Honeymoon or not to Honeymoon

Whenever I mention this Paris trip people seem to quickly label it as our honeymoon.  As many of you know, Brett and I have not yet taken a honeymoon trip.  Last summer Brett needed to spend 12 weeks at his internship and I needed to spend 10 which basically took up the rest of the summer once we had each taken 2 weeks off to get married, take a weekend trip, and then each get back to our respective summer homes.  We considered taking our honeymoon that following winter…but at the end of winter break I needed to take my qualifying exam (read, qualifying exam round 1) so taking a 2 week vacation when I really needed to be doing nothing but studying didn’t seem like a good idea.  This summer is out as well.  So I guess this trip to Paris *is* our first real vacation in a while.  But I just don’t want it to be the honeymoon.  While I absolutely adore Paris, its not a location that we picked out by ourselves…a conference trip of Brett’s determined this location.  We also don’t have a lot of time….if we’re going to go somewhere for a relaxing honeymoon I want to spend 2 weeks there haha.  I also have this idea that if we’re going to go on a honeymoon that it should be to somewhere fantastic and not decided by a ‘for work’ purpose.  I have been playing with the ideas of Turkey, Nepal, Cambodia, and Bali periodically (just one location not all of them haha)….don’t think we’ve totally settled on one.  I did buy a Lonely Planet guide book to Bali though and I’ve talked with different co-workers from Turkey and Nepal about their home countries and traveling there.  I also talked with a Palestinian friend of mine about his home country but that one may be out of our reach for the moment.  Any thoughts?  Should we just call our first trip as a married couple our honeymoon or save the label for a trip where we pick the destination and the ambiance?

apartment shopping à Paris

I can’t seem to hold back when diving into a fun project.  My latest one for our trip to Paris is the great ‘where to stay?’ debate.  Like described here we decided to rent an apartment in Paris using a website called airbnb.com.  So far I’ve picked a few of the ‘neighborhoods’ (or arrondissements) that I like, or are somewhat familiar with, or are fairly close to metro and fun locations, or a combination of all of those.  After searching apartments that looked good based on our geographical search requirements, I quickly learned that there were a couple of ‘deal breakers’ in our portfolio for deciding on an apartment.  For instance, if the apartment allowed smoking it was immediately nixed from the candidates.  The same immediate denial of the apartment as a candidate choice occurred if the apartment allowed pets (Brett is allergic to cats) or offered only a pull out couch for sleeping…I decided that if we were going to skip out on the possibility of a hotel that at least we could sleep on a real bed for a week 🙂  The site offers pictures of the apartment (sometimes by an actual airbnb photographer) as well as a map where the apartment is situated.  I eventually started eliminating apartments that didn’t show a picture of the kitchen, or the bathroom, or the bed.  🙂  At least with a hotel I can march myself to the front desk and ask for a new room but I don’t think that will be an option if we pay for an airbnb lodging!

parischoisesLooking at some of these apartments has left Brett and I with the question, “where do they put all of their stuff?!”  🙂  Many of these apartments are smaller than 30 m2 (approximately less than 300 ft2) and include everything needed for living!  I’ve decided that I could live in such a small place but that I’d have a hard time getting rid of all of the things that I keep around me (read…all of those things that I have and can’t get rid of and may or may not actually use but for some reason feel attached to sentimentally)  🙂

We started by finding an apartment that we liked a lot and tried to book it.  A few hours later we received a message that the place wasn’t actually available during our dates so we tried to book another one.  After waiting an entire 24 hours (the host has 24 hours to respond to your request) we learned that our 2nd apartment choice wasn’t available either.  So Brett suggested a more brute force approach and in the next few hours that followed I messaged about 30 candidate apartment hosts.  🙂  We are currently ‘preapproved’ for about a dozen of our choices.  I’m waiting til the end of the day, saving the apartment locations who have confirmed availability during our stay on a google map, and Brett and I will decide tonight.  🙂  WooT!  🙂

