Friday, May 30, 2014


I've always been a fan of birthdays. What a wonderful occasion it is to celebrate someone you love on an otherwise ordinary day. What a wonderful occasion, too, to reflect on another year well-lived. Yesterday, I reveled in my own in Paris for the second time: a healthful lunch at Préface, cookie and coffee at Loustic, souvenir-shopping at Merci, and finally, drinks (and frites) at Le Perchoir. It was a calm city day with confidents I adore; so unlike previous ones at vineyards/beaches/my parent's backyard, but just as sweet.
Last year, I all but freaked out about turning 25--the same age my mom was when she had me. I was stressed about finishing grad school courses, starting an internship abroad, and figuring out the formula to successfully putting down roots, embarking on a satisfying career, and falling in love forever (with eventual little loves in tow). Silly, silly girl, I am. Not one of those concerns occurred to me yesterday... and not just because I've already graduated. In the time and space between 25 and 26, I've gained a whole new perspective. As Jamie Varon wrote, "what’s most important is who we are, not what we are; how we lived, not what we did." And it's simply unbelievable how enough we are. Now, as each day brings me closer the big 2-7, I resolve to continue to work hard and be kind, celebrate often and appreciate always. I'll probably never stop being sentimental nor nostalgic, but gosh, how happy I am to have the chance to nurture relationships with friends and family I endlessly love and admire from near and far. Fin. My next few days will be spent putting finishing touches on this glorious Parisian chapter before "danielle abroad" moves home. Not for long though. Little by little, things do fall into place, and soon after arriving in New York, I'm relocating, again. Please stay tuned :).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

6 things I know to be true at twenty-six

I hadn't planned on blogging aujourd'hui. But my parents bought me flowers before leaving yesterday, and I had an especially good slumber last night, and I awoke this morn to birthday wishes and gratified contentness in officially being "26 years young" today.
{La promenade plantée}
  1. "One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."
  2. We are as small as we are significant.
  3. "Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope."
  4. Take the awkward firsts and second chances and the limitless opportunities to live greater if not more.
  5. "We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."
  6. "Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet."
Please attribute all quotations above to the ever-inspiring, late Maya Angelou--world-renowned poet, author, activist, scholar.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

hasta la vista

A couple of hours ago, I was sitting in the cozy back room of this French resto playing Mikado with my mom, dad, ma soeur, and her parents. We needed entertaining while we finished our glasses of wine (third bottle, ahem) and waited for dessert to be served.
Earlier today, I mentioned to my mom that the I might not be in Paris again until Marie's wedding (!); a thought which conjured a whole lotta feelings. It's hard to believe I have less than two weeks in a city I never really expected to "design a life" in. Mais ça c'est la vie, je suppose. In honor of my pre-nostalgia (and my parents current visit for my Tuesday graduation, and my Thursday birthday immediately following), I'm taking un petit hiatus. Check Instagram for last-minute Parisian memories. Forever dramatic.

Monday, May 19, 2014

with okies in tahoe

When I accepted a spot in Syracuse's University Class of 2010, I'd yet to see the campus. But within 10 minutes of my visit 3 weeks following, I knew I'd made the right choice. It just felt so college (which, ironically enough, was the way I described it upon graduation 4.5 years later). Fortunately, they'd also given me generous financial aid. By the time I joined the honors program, and thus, as I'd find out, an honors freshman floor, I was feeling optimistic about my impending college experience. Rightfully so.
I was assigned to share a renovated double room in Brockway with a girl named Courtney. By the time we moved in together, I'd triumphed through tearful goodbyes to family and friends from high school and had fully immersed myself in the naive enthusiasm that came with living independently, miles away from everything I'd ever known, for the first time in my young life. Yay, higher education. I couldn't have been more excited to answer the classic "where are you from?" and "what are you studying?" questions.
Karen lived two doors down from us. And once Deirdre (her roommate) and I started Spanish class, I got to know her better. I like to think it would've happened anyway, but I recall two turning points in particular. The first, when I unknowingly went to comfort homesickness on her September birthday. The second, when she spoke about Native American reservations on our way to dinner. Even with my good intentioned Northeastern ignorance, I was impressed by (and friend-crushing on) "the girl from Oklahoma."
As our first semester went on, we established weekly cafeteria lunch dates, drove down to Villanova to visit her friend from home, shared tubes of cookie dough while devouring early seasons of Grey's Anatomy, and shared stories of our young histories (sometimes with vodka tonics in hand, of which she introduced me to). She became an honorary roommate in C and I's 209. After winter break, I was so thrilled to reunite that I broke her laptop screen with the intensity of my "welcome back to 'cuse" hug. I'd missed my friend.
Fast-forward a few months later, and her, C, and I were scheming about how to convince Julia to room with us sophomore year. (Insert more memories of Friendly's sundaes, heart-to-hearts, Grey's Anatomy episodes, studying encouragement, hometown plans, and adventures in finding open parties here). By fall 2007, the four of us--K, C, J, and I--moved into an apartment at 211 Lambreth Lane. This past weekend, we reconvened from near and far in South Lake Tahoe, California. Our one and only Okie is now a Mrs.
Words cannot express how grateful I am to have taken part in their most spectacular day. The woman who ultimately convinced me to rush a sorority, backpack through Central America, take a chance on a dream job, and generally be a better friend, is now married to a man who adores her to the staggering degree she so rightfully deserves. And I had the privilege of witnessing it beautifully take place in the company of her amazing family and friends. And though I'm not yet as acquainted with him as well as I'd like to be, he's already impressed me twice; and really, before my favorite just-about-Drs couple and I know it, we'll be residents of the same city. The love and happiness continues :) congrats, Karen and Andrew! My heart couldn't be more full for you both.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

