I wrote the book on China.

Well, one of them, anyway. And only a foreword at that! But the pictures aren’t too bad either 🙂

This is why I left WordPress >_<; The book preview won’t embed, so to check out my book you’ll have to click here. (It’s worth it!)

Happy previewing~

P.S. Looking for my new stuff? Visit me at *fruitpunch.

A snapshot from a different vacation.


This picture is…ten years old? Sacre bleu! I took it the last time I was in the U.S.V.I., staying with family on St. Thomas. I was hoping to get back to there this year, but budget-consciousness has confined me to the contiguous United States for the summer. And so I’m headed up to NYC for the next few days, where I’m not sure if I’ll find the time to blog! But afterwards there will be mondo updates of righteous proportions. Have a great 4th of July and if you start missing me too much, leave a comment – I can reply by email from my phone, y’all!

It’s All About the Journey

As you can see, my bedroom is a disgusting farce of a bedroom. I don’t really live in an episode of Clean House, though, this is sort of the wreckage from coming home. Oops…

Today I have a special treat! I did a VLOG entry!!! That’s right, The S.S. in unadulterated video blog form. So click below if you want to find out what I have to say, or forever hold your peace. I don’t think that’s how holding your peace works, but whatever.

ALSO:
I’m having an exhibit of my photographs from China! If you happen to be in the Harrisonburg, Virginia vicinity then check it out! Deets for the opening reception:

JMU’s Prism Gallery
January 21st
5-7pm
Refreshments provided!

掰掰 Twenty-Ten!

I decided over the break that I should have a “farewell last year!” post, in the grand tradition of various ways to celebrate a new year. I realized that I only lived in the U.S. for two weeks of 2010! Crazy, huh? And I was out of the country for a grand total of 14 months, twelve in China and two in Europe. Woo! But now I’m back in school and…oh wait, that’s something else. But now I’m back at home and trying to find out what to do with my life. To celebrate, let’s take a trip down memory lane…
I landed in Qingdao, China on September 27th, 2009. This is a picture of the mountain that was right behind the first apartment I lived in (I know, “in which I lived,” so sue me).

Then there was my first trip to Beijing back in February ’10 for Chinese New Year…(to read through the entire trip, click the “Liveblogging Beijing: Day 2,” etc. links at the bottom of the post)

My trip to Hong Kong, a place I loved, but two of my friends came away unimpressed…

The start of my fashion editor career for Redstar…(and the middle…and the middle part 2…and the end)

The ups of teaching in China, and the downs

Hanging out with friends (I can’t find this post, haha oops…)

Hanging out in 青岛 (that’s Qingdao, fyi)…

My trip to Hangzhou

More fun in Qingdao and time spent with students

Going back to Beijing to visit the Great Wall

Seeing the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an…

And seeing pandas and the giant buddha in Chengdu…and, of course, seeing the Bund in Shanghai and visiting the World Expo there.

Yeah, so wow. That was a lot. I can’t really believe this year included visits to the Forbidden City and Summer Palace as well as contemporary architectural icon the National Center for Performing Arts (the egg-shaped building). Also climbing the Great Wall, seeing the Terracotta Warriors, clubbing in Shanghai and Berlin, shopping in Hong Kong and Florence, getting stupidly lost, learning basic Chinese, making friends all around the world…I did all this and…and I’m still completely dependent on my mom and dad. Joke! Well, I mean, not really, but I’m not as bitter as that sounds! In all seriousness, this past year, now that I look back on it, was pretty spectacular. As long-term followers know and as you can find out by clicking on the “downs of teaching in China” link, this was easily the most emotionally, psychologically and physically trying experience of my life. BUT…I have to say, I’m pretty sure it was all worth it. It wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t need to be. Blah blah blah “moral of the story.” Uplifting anecdote, emotions, tears, sunshine. Unicorns for everyone!

Haha, happy new year, everybody!

Being There: Paris

These are the last shots from Paris, except for the now backlogged second installment of shopping in Paris.

It was quite interesting to find a book called “Amerikkka” (note that this is tome 7, “objectif Obama.” Oh, good.) I also like the sign for “tampon plastification,” although I know it’s not really about, um, plastifying (?) your women’s hygiene products – tampon has something to do with making stuff tamper-proof. And how great is the movie title Bébé Mode de Emploi? (Although the French don’t come across particularly adept at translating movie titles, huh?) I wonder if that’s also the title of a parenting book in France. A parenting book for babies that come from Ikea. And of course it’s great that Starbucks‘ card readers say ‘Bonjour’.

