Purse Panda in Paris, the End (For Now)

To anyone following the adventures of Purse Panda in Paris (click here to get up to speed), his Parisian life continued pretty much where the last post left off:

Picnicking on the Seine:

IMG_0461

Drinking wine with friends at Salon

 

IMG_0513

IMG_0574

(Sometimes to excess – THIS is how I found Purse Panda one morning! SAD!)

IMG_0526

He had to dry out for a few days. Just coffee for you Purse Panda!

IMG_0566

But when he was not eating and drinking to excess, he continued to enjoy the beauty that is Paris. Purse Panda’s love for Paris grew stronger by the day. He loves fountains as you know, especially this one at the Jardin du Luxembourg:

IMG_0475

And this one at the Louvre:
IMG_0484

Purse Panda loves the Louvre.

IMG_0488

And the Tuilleries,
300

And Notre Dame,

IMG_0581

And Monet’s water lilies at the Musee de l’orangerie,

33990800_10216375258804128_2431213667224649728_n

And Sacre Coeur,

IMG_0559

And of course…

img_0573.jpg

Purse Panda’s favorite day was a visit to the Jardin des Plantes.  The flowers were so beautiful!

IMG_0530

But the highlight of Purse Panda’s trip was this sign he spotted:

IMG_0543

His peeps!

IMG_0550

Oui! Purse Panda found his tribe in Paris.

As did I…

blog 6

blog 4

blog 3

blog 2

34818218_10214223812616675_1296508866971828224_o

Purse Panda is home now, a little jet lagged but happy to be reunited with his entire family.

shelb

He will never forget this trip, and the people he met and loved along the way.  He’ll always have Paris in his heart. He’s a bit sad to not be there, but he knows he’ll be back…

 

 

Advertisements

Purse Panda in Paris Part One

I didn’t set off on my French adventure alone…I have a secret traveling companion. When I was packing for my trip my husband Doug said, “You need to take a creature with you” (no not him!!!), referring to a stuffed animal memento that would remind me of home. After some consideration I chose the travel ready Purse Panda.

IMG_0034 (3)

This is Purse Panda chilling in my friend Jo’s Parisian apartment on our first night in Paris!

Purse Panda was a gift to Doug from his son Holden. We hadn’t been dating all that long when we took Holden to the National Zoo on what happened to be Father’s Day. I told Doug that Holden and I would be back and we found a gift shop where I told Holden that he could pick out a gift as a surprise for Doug. The 6-years-old-at-the-time Holden chose Purse Panda. I must say, it was a perfect choice!

So Purse Panda hopped into my Paris-bound suitcase and away we went, first as you know to Nice, where he checked out the French girls on the beach

2.4

and had a nice break by a fountain (Purse Panda loves French fountains, as you will see. I haven’t figured out why.)

2.5

Purse Panda loved the ice-cold Margarita’s we shared on Cinco de Mayo, in the old town

IMG_0150

Purse Panda also enjoyed the trip up in the hills above Nice to the beautiful village of Vence, where Matisse designed a chapel. We hiked to the chapel but it was closed. Purse Panda enjoyed the views nonetheless.

4

He also admired this Matisse sculpture.

5

And of course this fountain.

6

As much as Purse Panda loved Nice,

1

Paris is his true passion. He is so happy to be here! He especially loves the Eiffel Tower,

7.1

7.2

most especially when it sparkles.

7.3

He also really enjoyed the Jardin du Luxembourg, resting his tired paws with my niece, checking out the crowds and of course, the fountain.

8

9

10

But what Purse Panda really AIMES the most about Paris is hanging out with and eating and drinking with the Parisian people. Purse Panda is quite the partier it turns out. He adored the gang at the Eurovision party, and the feeling was tres mutual (even though he did NOT understand the rules!)

1615

17

Purse Panda enjoys meeting new friends and seeing dear familiar ones.

14.1

IMG_0236

IMG_0239

He loves nothing more than sitting in the sun, sharing some rose,

1312

or looking out at the rooftops of Paris from a friend’s apartment.

11 (2)

He is grateful that I brought him along, and tomorrow he will be reunited with his rightful owner. He is looking forward to more Parisian adventures. Until then, au revoir from Purse Panda in Paris!

