Momknapping: The Finale

For seven straight days, my mom and I shared the same 20 x 20 box with two beds. Whenever she awoke, I did too. Whenever she watched a Lifetime movie, so did I. Meals? together. Neighborhood drives? Side by side.

We know a lot about each other, she and I. Always have, but this trip took us to a new level of understanding.

Here’s what I knew to expect: She’s always presentable and always prepared.  She notices the colony of lint settling onto my peacoat approximately 3 days before I do. She checks for holes in her nylons before packing them on a trip, and immediately hangs up her coats, dresses, sweaters, scarfs and transient “wrinkleables” in the hotel closet. The folds of her purse are lined with protein bars and small stashes of almonds.

“Lord knows when you’ll find yourself hungry or in a bind.”

Here’s the unexpected: I felt so much like my dad.

I guess he’d take his socks off in the middle of the night and forget to find them the next day, swallowed in the sheets. I guess he’d talk to waiters and workers and people with the same spark and tenderness that she caught me with.

“You’re so much like your father,” she’d say.

But besides the quirks and traits and behavioral patterns that were passed onto him to be passed onto me, I felt so much like my dad because I felt so much love for my mom. My, my. What a mushy thing to say and extraordinary thing to feel.

Our time in Atlanta can then be lumped into two themes that are so strongly intertwined. Human behavior (my mother’s, my father’s, my own. The people, past and present, that make up the confederacy — that make up the state and the stories told to the tiny Georgia Peaches not yet ripe enough to hear the true sounds of the South) and History.

We started at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. Read the quotes to get an idea of the type of human behavior this President fought for.

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We drove through the Virginia Highland neighborhoods to stop by a house that means so much to a few we love.

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The Fox theatre welcomed us into the Cleopatra Ballroom, where we stood amidst hundreds of lit forty-somethings in sailor hats. They swayed and step-touched to the sounds of Yacht Rock Revue. The band looked like they had just stepped into technicolor, and their mustaches were unspeakably seventies.

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The next day we went to Stone Mountain. Before we knew its racist roots, we looked upon it as visitors and were charmed by it. The Antebellum plantations. The fallen leaves. The wooden planks, everything frozen in time.

I cannot even express how heavy my heart is after seeing the tribute to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson proudly etched into the stone that once held burning KKK crosses. The day evoked strong questions, emotions, sadness. But the visit was worthwhile. It was 20 degrees when we were there, but I cannot recall the cold, only the air hot, sticky with hatred.

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For the rest of the trip, I worked and worked and worked. Luckily, my main girl was always up for meeting me after a long day and trying new places to experience new eats. Together, we sampled some of Atlanta’s food jewels.

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And when all the food and fun was said and done, we’d come back to the hotel and rest our heads in unforgivably comfortable beds. We marveled at the christmas decorations and the heated indoor pool.

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I took a dip to get my heart rate up. When it slowed, I floated on my back, placing my index fingers in my ears. I listened to the blood circulate and the pool vent chew the water. Weightless, I expressed my gratitude to Work for displacing me, and to my mother and father for placing me where ever it is I am today.

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With love, Us.

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Mom Knapping Part I

There are a lot of good people in this world. More than bad, I think. They’re out there, quietly giving — caring for friends like they’re family and strangers like they’re friends. I think these people live humbly, and for the most part, rather happily. I think they don’t consider themselves generous; they hardly consider themselves at all.

Like my mom, who put me first for 23 years.

This Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to return the good. To treat her. Take her new places. Show her a side of the country and herself that have always been more than an arm’s length away.

And it’s all because the good people at my work called me out to ATL for business over the holiday weekend, and sent me with a loved one so I wouldn’t spend Thanksgiving alone eating Rolos in an AMC theater.

Grateful.

Here’s how chapter one of this holiday mom knapping went down: SFO to Charlotte, NC. Night drive from Charlotte to Asheville. Airbnb stay in see-your-breath-it’s-so-damn-cold Asheville. Leave SYBISDC-Asheville 2 days early because of the SDC weather (read: ill-equipped Jetta and Californian from beachtown, USA weren’t cut out for the surprise storm and icy road conditions/snow that came with it.)

But we made the most of our short time there. We learned about George Vanderbilt – himself, his family, his subtle and quaint home in the countryside — ate unbelievable food, drank local beer, took a few strolls around the colorful town.

