Saturday, January 31, 2004

No Shock, Just Utter Awe:
I have been in Paris now for almost a month. That really doesn’t sound real. I can’t believe it actually. And I think I am getting close to partially functional in French. It can be frustrating at times but outside of my meetings with the girls I am talking French and muttering my way through it all. I am not necessarily confident in my French since I know the grammar is horrid, but everyone tells me I am fine and that they can understand me perfectly. Reality is I have a group of very sweet people surrounding me.

Shhhhh I am going to let you special people in on my little dirty secret- I take complete refuge and glee in watching English tele. I really do, I was clapping at Lauren’s last night watching the BBC. Even better was finding English with French sub-titles, then at least I can claim it is a language acquisition exercise. I get overwhelmed spending my whole day in French, and I am just thrilled to watch something I don’t have to pay attention to understand. It makes me feel lame. I should be immersing myself, absorbing it all up like a sponge; instead I am searching actively for English language.

Then you have people like Julia, who not only have my utter awe but respect. I am barely floating in our graduate classes here language wise. I hate sounding like an ass, which means I have to really think through and construct what I want to say. That takes time and energy- which in a two hour seminar/discussion class is hard to come by. There are serious points where I just want to give up. My attention still wavers for the last 15 minutes of the 2 hour straight in lecture sessions. But Julia not only functioned in classes at CH, but also functions with us in English at most times. I wish I felt that strong in one of my languages, but I don’t.

Her native language is German and she can spend most of her day working in English and not blink. I am so jealous (can you see how green I am?). I could make it through about 2/3 of my day before I shut down, get snappy and want to get home to some English. I can hear most of what is going on around me and understand it but I also have to pay attention to it. English is easy, I know how to express myself, and it doesn’t drain me. The mental exhaustion is more than I ever expect or remember- it was the same in Italy. I know at some point I will get there, but right now I am still dreaming of the BBC and talking more English than I should.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Positive Annoyance:
Well in spite of it all I am going to Brussels again. This Giftzwerg (grumpy dwarf in German- usually Julia's title, but I have earned it today) is going to be storming Brussels again. Dont know if the town has recovered from my first trip, and I am grumbly grumpy right now, but tally ho and forward we go. They have a month+ to prepare anyways.

The university has a trip for us and well I paid in my fees and for all that they are screwing me over, I am going anyways. Just to spite them too. The trip is sounding more and more disappointingly like it will pale in comparison to the DC trip and more and more like some kind of high-school tour trip. UGH.

However I might even be convinced to pay for my own ticket and go early to spend the weekend there. I dunno. I am turning into a stingy fisted and crabby wench but in a few weeks you never know. Maybe I will win the lottery??

All I know is that, that is the positive of the whole deal. That and Brussels has been warned!

Third Annoyance:
Yes it does deserve a post of its own. I swear to god I am going to kill the two pompous snide asses in our class. Them their comments and the turned ass-kissing noses. ARGHHHHH

We had a briefing visit to the insitiutions and they want to make it about the insitutions and getting interviews. Not like the interviews would happen then and there and the papers would be due 10 days later anyways. Quit kissing ass and really dont make any more comments at me or I will rip your nose off.

Then we get to the "option" to maybe have them talk to us about certain topics. I swear to god it is annoying to me- research interest band jumpers are what I call them. People that dont have any interests other than the assigned work (ie we only want to meet people in Brussels who will give us interviews for our paper topic) or the pick the topic du jour. Which in and of themselves are interesting but that everyone does them only when they are on the front page is annoying. I researched enlargement over 8 years ago. I knew it would be big then and it is now but come on it isnt the only thing. Neither is foreign policy/defense. GAH get some individual interests!

I guess after our trip to DC I am used to decent things and some level of organization. It was a wonderful networking trip and enjoyable. We went to places that were important and got more than the High-school tour guide view of the buildings. UGH. Not to mention that I was hoping to take a different train., maybe go early. I paid for the bloody thing in paying for my tuition/inscription. Nope, I told them this in advance and now they want to screw me over. More money gone. They arent exactly up to that par here. Sorry I like Science Po but Astrid AINT no Sarah!

Me Being A Cranky Wench:
Seems to be a trend today. Take solace all you other giftzwerg ( sounds like gift-svag = grumpy dwarf in German) you are not alone. The tiniest of things are irritating me to the point of no beyond. Beware a tirade is about to be launched.

First annoyance:
Look I dont get it. Have recently heard the ludicrous complaint- Blogs are self-centered. And that is a bad thing (according to them). There are just some twats out there who are NOT with it. What the fuck do you think a blog is? In my experience it is an eye in on whatever someone else chooses to show you. Of course the blog is self-centric are you prats? What the hell else would a blog be? You are reading about someone elses interests, life, thoughts, interpretations. It is about them and their view. If you dont like that why bother reading blogs in the first place? And if you are going to read them why bitch about it? I just dont get it. There is no gun to your head.

Second Annoyance:
Damn shippers and rental car places. I had some of my belongings for these next nine months shipped to me and they are now waiting for me out somewhere by the Charles de Gaulle airport. Nothing huge but I need to go get it.

So today the nice french people tell me in addition to the fees I paid to ship it across the pond I have to pay to pick it up. First person tells me 20 Euros. I say ok. The second person tells me 50 and I cant get them back to the 20. Fuck more money Au Revoir!

And I have to rent a car on the most expensive day of the week. They changed thier minds I cant pick my stuff up on Monday anymore unless I want to pay an extra amoutn which they wont tell me what it is... Sure that sounds like the option I want to take. So now I have to try and find a car for tomorrow morning to drive in crazy Paris (I have driven in Crete it cant be worse than Athens either right??) get my stuff from the place I dont know where is, and then bring it back drop the car off (so I can maybe save a centime or two) and then deal with the two bitter boxes.

Bitter boxes you say- what do I taste them? Did I spray them in protection from my dog?? No, I call them the bitter boxes because they were supposed to arrive to me in Chapel Hill where I could have gone through them and discarded at least half the contents (as they were for my time in Chapel Hill not Paris) and maybe paid less to ship them. But instead I had to forward them on as one has my boots and the other has my rain coat.

Bugger Bugger Bugger am I grumpy this afternoon.

Zee French and Zee Dog:
I love the French. I love that they have their dogs with them everywhere. It makes me miss my monster immensely and more often than not smile. The fact that they don’t pick up their dog’s shit is a bit annoying, but très Français. And I am well... in France.

Resident of the chi-chi furniture store next to Science Po is a white labrador. He lays out side the door, comes in when it rains and wanders the streets alone. That would freak me out- him getting hit by a car, him getting lost. But he seems to be at least 9 years old and he knows the neighborhood. I have had him trot after me down the street for blocks trying to get my sandwich. Also have seen him make it to the creperie/waffle stand at the metro (4-5 blocks away) all for the love of food. But they take him into work- and I love that. There is a resident German Shepard at the pharmacist’s in my neighborhood too.

Each day has a dog sighting often humorous. Today takes the cake though. I do believe our dogs are reflective of us, our personalities etc. The French have an obsession with "toy" dogs in general. I can understand this as in a small apartment having a Bouvier is not exactly a smart idea. But I have seen this man walking his dog 3 times today. Once on our walk, and twice when I have gone to look out my window (both times because I was hearing a really loud barking). And what do I see- both times? I see this Grizzly Adams man who I swear to god is poncily walking along with his prancing little Lhasa Apso. I cant tell you how utterly odd and out of place it looks. Yet at the same time- très Français

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Character, Character...
I am writing and repeating it to remind myself. I like living in apartments/homes with character. I prefer it in most cases to the "modern conveniences." Quirky is a strong selling point for me. But there are times like last night where it is not entertaining in the least.

Why is it in trying the simple things, the simple things go horribly wrong? Well it does provide a comical story I guess. All I wanted to do was boil some water, to make what I hoped would be like Top Ramen (it disappointingly was not). I don’t know why I had a craving for Top Ramen. There is no rhyme or reason to that, sorry.

I was however thrilled to try out my new Darty "super" purchase. I found an electric kettle for 10 euros today. Can’t beat that! So I turn on the water tap to put water in the kettle to boil. I leave the water running to wash the dishes, while I wait for the water to boil. I pour the water over the noodles and decide I don’t want to wash any more dishes. But (and you know there was one coming) the water will not turn off.

Great! What the hell do I do now? I let it run for a while, thinking it will miraculously turn itself off. Ostrich method does not work; it only makes me frequent the loo. I frantically turn the faucet in both directions and twist till I hurt my hand. But nope it won’t turn off. I finish the dishes and try again this time pleading with it- in French and English. No luck.

So I use my last few moments on my cell phone card and call my landlord. I don’t know what he’s going to do; he lives in the banlieu anyways. He starts using vocabulary I don’t know; telling me "turn it hard." What, you think I didn’t try that? I did; I am doing that now. And I am telling you the water will not turn off. I am flipping through my dictionary frenetically searching for words I want to say and he is telling me.

My mind does not work in French during "panic" mode- Spanish yes, English yes, French- the only language me and my landlord speak in common, No. In actuality all French words leave my mind in a complete evacuation; last one out switch off the lights!

He tells me where the hot water tap is. I turn that off. Doesn’t turn the water off; it only makes it flipping cold. The blessed water will not turn off. I am trying, turning on the other tap again and turning it off then the hot off. Every combination you can think of. Not working...

