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Dreaming of France: 29 Avenue Rapp

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Scrolling through my Instagram& finding this image, I’m surprised I haven’t shared this particular French door for Dreaming of France before. 29 Avenue Rapp boasts what might be the most famous door in Paris. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful.



Designed by Jules Lavirotte in 1901 it’s a striking example of Art Nouveau architecture and features the very risque sculpted Adam and Eve above the door. I first saw the building in the movie Gigi as the building where Gigi's Aunt Alicia lives and where Gigi goes for her lessons in how to catch the right man. Preferably someone rich like Gaston.

Naturally when Mark and I visited Paris, we had to pay the building a visit. What struck us about 29 Avenue Rapp was how many people just walk on by, as if were nothing special, just another old stone edifice, the door, just another entry. I think even if I lived on the block, even if I saw the building and its door every single day, I would still have to pause and take it in. Not a whole …

Above Ground on the London Underground: Day 5—Trapped on the Thames

On the street where I was born
This is Day 5 of my virtual walking tour, Above Ground on the London Underground, following the Piccadilly line, and I should be getting on with my 10,000 steps a day goal, but I find myself sitting on the deck of this pub, a very nice pub, on the banks of the River Thames, frozen in place. 
I was planning on going to Syon this week but just across the river lies Richmond, and in Richmond, the street, the very house, where I was born. I have gotten stupidly emotional about that fact quite a few times in the last few days, as I attempt to move on in my journey. 
But how can I go to Syon when my birthplace, #11 Salisbury Road, lies just beyond the river bend? How can I go to my birthplace when google maps won’t allow me to get any closer than number 8? How can I go to my birthplace when I’m not really going? Luckily, I’m not writing this post on paper, you’d see the teardrops blurring the ink right now. The husband tries to console me, tells me we can take a …

Throwback Thursday: The Boy Who Took Out His Eye [memoir]

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Last week’s Ben Ghazi hearing put Tripoli, Libya on the tip of my tongue and the forefront of my mind. Today’s #TBT post is a piece about the time I spent there as a small child in the 1950’s. It was first published in 1993 in one of those local freebies, the throwaway newspapers you used to find tossed on your front walkway. And I was thrilled to make it into its pages.
That’s me on the back of the camel,  cowering behind my big brother Russell 


The Arab Boy Who Took Out His Eye
When I was five years old we lived in Tripoli, Libya just outside Wheelus Air Force Base. We weren't military, we weren't even American but my father, formerly with British Intelligence had been hired to infiltrate the PX as a manager and investigate the cause of the store's outstanding financial losses. My dad was a great manager, in fact he was responsible for bringing the hoola hoop to North Africa, holding a big promotional party with hoola hoop demonstrations, clowns, balloons and lemonade in the…

High Five: Get set. Ready to roll on 'That Thing You Do' [memoir]

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Our call time for That Thing You Do was dark-of-the-morning early and like all the extras, we’d been instructed to ‘come having had.’ While that sounded vaguely sexual—make sure you have a morning quickie with your quick oats—it simply meant, ‘come having had your breakfast.’ Meaning the production wouldn’t be feeding us and we’d be sitting around, or more likely standing around, for hours, six hours to be exact, starving, before we’d get a chance to eat. I didn’t see how I’d have time to shower and get myself ready, let alone get our almost three year old son dressed, never mind finding time to get some breakfast for us all before we got to set. My husband told me not to worry, that was only for the real extras. He reminded me that we weren’t real extrasbecause he was working on the show, we were family. As nepotistic hires that didn’t quite have to live by the ordinary rules, we didn’t have to come ‘having had.’ We could wait until we got to set and then eat breakfast, catching some…

Dreaming of France: By the bay, barely [memoir]

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Baie des Anges, Raoul Dufy/1928
The trouble with going topless on the beach in France is that while the French may not bat an eye, the prudish hybrid of British, Canadian, and American that I am—go ahead, call me a BritCanIcan if you can—isn’t quite so nonchalant. Even though I was thirty something when my friend Mindy and I visited Nice, I still had reservations about taking my top off on the famous pebble beach.  

