Finished: A pencil skirt

Wow, so here it is! My very first homemade skirt and second-ever garment: a pencil skirt!

Finished pencil skirt on hanger

(You’ll remember that I made the Colette Sorbetto top awhile ago. I tried to make a second one and accidentally excised the fabric that is needed for the darts, which would have resulted in some awkward side boob. Project fail)

Like my pillow, this skirt was a project from the Sewing Studio class I purchased on Craftsy awhile ago.  (The pattern comes with the accompanying book, Sew Everything Workshop.) Initially, it seemed like a too ambitious project to take on with my less-than-stellar sewing track record. I mean, an invisible zipper and full lining? Those things sound hard.

Then again, when sufficiently jazzed about something, I don’t shy away from intimidating projects, so I gave it a try anyway. Plus, I had that polka dotted fabric lying around after deeming it too heavy to be made into another Sorbetto top.

The first step was making a toile, which is apparently the fancy French word for “rough draft.” I didn’t take any pictures of that process, but it involved a lot of obsessively watching Craftsy videos and replaying 30-second sequences to figure out what was going on. I’m glad I did it though because when it came to make the “fancy” skirt, I had a much better idea of how things fit together.

The toile (Ha, almost wrote “toilet”) took me most of a Sunday. I didn’t have the energy to set up my sewing machine at my desk during the week, so I didn’t get around to the real skirt until the next weekend. And even then, I had to commit to sewing every night after work the following week. Garment sewing is definitely an intense hobby and not one you can just rush through or do while watching TV (like knitting). It’s nice to sit down and commit a chunk of time to intense mental concentration though. I feel satisfied finishing a project and knowing that I did my very best.

The skirt itself came together pretty easily because I had already practiced darts and inserting the invisible zipper on the toile. I didn’t make any adjustments for sizing either; I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I had a struggle face when I realized that making a lined skirt involves essentially sewing two separate skirts before sewing them together, but I persevered! Look at that lining–ain’t nobody going to see my granny underwear!

Finished pencil skirt - Lining

 

I think I’m most satisfied by the invisible zipper, on which I did a bang-up job if I do say so myself. Next time, I think I’ll insert an invisible zipper with a different color than my fabric and then be exceptionally pleased at that cute little color detail.

Finished pencil skirt - invisible zipper

 

There’s a bias tape waistband, which again, I’d probably do in another color since you can’t see it from the outside. There was the option of hand-sewing the waistband with an invisible slipstitch, but OHMYGOD, that is NOT going to happen. I’d rather gouge my eye out with a needle.

Finished pencil skirt - Waistband

 

Even though I lost several inches in hemming, I still needed a slit extension to avoid walking awkwardly with small steps.  The instructions for making a slit extension in the online class deviated from those in the book, so I’ll be interested to see what technique is more common as I continue sewing.

Finished pencil skirt - Back slit

 

Despite making a toile that seemed to fit a bit tight in the hips, the finished product is fine in the hips and too big in the waist. My waist measured slightly smaller than the pattern sizing, but I figured that adding a lining would make up for the extra wiggle room. I was wrong: the fancy skirt is a little too big in the waist and perfect in the hips. Oh well.

As soon as I finished the skirt, I wore it to work the following day! I was going to be out for my self-imposed “Fancy Friday,” and I was so excited about this skirt that I didn’t want to wait until the next Fancy Friday. That being said, I was terrified that the seams would disintegrate in the office, leaving me bottom-less at work. Fortunately, they held together and saved me what would have been a hideously embarrassing situation for all involved in the engineering corner of the office.

Most people didn’t say anything about my skirt, which I suppose was good. It’s probably better that people just assume I bought a very normal-looking skirt, rather than constantly hearing, Uh…Did you make that? Kat, a fellow engineer and Hackbright grad, however, complimented me and was shocked to hear that I had made the skirt myself. “I’d BUY that skirt,” she said, incredulously while I beamed (BEAMED!!!!) with pride.

