Sunday, December 30, 2007

Off on grand adventures

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Chelsey and I are off voyaging around France and Spain. Ok so we are really just going to Reims, Paris and Barcelona. We probably found two of the only vegetarian restaurants in Paris during our 4 days there.


But we are having lots of randomness and good times.

The lady who rode in our 4 person sleeper train made unimaginable and somewhat unearthly sounds throughout the night.

Updates soon. Oh and Happy New Year.


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Monday, December 17, 2007

The Return: A trip to Lyon

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Last weekend I went back to Lyon for the first time in four years! It was a whirlwind. I went with a few of my friends and we had a great time. We took the train to get into Paris then onto Lyon. The tickets weren't very expensive because it was a trip we had planned way in advance!

We got into the city around 1 and looked for my friend Laura who had flown in from London to meet us. Tanya and I looked around for her for about 5 minutes and then we hatched a plan of epic proportions. We would call her on the loudspeaker. Because who doesn't want to be called on a loudspeaker in a foreign train station. It was brilliant. But we then realized that it would be a tad difficult to find the plan where the loudspeakers comes from. Just when we thought we were getting near to the epicenter of loudspeaking, my phone rang. It was Laura. We told her our plan and she still wanted us to call her on the speaker. We didn't. We reunited and then headed over to the house we would be staying at for the weekend.

The Northeastern students in Lyon live like kings. I mean seriously. Their apartments are so nicely furnished in the same tradition as my most favorite place in the world: Ikea. We ate at a fun little joint where we got a barrel of french fries.

Then the night began. The Lumière is an amazing celebration of light, Lyon et art. It is a spectacular way to see the city illuminated with all good things and each building kissed with beautiful combinations of color and light. I am in love and I think it will be my goal to go every year. I just love Lyon. I've put some photos up (on flickr) because I don't think my descriptions could do the immense beauty of the installations justice. The rain, cold, and crowds couldn't hold us back from enjoying such an amazing sight. One thing I love about the Lumière is the participation of the city. In the windows all over the city there are candles put on the windowsills to celebrate the promise made to the Virgin Mary during the black plague.


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I got to see one of my host families. The third and last of my host families in Lyon, they were definitely a very cool group. I was really nervous. Tanya and Laura could here it in my voice as I told them what my plans were for Sunday afternoon. I was sweaty palms and all. I was going over to have lunch for my host mum's birthday. I was really excited, but really nervous.I got there and I was pretty much shaking, my hands were all clumsy and I felt stupid. But I'm always a mess about things like this. But I soon relaxed, my voice falling in cadence with the comfortable feeling of familiarity. I had told my host mum I was a vegetarian (something I had agonized over the week before), but I'm glad I did. We ate a delicious little buffet with a wonderful cheese plate after and then my little birthday present to my host mum: cookies!I had made two of my top three cookies: turkish hats and chocolate chip cookies. We couldn't find Kisses in France so instead we used fondue chips. It really works and looks really cute. Though the cookies might need to be renamed because they ressembled less and less turkish hats and by that I mean not at all.

I spent the afternoon lazing around with my host family, watching a movie and playing with my host sister's baby! It was a really good time. They are really good people.

I went back to find my friends who had moved into the Auberge de Jeunesse and we then decided to go get dinner. We had found a friend. A fellow traveller who had just decided to go off on her own and see a bit of Lyon. She told us that she had been on a "cheap ticket frenzy" and this is where she had ended up. She was nice and we ended up eating at this hilarious Italian place. I forgot how much Lyon is centered around pork. It was the first time in France that I had had a problem finding food.

The next morning we got up and set off to finish our last mission. To find me a dress for the Christmas Ball. I had found a backup dress but I didn't really want to wear it. So we looked. And looked. We didn't really find anything spectacular. So I knew where we had to go. The Gap. There is always something at the Gap. I am totally a Gap person or maybe Gap Corporation person. But I like their clothes. I like that they don't have a brand on them and that they are somewhat plain. I dig it.

I found two dresses. I bought both. I'm wearing one to the Ball and one to my first interview.One was even in purple.

The weekend ended in a bar in Paris with margaritas, chips, and salsa. Badass. It was even happy hour. Even more badass.