My Amazing Five Weeks in France, Partie Un

I’m here in Nice in my sweet apartment (here is my building, it really IS sweet, n’est ce pas?)

IMG_0061.jpg

and my street:
IMG_0109

I’m resting my brain after a long day of French classes yesterday. Today is a holiday here (more on that below) so I have the good fortune to have enjoyed a day off already! Because it is HARD to learn a language at my age my people. I mean REALLY learn it, enough so that you can have an easy conversation. It seems that I have forgotten everything. Imagine being 5 years old, THAT is what I felt like trying to express myself yesterday.

But I am getting ahead of myself! I arrived here in Nice after having spent the night in Paris with my dearest Canadian BFF Jo (I call her ma beatch, what can I say, THAT is how much Je l’aime, despite not being able to understand one f’ing word of her fluent yet foreign to me Québécois French), in her perfect apartment in the 9th that I talked her into renting (yes I take complete credit) for her well-earned, totally deserved year in Paris. Everyone who decides to continue reading my blog after this post will get to know her very well in future posts, so I will get on with my ponderings about Nice and my school.

My apartment is a beautiful 10-15 minute walk

IMG_0039

from Idiom: le spécialiste des cours pour adultes. AKA my school (in this awesome building!)

IMG_0040

I love it. As I said above, it is HARD! But everyone is super nice (I will refrain from making any further nice/Nice jokes). AND I am the ONLY American in the school right now. Actually, only one of two English speakers (the other Anglaise is a beautiful elderly lady from Dundee, Scotland.) Everyone else is Swiss (predominately) and German.

I spent a grueling hour taking a French test so that they could make sure that I was in the correct class and was placed in a group (B2!!!) with said Swiss, said Scot, and a German, all female of varying ages and super, well, nice (sorry). As were the instructors (toutes les femmes et super sympa aussi). After the sessions ended they had a welcome party and everyone was invited for a traditional  Niçoise spread and flowing rosé. In the middle of the afternoon. Ahhhh, France! 😊

In between working HARD on my French I have just taken in all the wonder that is Nice. This is the 4th time I’ve had the privilege to spend time here (blessed BE) and it still enchants. It’s so colorful, vibrant, alive…it feels happy. Nice is a feast for the senses, and I am beyond grateful, made-me-cry grateful, that I have this opportunity to indulge one more time. I walk around humbled, taking in the beauty. It really has taken my breath away at times, and brought me to tears.

I went running this morning, along the prommanade anglais.  I was so exhilarated to be here that I didn’t even hate running…

IMG_0097IMG_0093

Then I wandered my way toward the Old Town, marching along with my people on the way. It was a manifestation in honor of 1 May. Workers of the World, Unite! I talked solidarity in my broke ass French with a few of my union brothers and sisters. They tolerated me. 🙂 I don’t care, I was uplifted!

IMG_0065

I was pretty hungry and smack in the middle of bad pizza land but I stumbled across this gem of a place:

IMG_0075

There weren’t many people there when I entered so I was worried, but it soon filled up and I was REALLY glad that I chose it. I had the special, ” Saint-pierre aux cèpes”,  which translates as John Dory (a white fish) in a creamy sauce. OMG, the fish was so fresh, and that sauce was SO delicious! Of course I had to have some rosé to accompany my meal. 20 euros total, including a chick pea salad and a small bite of Pissaliediere (kind of like pizza) to start, on the house. Amazing…

IMG_0074

Fully sated I walked through the Old Town to the market, the Cours Saleya. It was bustling and full of flower stalls selling lily of the valley bouquets in honor of May Day.

IMG_0068

I took the long way around

IMG_0082

stopping to laugh at this seagull who was giving all the other birds a piece of his/her mind!

IMG_0080

IMG_0072

back to the seaside where I had a rest.

IMG_0088

then I wandered back through the winding narrow streets of the Old Town toward my hood. I happened upon this beautiful park, and decided to sit again. It was such a beautiful sight, all the families and people out enjoying the day off!

