Monday, December 29, 2008

Accumulating Stuff

I am moving again, and going through the process of sorting and packing. I arrived to France with a big suitcase, a biggish backpack and a carry-on. But now, after only three months, I have much much more. How does this happen?

Some of it is from packages I've received from my family (thanks Family, love you guys!!). But some of it… how do I have so many papers? Old worksheets I've drawn up, lessons plans, to-do lists. I don't even know what else. Just a bunch of… stuff.

I hate the process of going through what is essentially junk. Still you must think very hard about every single item. Do I need this? Am I willing to carry this up six flights of stairs to keep for another six months or more of my life? Maybe I don't need it now, but is it something I will need later? Is this piece of paper from my telephone company really important? Ahhhh so many questions.

But in fact I find this cleansing quite good. If I weren't moving, I wouldn't be doing it. Instead I am being forced to get rid of things I don't need.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Do as the French do

I am leaving tomorrow to spend Christmas with a friend's family in France. I thought a bottle of wine would be an appropriate gift. The problem? A France wine aisle is even more expansive and overwhelming than an American chip aisle.

I meandered up and down the aisle for several minutes, getting nowhere. There was just so much wine. I don't know anything about wine. In terms of buying wine for myself, I usually bolt for something cheap and red. But a €3 bottle certainly wouldn't do for a gift.

Then I spotted a French couple deep in discussion. They would select one bottle, chat a bit and put it back. They looked very intelligent on wine buying. I decided I would buy whatever they did. They spent about another 10 minutes trying to pick a bottle. I spent another 10 minutes pretending I was trying to pick a bottle. They chose a 2005 Antonin Rodet Nuits-Saint-Georges. Thirty second later, I did too.

I felt that this was very clever of me. I told the story to my roommate's family, who was over for dinner tonight. 'What wine?' they asked. I revealed the bottle. 'That is really good wine!!' they told me. 'What year?' they asked. 2005. 'That is a really good year!!!!!!!!' they told me.

This made me feel even more clever. I am so good at picking wine. Ask me sometime, I can give you some tips.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why I am Constantly Tired

I'm approaching my three-month anniversary here in France, and I'm sure you want to know how it is. Have I settled in okay? Have I made friends? How's my French? I bet awesome, right? Am I loving Paris?

Well, let me ask you a question. On what day of the week are you asking? What time? Be specific, and I can more clearly answer your questions. I cannot answer generally.

If there is one thing I wasn't prepared for coming here, it's the giant swing from really sucky to really awesome. I expected this at the beginning, but still three months later, it's a constant. On any given day, multiple times a day, I'll find my mood changing dramatically.

When living in a different country, culture and language, little things become big things. Feeling stupid because I realize after the fact I've just asked two people for a "recipe" (recette) instead of a "receipt" (reçu). Why did I make that mistake? I learned these words years ago. I must have sounded riduculous. Then I am made happy by a warm baguette or a peaceful boulevard I see on the walk back. Delicious bread and ancient streets, things I could never get back home.

And big things are still big things. Feeling empowered and independent by going to the cinema alone. Feeling small and alone when I start hunting for apartments again.

Every day presents me with any combination of little and big things, good ones and bad ones. But this is the point, right? This is why I am here. This is The Experience. All I can say is that it's exhausting to feel so much and so often.

Did I explain this well? I don't feel like I did. Maybe some more examples would show my point better. But I am too tired to replay the last few days or weeks to find a good way to show what I am trying to say. Those days were challenging enough in real time.

Tomorrow is the day to think about. It could be a good day or a bad one. It could be a good day five times and a bad day six times. We'll see when we get there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Paris Sounds Like

Paris clicks.

In Chicago, it's considered acceptable, maybe borderline trendy to wear Asics to and from your downtown job. You switch into your work shoes once you get there. In Paris, I've never seen a pair of Asics on anyone not a tourist.

Here it's heels. Not necessarily high heels, but those too. It's wintertime, so boots for women. Men wear leather, brown or black, pointy. Man or woman, young or old, businessman or student, whatever you are wearing, it will certainly click.

No one talks during rush hour. Everyone is going their separate ways and rushing to catch the metro. So this sound, of hundreds of heels clicking on the lineleum corridors between metro lines, is a very loud one. And very Parisian.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Spoiled American; part 2

When I first arrived, I complained about this country's lack of shower heads and curtains. Now I've got another beef. Can we stop being so environmentally conscious and get a clothes dryer up in here?

Air drying is lovely. In the summer, smelling of the outdoors, fresh. But we're approaching the worst of winter.

It's cold right now, and my sole pair of sweatpants are in the process of drying. They probably won't be dry for another three to five days from now. At night I dream of my past life in the United States, where I could dry any article of clothing in 45 minutes. Of the drier that not only dries, but makes things warm and fluffy. What I would do for a pair of warm and fluffy sweatpants straight from the dryer right now. Or a warm and fluffy towel! Instead my freshly laundered and racked-dried towels are kind of… crunchy.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

For Today

I will not admit that I am a bit homesick because I am living in Paris. It is just so freaking cool here. Eiffel Tower, wine flowing through the streets, the most beautiful language in the world… what is there to miss around this time of the year?

- marshmallows (necessary for hot chocolate and those yummy corn flake wreaths).
- peanut butter and Hershey's kisses. Peanut butter blossoms, my favorite cookie.
- crackling fires
- board games and other unusual happenings with dearest friends
- snowflakes
- reading on the couch in the company of pets
- marathon prep for holiday meals
- overeating every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas
- a person whose name starts with a J
- my family
- belonging

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Born to Teach? Probably Not.

I have been having more betterish/better days at school lately than bad ones. Kids can be cool. Like the one that asked me if I go back to Chicago everyday after I am finished with school. That's cute.

But still at least once a week, I am completely wiped out and frustrated when things don't go my way. And sometimes I feel like a bad person. Today, I made a kid cry. Really, it wasn't my fault. He was being bratty all class. I told him to cut it out, and he didn't. I brought him to stand in front of the class, and he still didn't stop. So I put him in the hallway, where he cried. He was just bugging me, and I was stick of reprimanding him. But really, I had no idea that standing in the hallway was so traumatizing. If I had known, I wouldn't have put him there.

The kids have their days, just as I have my days. Sometimes our good and bad days match up in terrible ways, but sometimes, it's pretty okay.

But I know this isn't my passion, and I was reminded of this when a friend emailed me a story to look over. As I read the article, then read it again many times and wrote comments, I missed writing so much. Sure I write this blog, in my journal, posts for a website. But this isn't the kind of writing I get the most out of. It's not the kind where you are hunched over your computer perfecting a sentence word by word, delete, retype, think, think, think, what am I trying to say, and why does it matter? Hours of this is just as exhausting as hours of teaching, but at the end, I feel more accomplished in one than with the other.

I am inspired to start writing more, and with the heaps of free time I have on my hands, I'm going to do it. Maybe the warm and fuzzy feeling I get will trickle over into my teaching, thus making me a better teacher.

