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Showing posts from December, 2016

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Time to slay your own dragons, ladies.

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My first kiss was an unwanted one. I was seven years old when a boy named David pushed me up against the wall outside our apartment building. Forcing his mouth on mine, his breath, hot and fusty, something sickly sweet like apple juice and milk gone sour in his gut that made me squirm. I don’t remember seeing him as I ran with my brother and the other neighborhood kids through the empty lot next door, scrabbling over the toppled trees, slick with moss, tripping over the bramble of twigs and woodsy decay, but he must have been there, his knees as scratched and muddied as ours, before he caught up with me in the driveway that ran alongside and behind the apartment building. 
As usual I’d tagged along in my older brother’s shadow. Tag, hide and seek, cowboys and indians, the games kids used to play. Outdoors, up and down the streets, no watchful mommies on red alert. Ignoring our mothers’ warnings—don’t go into the woods, don’t go into the woods—we went into the woods, woods that in fact …

Le Walk: Now available to listen to on my podcast [memoir]

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It was our last night in the little beachside town, and we were waiting to say goodbye to the two Canadian boys we’d met on the train from Paris. If not for them, we’d never have even found Bandol. We were sitting on a bench in the dark, away from the promenade, the black water of the bay burnished in the moonlight before us, the hazy tinkle of laughter and voices from the bars behind us, and I, at least, felt like some character in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, idling the time away, waiting for the next chapter to reveal itself. 

The boys brought friends. French friends who, as they say, had very little English. Michel had next to none. What he did have was dark hair that flopped over his eyes, a wrestler’s body and the confidence that guys who look like that always have, no matter what the language. He reminded me of Ilie Nastase, the tennis star who I’d watched win the Wimbledon doubles championship with Jimmy Connors earlier that summer of ‘73. Nasty, they called him. Sexy, I thoug…

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 55: From Liverpool Station to the Duck & Waffle to Petticoat Lane

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Liverpool Station by Liam O'Farrell
If it's Friday we must be back in London.Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings We're currently following the Central Line. Here are the previous days. This is Day 55.
I left off our walk last week bemoaning the fact that I was unable to dine at the members-only Searcy’s, at the top of the Gherkin. Today, I’ll start my day close by on the 40th floor of the Heron with a meal at the Duck & Waffle where they offer a ‘playful take on traditional British cuisine.’ Not only do they serve anyone, they serve anyone 24-7. With a stunning views to boot, from the highest restaurant in London. Take that Searcy’s!


 You can see the Gherkin from the Duck & Waffle!
Check out the link below for the full menu, as for me I’m going w…

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 54: The Gherkin

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If it's Friday we must be back in London.Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings We're currently following the Central Line. Here are the previous days. This is Day 54.
Following the Central Line from where left off last week's visit to the Roman Ampitheater at Guildhall , as we walk from the Bank Station along Old Broad Street to Liverpool Station, we can't miss the towering Gherkin rising almost 600 feet in the air. Today it’s definitely a case of a picture being worth a thousand words otherwise how could I describe this tall pickle-shaped building—a missile comes to my mind—clad in glass? 

Located at 30 St. Mary Axe—Oh, I do love these odd British names that make you go huh? Why is the street called St. Mary Axe? Did St. Mary have one?—the tower ope…

Sous le Soleil: Another Day in Bandol [now on iTunes and SoundCloud podcasts]

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I've been linking up with Dreaming of France for the past fews posts, posting some newly recorded stories about a trip to France back in 1973. I was supposed to be backpacking around Europe with a boyfriend but since 'life is what happens when you're busy making other plans' —and he was a two-faced lying schmuck—I'd ended up staying at my uncle's house in England intending to have a look around London, before heading to the continent with my younger sister. We'd been to Paris, and taken the night train to Marseilles, but by happy accident we ended up in Bandol.


