Big News: I’m Moving to Paris!

by Jackie D on February 8, 2016

11760227_10103769915520903_7105795022291997545_nI KNOW, RIGHT?! Full disclosure though, I’m not moving there permanently — it’s just for three months, which is how long you’re allowed to stay there without a work visa. BUT STILL. Can we all just take a moment and hyperventilate together?

As you may remember, my job role changed a bit this past fall, and so this move is one of the results of that. I’ll be working with some of my Paris colleagues on a few projects while I’m there. Right now I’m looking for an apartment and trying to make sure I have all of my doctors’ appointments taken care of before I go (FYI it’s really hard to convince your gyno to give you multiple months of birth control pills in advance, but I think I’m getting close to breaking her).

I do have some other exciting travel plans to share — which is weird, because I was holding off on a lot of other planning since I knew this Paris opportunity was on the horizon (I just didn’t know the actual dates for Paris until recently). I knew I wanted to get out of town for Valentine’s Day weekend (which also happens to be Presidents’ Day weekend, which means I randomly get Monday off work, because apparently this is an important enough holiday for that?). My original plan was Mexico City, and I was SO EXCITED. This was going to be my second “writing retreat” (after Madonna Inn over New Years), and I was so looking forward to all of the bright colors and delicious foods and Frida Kahlo.

But then Zika happened. And I was afraid that I would get to passport control in Paris and they would see that I’d been to a Zika-affected region, and it would somehow cause a problem. So then my back-up plan was Marfa, Texas, to stay at the famous Cosmico encampment made up of retro air stream trailers, fancy tents, and whatever the heck a yurt is.

But that was all booked up, considering that it’s a holiday weekend and apparently everyone had the same idea about going to hide out in the middle of nowhere in Texas for three days.

So my last, but definitely not least plan: Canada! I’ll be taking the train to and from Montreal for a quick weekend of snow, writing, delicious coffee and bagels, obviously poutine, and hopefully much frolicking and photography.

And then in July, my family and I are going to take a trip to the Canadian Rockies complete with a helicopter excursion, something called an Ice Explorer (for riding across glaciers and ice, I think?), much hiking, potentially white water rafting, and more. My mom is celebrating a big milestone birthday this year and wanted to do something badass, so off to the mountains we go! I’ve already purchased my outdoor shoes for this trip: bright pink Toms. That’s what people wear in the wilderness, right? Please send me good vibes so that I don’t accidentally fall off a cliff or something.

I think Tokyo has been bumped off the list for 2016, but I mean… considering everything else I have ahead of me right now, it’s pretty hard to see that as a bad thing.


Three Weeks in Los Angeles

by Jackie D on January 21, 2016

madonna innSo last week I came back from almost THREE weeks at home in Los Angeles. I was on vacation from December 22 through January 3 — a glorious 13 days of reading, writing, road trips, holidays, all of the food ever produced, donuts, old friends, good bars, tea with my grandma! –and then I worked from home from January 4 – 8. I think it’s the longest vacation I’ve taken from a job since…ever.

12546323_10104142429624653_723892049_o12562552_10104142429759383_387632681_o12557649_10104142429699503_274825285_oAs you can see from the photos, it was an insane two weeks full of a lot of different but equally fun things. There was Christmas, of course; high tea with my sister and Grandma at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills (this was our Christmas present to our grandma); a day trip to Salvation Mountain and then a day trip to Madonna Inn (each of these trips was three hours of driving each way); a morning at the newly revamped Peterson Auto Museum with my dad and sister, followed by an afternoon at Lacma to see Rain Room with an old friend; a trip out to Burbank to see my college friends for a night of bowling and then going to sleep early because we are old; a night of beer drinking and reminiscing about poor college choices with my two best guy friends from college; and the most marvelous event of all: the wedding of one of my best friends from childhood!

12562609_10104142429879143_1664288591_o12620826_10104142429814273_947747754_oI think I probably tried to fit in too much and ended up exhausting myself, because literally within 10 hours of landing back in New York, I came down with a really bad stomach flu and was out of work for two days. Jackie travels!

Now that I’m back, I’ve been meeting up with New York friends, catching up on a lot of work, reading The Bell Jar for the first time (obsessed), returning some very overdue library books, hanging up a shelf that is longer than I am tall, and planning my next getaways for 2016 (Mexico City, I’m coming for you).

Also, apparently a snow storm is supposed to hit tomorrow or something? I’m preparing by making all of the soup.

More adventures at home:
Zip Lining in Catalina (Or, “Just Step Aggressively Into Nothing”)

Snapshots of Other People’s Houses in Los Angeles

Snapshots from Salvation Mountain

by Jackie D on January 13, 2016

salvation mountainSalvation Mountain was originally created by someone who worshipped God, but now it’s mostly visited by people who worship color. Social media – and especially Instagram – has been the sole reason that certain places have become popular in recent years, and Salvation Mountain has become popular because it’s basically an Instagram dream. I’m not sure how anyone even found out about it before Instagram existed because it’s out in the middle of nowhere in the southern California desert.

salvation mountainsalvation mountainA friend and I took a day trip from LA to visit one day – and if you want to take a day trip, you really need to commit, because it’s 3.5 hours driving each way. Despite the drive, it’s a doable day trip because once you get there, it doesn’t take long to see the whole thing. It’s a giant man-made hill painted in pretty much every color you’ve ever seen. There are painted “waterfalls” (blue and white stripes), a “yellow brick road,” (this is the only portion of the painted area that you’re supposed to walk on, do NOT walk on the waterfall or you will get yelled at), and then there are also painted crosses and bible verses scattered throughout.

Off to the side of the hill is a small cave-like structure that is collaged with photos of Salvation Mountain’s creator and notes that visitors have left for him (he died in 2014 but people are still leaving notes), and then off to the side of that there is a painted forest type of thing made of painted branches.

salvation mountainsalvation mountainsalvation mountainIt didn’t seem like anyone there was visiting for religious reasons. Everyone was there to take photos of this colorful place to probably post on Instagram later – which is why we were there, too.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a religious person anymore – attending Catholic school and memorizing medieval paintings for art history classes has ensured that I’ve seen enough churches in both photos and real life to last a lifetime. So even though I tend to avoid things related to religion when I travel, I can appreciate when faith is expressed in a unique way that I haven’t seen before, and I definitely haven’t seen anything like Salvation Mountain before. So basically, my overall impression of it – don’t necessarily agree with the message, but I respect the approach. And I definitely respect the Instagrammability.