Monday, November 24, 2008

sorry :-(

Have you been looking for updates? Sorry, I haven't been giving any. I moved a week ago, and my new place doesn't have internet. This has been an excellent lesson in how I waste my time and in how truly necessary 24/7 internet access really is(n't). But I am ready for this lesson to be over.

Leaving the cozy comfort of my home to seek out free crappy wifi or to purchase decent wifi is not fun. Neither is working on a French computer at school, because those machines are soooo slow. Also, someone switched all the keys on those computers, because they are not where they should be.

So. We have received our router in the mail, which is a big big step. But now we are awaiting for the password for our network. The other roommates have been trying to secure an internet connection in the apartment for THREE MONTHS. So this almost-here-internet is a bigger deal for them than it is for me. Still, this past week has felt like three months. Internet, please come soon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Condé Nast in the kitchen

Tonight is a Thanksgiving potluck at my new apartment, but I didn't feel like trekking all the way to the uncessarily over-priced American foods store. I've already paid them my $10 in Libby's Pumpkin and PET evaporated milk, and I don't feel like doing that again.

So I was thinking cheesecake for tonight. A simple cheesecake. Because I as much as I love to experiment, most of the time it doesn't go well (ask Jake about the Guiness cupcakes. Disgusting, which was all my fault). And when I must translate measurements and temperatures to metric… uh… forget about it. I need easy.

Back when I was a young student still in college, I learned about in one of my journalism classes. This is a website that pools together all or most of the recipes published in Condé Nast magazines.

It is there I found this yummy recipe for Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake. I actually don't know yet if it's going to turn out. It's still in the oven. But the uncooked batter was scrumptious. Just don't tell anyone I didn't use Scharffen brand, which the recipe INSISTS upon. I will take a picture and add soon.

Little Successes

When you start learning a language, it's easy to see improvement. It's a very steep learning curve, in which is there no way to go but up. Once you get to a certain point, the curve flattens dramatically. I know my French is better than it's ever been. But I feel I've hit that learning flatline. Eeking closer to fluency is a slower process now, with very little evidence to show if I'm getting there or not.

Last night, I watched a movie with my host family. Now I've probably watched more French movies that any non-French person I know. I always, always miss something. There's slang, multiple story lines to keep straight, weird French names to remember, cultural references, and so on. And once I miss some minor yet important detail, it's hard to force myself to concentrate.

Last night, I decided to focus very very hard so as not to miss anything. And I was able to follow it all the whole way through. I felt very content at the closing credits, becauce I think this is the first time I have competely understood an entire French film. It's nice to be able to see proof that I'm getting better at this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mid-November Goals

In the theme of change, I am moving in less than a week. I think it's also time to set some new goals for myself. I arrived with a few, but I've accomplished them. So time for some more:

1. Be nicer to my family
2. Budget wisely so I can blow all my money on my European vacation in February.
3. Go to one Paris museum every week. Or maybe every other week. Just more museums in general because Paris has a ton.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


I was riding the train home from Paris. The guy across from me was experiencing varying levels of triumph and defeat on his PlayStation Portable. At one stop, I noticed a kid shuffling slowly down the aisle. I wondered why he was walking so slowly.

Then he ripped the guy's Playstation from his hands and dashed out the door. The guy chased after him, but the thief had surprise as his advantage. He was too far gone and only a minute later, the Playstation-less guy returned to his seat on the train. And that was that.

This whole 10-second event ruined my day. I've had things stolen from me before, but never from my hands. I would like to trust that people are good. I hate to admit that people so selfish and conscienceless exist in this world. But they do exist. I just saw one. That's just sucky. I hate you thief.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Etiquette at a Reading

I saw David Sedaris read his work last night. It was on the tiny second floor of a popular English language bookshop in Paris. I will spare you the annoyance of gushing about how funny, and down-to-earth, and insightful he was, even though that's all true. Instead, I dedicate this post to things that really super duper annoyed me, none of which concerned the author himself.

1. People who handed him 3+ books to sign. I think even two books is pushing it. He is probably sick of signing books, especially after just finishing a 33-city tour. So just give the guy one book and get on with it. That huge stack, one for yourself (Laurel, like Lauren, but with an "L"), one for your mom (Kirsten), one for your stepson (would you mind adding something like "to a fellow writer, because he wants to be a writer too") and another for your best friend… ok no. There are plenty of other people here and you are wasting everyone else's time by being greedy.

2. People who get really good seats but don't deserve them. I was within spitting distance of David Sedaris, and two people sitting by me hadn't read any of his books. (They intended to though. Because all their friends said he was great!) People who arrive the earliest get the best seats, I know. But I am sure there were many latecomers who deserved more to sit there, people who actually appreciated the author because they had taken the time to appreciate him by reading his work.

3. People who do not care to respect the author's wishes because they are more important than said author, obviously. David Sedaris requested that people refrain from taking photos. They're distracting when he's trying to read. The woman behind me took a photo. I wouldn't have known if she hadn't approached David Sedaris afterward and apologized, but "it's for my stepson." Huh? How does that make it okay that you blatantly ignored his request? That just makes it more rude. Also, I couldn't help but entertaining the idea that her stepson doesn't really care if he has a blurry photo of David Sedaris. So I will go on to assume that the photo was a waste.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Long Day in Line

Today I tried to make an appointment to apply for my residency card. I braced myself for it not going well. It did not. I went to one place, where I was told to go to another place, where I waited for three hours to be told to go back to the first place. Went back, and it was the correct place, yet I didn't have any of the documents I needed. So It was a wasted day.

The whole process was completely ridiculous and genuinely French. Doing anything of importance here requires 1. waiting in line, 2. being sent elsewhere, and 3. heaps of paperwork. If you're not from France, it's exponentially more difficult. I almost feel guilty for saying so, but this is a xenophobic country. It's not a stereotype. France chokes at the thought of outsiders coming in. So they purposefully make it hard for the non-french.

Even though today was miserable, I wasn't too bothered. France is France, with its gorgeous architecture, rich history, beautiful language. Oh, and also its sucky bureaucracy. It's part of the package. I'm not going to appreciate it, but I'll stomach it.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Cover Band

Last night I accompanied my host sister to see her work colleague's band play. I get kind of ick when I have to hang out with a room-full of unfamiliar faces. But I had nothing else to do, so no good excuse not to go.

I assumed this supposed cover band would play on the side while people chatted and drank 33cl beers. However, in this typical Parisian bar (read: tiny), the 12-man brass band overpowered any hopes of conversation. I never expected to hear renditions of "Toxic" and "Gangsta's Paradise" with so much heart and soul. While the audience started dancing salsa, there was a lot of emptying of spit valves on the makeshift stage. It was hot, and dancey, and fun.