Finally out of no where, for no reason the bloody thing turns off. I think it was conspiring to waste my money and make me look like an ass. In turn I refused to turn it on again. Instead I ate chips for dinner, knit the last bit of my socks and watch the CBS Hitler special in French. I saw it at home, and it was freaky enough then. I feel bad for that actor, gives me the willies how much he looks like Hitler. So many simple points and ways he could have been stopped, with history potentially diverted. Any way it’s told it is a horrid story. Everything around it repulses me and always turns my stomach.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Damn Chinese President! Bloody Policemen too:
I was supposed to meet Lauren at 6pm. I would have, if the pesky Chinese president wasn’t ruining my plans. As if there weren’t enough reasons not to be supportive of a Chinese regime and Hu Jintao, today I have another irrational one to add to the list. Metro man is on my hit list too- he could have told me that the metro station I was getting off at was closed.

Instead I get off, walk up, and realize I can’t get out. Stupid RATP man tells me the closest stop is 2 stops away, which isn’t that much but I am getting later by the minute. So I go to the Louvre- not Place de la Concorde, where Lauren is. Then I am told it’s this way. Nope, actually it’s THAT way. So I turn around and am walking as fast as my two little stubs will carry me.

Instead of getting out my map, I am asking the floods of French Police (they are EVERYWHERE) which way/confirmation of that way. It’s easier and I am lazy like that. It gets better now because I get the "funny" policemen. First policeman tells me yes you can walk that way. Clue to Tink no one else was walking that way. Cue policeman buddy telling me I had to go back to go the other way. Not down that corridor, but backwards. Great keep going.

Policeman #2 was hysterical. I ask him which way to the Place de la Concorde. With his incroyable look of "Quoi?" he asks me if I am going by foot. Let me see I no longer own a car and I am walking. So ummm... Unless I am going to hop on your back, ride you like a horse and get to smack your ass- Giddy-up. Yeah, I think I am going by foot. Oh it is just down this road. Thanks.

I have two mini beignets for me and Lauren, a little treat. I walk up to policeman #3 because it is not a "short" walk from the Palais Royal-Louvre Metro to the Place de la Concorde, and have the beignets in hand. He asks me before I can ask the requisite Place de la Concorde?, if the beignets were for him. Sure! Why not? Of course I walk around Paris past all the barricades for the fucking Chinese president, carrying beignets, so I can walk up and hit on French policemen. Oh and by the way the beignets would have been for the cute policeman over THERE. Sorry these are for me and my friend- the one waiting for me at Place de la Concorde.

After all of this (with no sighting of the damn president) I miss Lauren by 5 whole minutes. Wandered around- at least the place de la Concorde is gorgeous at night. And then found out in case you need to know- the Metro Madeleine, it’s around the corner from Place de la Concorde. I walked in my calf boots, making my feet cry for nothing. The appointment has moved to tomorrow, where I will be ready for that fucker the Chinese president!

It is odd:
Ok since I don't have the internet yet at home my entries are kind of delayed. I was going to put up what I was thinking about the New Hampshire primary but since the results are all out and I was right I am going to cut out my analysis. I know some self censoring going on but time differences affect that.

I am political by nature and things in the states are getting hot. Me I am in France and some what removed from it all. Doesn’t bother me as I wouldn’t be voting today anyways (not a New Hampshire resident), and I sure as hell don’t want to be inundated by all the ads from the lovely people who forgo federal funding. But with time differences and my limited internet access my pulse on world issues is a bit more restricted than normal.

Honestly I am like most democrats I think. Basically there are too many candidates and I don’t care which one gets the nomination. As long as one of them has a chance to beat Bush. Really "anyone but Bush" is my impassioned battle cry.

Politically wise I think each one has his characters and warts. I think Dean is sliding down the hill. Clark got into the game to late though I really do like him. Sorry I like having a president who is smart. Paying for your MBA at Yale by Daddy’s name and money (the record shows he is a shitty businessman- unless you want to lose $8mil- that is replicated in his "management" of the government and economy) is NOT the same as being a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. And Edwards is the perennial lightweight.

So who do I think will get the nomination in the end... ?? If I had to pick one to vote for it would probably be Clark. I like him and well the rest is just my gut. But now the battle is on to the southern countries. I don't think everything is sealed up by any means but things have at least narrowed. And honestly if Kerry gets the ticket he'd be smart to put a Southerner VP on- that is the only way he stands ANY chance.

I’d like to see a candidate that would attack Bush’s weak points and not be so frightened about pointing out the truth, but I don’t think that is politically salient right now. I will throw my whole weight and pocketbook (well what’s left of the tattered thing I call a pocketbook) in the direction of whoever it is regardless.

Hair be gone:
Lets get personal, cause it has made my day. First of all as a warning to the fairer sex (and I am not talking about women): I am not modest. I have very few virtues so if you think you might have delicate bits or tendencies well move on.

Now on to my joy of the day. I love being in Paris. I currently am particularly in love with the French approach to beauty. See it is part of life, it is what you do and best of all it is not expensive. And me well I was in desperate need of a facial and waxing. I know I am broke but for 18 euros I could hardly pass it up. I have waxed since I was 15 and on swim team. I don't do legs anymore cause they hurt, but I had put off a bikini wax for WAY too long.

Can I please tell you that the salon Yves Rocher on rue Rennes has my service for ever. If you need to go- ask for Isabelle. I am walking around on cloud nine right now. Stupid silly things make me happy. Basically for the price of a bikini wax in the states, I got a brasilian wax with more attention to detail than I think I have ever experienced. No pain and I will be going back. More hair than anticipated ripped but no more excuses- swimming at the pool commences.

Le Bachelor:

Ok I know that there is this whole America is trendy thing in Europe, and personally I find it odd. The music, the televisions shows, even supposedly the food; you know the whole deal. I don’t get it, but seeing episodes of Charmed I have watched in English in French is interesting.

Tonight I finally saw the commercials. Le Bachelor is THE thing. The French have made their own version of it, with some manipulations it seems. I must say in all honesty, Le Bachelor est un complete chien (dog in French). Most US Bachelors have been at least decent in the looks area. Le Bachelor is not only a dog- but a femmy-boy dog. I do not get it. I haven’t seen all the girls (I am catching it late in the series it ends tomorrow) but the ones left are decent looking (though I have heard they are quite trashy). But there you go. First Starbucks, then Le Bachelor- the invasion has begun...

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The hysterics of a "Cold" French Winter:
I have no qualms with the weather here in France. Winter here is no different than at home (Seattle) and preferable to my other European winters- notably Norway. Lauren on the other hand is constantly saying "it’s as cold as a witch’s tit." I have worn skirts and my legs have no signs of frostbite. I am constantly given odd looks as I don’t have an umbrella (it’s not raining enough for one people; a hat protects me just fine).

But I was induced into giggles this morning. Bit of history. I was raised mostly in Arizona USA. So I am accustomed to warm weather (dry for distinction). And I am usually still the one who is always cold and hates it when windy. People there wear their leather jackets when its 70 degrees F/ 20 degrees C though; I now find that beyond obnoxious.

During my senior year of high-school my mother took a joy ride to hell called moving to Nebraska. There I was indoctrinated with psychotically bipolar weather tendencies and snow. At one point 18 inches of it in 2 hours- and still I had to go to school. You know its going to be a bad day when you look out the window your car is covered with snow. You go out, uncover it, have to go in to change because you are all wet and by the time you get back out the car is covered again.

To get myself out of that darling little hole in hell, I moved to Seattle (just as soon as I could get my ass on a broom out of there). I lived through windstorm ’95. I learned how to distinguish drizzle (which is what you mostly get in Seattle) and true rain (which in my mind is the Monsoon buckets o’ rain from Arizona).

And my first winter there it snowed. A whole 2 inches over night, one time. The whole place shut down. I couldn’t help but laugh. It is somewhat understandable as they do not have the means to deal with snow (i.e. less than 12 plows for the whole city), and during the day it gets warm enough to melt and then cold enough to refreeze = black ice. You think people in Seattle forget how to drive in the rain quickly- black ice is even worse.

So where am I rambling to? Well yesterday as I woke up I noticed out the window the "rain" was in the form of little snow flurries. Now mind you this was not real snow. It didn’t stick and by the time it hit the ground it was water. But everywhere I am walking today people have put dirt/sand on the walk ways and the Firemen even went so far as to lay down salt. To me this is hysterical. I am walking up the hill through sludge that is trying to roll down hill cause Mes Peuples Ecoutez-moi: it’s not cold enough to freeze. We haven’t broken 32 degrees F or 0 degrees C that I am aware of. I am wearing a skirt. And I am the one who is always cold.

One more smirk and I am going to whack the kid:
We have this student in our module here. He is "Belgian." I put that in quotes because he hasn’t lived in Europe since he was 9. He has lived in the states, New Jersey to be exact. He might look European but he acts full on all the time American. He might be nice but the expressions on his face well they simply agitate.

During introductions week he elaborated in this long condescending way with his French acting superior. One of our Professors dismissed him and the other made a cutting remark. He has that femmy-boy look, and its not attractive in the least. Smirking like George Bush- great repellant. He seriously thinks he knows it all. Dude all you need to do is smear shit all over yourself- not even the pigeons will come near you.