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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving: the day we made our mothers proud

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It started two weeks ago with a Facebook event invitation. I was sitting trying to studying for the accounting final and it suddenly hit me. Thanksgiving was upon us. There had been talk about splitting up the group of thirteen Americans and having satellite Thanksgiving dinners, but in the end we decided it just couldn't be and wouldn't be right. So we sent out the invitation and immediately the ball got rolling, and oh would it roll.

Fast forward two weeks and there are 35 people stuffed into my bedroom.


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A slight rewind:

We started cooking on Tuesday night or Pie Night as it was affectionately named. A few of the other girls and I got together and baked 5 pies. Two pumpkin and three apple. But these were no ordinary pies. These were magic pies. Baked with love, charisma and awkward conversation. The pumpkin pie was amazingly fresh and made from real pumpkin NOT OUT OF A CAN. I was terrified that it wouldn't be good and kept bringing up the idea of doing test runs (I don't know when I started to get so nutty about cooking). The pies came out beautifully and we even had one that had a pastry turkey to top one off.

Thursday morning we had our French Law class. We couldn't pay attention. We were too full of excitement. IT WAS THANKSGIVING! We rushed home in a tizzy from class and began to get organized. Began to get organized by moving all my furniture out of my room and into various placces in the apartment. My armoire= the hallway, my bed= Kristyn's room, and my desk= the kitchen. It was nuts. The tables and chairs began to arrive all 6 tables and all 28 chairs and we began to feel a little hopeful, a little like it was actually going to work out. . . not to be too cheezy but . . . a little thankful.

I made corn casserole and a pumpkin gratin. Both were well recieved and I continued my typical Thanksgiving tradition of eating corn casserole for breakfast the day after. Corn casserole is so delicious. It is so ooey-gooey and wonderful. I digress.

7pm came around. We had a monstrous amount of food. Any previous concerns that we had about feeding our 35 friends hd been thrown out the window. People came over and surprisingly everyone fit in my room, everyone had a seat . . .well except Kristyn and I, but that was not an issue because we were running around the apartment (small as it may be) like chickens with our heads cut off.

I told the Thanksgiving story to everyone in French, pilgrims, starving, corn and all. We made everyone say what they were thankful for. I was thankful for so many exciting people being there.

But Thanksgiving held other surprises. A totally Thanksgiving type (holiday, warm and fuzzy) suprise, like the text message I recieved from our neighbors wishing us a "bon fête"*.

The night went swimmingly and only one table fell down (the tables were shoddy from the student residence). But there was so much friendship and so much excitement and that was what made the night. The fact that people where having their first Thanksgivings and it was with us. I feel like we all made our mothers and grandmothers proud last Thursday night. Because darling, we threw one great party.

Photos, as always, are here: www.flickr.com/geniusb

*We had posted signs all over our building informing our neighbors that we were going to have a big party on Thursday for our traditional American holiday.


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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Whilst studying for accounting. . .

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"Do you know what the difference between dotation et provision is?"

"I think they are the opposite or something. . .hold on, I'll look it up on wordreference."

(pause)

"Kristyn, you're never going to believe this."

"What????"

". . .dotation means provision."


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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Road Trip: Toussaint

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We (me + 3 other girls) had the day after halloween off and so we decided to do what any other sensible person living in Europe would do. We went on vacation. After looking at several destinations and modes of transportation, we decided to rent a car. I wanted to rent a Panda. If only because I think that a car called a Panda is the most hilarious thing in the world. I mean think of the marketing: step into my speedy, sexy new . . . panda? Or want a ride in something slow, predictable and apt to munching on bamboo, well we have just the car for you. . . a panda! The panda didn't work out much to my chagrin, but we did get an awesome Megane.

The Megane was kickass, a blue beauty with a credit-card looking key. So cool. Though I admired all of the cars I did not get to drive. Why would a licensed and perfectly capable American girl not have to share the workload of driving in Europe? Well let's just thank the stars for never learning how to drive manual. I was the co-pilot and the worthless backseat rider. It was awesome.

The itinerary:
Reims->Luxembourg City->Chateau Bourscheid->Aachen->Brussels->Brugge->Reims

My take on each destination:

Luxembourg City
I don't know why I have never known or heard that the city is in a gorge and is awesome. You hear people say that, "It's a beautiful city" (check); that, "It's a great place for walks/hiking" (check); or that, "It's a great place to get in touch with nature" (check). But somehow people left out: "It's a beautiful multilayered city with amazing nooks and crannies to get lost in, and is maybe one of the most breathtaking views in Europe." No one ever told me. It was a wonderful surprise.