IMG_0101

IMG_0100

I sat and thought about being here alone. I really hate dining by myself. I truly am an extrovert, I get energy from talking and being around other people. So that’s been a bit hard for me. I know my fellow solo woman warrior travelers, I know you are shaking your heads at me right now, saying but you’ve only been alone for 2 DAYS! HAHAHA! I’m sorry, I can’t help it, I need people! But I’ve also realized since I’ve been here that being somewhere alone also makes you so much more aware of your surroundings, and more attuned to the world around you. It’s been great hearing all the different languages as I walk the streets.  I smelled the most wonderful orange blossoms walking through that park. I’m looking around more. I’m seeing that it’s a good thing for me to shut my mouth and just be in the moment for a change. I’m changing.

(To prove my point, I overheard a man say: “ahhh, c’est belle, la fontaine” when I was walking away from here:  🙂

IMG_0106

OF course that also means that I have lots of talking stored up, so I look forward to previously mentioned beatch joining me here on Thursday (haha look out Jo I am gonna talk your ear off!). If I behave myself and am capable of waking in time to make my 8AM vocabulary class, my last day of school will be Friday, and Jo and I will, weather permitting, have beaucoup de sun-filled Cote d’Azur adventures ahead of before returning to Paris for part deux of my journey. I hope you will come along!

Until then, I bid you all a fond adieu de Nice. A la prochaine, hons…

IMG_0092

Five Weeks in France. O-M-G!

Here I sit, in my home in Baltimore, pondering how I have the great good fortune to be leaving in exactly one week for a five week adventure in France.  I really can’t believe it, still.

I’ll be immersed in French classes here for the first week,

1.JPG

(Nice IS Nice!)

followed by some Nice fun in the sun with my Canadian BFF Jo who is living in Paris for a YEAR! But don’t be a hater, I am sleeping on her couch a few nights. And she deserves it.

100

Then it’s off to Paris for the rest of the time.

1

I am so very grateful to my bosses and colleagues at the Center for Economic and Policy Research for allowing me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (don’t worry I promise to  check my email to make sure we don’t miss any donations!!). I can also scout out office space for CEPR-Paris!

17218772_10209570280792685_4486007720796855069_o

I am grateful for my dear friends in Paris. I look forward to many wine-filled evenings of laughter and love and light. And cheese, and croissants, and all the rest of the glorious food. And thanks to my Fitness guru Linda I hopefully will be able to indulge freely. She gave me some killer workouts to take along.  Montmarte Stairmaster class anyone?

22365460_10155919634333478_1485673499701593774_n10522365426_10156133961802323_6275042018074257579_n

But most of all, I am grateful to my husband Doug, for the patience, understanding and unconditional love that he has shown me in supporting my trip. I look forward to his visit to Paris! Dougie, you totally rock.  Je t’aime baby.

DSC00465

I also look forward to my dear friends and family who will be visiting while I’m there. Some are Paris virgins, and I look forward to showing them my town. Look out Paris, Baltimore will soon be in the MAISON!

26993461_1621598134554198_3078262138658945681_n1385663_10201043614871366_1610879298_n

I’m also planning on some side trips, one to Strasbourg to visit my friend Anne who lives there (train strike willing),

13165971_10156846904230433_4912032803980743856_n

And (hopefully) to Berlin to see my sister! (Lufthansa willing)
1269884_10202411168667181_114641178_o

I hope to use my time to reflect. I’m turning 60 in September (60 is the new 40 my lovelies), and I want to take a deep breath, and just be, in the city I love, a place that feeds my soul.

I plan to share some of my thoughts and adventures (and pictures!) here, if anyone is interested in coming along on my ride. You are most welcome.  Paris and I look forward to having you join us.

Bises mes chers… à bientôt !

A Visit to the Independent and Sovereign Nation State of Hawai’i

We just got back from a two-week VACATION in Hawai`i. I wrote VACATION in all caps because we are usually there on (Doug’s) business. But this time we were taking my mom Vel and her partner Jim on a whirlwind tour of three islands. Whew!

