand at 5:00 a.m., because I just couldn't take the pain anymore...did I mention they played Pitbull?...I understood.)
22. Make pleasure a priority.
23. Indulging is not being indulgent.
24. I can go a whole week without being snippy, snappy, or sarcastic. Apparently, enjoying life can really do that for a girl.

Paris was absolute perfection. We spent 7 days just being together. We ate the most delicious things and drank the best wine (why don't I get a hangover in France??) and bought great stuff. We talked and laughed and danced and held hands. We toasted "To 10 Years" with every glass. We definitely recognized that couple. They are still there. And because of that little trip, they're going to be making more regular appearances around here, too.

I swear, I could have had this at every single meal (I nearly did).

The Eiffel Tower:  Even more breathtaking the second time around!

Dancing all night in my non-sensible shoes at the chic French nightclub...

Only the American girl was standing barefoot at the taxi stand...

Strolling the streets of Paris at Owen Wilson in "Midnight in Paris"

Picnic on the lawn by the Eiffel Tower: #482 on my Life List...check!
My favorite souvenir: Lanvin shoe bootie pumps, 2009 collection, found in a little vintage shop in the Marais neighborhood...never worn!
Our last night in our cute little hotel room with the wrap-around balcony.
Au revoir!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

J'adore Paris

I recognize them...that young couple...fresh-faced and in awe, a bit bewildered by it all: How did this happen? How is it possible that we are, together, married, in front of the Eiffel Tower? That was 10 years ago. Our honeymoon. We were still untouched by the sleepless nights that came with our newborns (and occasionally still make guest appearances with our now-almost-big-boys), by the stress of leaving on a trip and leaving behind two little souls who will miss and go on with their little lives without us (as best they can), by the overwhelming responsibilities that come with Grown-Up Life: the mortgage, the lawn guy, the daily packing of lunchboxes, the realizations that come with watching your own parents age, watching  your children grow, watching life happen.

And tomorrow, we go back.

To Paris.

Just the two of Us.

Seven days of just Us and hopefully trying to feel a little bit of that carefree abandon, that joie de vivre (sorry, couldn't resist) that was our life before the wonders of: Reality and The Boys (sounds like a rock band).

Just Us.
In Paris.

I can't get over it.

Once again, I find myself wondering, How did I get here? How did I get so lucky? How did we find each other? How did it all work out?

Paris was, for me, that place I dreamed about growing up (and by growing up, what I really mean is my early and mid twenties), that I never thought I could possibly make it to. That was back when I didn't know any better. About anything, really. I didn't know that I got to make the choices in my life. I didn't know that I got to decide who I spent my time with and what I got to do during that time. I didn't realize that, really, Paris was just a place, and all I had to do to get there was go.

It had seemed impossible.

Ten years later, life doesn't (usually) feel too impossible. For the most part, Hubby and I...we can make good stuff happen. We've been lucky. We've been blessed. And we work hard at the rest.

So for the last few months I have been practicing my French conversational tapes in the car (I don't know who I'm kidding considering that last time we went, I did that too, and ended up making a fool of myself while Hubby just pointed and grunted and got us whatever we needed, aaaannnndddd I've been speaking English since I was four years old and yet people still tell me I have a "cute litttle accent" and occasionally that I "sound like JLo", never mind the fact that I am not Puerto Rican nor from the Bronx). I have planned my Paris outfits ("By Day" and "By Night"...all black and grey and as chic as my closet contents and fashion imagination can create). I have made lists (mostly typed, some even laminated) for all the sitters. I have mapped out the Parisien addresses of the best consignment shops and coolest bars. I have dutifully doled out vitamins and smothered antibacterial gel and made sure everyone's immune system is in peak working condition. And then, I have prayed a little and panicked a little and worried a little and done little happy dances in my head that I will be in Paris...Paris!

I recognize that couple...not quite so fresh-faced anymore, but still in awe of our bonne fortune.