I felt so bad today. We were in lecture and there are two students whose French is not up to par. Our sister program does not language test students before they are allowed to attend their modules. This means they do not have to prove themselves proficient. One of these students is a girl from last year and she actually deferred till this year to get her French up to par. And while it’s not bad her initial reaction isn’t to try and express herself in French however rudimentarily, but instead say in French: Puis je parle en anglais?

The other student is from Greece. I think he came to be with his girlfriend in the program studying here. He is a really nice guy. We are interested in the same broad topics for our theses- i.e. Mediterranean social policy. They both actually seem smart. I sympathize with them on expressing political topics in a PhD class, in another language. I can do it but it’s often painful. I am much quieter than I was in CH. But more importantly the instructors are kind enough to let them speak in English.

Instead each time they start talking in English during class Smirky boy makes faces. Lauren told me if he makes that face one more time she is going to maim him. I will fork out my last penny for front row seats to that event and beg, borrow, steal to be second in line.

Life as a Social Anthropologist:
There are many time when living somewhere abroad and experiencing life anew is an interesting and exciting thing. I often call this experience playing social anthropology. I am in the process of finding out the new ways of doing things and everyday life here in Paris, and acquiring a whole new vocabulary. And for the most part it really is both interesting and enjoyable.

Everything is different. Writing a check is different, even grocery shopping is different. Walking down the street inandof itself is an experiment and adventure in social anthropology. And in most ways I am finding a fair amount of life more pleasurable. I however do not have any remote interest to play the role of social anthropologist whilst in the middle of tying to get my electric turned back on. Nor am I singularly interested in this game as I want to figure out how to get the internet in my apartment.

On the metro- even when you bring tears to my eyes lifting your arm, ok we can play social anthropology. On the basics where in I have no language skills or preparations, (again- 12 years of secondary and college French- useless!) I am simply not interested. It is tiresome. I don’t think I am asking that much, hell I have a check book and am willing to pay. But for the love of god just give me the service. Please!!!!

Monday, January 26, 2004

The Bon Marche: It is a Dangerous Evil Place:
Oh dear goddess am I in trouble, BIG trouble. I went to the Bon Marche. Now to my friends at home say that’s no biggie it’s just a department store, hell we have one called that at home too. People... Department stores in Europe have a whole different connotation and function in Europe. They are great places but I could cry with all the shopping I want to do setting up house. As anti-50’s housewife I am, I have one serious domestic streak in me.

Right now I want to be purchasing things like appliances and making my funky cool apartment (with Poutres/exposed beams, that look like the termites had a good go at them- but to my land lord was a HUGE selling point??) mine and well really cozy. Not to mention some cool scarves and fun clothes I saw too.

But I came to the Bon Marche with a mission. Some one told me there was lots of yarn there. Yup there sure is! Problem is I have to get past the main floor, where all the great beauty products are. That is not easy for the product queen in me. Then I have to go up past the House-wares floor. Still not easy as I REALLY want an electric tea kettle and toaster. But even worse I have to go past the Lingerie department. Dear goddess why must you torture me and tempt my fetish? Then I have to walk past all the pretty beads (and most gorgeous of knitted with beads sweater I saw) all just to get to the vast expanse of yarn.

Oh my bloody goddess this place shall be the death of me. The yarn doesn’t seem to be too outrageously priced. I wandered looked, felt, ooooohed and ahhhhhed for a good hour and a half. I however being the twat I am forgot my information on what yarn I need. Couldn’t remember all of the conversions (on needle sizes and for gauge) either. And since all my needles aren’t here I waited on some of the fun and funky yarns. That and well they were closing. I love knitting for little monsters (and that story is making me giggle still) so am going to go back soon and get the yarn to make an adorable little girl a Strawberry hat and an adorable boy a pumpkin one; as my Camouflage socks are just about to be finished.

That is if I survive the trip back, and that is one big If.

Weekend Brunch with Drool:
I had all the girls over yesterday morning for brunch at my apartment. It went fantabulously if I do say so myself. Had a great spread of food stuffs everyone brought with them and people languished on. This to me is always a sign of a good event. My Christmas party is notorious for running as late as 4 am. And as much as I don’t want to be domestic, I love entertaining. By the accounts of those who attend my gatherings- I do so quite admirably.

We chit-chatted about odd things from here and there for most of the morning. I was informed that Sex and the City is filming its last episodes here in Paris. It is saddening for two reasons- 1. I don’t want Sex and the City to end, 2. I won’t get to see the episodes for a while since they are running currently in the states, but not here yet. A friend of a friend even ran into Mr. Big.

Oh dear blessed Buddha, what I would have paid to be her. I am drooling as I dream over here. I am not normally a star gazer. I grew up in Ritzy-Schmitzy star studded neighborhoods and have run into a fair amount. Normally not impressed, just another person as far as I am concerned. Mr. Big, that would be a whole other story. I have had a serious thing for Chris Noth since he was on Law and Order (in his leaner days). I would take him as Mr. Big in less than a heartbeat too. Turns out he is here in my neighborhood. Yup still drooling...

Unfortunately, we didn’t see him on our walk. But we did have a gorgeous sunny day. I am thinking winter in Paris not that bad. Then again I am comparing it to my other winters in Europe- notably Norway. We did however realize 1. How close I am to a lot of things but the list includes the following: the Pantheon (right around the corner, literally), La Sorbonne, Major Rues (Mouffetard, des Ecoles, St. Michel and St. Germain des Pres) and 2. How much fun walking in my neighborhood is.

Verdict rendered- my apartment rocks. I really am lucky, but paying for it (through the nose alla the exchange rate). Must say between the people here and the friendships I am making, the school which even with its idiosyncrasies is actually interesting and having Paris as my oyster (still working on swimming in it at all times but its getting there); I really am happy, and loving Paris.

You know what I am talking about? No not the things I knit from (though some of those would be nice... ). Those stupid things we humans do daily to keep up appearances and hopefully some sanity. They range from simple (like brushing your teeth) to complex ones. The things I am utter shite at in my life. Oh yes- those things.

Well it is time to buck up and pay the master- a new week started and I could, just could try to start up some patterns in my life. Couldn’t be anything more than an improvement really? It would be a good addition and I know I should. But how... one foot in front of the other you say.

Would be easy but if you haven’t figured it out yet- I am a complete ball of contradictions. I am one of the most motivated people you will ever meet, and I can also be the damn laziest too. My thing is that I work better with external pressure/expectations. Yes the irony abounds. Once I have hit lazy the path back to motivated is a BITCH.

I have a list of patterns I would love to incorporate in my life. They are mostly simple ones. Because as I will repeat till I am blue in the face; The Buggers are in the Details. And the simple patterns are the details. Besides which I need that growing effect. The building block method I call it- start with a handful of small ones at the bottom and work your way up to the big ones.

I have actually done one set of patterns for week. I am quite proud of myself. It is a silly stupid one so I don’t want to say what it is. But this week I am going to have to try and put some other ones in too. That’s no fun...

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Be Warned My Indian Name is: Running with Knives
When I get really irritated I give people "Indian Names."I used to do this when I taught children’s swim lessons. Hey Adrian- Watch it or I am going to have to give you an Indian name. Yup I think your Indian name is going to be "Can’t Bend Elbows," that or "Kicks With Bent Knees." They thought it was a hoot, and loved me. I threw them like they were "cannonball" shot puts and had an impressive following of 6 year olds, who learned how to swim and giggle, and their parents too.

As I sat through lecture that ran late today. And I must interrupt my own tirade by saying it was by over 20 minutes. Just because you promptness freak were 10 minutes late doesn’t mean you run the class over by more than 20. So I started in with this habit again. My professor’s Indian Name became "Talks shit a lot." Literally I wrote blah, blah, blah in my notes; it was that bad.

The best bit of this though was the reminder to me and accompanying smiles. One of my friends and I used to do this in emails to each other. I preface this with the fact that I ADORE James- The Navy Man. The boy can consistently make me laugh- you know the three days later and my stomach still hurts kind of laughs, and that is my biggest turn on. He has an utterly raunchy sense of humor (only one of the reasons I worship him), with a gallant bit hiding underneath.

This is the same man whose chat up line the first time he met me at the pool (where we both worked) went as follows: he walks up wearing his Speedo; I say hi and introduce myself. He tells me his name and 3 seconds later says "stop looking at my penis." Seriously. I didn’t know what to do except in every sentence I said back to him use the word penis, just to prove I wasn’t uncomfortable by it.

Seems he decided I was ok (even though I wear golf plaid pajama pants). It was James who christened me with my eternal Indian Name. Girl who Runs With Knives (alternatively scissors). You have been warned.

Sweet ‘n Low, Sweet ‘n Chari… Vomit:
There is a reason I don’t drink diet sodas. First of all I don’t drink soda. Secondly I don’t do diet foods- I think they are stupid, and in most cases less healthy than the real shit (quantity people!!). But the real reason is taste. I may be a food for fuel person but I have a particular relationship with food and taste. I find that shit so hideous it is beyond repulsive. Saccharine has NO place in my life.

And saccharine sweet people who just want things from you drive me bonkers. Don’t talk to me like you care what is going on in my life and want what is best for me, after you have done a smear campaign on me. I am not dumb for Buddha’s sake. Just because you don’t keep your word doesn’t immediately mean I don’t keep mine. Being nice to me when you do not genuinely mean it only irritates me.