The hostel in Luxembourg is AMAZING. It's newly renovated and thanks to my little lonely planet travel guide we got to sleep in their highly stylish bunkbeds. When I say "highly stylish" I am not being sarcastic. They were hot. DINNER WAS Delicious, they had stuffed peppers for vegetarians and even a veggie lasagna. The hostel food was badass. Included b-fast: yum, yum, yum.

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Chateau de Bourscheid
We made this stop on the way to Aachen. It was pretty cool. After driving around some foggy winding roads and one of our friends getting attacked by stinging nettles, we arrived at the 1,000 year old castle. Slightly disappointing was the fog that covered the surrounding valley (a valley I'm more than sure is breathtakingly beautiful; especially in the fall when all the leaves are colorful). We got to storm that castle. No one was supervising and so we were allowed to just walk around the area. That was cool. It felt like exploring. For a minute I felt like a real archeologist*.

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  Aachen
As we walked around the meeting point of Germany, Beligum, and the Netherlands, you really can't help but see the different influences on the city. People were speaking in French, Dutch and German (and as always: English), and we got there on a bustling day, Friday. We were on the lookout for waffles, gingerbread, beer and Charlemange as we walked around and ending up going to this really cool coffeehouse called Leo van den Daele.

 It was made of a combination of merchant houses put together to produce a rambling multi floor coffeehouse with a lot of crazy antiques. We had strudel, gingerbread, and some other treats all while enjoying some great German beer. We left there in search of food and more drinks and we ran into a dilemma: it was only 4 pm. We would run into this problem all week. Because of the drizzling weather and our early starts, we would check out the sites and be finished around 4-5pm each day. We were always faced with the awkward question of what to do until 7/8pm (dinner time!) without going back to the hostel (most of the time they were a bit out of the way). In Aachen we would this beer place that was amazing. We had our first drink at 4:30 and dinner done by 7:00.

 We decided to leave and go to the BAD AACHEN. I had never been to a German bad (thermal bath) and was so excited to go. We were really nervous about the bathing suit situation (naked or not) and brought everything with us (bathing suits . . . forgot the towels), but soon realized it's more like a swimming pool deal. Saved! If you ever go to Aachen go to the baths. It was so cool. You could swim outside in the hot-tub like swimming pool without even feeling cold. Or you could sit under steaming waterfalls and relax. It was amazing. They even have a meditation room. A softly lit quiet place to relax in with some chill music. It was one of the highlights.

Brussels
I didn't know what I thought Brussels would be like. Maybe I thought it would be like D.C. slightly sterile with all the important government buildings. But Brussels was lively. It was lively in the most wonderful way. There were lots of people in the Grand Markt and we got to see the Mannekin Pis, the symbol of Brussels and a statue of a little boy peeing. Every once and awhile you would see a comic come to live on the sides of buildings, that mixed with European institutions makes an amazingly quirky city.
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I dug it. I also dug my fries drowned in my spicy mayo sauce. Oh yes, and restaurants that make paying customers pay for the toilet are -pun intended- crap, I'm looking at you: Roi de l'Espagne.

Brugge
As Kristyn had read "Brugge is the Venice of the north", we took a canal tour of the city. Thank goodness, in this little picturesque city canal tours are only around 5 euros, unlike their overpriced friend in the south. We got to see a Michaelanglo, touch the coagulated blood of Christ (for a small donation of course), a Benedictine nunnery and eat some waffles.

One of our friends, a beer connoisseur of sorts, had one goal: to get to 't Brugs Beertje, a beer haven of more than 300 Belgian beers. 3 of us (one being a designated driver and coincidentally a non-beer drinker) had 4 each. This was purely educational as we felt the need to each have a sip of all 12 beers.


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We waited all day and got into the bar exactly as the doors opened at 4 pm. Within 10 minutes the place was packed! It was great and we made it home that night safe and sound.

Distanced travel: 1,120 kilometers.


Pictures are here: http://flickr.com/photos/geniusb/sets/72157603045233671/ 

*this is slightly lame, but so true. Ok. it's more than slightly lame. Leave me alone.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fresh Market Fun: gratin de courge

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On Saturday morning we went to the market. We had great plans to buy some pumpkins and convince our German friends to make Jack-o-lanterns with us. But to our dismay, when we got to the market there wasn't a decent carving pumpkin to be seen. They were all lopsided or two small or cut up into slices! So we decided to buy one anyways (we had our hearts set on it) and make our own gratin de courge!

