Which edit do you prefer? Read on for the *real* story behind the ‘gram. A diaphanous twirly skirt from Rajasthan, fished out of @Emma_louise_sophia’s bottomless backpack (what wonders it holds!) pulled over my linen shift by the pool. Couldn’t be bothered to properly change. Tiptoe through puddles, skirt hiked up. The smell of chlorine. Nostalgic. Kick off shoes, wobble on cushions. Try to not fall in. “Let me know when you’ve got me in focus!” I shout across the room. “Go!” She says. And I twirl, a 35 year old grown woman spinning on a poolside chaise. For a photo. Undignified, I reckon. But I twirl and twirl until dizzy, stumble, laugh. Because this is ridiculous. I’m not the sort that enjoys ostentatious twirling. Or twirling at all, really. Two Russians dive unceremoniously into the pool while we shoot. I wait. Then twirl. A queue of hopeful Instagrammers forms to take the same shot, tripods in hand. We all take the same shots. And I twirl. What is this culture? All the same photos. Twirly skirts (they read well on camera, it’s true) when we prefer trousers. Curated moments between sunburns and snort laughs over maybe one too many lemony gin fizz. Between hot taxi rides speaking broken French and handing a fistful of coins to a Syrian refugee at a stoplight and thinking “christ, I can do better.” Or maybe that’s just me. Word on the street is this culture is dying, becoming a parody of itself. Like me here. Twirling in luxury in a poor country. Consider this photo me dancing on the grave of old Instagram culture. Are you excited for real stories? Honesty as much as anyone can muster? Do you think curated Instagram content is dying? Is there a difference between aesthetic and pretty? I’ll likely never give up aesthetics. Or photography. Or the art of editing. But I’m tired of pretty. Stay tuned. Because all I think about is how can we compel AND convert. Tell stories and do good work. Neither at the expense of the other. Thoughts?
“It feels good to have something on your head that makes you feel like a witch or a genie, doesn't it? Let's get some magic back. Do you have a lover? You don't have to tell me if you do or don't, but if you do, they'll dig this. After you get out of the bath together and make breakfast, like dry toast with a poached egg and a side of cantaloupe. ‘Come here so I can look you in the eyes,’ you'll hear. ‘We're all multidimensional beings, babe, because everyone is a time traveler, if only for a moment. . . .” - @itsparkerposey, from her memoir “You’re on an Airplane” (thanks for the rec @joiefarm and for the pic @emma_louise_sophia) This goes out to the queens. You know who you are. Whatever your crown looks like, represent. Comment your crown. 👑 Wearing (cause someone’s gonna ask #notsponsored ) @elizsuzann dress (best) @moroccan_basket bag to feel more like Françoise Hardy @merciparis scarf as turban @crescioni_ca necklace as talisman sunnies stolen from Emma and other random stuff whilst swanning about the inimitable @berberlodge_
Morning in the Medina. Walk along the wall. Keep to the right. Step over watermelon rinds, melted creamsicles, orange rind. Donkey shit, mint, diesel, rose water. Olfactory technicolor. Sometimes I hold my breath. Head down, wan smile, walk fast through the souks. Chanting my mantra: La shukran, la shukran, non merci, no thanks. Severed cows hooves, daintily crossed, for sale. Upside down sheep’s heads look like they’re smiling. The watermelons. They are so big and so cheap and red inside. Moukef again. Scooters and motorbikes weave round donkeys, bicycles, women and their market bags. Strollers. Cabs. A man with two feathered chickens by their feet walks through the street. A blind man with a stick too. Sometimes I hold my breath.
As-salāmu ʿalaykum. Peace be upon you. Retreat to Marrakech in May. El Moukef. Dusty, sweltering artery of two-stroke, donkeys, chariot of ill starred chickens, stray cats, fried bread. Duck into a pink side street. Two wrong turns. Back track. Say you know the way. Je connais, je connais. Finally, Chez Hassan on the right beneath a waterfall of vines. Maybe jasmine. Almost home. Now you know the way to @riad42marrakech. @emma_louise_sophia & Soma, 8, come ‘round. Sit on the roof of @riadennafoura. A dipping pool for the girls, cold as the sun sets. And a Cheshire moon rises, swallows sing, the call to prayer. Dinner, carrots and rose water. Stewed aubergine. Heaping market vegetable tagine. Too much food. The radish is best. Eula only eats bread. Le lendemain. Proper coffee at chez Emma. Errands. Into the souks. Stone plates, wooden plates, brass cups, raffia & rattan, geodes. A chariot (wheelbarrow) to haul it home. Location scouting and poolside afternoon shandy at @riadyasmine. Run to pay deposit at @elfennmarrakech. Also a sunset spritz (they only have Aperol) on the terrace. Free shot of mezcal. Scout floral market. Rose vendors in a fist fight. Later, a traffic jam. Another fight. Right outside the palace, cops of course. Unusual. Ramadan heat wave.