The worst part of the evening was when we missed the last train home. So we had to call home and have my host dad come pick us up. It was really cold and awkward to stand by a train station for 20 minutes at 1:30 a.m.. But we eventually arrived home, safe and sound.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Does anyone remember when I mused about not knowing who Jean Nouvel was? Well. I need to give myself a big fat kick in the shins. Because he is a big freaking deal. He's a world-famous French architect who has designed hundreds of stunning buildings and recently won the Pritzker Prize. Opera houses, apartment buildings, museums, offices, restaurants… he has done them all, and they're always, let's be cliché here, breathtaking.

When I mentioned I was going to his book release, people were really impressed and expressed a tad bit of jealously. My host sister wondered if it would be totally ridculous to bring her portfolio with me (she just graduated from architecture school). My future roommate mentioned that she is doing her second internship in the Jean Nouvel office, but I'm not sure if she's met him before. This was actually a public event, and anyone was welcome. But I was the only one I knew that went.

His book was awesome, two volumes of photography highlighting all his work, with clever captions. It was also €500, so I didn't purchase it. And after I got there and snapped a few blurry photos, I really felt I should have him sign something. But I didn't bring a book. And I didn't want to buy something small and meaningless there. So I whipped out my Paris Moleskine and flipped to the back cover.

When it was finally my turn, I handed him my notebook. It's not a book, I told him, but this is where I keep all things France, all my thoughts and ideas. I said something about really liking the Lyon Opera house. He signed his name, for some reason wrote the date as 30/08/08, and then apologized for messing it up.

Now I am really excited about adding his buildings to my must-see list. And every time I see one, I will open my notebook. 'Look! Look!' I can tell anyone who is willing to listen. 'The same hand signed this notebook AND designed this building!'

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I'm trying to think back on any job interviews I've had, and nothing memorable sticks out. Typically nervousness isn't an issue, when I've got a resume and a bit of self-confidece to fall back on.

But being interviewed as a potential roommate? This almost makes me ill. I saw an apartment last week that I loved. The people, location, price, apartment, all were great. But in order for this to work out, I had to pass the interview.

When competing for a job, you can always tell yourself that maybe someone had more experience, or knew someone who knew someone. There are all these factors that you can't control. But when competing for a roommate position, it's entirely personal. If they don't pick you, it's because they didn't like you. They did not like the person you are. When you think you're a good fit, this is pretty tough to stomach.

I got "called back" for a second interview last night for this apartment. I was so nervous. I was taking deep breaths and trying to make myself focus. Focus on being myself, I guess.

But I made the cut. I was the top pick. I don't know how many emails they sifted through or how many people they interviewed, but it felt good to be The One. I don't move in for another month, but I'm okay with that. This housing search has been stressful and time consuming. I'm glad to finally remove Craigslist from my homepage and delete my profile on all those housing sites. I'm excited to move to Paris!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Here's a sampling of some of my photographs thus far.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sci-Fi Film

The initial excitement of being in France has worn off, and now I am starting to be grumpy pants when things don't go my way (which is often). Thankfully I had an unexpected distraction this weekend: shooting a sci-fi movie.

A friend was in Paris to help two friends shoot the film. These three persons made up the majority of cast and camera crew. Other characters were played by a drunk girl we met at the Eiffel Tower and someone who had replied to a Craigslist ad. A majority of the props were purchased from the dollar store. These included glow-in-the dark stars (weapons), wigs (for character changes), and a singing airplane toy (spaceship), to name a few. It was probably everything you would expect a low-budget sci-fi movie to be.

I never really caught on to the plot, but I did catch that it took place in the future after earth had been annihilated, there was Planet Tolerance, a mission to save something-or-other, a love triangle, and murder.

My contribution to the film was standing by bags to make sure no one stole equipment. I also waved glowsticks in front of the camera to create a space-like scene and covered a table in tin foil to set the Control Center scene. I felt mildly useful, and even got a free McDonald's lunch as a thank you for all my hard work.

The Filmakers.

The "Control Center."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sample Post

This is the sample I submitted for the mentioned-below internship. Not my masterpiece, but whatevs.

"Barack Obama, Change & Progress"
Dorothy's Gallery

Bastille is unlikely destination for the marriage of art of politics, but if you turn down the right street, you'll find it. Dorothy's Gallery, 27 rue Keller, boasts a well-lit, blank canvas for its current exhibition, "Barack Obama, Change & Progress." The dozen or so pieces, created by both American and French artists, represent interpretations of what the Democratic candidate has brought to the American election, and what the artists hope he will have opportunity to bring to the United States. Several mediums are present. Some, such as the shadow box that lights an image of Obama's head, put his face front and center. Other pieces, such as the tiny Obama silhouette with a wooden leg, challenge more reflection from viewers. All of it is patriotic, reds, whites and blues so bright, you almost forget that one of the most important colors of the exhibition is black.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Will Write for Free

I applied for an internship at GoGoParis. They already filled the position, but the editor in chief really liked my resume. She said they couldn't offer me anything because the budget is so tight, but they'd happily take me on as an unpaid writer. I said absolutely.

Maybe I already did my time. I've had how many unpaid internships? Enough to cram a resume full. But did anyone go to journalism school to become rich? "Rich" and "journalism" don't belong in the same sentence. That's, like, grammatically incorrect, or something.

The reason I'm doing this teaching thing is because it came with a salary. It's not a lot, but it's enough to live on. And it leaves me extra time to do stuff I like. I like writing. I like poking around, learning something I would never have been interested in otherwise.

My first assignment is to cover the release of Jean Nouvel's new book, which spans his complete work of architecture. Who's Jean Nouvel? I dunno. But I will find out and write about it and not get paid for it. Happily.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mean Landlady

The search for an apartment has begun. Or shall I say the miserable, disheartening and exhausting search for an apartment has begun.

Today I went to see a room rented out by this lady. Based on my keen journalistic sense (or because I saw a saint-like image in stained glass), I deducted that the building was at one time a priory. This would explain the many rooms with shared bathroom/toilet/kitchen and sink-in-room situation.

Anyway, the room was sweet. Hardwood floors and a huge Parisian window with lots of light. Awesome location very close to central Paris. The only uncool thing? This woman who owned the building was absolutely wretched.

She insulted my French constantly, and at first I wasn't sure why. Then I decided it was because she was hard of hearing and refused to admit it. While she was putzing around being old, mean and deaf, I snuck into the kitchen and chatted with a girl who lives there. I was able to get some good information. "She's strict," and "she likes money."

Okay forget it. I am not living under the iron fist of a greedy old French lady who is mean to me. I'm an adult, and I make my own decisions. Decisions such as… I will not live there.

And so. The search continues.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What the *&#$^?

I had my first Freak-out France moment today. Where I got all mad at France while peering through my American-colored glasses. It happened in the computer lab at one of my schools.

I spent about an hour last night preparing a Halloween wordsearch. Lots of clipart and stuff. Not hard work, just time consuming. Then saved both a pdf and word document onto my jump drive, with the intention of printing it off at school today.