Paris was a lot of fun. I was there ten years ago with my father and we stayed in a hostel near Montmartre. I remember slipping in the rain and eating croque monsieur. This trip was also cold and wet, so I’ve resolved not to return to Paris until it’s summer, as I can’t say I fell in love with the city like I thought I would. I told my mom that I’d be camping out on French Vogue’s doorstep until they hired me (to do what?), but I have to admit that I didn’t feel the compunction within city limits. But I just watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona so now I have an idealized and not-planted-in-my-head-by-factual-representations compulsion to move to Barcelona. It’s probably a spiritual thing and you wouldn’t understand.

Paris is an attractive place, of course, don’t get me wrong, and I loved the people I stayed with. Couchsurfing on this trip (as a whole) went the best it’s gone so far. My first hosts in Paris I found on the site and they were absolutely charming, had a delightful place, and took me out for vin chaud the first night I was there. My last two days in Paris (ah! Two Days in Paris, have you seen the Julie Delpy movie? I highly recommend it) I stayed in the apartment of a girl I’d met in Basel, an incredibly nice and totally awesome girl, obviously, whose apartment  was very rustic French country kitchen à la that one episode of AbFab when Eddie and Patsy go to France. She had a potluck on Thursday night and I met some of her friends, who were gracious and totally righteous enough to invite me over to their place the next night for dinner (and chocolate-chip cookies).

Of course, it wasn’t all rainbows and puppies. My travails at the train station are detailed here, and the trip to Amsterdam had a bit of a rough start as well. More on that…sooon!

P.S. I recently found a bunch of my mother’s old photos, including a ton from a trip she took to Europe thirty years ago! It was really magical to find them just days after coming back from my own Euro-trip, so I was inspired to start an entirely new project called Photos From My Mother (did I mention I’m currently unemployed and have a lot of time on my hands?). Photos from her trip to Paris are up now!

Welcome to America

I’m back in the States!

Sorry posting has been so sporadic (use it in a sentence!) as of late, but I couldn’t mention the overall arc of my trip because it was a total Christmas surprise to my mom.

The trip back was surprisingly smooth, as I took the time to review the United website before actually catching my flight and found out all the restrictions/issues etc. I checked in online and paid for my second checked bag – all before I got to the airport! Wahnderful, especially since the last time I took an international trip I was fined 300USD for my bags being overweight. That sucked.

When I arrived in the waiting area in Zürich the first people I saw were a bunch of overweight older guys wearing cowboy hats. A woman behind them talked loudly about the features of her iPad and of buying her husband a baseball mitt shaped cover for his for Christmas. Nice. I was really worried I’d be sitting next to one of them for the nine hours over, but ended up next to a young woman about my age.

Whenever I fly I always check to make sure there is at least one baby on board. I hate flying (it freaks me out) and I figure I have a better chance of being spared by the Universe if there’s an infant/toddler also trying to make it home on my plane. The day I’m put on a plane with the Retired People Who Love Traveling club is the day you’ll see me on the news as “Man Runs Out of Plane, full story at 11.”

I was reading an article about morality police in Iran while sitting in the Dulles waiting area as the guy across from me discussed remodeling his kitchen with someone. The news being piped in brought a story of another clash between Church vs. State, over a Nativity scene. “If they don’t like it here, they should just leave,” says a deeply accented woman. Yes, I’m in America. The flight into Dulles had had a shaky landing (so shaky I thought I would puke), and as we prepared for takeoff the captain’s voice came over the loudspeaker to let us know it was “windy up there” and we’d have a bumpy flight. Oh, good. For about a minute as we were ascending I calmed down and sort of felt like Kiki in that one scene in Kiki’s Delivery Service when she’s flying out to wherever with Gigi and then a thunderstorm hits and I was like, “Kiki made it!” and then the plane dipped and I lost that. Looking around the cabin I didn’t see anyone else who seemed so sure we were all possibly doomed for. I held on for dear life.

But now I’m back in Charlottesville and I’ll be getting around to posting the rest of my Europe trip soon! So soon! It’ll be fun, so stay tuned.

P.S. That includes the last of Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Berlin, fyi.

Shopping in Paris: Part 1

…is magical! But you knew that already. I’ve been a bit torn about whether or not to post this, because I did buy some things in Paris that I quite like, but I shipped them back to the States (God, anything to not have to carry extra crap around with me while traveling). I wanted to maybe shoot them also, but alas…they are not here for an impromptu photo sesh. I bought a deep blue velvet blazer in just-my-size at vintage mecca Espace Kiliwatch, along with a green fringed pashmina wrappy-thing (more masculine than that makes it sounds, I swear) and a silk paisley scarf (gorgeous colors – some sort of photographic celebration of its glory will be available in the future).