Oh, what’s that? You want to see me wearing the skirt I made? That’s so flattering! Well, ask and you shall receive!

Finished pencil skirt

Oh, wait. There is basically no way to take flattering photos of myself that make homemade clothing look nearly as cool as I think it is. It was actually quite hot in the apartment when I was taking these photos, so I was sweating all over my sweater, which is probably the wrong top to wear with this anyway.

Suggestions for what to pair with this skirt are greatly appreciated, by the way!

More vain photos!

Finished pencil skirt

Finished pencil skirt

(Hus-friend said he’d be my photographer for my future sewing projects since he doesn’t anticipate me finishing them more than once every few weeks. Ha…I’ll be lucky if I can keep up that pace!)

Eh voilà, c’est fini! I finished my first piece of clothing that I will wear outside of the apartment. It’s definitely not perfect, but I learned a lot and am so pleased with the final result. Hooray, sewing!

Details

Pattern: “Naughty Secretary Skirt” from Sew Everything Workshop book. [Oh Gawwwd, that name. I cannot.]

Size: Small with no alterations except hemming

Materials: 100% cotton for outside skirt, 7″ invisible zipper, stretch poplin for lining, extra-wide double-fold bias tape for waistband

Alterations: None, but in the future, would take in the waist an inch.

Ameri-cakes & Pies: Michigan Bumpy Cake

While Jessica was visiting, it seemed only fitting to complete the Michigan entry in the Ameri-cakes & Pies project: Detroit Bumpy Cake. I had never heard of this confection prior to starting the project; my professor from college, a Detroit native, suggested it when I put a call out on Facebook for state desserts. Jessica hadn’t heard of it until she moved to Michigan, but she claims to have seen it around.

I did some research on bumpy cake, and it apparently originated in Detroit from the Sanders Candy Company. It’s a moist chocolate cake, and the bumps are made from piped buttercream enrobed in a sticky, caramel-like chocolate frosting.

Basically, it’s supposed to look like this:

Sanders Bumpy Cake
Image source: http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2013/04/26/sanders-bumpy-cake-celebrates-100th-birthday-with-free-slices/

Notice there that I said “supposed to look like” because what Jessica and I made emphatically did not look like the above photo.

I mean, it started out like always.  Jessica manning the mixer and me snapping photos.

IMG_3297

For one, the buttercream frosting was much stiffer than anticipated. And lacking a piping bag, we used a sandwich baggie which, uh, split open from the force of the attempted piping. I’ll just go ahead and put this out there: IT LOOKS LIKE A LITTLE CHODE.

Piped frosting fail

So yeah, that was kind of a mess. I abandoned ship (The HMS Piped Frosting) and just starting rolling the buttercream in my palms, as you do with Play-Doh. We weren’t able to make long, continuous strips, so instead, we just kind of mushed it together with our fingers.

Piped frosting fail

 

Here’s how that all turned out:

Bumpy Cake fail

 

And then, ohhhhh, the chocolate fudge on top. After melting the chocolate together, you’re supposed to mix the melted butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa together until smooth, then mix all of that into room temperature milk until one uniform consistency is reached. Except we were in a hurry or maybe impatient, so we dumped it into not-yet-room-temperature milk.

Basically, the chocolate mixture said, “Oh, helllll no!” and immediately seized up into effectively, a giant tootsie roll. Trying to get a smooth, velvety fudge frosting was nigh impossible, but I refused to give up. I kept microwaving the bowl and stirring vigorously. Eventually, it came together…ish, or at least, it wasn’t an unyielding chunk anymore. It never got thick enough though. I don’t know. Chemistry.

Are you ready for the end result?

…I mean, are you ready?

No, you’re not ready. You can never be ready for the monstrosity that Jessica and I created, but here it is anyway:

Bumpy Cake fail

The fudge frosting never came together enough (Note: little brown chunks), so we tried spooning it over the lumpy buttercream. “Maybe it’ll thicken up and cover the buttercream when we freeze it,” I said hopefully.