Problems: Finding the someone to give me the key to the computer lab. Five minutes later, finding him again for computer's login information. Windows98 operating system. Locating jump drive on computer. Already existing hatred for PC computers worsening because this one is in French. Discovering several minutes later from fellow teacher that jump drives do not work. Last night's work wasted. Making new Halloween wordsearch. Internets slow. Keys on french keyboard all in weird places. Typing things such as 'It,s Hqlloween." Missing lunch.

The real problem is I'm spoiled. I own a MacBook Pro (well my credit card company owns about half). Those ancient days before wifi are kinda fuzzy. I guess it's not really fair to expect any primary school to have a magnificent computer lab. I'm lucky they have one at all. With a color printer, nonetheless.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Slice of Life

I was at a local grocery the other day, a small one with two checkout aisles. One cashier was working.

A mother came in with a stroller. She pointed out to the cashier that the stroller's bottom rack was already heavy with groceries. The woman was just grabbing something quick, and didn't want the cashier to charge her for the stuff on the bottom.

"Leave your baby up here with me," said the cashier. "I'll watch her." And so the mom did just that. She left the baby in the care of the grocery store cashier and disappeared into the store. I was gone before she finished shopping. But I'm sure the baby was perfectly safe.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Teaching; Reflections

I have eight classes, 20+ kids in each, 45 minutes every class period. After two days, I have seen all my students. I have introduced myself as Miss Betsy in front of them all, instructed them to write their names in BIG letters on a teepee-folded piece of paper, and directed the repetition of "Ello my nam iz…" more times than can possibly be counted. I will give rewards to those who keep their name cards the whole year, because I cannot possibly remember all the Margauxs and Axels and Maximes (boy's name) and Anaïses.

The key for my own success and sanity will be preparedness. For each class, I know I need to have 12 activities, ready-to-go to pull from my pocket, even if we only hit nine of them. Kids will take advantage of 10 empty seconds by chatting or flicking each other with their rulers. As soon as you turn to tell someone to shut his mouth, everyone's concentration is lost.

I also worry about gaining the respect of the teachers at my schools. I'm younger, and have officially been teaching for… mmm… two days. I don't have a closet-full of tried and true teaching methods, so I'll have to develop them. I hope the other teachers don't snicker at me along the way.

So here's to 9 months of getting back to the basics of my native tongue, drawing and photocopying so many worksheets I begin to dream about them, and making both kids and adults respect Miss Betsy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

An American-Shaped Head

Today I was sent to a school to observe an English class. I met the school's director before class started.

"Where are you from?" she asked me. When I said 'Chicago,' she nodded knowingly. "You have an American head. I have a friend's who's father is American. He has the same head. He's from Boston. You look very American."

I've thought about other things that might sell me out. Wearing sweatpants in public, or not styling my hair before I leave the house, or my accent. I never really considered the shape of my head.

It really doesn't matter much. I'm proud to be American, and I can tell you (in French, if you wish) exactly why. So I'm not ashamed of the shape of my head. I just didn't know it was so telling, that's all.

editor's note: Apparently I kind of gravely misunderstood this conversation. It was just an expression I translated too literally. Read the comments for a more detailed explanation.


Found a lovely room in heart of Paris. €500 a month. It's a family from the UK who only uses the house for family vacation. For a €300 deposit, they'll send their dad to Paris to "usher you into the house." They want to ensure that you are serious in taking the room.
We have had some bad experiences in the past where my dad scheduled to meet with people but on arriving Paris none of them came money,energy and time wasted.Since them my dad maintained that anybody that wants to rent our house must make deposit before he will leave UK to Paris.
Well I guess I better wire them €300 then.

Or flag the posting as spam.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Good Days and Bad Days

Here in France, everything does not always run as expected.

For example, my American debit card. After droppping a hefty €92.20 on a metro pass, my cash was just about out. So I went to the ATM to replentish my supply. Didn't work. Even though before I left, I spent hours on the phone, making sure this would not be a problem. Still it was. I will not go into the details of the new problems, of which there were several. All this on a day when the metro contrôleurs had fined me €28 because I was in a zone where my pass was not valid. That my friends, was a bad day.

But the unexpected also works in my favor.

According to my contract, I can be assigned work in up to three schools. Three schools means a lot of traveling, especially if they're far apart, and more classes and kids to keep straight. I was only assigned two schools. Even better, the directors worked together so that I work two days in one school, two in another. No travel between classes required. Even better, I'm not working Friday afternoons or Monday mornings. Or Wednesdays. My contract does not guarantee such a good schedule. But I was lucky. Receiving my schedule made today a good day.

Tomorrow, who knows? We'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Metro tix and Apartmints

I went to Paris tonight for dinner at a friend's place. Getting there and back, I accumulated many metro tickets. I'm not metro savvy yet, which might explain how I somehow purchased a children's all-day ticket, valid specifically Saturday, Sunday and holidays, specifically in zones 1 through 5. Needless to say, that one was useless, so I had to buy another.

The friend has a real-life Paris apartment with two roommates, like I would like to get. We had a realistic conversation about apartment hunting. Everyone's looking now, so there's a lot of competition. It could take a month to find a place. The government may reimburse me for part of my housing, but it's not guaranteed. I already knew these things, but hearing them said again dampered my 'yay! France!' mood a bit.

Also a mood killer: losing my metro ticket in a pocket somewhere on my trip back home. To transfer from the city metro to the suburban train, I needed to revalidate my ticket. The one I lost. I found two others, but not the one I needed.

As I frantically searched, I heard someone say "Passez! Passez!" He had just validated his ticket and was waving me through before the doors closed. "Merci" I said with a smile.

A few minutes later, as I waited for the train, I found the correct ticket. I gathered it with all the others. Four frustrating tickets for one trip to Paris. Meh, whatever. A nice man helped me through, and I found the ticket eventually. I just had to look in every pocket.

Roundabout close to my close-to-Paris home (but not yet Paris apartment).

To shower or not to shower

Return from long run. Or wake up to the sun, when your body clock says it's really seven hours earlier.

Look forward to a shower. Stand lazily in tub and allow a strong stream of hot water on your face to work its magic. After a short time, all fatigue mysteriously evaporates.

Not in France.

The above senario requires that the shower head is attached to the wall. A shower curtain helps, too. These are foreign to European showers. So instead, one has to hold the shower head in front of one's face.

For an American who has been spoiled by the conveniences of American-style showers, this is just too much work. Am I supposed to sit or stand? Am I spraying water everywhere? My arm is getting heavy.

Maybe I'll start drawing more baths.

The dreaded shower. I know what you're thinking. It looks handsome. But as all girls know, a handsome boy isn't always worth your trouble. Same with showers. I'd be willing to ugly it up a bit with a curtain rod and shower curtain.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Life thus far; Taverny

This morning, I awoke from a 12-hour deep sleep and peeked out my window. Jean-Jacques was tinkering in the garden. I love that my window looks out into a garden, and I love that I am living in the home of someone named Jean-Jacques, a runner, biker, artist and Macintosh (AND Nikon D200) owner.