I get tired so quickly having to tip-toe around people. You know the people who know enough bits but not the connectors. The kinds that really and honestly act one way and say they are another. Be who ever you are. You don’t have to pretend like you like me if you don’t. I am not going to cry. But for the love of god turn off the saccharine. That or prepare for projectile vomit.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Disenfranchised Voters:
I have had this argument three different times, in three different languages in the past month. So I am going to state my position clearly and concisely on it. I vote because I have a political system which affords me a voice. I am responsible to that system (not the other way around). I vote because I want to bitch and do so at the top of my lungs. If you don’t vote you have no right to bitch. So I vote to ensure all of my rights.

Also if you don’t vote for a person (nullified vote) to me, that is tantamount to not voting at all. Nice to make a "protest." However in the end, you are part of the problem not the solution. People who scream about what is wrong, swearing they want to fix it; but are not personally willing to do more than regal the woes of their situation- annoy the living bejezus out of me. Almost as much as those who try to "educate" me on the things I actually DO for a living or where I come from when they have never been there.

These people often argue so few of eligible voters actually vote. We should focus on caring why those who didn’t vote didn’t. Ok you could spend some time there, but here is one bit on that. These people who don’t vote often justify their actions with the comments that "my vote doesn’t matter" "I can’t change anything." Part of that whole "Woe is me I am a martyr" temperament I simply cannot abide.

You are not disenfranchised. Sorry guys and gals, I am not buying that swampland. If there is only 40% voting and 60% "disenfranchised," well that 60% are not marginalized. In fact they have a whole lot of fucking power! If instead of having your pity party you went and voted you could actually (not theoretically) flip the whole system on its head. That you choose to ignore that power means I have little respect for you or your opinion.

The US has an election this year. Were I in the states I would be working to register people to vote like I have for the past 8 years, doing bi-lingual door-to-door explanations of voting issues, and either be the annoying bitch on the phone reminding you to vote, or surrounded by the geriatric ward giving you your voting ballot. That is me doing my part to better the system (which of course has it flaws). It is also me with my fundamental belief. I love to bitch, but I need to be doing something about it too.

Please stand up- register, and actually use your voice. Don’t let stupid things (like the electoral college, or the single party member system) get in your way. You are powerful! And if you don’t, please don’t expect any pity.

Holy fuck.
Last evening’s television, while I was cooking dinner for me and Maryam, has to be the most freaked out shit I have seen in at least three weeks (the last being subjected to watching Helmut Lotti). It really defies description, but for you special people I will try. There was a show from what I could make of it was a presenter (who does share a resemblance with Helmut Lotti) and handful of celebrities playing some kind of trivia game that has both the celebrities and the contestants as the participants.

The weird bit was when the Helmut Lotti-esque presenter started playing a guitar and singing four songs for the contestant to identify. Two in French which didn’t sound near as odd as the English ones. So this man in a VERY strange voice started singing John Lennon’s Imagine (with some really off key OOOHOOOOO’s and the audience waving arms behind them- where were the candles people??) and then the best. With a wacked out French accent, yes my friends I was "Welcome to the Hotel California. "

When you move to another country there are different things that keep you some what removed from the locals, until you have lived here much longer than I will be in France on this occassion. Television is one of those. It is an aide for my French (French not related to political science), and lately a serious source of humor. I really just don’t know what to make of it or do with it. Besides say Holy Fuck. That and get out of the apartment heading myself in the direction of a book store.

NAI Hellas:
I wandered through the 5th arrondissement checking out the neighborhood last night after dinner. I was amazed at the amount of Greek restaurants I have around me. Not a bad thing I love Greek food. There are lots of Middle Eastern places too, but I seemed to find a string of Greek ones down each alleyway I roamed. They even seemed kind of real with the leering Greek guy trying to "harpoon" you. But you you can tell the fake ones pretty quick.

Here is my two pronged test;
1. If there are a shit load of broken plates- at the door. The Greeks love to OPA and smash a plate as much as the next. But they break plates to celebrate, not convince you to come in and eat.

2. If they have Saganaki. Saganaki is a Greek "specialty." Acutally it is available all the time but its my favorite. Give me some pita, keftades (Greek version of meatballs) and my Saganaki and I am in seventh heaven. Saganaki combines two of my favorite things cheese and fire. Cheese is great, flaming cheese EVEN BETTER! Now in the states they light the cheese on fire at the table (and everyone yells Opa!). In Greece they do that in the back and bring it out to you. Either way haven’t been to many Greek restaurants that don’t serve it. If you don’t have it I am not coming in.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Money Sees Me and Runs:
I used to be good with finances. Then I began life as an impoverished graduate student ( an over-dramatization but money is bleeding out and not coming in- you get the picture). Ironically I am in one of my more materialistic periods in history. I want, I want, I want has been a persistent theme; and it flies, it flies, it flies a trend. Today it expands to my blog, now to the big circle.

I decided I like blogging. Though, I want to change the style and approach. I want to make this blog interesting and mine. Not use the blog as a complete venting outlet or daily journal/diary. Instead doing commentaries on perceptions, maybe linking more.

When I started I was trying to avoid writing update emails. Anyways, I was sure no one would be interested. Three months later I put it up on Blogger and those who knew me went and looked. One of them told me a few "must do’s," as a result I ended up with comments and a guest map, both relatively unused. A few months later a person or two blog rolled me. And a few days ago in my quest to be popular, I listed with Blogspotting.

I am now looking around saying: hmmm I want my blog to reflect me. It needs to have a different design, as well as bring in different topics. Slowly but surely I have changed blogger templates, adding bits to the side bar; a wish list today, a blog roll that is being tempermental, I have even created the 101+ things about me for when I have somewhere to put it. I am thinking of signing up for blog-rings, and have been commenting on blogs I like. I am also looking into moving to a website of my own- can we say pictures... (when I get my bloody camera)

In general, I am in absolute awe of creative people. I want to be one of you. My creativity was stifled when I was little- I had to be the precocious 5 year old adult. Those instincts are being slowly developed and nurtured now. I can’t always be creative, however I can tell you when I see something I find creative and like.

These people Blog Moxie not only have it, they have it in spades. Even better people always tell me I am full of moxie. I love not only their design abilities (can you see how utterly green I am) but the name! Mac introduced me to them. Not only could she be me in some ways (beyond knitting and über-left tendencies, she would know what a full up 2-2-1 is; you have to be a part of the "special cult" to know that). She really is awesome. Her site/blog grabs me every time, and it sucks me right in. I can’t compliment her enough except to say: I want a site like that.

The money part- I might be random but I always circle back to my initial point. I want I want I want... I think I want to go shopping at Blog Moxie. I am thinking I might have to start saving my pennies that or see about borrowing an idea...

Obsessed with Socks:
Not only have I tested the fashionista waters by trying out new socks. No, I was not content to leave it there. Turns out I am obsessed with knitting smaller projects. I love the sense of satisfaction from being done, with something to show for it. And contrary to some opinions, I am not patient. This is why I adore making kiddie items or things like scarves, hats, and particularly socks. And I have been on a sock knitting binge lately.

The self patterning yarns I brought with me from home (Opal is my favorite, with Regia in second) are so much fun, and unfortunately about to run out (working on my last pair of Green Crocodile or Camouflage as Len called it, socks). Note to self time to check out the Parisian yarn options. I usually give the socks away when I am done, keeping my favorite pairs for myself.

But I think I want to have a Scandinavian tradition in my home. Scandinavians knit all winter long, lots of the time socks. Not because the washing machine ate them (though both yarns I listed are washing machine safe) but because when you enter a Nordic house you immediately remove your shoes. And they provide you a pair of socks to help keep warm. I like that thought- Warm, cozy, and knitting with a purpose.

Fourteen Armed French Cavalry Men to the Rescue:
Not only does it seem I live up the hill from the hot fire-men (the ones who look like they are older that 19 that is). However, I was awoken this morning to a sound that I hadn’t heard in a long time. The clackity-clack of horse hoofs. I figured I was having some kind of delusionary dream so I ignored it. But it continued. I get up and go to the window in my jammies and what do I see?? Seems I have the 14 strong French Cavalry going up my street. Men in uniforms what is it? Even when they have thos stupid de Gaulle frenchie hats on??

Yummy, Yummy Hot Chocolate:
Yesterday was a lazy day, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Slept in luxuriously till noon. I don’t normally do that. But since there was no class I let myself off the hook. I pattered around the apartment cleaning up a bit, finishing up a sock (yippee the pair of kiddie socks going in the mail!), and randomly getting ready. I ran to make a quick email check. Was kind of funny, yesterday I hadn’t a clue who the hell La Rouche was; today I saw his “people” all over. Learn and ye shall see. Amazing to me anyways politico I am, what perceptions are in other countries of issues in US politics.

But the girls and I met up for a coffee date this afternoon. The coffee place was wonderful, and we are thinking of making it a weekly habit. I ordered a chocolat chaud ancienne. It was AMAZING. If you ever get the chance guzzle it by the gallons. Basically they give you a cup of steamed milk and a small bowl with creamy chocolate (think pudding consistency) and you mix the two together to your taste. MMMMMMMMM!!!!!! With a lemon tartlette I was in 7th heaven.

Julia and I brought the rest of the troops up to date on our adventure in propaganda last night. Julia complimented me one for doing the discussion in French. HA, like anyone understood and also for putting up with the kid. Well he wasn’t offensive just misguided and off topic.