I could write about all of the beautiful scenery we saw (despite an unusual amount of rain, thanks climate change) and the cultural sites and friends that we visited. But I am going to share my impressions of one of the the highlights of MY trip, a visit to the village of Pu`uhonua O Waimanalo, AKA the Nation of Hawai`iYou can read about the village here:

https://www.hawaii-nation.org/puuhonua.html

We were there to see Bumpy Kanahele (and you can read about Bumpy here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumpy_Kanahele ) and learn how Pu`uhonua O Waimanalo came about. I encourage you to do so!

Doug first met Bumpy when he was in Hawai`i doing research for his exhibition on Hawaiian sovereignty for the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian.  Doug interviewed Bumpy and Bumpy gave Doug an official flag of the Nation of Hawai`i to display in the exhibition.

Bumpy flag

We were visiting to discuss what Bumpy wanted Doug to do with the flag now that the exhibition is over.

But first we were let through the gates

1.1

into the village and were greeted by Bumpy and his nephew Brandon Makaawaawa. We sat around a table in their office and they explained all the great initiatives they have going on in the village.

I have to stop here and say that part of me feels like I have NO business writing about Hawaiian sovereignty.  I never knew anything about Hawai`i, had never been there, until I met Doug. I think I kind of knew that Hawai`i had been a monarchy at some time, and understood about the sugar and pineapple barons, Kind of. I knew that like most indigenous peoples of the world, native Hawaiians got a raw deal.  But until I met Doug, and learned about the overthrow of the legitimate Hawaiian government by a group of US businessmen, I didn’t know. I didn’t know about the “Apology Resolution”, signed in 1993 by Bill Clinton, that offered “an apology to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.”  I didn’t know that for a long time, Hawaiians were not allowed to speak their language, or to practice their culture.  I didn’t know about most of it.

And I am not Hawaiian, I don’t live in Hawai`i. And really, I have no stake in the game. But I just can’t see injustice and not feel it, and not talk about it. I can’t learn about something that REALLY happened, where people lost their land and their country, and not feel rage. I can’t stand to see the land being bought up by rich people, driving up the cost of housing even more and leaving the Hawaiians with literally nowhere to go.

I know that it’s not my fight. But hopefully – and hopefully, respectfully – as an ally I can try, at the very least, to spread the word. It’s not my place to decide what the best path forward is for Hawaiians, that’s for sure. But I hope that by writing about what happened, and my thoughts, others can at least try to understand what the Hawaiians are going through. Have compassion for their cause, at the very least. And maybe join forces someday. I know that I would if I could.  It’s the same reason that I maintain my blog about birth defects in Fallujah. The same feeling of hopelessness as I see unfairness and feel the need to do SOMETHING.

OK, that said, back to our visit!  As someone who works with economists whose overriding passion is economic justice, I got what Bumpy and Brandon and everyone involved in the operation of the village are trying to do. As Bumpy said, political change is slow and hard. The people can’t wait for the political powers that be to see that a solution must be found for Hawaiians. Some in the academic world are trying to fight through the courts.  Bumpy and his people are finding ways to become economically independent.  They’re into sustainable agriculture and have created a digital currency.  They know WAY more about block chain than I do.

We looked over plans for the village, which includes a memorial to the signers of the 1897 Ku‘e Petition (signed by more than 20,000 Hawaiians who opposed U.S. annexation) and many new housing units as well as the agricultural areas.

29313872_798838743659809_3584383953517150208_n

We then took a tour of the village in in a jeep, stopping at the structure that was built by the producers of the movie “Aloha“, which featured a story-line about Bumpy that was my favorite part of the movie (I like Emma Stone but agreed with many critics that casting her as a character who was supposed to be one quarter Hawaiian and one quarter Chinese was problematic). But I can see why Bumpy would want to do it.  If people learned about the sovereignty movement from that movie, all the better.  They were also featured in an episode of Hawaii Five-0!

1.3

1.4

Brandon showed us the Ki plants and told us about his vision for world peace.

1.5

It felt so peaceful up there, and so full of promise. So much aloha.

We went back to the office for the obligatory fan pics.

29249455_10212460256040260_5372453820381003776_n

1.2

Before we left, Doug asked Bumpy if he would want the flag accessioned into the Smithsonian’s permanent collection and Bumpy said yes, he would like that. So Doug’s going to try. Let’s hope that he succeeds, but more importantly, that it’s the first of many objects collected from the sovereign nation of Hawai`i.

