Posts Tagged 'paris'


In a few weeks, I am leaving the country for the first time in five years. Five years is too long.

Five years ago, it was Paris, Biarritz, and the beginning of the Santiago de Compostela trail. I usually spend a good portion of the day in my head daydreaming about something or mulling over some specific moment or exchange with someone, but while I was in Paris, I did not daydream even once. I was physically and mentally there. I did not realize it until we were leaving Paris on the train to Biarritz.

This summer, it is three weeks on the Veneto Experience in northern Italy with the enigmatic Shun + a week somewhere else. Suggestions for the somewhere else?

google driving path between towns

The towns I will be staying in, connected by Google driving paths

For me, it’s not about the architecture or Italy but act of traveling, learning to be a traveler, explorer and observer. I want to come back understanding how to observe and more, to come back needing desperately to travel again. Hopefully, it will inspire me (and give me courage) to work abroad after MIT. That is the dream, anyway.

The most appealing part of the Veneto progam is that Shun encourages us to go through Venice alone. Being alone and being in cities is my childhood in some ways and the two combined is always wonderful.

Appropriately, I’ve already bought my moleskine – sketchbook paper, bound in portrait orientation. I would be very proud of myself if I filled the whole thing while I was there.

In the next chaotic and rushed two and half weeks, thoughts of walking through streets in comfortable sandals and hot weather with a glass of white wine at the end of the day will be keeping me going. Ah, the vino will be so great!

it smells like paris

After years of ‘reading’ the NYTimes style magazine, I recently decided I should actually read the words in the magazine, not just the graphics. This is how I stumbled upon the beautifully descriptive perfume reviews which made me immediately wish I had loads money to spend. Not surprsingly, perfumes are more intricate than smelling good or bad and much more nuanced than smelling like roses, apples, or old wood.

Some quotes from a recent NYT Style Magazine review:

Chanel No. 18 is a conceptual portrait of Paris. And a beautiful one….I cannot stress the degree to which No. 18 is a brilliantly postmodern perfume..No. 18 smells as if the perfumers had captured a flower, but a flower whose perfume somehow exudes from spotless glass jewlery counters and warm, burnished stone
is the jaw-dropping incarnation of mid-century Paris … it is astouding because [it] captures the quintessence of the 16th Arrondissment women in full battle regalia (heels, scarfs, blouse, jewels, jakcet)..also becuase of its starling modernity.
(NYT Winter 2008 Women’s Fashion)

What a conceptual portrait of Paris or postmodern scent smells like is completely beyond me, but it’s still intriguing. As little as I understand perfumes or smells, I think (at least for me) it is the strongest memory trigger, much more than any song or visual. When I smell cut grass in the fall, I can feel myself lying on the cold field on a Friday afternoon after practice doing our bizarre, disorganized pre-game ritual with Myers. Or that not-so-great smell of public school cafeterias makes me taste two plates rice and beans (best meal in the new york public school lunch system). My point is that unlike sounds, songs, or images that remind me of a memory, smell makes me relive that tactile feeling of a memory however briefly.

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