Above all, Mom adroitly assumed the role of world’s greatest co-pilot/Siri whisperer and got us everywhere we needed to go safely. From downtown to down the Blue Ridge Parkway. She even let me listen to John Denver through it all. What a gal.

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Stumbled upon a ‘lil vintage shop downtown where I bought a piece of art that warrants it’s own blog post. I also bought a puffy vest. It makes me look like a bumble bee.

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Then we contributed to the Vanderbilt fortune with wine tasting and a tour of the tiny property.

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One day I’ll camp the crap out of these blue ridge mountains. I’ll have a pack and a down bag and greasy hair and really strong soles and soul.

Until then, I’ll have the fond memory of chills jumping up my spine — both from the view and from the temperature.

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Our last meal in Asheville was at Rhubarb. It was as charming and warm as a 1940’s love letter, and as hip as The Mission’s hippest hipster. The menu matched the decor: original, tasteful, daring.

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My lady likes local beers. I like that about her.

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And then…. we drove from NC to ATL. This is our South Carolina Selfie.

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More to come!

Sam, Sarah and Jack

My friend Sam’s been growing out his beard and I’m convinced he’s hiding wisdom in there.

Last night I took a looksy at the full moon, and a looksy down at my lazy self before calling one of my oldest friends to take a night hike with me. There was a splatter of residual laundry powder hanging to my sleeve from the load I’d just put in. Sheets. 

When he showed up on my doorstep, singing a tune to my porch light and wiggling to the beat the way he does, we picked our peak right then and there. Bishops. Not too far, not too easy or hard, short or long.

It met the Goldilocks principle, so we met it with high-quality footwear: his Merrell’s, mine Salomon’s. And we talked about normal things, you know, work and friends and honesty and goals and songwriting and lentils and biking and Thanksgiving plans. Occasionally, we’d take breathers along a switchback. The fields below grew motionlessly, the lights winked with secrecy. 

Everything is so manageable from up here.

He said it without knowing its impact. And we pressed on, following the trails as they meandered around and up the mountain.

Want to hear one of my favorite quotes? I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

Sure.

“Energy creates energy. It is by spending myself that I become rich.” 

Is there a word that combines yeah, woah, mm, love and fascination? If so, it would describe my reaction to that Sarah Bernhardt quote. The idea of spending yourself … being spent…giving everything…becoming currency. It was so wonderfully charging and inspiring, and I thought of it for a long while, long after the echo of his words left the crisp air. I thought about it as I came home to my clean, warm sheets and tucked myself in, airtight. I read a bit of Kerouac to set the tone of my pending slumber and stopped on this sentence and Buddhist quote:

When you get to the top of a mountain, keep climbing.

 

The Kinfolk Table Event

I’m an activities girl. I like to try things, go places, make stuff. I like play-dates and regular dates — anything that gets me off my duff and into an energy exchange with others. So when Drew and I learned of the Kinfolk table event in Santa Barbara, we draped ourselves in our autumnest attire and took my little hatchback for an ocean-front ride down the 101.

This particular event honored the release of the magazine’s cookbook, which compiled beautiful, simple recipes from 45 tastemakers into an unequivocally aesthetic bible for entertainers. It’s heavy and heartfelt.

It was also the inspiration for our little water-front gathering — every guest was asked to send in one personal or family recipe for our very own cookbook-binding activity. But before we could assemble, we mingled. We met. We let our senses explore the low lighting, full wine, new faces, old building. We found ourselves politicking with perfect strangers in a way that was so unguarded, the conversations naturally progressed into talk about family, home, art, travel, life. I found myself slapped around by the shock of it all — is this really happening? Is the woman who gardened these ghost peppers, who made this mole, these tomales, those unearthly cakes…real? Is she actually Frida Khalo?

I couldn’t believe my tastebuds. My eyes. My senses. It was a warm event from entrance to exit, from handshakes to goodbye hugs. And as for my bound book of recipes? I’ll be making one a week, starting with John and Donna’s butternut squash, pumpkin, and apple soup.

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The Kinfolk Table

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Fruitful Collaborations_2

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[Some photos by Fruitful Collaborations]

Said and Sung

 

This morning, when my alarm interrupted my subconscious’ unruly recess, it was still dark out. Nothing stirred, no one drove toward and past my house –  I could hear the valves in my heart constricting, releasing, closing, opening. Ah, Stillness. Twisting my body felt natural as an inhale, and as I faced my window’s wooden blinds,  I contemplated swaddling the Quiet as long as it’d be held. Jarring it, and placing it like a trinket on my nightstand, as if it were something I had collected on vacation.

