Preparing for Paris

19 June 2014

My in-laws may have grown up in the Paris region but since their home base is in the suburbs, a good 50 minutes away by train, their trips into the city are infrequent. When we finally convince them to come (as if it should require convincing!), we know we’re in for a rigorous day of eating and exploring. Most recently, we spent a sun-soaked day with my mother-in-law to celebrate Mother’s Day – lunch at Fish La Boissonnerie, dessert at La Maison du Chou and a long, leisurely stroll along the Berges de Seine, making mental notes to return to each spot in July when our next round of visitors arrive. This afternoon was effectively a miniature test run of an itinerary we are likely to revisit when my dad, step-mom and little brother come to Paris- 2 weeks to go! The last time my dad visited was nearly six years ago for my wedding so this is a trip I’ve been eagerly anticipating for years (much like the feelings I had around my mom’s epic first-ever visit in December!). The big difference: my 6 year old brother will be joining, his first trip abroad. And while I have author […]…

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The Highlight of 2013: Mom in Paris

30 December 2013

As I type this, my mother is settling back into her home in Philadelphia and likely vowing never to climb another flight of stairs. We have just spent eight, frankly magical, days carting her around Paris, feeding her our favorite dishes at our favorite tables, pointing conspicuously at landmarks as wide-eyed as first timers, muscling our way through tourists to score the best views, dutifully waiting in lines for treats she wouldn’t find at home and sharing fragments of our lives in one of the world’s most spectacular capitals. But this visit was significant beyond the mere fact that it coincided with the holidays. It was mom’s very first visit to Paris and her first trip to Europe since 1972. Basically, this was an epic, well overdue journey that needed to be perfect. Inconceivable though it may seem, I was worried that Paris wouldn’t charm her the way it charmed me. That she wouldn’t fully understand why I’ve chosen this to be my home – why this city is somehow superior to any other place (closer to my hometown) that could have provided the backdrop to my life’s story. My concerns were unfounded, of course, because the trip was more […]…

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A Birthday to Remember…

19 December 2010

Saturday was Mr. Cheeseland’s big 30th birthday- a milestone that deserved to be celebrated in style, complete with a four-course feast, gifts and plenty of old-age teasing. We spent the afternoon at my in-laws in the Paris suburbs where a crisp layer of white snow covered the grounds and dainty flurries steadily dropped as we drank and dined. A snowball fight helped to digest the salmon & spinach terrine, roast beef, potatoes, cheese, bread, champagne, 3-chocolate cake AND lemon meringue pie which was a gift from Cat of Sugar Daze (I can really only take credit for the baking conversation and meringue piping!).  The afternoon was also an opportunity to see my in-laws before I take off for Philadelphia on Tuesday. This year, I’m going alone and will make up for a lot of lost time. It has been an entire year since I’ve stepped foot on American soil and felt that oddly potent wave of awkwardness – that desire to speak French to everyone I encounter, the uncertainty of how much smiling I really need to do to fit back in, and the sensation of being home without really being “home”. This is the longest I have gone without […]…

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The Felines of Corsica

22 June 2010

  In what is possibly the best part of coming back to reality after vacation, the most important piece of our family returned home last night. Cali, our cat, was staying with my in-laws while we were away – a vacation for her as well, you might say. She returned smelling of my mother-in-laws perfume and excitedly explored the apartment as though it was new to her, meowing and jumping to discover the myriad of scents in every crevasse. My flip flops that smelled of sand and sea became a toy to rub herself against, something she’s never done before. Alas, the family is complete again. I joked on twitter that I was very tempted to do a cat-centric post but would refrain for fear of permanently losing readers. Much to my surprise, I received a flux of replies encouraging me to post some photos (see below for a few of these comments): So since I’m still trying to get back into a rhythm since our return, I thought I’d combine some photos of our dear Cali with some of the cats we spotted throughout the island. We were stunned by the number of strays and/or outdoor cats that we […]…

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So Who the Hell Are You Anyways?

18 April 2010

I’m fascinated by identity. Its formation, its nuances and its complexities. This is mostly because of a course I took in grad school aptly called Identity Formation in a Transnational World. I really enjoyed conducting my research for this class and am still extremely interested in how individuals who have lived in multiple cultures construct their sense of self. A friend of mine recently told me more about her multi-cultural heritage and how she refutes the idea that one’s location and environment directly influence their identity. I found her story to be both intriguing and saddening but definitely worth sharing.  So who the hell are you anyways? Building an identity without a home country and blood-relatives who hate you This piece was originally going to explain how certain life experiences had shaped my identity into what it is today. A few discussions with friends down the way, I realised that giving the quick and dirty explanation was not satisfactory, didn’t sound right. Let me start with an opening remark. I am pretty sure of who and what I am. While I’m sometimes hard pressed to explain it to others, deep down, there never is any doubt. As for home, it […]…

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