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This little adventure happened to me just a few hours ago. It was such a pleasant surprise that I had to write about it and share my photos. Enjoy.

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I threw the chopped onions into the skillet and added some butter, then I cut up the garlic while the butter sizzled and the onions began to fry. I added the garlic and opened the balcony window to the cold air. The breeze blew into the studio, churning the sharp scent of the fresh onions with the fruity post-shower mist.  I figured the onions could cook on their own for a minute or two, so I went out into the hall to run to the bathroom.  Then WHAM, the door slammed shut behind me.

I was locked out.

My bladder’s needs were forgotten as I rushed back to the door, pounding against the lock and cursing like you might if you locked yourself out of your apartment and left vegetables frying on the stove. I thought for sure the building would burn down.

“F***, f***, f***!” I yelled. I looked around at the empty hallway searching for something to break the door down with. There was a table, my tennis shoes, and my broken umbrella. No battering ram. I ripped the material from the umbrella and attempted to use one of the metal arms to pick the lock. I shook the flimsy piece of aluminum up and down inside the lock, all the while saying, “Please please please don’t let my house burn down!” Lana Del Rey continued crooning from inside my studio as I became more frantic. I ran through every option and concluded that I had no choice but to break into the studio myself. But the umbrella wasn’t cutting it.

Just as the tears started to pool in my eyes I remembered that my balcony window was still open. The roof.

I threw off my slippers and my sweater and thrust my feet into my tennis shoes. Then I propped open the hallway window and looked outside.

The building I live in is lined with blue-grey sheet metal that covers the facade like a turtle’s shell. There is a small space between it and the building next door that plunges down to the pavement seven stories below, but there is a small ledge that encircles my building and connects to the roof.

There was no other choice, so I climbed out the window and stood on the ledge, grasping the wall behind me. My heart throbbed and my hands shook with adrenaline and urgency as I made my way around the side of the building and onto the roof.

Then I saw this:

roof 2

And I froze.

Only hours before, Paris had been grey and rain had poured down like ropes. Now the sun shone brightly and a gentle breeze blew over the rooftops. I stood there a moment in awe, feeling the open air envelop my body. I felt so free looking out over the city and basking in the sun, like a bird released from its cage.

roof 1

Then I remembered my onions. “Crap, crap, crap,” I mumbled as I slid down the roof and onto my balcony. I jumped into my apartment and immediately over to the stove to save my lunch. The onions were a little burnt, nice and crunchy, but there was no fire to put out. I finished making my meal (scrambled eggs and a tortilla), then sat down to eat. Once my belly was full I grabbed a book and climbed back onto the roof from my balcony to read in the sunlight.

I tried to read, but I couldn’t resist my desire to simply sit there on the roof and gaze at the sun-drenched Parisian cityscape. A rainbow arched over Sacré-Cœur in the distance. A French flag billowed against the clouds. I turned my face to sun and closed my eyes and smiled.

roof 3

Sometimes disasters turn into blessings. And that is why life is beautiful.

Smiles and all the best,

Savannah

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Filed under Paris, Prose

4 Ways to Style Medium-Short Hair

Learning how to style my new hair has required a lot of creativity. I used to be a “brush, blow-dry and go” kind of girl, counting on my wavy blond locks to make up for my simple make-up and bushy eyebrows. But now, I put a little more effort into my daily look. I add a head band, I wear earrings, I make an effort to make an effort with my eyebrows. In the words of Joan Juliet Buck, “You can’t hide behind short hair…your face is no longer a flat screen surrounded by a curtain: the world sees you in three dimensions.”

Here are four looks I’ve fallen in love with:

This style is pretty straightforward: Leaving some hair to frame your face, place or tie a thin, colorful head band onto the crown of your head. Either let your hair fall forward, or tease it back to reveal more of the band. Tip! Accent the head band with earrings or other jewelry to give your look a subtle splash of color.

There are so many cute ways to wear this style! Check out this video to see all of the different options and learn how to do them yourself.

