100 Things I Learned In France

Dear Reader,

Here are 100 things I learned while living in France.

1.) Black is the best color (or lack thereof).

2.) Expensive perfumes are expensive, yes, but they also give you a false sense of confidence. Which is extremely important if you are in high school. Or just in general, I suppose.

3.) If you’re having a bad day, Arctic Monkeys are the cure. Put Fluorescent Adolescent on.

4.) Read the newspaper. You can learn from adult’s mistakes.

5.) Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts even if you think they are stupid. They aren’t, and you’ll want to keep them. Write down dates: May 9th, September 28th, March 5th. Write down names: Sydney, Olivia, Greg, Tara. Write down words: black, cracked, glowing. It will be how you remember.

6.) Raspberries are the best desert.

7.) Never mail anything of vast importance in France. I repeat: never mail anything of vast importance in France.

8.) Buy shirts from concerts you go to. Especially if they’re black and oversized. You can sleep in them on stormy nights, and everything will seem alright.

9.) Missing your 2:37 p.m. train is okay sometimes. You can always catch the midnight one, and a lot can happen between 2:37 and midnight turns out.

10.) Lipstick is a good makeshift pen.

11.) Amélie is a lovely lovely movie. My favorite quote: « Si Amélie préfère vivre dans le rêve et rester une jeune fille introvertie, c’est son droit. Car rater sa vie est un droit inaliénable. » (« If Amélie wants to live in a dream and remain an introverted little girl, that is her right. Because to mess up one’s own life is an inalienable right. ») Genius.

12.) They don’t play french songs in french clothing stores. And that made me really sad for some reason.

13.) The people that keep in touch with you while you’re gone are the important ones.

14.) Carbonated water is an acquired taste. And once you’ve acquired it, its quite lovely.

15.) Don’t smoke. It is not romantic and quite addictive I hear.

16.) Don’t think you can get through life without a planner. You absolutely cannot. Buy one with purple flowers on it and use it every day.

17.) Take lots and lots of photos. Blurry photos, stupid photos, pretentious photos, black and white photos, funny photos, pointless photos. Lots of photos.

18.) It is very important to learn how to make macaroons if you live in France.

19.) It is very difficult to make macaroons.

20.) You need at least six playlists: a sleep playlist, a feels playlist, a running playlist, a people are stupid playlist, an I’m happy playlist, and an I’m sad playlist.

21.) In cathedrals you can pay 1 euro to light a candle and say a prayer. It’s worth it, and mine came true.

22.) French shoelaces are always ridiculously long. Always. Thus I learned how to quadruple knot my laces.

23.) Daisy chains aren’t that hard to make.

24.) 25 degrees Celsius = shorts or a skirt, 15 degrees Celsius = one jacket, 10 degrees Celsius = two jackets, 5 degrees Celsius = three or more jackets plus some mittens ideally.

25.) No more film by Essie is the best nail polish color.

26.) He’s not going to call you half the time. And thats alright. Go read a book or listen to the Postal Service or something.

27.) The Wednesday bus driver (line 5, direction Patton) had a girlfriend and she stood by the ticket machine up and down the route every morning just to talk to him. There are things like this in the world that give me hope.

28.) Lavender jam is so so good.

29.) In France they don’t use “quotes” they use « these weird things. »

30.) You can learn quite a bit from graffiti, actually. « Je suis sage femme. » « Its okey. » « J’etais une fois innocent. » « La beauté est dans la rue. » (I am wise woman, It’s okay/okey, I was once innocent, The beauty is in the street. )

31.) Try not to trip down an entire flight of stairs on the first day of school. (No I did not do this….)

32.) French Vogue is lovely.

33.) Saturday afternoon picnics are very necessary.

34.) Striped clothing is a wardrobe staple.

35.) Keep your coat pockets zipped on the Paris metro. People are horrible. And you will need your phone.

36.) Vampire weekend + Tuesdays = good

37.) If you don’t have a friend that buys you dark chocolate after a really really not okay day then you are hanging around the wrong people.

38.) Write letters. Lots of them. Remind people about things they might have forgotten.

39.) If you’re sick, don’t go to school. Get a bag of cough drops, a box of Kleenex, and watch Dirty Dancing.