Julia is adorable and hysterical but she has even less grey in her life than I do- and that says a lot. It seems she was quite agitated by them. She told me she was impressed with me and my patience. Ok I am not a patient person people. I am the epitome of impatience actually. Tolerant maybe but that’s not the same thing. Maryam however concurred telling me she thought I was commendable in my dealings and the amount of respect I accorded people (like Michael and Jen) who didn’t reciprocate nor were deserving. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I was accosted:
I went to a presentation last night between an academic and an old former French ambassador. It was about the UN and Multilateralism. The professor was from Columbia and quite interesting, the 70+ Ambassador mumbled astonishingly well.

Afterwards Julia and I went up to try and ask the professor a few questions after the presentation. I was swarmed. So some kids who thought they knew it all , decided since I asked a question in the forum they wanted to try and well I don’t know. While we waited for the next 20 minutes I proceeded in French to have political discussion with him about American politics.

Now this wouldn’t be bad but the talk well. It was comical at points. First they were AVID La Rouche supporters. Before tonight I didn’t know who he was. Which was only a minor flaw in their belief he was not only the leading innovator of the Democratic Party but also a leading candidate (didn’t John Kerry just win a caucus??). You know he is a visionary and revolutionary like Roosevelt- ummm what??

No it gets better- who says it’s just right wing nuts who are funny?? I tried to tell him I am active in the democratic party, I was part of college democratic movements. That and working on political campaigns and being a political scientist means I have my finger near the pulse… and I had no clue who the fuck this guy was. So what hope was there?? Oh tons!

He persisted and since I was waiting anyways went with it. He kept telling me about the ills of the US political system (I dont think it's perfect by any means) and how we need to search for the realities and truths of the American system. These truths could be found by anyone any where- you know they are like gravity (not influenced by things like culture or perception).

Sounds good to some till I try to explain that most Americans, as embarrassing as it is to me, don’t care about any of that. Well he has a solution for that too- just you imagine. He says that there is this world wide movement to reach out to the youths. He and his La Rouche supporters were going to find the truth and bring it to the system and the youth to revolutionize the US. Just what some Yank teen wants, a pompous French boy telling him what is wrong and how to fix it. I can see the head lines now "Fuck off Frenchie." And I love the French.

We then got into political issues surrounding a presidential campaign. I explained since it is a domestic election, right or wrong, American’s presidents and candidates run their platforms primarily on domestic issues. Imagine that. He said that they shouldn’t because the US is a hyper-power. Yes many Americans do not mind the title and do not find it to be a pejorative term either, but come on. As much as I love foreign policy- lets get real; domestic policy runs a domestic election. That whole domestic word is why.

He was really deluded, at this point he still thinks though that he can convert me and hands me some pamphlet they suggest a $5 donation for- not out of my pocket! I skimmed it a bit at home. Part of this truth it seems is all about how Dick Cheney is the anti-christ (well ok I don’t like him but that is a bit far and somewhat flattering) and he is running everything. No my friend, it is Karl Rove who has his fist up the Ass of the Bush puppet. Even better George Soros (who while not sterling of character, is willing to spend his last penny to get Bush out of office, so he can have my penny too) is a drug trafficker.

This shit is comedy galore. Really you cant make this up, even if you tried. I mean he has all new interpretations of the Inquisition and how it relates to our administration. I giggled all the way to bed. After dealing with my camera situation I needed that.

I am SO annoyed:
I supposedly will get a camera. Right, believe it when I see it. Turns customer service didn’t bother to read the email I wrote and decided to cancel my order. Once that happened there was nothing they would do except wave my shipping and handling- with in the states. Not even the equivalent of one third of my rebate I lost, not to mention the costs of having to call internationally. A shaynem dank dir im pupik.

So I lost my rebate, all for something that 1. Wasn’t an issue- they would have shipped to an address besides the billing address, 2. Was their fuck up- they had the accurate billing address and I didn’t tell them to cancel the order. FUCKERS! And fuckers in Yiddish too. I am becoming stingy living in Europe.

I replaced the order with them still as they have one of the lowest prices and with shipping and handling waved it was the best financial deal I was going to get. But I can tell you B&H Photo will NOT be getting my business again. You fuck up, you offer to give me the same break down I lost plus the free shipping and handling- then you keep my business and don’t get me smearing shit about you.

So according to Henry I am going to be charged twice because of the overlaps of them refunding me my money for the first order and placing my second order. Let me tell you if it’s not kosher by the end of the month- my jihad on them will be the least of his worries. You do not want to see me pissed. My Mom she’s got Sephardic Jewish genes- I’ll throw it at you faster than the monkey who is trying to land his shit in your hair.

It will probably be at my friend's who is going to forward the goodie box to me, on Monday. Give till Wednesday before she ships out again to me via the global post and I will see my camera some time in the next century. I’d hoped to have it before the end of the month. More waiting, now I am praying to get it before the middle of February. I am NOT a patient person. This does not make me happy.

Doesn’t make me feel any better I made an ass of myself making the calls today either. I have to use phone booths to make calls on calling cards (which are a rip off!). Most phone booths in Paris are all glass. I being brilliant do not walk into the walls, I don’t push the door the wrong way. No no I do way better.

I open the door walk in, dial the phone and as I am on hold with the Mamzer company I realize why the other man looked at me like I was a twat. I was in a three phone booth pod. SO I share two walls with the others and on that is a door with the other being out to the street. I open the door and walk in going right past the fact that the glass for the door on the street- the one I was facing. Yeah it was completely smashed in. No wonder there was lots of noise.

God I am brilliant.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Argyle Socks:

Who would have thought I would be wearing them, let alone have two pairs. Not to mention that 1. I was the one who bought them; and 2. I am trying to wear them fashionably. They remind me of Mr. Rodgers for Pete’s Sake. Actually to be fair I am turning into Mr. Rodgers. I could knit myself one of his bloody sweaters and seal the deal. Actually maybe instead of buying any more I should get some yarn (the self patterning kind- what do you think I am a sadist??) and knit me some....

In my attempts to learn how to accessorize I went for socks. They are cheaper to experiment with than shoes, jewelry or most anything else. See for some odd reason I have had this burning desire for the past few months to try and be fashionable. Yes me the student who went to classes wearing overalls and sweatsuits. It has been an interesting experiment

And I have two pairs of Argyle socks. Who would have thunk it?

GOD I Want My Camera:
I am not eating peanut butter and I am calling for a jihad on Bank of America. While I am at it B&H Photo too. I have been going through hell with my bank on a lot of things for weeks, all over this purchase. Reminds me why this account laid dormant for 5+ years... and why short of my online bill paying while abroad, it will continue to lay dormant. I want my credit union back. Seems they don’t understand me requesting things and expecting them to respond like they have paid attention to my requests would be a joke. That and they can’t seem to do what they say they have done. Why is it companies dont read what you write and are asking them??

But why I am ranting you ask? Well there is this small issue. See my digital camera was stolen. I love taking pictures and I am really starting to get interested in photography (the composition part). Now I was bitter about my camera being stolen, so I waited to replace it till the last second before I left for Europe- yeah that place I would want to take pictures in again. Of course you say, but that makes complete sense.

That is right, do it when everything will go wrong. Well it did. And now my camera is in limbo. The purchase went on hold because my bank who said they had changed my address hadn’t- so my info didn’t jibe. Then for some reason they processed the charges- which ok should guarantee my rebate- but doesn’t guarantee them shipping my camera. And well they aren’t prompt about responding.

I have been stubborn and tried to deal with all of this on email (are you seeing a trend yet??), which honestly hasn’t worked so far. They aren’t good about responding to their email. I am going to have to cave and make calls. That is not making me smile. Smiling even less because I bought from a religious company it seems. They close EARLY on Friday and don’t work on the Jewish Sabbath. Of course the day I wanted to call, the day the deal on a rebate runs out. And Monday wit is a holiday in the US. Yes Dr. King I do believe you should have your own day- but hello could you tell this company to pick up their phone?

This company was supposed to have great customer service. It is shite. I am having one hell of a time and this is no fun. They send ,e an email today saying that they are cancelled my order, and I requested that. I most certainly did not!!!! DID NOT DID NOT DID NOT!!!!! All I want the twats to do is process my order from the original order with the original purchase date- they do that I get my rebate. It is simple.

Now I have to go out in the rain again because they cant dial their phone appropriately and they do not answer emails. I am loving them something serious Allah. God, I hope I get my rebate. If not they are gonna get it!

Monday, January 19, 2004

I have spent the past couple of days trying to wrap myself around the concept of resolutions. They are on everyone's mind at this time of year; but by now most people have broken them all and promised to do better next year. I reckon this feeling exists because we are always looking for times to call a renewal to ourselves. There is a new lease on life and you should take advantage of it.

Normally I don’t respond to that. Sounds callous but I usually am like look its a new year, and my mind does not go much further. I usually give my vapid sheep, blank stare look when people ask "What are your resolutions?" every day and twice on Sunday for the first month of the year. Honestly since grade school where we had to write them out for the class wall hanging of the month I haven’t done them.

Oddly enough though, something about this year is calling out to me specifically about resolutions. And the pitch is quite high. I never really have been able to bring myself to them though. They just don’t work for me in most circumstances. The challenge I posed since the New Year to myself was to create a way to make them work for me.