After a rocky start we were settling into a rhythm in Bandol.  Good morning we smiled at the proprietress of the pension, so cheerfully we almost curtsied. Bonsoir we greeted her, dipping our heads like novices in a convent, when we returned each afternoon to find the rows of tables newly set with fresh white linen tablecloths. Bonjour! we cried to the owner of the little stand where we bought our lun…

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 53: Londinium and the Roman Ampitheatree

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If it's Friday we must be back in London.Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings We're currently following the Central Line. Here are the previous days. This is Day 53.
Last week we took a ‘Closer’ look at Postman’s Park, today we’re going to wander down Gresham Avenue until we come to St. Lawrence Jewry. The church was designed by Christopher Wren in the 17th century after the Fire of London destroyed so many of the city's institutions and cathedrals.

If St. Lawrence Jewry sounds like an odd name for a Christian church; it gets its name from its location near the old Jewish ghetto, Old Jewry Street is located nearby. As the St. Lawrence Jewry website explains:
‘‘This is where a Jewish community lived from 1066 to 1290. They came to the country with William…

London Blues #ThrowbackThursday

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Waxing nostalgic on Facebook this morning, thinking about the package of Christmas prezzies we used to get in the mail from our British grandmother, this old post about a trip to Grandma's house in the 70's came to mind. And that's why call it Throwback Thursday.

I was waiting for my sister to come and join me in London, as if, instead of being on vacation, I was being held hostage, waiting for someone to rescue me while the yellow ribbons tied around the old oak tree faded and turned to tatters and the days disappeared. As though my grandmother and uncle had kept me locked in a squalid room, or hidden me under the stairs like I was Harry Potter. The reality was that I'd been spending a few weeks at their absolutely lovely house in Chorleywood on the outskirts of London and I was miserable. I'd come down with a simple case of old-fashioned homesickness, made worse by a touch of social anxiety. I felt so lonely I wanted to die but I wasn't dying. I was perfectly …

Dreaming of France: The Price of Potatoes (Listen On SoundCloud and iTunes Podcast)

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New on the Podcast
Part 2 in a series. [Part 1: Pretty French Postcards]

I’ve been writing and recording some of my memoir pieces and, in what some might call an extraordinary bout of egomania, posting them on SoundCloud and iTunes. It’s my way of marking my territory, tagging a wall, or like Kiljoy of yesteryear simply saying I was here. 

This story is part of a series about a trip to France I took with my younger sister in 1973. 

Thanks for listening, subscribing, and if you're feeling it, leaving a comment.

Clean from our bath in the sea, awake and running on adrenaline, my sister and I hit the town in search of someplace to stay. Even back in 1973, the hotels overlooking the beach at Bandol, with their pea gravel patios set with painted wooden tables and colored umbrellas, were too pricey; even I didn't have to ask to know that, so we headed to the port side of town.

Fronting the harbor, a row of shops, bars and outdoor cafes lined the road. Later when the sun dazzled, the prome…

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 52: A Closer Look at Postman's Park

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image via the Smithsonian

If it's Friday we must be back in London.Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings We're currently following the Central Line. Here are the previous days. This is Day 52.

We can’t leave the area of St. Paul’s Cathedral until we visit Postman’s Park. I’ve never heard of the place but I’ve seen it on screen and chances are, if you’re a movie fan, you have too, even if you’ve never been to London. The park, a system of gardens built over a series of burial grounds—cheery, what?—was seen in the movie Closer starring Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Clive Owen and Natalie Portman. Not only seen, the park played a key role in the film, and in the original play by Patrick Farber.

Shall we look a little closer? 


image via flicker
This park earned its nam…

Pretty French Postcards [Memoir]

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Pretty French PostcardsMy trip to France with Mindy in '89 was very different from my visit with my sister Nancy, sixteen years earlier, when I was twenty and she was just sixteen. When Mindy and I stayed in Paris, we stayed in a newish hôtel in the business district, an area called la Defense. Modern, comfortable, the kind of place that catered to business travelers. We could have been anywhere. Paris, France. Paris, Texas. New York City. What the hôtel lacked in character it made up for in amenities. A real front desk. A fax machine. A bar off the lobby. A bidet.

The place that Nancy and I stayed at in the Pigalle had a fading painted number on the crumbling wall outside, a round black bell you pushed so the cranky old concierge, a French woman straight out of a novel, could open up and begrudgingly show you to your room, eyeing you suspiciously all the while. We barely knew what fax machines were in 1973 but if we had, our little no-name hôtel wouldn't have had one. What it …