November 29, 2011

Paris for the Holidays

While I'd love to say I'm heading to Paris for the holidays, alas I am not. Many of you who read this original blog have written, or even stopped me in the street, to tell me how much you loved coming along with me to Paris. In case I haven't seen you, the blog is now a book - with twice the content of my original blog. And that book, Bonjour 40, is on sale for the holidays.

Skip over to my new author website, and there you will find the book. You'll also find a new blog from me. Every Friday I add a tidbit about writing, design or photography on my blog, Compositions. The entries are even shorter than my Bonjour40 posts at only 250 words max. Hopefully you'll find them just as inspiring, funny and engaging.

I thank you so much for following the original Bonjour40 blog. Paris simply would not have been the same without you. See you on my author site and happy holidays. Joyeux Noël.

- Karen

September 9, 2011

The blog becomes a book!

For all my followers of the original blog, you have inspired me to keep writing. I'm happy to announce there is more coming soon. Not in the form of new blog posts, but in a new book, Bonjour40: A Paris travel log (40 years. 40 days. 40 seconds). Along with all the original blog entries, I've also included a dozen or so longer pieces highlighting some of the best experiences with regard to food, culture, the people, photography, writing and more. Together with photos, it will be released as an e-book on October 11th.

For all of you who are visiting this blog for the first time, (or for those who followed all 40 original days), I've left some excerpts in here to give you a feeling, a flavor, or a taste of what started everything for the new book.

I hope you'll come along on this journey with me, relive your favorite blog moments, and experience several new Paris adventures. What better way to say, "Bonjour 40!"
Visit my new author website, and find out all about it,
and sign up for details for the book release!

June 3, 2011

Epilogue ~ June 3

It’s hard to let go, isn’t it? Many of you who followed along have written to tell me you miss the daily blog and you miss Paris as if you were there... Now, we’ll always have Paris. {Longer excerpts and the original full blog entry are in the book, Bonjour 40}

In the original blog, I included a video of one of the amazing markets. Watch for Ted near the end.

May 30, 2011

Day 40 ~ May 30

It’s after midnight here in Paris and we’ve exhausted the day... Experience has allowed my pen and lens to grow sharper so I could truly see the city, her people, the sights, smells and sounds, and comprehend the impact on me. Here, food is art. Art is in small details. Details are found when you slow down to smell the flowers. Flowers make people happy. People add more to life than anything you can buy... {Bonjour40, the book, will have the full entry}

May 26, 2011

Day 36 ~ May 26

We took a cooking class.... {more photos and details are in Bonjour40 due out in October)

May 22, 2011

Day 32 ~ May 23

Monday through Wednesday we are visiting friends who have luckily bought, and are unluckily (because of contractors) remodeling, an old farmhouse in Provence near Avignon... {More details and stories about the Provence 3-day adventure are in the book}

May 17, 2011

Day 27 ~ May 17

I have noticed the locals speak quite softly. Parisian voices are more moderated, the women especially, and the lilt in the speech is sing-songy instead of monotone. (You can hear the Americans and Germans before you can see them, and the Italians are the ones shouting across the streets and waving their arms.) Even if Parisians are sharing your table, you can’t hear the conversation. I find it easy then to linger in cafés to write without feeling like I’m intruding. So I often do. This weekend I found a nice quiet café in a very chic section, and enjoyed a lovely hour of it. Enter the American newlyweds. Within minutes they got into a fight because she wanted a boob job and he thought that was shallow. Two French couples got up and moved–one of them thankfully, because they had B.O. I thought maybe I’d get a blog write-up out of it, so I stuck around to listen. Here’s what I learned. One, try not to speak so loudly anymore. Regardless of the topic, it just isn’t feminine. Two, if others move away from me, it’s a sign that either my underarms or my behavior stinks. Three, never ever look to my partner for approval about my own body image, especially in public. I’m not one to promote plastic surgery, but she was asking him for something she couldn’t give herself: Permission to be happy with who she was.  Four, after someone says ‘boob job’ in a café for the eighth time, my ability to not make a joke about my cup being half-full falls off dramatically. So, I quietly paid my bill and took my own boobies back home to work.

