In Response to the Terrorist Attacks In Paris


The terrorist attacks in Paris the last few days seem to be a new “shot heard around the world.” Countless friends and acquaintances have pulled me aside to ask me what I thought about all of it and how I think the French are reacting, so let me spell my thoughts out in long form.

The Events of January 7-9

Let’s start by setting the stage. For any who missed some of the details, 2 muslim terrorists entered the Paris office of French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in the late morning of January 7, 2015. Armed with AK-47 assault rifles, they hold an employee and her pre-school age daughter at gunpoint and force the mother to let them into the building. Inside, they killed 12 people (both staff and 2 policemen) and wounded 11 others allegedly because of satirical cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. Survivors quote them as saying “You will pay for insulting the prophet Muhammad.” They escape the building firing their arms into the air and climb into a black Citroen (French car). They have several run-ins with police and kill one more policeman, a French muslim who was scheduled to leave the force and become a detective shortly. They finally abandon their car after hitting a pole, steal a nearby woman’s vehicle and succeed in losing the police, but are soon captured anyway.

2 days later, a muslim terrorist who claims to be coordinating with the 2 from the Charlie Hebdo attack (they met in prison around the year 2000) takes a Jewish deli and all inside hostage, demanding the police release the terrorists. He holes up in the kosher deli several hours, during which time he kills 4 people and inflicts serious wounds on 4 more before the police takes action to enter the deli. They blast the doors, which had been booby trapped with explosives, and shoot this 3rd terrorist as he attempts to make a run for it.

The attack on Carlie Hebdo alone is the single bloodiest terrorist attack in France since 1961.

A Little Personal Context

I flew back to France to spend the holidays with my family December 18-27. During those 10 days in Paris, I was shocked to find a new terrorist attack featured in the news every 1-2 days.

December 20, 2014 – An armed muslim enters a police office in Joue-les-Tours (Western France, near Tours) and yells “God is great” over and over as he knives 3 police officers before another pulls out his gun and shoots him. Investigations revealed he grew up in a broken home, felt victim to the system, and was most likely seduced by the violent messages of radical Islam.

December 21, 2014 – A muslim driver hits 4 groups of pedestrians in Dijon (Eastern France), seriously wounding 2 and injuring 9 more. As police officers apprehended him, he yelled “This is for the children of Palestine!” Investigative services later assess he was not a terrorist but rather mentally ill. Nevertheless, copycat attacks ensue.

December 23, 2014 – A muslim drives his car all over downtown Nantes (Western France) attempting to hit pedestrians and shouts “Allah is great.”A mere 2 hours earlier, my father was there walking with his cousin and his wife and 2 young children. Again, investigative services decide this was not a terrorist act, but rather a troubled youth, possibly to avoid panic.

So How Did the French React?

We came together, bridging age, religion and culture to support each other. They took to the streets in cities such as Paris and Toulouse to proclaim that they’re not afraid and won’t be giving up their hard-earned right to free speech.

Liberty is one of the founding principles of France – our forefathers died for it during the French Revolution. It’s a deep part of our culture, as engrained as freedom and liberty are in the US. Freedom of the press is here to stay in France.

Another big message has been that not all muslims are terrorists. Muslims comprise approximately 10% of the French population. Outside of rural areas, all Frenchmen and women know muslims and count many among their friends. I’m proud to write that we’re not turning against all muslims because of the actions of a radical few. We know these are people just like us, who want to live their lives and know their loved ones are safe.

Lastly, the big message the French want to send terrorists is that we’re not afraid. We can see what they’re capable of, but we also see that their brethren are ashamed of their violence and barbarism, and we’re not going to cave in to their tactics.

Hopefully this sheds a little light on the recent events in France for everyone!

You can check out messages of piece, support and courage at #JeSuisCharlie and #NotAfraid.

Chevreuse, France All Dressed Up For Christmas


The Christmas decorations are out in Chevreuse, a small town near Paris.

The baker has some of the grandest Christmas decorations around!

The baker has some of the grandest Christmas decorations around!

Even their window display screams festivity

Even their window display screams festivity

Can't remember where this is, but I like

Can’t remember where this is, but I like

And this.... Is the funeral store: caskets, funeral services, etc.

And this…. Is the funeral store: caskets, funeral services, etc.

Check out these hens at the butcher's!

Check out these hens at the butcher’s!

And Santa Clause is scrambling up not 1, but 2 windows.

And Santa Clause is scrambling up not 1, but 2 windows.

Santa seems to have a real thing for windows now.

Santa seems to have a real thing for windows now.

How cute is this?!

How cute is this?!

'tis the season for wreaths!

’tis the season for wreaths!