“Uh no, frosting doesn’t work that way,” said Jessica.

Okay, so yeah, our Detroit Bumpy Cake didn’t turn out perfectly, but what matters most is that it tasted good, though, admittedly, neither of us will probably make it again. The buttercream is too sweet. Wait, what actually matters most is that Jessica and I got a lot of good laughs out of producing this atrocious-looking cake. I think I even laughed ’til I cried. (Stella laughed ’til she cried when I showed her pictures today.)

Mica & Jess with failed bumpy cake

 

And the Hus-friend? What did he think of our bumpy cake?

“It looks like a skeleton that has been shat upon.”

(Detroit Bumpy Cake recipe here.)

Jessica visits, and we walk a lot.

Somehow, I let more than a year pass without seeing Jessica, and that is NOT okay! However, she was nice enough to fly all the way to the West Coast to stay with us for a long weekend of running, baking, and walking around San Francisco. Oh, the walking…so much walking!

The weekend was just like what we always do/did together: running in the morning, baking and cooking tasty things, watching movies, and having long conversations punctuated with profanity. It was just like “old times,” except now we have slightly swankier living arrangements and maybe I will drink wine. (Thanks, Jessica, for helping me select the perfect $3.99 bottle.) Also, Jessica plucked my eyebrows for me because actually, I’m still kind of an inexperienced adult lady.

On Friday, after we walked around the Mission and Noe Valley, we set about baking the Michigan entry in the Ameri-cakes & Pies project. Post to come because AHAHAHA, this cake. You all! You will just not believe what we managed to make/screw up…

IMG_3297

Hus-friend and I decided well in advance of Jessica’s visit that when she came, we would have to walk the crap out of San Francisco with her. I just knew that we’d undertake some ridiculous walking challenge, and you know what? We did. On Saturday, in addition to walking to the Farmer’s Market, we trekked the seven miles from our apartment in SoMa through Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach AND BACK.

That’s right. Jessica was with me when I achieved the monumental: walking (not even running!) over 50,000 steps in one day.

Fit Bit on 50,000+ step day
Fit Bit on 50,000+ step day

 

This, of course, meant an evening of lying semi-comatose on the couch and eating a lot of pizza and cake while watching “Pacific Rim.”

I also discovered at Ocean Beach that sand doesn’t stick to my feet like it apparently does to everyone else’s:

Sandy and not sandy feet
Sandy and not sandy feet

On Sunday, we rested our sore feet and protesting hip flexors, staying in for a leisurely breakfast of eggs, waffles, yogurt and jam, bacon, and the fresh fruit that we’d picked up from the Farmer’s Market. Hus-friend really has it tough when Jessica is around, right? He has to eat so many delicious things….

IMG_3314

 

Oh and no big deal, after breakfast, we also walked through the Folsom Street Fair where we got cropped by a random passerby and saw in excess of 13 John Thomases. After all, Jessica had to get the true SF experience, right?

Such a fun weekend! I feel lucky to live in a place that is fun to show off, but more importantly, to have a friend who wants to come visit me. I should not take these friendships for granted and will do my best to maintain them over the years. So basically, I HOPE YOU’RE ALL READY TO BE MY FRIENDS FOR LIFE.  K, thanks.

Oh, Jess-i-ca, I miss you already! I’ll have to come visit you soon in your fancy grown-up house in Michigan.

Jess & Mica at Ocean Beach
Jess & Mica at Ocean Beach!

What is your spirit animal?

[Warning: Mostly non-serious post here discussing a subject to which I devoted a lot of mental capacity last week.]

Last week, I decided to put some “serious” thought into what my spirit animal should be. This was a surprisingly difficult question to answer, specifically because I’ve put some weird constraints on this animal that embodies my soul.

