Well, this is it. As I type this we are crossing through the boarder between France and Belgium. As with everywhere I have been on this trip, Paris was a whirlwind adventure. After arriving my first day, I went off in search of a post office to send out the promised postcards to my higher tier GoFunders, adventured on the Paris Metro System which, by the way, I absolutely LOVE – everything about it is so simple and so fast and just makes so much sense; what a crazy concept! – and I found myself crying at the sight of the Eiffel Tower, before walking the 1 km away from said Eiffel Tower to my amazing airbnb room, all while wearing the worlds heaviest backback and dragging the worlds heaviest, purple suitcase.
Europe has truly kicked my ass BUT I’m still standing, which leaves me no other option but to believe that I am now Strong As Fuck. This trip has been a giant intro paragraph to an exciting new chapter for me.
But tonight is my last night in Europe and I am so excited that tomorrow I will be HOME and sleeping in my OWN BED!! I’m also very excited to be spending this final evening in Brussels at the home of an absolutely amazing and beautiful fellow-badass whom I met at the yoga retreat. Sabine is everything I want to be now and always, and this evening is sure to include a couple bottles of white wine I purchased in Paris and possibly, hopefully, dear gawd yes please, an evening at one last Hammam spa – my little body could use it. Being so strong and amazing has left me quite Sore As Fuck as well.
A note from Future Jin - NONE of that happens HAHAHAHA oh jin, when will you learn?? You can't PLAN out your life!
Paris was, of course, full of so much incredible adventure. After arriving a Hot Fucking Mess to my airbnb – I immediately had to get ready and head out to an amazing photo group shoot! The photographer, quite French, has spent time in San Francisco and speaks English well and contacted me randomly through model mayhem to pose for his group; a maximum of four photographers who have gotten together a couple times a month for the last six years. Like every other day of my life, it was a new and very interesting experience.
One other photographer, who has also spent time in San Francisco (Europe seems to love that city!) spoke English pretty well too, and another had a little bit, and the fourth was all French. It was very curious, standing there listening to four men speak in French – what a beautiful and lazy language. I won’t be returning without a much better grasp of it. I’m still finding it impossible to mentally switch out of Spanish.
The very first photographer, the very first look, instructed me to be as crazy as I wanted – which is always a nice surprise to hear at a shoot. I wondered about it being a communication error.. but I had the same request from another photographer as well. We shot more attitude/fashion/prop and wardrobe based set ups, but there was some glamorous and nude work in there as well (the glamour I just can’t turn off, especially when I’ve taken the time to actually curl my hair and wing my eyeliner). They all loved me. The host even booked me for an extra half hour past the shoot, and another photographer asked to book me yesterday, Saturday, but we could not find an agreement as far as length of shoot and rate (payment). He lives outside of the city, and it was my only free day in Paris. The requested 3 hour shoot would basically mean all of my day, so I wasn’t willing to be as flexible with my rate as I otherwise might have been. It was hard to say no to work, but my hubby says he’s proud of me. “If you want Jin to NOT be in Paris, it’s gonna cost you.”
The amazing first day ended with yours truly, having my first meal at midnight at a very nice restaurant/bar at the corner from my airbnb, drinking a 15 euro glass of champagne while basking in the glow of the Eiffel Tower (it lights up at night!). Also, directly across from me in the middle of the river that forks and surrounds the center of Paris before rejoining on the other side, was a small Statue of Liberty which, as told to me by my uber driver, was actually the first one, and also created by the same Masseur Eiffel. It’s cute. It’s like they’re sisters, staring out across the ocean at each other, connecting NYC to Paris and, if I know sisters, both are pissed that they’re wearing the same dress.
I closed the place down, and on the walk ‘home’ I howled at the half moon that silently watched down over the bustling city of Paris, and was delighted that a couple of the boys (servers) from the restaurant joined me.
As for my free day – oh my! What fun!! There’s so much I saw and did and it was all basically NOTHING when you look at what the city has to offer!! First off, I said bonjour and did some crying at the site of the Eiffel Tower, before heading off on another amazing metro adventure (it just makes so much sense!!!) to meet up with a friend from LA who has been here in Paris with another LA artist, working on their art for over the past month. Lisa and Carl were AMAZING tour guides, and put together an entire day of activities – just for me! What an incredible, meaningful gesture, and I enjoyed all of it. We stopped to pick up some lunch, explored the biggest art store ever (4 stories!), purchased fresh produce and, from a coin-operated vending machine, fresh squeezed orange juice, before heading to THE LOUVRE where both Lisa and Carl hold artist passes.
After enjoying our lunch at the Louvre dog park, Lisa’s favorite place, and strolling through the statue gardens admiring all the best butts the sculpture masters have to offer, not to mention a fortuitous visit from The Pigeon Master (a street performer who masterfully herds and juggles pigeons) they were able to sneak me in the back way and into the Louvre for some truly unforgettable and powerful art work.
The Louvre by the way is fucking HUGE!! It’s a massive U shape with many stories and has three different wings. We had very little time to explore the massive place but I had the best leading me, and afterward they calculated that the hundreds of statues and paintings we saw equalled right about 70% of the top 10% of what the Louvre has to offer.
