Blog, Dear Diary...

Winter and Spring 2022 Update

When I came to write this I realised that I had not written a Winter update, that’s how fast time seems to be flying! So I’ll combine the two here since there isn’t much to update on anyways.

Photos I took over two years at my co-vid safe haven- The Saint Genevieve Library

First of all, let’s address the one constant in all our lives since 2019. CO-VID! My little family and I have so far been unscathed, between the three of us no one has ever had a positive test result. I’m sure we’ve all had it at some point, but we’ve never had to quarantine or anything like that. After February 2nd it was no longer required to wear masks outside, and May 11th was the day they were no longer needed in transport. It’s so strange to think that after three years of having random masks stuffed in bags and pockets I no longer need them.

On Valentines Day I hosted my first History Pub quiz at one of my favorite Paris pubs, The Pomme d’Eve, which also happens to be a gothic cellar once part of a monastery. Obviously the theme was Medieval Love and Romance and things got a little raunchy (as they often do with me) but it was a blast. There was a nice turn out and I hope to be able to do it again in the fall!

Of course I did a little time traveling partying between the early 20th century at one of the Baron de Paname’s famous parties at the Coupole and the 15th century at Les Caves Saint Sabin. These parties happen once a month and are my favorite regular event to participate in. Both are very different, but I find the medieval parties to be more festive, especially when the dancemaster gets everyone moving!

In April my daughter and I met some of my family in Florida to do the whole Disneyland Shabang. Everyone knew we were coming except my mom, so surprising her in the airport upon their arrival was the best part. I’m not a huge Disney fan and the last time I was there was maybe in 2001, but I really wanted my daughter to have the experience and six years old is the perfect age for it. We made a ton of memories, met so many characters, did a bunch of rides, and of course spent way too much money. Mickey sure knows how to empty your pockets!

And the cerise sur la gateau was running into two celebrities in one weekend. Bruno Gouery (Luke from Emily in Paris) was just strolling along Boulevard Saint Germain with an ice cream and I spotted him from a mile away. I discreetly asked for a quick photo and he nicely obliged. He even complimented my Milwaukee Brewers hat. Who knew he liked baseball?! And of course, my History Hero- Lorant Deutch. I’m not sure there is anyone I wanted to meet more. This is the guy responsible for my life of history and who I aspire to be like. Before anyone starts moaning about how he is often wrong or embellishes too much- get over it! That’s precisely WHY I admire Lorant. He is making history accessible to everyone by making it fun and relatable. I don’t want to listen to some robot preach about dates and events in front of his diplomas, I want to learn about history from someone who is as passionate about it as I am! Despite wearing a hat and glasses, when I crossed his path on Rue Saint André des Arts I immediately knew it was him. He was giving a tour to some children so I didn’t disrupt him too much, but I was able to tell him how much of a fan I was. I know I’ll see him again someday, hopefully with Stéphane Bern!

What’s Up Next? .. A new job, my first wedding at a French chateau, and a trip back to Wisconsin for summer vacation!

Blog, Dear Diary...

Fall 2021 Update

Well here we are on the brink of winter amid worsening pandemic concerns, but life ultimately continues to go on. Summer tan lines are mostly faded and its already dark by 4:30 but I can confidently say this fall has been the swiftest one yet. I’ve done so many incredible things that I had been waiting all confinement to experience. Here are a few I’ll share!

Traveling to Corsica

Prior to this four day vacation with friends, I probably wouldn’t have been able to point out this small island to the south of France on a map and other than knowing this is where Napoleon was born, I wouldn’t have been able to say much about it either. If I had to describe Corsica in one phrase, it would be “Holy Shit, this landscape looks like a fucking painting its so gorgeous” which is more or less what I said several times a day. Why don’t more people vacation to Corsica? We didn’t get to explore the whole island, but if you don’t mind driving on winding roads through indescribably colossal mountains where a goat could suddenly appear around a reckless barrier free curve, this place is for you.

Medieval themed parties at Les Caves Saint Sabin

One of the greatest things to happen to me despite co-vid was the new friends I made in spite of it. They have become such dear friends I can’t believe I existed here in Paris for six years without them. One of our activities to replace other pre-covid pastimes was learning dances ranging from medieval to 19th century. I discovered I have a soft spot for the more fun and carefree dances like the Branle Cassandre and La Bourrée d’Avignon. (Click on text for links to videos) Which is great because in Paris there is an regular event with like minded individuals who get together on a monthly basis to party like its 1492 in a medieval cave bar. I waited all confinement to experience my first Taverne Médiévale (click for link) and at the end of September all my dreams came true. Dressing up as a historically inaccurate peasant to drink mead and dance for hours might have been one of the most memorable nights of my life.

Les Caves Saint Sabin (click text for link)
50 rue Saint Sabin Paris 75011
The only negative is that it gets quite humid in the caves!
My crew

La Coupole Parties

Have you ever wanted to experience Paris during the roaring 20’s? It turns out you don’t need a time machine or to watch “Midnight in Paris” for the 8th time to live it! Below the renowned Coupole restaurant is a nightclub that hosts regular themed parties thanks to an organizer known as La Baronne de Paname . (click text for link to her facebook page) Like The Great Gatsby on steroids, these champagne fueled parties offer live music (usually jazz) with frequent cabaret and burlesque mini performances. Each one is themed to honor a particular person from Les Années Folles and costumes range from basic Halloween Flapper to extravagant black tie glamour.