40.) If you aren’t sick, but wish you were, go to school. You can’t hide forever and chances are they have already forgotten about it.

41.) Befriend the neighbor’s cat.

42.) Always study for math tests. You will thank yourself when you finish 10 minutes early and don’t have to run to catch the bus.

43.) Make lists. Lots of lists. They make everything seem more manageable.

44.) It’s okay to get addicted to coffee as long as you have a steady supply of it.

45.) At the Centre Pompidou (a big museum in Paris) there was this one exhibition that I will never forget. It was a big glass cabinet with plastic body parts on corresponding shelves, ( like an ear on the top shelf, a heart on the middle shelf, etc.) and I don’t know it just reminded me that we’re all just collections of white twigs and sticky red stuff.

46.) There is really nothing better than looking at city lights after midnight.

47.) French paper is weird. There are so many lines.

48.) Friday afternoon tea with that girl you sit next to in history class is just what you need sometimes.

49.) Sometimes people dip empty words in sugar and its so sweet until you bite down and there’s nothing. Just be careful, I guess.

50.) It is so important to learn another language. And when you kind of have it down, don’t stop speaking it. Tell the man who sells flowers on the corner you hope he’s happy. Ask a stranger directions to a place you already know how to get to just to see if you understand what she’s saying. Tell the girl on the bus you like her shoes.

51.) Fountain pens are so cool and everyone needs one.

52.) If you’re bored, call a friend and go for a walk downtown. You can talk about The Drums and get coffee.

53.) Seeing movies in foreign languages is always an intimidating but rewarding experience. (i.e. the Yves Saint Laurent movie)

54.) Always have a book to read on the bus. I recommend The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

55.) Color code stuff. Its easier and prettier that way.

56.) French frozen yogurt is weird but French normal yogurt is the best thing ever.

57.) « Do I Wanna Know » (Arctic Monkeys), « We Looked Like Giants » (Death Cab for Cutie), « Countdown » (Phoenix) and « Handshake » (Two Door Cinema Club) were always what I needed. And still need sometimes.

58.) Le Marais is really hard to find.

59.) At Christmas time, French cities will twirl lights into trees and entire streets will glow. It’s magic.

60.) The House of Bones in Barcelona was weird cause I could somehow relate to it. A fragile assembly of bones and kaleidoscopic glass. Yeah that sounds familiar.

61.) You can never have enough gum in your bag.

62.) Write poetry if you want to. Even if you think its stupid and that nobody will get it. You don’t have to show anyone and its quite therapeutic, promise.

63.) Learn how to forgive cause sometimes you are the one that needs to be forgiven.

64.) If its raining and your umbrella is broken its okay. Pretend you’re in a movie or something.

65.) Vintage french boutique are so fantastic. They had the best sweaters for 14 euros.

66.) Your best friend might listen to Death Cab For Cutie too and have hair like silk, but don’t trust just anyone. People can be really really horrible turns out.

67.) Its okay to collapse into a muddled heap of purple lids and ripped tights sometimes. Just remember to get back up.

68.) Oversized blue sweatshirts + chamomile tea + french movies = a good Friday night.

69.) Make an « I’m having a bad day » folder on your computer with stupid photos and beautiful quotes and old memories. It will make you feel better when you need it.

70.) He doesn’t care. Not enough to tell the truth at least.

71.) The Paris metro stops working at 3 am.

72.) They say cities are ugly. Grey concrete and billowing smoke. But I’ve never been to cities more beautiful than the ones I found in France. There was nothing ugly about the swirling banisters and there was nothing, nothing ugly about the blushing people.

73.) Collapsing onto stairs in a fancy restaurant with your best friend because of something ridiculously funny is totally fine.

74.) Buy yourself a pair of French heeled boots. In black obviously. It is extremely important that you own some.

75.) You will always feel 100x better after a run.

76.) Go to modern art exhibitions on Thursday evenings. You will love feeling lost and nostalgic.

77.) There’s no such thing as too much black eyeliner in France. That being said French teenagers are horrible at putting on mascara.

78.) Always have makeup wipes, chapstick, and bobby pins in your bag.