I love gratin de courge. The mix of salty and sweet, the hint of nutmeg, the ooey-gooey gruyere, pretty much makes this a delicious dish a yummo. We grabbed some salad (dirt and sometimes bugs included), onions, brussel sprouts, and bread!

We put a salad (onions, carrots, cherry tomatoes) with our gratin to kind of limit the insane amount of dairy consumed and our friends brought over some garlicy green beans. Also we had some wonderful hard brown bread that we had bought at the market (the Germans were excited to get some proper brown bread). The Germans brought over some peculiar wine, a fizzy white one from Portugal and a red from Germany.



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We used this recipe: (http://www.seb.fr/seb/magazine/recipe.asp?recipe_id=534)

Roughly translated it goes like this:

Pumpkin au Gratin
800g (1.7lbs) of pumpkin
2 cups of milk
2 cups of Creme fleurette (whipping cream/heavy cream?)
80g (2.7 oz) butter
200g (7 oz) shredded gruyere
2 egg yolks
2-3 cloves garlic
salt, pepper, nutmeg
cinnamon (just a pinch :)
  • Preheat the oven to 400F (200C)
  • Step 1:Cut the pumpkin into pieces (much like you would potatoes ready for boiling for mashed potatoes) then put the pumpking pieces into water and bring to a boil. Once the pumpkin is soft enough for you to put a fork through. . . but not so soft that it breaks, you can drain the pumpkin in a colander. Set aside.
  • Step 2: In a greased casserole dish, spread out your smashed garlic and then cover it with some of your pumpkin. After that put a layer of gruyere (use about 2/3 on this step) on top. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper. (Repeat 2-3 times)
  • Step 3: Mix up the milk, cream, egg yolks, butter, nutmeg and about 1/3 of the gruyere
  • Step 4: Pour this mixture over your layers of pumpkin and cheese.
  • Step 5: Place in the oven for 20 minutes on the 2nd rack
  • Step 6: Move the dish to a higher rack for the last 10 minutes (to brown the cheese!)
  • Step 7: Enjoy!



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Friday, October 19, 2007

A Fire

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I was in my general accounting class this morning and we were going over income statement problems, when the fire alarm went off. There was a pregnant pause. We all glared at the teacher, glared at each other, and then glared at life as we lifted up our bags and painstakingly moved towards the door of our classroom. It wasn't until we opened the door that we saw real smoke seeping into our classroom that we started to glare a little less and move a little more.

We filed out of the classroom and out the fire exit to the outside where we would be smoke free and seemingly safe. But then we were told to move once more because evidentally all the students need to be in one place where they are counted.

And then the firemen came.

The firemen have the shiniest hats I have ever seen. I believe their hats are what firemen in space will eventually have. Their firetrucks look like they have been smushed together (pretty much like all their cars look here) and so it was pretty great to see French firemen at work.

We quickly realized it was just a drill.

The whole process took about 30 minutes and finished off my accounting class, but when we went back to the classroom I saw a suspect remote control nearby. Upon peering into the next classroom, I saw what had caused our "smoke" from before: a fog machine.

The French take fire drills to the next level. I mean, I'm a dramatic person, but that is the most awesome, terrifying and hilarious thing ever and I totally never saw that coming. As a sort of fog machine expert (from my days as an Ancient Egyptian Guide) I should have known. But who really would have thought they would have scared us into submission. . . . with a fog machine?
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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Oh School, Oh CESEM

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On Monday, I started school. I had my first class at 2pm. It was a French class, what I thought was a rather good way to begin a week. You know with the obvious course. I dug it. But really, three hours of French class? It was slightly painful, but all in all it pretty much set the tone for the week, as in - it would not be the only 3 hour class.

The scene:
The classrooms are slightly small. The desk space cramped. The room is comprised of long white tables that span the half of the room with a small passageway in between to let one get up to the next row. The chairs are bolted to the desks and flip up and down to make room. This means that anytime anyone wants to get out of their seat or perhaps even flee the scene, they have to barrel over other bewildered students or sit and die for the next THREE HOURS.