Instead, I faded back into the shallow darkness, only to hear my dad’s voice. I heard it break through the air, clear as a mountain lake, in that same tone and pitch he’d always use:

“leeet’s go. cooome on. hup hup. cooome on. Hup hup, I say.”

And sweetly,  extending a gentle hand, he’d lift me out of a dream or a pout…

 

It didn’t give me the blues, no. This voice visit didn’t stop me from authoring a beautiful day, it stuck in my head to remind me of the joy that accompanies preserved memories. I’m not down, no — it’s just another day.

This song has been my dad anthem lately. Soul, gospel, raw loss — it gets me.  It might get you, too.

Tall Girls Camping Trip

Though I may be muscling an old phrase into something it’s not: Tall girls who camp together stick together. *

This weekend, Amy, Olivia and I spent some quality time with nature’s giants. Tucked away in the Santa Cruz mountains, Big Basin is California’s oldest state park (speak up, Yosemite?) and the birthplace of our very first tall girl tradition.

If I didn’t eat so much pumpkin pie and smores/drink so much wine, I’d undoubtedly have surfaced an ab or 8 from laughing so hard in such a short period of time. From relentless pun-makin to twerking to T-rex tomahawking, to feeling out our morning dance moves to the tune of James Brown — things were sufficiently weird.  I would willingly subject myself to a lifetime of everlasting House/Trace music if it meant spending more nights like the one we tall girls spent camping sans men.

 

Also, please find it in your heart to either send me a quality camera, or hold your scoff at these blurry, badly lit iphone photos. It’s also to blame for my greasy hair and single day’s outfit. Yeah, why not.

 

We’ll begin with several shots of my new Subaru. This was its first adventure, I was such a proud mom.

Tall Girls Camping Trip

Tall Girls Camping Trip

Tall Girls Camping Trip

Tall Girls Camping Trip

Tall Girls Camping Trip

Tall Girls Camping Trip

 

Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip    Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip  Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip

Tall Girls Camping Trip

 

Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip

Tall Girls Camping Trip

Tall Girls Camping Trip Tall Girls Camping Trip

 

Tall Girls Camping Trip

 

Tall Girls Camping Trip

*Tall girls are 5’7″ or above. These pictures are not to scale.

Maddie the Coonhound

mmmyeah, this tumblr rocks.

 Long live Maddie the Coonhound. Not to be confused with Maddie the Coondog, which then is all too close to Maddie the Corn dog. This is not the face of a corn dog.

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maddie the coonhound

 

9

9

This one’s a good month. A bountiful month, a  proving month. A glittering crimson and jeweled month, filled with chance and truth month.

On September first, I stopped then started. It was a needed reset, and eight days in, I still feel more or less revived.

It started in Eureka when Drew and I escaped to the North Coast for labor day weekend. My first time in a puddle jumper plane started a domino effect of firsts –in a matter of days, I met droves of his family and friends, experienced cabin life in Willow Creek, hooted and hollered at small town folk in Big Foot suits, saw a night sky tightly polka dotted with stars, and witnessed a scorpion try to sneak its way into a suitcase.

We hiked and explored and played and wandered and sat by the firepit with his parents. We squeezed hands every time we saw deer minding their afternoons like they mind their babies. We drank Troublemaker and ate sliders with childish class, uninterested in time or texts or responsibility.

And I got to bring my dad to a new place. His birthday anniversary was yesterday, and like every day this month, I toasted to his life. In warm company, I remembered him as I always do. Happy birthday dad, this month’s for you.

Here’s a playlist I’ve made to soundtrack this new and ninth month. Enjoy the songs and these below sights.

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drew

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Bridesmaid Day

There’re no two ways about it, Laura and I were high school choir nerds. And the more time that separates us from those hormone haywire days, the more evident this truth becomes. What else do you call kids who’re excited about spending 3 out of 7 class periods a day in the Music Building? Who else comes home from school and sits together in front of the piano to sight sing and make up harmonies?

Six years later, we still geek out over choir music, (King Singers on repeat, anyone?) but I think it’s safe to say that Laura and I are a comfortable distance away from the enthusiastic crescendo-circling  Chamber singers we used to be.  As we’ve grown, we’ve managed to keep a strong bond and friendship, and I am so happy for her as she enters the next chapter of her life as a happily married homeowner.

 

Meet Laura & Raffi. Newly engaged, total babes.