First, I’d like my spirit animal to be a “higher-level” animal, so a bird, a reptile, or a mammal. This rules out the planaria as well as the honey bee, the latter being a pretty good embodiment of my personality: works well in a structured society, knows its place, follows the rules, hardworking and industrious, stings people when angry….

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_bee
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_bee

My second (arbitrary) constraint is that I’d prefer not to have a spirit animal that I am likely to eat. Spirit cannibalism just seems wrong, right? This rules out ducks, though honestly, I’m not a big fan of duck and also, not really like a duck at all.

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallard
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallard

[Aside: I learned that 'mallard' in French is canard colvert, and that bleu canard ('duck blue') is a teal-ish color, like the blue found in the wing of a mallard. Facts!]

Also, I don’t want a spirit animal that everyyyyyone else has, right? I mean, I’M A UNIQUE AND SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE!

Eventually, I was just picking interesting animals and looking them up on Wikipedia, and they were mostly from Australia. This has the downside that I might never see my own spirit animal because who knows when I’m going to Australia???

Contenders for Mica’s Spirit Animal were:

  • The dugong — Too gentle
  • The wallaby — Too cute
  • The sea or box turtle — Too slow and respectable.
  • The fox — I’m not actually that clever. Sigh.

The platypus is a strong contender, and I do love me some monotremes. I mean, I’m kind of a mix of things, right? And they seem like frantic swimmers, much like I am a fast walker and do-er of things! Bonus points to the platypus because it has a poisonous spur. They’re such weird-looking badasses.

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus

 

While examining Australian fauna, the Hus-friend suggested that my spirit animal be THE TASMANIAN DEVIL, which Wikipedia describes thusly:

“It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odour, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding.”

You guys, except for my lack of body odor, that basically describes me. ME! I am ferocious when feeding, and we all know that hanger is a real and present force in my life.

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_devil#Ecology_and_behaviour
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_devil#Ecology_and_behaviour

Like, cool, I’m down with having a strange spirit-connection to a ferocious little Australian marsupial except for this…this:

“They are known to eat animal cadavers by first ripping out the digestive system, which is the softest part of the anatomy, and they often reside in the resulting cavity while they are eating.”

GROSS.

After that, I’ve given up for awhile. I think I need to stop making my spirit animal try to happen. It will come to me, right?

Alright, serious and important question, blog readers: Do you have a spirit animal?? 

(And do you have a spirit animal suggestion for me?)

Speaking French again

In preparation for our trip to Paris, and also because I feel bad that I’m letting it slip away, I’ve been working on my French a bit recently. This is mostly passive: listening to French podcasts when I walk to work and adding some French blogs to my blog reader. To practice my speaking, I’ve had to make a bit of an effort, so I’ve started meeting with a French conversation partner.

Man, I’ve lost a lot than I thought! Recently, I was trying to tell my conversation partner Bastien that when it’s hot, I open the windows in my apartment, but mosquitoes come in and bite (‘stick’) me. Except instead of les moustiques (‘mosquitoes’), I definitely said, les mousquetaires  (‘musketeers’). So yes, when it’s hot, jauntily-dressed men with muskets enter through the window and stick me. Whoops.

In all honesty though, it’s nice to practice French again after farting around in Korean for a few years. I’m also sad that I’ve lost what progress I made there, but let’s be honest, I never got very far with Korean. At least with French, I am well-past what I like to call the “aggressive toddler” stage of learning a foreign language. In other words, I have more at my linguistic disposal than pointing at things and saying things loudly (“Refrigerator! Juice! Thank you!”). It’s a relief to have many, many years of language study to fall back on, even if I make silly mistakes.

 

So I took a voice lesson

Recently, I’ve been feeling inadequate about my singing, which is totally fine because singing is not my livelihood. Still, some people that I know from youth community theater performances are off making it big on Broadway, and here I am, still stuck with my voice that sounds like it should be issuing forth from a sad, plaintive orphan. Except I’m nearing 30 and approaching the time when my voice should mature and settle. In other words, I’m close to or already have my LADY VOICE.