Tip! Styling a turband with medium-short hair can be tricky because your hair tends to fall out in the back. To prevent that from happening, pin your top layers back and tie the remainder of your hair into a pony tail.

Wrap a head scarf around the back of your head (hiding the pony tail) and cross the two ends at your part. Reverse the ends, wrap them around to the back of your head, and tie. Tuck the loose ends into the turband.

 This look is really fun to wear– I felt like a forest nymph all day!

Start by separating your hair into two sections. The first section is the hair that will make up your braid. Pull this section forward. The second section is all of the hair you want to be loose behind your braid. Pin or clip this section back so it doesn’t get in the way.

Start french braiding from the point where your hair meets you ear, tilting your head to the opposite side as you braid. Braid all the way to the other ear, creating a braided head band along your crown. Finish the braid, then pin it behind your ear. Either let the rest of your hair fall forward, or tease it back to get more volume.

Tip! Hide the beginning and/or end of your braid with flowers, bows or other accessories.

While a part of me longs to look like a character from “Hairspray” everyday, my more logical self knows hair that big can be a safety hazard. So I opted for a more relaxed version of the 1960s look.

Start by blow-drying your hair straight. Once it’s dry, use a large curling iron to curl your bottom layers under, and curl your top layers over. Tease the top layer to add volume, and add some hairspray at the roots to keep it big all day long.

Tip! Blow-dry your hair upside down to add volume so you can skimp on the hairspray.

I hope you have fun in your new look! Let me know what you think in the comments below, and feel free to share your favorite styles, too! How do you wear your short hair?

Smiles and all the best,

Savannah

Photos by my little sister! Thanks, love! 

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Filed under Most Popular, Projects

Beautiful little discoveries

I stumbled upon these words at the University of Arizona on Sept. 22, 2011. I found them on Highland Avenue, painted on the brick facade of the Koffler building. There they were, waiting for someone to see them, to read them, to believe them.

I took out my camera, knowing that I’d happened upon something special. For several days afterwards, I kept my eye out for these words and looked for them where ever I went on campus. I never saw them again, that is, not until yesterday.

I’d stopped looking for them long ago, and yet, here they were, sneaking up on me when I least expected them. Finding me when I needed them. You see, about 45 minutes after I took this photo, I walked into a hair salon and told the hairstylist that I wanted to cut my hair. Short. For me, those were bold words. In my mind, my long, golden waves have always been attached to my femininity and my self-image. Chopping them all off meant severing that tie.

But I did it! And I couldn’t be happier with the decision. I feel lighter, buoyant. I feel brighter. I feel new.

I also feel like I toppled straight out of The Great Gatsby

Cutting my hair has reminded me that beauty lies beyond outward appearance. It can be seen in smiling eyes. It can be heard in loving words. When jasmine tickles my nose and takes me back to my grandmother’s garden, I find beauty in childhood memories. When I hold my little sister and feel her warm body against mine, I find beauty in our sisterhood. When I wake up in the morning to the sound of singing birds and the aspirated sighs of wind, I find beauty in the music of the natural world. Beauty, as I was reminded this week, is everywhere, and I am blessed to have so much of it in my life. In the people I know and love. In the world I live in.

We don’t distinguish between external beauty and internal beauty in English. But in other languages, there are words to separate the two. One of my favorite distinctions comes from Swahili, in which beauty can be identified as zuri or ema. As I understand it, zuri refers to the physical, the tangible and the polite. If someone asks me how I’m doing, I may respond using zuri.  However, if I want to talk about something in the soul, something deeper, I use ema. Ema, internal beauty, defies what resides on the surface. Ema lies in the little things; the little things that have big, meaningful consequences.

Yesterday, I found ema on the steps of the Integrated Learning Center at the University of Arizona, and I took it into the barbor’s chair where I snipped away at a binding, personal norm, liberating something inside of me. And today, I carry it still.

May something beautiful find you this week.

Smiles and all the best,

Savannah

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Filed under Most Popular, Photos