So I had this random thought which made sense to me- that is the first scary step of this whole process. I simply don’t buy into the I am going to write it on a piece of paper, stick it on the fridge and it will happen type of approach- though having the check list does help me. Nor am I really into the "I will lose 5kg this year" types of generic resolutions either.

I want to be unique, I want to be creative, but mostly I don't want to be that fecking dull. Most people who do that never stick to them anyways. They are abandoned somewhere between the path to the freezer for some deprivation induced ice-cream binge and about January 21st. Maybe that is why I don't do them, I don't enjoy doing things half-assed and that is how they always seem to me. But I want to make them work for some unexplainable reason this year and I am stubborn. So we persevere.

What would a resolution then need to work for demented little me?? Yes they have to have a quantifiable nature to them and yes they have to have an end goal of sorts, probably will work best if I can chop it into small bits to do bit by bit. But that doesn’t help with formulating the damn things.

Then a light bulb burst over my head. Ding Ding Ding. Maybe if I took words, I believe words have a special power in our lives, instead of "resolutions" maybe I might be onto something. I am referring to actual active words and verbs, you know the kind of provocative things that make those rusty gears in the dead space machine up in the attic work.

So if I came up with twelve of them (one for each month) and made it an unobtrusive theme of sorts for myself that might just work. Words I could integrate into my life, not just spout about. There has to be a level of accountability and by putting them up into the cyberspace I would have created a level of that for myself.

It wouldn’t be something that would pervade, maybe just a box for me to put thoughts, actions and serve as a reminder to me and that anyone else can comment on. I don’t know how I haven’t gotten that far- just work with me people.

Anyways I thought that might be a better way for me to approach it. Don’t know if I will do it. Not only are drastic changes abounding around me but coming up with twelve words like that isn’t as easy as you might think- since I would be taking this seriously you know. But as it is a time of "rebirth" I think I might just give it a try.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Ever have those days where you want to be anyone but yourself. Where you feel like you are prepared for nothing in life. Everything looks better in their life, they might know what to do. I know it never is but you look and well you want to be them anyways. Yup I was having one of those days. Had a run in with a “family” member the night before when I was trying to do something innocent that left me battered and bruised. When I left this morning for brunch with the girls, I wanted to be ANYONE but me. The pretty girl on the Metro with her boyfriend, the interesting woman at the market- anyone, anywhere.

Thank god for the girls giving me a reminder that being me isn’t always that bad. We had a brunch that lasted until 9:45 pm ending with a walk to find an Indian food restaurant. Maryam is the sweetest thing around- and it turns out she has a devilish side to her :) I like that. Julia is kind of the same way. And Lauren who I was sure didn’t like me at all, turns out to be quite ok with me. We had many many laughs, I needed that.

We did the bitchy girl thing and talked about one of the girls from the program. Well is it really bitchy when you are telling the truth? Anyways we had a session about Jen. Turns out she is even more immature than I could have ever thought and really is complete white trash. Not only is she transparent and well out of reality, but it turns out she is really pathetic. I mean not only using others who were your “friends” and talking shit about them, but low level stuff.

The girl when we were in DC actually took everything in the room that wasnt nailed down. And I mean everything- she actually took the roll of toilet paper from the hotel. No that is not made up- you’d think her parents would have raised her better. Instead she swears they raised her to know the value of a buck. Dear god the white trash has no dignity or pride or for that matter class.

Here I was thinking Maryam and Julia actually liked her. Nope they were fucking with her mind the whole time. Turns out no one really liked her. They put up with her. Turns out when you talk shit about everyone in a small group it gets back to them and well no one takes kindly to it. Nor do they take kindly to you bossing people around, playing childish secret games (we have this special group… don’t tell anyone they might feel hurt we didn’t invite them- what the fuck am I in kindergarten?) Jen takes juvenile and immature to new levels, levels I don’t think I could ever attain, and some days my inner three year old reigns. She is just unbelievable.

Was an absolutely wonderful day though. We laughed, we talked, we walked and we ate. Time flew with out any of us knowing that it was gone. We had a bonding day :)Next thing I knew I was home and crashed.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

By my boot please:
Now I know I am a bit late on this topic (damn internet connections etc) but really I cant resist commenting on this. Dumbya fancies himself JFK. He is thinking that if he sends a man to the Mars that we will all be patriotic and circle round him. I haven’t seen anyone so in need of a powwow circle to play round up with, as him.

Honestly, I am not patriotic to start and well a man on Mars isn’t going to give me pride in my country either. Not unless they find the cures for AIDS and cancer up there. Would be better to do things like oh… medically cover children and the aged- you know really vulnerable people. Balance our budget and pay off some of the deficit would be good too. Or maybe help students with education costs (both in better secondary schools, but also in containing higher education costs). That might move my vote a bit. But that isn’t sexy.

Honestly, to make that comparison to a man with actual intelligence, charisma and family (Kennedy) to an idiot with family (Bush). It’s a BIG LONG s t r e t c h. I mean come on have you ever seen a less sexually attractive or more repressed president? Even his wife doesn’t look interested in him. Well I guess you could find a few from some of the mid 1800’s pictures but let’s keep to recent history (last 50 years).

I didn’t think you could, it’s not possible. Barbara at least looked interested in Daddy and Regan is a close second but if you look at his movie days he is ok looking. Bush doesn’t have an ok looking day. No one wants to screw him, everyone wanted to screw JFK. Only one of the major differences between the two- no matter what some idiot republican neo-con tells you.

But you know what I think, I would pay higher taxes if it meant Dumbya going to Mars could be done alla the boot of my shit-kickers sending him there. This man spends money like it is monopoly money. For the love of God, my religious prat. I am not even touching his foreign policy- lets just talk domestic.

Someone has to pay for his big government (which by the way is the thing Republicans scream at Democrats about- its bigger and you have all the power twats!) And it isn’t going to be his kids it’s going to be mine, if I ever take them to the US (the ones I haven’t sold to the French that is). In actuality if he is re-elected (which I am desolate about but is a firm possibility), it will be my grand children or great grand children paying through the nose for it.

I think that we should have some kind of direct election referendum (hey it worked for republicans to get them Schwarzzeneger) that lets us choose how and who we send to Mars. I vote for Dumbya and and by my boot. Either that or as Robin Williams said by the same idiots who did the first Mars Lander- where they did the calculation in yards and then put the numbers into a machine that read in meters. Buried the fucker.

Friday, January 16, 2004

It is entirely your fault Len. That is right all yours buddy. I am in a finger pointing mood and I am blaming you :P Go and make comments thinking they have no repercussions- HA think again. There I was all content reading my wonderful book over and over again when the nice old fool had to go and tell me I MUST get another book.

So what do I the blind lemmer do? I jump off the cliff like the good man told me. With nothing to do on a Friday night I went wandering the town. And where do you think I eventually stumbled to? A book store, and for the same price as about 3 drinks at most bars in my neighborhood (where I would have to try and be sociable, figuring out that chatting guys up bit) I went to Shakespeare and Company and bought me some dead trees. It is a historical bookstore in Paris. And while not Barnes and Noble; it is better, in its own bohemian way as it has a great quirky character- and I love character.

Unfortunately there was no Proust of interest available in any language (only Swann’s Way). So after much bantering back and forth about Simone de Beauvoir and John-Paul Sartre I purchased a Hemmingway book about his life in Paris- A Moveable Feast (well he did live around the corner from me) and just to make you proud Len- I bought a book on a Scotswoman. Mary Queen of Scots that is… good thing the bloody expensive book (would have cost me 50% less in the states) has 691 pages.

Well I had to find something I was peer pressure told to. It’s all his fault. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Going to have to try and guilt people into buying and shipping me books at this rate- they aren’t cheap here. That and I am going through my dried cranberries faster than anticipated. I am not good at winter rationing it seems. Now I can’t afford to get a café au lait at Starbucks here in Paris. Wait a minute great segue- one problem I don’t drink coffee… oh well.

Starbucks in Paris....
I like Starbucks as much as the next person, at least the person who coffee puts to sleep. And I don’t necessarily think that capitalism and the spread of Starbucks are the end all be all evil scourges of the world. Don’t even think of trying to take my bed-wetting liberal/socialist card from me- I can prove its mine.

But to be honest I think they should stay where they are at- in the US. Having them everywhere in the states isn’t bad. I come from the home of Starbucks. I used to go down to my local one on weekend mornings for milk, hot chocolate, cider, juice or chai with a pastry and read the news. Very relaxing, very nice.

But I am in Paris. Paris has a coffee culture that is way beyond Starbucks. And I like that. Repeat after me it is different, different is GOOD. I like the system here. I don’t really want Starbucks here, it doesn’t fit. I can do the same thing with a local ambiance, which to be honest is quite cool.

I know that there is a decent part of the European scene that wants to be more American (oh yes McD’s is THE place to be). But I like Europe and I don’t want it to be Americanized. I like it being European and I want it to stay European, not some mutated hybrid version of what it was. That is part of the reason I am not in some random US city where there is a Starbucks on every corner.

Now I know since I don’t drink coffee at all (no kidding 7 sips of a latte and I am out cold- for hours), I really shouldn’t say much, but I am going to. I like the culture even though I don’t par take in the product, so I am going to spew my opinion like it or not.

They are opening something like 5 here in Paris according to the news. Now if it were just going to be that, some novelty, then I wouldn’t think much of it. But I know better- there is a BIG marketing and expansion plan behind that small face they are starting with.