My friend Emma. @Emma_louise_sophia, the woman you want to know in Marrakech. Two middle names, red lipstick, silver hoops, and a turban. She knows where to find the best sardine kefta. The wizard with real rose water and frankincense. Pink onyx and malachite. The best alley to perch on crates with clay bowls of bessara, fava stew slicked with oil. No spoon. Eaten with hobs, Moroccan bread. English, mother of 3, she knows the word “orthogonal”, speaks French & enough Arabic, has a kamado-san donabe in her brutalist riad, and tells the truth. Master of mindset, Morocco to India to Laos, she’s traveled and lived all over the world with her brood. Brave, kind, and a laugh. She knows all my secrets. And her way around a camera as well as the souks. As colorful as her life. Couldn’t, wouldn’t do ‘Kech without her. In June, you can too. She’s hosting a retreat to Marrakech, a retreat from busy. From fear. From whatever is holding you back from boldly, sans apology living your truth & dream. She helps me live mine. Only a few precious spots left. Tap the link in my profile now, and get a ticket to Emma’s Luminance Retreat in Marrakech before they’re gone. There’s a reason I co-host all my retreats here with her. Simply: it is a good decision. She’ll talk sense into you. Inspire you. Lift you up. And show you this pink (red) city’s secrets and how to use a camera like a pro along the way. She’s the woman you want to know in Marrakech.
L’histoire @duneile. The story of an island. In a sea of WiFi. The drive. Paris rush hour. Matt loses his shit at Alexa, google maps. Eula loses her lunch into a spent cappuccino cup, mostly. Mercifully, she sleeps. A tunnel of trees yearning over the road. Smoke from the chimney. Eula straight into the claw foot bath. Mermaid songs. Dinner. Fire in the hearth. White lilacs on the table. Michel le chat asleep in Eula’s chair. Candles flickering. Soundtrack: Europe in the 90’s. AC/DC, Back in Black. Metallica, Aerosmith, Queen, Beach Boys, Depeche Mode. C’est parfait. Pour manger: all the smoke. Asperges fumé with homemade buttermilk and herbs. Beurre fumé et radis. Heifer & creamer potatoes. Hen & roasted carrot. The best fucking bread ever. Eula, Linda Blair at bed time. Mercifully, she sleeps. No WiFi, no cell service. Fire in the hearth. Orange wine. 3 to a bed for the night. Rain.
Apartment hunting in Paris. Identity crisis. Backstory. Rented in Paris for two years, out grown current flat. No visas, so we spend 3 months every 6 months here. Hope for more soon. We don’t “live” anywhere, bouncing between France, Japan, and the US. She’ll start school, we’ll choose. She’s only 2. Not the US though. Probably Paris. Summers in Japan. I have no idea. Sublet, Airbnb when we are gone. The first one. Fancy. Basically above a Gucci store in the 3rd. Gross. Rent isn’t cheap. It’s huge. Clean too. Space enough for Eula to run. Space enough to consecrate its halls with spilled glasses of vin natural with many friends. Space enough for long tables and nights. Pop ups. Impromptu pasta, hot pots. Space to teach and host and work. Photograph. It’s beautiful. Too nice for me. Doesn’t fit my idea of myself. My own glass ceiling. The second one. The photo is more charming, I know. It’s big enough for us. Maybe one house guest, occasionally. No room to teach or host. Perfect location, the 11th. On a big boulevard, noisy. The kitchen is red. The bathroom, a little moldy. Half the price. Half the space. Authentic. All it needs is a record player, some pillows in the floor. La vie bohème. My idea of myself. Ideas about ourselves crystallize. Mutable young. More fixed as we age. I want the big one. What can I say. Glass ceilings are meant to be broken, and ideas about ourselves are just fictions we grow fond of.