If you ask me, that’s exactly what I want to see at any museum. So, fucking success!
On our way back to their amazing loft up seven flights of winding stairs (kicking my ass, Europe!) in a beautiful old building on the east side of central Paris, we stopped at Hankburger – a vegan burger place Lisa found for me that also had To-Go cups of wine and bomb ass potato wedges. You wanna see Jin happy? Get her a big ass vegan burger, bomb ass tater wedges, and wine free of geographic restrictions in which to enjoy it, and you’ll likely have me skipping and sipping away.
As far as our evening activities, “This is probably the most romantic thing I’ve ever done,” exclaimed Lisa, and I couldn’t agree more. We spent the late evening in the loft, the moon visible
through the skylight, the rooftops and endless little chimneys of Paris sprawling out from the windows around us, sweet jazz music playing, and a naked Jin, being drawn by two very talented and amazing people, all while enjoying white wine, strawberries, and chocolate from the market at the bottom of the seemingly endless, winding, wooden stairs. My life really leaves so little to
complain about, despite all of my best efforts. At the end of the night, Carl and Lisa even donated to my still active GoFundMe (Hi guys!!! <3 ), even though the tour they gave me of the city was already an incredible gift for the short amount of time I spent posing for them. My life is full of beautiful people.
Arriving ‘home’ one last time, I said a final bonsior to the ol’ eiffel tower before heading up to my awesome bedroom, with it’s full wall of windows peering out over the vibrant and active city of Paris.
It was a truly magical day, and while it meant getting only about 4 hours sleep last night before today’s early morning photo shoot, I wish I could do it all over again and again and again. Lisa herself seems to feel more at home in Paris than she does in LA, and some big changes might be in her future. She’s already making quite an impact on the art community here, and despite her equally growing success in LA, I may soon have a permanent friend in Paris (oh no – how terrible! then I’d have to come back!).
And speaking of, today’s photo shoot was once again a Curious and Fun Event. The photographer himself is an Italian man who lives and works in Japan, and is here in Paris on business, and who chose to hire and shoot an American model (yours truly) for a very international collaboration. He also got an unexpected and thorough workout, bringing up my fully loaded and heavy-as-fuck suitcase to his 7th floor loft on the west side of central Paris. The only thing I can say in my defense is that this is actually the lightest I have ever packed for a trip EVER and I actually went through and removed extra items three times in the final 48 hours before I left. That being said, he has roughly a 89% chance of a hernia. Also, he was rewarded with a kiss (on the cheek) after successfully bringing my bag back down all those god damn steps.
It's ok, he’s Italian; Kisses from ladies are like currency in his home country.
The shoot was a lot of fun and the in-camera results were quite beautiful and varied; from soft, natural light and nude and lingerie work, to edgy, blown out fashion on the steep steps to the loft itself, as well as some well-lit jin-being-jin on the kitchen counter. He was a delight and helped me walk my bag of bricks to the nearest metro station, for one last adventure through the underground rail lines of Paris. I’m so sad to see it go, despite how happy my heart and back is to be returning home. The city of Paris has always called to me, and finally seeing it was such a dream, and the brevity of my visit only adds to the surrealism. Maybe it has in fact all been a dream. But what is life, if not a fleeting dream itself? I’m excited to stay sleeping and enjoying this dream, at least for one more day.
Tomorrow, my weeklong yoga retreat, followed by a four country, 6 city adventure in just 9 days, comes to an end. And that is probably the strangest thing I have typed in this entire ‘Secret Journal.’ How can I possibly go home the same person as the one that arrived, after such an incredible adventure? I’ve been forced over and over again to put my faith in the universe, to allow myself the freedom to spend a little money in order to experience new things, and to take care of my body when it needs it. I’ve had to push myself mentally, physically, and culturally on a daily basis. My connection to my mind and my body is seeping in to the rest of my life, and I’m doing my damnest to live in the present moment, and to feel and know this new strength I am allowing to grow. I’ve made new friends and important connections from all across the world, all set in beautiful backdrops that can only be described as something from a fairy tale. I’ve been a part of incredible artwork that, like the hundreds of statues at the Louvre that brought me to tears, is meant to go on and exist past me, to be something more than just myself, and I got to place my hands and cheeks against stone structures that have existed for hundreds and hundreds of years, and that I hope will exist for hundreds more. This entire trip was funding by dozens of people by way of a gofundme campaign that was shared hundreds of times, mostly by people with whom I’ve never met in person, and it’s all so truly significant to a giant shift in my life and the way I live and travel and love. And through it all, I have still found a way to bitch, I have still found a way to stress out, I have still found a way to sink into a pit and linger there, and so through it all I am still very much so me. And that is all very much so OK. I like me, and I hope to like me more every day, and to become someone who is a bit more productive, a bit more positive, and a whole lot more relaxed, because it was only in those moments that this whole trip was even possible.
It was in those moments that this trip truly existed.
A final thank you, one last time, to every one who has given, for everyone who is reading, and for every one who just sees me – not as just another white gurl bootay on instagram – but as an artist, who insists on putting her white gurl bootay on instagram. You’re all amazing, and I can’t wait to see how and where your love and support takes me next.