Paris on the Brain

I have a confession….I have been spending FAR more time lately thinking about Paris then about my research.  I know!  I know!  Its spring break you say!  Take a break!  But, that is not what spring break is to most graduate students…if anything it is a great week where the campus is almost empty and there are no classes and fewer meetings to get in the way of making actual research progress.  But this trip to Paris is just a month away and I just can’t stop thinking about it!  I’ve been searching airbnb.com  for fun and cheap places to stay while ‘the city of light.’  I’ve found copies of RER maps (think metra) and Metro maps (think the L) and have found that I remember exactly how to get from the airport to Paris.  🙂  I’ve looked at prices to visit my beloved city of Compiègne which is about an hour train ride from Paris.  I’ve contemplated making lists of all the great tourist attractions and how we could group them into different days of our trip.  I’ve daydreamed of grabbing a baguette (pas trop cuit) and some cheese (gotta love that stinky fromage) or a crêpe and having a lovely stroll along the Seine.  The last time I was in Paris was in 2008.  I remember crazy nights out in Paris and then catching the first train back to Compiègne in the morning.  I remember weekends spent there when someone came to visit….excursions filled with bars, museums, nose piercing, salsa dancing, crepe eating, crappy hostels, site seeing, the list goes on and on.  I cannot wait for this trip!  Brett has never been to Europe and I intend to help make this trip to Paris fantastic for the both of us!

More to come on booking our Paris vacation!  🙂



I asked Brett what I should focus our next blog post on and he responded “how awesome your husband is!” haha!  Sooo, along those lines I started thinking about exactly that and how our relationship has been shaped.  One thing that stands out in my mind about our relationship is our timeline.  Brett and I met in September of 2009, started dating in February 2010, got engaged in July 2010, and we married in July of 2012.

Before getting engaged we spent 5 months dating one another.  Yes!  We know!  5 months.  And they were awesome.  In that time between when we went on our first 8-hour date in Champaign and when Brett asked me to marry him in California we spent 5 months together….5 real months…5 months of stressful decisions, life happenings, and a lot of school work.  In that time Brett met my family and I met his.  We decided to continue past our masters programs into PhD programs.  Brett stated that if we were going to be in school for so long together we should learn to study together, so we did that too…a lot of it.  We spent hours working from school, our apartments, and cafes together.  Brett whole heartedly adopted my dog Caya as his own…we even joked that he was dating her and I was a fun bonus 😉  For 5 months Brett and I went salsa dancing together almost every week.  Brett made me lots of yummy dinners during that 5 months…and I made us homemade pasta without the aid of a rolling pin…but Brett helped with that too so I guess either he cooked or we did it together 🙂  During that time I learned how Raj and Brett are attached at the hip and how neither are very aware of their surroundings when within 72 hours of a conference paper deadline.  I learned not to take this personally.  During those 5 months my mother was in treatment for a brain tumor and had a stroke as a complication of one of the surgeries…and Brett and I were together for that.  After those 5 months I knew that I didn’t want to live the rest of my life without him and that I could take a chance on whatever I had yet to learn about his wonderful life and personality.

During the next 2 years even more happened.  We spent a few months living with my parents while my mother’s health declined.  We went through my own cancer diagnosis and treatments.  We moved in together.  We each graduated with our masters degrees and started our PhDs.  We visited friends in Boston together and took small weekend trips to Chicago or Michigan.  We got a new puppy, Inca.  🙂  Brett helped me get back into running and started to teach me racquetball.  We lived long distance between Huntsville and Seattle.  We learned how to give and how to take, how to care for one another and how to care for ourselves.   Now we’ve been married 8 months, 1 week, and 2 days and I still know exactly what I knew after having only spent 5 months with Brett…I don’t want to live the rest of my life without you and I will take a chance on whatever I have yet to learn about your wonderful life and personality.

2012 July 7 Justine Bursoni Photography Mallory and Brett's Wedding in Champaign Illinois FOR WEB ONLY-97


2012 July 7 Justine Bursoni Photography Mallory and Brett's Wedding in Champaign Illinois FOR WEB ONLY-190


2012 July 7 Justine Bursoni Photography Mallory and Brett's Wedding in Champaign Illinois FOR WEB ONLY-236


Photos courtesy of Justine Bursoni Photography…http://www.justinebursoni.com/