79.) Fall blurs into winter blurs into spring blurs into goodbyes.

80.) Throwing rocks into the sea is so fun. They make quite satisfying sloshes.

81.) Sydney is a really, really good person. She’s a sister to me. She always told me the truth. And she told me today (about our future apartment): « I’m thinking maybe we’ll change our plans, and instead of living in Brooklyn, we’ll get a really cute studio apartment in Manhattan on one of the top floors of a skyrise. We’ll have shampoo that smells like angels, a really nice shower curtain, just to spite the French, and a window overlooking the coffee shops with wifi that we’ll never need car nous aurons notre propre réseau internet (cause we’ll have our own wifi network).

82.) Phoenix will change your life. I’m not kidding. Go download all of their albums if you have not already. Everything is Everything.

83.) Cut the people that made you hurt out of your life. They’re poison and you don’t need any more of that running through your veins. I’m not going to call sorry.

84.) « Le succès a tout prix. » Success is the best form of revenge.

85.) Pretzel thins dipped in Nutella are the best thing to eat on Saturdays. Sydney can back me up on this.

86.) Making French friends isn’t easy but once you breach the frosty, forbidding exterior most French teenagers seem to posses, your efforts will be rewarded. Marie, I miss you and thanks for giving me a hug that one day I was not okay. I nearly cried when you did.

87.) Nobody wears berets there.

88.) If you’re angry find your best friend and a place to shout-sing Avril Lavigne at the top of both of your lungs. It makes it better; I promise.

89.) Buy the dress. It makes your skin glow. It makes you look like you don’t care what they were saying about you after school on Wednesday.

90.) When you ride the bus, look around you. At the business man always glancing at his wristwatch. At the school girl smearing on lipstick on the 7:14 route. At the woman in the yellow coat always reading. You can learn so much about the way people work.

91.) Bookstores are the same in every country. Lots of books and smart people and the smell of ink.

92.) Don’t be intimidated by the girl who is already fluent in French. She is one of the most kindhearted people you will probably ever meet and you can learn a lot from her (not just how to conjugate verbs – real stuff too).

93.) Sad and happy aren’t always black and white. Rain isn’t something that only exists in nature and the same goes for sunshine.

94.) Salvador Dalí was deathly afraid of grasshoppers.

95.) People will tell you that the Mona Lisa is too small and encased behind 2 inches of glass. But aren’t we all. And I hope to master her taciturn smile someday.

96.) If you make a best friend that lives in New York, be prepared to miss her horribly when it’s all over.

97.) Socialist government = no sales tax.

98.) People are so so fragile. They’re just bones and you have to be careful (see 45, 60).

99.) Don’t wear high heeled shoes out to dinner even if you are trying to be classy. Your arches will sting and you won’t be able to walk home without wobbling.

100.) Somewhere in the blur the blue lights, sticky people and rainy weeknights, you will find a home in France. And leaving it will break your heart. I learned that it is just as easy to fall in love with a place as it is to fall in love with people.

XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress

P.S. Listen to this song: Down By The Water – The Drums

P.P.S. Comment which of these (if any) made sense to you.

Posted in All Posts | 40 Comments

A Poem or Something

Dear Reader,

My last assignment in English class was to write a poem about my year in France. And I wrote this. My english teacher made me read it aloud in front of the entire school the last week of school and I almost started crying. (I was emotionally unstable because I knew I had to say goodbye to all my friends in three days.)Capture d’écran 2014-08-24 à 17.44.13

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XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress

P.S. Listen to this song: Palo Alto

(I strongly recommend this movie by the way here’s the trailer)

Posted in All Posts, My Year in France, Poetry | Tagged | 17 Comments

Golden Leaves (April/May)