Recently, I picked up a flyer from a voice studio near my apartment, and today, I went in (sort of on a whim?) for an initial lesson. I had reached out earlier to the instructor, saying that while I sing only for fun, it makes me sad that when I want to sing high, belt-y notes, I always switch into my head voice, which is considerably weaker and breathier. This happens consistently around B above Middle C (B4?). There’s no buzzkill like switching to head voice mid-belt and sounding like you’ve had the air knocked out of you. Oh, it’s so very sad.

Katie, the instructor, was super nice and totally “got” what I was talking about. She asked about my background and previous training, and she was very enthusiastic and encouraging about what I already can do and where she thinks I can go. Best of all, she made it sound like extending the range of my chest voice is not at all outside the realm of possibility, so that’s great news! Basically, it boils down to re-training my body to not switch automatically into head voice when I approach the first bridge in my voice, which is basically where the vocal apparatus starts to change shape to accommodate the faster vibrations needed for higher notes. It was really cool to have an expert listen to my natural speaking and singing voice and say things like, “I thought you were a soprano from your speaking, but I think you might be a mezzo. There’s a lot of color in your middle notes.” Hooray, colored notes?!?

But man! I’d forgotten that singing lessons really strip you of your pride. Today, I did things like, look at the shape of my mouth in a mirror while I sang, put my hands on my face to feel the tension in my jaw, looked directly at Katie (while she looked at me) while singing. Like, DIRECT, while-singing eye contact. That’s a real thing. Oh, and there was a lot of trying to sing in a very character “old Broadway”-esque voice (like Cyndi Lauper) to demonstrate that I am capable of singing higher notes without switching into my head voice. I sounded okay sometimes and not-okay a lot of times, I thought.

She sent me off with a recording of the half-hour session. I don’t know if I have the courage to listen to it yet.

I had a lot of fun, despite feeling somewhat embarrassed. Katie asked me what I liked to sing, and we did some Broadway songs, which is a lot of fun. It’s cool to approach this hobby knowing that I’m just doing it because I enjoy singing and want to improve. Absolutely nothing at all–no auditions, no money, no roles–hinges upon how well I do. Any improvement I can make is a win, and at the very least, it’s nice to have an uninterrupted period to sing and not worry about bothering the neighbors.

Now, maybe work will allow me to use my wellness reimbursement stipend for voice lessons…

Dipping things in a vat of indigo

In grad school, my friend Sean used to tease me that I wore and owned a lot of blue things. In fact, at a party, the following conversation took place:

[Friend]: “Where’s Mica?”

[Sean]: “Uh, I dunno. Probably dipping everything she owns in a vat of indigo.”

Over the weekend, I joined Stella and her friends Jennifer and Whitney for a “hipster tie-dye” crafternoon. My previous experience with tie-dye was limited to a [probably toxic] kit from Wal-Mart that Cassandra and I used to make tee-shirts before the Women’s Fitness 5K in Champaign,  IL. Now, though, I live in fancy San Francisco, so I have to step up my tie-dye game a little bit. Fortunately, Jennifer brought along an indigo tie dye kit for us all to experience the “ancient and mystical” art of…turning things blue.

I didn’t get many pictures of the process because my hands were generally occupied with 1) scrunching up large quantities of fabric or 2) submerging said scrunched-up fabric into vats of what looked like pond water. Yes, apparently, indigo dye looks greenish-yellow and turns blue with oxidation. Chemistry or something! Oh, and also, it smells bad.

After you take out your items, you expose the fabric to the air so it will turn blue. It’s pretty cool!
Indigo dyeing

I had originally grabbed enough cotton twill to make a skirt or two at the Fabric Outlet, but at some point, I realized that tie-dyed clothing has no place in my wardrobe. Still, I did cool two designs: scrunching and pleating.