For a moment or two or possbly three, I considered making this my home for my whole 9-month stay. The Riou home is minutes away from my work, my room is comfortable and dinner always includes heaping vegetables. What more could I want??

Problem is, before I left, I made a list of things I absolutely had to acomplish in France. #2: Live with French roommates. Jean-Jacques and his family are great. But they certainly are not French roommates.

The point of making the 4-point list was to push myself out of my comfort zone. After less than two days here, I would already consider myself comfortable. Soon the idea of scouring websites and making phone calls and visiting apartments in the name of "French roommates" will be less and less appealing.

But it's on The List. I thought hard before writing The List, and each item is very important to me. So I'm sorry to say I cannot let myself live here for 9 months.

On a different note, here are some photos I snapped of my school today. Since it's Sunday, it was closed. So I may or may not have snuck in. Okay, okay I just followed someone else through the front door, that's all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Under Construkshun

Okay so there is a weird grey (or perhaps you prefer gray. Not even sure what's grammatically correct myself) box outlining my posts, and I guarantee future awkward colors & shapes here and there. I'm trying my hand at a blog redesign. As I've only taken one worthless html classes a couple years ago, this will take a lot of trial, error and time. So bear with me, please. Thnx. <3 me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Literature and Ink

While browsing other blogs for design inspirations, I found one of my favorite sentences from literature.

Five points if you know where it's from.

It's a gorgeous sentence. I don't know if I would ever get it in tattoo form. Maybe.

See more of Lou O' Bedlam's work on flickr.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Packing List

I haven't started packing. I will soon. But I have started the process of accumulating things on the dining room table. I'll put everything on there that I would like to take. Then, I'll have to take out about half. But here are some things I will absolutely bring.

- Stickers. I might have a couple thousand, from a summer of stalking Target's dollar spot and the like. Stickers aren't a part of French school culture. But kids of all cultures love their stickers. I plan to bribe those little frenchies to make them be good.

- Heaps of over-the-counter meds. Ibuprofen, NyQuil, DayQuil, Pepto-Bismol to name a few. In France, you have to go to the doctor, get a prescription, then go to l'pharmacie for any of those things. Also, the French versions suck. Also, not worth the time or expense, especially when I'm sick, especially when I can just bring the delicious American drugs in my suitcase.

- GU Energy Gels and powdered Gatorade. Again, not available in France. I just registered for the Paris marathon. I can't train without the proper energy replacements. What do French athletes eat on their training runs, wine, cheese and baguettes? (probably).

Departure: SOON

I am leaving the country in 10 days. What? I feel like I should be running around freaking out. But I'm not. Just sitting here with Libby, my cat.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What I Will Miss

I'm on Megabus right now, using the free Megabus wifi. Earlier, I was placing holds on library books with my library's online system. The bus was 45 minutes late, but round-trip from Chicago to Columbia only cost me $34. So there's not much to complain about.

Wifi is almost unheard of in France. So are free libraries, and convenient online systems from which you can order and renew books from your personal computer. Not being on time is pretty standardly French, but bus tickets this cheap are not.

And an unrelated end note. The dude sitting next to me on this bus is obnoxious. He's way too old for the college-aged Megabus crowd. But he is not above spending the whole bus ride on his phone, talking very loudly about how wasted he gets all the time. Shenanigans in Peurto Rico, Istanbul, Madrid, wherever. Miraculously, he's never been jailed. Nope, not once. He just told the dude on the phone that Noel is no longer with them, which "is between you and me." Since he just told the whole bus, I believe he is incorrect.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Faint Memory of Barcelona

In redesigning the format and purpose of my blog, the header I've had forever is going to have to go. This one:
"He said he could see the shadows of two people dancing. they're in front of the tables. they're waltzing around. Her head is on his shoulder. you can tell by the way he holds her that he loves her." "That's a nice story. I'm sorry I don't see it."
It's from an exhibit I saw at a museum in Barcelona in the spring of 2007. I was alone exploring the city, I didn't speak Spanish, and I remember feeling very lonely. Thus, I was in the perfect mood to poke through a museum, where I would not have to speak to anyone and could contemplate art and life.

The exhibit: dark and old looking, and quite creepy. Strange and unstrange scenes, such as a bedroom or a medical office. Dialogues and sounds were activated as you stepped into each space. You felt as if you were stepping into someone's life, getting a little piece of it, then stepping out.

The dialogue I liked the most
was the one I wrote down, and later slapped on my blog. I sat in a chair and listened to the voices of a man and woman. I interpretted that it was about hope and about love. Maybe these are two people who can never be together because they cannot hope and love in the same way.

You can make whatever story you want out of it. But there is some story. I like people's stories, and that is probably why I liked this exhibit.

Learn more about the exhibit, titled "Dark Pool," here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Bzz bzz bzz

After a week of furious cleaning, menu planning and weather worrying, Sunday's honeybee party went on without a hitch. Papa Mikel gave a brave demonstration to the guests, Momma Mikel worked furiously in the kitchen and Mikel sisters were as dashing and entertaining as they ever were. Here I present to you the photos. Don't be jealous you weren't there.

I bought a dog bee costume at Target. But all three of our golden retrievers are too big for it. Here, Addie sports just the hat.

Dad smokes the bees while Amy brushes them off. Dad admits to being stung once, but we wonder if it was more.

This would have been a lot cooler of a picture if I had reversed the focus. Why do I always do that?

The bees of Hive #12.

Try some Mikel honey? Watch out, this batch had ants in it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Feeling Better

The other day, I sent an email to my friend expressing a lot of my concerns: shipping off to a foreign country, leaving friends and family, not knowing anyone, trying to get the hang living and working there. In reading his reply, I realized how negative of an impression I gave him.

I don't always feel hopeless and discouraged when looking forward to this whole France thing. Sometimes I do. But just as often, I'm excited about all these challenges. As I'm trying to push through the piles of paperwork I anticipate the French will throw on me, I can always take a break and picnic under the Tour d'Eiffel. I'm not complaining about that.

I booked a hostel today, because I fear that my constant efforts to secure some sort of interim housing while I look for an apartment might not work. So I'll have to stay in a hostel for a week while I look for some dingy futon to sleep on. Then while sleeping on the dingy futon, I will look for an apartment. It's not the worst thing ever, as I feared it might be. It really will be okay.

Friday, September 05, 2008


I've been going to lots of doctors appointments and things lately, where I'm always asked if I'm going back to school. No, I'm moving to France, I say. And then they gush about how that is just so exciting, they wish they could do something like that.

Yesterday or the day before I cried a little because I am scared about France.

How nice it would be to get a job and an apartment here and start building a comfortable little life for myself! But instead I am shipping off to this whole other country where I know hardly anyone, hoping I can make a good year out of it.

