Come with me to Paris!

betty ming liu Art, Writing how-to's 20 Comments

At last, my daughter Gabi and I are at JFK,  waiting to board our 9:55 p.m. flight to Paris. The entire day was a mad blur of finishing stories for work, squashing everything into my carry-on luggage, straightening up the house and getting the animals ready for the pet sitter (needed to organize their food and take the stinky dog to the groomer).

So if my eyes look blood-shot in this photo that I just took with my Mac, it’s because I’m tired! But I’m also very happy to begin a fun trip that I already know is a turning point in my life.

— For starters, Gabi is almost 17. I miss the fat, cuddly baby that used to wrap her chubby little arms around my neck.  But I am interested in getting to know the emerging young woman who has taken her place. It will be nice to take a break from yelling at her to clean her room and do the dishes. This vacation will help us find our way into an adult mother-daughter relationship.

— I only brought one book to read on this trip, “Dong Xoai, Vietnam 1965”, a graphic novel by the powerful artist Joe Kubert. I want to finally look at the war, which was central to the life of my dad, who died of a heart attack when I was 19. He was an impossible tyrant and we didn’t really get along.

But I am my own person now and feel ready to embrace him as we visit the city of his youth. He attended university on a French scholarship as a foreign student from Saigon. The war became important much later, when he struggled to get his siblings into the U.S. as refugees. I want to know who that man was. I am looking for my daddy.

— Instead of books, I brought pencils and sketch pads. This is my first time traveling with the knowledge that I am an artist. I want to really experience Paris with the emotional vision of my own eyes.

— I am getting on that plane as a work-hardened professional. Yes, I made the transition to a full-time reporter! Got the house painted too. The colors are beautiful. Will show them to you when we get home. To get the job done, all the art on the walls came down. Most of it was Chinese stuff from my parents’ apartment.  Most of it will NOT go back up. They have been comforting anchors but it’s time to transition to new beautiful stuff for our home.

— If you check out the top of the sidebar next to this post, I’ve added my twitter so that you can be part of my daily travels.  I want to try having a digital vacation, sharing my trip in real time. Not sure it will work but let’s go for it as a form of performance art. Well, gotta run now and get to the gate. xo

If you don't have a Twitter account, you can follow my tweets here. There's a little scrollbar to the side of the tweets, which is pretty cute.

And if you’d like to read the rest of my Paris posts:

3 ways I’m learning to be a smart traveller

How to eat for $38 a day in Paris

10 tips for a trip to Paris


Comments 20

  1. Betty I hope you have lots of fun in Paris! I can’t wait to read about it!

    Btw I’m been an avid reader of lurker/ reader of yours. I’m also Chinese American, went to your old high school, and just graduated NYU, really regretting that I never had the room to take a class with you. Just leaving a comment to tell you how much I admire you sharing your thoughts and life with us on the internet. Your honesty really helps me realize that everyone has struggles in life, no matter what your position in life, and that kind of perspective really helps someone like me, just starting out in life. (I decided to leave this comment here instead of that depressing Tiger Mom entry)

  2. Beautiful! Mother & daughter exploring Paris in the spring…
    What a marvelous thing to do! Art, art, art, art, and more art. Shop, shop, shop… walk, walk, walk, and walk… eat, eat, eat, eat, people watch, take millions of pictures… it’s a city to fall in love with and the perfect place for a mom and daughter to come of age as best girlfriends. Thinking of you both! Soak it up!
    xoxoxox. Etta

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    Thank you all! Kathleen, I’m really excited about sharing in real time. Once the Newsday news website I’m writing for goes live and is finally launched, I’m gonna need to know how to do this professionally. Right now, I’m enjoying doing this for myself and for you.

    Ann, I didn’t know that that “April in Paris” was a song, by Satchmo no less! I’m trying to book Gabs and I for a tour of Black Paris. Still waiting to hear back from the organizers. When I told Gabi about the tour, her reaction was, “I didn’t know there were Black people in Paris.” Uh-huh.