The only time I’d ever gone topless before was with a couple of friends at a nude beach here in Southern California, a “secret” place where Topanga Canyon meets the Pacific Coast Highway. An unmarked path leads down around the cliff, you have to tread carefully to make sure you don’t trip and fall. An old, deeply tanned bare-chested man cruising around with a camera had made the whole thing feel creepy, and we’d left quickly, feeling dirty.  But I had that old man, leering with his camera, asking could he take our pictures, in my head as Mindy and I made our way along the Pr…

Above Ground on the London Underground: Day 4—Heading to Syon

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Syon House, Robert Griffier / c 1690-1727
I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide and my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. We're following the Piccadilly line. This is Day Four:

Walking above ground, following in the footsteps of the Piccadilly Line, next up comes Syon House. The house—hardly a house, come on!—would put our friends at Downton to shame.  It’s just a 3 mile walk, about 7500 steps on my trusty Fitbit®, from Osterley Park & Housedown the Great West Road—Britain’s version of Route 66, the Great West Road goes for miles and miles—to Park Road, where we can’t miss Syon House, set like a crown jewel in its 200 acre park on the River Thames. 

I don’t know that I’m in the mood to tour another ‘Great House’ after having just paid a virtual visit to Osterley. How much lavish neo-classic architectu…

Above Ground on the London Underground–Day 3: Dreaming of Osterley

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Osterley Park and House

I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide and my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. We're on the Piccadilly Line. This is Day Three:
My last 10,000 steps took me from Heathrow to Hounslowwhere I stayed at the Osterley Park Hotel, not to be confused with Osterley Park and House, the sumptuous National Trust property dating back to the mid-1500’s that I’ll be virtually visiting today. Although, if this google comment from Lindsay H. is to be believed, the Osterley Park Hotel might as well be that old. The motel part is terrible, dingy, not even worth the cheap price. The wifi can hardly stay connected long enough for me to write this message. The mattress was the all time worst, I could feel every single spring and sunk in immediately, and I weigh a standard 65 kg.” Yikes. At least I’m…

That Thing You Do: Making Movie Magic [memoir]

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1990’s Orange, CA being transformed to 1960’s Erie, PA

It was less than 50 miles from our place in Mar Vista to the filming location for That Thing You Do in Orange but with morning traffic, fifty miles could take all day. Our call was at some absurd hour like 6:30 am, my husband’s crew call was even earlier, so we decided to go down the night before, stay in a budget motel, be there bright and early without fighting the Los Angeles freeways. 

When you work around film and tv sets all the time, like I did when I was working as a production coordinator, the initial thrill is replaced by low humming tedium, the daily grind of hurry up and wait. But I’d left the industry when I got pregnant, now, three years later, visiting the sets of movies my husband was working on, was back to being nerve-bitingly thrilling. Actually being in the movie, albeit as an extra, even more so. The fact that it was Tom Hank’s directorial debut made it an even headier experience. After a gourmet dining experienc…

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 2: I’ve gotta get out of this place.

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I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide and my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day roughly along the Underground route, and report back here on Fridays with my findings. We're currently on the Piccadilly Line. This is Day Two:
Having bid my fantasy flight-mates Daniel Craig and Colin Firth a cheerful cheerio, I immediately go into semi-panic mode. Ok. What do I do now?! Here I am, my fitbit® clipped to my belt, ready to start my virtual walking tour of London but I’m feeling so thrown by all the steel and glass of the completely renovated Terminal 2 at London’s Heathrow Airport, also know as the Queen’s Terminal, that I don’t know  where to turn or what to do. Should I curtsy?

So I do the sensible thing and head back to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse for a little spa time. Because well, look at it. How could I not?
Okay. All pampered up (I’m from L.A. where we know the meaning of the word ‘pamper’) and …