I feel better today, more confident about the whole thing. I am excited. I am. And it's terrifying at the same time. Adventures are fun, just less fun when they're taken on alone. I am more prepared for France than I was last time, so I hope that I can get more out of it. I just wish I could be as excited as all those receptionists at the doctor are.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Like Ryan in "The Office"

While between two important stages in my life (finishing college/internship and moving to France), I have made the even more live-changing decision to be a temp.

Temping is okay. I'm making a little bit of money, and the whole time I'm reminding myself this isn't my real life. Makes it easier to spend the day shredding paper (last summer) or handing out little fliers to people who don't want them (current temp job).

But it is depressing. At my last temp job, I had a very strong impression that everyone in the office pretty much hated their work. I only had to do boring work for a few weeks. But these people had to do it every day. Working a job you hate for years? It was downright depressing. They hated their jobs. So I hated mine, because even after I left, I knew they would all still be there, still miserable.

Yet here I am, temping again. I like this job better, because I get to walk around. In speaking with my salaried coworkers, I wonder if I would ever do this job for real. It's not what I love, but it's not horrible. And they have health insurance. Pretty good deal. I hate how much of an adult I sound like right now.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chicago Weekend

I was in the city this weekend, and was so sad to have to come back to the suburbs. But I have to work at 6:15 a.m. tomorrow, and so the fun was over. Ate at a BYOB restaurant, so Amy and I enjoyed some wine and sushi, caught some Olympics, then went to see Showgirls at the Music Box. It was horrible and long, but pleasantly campy. Seeing that movie with a rowdy audience was fun. Then Amy and I planned to wake up to check out the triathlon downtown, but never made it there because we slept late.

In the afternoon, I went to this cool hipster salon and chopped off a ton of hair, which I intend to donate. Then saw a friend of a friend's dance/rhythm performance, ate some ice cream. Went running with Amy, watched the Olympic closing ceremonies, drove home.

Good weekend.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What Claudia Wore

My sister and I sometimes play this game where we try to recall events from books we read as children. Usually it's Babysitters Club or American Girl Books.

Like this: remember when Mallory's dad lost his job and her little sister really wanted a new Barbie but she didn't get it because they couldn't afford it?

Or: remember when Samantha's aunt took her to get ice cream at the end of "Changes for Samantha," but Samantha decided to get strawberry ice cream like she always did, because some things never change?

Well, on a similar note, my sister discovered this blog that chronicles the babysitter club character Claudia's wardrobe.

Check it out here.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I fell off my bike a little less than a week ago. I was speeding down a hill, decided last minute to move onto the sidewalk, got stuck in between the sidewalk and grass, found myself in a heap with my bike on the ground.

It hurt. I was going to walk home, but walked to a friend's house closeby instead. Her boyfriend drove the bike and me home, where I sat and felt sorry for myself for several hours because my left shoulder was killing me.

I should have been wearing a helmet, and I'm lucky I didn't hit my head. I'm most pissed at myself for letting it happen in the first place, because this shoulder thing really sucks. When I go running, all I can do is let my arm hang limply at my side. It's uncomfortable and not efficient. Putting my two-foot long hair up in a ponytail requires concentration. It's getting better though. And my bike wasn't hurt at all. The handlebars got messed up, so I took it in, but the dude just bent them back into place.

Once my shoulder is back in full swing, I'm excited to bike riding again. I'll just be a bit more careful.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Alternative Story Telling

Ira Glass of This American Life, one of my icons, believes heavily in music. The surface of his hour-long show is just a bunch of often strangely related stories. If it weren't for the music that plays under the stories and throughout the pauses, the radio show would lack a lot of depth, tone and general appeal.

I stumbled on this article from Good Magazine about urban rooftop bee keeping.
Check out the video part of the package. This video isn't terribly complicated. This offers just as much information as a similar news story would. But I wouldn't want to watch the news. The problem with the news is it's boring. In my opinion, it sucks.

Why don't news reporters pull the camera off the interviewee for a second and show a different perspective, why don't they incorporate music into their newscasts, why don't they run relevant sound tracks and images together? Is it too featuresque?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I would really just like a frozen pizza

My fridge? Kind of empty right now. I really want to go to the store and buy glorious heaps of vegetables and goodies for the cupboard, but that would be silly. I'm leaving in less than a week, so the wisest thing to do is eat up what I've got. Hamburgers, sloppy joes and Mac & cheese are going to power me through till Monday.

But I don't like it. In my lonely Des Moines existence, planning and preparing meals is one thing that has kept me company. Throwing together the last bits and pieces of food left in my kitchen makes me sad. Especially last night when the taco shells were stale.

I know once I hit the homeland, I can pretty much eat anything I want. Even if the fridge is packed full of stuff I don't like, mom will pick up what I do like at the store. So it's only for a few days that I'm in this icky fix. I have no reason to complain. Yet I'm complaining still.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

First Iowa State Fair

Everyone at my office has been raving about this all summer. Or a few people have been raving enough that it seems like everyone has been. So I expected the Iowa State Fair to wow me as the be all, end all of fairs.

It wasn't.

Maybe it's because I went alone, or because I didn't do or see the right stuff. But it just seemed like a big frickin fair. Like the Illinois State Fair I went to a million times in my preteen years. It's just a lot of walking, fried foods and animals. It's cool for a few hours, but when I think about how I have to go back at least two more times… boooo.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I took a 2 month hiatus from blogging, because I had a blog here. But I'm back now. Blogging almost every day has massively improved my mad blogging skills, so I hope my posts are less boring than before. Until next time. <3 me


Amy sent me this photo:

Found via lilwilli's flickr photostream.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The time I love Rain The Most

I was so excited for it to gush down torrents of rain during my early evening run. I even wore a baseball cap so that I could still see through my glasses. It didn't happen. boooooooooooooooo.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

home (?)

I'm just about finished putting my Des Moines room together. Pretty much all that's left is to refold all my clothes and organize according to category. Folding clothes is one of my least favorite things to do.

It's taken a couple of trips to Target and a lot of arranging and hammering and sticking and hanging. And now that I'm nearly the end of getting comfortable, I'm thinking how three months isn't realy that long. 92 days. 13 weeks. I guess it's a quarter of a year. But still, not that long.

How much time is it worth investing here, if I will be gone as soon as I've arrived? But, as this is 100 percent of my life right now, I guess that is a really silly question. Just because I am only here for a short time doesn't give me any sort of excuse not to explore things, experience things, etc. etc. etc. I guess that includes getting lost. To add to the count, I've also been lost driving home from the movie theater and seeking out a bar. I actually don't even know the count.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fresh makes me feel better

This morning I woke up late (8:30/9) and rode my bike to the farmer's market. For some bizarre reason, this is something I rarely did in France and never did in Columbia. I'm not sure why. The place was packed thanks to the weather and a 20k race somewhere downtown. So lots of good people watching, and streets of purchasable foods and plants and things.