Laura & Raffi

Laura & Raffi

Laura & Raffi

When I received this (quintessential Laura) pretty-in-pink invitation to stand up at their April wedding, my heart did a somersault inside my chest.

Bridesmaid Invitation

My answer: OF COURSE. My first “duty”: Bridesmaid Day!

 

it. was. amazing. Low key, low stress, and extremely hilarious, sweet and thoughtful.

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Dear Dad

Dad

Dear Dad,

Remember when …

you’d buckle my church shoes for me?

you’d reach your hand to the back seat for low fives when I made a funny?

we made blueberry pancakes?

we played Scattergories? Watched Star Wars?

we sang Oh Come All Ye Faithful in the car in opera voices?

…and didn’t care that it was mid-March?

you shaved your mustache for the Y2K and I thought you looked like an alien?

you’d make me a turkey and cheese sandwich every single day for lunch?

you won the Chile cook-off that one year? You were such an underdog.

Remember how …

cold my hands felt in yours?

good mom’s cooking was?

terrible I was at driving your truck?

you taught me to ski?

… and all those state capitals?

… or is it capitols?

… and the difference between ROM and RAM

 

 

When my dad died one year ago, I looked to this day as a dark and distant threat. Now that it’s here, I’ve got a heavy heart and heavier tears, but I’m grateful for all our memories.

 

 

 

 

A Kinfolk Honey Harvest

If it were possible to combine red velvet frozen yogurt, Big Sur, endorphins, never-ending compliments, fog, shortbread, seat warmers and The Beatles, then recycle them into something completely new, that product would be Kinfolk Magazine. My definition of perfection.

Kinfolk is an ad-free print magazine that collects ideas from an international community of writers, designers, photographers, artists, cooks and others who are interested in creating small gatherings and finding new things to make and do. It’s whimsical, simple, refined.

This weekend, Amy and Sam joined me at the Marshall Honey Farm just below Napa to meet the bees and their keepers for Kinfolk’s San Francisco Honey Harvest Party. Over the course of the three and a half hour field trip, we got an elementary understanding of honey harvesting, and arrived at mastery levels of honey tasting. Blackberry honey, sage honey, buckwheat honey, wild flower honey, eucalyptus honey, honey that doesn’t even taste like honey. We tried unthinkable combinations. And then, we ate and drank to our heart’s content, ending it all by making our own honey infusions as keepsakes. Jar one: honey infused with cloves, orange peels and vanilla bean. Jar two: ginger, lemon, mint honey. What a sugary spell that afternoon cast on us.

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

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Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Common side effect of high blood sugar levels: dance partying in a garden.

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

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Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

Kinfolk Honey Harvest in SFKinfolk Honey Harvest in SF

It’s Fashion. It’s Art. It’s a new pairing.

I read nearly everything Maria Popova puts out like it’s digestible gold. Today, she posted about these extraordinary rare book selections from the American Museum of National History Library, and these particular drawings really tickled me with their richness. So much so that I paired them with clothes I wish I had money enough to buy. Someday my closet will hold more than Target’s luxury line and boyfriend jeans. $omeday.

Fashion Art Fashion Art Fashion Art

Fashion Art Fashion Art

 

Pairings

Like any respectable woman of ample appetite and ampler wardrobe, I hold both my kitchen and closet in high esteem. And to offer them even more of my already limited attention, I’m making these mash ups — recipes I want to try paired with clothes I’d very much like to buy. What do you think?

1. grilled soft cheese, thyme honey and fresh figs

Eating Wear

2. lemon oat bourbon cake donuts 

Eating Wear

3. roasted strawberry and toasted coconut popsicles 

Eating Wear

4. sakura macarons

Eating Wear

5. sizzling prawns with garlic, chilli and lime

Eating Wear

A French Adventure

After two weeks of radio silence, I’m back on the microphone to get a little French with you all. In the time I spent off the air, I’ve packed and unpacked moving boxes, settled into a new home, worked 70-hour-weeks and still managed to get outside long enough to get the most gruesome sunburn my olive skin’s experienced since Stingray Swim Camp, 1997.

It’s been a wild ride, but I’m ready to recount the Wonderful.

I’ll start by acknowledging my employer, Rosetta, for shipping me off to the South of France to attend the 60th Annual Cannes Lions of Creativity Festival. It was an enormous honor and opportunity, and I think I’ll always have a mild case of the pinch-me’s about this experience. Astounding presentations, calm coastal waters, Creatives walking around in their loafers and oversized Tortoise frames —  it was just what I expected: surreal.

