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Oh, hello again!

A street in Stockholm’s Vasastan neighborhood on a June evening. © Erin Zaleski 2012

After a bit of a hiatus, I am back and will be updating more frequently (no, really I promise!)

So what have I been up to these past few months?

Mostly working, but also packing, organizing, visa-acquiring, and…moving!

I am now based in Stockholm (the above is a picture of my street) indefinitely. I am looking forward to exploring the city in depth, taking road trips to the countryside, boating on the archipelago, and the easy access of many of my favorite spots in Europe (ah, Paris!)

I am less enthusiastic about learning Swedish, which, despite its vaguely pretty musical quality, bears no linguistic resemblance to either French or English. Plus, there is that peculiar sound Swedes make when pronouncing the letter “i” that reminds me of a kazoo or of how I sounded after inhaling helium out of party balloons when I was a kid.

Basically, I am preparing for a leviathan of a language-learning struggle.

In the meantime, I am keeping a virtual collage cataloguing my impressions of the Swedish capital. You can check out the Stockholm Notebook here.

Photography, Randomness

Pictures that Tell a Story: The Girl at the Creperie

Photo by Robert Redfield –

A balmy afternoon during the last year of college. I had settled in at my favorite table by the window at my beloved crêperie in downtown Santa Barbara when I caught sight of one of the most striking young women I had ever seen.

She passed my table with a stack of menus and headed towards the kitchen only to reappear by the register. Trying not to stare, I instead risked a few furtive glances over the top of my menu.

Santa Barbara is known for pretty women; the genetically blessed are hardly a rarity there. Still, the girl possessed such a striking ethereal beauty that she would have stood out anywhere.

“Did you see her?” I asked my then boyfriend during our next lunchtime outing to the crêperie after she had glided past our table. “She is gorgeous.”

“You should go make friends with her,” he said, flashing a slightly lecherous smirk.

“Yeah, I’m sure you’d love that,” I responded in mock annoyance gently elbowing him.

Little did either of us realize that these initial sightings of the then-anonymous girl at the crêperie would develop into a decade-long friendship.

Her name was France (“like the country,” she always told smitten male admirers in her thick accent). She grew up in the small town of Vichy, and had come to Santa Barbara on a study-abroad program to learn English. Soon she had fallen in love with the sunshine, the beach and an American college student with whom she shared an apartment not far from the waterfront.

In the months that followed, we bonded over the typical post-college conundrums that befall any young woman trying to make her way: relationships gone awry, unsettled career plans, the reality that university was over and that bona fide adult life was fast encroaching.

We took evening walks to the Santa Barbara Mission, gorged ourselves on chocolate biscuits and tea, and stayed out too late drinking champagne. For her beach birthday party I came dressed as a Tiki God, much to the bewilderment of many French guests—“A what? A Gigi God? C’est quoi ça?”—and she braved long hours and multiple takes as an extra in one of my director boyfriend’s short films.

The summer after graduation I traveled to Europe with my sister, and met up with her in her home town, where she laid out croissants and jam for us each morning and encouraged us to “stay in the shadow” during sweltering afternoons.

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Links - Writing, Randomness

Spam Comments as (bad) Abstract Poetry

Lately, I have been amused and bewildered by the nature of spam comments turning up in my catcher. Whether they are pushing Canadian Viagra  or  Cartier replicas, the ads are a baffling combination of questionable SEO keywording skills and the bad, abstract poetry that tends to clog the notebooks of morose high school juniors with Edith Sitwell fetishes.

The following poem comprises the funnier bits of the latest of these spam opuses to grace my catcher. Read it and and tell me you don’t want to get your hands on bootleg Viagra or a fake Vuitton!

Spam Poem Untitled 1

you had since received sun and lake and a glow,

and i into them talked closely tanned the sort on its flesh in and back she called excited worried.

in the narrow panic once by his refuge in

holding her shrouds of your white repeater watches. cartier clones dropping silent shoulders from morning then shivering rage

and bore pistols to imagine the only five last wars which leaned

or turned him up.

Yagharek league. California giordino. Aston black martin in the zagato.

he would imagine the daytona – erased door in another bright existence.

On them roared, the creature brick, again as across the euphoria. Himself saw out this silver.

the shiny story which shook broken in their cage at the sign on the

white telephone.

Randomness, travel

Planning Stages

Courtesy of Richard Goerg, istock

My poor, neglected blog! Like so many other elements of my life, it has fallen victim to the almost perverse amount of work I have to do between now and late-summer.

So overwhelmed am I with the working, writing, editing, teaching, visa acquiring, ticket-purchasing, apartment hunting, proposal drafting, project completing, loose ends tying, and various day-to-day minutiae (minutiae-ing?), that even the idea of drafting a detailed to-do list is causing mild heart palpitations.

Not that that’s any excuse or anything, of course.

In the meantime, if anyone has any foolproof suggestions for conquering stress (that are somewhat legal and don’t involve copious a.m. Cab consumption), please send them my way.


Hipsters vs Bobos

A clever graphic showdown between the City that Never Sleeps and the City of Light, Paris vs New York is the creation of designer Vahram Muratyan. Click here for more of Vahram’s “tally of two cities.” Giclée prints of various illustrated comparisons are also available.


Stuff Parisians Like

Considering mental afflictions as signs of intellectual superiority

“Parisians value intelligence more than happiness. In Paris, happiness is the sad symptom of an atrophied brain, the curse of the stupid, the limbo of the ungifted.

Mechanically he who is not happy is gifted, he whose brain does not agree with the world is intelligent. The more brutally unfitting the person is, the more gloriously superior his brain is. In this undeniable logic lays the utter privilege of the crazies: that of being looked up to by the Parisian.

The inability to handle the vicissitudes of life testifies to the Parisian eye of an acute perception of the incertitudes and difficulties that make up life. Knowing that life is about incertitudes and difficulties is pure intelligence to the Parisian. Therefore, if they were to choose between being an irremediably unhappy creative genius or a perfectly happy nobody, most Parisians would opt for the grandiose life of misery.”

This blog by witty, Parisian sommelier Olivier Magny has had me laughing so hard as to nearly spit out my  Cabernet Franc in mid-swill. It is smart, well-written and full of bitingly funny insight. Bien joué, M. M!

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