Dear Reader, 

April and May were really really nice. I wrote this in April about growing up. Its actually funny reading this now cause it makes a lot more sense. Sorry its so sad:

golden leaves
(dedicated to sally)
 
i once knew a girl with ribbons in her hair and
color in her cheeks
when she was five she kept 
rolly polly bugs in jars and walked home with
a red lunch pail and played king and queen
with the boy who lived too doors down
under the old oak tree that tossed golden leaves 
onto their fluttering lashes
every autumn
and she and sally played dress up 
tottering around in satin heels 5 sizes too big and
smearing red creams on each others lips
her older brother always walked her to school and warned her about
ghosts and wolves that came out when you could
find the bunny on the moon and she always came home for dinner early
and mr. robertson from the diner downtown 
slipped shiny nickels into her sticky palms
when her parents weren’t looking
and she was 
alright
 
when she was twelve
she kept all her pencils lined up
and her books in alphabetical order
but she learned that her pink erasers 
couldn’t erase the 
worst kinds of mistakes
and sometimes she cried, but not too much,
because her purple tube of mascara
wasn’t waterproof
and the boy who lived two doors down kissed her
a week before christmas cause 
somewhere between an anatomy class
and an old song about beauty queens
he realized she was there
and sally said that was fine 
with her
the golden leaves on the old oak tree
turned brown and dropped 
one
by one
until it was a dripping silhouette at 5 o’clock
and sometimes she looked at it
from her bedroom glass and felt 
grey
and her brother didn’t walk with her to school anymore
cause he got a job at the diner, a squeaky pickup, and a soda pop girlfriend
and mr. robertson slipped him blue checks
on fridays 
but she still came home early for dinner
and she was
alright
 
when she was seventeen
she found her red lunch pail under her bed
and it was rusty so
she threw it out
spring came and so did a dark blue day when 
she wanted to curl up like the rolly polly bugs that used to live
in the jars she now used for
other things
it was raining the day she saw
the boy who lived two doors down kissing sally in the gym after school
cause the satin heels fit her now and her lips were always red 
and that was the day she learned
that storms weren’t something that existed only 
outside her two story window
and some unsuspecting men in orange vests and yellow hats cut the old oak tree down in april
cause it didn’t have any more golden leaves to throw
and she was starting to think 
she didn’t either 
cause the ghosts
and wolves 
her brother used to warn her about
were sometimes carefully disguised underneath crooked smiles
and blue sweaters
and finding that out was scary and dark dark charcoal
her parents told her to stay away from
mr. robertson cause he slipped money to little girls
playing dress up with expensive lipsticks
apparently
and she didn’t come home early for dinner anymore
cause home didn’t
feel like it used to
and she was not
alright
 
I once knew a girl
yeah I knew her pretty well
she used to have ribbons in her hair
and color in her damn cheeks
 
I never capitalize my poetry. I can’t really explain it. I think its because I am always so shy about sharing it. It  seems quieter that way maybe I don’t know. 
 
Here are some random things I down wrote in my journal in May. I really couldn’t explain them if I tried.
 
“May is just a blur of spinning sky, rose lips, hazy reflections and murmuring walls. It always is.”
 
“It’s better to feel careless than nothing at all I think.”

“There’s no warning label posted across your front, but there should be. Don’t you know the worst kinds of things are the ones that you never thought could do harm.”

“If a + 0 = a how come I feel like 0 if I should feel like a. Maybe I was multiplied and didn’t realize it cause a x 0 = 0. Thats it. I was multiplied.”

“Don’t let anyone smash your candles.”

“I don’t care.”

And thus concludes my I was in France series. 
 
XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress

P.S. Listen to this song : Fuel – Shimmer

Posted in All Posts, My Year in France, Poetry | 23 Comments

No Sleep in the City (March)

Dear Reader, 

I went to Paris again in March. And (surprise!) took more photos. I did another black and white series. I really did fall in love with that city. If you are sick of my black and white photos of Paris, I quite frankly don’t care. I will fawn all I want. 

I have always loved giant clocks. They’re so ominous yet ridiculous if that makes sense.

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Sophie and I went to a big department store called Printemps. It was so so big and smelled like expensive perfumes and silk. And look how cool the chandeliers were.

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The Vogue Café. 

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In the Orsay museum, we found a beautiful, beautiful room that was golden and ornate and essentially the ballroom in Beauty and the Beast. And there was no photography allowed. But I didn’t let that stop me from taking this crooked photo because one, Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie, and two, it was one of the most stunning places I had ever been. The reason it is so lopsided is because I was terrified of being caught by the security guard whose head makes an appearance at the bottom. Timing was key. 

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It looks like the buildings are tilted.
 
