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San Diego Mother-Daughter Adventures Highlighted In 'We'll Always Have Paris'

Katie at Shakespeare & Company Booksellers
Paris 2005
Jennifer Coburn
Katie at Shakespeare & Company Booksellers Paris 2005
San Diego Mother-Daughter Adventures Highlighted In 'We'll Always Have Paris'

[ NEW SEGMENT ] MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. In the classic move Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart told Ingrid Bergman we will always have Paris, he meant that nothing could take away those memories and in that same spirit San Diego author Jennifer Coburn said that she needed to create lasting memories for her daughter so she dropped everything and began a series of travel adventures with her eight-year-old daughter Katie, the experiences went on for years and Jennifer Coburn has captured them in a new man memoir. She is a best-selling novelist in San Diego in her new book is called the will always have Paris, a mother-daughter adventure. Welcome to the program. What does it mean to drop everything to start a new venture like this, did you quit your job? Did you sell your house? COBURN: I didn't quit my job, what it meant was to get away from the fast-paced lifestyle that we were living, soccer practice, homework, art lessons, the enrichment programs that exhaust us, and just get away from it all. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Why did you have an urgency to travel with your daughter? COBURN: My father died when I was nineteen years old, he was forty-nine. And ever since then I have had this fear that I might die young as well. And if I did, what would my daughter's memory be? I wanted to be jampacked in her memories with good times in Paris and enjoying getting away and spending time together. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Did Katie want to go? COBURN: She had no idea, she was eight years old and I do there were going to Paris and she said okay. I said you understand how lucky we are and what this means? And she said not really, I guess I don't get it and we were up on the top of the Eiffel Tower on our last day she turned to me and said I get it now, I get Paris. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Was this during summer break or did you take care of school? COBURN: It was during summer break. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: To start a book off with a disturbing phone call that you made your husband back home, about almost being arrested in France, tell us about that. COBURN: Fusilli we been to my cousin's home and we never met her or her French husband Bruno and he took a look at my map which was meticulously marked with red stickers for where we were visiting Monday, yellow stickers for where were going Tuesday, blue stickers for Wednesday, and he looked at me and said Jennifer, in order to enjoy life and enjoy Paris must simply have a glass of wine and relax and enjoy life. So, I thought I was doing that, I thought it was just embracing the moment when we were in Luxembourg Gardens a few nights later and we saw a few families playing in the playground but the gate was locked. So I asked them, as best as I could how did you get in and they told us that they jumped over the fence and they helped Katie and I jump over and I remember landing in the playground and thinking, I did it! I am embracing the moment and I'm so French, and not a minute later we heard the sharp whistle of a police officer telling us that he was not amused by her shenanigans and taking is off to a local Precinct 4 and almost arrest, we're simply detained. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That brings up the idea of your apprehension about going it alone with your eight-year-old, were you nervous about having these different exciting new adventures with your child there? COBURN: I am, but I'm nervous about everything and that to not make a difference, I am nervous about traveling to Paris, and what really hit me is when we're on the plane and were landing I had not slept for twelve hours, then I heard the flight attendant tell us that in thirty minutes we would be landing and then she said it in French, and then I thought all my God, this is no messing around, we're going to be in Paris and two hours later, we were on a Ferris wheel and as the car rose the Eiffel Eiffel Tower came into view and I thought, this is for real, that is not a picture of the Eiffel Tower this is really it and then a voice inside me sad, but to think is going to happen you got an a plane to Paris and of course. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is all in your head before and this is a concept and not an actual experience with the actual Eiffel Tower staring you in the face. COBURN: Absolutely. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Did you speak any French? COBURN: Now, I learned how to apologize which came in handy, I found that the French and really all Europeans were very kind if you tried to say a few words and so I learned a few phrases and than most of the time they would help you out in English although the French will make you wait for it. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What we're impressions of the first trip overall? A busy by the time the trip ended you tell us that she looked off the top of the Eiffel Tower and she got it, did that give you the impetus or the motivation to continue these travels? COBURN: It did, when I got for most of our travels is an opportunity Katie and really enjoy how she just accepted life as it came, on our second day in Paris we were having lunch at a cafÈ, and she ordered a hamburger. This was really trying to grasp something familiar. When the waiter brought her the hamburger there was a Sunnyside up egg on top of the burger and this is nothing should ever seen and this will be a defining moment, how is she going to react? She looked at me and showed her shoulders and said while I guess in France you get this with your lunch and it was such a gift to get to see how my daughter responded to new situations and experiences. We took for trips, Paris and London when Katie was AM we went around Italy when she was eleven and went to Spain when she was fourteen, and then we went back to Paris and Amsterdam when Katie was fourteen. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You told us about the very first day when you arrived in Paris and you made everything red tagged where you wanted to go and when you want to go there, do you also compared itinerary for each trip like that or did that first experience sort of dissuade you and you wanted to go with the flow little more? COBURN: As we went on my itineraries got looser. We traveled because I learned that some of the most beautiful experiences that we had worked completely unplanned and when you're in Italy, Katie and I were on our way to see David at academia and we're about a block away and we heard this wonderful music coming from and nondescript building and we decided to check it out, walked over and just as we got to the entrance, this carved wooden door flew open and in the Italian man with his black curly hair and red pants open the door and said ciao Bella and this music school was giving final exams for Opera students and would be like to come in and watch? We spent two hours watching kids and a kid singing Puccini, it was absolutely wonderful and Katie said I didn't know that I like to Opera. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How you received by residents in these countries traveling as mother and daughter? COBURN: We were very fortunate people were very kind and the think that had a lot do with the fact that we were two females traveling together and I always felt very protect did, especially in Italy. Our first day we had trouble when we rented in Rome are taxied driver swindled us out of fifty euro and that was very unsettling and then we went to dinner to a daily and as the deli owner, as get the counter and said how much is this and that? And finally said Mama Mia, sit down. And I said I'm sorry we were swindled and I only have ten dollars ñ ten euro for dinner and he said I make you dinner, ten dollars I know what you like everything you point to, and he brought us is beautiful dinner that was in no way ten euros, two plates piled high pizza and wine which is a subtle message and a piece of cake he said welcome to Rome. And that is how I felt not just in Italy but throughout Italy Italy and very welcomed and taken care of. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What have these trips meant to your daughter? COBURN: I asked her this, what you get out of the trips? She said it was a chance to see each other in a new way, we were isolated together and we had to rely on each other in a way that we were not forced to do at home and as much as it would've been wonderful to have my husband join us it was a new dynamic without him, we had to figure out maps together and we had to figure out how to be a team in a way that was brand-new. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You told us Jennifer, that these trips came out of a place inside of you that was filled with a certain amount of fear and concern about your own mortality and being able to connect with your daughter and create memories for her, to these chips do anything to lessen that fear inside of you? COBURN: Elizabeth as cured by this but in a way it's good that I haven't been lately remedied, so now I have an excuse to go on another trip, but yes. I have a new appreciation for enjoying life and being in the moment and I think I ever analyze less than I used to, but I'm not there yet and I guess I will just have to go back. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And speaking of going back, when is your next trip planned? COBURN: Our next trip will be this summer we take a look at colleges for Katie and then, when we drop her off at college in a year and a half, I told my husband we have to go to Paris together to have that couples experience because as wonderful as it was to be there with Katie there are times that I saw a couple heading out to have dinner over candlelight and restaurants where the chef was innovated and that is a place that you take a kid but I would like to have a romantic trip with my husband. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: My last question to you, and please make it short if you would, what if people hear your you and are inspired? What would you say to do? COBURN: I say do it, a lot of people say they want to travel someday set a date for that, save money it's not that expensive if you find some ways to economize and it just do it, it's something you'll never regret and it's something that you and your family will always remember far more than any material possessions. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I have been speaking with Jennifer Coburn about her book we will always have Paris, the book releases on Tuesday, it can be found any place that sells books along with online at Thank you so much.

We'll Always Have Paris, by Jennifer Coburn
We'll Always Have Paris, by Jennifer Coburn

In the classic movie "Casablanca," Humphrey Bogart told Ingrid Bergman, "we'll always have Paris." He meant that nothing could take away those memories. In that same spirit, San Diego author Jennifer Coburn felt she needed to create lasting memories for her daughter. So she dropped everything and began a series of travel adventures with her 8-year old Katie. The experiences went on for years and Coburn has captured them in a new memoir titled "We'll Always Have Paris." The memoir is dedicated to her daughter Katie.

Their adventure started with a trip to Paris in 2005. The following years, the pair took on a city at a time, from Paris to Italy and Spain to Amsterdam.


This year, the family's adventure involves sending Katie off to college. Coburn and her husband will then head off for their own trip to Paris.

Coburn is a USA Today best-selling author of six novels and contributor to four literary anthologies.

Mothers, On and Off the Page

Three local authors Jennifer Coburn, Laurel Corona, and Zoe Ghahremani will read passages from their new books, We’ll Always Have Paris, the Mapmaker’s Daughter, and Moon Daughter, all of which involve mothers and daughters.

When: Sunday May 4, 2014 - 2 pm

Where: Barnes & Nobel Grossmont Center, La Mesa