I am sure they will do what they have elsewhere in Europe (which keeps them from shutting the suckers back down) by trying to assimilate enough to make it seem somewhat French but with other viable options. Doing something silly, like keeping the waiters. This keeps the appearance on the front of it, but it’s not the reality.

Superficial things only do so much. You can’t mask a Starbucks no matter how much you try- it isn’t French and we are in France. What next Krispy Kreme? The horrors! I know you hate me already. Blasphemy you say. Well, sorry I don’t see the big deal they don’t taste any different than the cheapies from Safeway. They are however sub-par to a Parisian beignet or crepes. And from what all my friends tell me Starbucks is sub-par to Parisian coffee.

While I am not always sure where I am from (torn between two worlds- as I do not exactly feel either American or European), living in Europe again I am finding some things called “American” hysterical. I may not always be proud to call myself American but I think I am at least American enough to know what is and is not American.

I went to the grocery store today. Doesn’t matter where, I am always amazed by them. I love to wander and see what is available. I even love to try out things I am not sure what are- which is not normal for me in general. When I get to a new country I can spend hours in the grocery store, looking at all the options and figuring out what things are.

So I wandered the grocery store and stumbled on today’s blog entry- foods called “American.” When you live away from home unless you are in a large expat community or on a military base there are many tastes from home that often cannot be replicated. Or if they can it is at the peril of your pocket book. Sometimes things are hard to find (cheddar or monterrey jack cheese for example- this in the land of 456 official cheeses), and you have to try substitutions.

This isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes substitutions are better than the original. Every time I move abroad I bring some foods from home or con someone into sending them (hidden valley ranch dip and dried cranberries) in case of homesickness. I get to try new things (tzaziki potato chips) and make new favorites (Bringbaer Bix). There is also a large category of food which falls into the mis-nomered category.

Now in Belgium they have a sandwich made of raw ground beef. This is called an American, though I know of no American who would make that to eat for themselves. Some might try but it isn’t served anywhere I have been. In the seafood section today at Champion I saw Calamari Americain- that was raw (not breaded or fried) calamari, swimming in a tomato sauce. Most restaurants in the states serve this the Italian and Greek way- fried with sauces on the side. However, if it is marinated (considered quite posh) its usually in an oil or vinaigrette of sorts.

And as I thought I had filled up on enough of the weird things people want to say are American. Or like the 3-D Bugles I tried today thinking they might be like bugles from home (they kind of are), I turned on the TV for background noise. Just as I started writing one more flew right at me. A commercial for the French equivalent of white bread.

This is that non-nutritional stuff kids like to have sandwiches made of, with the crusts cut off please. But instead this commercial had an adult with his toddler driving him crazy and then cuts to him eating a sandwich American. American this time that is a piece of white bread with mayonnaise (or some white spread) as an open-face sandwich. While some Americans might eat a sandwich with cream cheese and white bread, I doubt you could call this an American sandwich, and even if you did it would have two pieces. White bread with the cheese spotted ham or some other over-processed product maybe. Mayonnaise only, nope- thinking not.

This was followed by a commercial for feminine hygiene products that I did a double-take thinking they were marketing it by saying it was vanilla. God I love living abroad.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

I hate hypocritical people, I hate hypocrisy, and to be honest I don’t hate many things. I hate it just about as much as I hate passive aggressive behaviors. I am passionate, I am opinionated, but at the end of the day I am pretty damn tolerant. Those extreme emotions like hate and pity are reserved expressions in my life. Emotions are a many and powerful thing. Their definitions are often confused. Annoyed with dislike, with angered by, with hate etc. If you hate everything it reduces the meaning of the word, dilutes the emotion if you will. Call me the typical woman with my degrees of definition if you want. To me it is a powerful emotion, so I limit my use of it.

For those of you wondering where all this is coming from… I am having a delayed reaction. Something today reminded me of an event I kind of bottled up when it happened as short while ago. I didn’t want it to be what it was- disengenuity and hypocrisy. But it was and as much as I dont want to say it. Well, I fucking hate it! I hate hypocritical and passive agressive assplows. And why should I not say it?

Life isn’t all black and white; I am the first to acknowledge that. As a matter of fact life is complex with lots of grey, but there are simple bits of it for me. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Use the corresponding emotion with the corresponding face. And please only one face. As grandma said- two of them only make you Twice as Ugly! Do not hold it against me when I take you at your word or *gasp* do what you ask of me. I do not read minds; I have powers, that is not one of them. If you knew things in advance and you chose not to speak up that is NOT my fucking problem.

I have had this happen three times recently. Which made me think at first- what was it about me that was causing this to happen; what lesson did I need to learn? Then I realized it wasn’t me; it was them. Seemed a bit irresponsible to point fingers, went completely against my nature. But then I took a good look at it and well that was the case. Seems I needed to be reminded that no matter what some other insecure person wants to try and push me around with, there is a boundary and I am not about to let anyone storm through it. Also reminded me where I need to place my attention- on my connections with those who matter, into my passions and putting how I choose to live my life on track.

I am a literal person, I do not have a poker face, and I am not sly and deceiving. I am naïve sometimes and I take people at what they say. Yes I’ll tell you if anything is a problem, good cause so will I. Come to me directly or if you’d rather complain and spread rumors of half bullshit, just don’t expect me to give a flying rats ass. You don’t tell me there is a problem, then there is no problem. At least not one I am going to concern myself with. If you are hypocritical that is a problem and I am telling you that! If you are passive aggressive I have no need for you. Or any of your bitching… it’s your bloody fault for not speaking up when something could be done. If you get fucked over your problem not mine. I am a sympathetic person but you have to deserve or earn it- hypocritical passive agressive people haven’t earned it and they sure as hell don’t deserve it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Pop another baby out for Darty- I have a cell phone! Only a landline and internet left. It is all amazing. Life has this odd way of looking immense and impossible and then coming together against what seem to be gigantic odds. I had a library orientation, where we were supposed to get a card but instead only got a magnetic card that lets us in the library. And while the listening to the hour and a half presentation took near everything out of me I now know where to look for some books, and the odd way they organize books. I must say it is quite a nice library. Impressive, at least aesthetically as to the composition of its contents talk to me once I get to the research phase.

Speaking about books….I have been reading the same book over and over for the past two weeks. I know you say but you are in Paris what are you doing reading books? Well after the stresses of the past week and a half it is quite comforting to go home to my apartment, not have to deal with petty people, cook myself dinner and curl up with a good book. I occasionally watch a DVD, the nightly French television, or even like I did tonight a ballet workout, but I love reading my book. Probably sometime next week I will start heading out to the cafes etc. But for right now I am luxuriating in the ability to lie down, read a book and relax.

As for my book, well I know it sounds repetitive to read it over and over every couple of days but it is one of those books I find to be so well written and relevant to my life. I honestly don’t notice anything repetitive- something new always resonates with me each time. Not to mention I am a voracious reader and I the idiot didn’t bring many books with me in my luggage. Guess I will find a bookstore to go and look available in shortly. But my current book is one of those books that resides on my special bible books shelf. The kind I subconsciously grab when things are a bit crazy in my life or have gone wrong. It never fails to bring me back reality, to a more stable sense of self and sanity (what little I have). I guess reading it over and over now is anchoring me at a time of a few sways and waves.

Since I am hearing the resonant demands of well fine wax on about the book but what book is it?? I shall tell you. My bible book for repetitive reading is Rules for the Unruly: Living an Unconventional Life –by Marion Winik. It is this great 186 page read that goes so fast I find myself starting over again. I can’t even begin to describe the impact this book has on me. The wisdom and joy are empowering. I don’t like the idea of living a traditionally bound life, but I want many traditional things in life. This book weaves things together absolutely brilliantly. It speaks to me and it always reassures me and gives me hope. It is clear, it is practical, it is fun, and it makes complete sense. It is a book I aspire to and incorporate into my life.

And I guess today I wanted to share because I had a lovely night at home, knitting to classical music, stretching and dancing, cooking dinner, and then reading my bible book curled up on my futon. Call me what ever you want. I am sleeping contented tonight.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Sorry for being MIA most of this week. Internet access has been spotty and well my life has take over completely with out asking me a damn thing about it :) I kept entries on each day so I am going to upload them. I should be better this week about posting and since I have a computer plug adapter now I will work on updating the site etc and creating some new code for this blog- maybe even moving it to its own site. So keep tuned.

Everyone seems to have fantasies about my life. I am a jetsetter, living like a modista… Many friends are jealous and say so quite honestly. I appreciate their honesty but I ask myself- “You are envious of THIS??” In theory everything sounds great. It is an exciting path and I will have wonderful memories of my time. However daily realities are quite mundane. Not glamorous at all and well all together a pain in my derriere at times.

Being a graduate student is not a glitzy lifestyle. It is worth it, but it is something you have to want. Living in Paris is phenomenal- moving here isn’t. Living all over Europe is great. Moving every three months like a nomad for almost two years is annoying in the least and depressing at the most. The coin always has two sides. But my friends always forget that. To be honest I do too.

I snapped today. Between personal issues, dealing with classes, annoying people, and her life is all roses and smiley faces approach- I bloody lost it. She is one of my best friends from Uni. I can think of nothing I wouldn’t do for her. I have dropped work, spent and borrowed my last dollar to fly around the world when her world came tumbling down- just to take care of her. When my world crashed she stayed the night at my apartment to make sure I was ok and let me cry as much as I needed to- six nights in a row. I shouldn’t snap. I should be in a decent mood, but I did. Actually I didn’t snap, I went on a tirade.