I’ll try to snap a few shots of the decorations in Versailles before I head out ūüėČ

Strolling Paris: The Champs Elysees Christmas Market & Jardins Des Tuileries


Here’s the 2nd set of photos from my stroll around Paris Friday. I wandered the Christmas Market at the Champs Elysees and then lounged the Seine until I found the Jardins des Tuileries.

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

And another, just because it was so picturesque.

And another, just because it was so picturesque.

For New Year's, some of the bigger boats on the Seine throw huge parties!

For New Year’s, some of the bigger boats on the Seine throw huge parties!

Paris' Grande Roue, seen from the Seine

Paris’ Grande Roue, seen from the Seine

So I took a lot of photos of the Eiffel Tower...

So I took a lot of photos of the Eiffel Tower…

The Jardins des Tuileries, favorite summer hang out of Parisiens.

The Jardins des Tuileries, favorite summer hang out of Parisiens.

Now let's add the Grande Roue and Eiffel Tower!

Now let’s add the Grande Roue and Eiffel Tower!

The Louvre Pyramid - we took a nice, long stroll!

The Louvre Pyramid – we took a nice, long stroll!

A church we found right around the corner from the Louvre, and our last stop for the day.

A church we found right around the corner from the Louvre, and our last stop for the day.

Stay tuned for more photos of France, coming soon!

1st Day Back In Paris: The Champs Elysees


After a groggy first day doing my best not to fall asleep at my grandparents’ in Versailles after the airport yesterday, I’m now out and about! First stop: Les Champs Elysees.

First, one last glance at the Golden Gate Bridge from the airplane.

First, one last glance at the Golden Gate Bridge from the airplane

Each year, there is a Christmas market at the Champs Elysees.

Each year, there is a Christmas market at the Champs Elysees.

Christmas market at the Champs Elysees

Christmas market at the Champs Elysees

Christmas market at the Champs Elysees

Christmas market at the Champs Elysees

Christmas market at the Champs Elysees

There's a great, big ice skating rink smack dab in the center of the Christmas Market!

There’s a great, big ice skating rink smack dab in the center of the Christmas Market!

Nice, big skating rink at the Champs Elysees

Paris' Grande Roue

Paris’ Grande Roue

Christmas market at the Champs Elysees

Yum! A court just for yummy Christmas specialties?

Crazy slide! Not so scenic, but just hilarious.

Crazy slide! Not so scenic, but just hilarious.

I'm pretty sure that's a real boar...

I’m pretty sure that’s a real boar…

I had a music box just like this one growing up!

I had a music box just like this one growing up!

We were supposed to see the Hokusai exhibit at the Grand Palais, but the line was so long  we strolled by the Seine and through the Jardins des Tuileries instead. Moro photos coming tomorrow!

We were supposed to see the Hokusai exhibit at the Grand Palais, but the line was so long we strolled by the Seine and through the Jardins des Tuileries instead. Moro photos coming tomorrow!

Lastly, my stand-in model and cuddle buddy while Phelps sand Turkey stay home in California.

Lastly, my stand-in model and cuddle buddy while Phelps sand Turkey stay home in California.

Chevreuse’s Ch√Ęteau de la Madeleine


**Forgot I still had this in my drafts ><‘ Wait just a little longer for pictures of Barcelona**

Alex and I went to see my maternal grandparents one last time before I go on my big trip and move back to California.

Alex nommed on my granny's special potatoes. He keeps saying other potatoes just aren't as good =3

I took the opportunity to take him up to Chevreuse’s castle, le Ch√Ęteau de la Madeleine, which my grandpa says used to belong to the Knights Templar.

Sign to the Ch√Ęteau de la Madeleine

The Ch√Ęteau de la Madeleine

The view from this high point is pretty sweet

Alex really liked climbing up onto the wall...

Chevreuse's chapel, as seen from the Ch√Ęteau de la Madeleine's wall

A Few Last Pictures of Paris


I’ve already spent 2 days in Barcelona and arrived in Munich today, but my uncle took great care of Alex and me and kept us super busy so I’ve fallen a little behind. Before I start posting pictures of Spain and Germany, let me share a few last pictures of Paris. I took these on my last day (except the sushi, taken at a dinner with friends the night before.)

Go to Tokyo on avenue Parmentier for pretty decent sushi in Paris (at a very reasonable price.)

Alex had sashimi

and I had chirashi.

Before heading to the airport, we walked around Chatelet (in the center of Paris) in the rain.

This is the Tour Saint-Jacques. It stands tall in the middle of its own little park.

This is part of a fountain in the middle of a square near the tower. You can find Egyptian style art in several places in Paris such as the Obelisk at place de la Concorde.

Last, but not least, the Arc de Triomphe.

Cathedral of Notre Dame


Just ‘cuz I live in Paris doesn’t mean I can’t do touristy stuff ;D

Wandering around Paris looking for the cathedral

These were right above the entrance to the cathedral

Inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame

I took a quick video inside the cathedral too. There was a woman singing =]