    J, I’m always happy when the lurkers come into the sunlight to drop me a line. You have no idea how much that means to me. As a blogger, the comments are my best indication that I’m having an impact. So welcome to the family. :)

    Ivan, I didn’t have it in me to crack open the Kubert book on the flight over here to Paris. I want to rest up and be ready to deal with the war. The illustrations are really intense. Very male, very war.

    Skye, before I find myself, I need to find my iPhone!! If you look at the tweets, you’ll see that I lost it! Sigh. I also lost my socks on my flight. Please send some good energy my way on this one.

    Christie, thank you — the eating fest has begun. :)

    Etta, I hadn’t thought about becoming best friends with Gabi but you’re right. We building towards an adult future where that will hopefully be part of the picture. Thanks for the insight. Saw some art today already and had some good food. More to come. But first, some sleep. xoxoxo

  4. Hope you have an amazing time! And, congrats on all the positive changes — house, job, trip. May the road rise up to meet you. :)

  5. I laughed at Gabi’s comment. If you run into my cousin and her friend on the streets, you two will find 2 other Blacks in Paris this week :)

  6. Pingback: How to eat in Paris for $38 a day

  7. Post

    Thanks, Christina! What a nice way to put it — I hope the road does indeed meet me. I think it will.

    Skye, it turns out that people of color are quite visible in Paris. That’s been a surprise for Gabi too. We talked about France colonizing the world in centuries past and how un-French many of these folks feel because they’re treated like second-class citizens. Life is complicated, right?

    And thanks, June. We are having a blast. At the moment, the jet lag is still getting to us. But hopefully we’ll be really good in a day or so. xo

  8. Hmmm…I read your comment about the talk with your daughter. I sort of forgot that with all the fun and food, there could actually be some learning on this trip. Really, Paris, like so many other huge cities, must be quite multicultural. But with colonization, like you mentioned, there are after-effects that sting generations after.

    I read many historical and fictional stories about Black entertainers finding peace in Paris around the time of the Harlem Renaissance or other periods when they felt out of place and mistreated in Hollywood. But I’m sure not everyone was a Josephine Baker. I’m sure lots of groups/ethnicities have had their share of prejudice or mistreatment. It just shows that inferiority and superiority and class and ethnic issues are global.

    Funny enough, there’s a Mary J. Blige endorsement of Burger King that has just been pulled off the air. She was singing about a new chicken meal on the menu and her fans were really offended because they thought Burger King exploited her and used a Blacks-eating-fried-chicken stereotype to sell their product. I understand why people are offended, but I wasn’t. Am I too far removed from ”how far we’ve come” to notice the sting in what the commercial suggests? I was more annoyed that I thought the commercial was cheesy and that Mary J. Bloge wasn’t singing as well as I knew she could. CNN had a Black actress going back and forth with the Apprentice’s Omarosa about whether or not the commercial was wrong. The actress felt that the public is making a thing of this, but have said nothing about the Black spokeswoman in the Popeye’s chicken commercials because she is not a celebrity. She suggested, though, that Mary J. Blige should have, though, as a celebrity demanded not to be portrayed a certain way. This actress claims when she herself did a McDonald’s commercial back in the days, she was expected to act in a stereotypical way and she refused to. My cousin is visiting Paris now for the second time, and I’ve heard of things her family has experienced as Blacks in Quebec. I could go on about this forever but I realized how much I am going on about fried chicken, when we could be talking about your quiches or baguettes or, maybe, escargot?…

    Well, you can look up all the controversy later or wait until you come home. That is the thing about racism…you know it’s still going to be there.

    But you guys are only in Paris for a short time, so thank God, enjoy, and keep it moving. Bonne nuit!

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    Skye, here are a couple of links for you from the New York Times. They’re about the riots in the poor French suburbs where black folks and Muslims live.

    This story ran the other day, about blacks, Muslims and French politics:

    This one was from 2011, about riots in London & Paris:

    This one dates back to the actual 2005 riots:

    I totally understand you going off about Mary J. Blige. The spokesperson that I can’t tolerate is the one who does a different fast food. I think it’s Popeye’s. Every time I here her in a radio ad I want to barf.

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