May 10, 2011

Day 20 ~ May 10

...early morning before anyone else was up. I set my alarm, grabbed a free bike, and made my way across town...

May 9, 2011

Day 19 ~ May 9

While in London for about 40 hours, I saw some of the usual suspects–Westminster Hall, Buckingham Palace, the River Thames, had fish and chips in a pub with a pint, etc....

May 5, 2011

Day 15 ~ May 5

I got lost. Hopelessly, wonderfully, nowhere in particular-ly lost. I did start out my day with a planned visit to a museum (a later topic), but once I left it I just got wanderlust, for the next eight hours. It sounds frightening, but no, it’s delightful. My friend back home, Benedicte, is from here and it’s still her favorite thing to do in Paris. I can understand why. Every corner I go around has another little strip of charming stores, grand statues, festive cafés, gardens, architecture, flowers or monuments to behold. With no phone, and limited email access, being unplugged is giving me the freedom to go out for these aimless excursions whenever writing hits a wall, or my curiosity gets the best of me. My favorite spots are the really small, short streets that wind together in a jumbled, crooked mess. There, the traffic noise is reduced significantly, the shopkeepers are a bit more friendly and their wares more unique, and cafés are quieter. It’s there that Paris feels more like Paris. In my meandering I ended up on the Champs Elysées yesterday, and within about 5 minutes, I grabbed a bicycle (another later topic) and escaped it. I didn’t come to Paris to see tourists eating fast-food and buying American designer clothing. Let’s just say, it’s not the romantic boulevard it was in Joni Mitchell’s day when she sang about it. However, her other lines from the same song felt very true to me as I sauntered from street to street. “I was a free man in Paris, I felt unfettered and alive. There was nobody calling me up for favors, and no one’s future to decide…”

May 3, 2011

Day 13 ~ May 4

Don’t worry if you trip and fall while touring Paris, because you’ll land on a loaf of bread... {More to come in Bonjour40, the book!}

April 30, 2011

Day 11 ~ May 1

I’ve been searching for the perfect word to sum up the French markets I’ve visited... The sights! The color! The sounds! The smells! The food! ...  The smell of buttered chickens roasting to perfection combines with hand-milled lavender soaps, and grilling garlic, so that the dogs at your feet drool and whimper along with you. {More on markets, food and the French version of fitness in Bonjour 40}

Day 10 ~ April 30

April 28, 2011

Day 8 ~ April 28

It was raining today, and yet I saw the most impeccable outfit. Knee-length trench flopping lightly open, a navy cashmere sweater, a light gray scarf knotted around the neck, tailored black jeans, and the most glorious pair of (what had to be) Italian pointy, patent black shoes.  It was on a man... {order the book Bonjour40 in October to read the full text...}

March 25, 2011

Day 2 ~ March 25 ~ One month before departure

On Paris, there simply are not enough guidebooks, maps, language lessons, recipes, stories or tips for me. (As you can see in this photo, my friends, neighbors, and the bookstore have loaded me up.) {Now in the book, Bonjour 40, is this full original entry, plus a longer piece about travel.}

March 4, 2011

Day 1 ~ My birthday

Last year, I was asked if I was going to do anything special when I turned 40. Barely a day into my 39th birthday, and 40 comes up? What?! Many women dread this, I know. I’m not the type to be in denial or in the fetal position over it, but if I absolutely had to turn 40, then I needed to figure out how best to do it. Or, better yet, “where.” So for the last year I’ve planned and saved, and next month I leave for Paris. I’ll live there for almost 40 days–something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl.

Today marks my actual 40th birthday. But quite frankly 40 feels a lot like 39. Which honestly felt a lot like 29 except with more money, more experience, and certainly better choices. Even though my age is 40, I can sincerely say there is a spirit in me that is still 29 or 19 or even 9. Perhaps it’s because I’m giving that little girl in me the gift she’s always wanted. A grand adventure. So to this birthday I say, Bonjour 40! I’m here. Let’s begin… 

{Next posting is March 25th. Follow my blog to receive notices of new entries…}