September 1st, 2014

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Today marks my third week in Europe and a couple of weeks of hiatus from blogging since NYC. So far working from the road has been hectic, to say the least, so when I finally catch a break to join a day trip to the northern tip of France, I say oui to Sedan, France.

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The commune of Sedan, bordered by the Meuse River which separates it from the neighboring country of Belgium, first emerged in the 1400s. Sedan has long been both a political/religious refuge and occupation between warring factions, from the War of Religions to the Franco-Prussian War to the two World Wars.

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These days, Sedan is mostly known for being home to the Château de Sedan, the largest medieval castle in Europe. We shall tour this huge fortress–covering an area of 35,000 square meters on seven floors–in the next entry.

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Today I’m just going to take you around the historic city center to a French restaurant recommended by TripAdvisor and kick about a bit before we actually tour the castle. Just how cute is that parking lot in the photo above?

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I know today’s entry has nothing to do with fashion, but wouldn’t you know it, this was on the table:

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And then it was used as a serving tray for my dessert:

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And by it I mean ardoise, or slate. Ardoise happens to be an Hermès color. Hey, we build on our French vocabulary from whatever source we can find, non? But I digress…

It’s always been a voluntary decision for me to not eat meat (more specifically, anything that used to make a noise) and after some 20+ years, I’ve never fallen off the wagon. Just never missed it. But on this day, I really wish my dining choices were not so limited. We got here later than expected, around 1:30pm, and the trout was no longer on the menu. So while everyone around me got to enjoy the local fares of foie gras, lapin, or this very popular cassoulet…

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I had to make do with the only two appetizers that had no meat:

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Ok, so that second dish is escargots drowning in champagne butter. (Snails never made a noise, right?) Like I said, for the first time in a long time I wished I were a carnivore. But the moment quickly passed once the owner brought some great baguettes to the table :D .

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Not too much to see around here, but beyond this bend…

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let’s go storm a castle!

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August 18th, 2014

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By far NYC has to be one of the best walking cities in the world, especially for photographers. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or an amateur like me, every block is its own postcard in the making. Just point and shoot and the picture tells its own story:

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From cityscape to waterfront, the city is every camera’s dream:

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But hands down, my favorite photo opp on this trip was this giant topiary (for lack of a better description), Split-Rocker, by Jeff Koons:

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It’s half toy-pony, half toy-dinosaur. Wonderful interview with the artist at this link. Too bad I did not have enough time to squeeze in a visit at the Whitney’s Jeff Koons retrospective. Here’s the shot from across Rockefeller Plaza:

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Split-Rocker will be on display through September 12, 2014. I wish I could be here again in a few weeks to see how much it has grown (the flowers will probably be even more in bloom than they already are in my first pic). Go see it and feed your inner whimsy!

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August 15th, 2014

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Almost exactly one week before September 11, 2001, I walked across the grounds of the World Trade Twin Towers after visiting an art gallery. On that fateful Tuesday morning, back in LA, as reality set in after fielding a few calls from my East Coast clients in the money management industry (I cannot tell you how unsettling it is to hear the quivering voices of Alpha males on the other end of phone), I sat alone in my office and thought there was no truer saying than there but for the grace of God go I… Life and death are in everyone’s cards. We just don’t know when or how they get played out.

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A year later, I walked around the fenced-in hole that was now Ground Zero. The wound was still so raw, the enormity of it all looming over everyone’s face, heart, and spirit. As a child of war myself, for me the greatest fear was that my family and I would have to live through yet another deadly fight for freedom. How many wars can one lifetime sustain and still not lose hope?

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So it was with great anticipation that I visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum a few days ago. It’s been almost 13 years and the city has indeed survived. The Memorial’s reflecting pools and waterfalls are a great reminder of the endless tears shed over these now hallowed grounds, as well as a symbol of continuity. Where ashes fall life begins anew…

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Much of the museum's exhibition space is naturally below ground. The embattled enormous slurry wall and box columns bear witness to how much destruction took place here:

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Seeing the Vessey Street stair remnant (aka the Survivors’ Stairs)…

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and the Last Column…

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made me very emotional. But even after seeing so many artifacts of hate, pain, and most of all, courage, from the twisted metals…

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to the humongous quilt handmade out of love,

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nothing shook me more than this immense wall:

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Is this now our own Wailing Wall?

By the Slurry wall, you can write your tribute here

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then run over to find your message appear for a second or two:

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I was deep in thought before I left my brief message when the docent hurried me over to get a photo of my message before it evaporated. I was a bit flustered when he did that because I was still teary-eyed over some of the other visitors’ messages.

If you have the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum, give yourself at least two hours to take it all in. It’s a heavy experience loaded with a gamut of emotions. Makes you angry, sad, incredulous, pained. My head struggles to find forgiveness. My heart certainly cannot.

But as I walk away from the museum, I come across this patinated bronze Trinity Root in the courtyard of the historic St. Paul’s Chapel at Broadway and Fulton Street. The sculpture was inspired by a large Sycamore tree that was uprooted by the explosion. The tree had fallen in such a way that it actually shielded the tombstones in the church’s cemetery as well as blocked any damage to the chapel. Steve Tobin heard about the story of this Sycamore and in September 2005 had this sculpture installed here as “a metaphor for connectedness and strength.”

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So while forgiveness may never arrive, I can at least answer the question I posed earlier. A lifetime can sustain many wars and tremendous loss, only because hope is as certain as the next sunrise.

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August 13th, 2014

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It should be no surprise to you that I am back on the road. The last photo of the suitcases in my last entry should have been a dead giveaway. What I failed to mention, though, was that I actually ended up with three pairs of striped sneakers: two from the Missoni x Converse collab and another slip-on pair from Vans that just happens to have the zigzags. Let’s see if I manage to tie today’s opening photo to the last photo in this entry!

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I’ve been to NYC enough times to now have routines each time I go there. And after this particular trip, I now have a hairdresser I can add to my routine. It’s a bit drastic to go cross-country for a good hair coloring, but I think it’s no coincidence that his salon is in Soho. As much as I enjoy discovering all the neighborhoods in NY, I’ve always felt that I would be a downtown girl if I lived in Manhattan.

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I would haunt the Hermes boutique down here on Wall Street…

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maneuver these sidewalks on my way to work each morning…

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make these institutions my neighbors…

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and order Moules-frites from this Les Halles location at least once a week…

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So yeah, I’m talking Lower Manhattan. Wayyy downtown. Far from the more heavily touristy areas. But in NYC, it’s rather hard to escape the tourists. I had to run out very early to get a clear shot of the Charging Bull (aka Wall Street Bull or Bowling Green Bull) without huge crowds around it:

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But NYC would not be the same without the teeming crowds and their collective human energy.

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August 3rd, 2014

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If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while you’d know that I basically live in my leather Converse sneakers when I’m visiting a new city, especially if there’s a lot of walking involved on a given day. You’d also know that I have a thing for designer collaborations and a soft spot for all things Missoni. So when Converse and Missoni decided to team up for a collaboration (currently available at Nordstrom), you’d think I would have been all over that, right? Well, errr, no. I did not get that memo.

It was purely by chance that a friend and I bumped into this display when we went to grab a quick lunch at the store:

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I was gobsmacked! Zigzags in so many fun colorways as a low-top and a high-top:

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But obviously I had to have these…

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to go with my luggage, right?! Who doesn’t match shoes with luggage?

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Remember that epic Missoni/Target collaboration? Sigh…sure wish I had bought another set of luggage as a backup.

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