I think I was responsable with my funds and bought the following:
small bunch of asaparagus ($3)
an avocado ($1)
green beans ($2)
cilantro ($1)
blueberry/raspberry jam ($3)
egg roll ($1)
name of Mexican dish I forgot ($3)

I resisted purchasing a snowcone, goat cheese, homemade ice cream and wished my cupboard was empty of bread, wine and honey so I could have bought those things, too. I'm so excited for strawberries to come in season at the end of July!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

je me suis perdue (comme toujours)

This is a truth I cannot deny: I loose things. House keys, car keys, and cell phone are favorites. Today, I lost myself when I lost my car.

And this wasn't a simple "wait, which row did I park in at the mall?" No, I parked on 16th street. I work on 8th street. I couldn't find my car. For an hour.

The problem is I didn't make a mental note of the street on which I parked. Even knowing I have this enormous difficulty with directions and remembering where I put things, I still thought at the end of my work day, I could just recall what the general area looked like. And in fact, if I had any common sense, I probably could have. My second problem is that I don't have common sense.

One time, in France, I lost my apartment. It was also 2 a.m. on a weekend, and I was alone. This happens often. Every time I move to a new place, and even when I have lived somewhere for years. It's great!

Okay, it's not great. But now that my car and I are found, I can look back and say, well at least I wasn't wearing uncomfortable shoes, at least it wasn't raining, at least I had half a chipotle burrito in case I got hungry. It could have been worse.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Jake gave me a connect-the-dots calendar for Christmas. Every day, I draw a new line. As the month progresses, an image begins to take shape.

I've packed away my calendar, along with everything that added my personality and made me feel that this was mine; not just this apartment, but Mizzou and Columbia, too.

These aren't mine anymore. How can that not make me sad?

This month is becoming a butterfly on my calendar. It's erie. Why a butterfly this month, the month I gather in my arms the past four years of life and use them to become something new?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My shoes gave me blisters

Last night, The Hood Internet (Chicago!) came to Mojo's. So I donned my "Boycott Macy's" shirt, grabbed a PBR, and revelled in representing the small percentage of estrogen on our section of the dance floor. I missed girltalk back in the fall, so I was quite stoked. Since I was late, apparently I also missed some great mashups, such as Radiohead, which I regret. But I still had a great time, even as some girl was hitting on my boyfriend in my peripheral vision. But worse things have happened, as when some eager to jump on stage accidentally knocked out the power cord. But that wasn't really that bad either. Just plug back in, and keep dancing.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I've always wanted to…

I have a mental list of things I planned on doing before I left columbia. Swim in brady fountain. Party at tonic. Attend soco drag show. And I've had quite some time to get around to doing those things, but never have. But this weekend, I Did cross off a couple of things on my list. Two in one day! Wine tasting at Les Bourgeois and food tasting at Jina Yoo's

Item 1. Wining tasting, free. Nice. Then we moseyed down to the bistro where we purchased a couple bottles. Aside from the mediocre wine, I recommend. With wine in hand, we enjoyed tidbits of conversation from MOM'S WEEKEND! and saw a couple get married. The atmosphere was nice.

Item 2. Everyone's talking about Jina Yoo's. As The Boyfriend doesn't like "weird" food, it's unlikely I would ever make it on a date there. Turns out, it was a better meal with six girls: peer pressure to eat sushi (but fish? ew. It tastes like… fish) and a good number for ordering different varities. The pros picked eight types of sushi, and yum yum yum, was it all good. Each dish had a pleasant presentation, and enough for everyone. I was officially steered away from my total disgust of fish (now I only hate all fish except for sushi). And eight dishes plus three desserts was affordable split six ways.

Friday, April 25, 2008

dear spring,

You have made me happy today. You are the reason my sister sent me a CD, because its creation was inspired by your being. You are the reason it breezed just a tad and sprinkled a bit during my run. I don't know if you are the reason I recevied a free Red Bull from a Red Bull Mini Cooper, but I'll give that to you. You are the perfect amount of season peeking through my windows. Today, because of you, I decide, I am not worried about the future. I decide I never was. Because be I here or there, I can linger and contemplate non-contemplative things, such as the existance of seasons.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

good for digestive health

I had a problem in the yogurt aisle today. While problem solving, I realized I have it every time I go to the grocery store.

I cannot decide what flavors of yogurt to buy.

For the week, I am going to buy between four and six containers. But I cannot buy all the same flavor. I do love strawberry, I don't love it enough to eat six straight. Simply solved, I could just buy equal amounts of two flavors. But as I reach for the third vanilla to accompany the three strawberries already in my cart, I see french vanilla. Hmm… that could be good. But better than vanilla? I'll just get one. But strawberry kiwi is looking good, too. I only need six though, more would be yogurt overload, so I must swap one strawberry kiwi for one original strawberry, and… I think you see the problem.

There are so many flavors tempting me, and I don't know what to do. Yes, I do love key lime pie. But in yogurt form? Would that even be enjoyable? And what is lemon burst really? The yogurt-sized picture on the container looks so delicious. As I examine the container, I think, lemon tastes great in a tall glass of water, but I'm not sure the flavor translates well into, you know, yogurt.

After about seven, maybe eight minutes, I finally decide on this week's six. I'm done. I don't have to worry about this ever again. At least, until I need to buy more yogurt.

en nageant

At the pool the other night, I was met with a list of pleasentries.
1. I saw one of the kids from preschool, who looked adorable in goggles, and who was swimming by himself in the deep end! I can't explain why I felt proud.
2. I felt strangely motivated even though I was really tired, and so I had a good swim.
3. As I was fixing my goggles so water would stop pouring in, a woman told me, "When you swim, it's beautiful."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A worthwhile Friday night

Jake and I watched King of Kong last night, which I have wanted to see for sometime. It's a documentary about a guy who tries to win the highest score of Donkey Kong in the world. The problem is this other dude has held the high score since forever, and is not happy to see someone take it away. Yes, it's a movie about old video games, a surface level plot which is hysterical in itself (the guys — and they are all guys except for one random old lady — are as nerdy as you imagined, to the point where they wear weight-lifting gloves while playing). But it's also a story about good vs. evil, something which we all can understand, even if we don't know what a Kill Screen is. And as I just answered a Magazine Design test question about visual objectivity, I was really impressed by the editing. In real life, is bad guy really as bas as he is in the movie? And the same question can be asked about good guy. My question in response is, who cares? The movie makes you feel something, which increasing seems like a lot to ask from contemporary films.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tuesday Night is Party Night

Tonight, instead of swimming laps (exercising my body), I accepted a free ticket to the Moiseev Russian Classical Ballet Theatre & Orchestra's performance of Swan Lake (exercising my mind). In case you're not familiar, it's one of those typical love-conquers-all stories, despite Prince Siegfried's eating of the deceptive and evil black tutued poison apple ballerina. In the end, he and the swan queen ballerina end up together. It's all beautiful, and not as boring as you would imagine.