I left feeling inspired, humble, uplifted and grateful. Mahalo nui Bumpy and Brandon.
A hui hou…

ADDENDUM: I want to add this You Tube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKAMtkTjYhY&feature=youtu.be  of Bumpy and Brandon talking about the Nation, ,and houselessness, and the history of how they came to be, and what’s happened since, and what’s happening now with Native Hawaiians and the problem of the homeless. I have so much respect for what they are doing. People on the ground, doing the work…that’s what will change the world.

One Hundred and One Things NOT to do When Visiting the Sovereign Hawaiian Nation

At the risk of coming across like some scolding parent, instead of writing all about the wonderful two weeks I just spent working hard and playing hard in Hawai`i I decided instead to vent about some of the bad behavior I saw from fellow visitors to that great nation. I figured some informing was in order.

DISCLAIMER: I know that none of my friends would ever do any of the things that I am about to describe here, so please know that my admonitions are NOT meant for you! But if you know someone who could use some educashun, please pass this along. And thanks for being open to learning some things about Hawai`i that you might not know, and that hopefully will help to inform your trip should you, like me, be lucky enough to visit.

I titled this post “One hundred and One Things NOT to do When Visiting the Sovereign Hawaiian Nation” for several reasons. One, to play off the typical vacation guide “101 things to do on Kaua`i” “Hawai`i: Your Vacation Playground!”etc.

IMG_2224 (2)

I think that’s part of the problem, that state and local governments promote tourism in a way that makes people think that their own Personal Paradise ™ awaits them in Hawai`i.  Like, it’s a tropical Disneyland made just for them and their enjoyment. That sets up expectations that leads to some of the bad behaviors we witnessed.

And two, I wanted to remind (or inform) everyone that yes, Hawai`i was a sovereign nation until it was overthrown in 1893.  I know all about this because my husband curated an exhibit on the topic for his museum, here is a link to the symposium he held:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLS6nSmuURFJDaxcVyAi8gwZLEmGe70hzh

The story of what happened in Hawai`i is way worthy of a post of its own, I encourage you to read about the history of the overthrow and of the current state of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. Some good sources include

I think that it’s important to know that history, especially when visiting Hawaii. It might help tourists to understand signs like these:

170

All that to say that maybe an understanding of Hawaiian history will help people make better choices when visiting Hawai`i.

A basic understanding of Hawaiian culture might also help. Actually, as I wrote those words I thought to myself: “No what is most important is a sense of respect, and common sense”. Doug wrote a paper on the importance of rocks in Hawaiian culture, how rocks, as part of the body of the islands themselves, are older siblings to the Hawaiian people. But someone doesn’t necessarily have to know all the details to know that it is NOT OK to set up camp on rocks that have what is clearly some kind of offering on top, and a petroglyph that is clearly visible:

IMG_0577

Shouldn’t it be common sense to know that you shouldn’t lay your wet bathing suit out to dry on such a rock? And while rock stacking and cairn building might be ok in some parts of the world, it is definitely NOT ok to move rocks there. Even better, don’t move anything that doesn’t belong to you.

Oh, and camping is prohibited in certain areas for a reason, not to kill your buzz. Same with other rules and regulations. For example, don’t park where there is clearly a no parking sign. It’s there for a reason.

IMG_2229.jpg

Don’t enter a cave when there are CLEAR signs saying not to. The caves in Ha`ena are some of the most sacred places in Hawai`i…climbing into them and taking selfies is the height of disrespect.

76.1 (2)

70.JPG

But we saw that. We saw a group of people at Ke`e beach, standing in the water with floats and open beers, like it was their own personal pool party. Another time Doug heard someone giving instructions on how to “take” live coral…just put it in a baggie with some sea water. That was not cool! Same with hiking Makana mountain in cleats…not cool. Not only is it dangerous, but again, it’s a really sacred space.

93

I’m sure there are examples of things like this all over the islands. And with social media and our increasing need to document everything I would imagine that it’s only going to get worse. Anything for that epic Instagram shot.