Swore we’d never spend another sticky summer in Paris. But, for now. Still spring, even cold. Thank god. I don’t like summer. Unless on the sea. Digress. For now. Hunting a bigger flat to rent (currently: kicked in the ribs all night by a toddler). Another viewing today at half past noon. And then. Driving two hours to the country. To @duneile. Une hôtel de campagne. To photograph. Natural wine, food. Where Eulalia can run. There’s a soaking tub in our room. Last morning in Paris for 3 weeks (2 nights in the country, then Marrakech.) The laundry never dries. We didn’t finish the wine. Out of shampoo. Wearing his Levi’s. They almost fit, slightly too big. Swear to eat less bread. For now, more coffee. Buy more bread anyway. Pack bags again though I’m remiss. An aside: You may have noticed I’m indulging in a different post style. An experiment for myself. I scratch notes all day in a notebook. These are snippets of those notes. They‘re mostly about food because I’m a boring glutton. The photos are mostly taken and edited on my iPhone. I’ve been feeling uninspired by social media. So as I encourage my students to follow that inner voice, I practice what I preach. If something isn’t working for you, try something else. Don’t let follower count stop you. Do what you feel like. If you’re passionate it will be good. If it’s good, you’ll eventually succeed. Your income nor your self worth should ever be tethered to social media. It’s a wonderful tool. Platform. Community of sorts (but no substitute for the real thing.)That is all. I hope you enjoy.
“C’est un jour comme un autre...” Sunday/Monday, Paris. Dimanche. 5 am, jambon cru out of wax paper over the sink, no trousers. Shower, find trousers, red beret. Coat negotiations with a 2 year old: “It has snakes!” Battle invisible snakes. Are victorious. Dad is still sleeping. Usually it’s me. Bad café au lait at the station café, nothing else open. Hot milk for her. With sugar. A little. A croissant shared, strawberry jam. Marché for radishes & green things, eye watering mustard, créme fraîche for my eggs. I forget the butter. She steals a carrot, is gifted a strawberry. Proper coffee and sakura gateau at @cafeloustic when dad wakes. Bao and dumplings at @doubledragon_paris for lunch. Asleep before sunset. Lundi. Sleep to a luxurious 5 AM. Immediately watch Game of Thrones with coffee. Naturally. Creamy slow scrambled eggs with lots of chives on baguette and allium wilted spinach for breakfast. Apartment hunting (Eula needs a room) all day. Parquet floors, beautiful light, mold, red kitchen. Pass. Jaywalking is a national past time. Blazing hot soupe à l’oignon for lunch (my recipe is better...). I eat the cheese off the top. Later, a glass of orange wine. Another. Stuck in traffic. Shell peas, trim artichokes. Miso, mustard, butter. Tarragon. Mean to call bank but fail, exhausted. Watch @hulu in bed. Have to use a VPN to change my ISP to do it because France. Success. Figure I’m an evil computer genius. Fin.
Self(ie) portrait of an American in Paris on Tokyo time. The past 72 hours. Last day in Kyoto. Rode bikes by the Kamo. Dim sum & vin oranji for breakfast. Shinkansen to Tokyo. Dinner of entrecôte & frites, jambon cru & cornichon in a red room Ginza. A glass of Kuma Cola. On to Paris via Warsaw. She sleeps, we don’t. Bad movies instead. Tamago sando from 7/11 and too many Polish chocolate bars. Matt is 50% Polish. Morning on the edge of le Marais. Up before the sun. 4 AM hot shower. Wet laundry hanging from every chair, door, sill. Scrubbing floors. Pain au chocolate for the baby when the boulangerie opens. Craving soft scrambled eggs. Maybe with bottarga, a gift from Kouki-san, on toast. Maybe soft green herbs. Definitely lots of crème fraîche. I don’t make them. Think to walk to Notre Dame, just to see. It’s too cold, winter coat is at the pressing. Rambuteau station to Goncourt instead. Carré de veau, lots of petit pois, and a little pet nat. Chambre Noir, Margo. Far too early for any Parisians to be out. He falls asleep in the cab home. Bed before 10. Up before the sun.