In taking in the glory that was Swan Lake, I did notice a few things ballerinas have that I will never possess. Such gracefully sculpted leg muscles that they can be seen from the balcony, for one. Tutus so elaborate that they must cost more than my out-of-state college education, to name another. The ability to look elegant while standing on one foot of tippy toes and sticking the other behind their heads is also very impressive. And, these ballerinas speak Russian.

I was impressed by all these things, but mostly by the dancing. Being a ballerina must be very hard, and I cannot even appreciate completely all the work they do to entertain people like me. But I did think it was pretty, and I was able to cross off one of the things I've always wanted to do, so maybe that is satisfaction enough for them.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

opportunity cost? Stat 1200 was many years ago

True/false was really worthwhile. I don't know why I was all in a huff about it. But I got sick the last day, a sickness was contracted from a little girl I babysit. While I was miserable and aching for a few days, I thought about the losses and gains I received from babysitting her the night before, and thus leading getting sick. I did make money that night, which was good. But I also called in sick to two days of work, so I lost more than I made. Initially, I saved on food, because I had no appetite to eat. But when I felt better, I spent quite a bit of money because I was so food happy that I ate both McDonalds and Jimmy Johns. I lost more than money, however. I lost a few pounds, sleep, class time, homework time. But who's to say that loosing all of those is a bad thing? I also gained some things, like quality time spent with my cat, who curled up next to me while I napped or wished I was napping so my misery would go away. So do I never want to be sick ever again or was it in a strange way benefitial to my interests? The final consensus? Tied.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I'm kind of pissed at true/false.

At noon today tickets went on sale for the remaining movies that havne't been reserved by people with passes. This is my first beef. Pass holders can fill up the whole theater if they want. So if you can't afford a pass, or really don't want to pay a minimum of $50 because you just want to see one or two movies, that's really to bad. There is a likely chance you might be able to fill the seat of a pass holder who never showed up, but there's just as likely as a chance that you won't. I think T/S should reserve seats for non pass holders. That is what I think.

Also, selling tickets at Cherry Street Artisan is the worst idea I've ever heard. I can think of many other places that could be adequate boxes offices. For example, Big Ragtag would be a good one. Cramming 200 people + their friends that want them to buy them tickets + the Artisan cliental + the Artisan staff + T/F volunteers + a band = a group of loud, hot, squished, confused people. You can't find a place to sit here on a Wednesday night, so I'm not sure why they thought releasing tickets to a festival that seems to double every year for three consecutive years seems to be a good idea.

And in dealing with all of the above, I only got tickets to two movies. That means I am going to have to wait in more lines to try to get into the other movies. But, I mean, at least I got those two. I was number 56. I have a sad feeling that the person with number 234 is probably going to get zero tickets. I'm sorry that the T/F Film festival is turning out just to be a waste of time for some people.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I ate too many sweet things today

For some reason, my family has turned Valentine's Day into the next biggest holiday behind Christmas . This means a lot of mail, mainly in package form. This week, I received three boxes from family members. Aside from the usual candy and cookies, each box is very personalized. Based on the contents, I could tell you who sent it without looking at the return address.

Box one. Homemade caramels and cookies in Valentine's Day themed tins. Cutesy gel stickers to put on windows. Pink shirt from dance store. A random ladle. Card. Aunt.

Box Two. Homemade Valentine's pajama pants (unusual item). Conversation hearts and three Valentine's Day peeps. Easy Mac and Instant Oatmeal. White polo shirt from Sears. Card. Grandparents.

Box Three. Envelope marked "IMPORTANT" (contains article and information about getting $25 from credit card settlement). Homesewn apron and repaired favorite purse. Chocolates in heart-shaped box. $50 check. Card. Mom (and dad).

Love you family. Also, I received a very nice Radiohead ticket today.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A final decision

I have decided to dedicate the following to lent:

1. spend less mindless time on interent
2. drink one or less than one caffeinated beverage daily
3. participate in the 6-pack challenge

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Our next (first?) assignment assignment for Capstone is to write Moment of Being. This assignment is to write about a specific memory. In writing this memory, it is supposed become a revelation of sorts. I get the impression that a childhood memory is preferred. This is what I remember from my childhood: tree house with trapeze (MK doesn't like my tree house, she cut me off when I tried to tell the class about it), a forever messy room that my mother never made me clean, homemade pizza in the bright orange kitchen, phone numbers scribbled all over the wall next to the phone, buckets everywhere every time it rained, parents with heat guns on scaffolding every time it was sunny, whizzing down the railing from landing to first floor, taking naps under a large oak desk, trekking through a dandelion infested lawn and living off of honeysuckles.

I'm not going to say my childhood was better than yours.

But I am going to say it was weirder than yours. No, there was not a tv. Don't be mistaken and think that's because my parents were strict. An ending anecdote to prove how. My parents told me that when I was a baby, our Polish housekeeper wrapped me up in blankets and put me on the front porch in the icy Chicago winter air. The housekeeper said it was good for me. Even though my parents didn't understand, for some reason, they didn't object.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I hate the rec center. I really, really, do.

Last night I decided to drone out the repetitiveness of running in circles on the too-small track by running on the treadmill. Okay. Lack of logic, but okay. So I believe the Rec flew in the crappiest DJ from Kiss FM (Chicago shout-out anyone?) to DJ what they deemed a "Mardi Gras" party. That means they hung a cheap flag behind a skinny guido, who stood behind a red Apple and pretended to mix shitty songs. This, I can handle, and this I can even be entertained by. But the volume was turned up to 5,000 dB, and that I could not handle. Yet I decided to deal and punish myself. And it was really, really miserable. What did I learn from this experience? I really, really hate the rec center.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I don't do anything, ever (and I like it)

For the most part, my weeks and weeks of winter break do not consist of meeting up with old friends or working obscene holiday hours at my holiday-only job. They go like this instead: wake up. eat some breakfast and munch on Christmas cookies. maybe go running, but I probably do not. then I eat some more Christmas cookies. organize the books on shelf in my room, and decide which ones I want to get rid of trade into the used bookstore, so I can get more books. kick back on the couch, and read a little bit, which will attract all sorts of animals who also live here, because who doesn't like to lie on the couch, but that means I will have to break up interactions between Libby the cat and Addie the dog, because Addie the dog likes Libby the cat, but Libby the cat is scared of Addie the dog and will start sneezing uncontrollably if the dog gets too close. By this time, I am hungry again so I will heat up some soup and chow down on Christmas cookies as the soup warms. Then I will putz around in my room a little bit more and throw out things I have for some reason saved much longer than necessary, like dried up markers or pay stubs from jobs I haven't had for three years. I will next eat some Christmas cookies and work on a puzzle for a bit, while listening to NPR Iowa caucus coverage. I may or may not eat dinner, probably not because I am full after all the Christmas cookies. Then I will read and go to bed.

Did you read all that? Why? Regardless, the point I wanted to make here is that I am not bored, and I am rather enjoying myself. I have seen some friends, I have been drunk once or twice, I'm not a total loser. But I just wanted to say that doing nothing is underrated, and I am here to bring it back.