le mois de mai

This just in: I'm very happily overwhelmed in the midst of my hectic schedule. The mariage is next. My flight leaves New York at 6am tomorrow morning. I'll have waterproof mascara in tow. In the mean time, I've unpacked half of my Parisian apartment, coordinated outfits for their wedding events, made reservations for my parents' visit, and chatted with potential next city roommates.
Before any of it though, I spent one responsibility-less day in Paris. I met Amy for coffee, went to a museum with Lorelei, and stopped by "Rachael's bar" for a drink. I thought about how grateful I am to have lived this unsustainable experience in La Ville-Lumière. Two days following, I awoke at home to blue skies (see above) and a holiday. It's been crazy. Crazy, and wonderful, too.

P.S. So, so sorry for having accidentally deleted your comments from my blog posts of the past two months. Please know I've read and still appreciate every single one.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

on letting go

A little more than four years ago, I wrote the following email to a friend. I'd just gotten back from a visit I hadn't enjoyed nearly as much as I should have. I wanted to try explain to her why that was, hoping she'd forgive me for not having at all been at my best.

It's like a dull agony.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Friends, I have news: my master's thesis is fini ! I submitted it roughly 56 hours ago, before heading out for a most crazy-rewarding 24 hours of volunteering at the OECD Forum, so I'm only just now appreciating how incredible (and unnerving) that is. I hope my baby research and writing are received well. Also of note: "the beginning of the end" has officially begun; thus these deep thoughts.
Between my own choices and life's serendipity, I've experienced such mixed feelings rather frequently--eagerly looking forward to what's to come while tenderly savoring what I'll soon have to let go of. I wasn't kidding when I said I'm going to miss Paris. I am. Like crazy. And not even the Paris we see in movies and on Instagram necessarily... but the city that's very much become my own; much like New York had previously. It's hard to imagine myself settling into another cosmopolitan ville in just two short months.
Although I can't reveal which one quite yet, I will tell you that reading this past week's Astrostyle horoscope made me smile. "You might even consider moving to a new part of town, one where you can get your Gemini RDA of culture, intellectual repartee, and awesome brunch options." Replace "a new part of town" with "a new part of the world" and I've recently accepted their suggestion.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves though. Not yet. Instead, please allow me to share last Saturday's Nanashi brunch. 'Twas a good one! For as much as I'd hoped to go to a healthy Meetup with Melanie (she's since relocated to Rome), my delay was fortunate in that I got to meet the darling Dunia and more at a Franco-Japanese cantine I've been curious about since last year's lunch at Café Pinson.
The fabulous meal, company, and conversation fueled one of my last productive bouts at Café Craft. Then, I walked up along the canal (an especially good choice for my heart and soul), admired these photographs at metro Juarès, and made my way home...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

it is unbelievable how enough you are

If the popularity of pas mal is any indication, the French are pretty tough critics. Though the phrase may literally translate to "not bad", it's often used to replace an American very good, nice job, or way to go! We tend to be exceptionally more encouraging. So, when a Frenchman told my friend and I he was impressed with us, it meant a lot; granted we were only strategically guessing which secret wine we were tasting from the Compagnie des Vins Surnaturales' extensive wine list... but still. I have Paris, France to thank.
I don't even mean that in a I've-drank-so-much-French-wine-having-lived-in-Paris-for-nearly-two-years sense, though that's probably true. I mean to say that this grad-school-abroad thing has helped me grow into myself in pretty impressive ways. Experiences bring confirmation of the great reach of our capabilities as well as of our limits. They informs us how fragile we are while simultaneously reminding us of our triumphant resilience. Many of my own have just happened to take place in a foreign country. And although I won't reduce the influence of such a significant detail, I also refuse to believe it's a prerequisite for certainty in one's self-assured adequacy. The trick, I think, is to never stop taking chances. Eat, pray, love happens on the inside. As a wise woman once shared: "You are enough. You are so enough; it is unbelievable how enough you are." It's hardly just wine knowledge to be proud of.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

tipples in montmartre

Paris weather has been back to its old tricks again: clouds, sun, rain, sun... mostly clouds. As such, it hasn't taken that much discipline to hole up in my apartment (or a café) and studiously make these final edits and formatting changes to my master's thesis. The end is so near I can almost taste it! Until then, I'm limiting spring fun with friends. Besides birthdays. And THATrue prizes.
Last Saturday afternoon, I ventured up to Montmartre for my first event with The Chamber. Gâteaux Mama had laid out the most gorgeous spread of port-poached pears on stilton walnut crackers, herbed madeleines, deviled egg salad in sesame cracker cups, lemon shortbread, brown butter brownies, and lemon-rosemary olive oil tea cake. Forest Collins (of The Chamber and 52 Martinis) kindly served champagne cocktails as well. As to be expected with lovely company and aforementioned treats, great times were had. Last weekend was an especially good one, huh? Here's to hoping knowing those in May will follow suit. I'm gonna miss this city.