Some other things are more subtle. It’s really important to understand that generations of people were raised in places like Ha`ena, but now they can’t afford to live there, and forget about their children being able to afford to. What must it feel like to be from a place, to have roots there, and see it become the playground of the rich? To know that there are ancestral burial grounds deep under the million dollar gated mansions that line the shore?

(And UGH for signs like these:

DSC00572

All over Kailua on O`ahu .The above sign was not in Kailua but is similar to what I saw.  Several were on roads that led straight to the beach, NOT through private property. It’s important to know that the beaches in Hawai`i are all public. Beach access, that’s another story.)

The people of Hawai`i, the native Hawaiians, are doing what they can to malama (take care of) their `aina (land). It must be heartbreaking to see it taken over by developers who then sell to people who have no sense of the place. I don’t mean to imply that all the rich newcomers are assholes and that all native Hawaiians are saints. And many of the problems in Hawai`i go way back to the time of the overthrow. The sugar and pineapple barons also played a nasty part, hijacking water and holding onto land that could be used to house people.

But from what I see, many of the newcomers could come down outta their privilege and learn some things.  In one of his interviews Doug learned that 42% of Hawaiians have moved from Hawai`i because they can’t afford to live there. I don’t know the answer for that, but there has to be one. People shouldn’t have to work 2-3 jobs to be able to afford a small rented house in their homeland. I know it’s bad in places like San Francisco; that many people are forced to move hundreds of miles away just to be able to afford a house. But Hawaiians are being forced to move thousands and thousands miles away. And many of those who stay face some real hardship. And their beaches, where they used to spend time fishing and being with family, are teeming with tourists. No place to park…

As I wrote in the beginning of this piece, I know I’m going to come across like some holier than thou haole. (Although I guess that’s what I am! HA!) But only because I have been treated so well by the people of Hawai`i, Kaua`i especially, and Ha`ena most especially. I want them to be able to continue to malama their `aina, and I hope that this can be my way of helping. Doug and I are thinking about starting a web site on these very topics, how to visit Hawai`i in a way that is pono (just, right), or how to give and receive Aloha – not just what not to do, but what we all can to do to help. How to maintain a responsible, culturally sensitive tourism industry, which is necessary since many native Hawaiians depend on it. His project, Pacific Worlds, is his attempt to try to document the culture, the sense of place, before it’s swallowed up. Hopefully our site will be a good companion piece specifically for Hawai`i. So please stay tuned. Suggestions/critiques/thoughts and comments welcomed. Maybe we can crowd source? Send us your Hawai`i tourist horror stores…along with any good news.

In the meantime, mahalo for reading. Aloha nui loa.

 

A Canoe Set Sail for Paris…

To those of you who have read my silly little blog (thank you!) you might recall this post with the way too long title: “Such a Short Strange Trip It’s Been…Or, How I Was On My Way to Paris and Landed in Hawaii (Metaphorically Speaking)” that told the tale of how I was just about ready to move to Paris when I met the man I called “Hawaii Boy” and who is now my dear husband. I talked about how I had planned to move to Paris but had fallen in love instead, and wrote that we were in the process of buying a house in Baltimore (which we did, and now we have a dog too!), and I talked about how happy I was (and still am). Towards the end I summed it all up with this line: “I hope that my story has the intended consequence of helping anyone who cares to read it. Helping in the sense of pointing out just how serendipitous life can be, how important it is to plan, and to have dreams, but how equally important it is to keep an ear out to what the universe it saying.”

Yes I am a big believer in the universe, and my ears are always attuned to what it is sayin. So imagine my surprise this past November when it appeared that the universe was finally gonna let me have my dream! I remember it like it was yesterday…I was sitting in the lovely jury room in the Baltimore City court-house when I received an email from said husband that said “Hey, check this out”. It was an email from a friend of his that asked if he or anyone he knew wanted to work in Paris, as an opening was about to open up at UNESCO headquarters, in Paris. I wrote right back, saying “Do NOT tease me, especially when I am in jury duty”. He didn’t write back so when I got home I was all about to give him a piece of my mind for taunting me in such a way when he said “I’m going to check it out”. For reals. Continue reading