To set the stage, here’s what  happened while I was detained in a floating cylinder above the Atlantic:

  • Despite being a lowly coach riding scrub in sneakers and yoga pants, Air France rewarded me with glasses full of champagne, personal merlots, and a fudgesicle. All. for. free.
  • Thanks to in-flight silent farter bandits mysteriously dispersed throughout the cabin, the air was in a constant state of perma-stink. Oh, the eleven-hour linger.
  • I shared an arm rest with a really nice woman from Sonoma, and supplemented our intermittent chats with music and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Winter Dreams.”
  • Some people just didn’t give a damn. Like the seven I saw walk into the lavatory barefooted, or the 12 I caught slippin in just wearing socks.

Once I landed, I made it to my hotel, showered and had no more than 15 minutes before I was off to meet the Rosetta crew for our first dinner in Cannes. I was over dressed.

And now, Mesdames et Messieurs, I give you Cannes — land of extravagant people and possessions.

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Our group spent between 6 and 8 hours a day nerding out to keynote speeches, interviews, and presentations. Thought leaders, CEOs, innovators, risk-takers and game changers were welcomed to the stage –– I’ll let you place Martha Stewart, Mel B and Nick Cannon into whichever category you see fit.

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Highlight: Gloria Steinem. “Violence against females normalizes all forms of violence.” Check out this project, Makers, she’s been working on with AOL.

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Highlight: Not seeing Zach Galifianakis but seeing the other fat, funny guy instead.  Jack Black, everybody.

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The Cannes Connect rooftop bar — the place to go mingle with little and bigwigs from all over the world. Free Rosé and Riviera views.

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The Google Beach parties, equipped with real You Tube sensations. I was significantly upset that no one invited this corgi or this hamster to perform. As you can see, when you’re a Cannes Lion, mingling is the name of the game and the word of the week.

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Highlight: An intimate setting to stare at and listen to the infallible Lianne La Havas. A voice like a rabbit foot, that’s what she’s got.

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Eye contact, a thing of the past.

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Highlight: Meeting Arianna Huffington after her talk on finding a healthy balance between worklife and lifelife. We bonded over being Greek and are slated to vacation together next month.

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Only in Cannes is an open bar Dj’ed beach party just, you know… casual.

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And now, I put to practice what I learned from BBDO’s presentation titled Hemingway, Dickens and Michelangelo: The Best Agency Ever?

They said: All you have to do is write one true sentence.

Cannes was all-inspiring and sleep depriving.

And when it was over, I went to Paris and stayed in an art curator’s Montemartre flat. Les swoon.

Paris, France flat

And I lost myself down narrow streets that serpentined around buildings older than America.

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Highlight: Visiting the Musée d’Orsay. Impressionist art makes my heart beat like rollerblades in the dryer, and when I saw Degas, Rousseau, Renoir, Tolouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Manet, I was besides myself with joy and disbelief.

Each painting brought me further into an unworldly dimension, and I stopped often to marvel at the way these artists immortalized culture. I felt connected. The brushstrokes revealed backstories that were previously inaccessible to me, and I felt myself  melting into the warped realities of their time.

Below on the right is a self portrait of Degas. He was 19.

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To top off an already unforgettable day in Paris, I managed to be there for France’s Music Festival — a day dedicated to celebrating the summer solstice. Pop-up performances littered the streets and unsuspecting venues and little old me caught as many as I could.

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I gave George a Seine River view.

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As I walked home from the subway station, I stumbled upon a little Montemartre theater about to open its doors to play-going-patrons. I paid my way and enjoyed a show I couldn’t understand. It was perfect.

And after a particularly French encore, I exited the theater just in time for the Music Festival to hit the streets of Montemartre. Everyone had wine in one hand and someone in the other. DJs spun an all-night-soundtrack to a street party dance affair, and under my breath I wished a Happy Summer Soltice to the hip kids lining historic streets.

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up in l’air

Off I go, up in l’air to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, listening to this here playlist to mask the guttural sound of my in-flight French practice.

Over the next week, I’ll be in back-to-back workshops, seminars, awards ceremonies and shmoozing sessions, so please pardonne moi if I don’t blog for a bit. You can, however, follow my real-time updates from the Palais here or here.

[Had technical difficulties this morning uploading this playlist for your downloading pleasure. See below and stream how you will!]

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Photo credit: The sensational, talented, traveller himself @dr3wross