It is hard living abroad. There is no rhyme or reason to it, no warning either, it just hits. You start by only noticing the annoying bits. Then you feel privileged and you have no right to complain. So you bottle things up. You feel bad letting it out to your friends as they are under the delusions that it is all La Vie en Rose. And to be fair, it is a lot of the time. However when things go a wrong, you miss the small things from home. The small things here start to REALLY bother you.

The loving, smart ass, loud mouthed, bitch she is snapped back. It seems every time her mother used to get fed up with her father she would snap at him- Michael tell me three nice things . He would have five seconds before Italian Momma came after him to start. He would grumble there weren’t three nice things. She would start to vent steam off the top of her head. He would find something to start, cause if not all holy hell was going to break loose. You think hell hath no fury like a woman, well that is magnified when that woman is from the South of Europe!

True to form I got a bitch slap like shiva labeled TINK TELL ME THREE NICE THINGS NOW!!! I was lucky if I had all of five seconds to start. Wanting instead to wallow in my misery at some of the shitty people in my life, the things going wrong and the annoyances of living abroad I pouted. Karen was having none, and I do mean none of it. There was no way my dearest friend was going to allow me have any kind of pity party or be a victim. Freaking Party Pooper.

So I had to list out three nice things. I tried to do it half assed at first. OOOOH did that piss Karen off. I was promptly shoved around and she beat a bit of the snot out of me as only your bestest of friends can. Again I was told to start listing and walk the thin rope line at the same time. This time I caved, I made out a list of three nice things. They do get easier after the first one. This whole thing reminded me I used to do this almost everyday. See it’s hard to get annoyed with the stupid shit in life when you have to be grateful for positive things. It is one of those focus and priorities parts of life that I sometimes forget.

Bless Karen’s soul for knowing just how to set me straight, just when and how much to beat the shit out of me and exactly what I need from my friends. She not only is a true friend, worth her weight in Platinum; she has restored my faith. One more pint I owe the bint now.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Well today is my first day of my second class. Or at least that is what I thought..... seems we (the smart students) all showed up. We are used to professors being late (but getting persickety if we are late), so we sat there. And we sat there. And we sat there. Finally a smart one in the lot of us about an hour later went up stairs to try and track down what was going on. Turns out in the 5 changes we had last week (in one day mind you) to our class schedule, our Professor for today did not know we had class. We were all so smart- it only took us a whole flipping hour to find out we got to play hookey. Takes utter brilliance to be a graduate student sometimes.

After that and some internet checking and scrambling I headed to the bank. I had this air of confidence. Some kind of John Wayne swagger lingering from my experience of signing away my first born and obliging myself to a French contract for my apartment. I buzzed my way in through the four doors. No way someone is getting in there by accident. I then remembered the way to get things in France is to be acquiescent and patient. I have very few virtures patience and being diminuitive are not ones I currently possess. But as the saying goes- "Fake it till you make it!"

I waited for an hour and finally went through the whole I want to open a bank account adventure in French. You know I dont believe most language courses prepare you for reality anymore. It took me a while but I managed to get through it, I gave up my second born (at this rate I will be popping kids out till I am 49) took all the 12 pages of papers I had to sign through 3 doors, got them stamped, and brought them back and do the holy dance on them. But at the end of the adventure I have a bank account. I even fenigaled a 500 euro overdraft protection and there are no charges- well that is as long as I dont use the ATM more that 8 times per week or purchase more that 1600 Euros of thing per month. Dont think either of those will be hard. After paying my rent I am on a diet of pasta and ketchup.

I came back to the insitute and spent an inordinate amount of time purchasing my replacement digital camera for the one that was stolen, responding to a mail box full of emails, and thank god making an appointment for an internship. This is the one that might just MIGHT pay. I will be walking in contortions from now till next week with hopes of getting it.

Anyways I am quite proud of myself. Now to go home eat something that I can scrounge up in my tiny fridge and well....deflate my head. Tomorrow I am on the search for the cell phone and I try again to sell my third born for a phone line.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

As for today it is a psychological day of reflection. For me it is one of those “think about things in a big picture context so you can grow” things I try to do in between the rest of the chaos in my life. Today’s question is: When and how do you actually know someone?

I have spent a lot of time in the past couple months thinking about this. When I say know, I mean how you know when you have gotten beyond the superficial notions of self to the unadulterated realities of who someone is, or in how you present yourself. When do you stop restraining or editing yourself? There is this whole psychological imaging/mirroring that goes on and I often wonder when and where it stops, and why?

I believe there were people who hide things from everyone, there are people who pretend to wear themselves on their sleeve and then there are those who actually present themselves as they are. You attract each of those kinds of people to yourself for different reasons at different times of your life. You can also be each of those kinds of people at different points in life also.

Some absolutely brilliant people exist who can immediately see through the bullshit and no matter what are able to see the truth and also live so honestly that for most it would be painful. It amazes me each time I meet one who they can so clearly see things with out indications and be so free with out feeling the need to contantly qualify themselves. I feel so lucky to have them in my life. I also think that there are people who distort reality, intentionally leaving out the details or messing them up- the buggers are in the details you know. And quite simply they aren’t who you ever thought they were. Part of growing up it seems is learning how to deal with the two kinds and ascertain who is which.

Sometimes people do things that take you by surprise- for good and bad. The lesson that keeps coming back to me is that I don’t have to explain myself, I don’t have to hide myself, I don’t have to apologize for myself, I don’t have to defend myself, and I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. I can define and be who I want, when I want, and while that is powerful it is frightening as it is my responsibility. It is also hard since I have spent most of my life qualifying my life. Reality is I just have to find people who don’t think I am a reflection of them, and choose who I want to be. I have been lucky in my life for many of the things that have happened. I have quite often taken advantage of every opportunity that legitimately came my way or I stumbled on to, which means I have done and been a lot more places than most. No need to qualify that or feel bad about it.

Oh well no dwelling; just thinking, taking the positive and moving on. I guess this is all part of the yes Tink “you are more powerful than you think you are” bit I seem to be learning and the "no people dont always seem to understand who you are either" bit too. But it was a revelation for today.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Let’s start by talking about the Metro. It is one of my FAVORITE things about Paris. However, by the time I leave Paris I am going to have a better pair of legs and ass than any hooker you have ever seen, all thanks to the Metro. Since getting here I have gone up and down more stairs carrying more things than I want to admit.

And I did it all over again because today is moving day. YIPPPEEEE!!!! The last moving day for another three whole months! And this building has an elevator. It is the little things I am so grateful for. The trip from the hostel involved two changes, one walk up a hill and at the end of it all I kissed the elevator. Between all the walking and all the stairs my legs when they got here were NOT prepared for what I have put them through. Oh well take lots of drugs and jump on in to the fire I say- maybe I will lose some weight :)

By the end of the evening I had all my belongings in the flat, they were all out of their bags. About 65% put away (have to buy hangers for the rest), I got groceries, I made dinner and relaxed. I heard commotion out on the street and saw a huge line- it seems there is a theater on my street. This place gets better and better. Though, I stayed home watching French TV and knit away at the kiddie socks I am making for someone with my left over yarn. Ah to sleep a blissful night of sleep, I am going to sleep in tomorrow.

And somewhere in all of that it sunk in. I LIVE IN PARIS.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Thank god for the Japanese! They are shoring up the dollar and that helps with my euro exchange rate, not by a lot but I will take every bit I can get. It might even mark a slight downward trend or at the least stop the massive plummeting (4% per month). Bush may like the short term economic fix he gets from tanking the dollar (ignorant of the long term costs), but it screws the Japanese who are just starting to economically recover. Thank Buddha and whatever the name of the Shinto god is for the Japanese shoving some $28bn+ to shore up the dollar. Take that Bush and quite literally… Up Yours ;)

Even better yet, bring on the ticker tape parade I found an apartment!!! I am probably caving but so what? Being in classes, living at a hostel, flat hunting and working in a different language is harder than you imagine. I must admit it has been funny trying to conduct all of the apartment hunting discussions in French. These are not the things your high school or college French instructors prepare you for. Realistically they don’t prepare you for much, but this is definitely one of those no support areas. Who knew that an “American Equipped Kitchen” simply is an open kitchen, French ones are “enclosed.” Umm ok if you say so. The search from my experience involves me searching for every alternative way to express myself and many hand gestures.

I must say as intimidating as anything with functioning in a foreign language so far, none of it compared to signing a contract in a foreign language. I went tonight and filled out all the papers. My background with legal “stuff” means I like to read contracts I sign. Reading a French contract- with their preoccupations with stamps and officiality is interesting. Many, many words to look up in my dictionary…

The apartment is a bit more expensive than I wanted to pay but the CAF should help and well… I cave. At this point Ill pay the extra for the benefits. Great area and close to class. I love my neighborhood. I am surrounded by lively bars and restaurants. I have a Laundromat and swimming pool with in a block, and three major grocery stores with in a few blocks with a few really good markets about three minutes down the road. The apartment itself is decently sized for Paris, basically furnished, with its own bathroom and shower. And it is kept pretty warm which is really nice. Plus a very sweet landlord. I also have the world’s biggest key for the door but I am no longer a nomad. I have a key!!!

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