La Coupole (click text for link)
102 Boulevard du Montmarnasse Paris 75014 

The 8km Course des Princesses at Versailles and the 10km Paris Centre

I like to run and I like history, so why not participate in races that are held in the gardens of Versailles or in the heart of Paris themselves! Can’t say I’ll be winning any medals anytime soon, but at least I feel less guilty about all the beer I drink!

And here are a few random photos including outdoor dinner parties (a cape makes all the difference), hanging out with my daughter and partner, my Halloween costume (IYKYK) and other odds and ends.

Blog, Dear Diary...

Summer 2021 Update

For the past three years I’ve had the luck to be able to spend my summers in America. Since I work as an English teacher in a preschool during the year in Paris, I have July and August off and prefer to return to Wisconsin so my daughter can enjoy fresh air, her cousins, and the beach close to my childhood home.

The start of summer vacation, awaiting our flight at a very empty Charles de Gaulle Airport just before the big end of school rush

I always say I have the best of both worlds to be able to live in Paris during the year and still give my daughter a taste of childhood in small town mid-west America for a few weeks in summer. I don’t think I could choose between the two.

I love Paris with all my heart but if I can avoid staying there in summer (especially now during covid-19), I will! Too hot, not enough to do, pools are over crowded, many places are closed, and if you do get a chance to escape Paris to go to the south or the coast, you find yourself asses to ankles with all the other also Parisians on the run from the city. If I wasn’t a mother it would be different, but my one big complaint about Paris is that it is just not kid friendly. I don’t say it with disgust, it’s my decision to stay here and subject myself to it when I do have the option of moving in the suburbs.. but if I have the choice to not be here for it, I’m OUT!

Growing up next to a beautiful beach and always having a ton of water activities, Paris feels like a desert in the summer. There’s the Seine river of course, but its not like you can jump in it! And if you want to know hell on earth; try being on a crowded bus on a hot Paris day. This might come as a shocker to Americans- but AC does not exist in Europe like it does in the states.

On the other end, leaving my family in Wisconsin is always a heart breaker, even though I know I don’t want to necessarily live there. I guess everything I took for granted before I moved to France- the wide aisles in stores, attached garages and big cars, air conditioning, king sized beds, cash back with debit card purchases, 24 hour Walgreens, automatic opening doors, even air so fresh you want to gulp it up like a cool beverage on a hot day: all of these things I just appreciate even more when I am home to enjoy them.

Giving my daughter the opportunity to know both of these environments and cultures is one of the best things I can do for her as a parent. How many American kids can say they know what its like to hop on a bus and arrive at the Louvre within 20 minutes or eat a gourmet three course lunch at school daily? How many Parisian kids can wake up and go outside on the patio to catch frogs (my daughter’s favorite thing to do) or roast s’mores by a fire at night?

A ridiculously loaded Bloody Mary from Kewaunee, Wisconsin

I thought about this often over the summer, especially since now at my eight year Paris anniversary where I finally feel really grounded in France. The best way I can explain it is that I consider Paris where my future is, but Wisconsin where my home is.

Saying our Goodbyes in Chicago

Blog, Dear Diary...

The Meeting that Never Was

Dear Diary,

I have a confession. I am disgusted with myself..

Today destiny led me to share a sidewalk with the Rector and Archpriest of Notre Dame Cathedral, Patrick Chauvet. Normal people want to cross paths with Movie Stars or famous singers or chefs- but I’ve been fan-girling the Boss of Notre Dame for years, (and Robin Williams, but that ship has sailed) even more so since the fire two years ago.

Monseigneur Patrick Chauvet

Watching interviews with him, I always loved how he seemed so NOT like how you would expect the Archpriest of the most famous cathedral in the world to be, stern and probably wearing a hair shirt under his starched white robes for 24/7 self penance.

Patrick Chauvet seemed so normal and friendly, like the kind of guy you could have a beer with and talk about the hilarious historical French series Camelot. I’m not a huge believer of manifesting destiny, but I even created this note on my phone last week when I was loitering around the cathedral on Holy Thursday hoping to run into him. I tend to forget names when I’m nervous and didn’t want to forget his or second guess it (or the name of the Archbishop and other people I’m too self conscious to share with you 😉).

Wrote in my phone Thursday, Destiny Called Monday

I knew it was only a matter of time until I’d run into him and I couldn’t wait for that day. I just didn’t think it would be so soon!

This morning, on an empty street not far from where he lives and the cathedral itself, he approached me from the opposite direction and I instantly knew it was him. Alone and carrying a grocery bag, there was no more of a perfect moment to greet him to say how much I admire him.

The President and the Rector : A Love Story (?)

But within those 10 seconds of him walking towards me, I panicked and then CHOKED! My self doubt began with how to address him.

Excusez moi Monseigner? Monsieur? Père? And OMG, WHAT DO I SAY?! I had no idea what to say!

  • I’m your biggest fan! Can I have a selfie?
  • So that fire sucked huh?
  • Fancy seeing you outside the office! Working hard or hardly working? hahaha

And so I shamefully lowered my head as he passed by, and my perfect opportunity with him. Oh well, next time I won’t blow it. Next time I’ll be ready!

Tell me, what would YOU say to the Head Honcho of Notre Dame Cathedral??