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Yes. I did witness a proposal on the bridge of love. And yes this photo is in my I’m having a bad day folder on my computer. I mean how perfect. 
 
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Friday night.
 
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An art exhibition in the Palais de Tokyo Modern Art Museum (Palace of Tokyo). 
 
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When I was in Paris in March, Fashion Week was going on and there was a fashion show in the Palais de Tokyo the same time I was there. There was apparently a Diane von Furstenburg sighting 10 minutes before I went in. (Still bitter.) I attempted to subtly take a photo of all the fashionable people but forgot that my flash was on. So that was fun. I received some glares.
 
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Just the cutest letter ever in the Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore. I hope she finds her husband soon. 
 
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We came across the cutest little street band just outside of the Marais. They were all wearing hats. 
 
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Un soir au théâtre. A night at the theatre.
 
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XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress
 
P.S. Listen to this song: Hozier – Take Me To Church
 
 
Posted in All Posts, My Year in France | Tagged , | 24 Comments

We Are The Blood (February Part 2)

Dear Reader,

Some more black and white photos from my weekend trip to Paris with Sophie.

Looking at this photo makes me happy I can’t really explain it. I think it has something to do with the fluorescent bulbs and the way two of the horses are blurred but the rest are in focus. 

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I really like this combination of a Flower sign and an Optometrist sign for some reason.

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There was something so beautiful about the way these striped chairs were lined up just so and the way the overhang was fluttering. And I love name of the cafe. Esmeralda. How lovely is that word. I don’t know I just loved this.

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We got brunch.
 
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On t’aime, Paris. (We love you Paris.)
 
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The good ol’ Centre Pompidou. This photo isn’t in black and white, because my art history teacher told us that the reason the underside of the escalators is red is because the people are like the blood of the building. « We are the blood, » he said.
 
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Out the window of the escalator. It was raining. 
 
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Sophie and I put a lock on the bridge of love. A conversation we had later in the hotel room:
Me: There’s an article that says that bridge is going to implode soon because of too many locks.

Sophie: but our lock will still be attached
Me: Sophie, that’s beautiful.

 
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Friday night was so great.
 
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And then a separate occasion in February that warrants a nod – Valentine’s Day or Galentines Day as we called it. It was my friend Ruth’s birthday and we all went to dinner. It was a sweet and amusing night. Oh how I miss these little ones. 
 
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Sophie and I got Ruth a book of Pablo Neruda love poems when we were in Paris. She flipped the book open to a random page and read a poem. It was this one I’m pretty sure (I searched for 20 minutes online to find it).
 
The Queen
 

“I have named you queen.
There are taller than you, taller.
There are purer than you, purer.
There are lovelier than you, lovelier.
But you are the queen.

When you go through the streets
No one recognizes you.
No one sees your crystal crown, no one looks
At the carpet of red gold
That you tread as you pass,
The nonexistent carpet.

And when you appear
All the rivers sound
In my body, bells
Shake the sky,
And a hymn fills the world.

Only you and I,
Only you and I, my love,
Listen to it.”

 
How beautiful is that? 
 
XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress
 
P.S. Listen to this song: The Killers – Read My Mind
 
P.P.S. Please comment your favorite poem I would love to read it.
 
Also a year ago today I started this blog. What??!/& And this is also my 50th post. I guess I just wanted to say thank you for reading about the girl in the little black dress even if she doesn’t always make sense. So much love <3 <3 <3
Posted in All Posts, My Year in France | 8 Comments

Until The City Unfurls (February)

Dear Reader,

February 7,8, and 9 I was in Paris with Sophie. I wrote this a while ago, but it basically explains that weekend.

We were so little. Two girls in a huge, fluorescent city. We went to striped cafes and got lost in winding metro tunnels. We looked at art in museums that were too big and bought books in stores that were too small.

On Saturday we went to a Phoenix concert. It was magic. There were red lights and buzzing people and throbbing music. The music was perfect.  Thomas Mars has the voice of an angel. He sang about promises and boys standing outside windows. He sang about Rome and 1901 and breakfast tears. Everything was so loud and when we left my ears were drumming  but my cheeks were blushing and i was happy. (And Chloroform was perfect.)