The stores above are as follows:
1) The first three photos are from Le Bon Marché. Gorgeous, fabulous, fun. Those candles are Cire Trudon. Die. I WILL eventually own an apartment with a mantle and these will be displayed there. Prominently. They also had gorgeous bust candles (like, ancient Roman-style busts) that I thought were quite clever. My friend I was with explained to me (briefly) the M.O. of the company, if you will. They’ve been around for forever and their candles have these deep historical references. For instance, the Cire Trudon candle she had in her house was supposed to smell like Versailles – and she said that it actually did! Plus there was another one that smelled like Waterloo or something to do with Napoleon…the company’s been around for like, 150 years.
2) The 4th is a picture of the exterior of the A.P.C Surplus store in Montmarte. Which was closed the day I stopped by.
3) We stopped by the new Hermès flagship store. The space was formerly an indoor pool that was completely gutted and reimagined as a four story Hermès emporium. I bought a saddle and five pairs of riding boots. Joke! I bought nothing. The wooden structures you see are these…well, wooden structures that showcased different elements of the brand’s home lines. It was very busy and quite nice, but we both agreed we expected something a little…more.
4) Next up are two pictures from the flea markets just outside the city limits. Pretty!  We got there late in the day…so no fun stories, sorry 😦
5) The last two pictures are from Merci, a concept store I read about in Vogue like, two years ago. It was up on my list of must-see Paris stores along with Colette and Didier Ludot (the latter of which I’ll admit to first hearing about on the Rachel Zoe Project. I didn’t get to it, probably for the better). Colette, I must say, was a disappointment. I think because I’ve been reading about it for so long I expected something really rather amazing, but aside from a quite-sexy display of the latest women’s fashions on the second floor…I didn’t really find much to get me jazzed. Merci was pretty cute and has the best home section of any store I’ve ever been to. I didn’t know I could want so many chandeliers. And tables. They also had some Liberty-print suitcases that were stunning, great floral prints, but I don’t think I could pull off a bright pink floral miniature suitcase.

No pictures, but I stumbled across Noir Kennedy on Rue du Roi de Sicile one night. There are two Noir Kennedy shops on that street, actually, a first one that sold mostly black jeans and a little vintage (you should have seen me in the jeans they had…if you know me you know I’m like the king of the Elves, but my thighs did NOT fit into these jeans [it was INSANE]), and a second one a few doors down that sold a lot of vintage. Very hipstery and I want to say it was pretty awesome even though I wasn’t moved to buy anything. At some point I popped into Printemps and tried on the most AMAZING Balenciaga coat ever and it was 895 Euros and then I died. So that was fun. Another (special) shopping post coming soon!

Sean Annie Amsterdam

Hi friends! So I’m super super delayed with posting my own content and probably will be for awhile (sorry about that, on the road), but my friend Annie, with whom I went to Amsterdam this past weekend, has posted some great stuff about our trip! You should check out her delicious blog for a taste of the action (not the dirty sexy druggy kind you’re thinking of, sorry). It’s fabulous!

P.S. Yeah I totally stole this picture from her website, yay interwebs!

P.P.S. Did anyone notice that the title is an oh-so-clever reference to Vicky Cristina Barcelona? I watched that on the train to Berlin today. I’m so savvy.

This Is Where I’m Not

That’s a beach in Stanley, Hong Kong…oh, the memories. Currently I’m in Rotterdam, Holland (and when I actually get around to posting about my Netherlands trip I’ll explain the Holland/Netherlands thing to the best of my abilities). I’m still trying to get all of my pictures from Paris edited and posted, which I think makes me the worst blogger ever. I already left Amsterdam and there’s been not even a peep about that! To make it up to you I’m providing this link to a blog that I just discovered, An Apple a Day. It’s author just took an eerily-similar-to-mine trip and posted great photos and lots of ’em (Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris). It’s way better than my blog, let’s just be serious, so check it out and then out of pity for me and as a thanks for letting you know it existed, come back and visit mine occasionally. We have a deal? C’est bon! (But seriously, I took almost no photos in A-dam because my friend I was touring around with had her camera out the whole time and I was too focused on making sure we got sufficiently lost so that she could really feel like she’d traveled with me. When she posts photos there’ll be more linkage! Bisou and frommage!)[I don’t know how to say, let alone type, anything in Dutch. So I’m still on the French thing.]