Stella and Jennifer were more serious about the dyeing process. They had prepped the scarves, napkins, and other fabric for dyeing in a variety of complicated ways: wrapping around bottles with rubber bands, folding like a paper football, intense-looking clamps and plastic wrap. Those ladies are serious crafters. Meanwhile, I just kept shrugging when I had to make design decisions and went along for the ride.

Indigo tie-dye

Given my inexperience, I think my two pieces turned out really well! I only had time to do one soak in the dye vat, but the color still turned out plenty dark. I’m very pleased and will have to think of something cool to make out of my “mystically” hand-dyed fabric.

So now I can say that I have dipped my wares in a vat of indigo! Check that off my life list.

Fighting with pattern paper

I tried to sew my first garment (a skirt) using a commercially printed pattern over the weekend, and I have discovered a life fact: Pattern paper is horrible, awful horribleness! Seriously. I think Satan was like, “OMG, Self! What is the most expedient way to put Mica in a stabby rage?” And thus pattern paper was born.

The instructor of my Sewing Studio Craftsy class merrily told me that pattern paper is awful and tears easily, but she, of course, made it look super-easy, handling that shit with decisiveness and purpose. With a deep sigh, I broke the seal on the accompanying pattern envelope and shook out the four sets of folded patterns. They looked something like this:

Pattern paper

 

The instructor in the video recommended taking the roughly cut-out pattern pieces to the copyshop and making multiple copies, one for each size. I decided to take this approach because that would give me some wiggle room in case I messed up somewhere along the cutting process. This is a very realistic and probably scenario, after all.

Screenshot from my Craftsy Class (Sewing Studio with Diana Rupp)
Screenshot from my Craftsy Class (Sewing Studio with Diana Rupp)

Husfriend and I went to the Copy and Print department at Home Depot and attempted to unfold the pattern paper. It was a two person job and reminded me of all the times I have tried to open a road map while being the navigator on a road trip. (You know, when the map somehow balloons to four hundred times its original size, exceeding your arm span and blocking 90% of the windshield.) I was getting stressed that the paper would adhere to the delicate sheen of lady-sweat on my limbs and surely rip or worse, simply dissolve. I left the Husfriend to do my dirty work and set about figuring out how to make copies of this paper-that-is-basically-noisy-air.

I walked to the counter and asked the attendant how one might go about copying a sewing pattern onto thicker paper. She stared at me for a few seconds before asking, “Uh, what do you want to copy?” I followed her eyes as they drifted from me over to where I had left the Husfriend. He was standing in the corner, almost entirely blocked from sight by a swath of brown pattern paper. You could hear *crinkle, crinkle* and occasionally see a wrist or ankle emerge from this fight-to-the-death, only to be consumed again by the horrible paper-of-horribleness.

The copy attendant turned back to me, and her face basically read Oh bitch, hell no. However, she politely informed me that a paper of that size would (1) require the oversized copy machine but (2) would probably rip because it was too delicate in the first place.

I walked back over to the Husfriend and informed him that we were going to have to fold the pattern paper back together. We got it back into something resembling its original size and shape, somehow. Mostly. Whatever. I’m over it.

Suffice to say, I have gotten basically nowhere on my skirt. In fact, I’ve made negative progress: I put the patterns back in the envelope and made lots of attempts to frown.

Here are some questions I now have:

  • Do you rough cut around the pattern pieces (all sizes), pin them to the fabric, and cut along the lines of the size you need? What if you make a mock-up this way and discover that you need a larger size for the “real” version? [This was the problem I was running into over the weekend.]
  • What do you do if you want to save the pattern to reuse multiple times?
  • What if you cut up a pattern for you and then a larger/smaller friend asks you to make the same garment for her? Do you have to buy a new pattern?
  • What if you’re OCD and don’t want to cut up your nice rectangular pattern papers? Do you trace the pattern onto sturdier paper? If this is your approach, do you go insane with the tedium of tracing every line and marking? (This is my legitimate fear.)