My favorite Phoenix lyrics (sorry there are so many):

  • why would I lie to you? my love my love my love is cruel
  • die and succeed i say it out loud, but you just don’t care and well well well well well well well… do you know me well?
  • so lonely so pretty far out so far out such a fall out of lonely
  • who’s the boy you like the most? is he teasing you with underage? could he be waving from a tropical sunset? static silhouette somehow. single in his bed someday quiet till it falls falls falls
  • it aint easy to ignore when your shutters are open all the way
  • distant silhouette somehow we shared a cigarette somewhere ashes till it falls, falls, falls
  • i stand outside under broken leaves always and forevermore we’re together dead and lonely
  • burn the avenues until the city unfurls
  • fake riches, obvious tales, on a domestic airline swear to god that you’re mine
  • light a cigarette for two too close to get to how come everyone knows you before they meet you?
  • lie down you know its easy like we did it over summer long
  • don’t worry no i’m not the kind that kiss and tell. no dahlias and cherry trees i don’t recall them anyway
  • look what you wasted when the lights are cutting out and i come down in your room our daily compromise is written in your signed armistice
  • keeping promises for lovers in a rush for lovers always
  • what i once refused to be is everything they long together i’d rather be alone
  • this love’s for gentlemen only
  • tell me that you want me tell me that you want me
  • god bless your mess somewhere we’re sick for the big sun
  • don’t say no your breakfast tears are gone
  • do you remember when 21 years was old?

After the concert we walked all the way up and down the Champs Elysées. Now, that night is just a blur in my head of fur coats, black purses, long long spider legs, hair that dripped down to tiny waists, ripped tights, c’est son anniversaire, il faut que vous partiez, empty-eyed girls and blaring street lights. But I remember we were laughing and our feet were sore and everything was yellow.

We missed the last train and thus discovered the hard way that the Paris Metro stops working at 3am.  We had to hail a cab at Bastille. It took an hour and Sophie almost got run over, but we finally got one. When we got back, it was 4am. We ate candy and listened to Bourgeois in the hotel room.

We fell asleep with our black makeup smeared and our tangled tights dangling off blue beds. Paris was lovely.

Here are some photos of the concert:

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From our Friday night walk:

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On the first night, we got off the Metro and walked a block and I remember all of a sudden we saw the Eiffel Tower all lit up and glowing, and it looked fake but it wasn’t and we knew it wasn’t and I don’t know I’ll never forget that moment.

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My flower Sophie looking lovely.

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Me holding onto my phone undoubtedly containing our directions. Smiling cheekily to cover up the fact that we were lost if I remember correctly.

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That was one of the best weekends of my life. Sophie and I scribbled Phoenix lyrics in the margins of our notebooks for the rest of the school year.

XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress

P.S. Listen to this song: Phoenix – Chloroform

P.P.S. Sophie, if you are reading this chloroform is not the same as chlorophyll. And before you do absolutely don’t.

Posted in All Posts, My Year in France | 12 Comments

The Snow Globe (January)

Dear Reader,

In January my parents came to visit me and we went to Paris for the winter vacation. I took so many photos but here are some of my favorites.

We found the most beautiful flower stand by the Eiffel Tower.

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We saw a broken red bike and I don’t know why but it made me so sad. Look at it.

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We went to a Christmas market by the Eiffel Tower. Look how tiny and parallel everything looks. And all the bundled paper people. I don’t know why but this photo makes Paris look like a snow globe or something.

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A cliché photo of me feat. Le Tour Eiffel. I would also like to apologize on behalf of my hair. It was raining.

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I took a lot of black and white photos because the thing about Paris is that the buildings are so old that if you looked at some of these photos you wouldn’t be able to tell what century they were taken in. And I love that. Anyways here are a few.
A lot of those photos were of rooftops. I couldn’t tell you why.
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Look at the woman in the bottom right hand corner. She is such a Parisian. Ugh I miss France.
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Enjoy this lovely photo of Syd and I on the bus. I will always remember January 25.
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XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress
P.S. Listen to this song: My Mirror Speaks – Death Cab for Cutie
Posted in All Posts, My Year in France | 7 Comments