In a panic, I emailed Carrie who was nice enough to respond with her method for using patterns:

…So what I do is lay out the whole pattern tissue and trace off the size I think I will be on tracing paper…I also usually grade between sizes depending on my measurements using a straight edge.* I label each piece with the pattern, the piece number/letter, and the size. Then I cut out my traced pieces and keep them in a sheet protector sleeve in a three ring binder labeled with the pattern and the size. I actually do this with most of my PDF patterns as well so I can make everything in different sizes. Hope this helps!!

That sounds like a mostly do-able solution, except tracing sounds very tedious and error-prone. I don’t want to do a ganky job tracing the pattern and have that result in an ill-fitting skirt!

So, out of the good will I hope you bear me, if you could detail how you use sewing patterns, I would greatly appreciate it. 

 

Allons-y, à Paris!

Paris from Pont Alexandre

Bonjour à tous, mes chers amis!

I hope everyone is enjoying Labor Day and has had a wonderful holiday weekend. After our exciting mini vacation, we decided to lay low over the long weekend, which is pretty great in San Francisco. Warm sunshine, clear days, and plenty of things to see around the city, including a man wearing an “I <3 WEED” shirt on Market Street.

A little-known (probably well-known) fact about me is that I tend to write off entire cities (nay, countries!) because of bad experiences I may have had visiting them. Yes, I know, this is gross “American” behavior; for the most part, my incessant remonstration is ironic. For many years, Paris was numéro 1 on my “Foreign Cities Shit List” after a disappointing and ultimately frustrating summer spent interning there in college. (First World Problems, for real, here!) Looking back, I’m not sure how I survived my MA in French Linguistics when I was pretty disdainful of all things Gallic–except maybe nasal vowels–for the entire duration of the program.

Streaker on the Champ-de-Mars
(Streaker on the Champ-de-Mars)

But seven years have passed since I departed the City of Light in a huff, rage-tears streaming down my face. I’ve had some time to let my vehement rage subside, and the number 1 spot on my Shit List has been replaced by Seoul. Though, to be honest, I sometimes find myself nostalgic for some of Seoul’s eccentricities; maybe I’m growing mellow as I approach 30.

Steps in my Parisian Apartment
(Ten flights of stairs I climbed to my Parisian chambre de bonne)

Hus-friend and I have enjoyed our family and friends vacations, but we were also looking forward to taking a trip on our own itinerary this fall. Prices looked good for European travel over the week of Thanksgiving, so a few months ago, we jumped on an AirBnb in the Marais neighborhood, home of the l’As du Falafel, where I shoved many, many piping hot chickpea fritters in my maw in 2007. Airfare was a bit of a waiting game. After nearly going insane with worry over the rising prices, we were able to snag a non-stop flight from SFO to CDG when it serendipitously dropped $300/ticket. Yes! I mean Ouuuaaaaiiiissss!

Illuminated Eiffel Tower

I’m really looking forward to this trip. Ashley and Kyle are going to be working from London this fall, so we anticipate having delicious adventures with them if they are able to Chunnel over. And Hus-friend has only been to Europe during a whirlwind school trip. He mostly recalls that daytime French television showed naked women. Time to make some new memories, eh?

Galette & Mousse

It will be fun to explore Paris as adults, especially since our year in San Francisco has prepped us for aggressive city walking. One thing that really got me down about my time in Paris was having no one to share all the cool things I saw/did with, so it will be really fun to experience these and new things with the Hus-friend.  In the seven years since I’ve been in France, my memories of the city have somehow developed a romantic patina. (I mean, I took all the photos on this trip. They’re all so cool and beautiful!) I will, however, remain on alert, lest I arrive and develop an irremediable case of Paris Syndrome.

I sincerely hope that this return to Paris will be a sign of my increasing maturity, being less quick to judge (maybe???) and more open to cultural differences that I once found maddening.

Mica in the Catacombs

In the mean time, I’ll be over here, brushing up on my French.