Also, our schedules change every single week. EVERY SINGLE WEEK. This means no routines, no continuity, and pretty much that we are always agonizing over what to bring or how to organize our life. I mean JEEsus don't we have enough to worry about. . . you know. . . like speaking French and being human beings or having basic necessities like hot water and heat.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Where I live. . . now with hot water

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

London: a series of mumbles and awkward events

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I love London. Be it the carefree atmosphere, the prevalence of vegetarian food, or the international spirit, I love it all. London is magical. I didn't know what to expect and really we didn't have anything planned (as we planned the trip on a Friday and left on a Wednesday). This trip spoke to my interest in living the moment, my interest in seeing one of my dear friends, and my interest in seeing a bit more of the world.

We took the TGV from Reims at around 1pm. We were excited as neither of us had ever been to London and didn't know anything about what to see at London besides Buckingham Palace, Platform 9 3/4, and Newton's memorial. But everything worked out. We got into Waterloo Station after experiencing the Chunnel which was dark and had my ears popping at random intervals.

It was a whirlwind. We walked from the Tower of London along the Thames where we saw the likes of Shakespeare's Globe, the Tate Modern (which I'm in love with), and the ugliest building in Britian: the National Theater.

We did a bus tour, and I'm totally glad we did because - like I said - I had no idea what to see, no real scope of where things are or what one does whilst in London. Highlight: I got to see the bank that they used for Gringotts while filming Harry Potter. But I also learned a lot of other practical things, some things about the black plague like the fact that they killed all the cats and in doing so let the rat population thrive. Payback is a bitch, I say, a mighty bloody bitch.

I also got to see one of my dear friends, Misha. It was so good to see her and when we hang together I always feel very comfortable and at ease. She reminds me of the small home that I carry with me always a sense of home I started to carry when I moved to France five years ago.

I saw so much and had such a brilliant time. We went all over and by the night we were so exhausted our feet hurt. But when my feet hurt like that I feel like a million dollars, I feel like I've actually done something and I feel like I got somewhere.

Leaves were changing and rustling about in London. Scraps of red, gold and brown billowed about us in the city and it made it even more magical. I'm a fall baby and I feel natural in the months between September and November. The sun was shining and we only had one day when we were cursing the gray skies that oh-so-northern-France-like weather.

I also never realized how different British English is. I obviously knew that it would be different as in sounds totally different and they spell things in the obviously wrong manner, but I didn't think I wouldn't be able to function like a normal member of the English speaking community. As we were leaving London, Kristyn and I were still flabbergasted about our inability to feel completely at ease and we marveled over the extremely awkward moments that had passed while we were there. For instance , I have never felt so awkward buying a sandwich whilst speaking English. There have been tons of times when I've awkwardly ordered a sandwich in French, but as I got up to the counter to order my take-away sandwich and my white coffee (that's with milk), I totally froze when the woman asked me a question. Also on the bus I almost got us killed; take that as awkward moment number 8,000 of our London trip.

The story:
We had just gotten on a bus headed towards Waterloo station; it was fairly packed and we had our big bag, me- my REI travelpack and Kristyn - her roller carry-on. We were slightly obtuse as we struggled and squished onto the bus. The bus started moving and we went a few stops.  We stopped.  I saw a man push a button on the top of the door to get off.  Then an old man mumbled (read: spoke British English) and I'm pretty sure he asked to get off.  I did the natural thing.  I pressed the button.  As I pressed the button the bus started moving.  The door still opened and we were moving in a big double decker bus BUT WITH THE DOORS OPEN. A stream of curses came out of the bus drivers mouth as the doors closed.  I caught: "YOU BLOODY IDIOTS...DOOR OPEN...ON MY BUS..." But that is about all I did catch because at that point my heart had dropped and I was trembling with a mixture of embarrassment and disbelief.  I realized what had happened as I looked up at the button above the door, clearly marked: emergency button.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Going to London Tomorrow

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This is very exciting and will be excellent to get away from all the unfun stuff that we have to do at home. It's pretty painful all this house business.

I still haven't written about Nice and the Cote d'Azur. I will, I will make myself! Check out photos on flickr.

Oh I got a phone that really kicks ass today. It cost me 1 euro and it is the sickest phone I have ever owned. It even plays music and records video.  I haggled down the price of my memory card for it. From 60 euro to 33 euro. That would never fly in the states.

YAY LONDON!
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These past two weeks. . .

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A list of things I do not have:
  • hot water
  • a cell phone
  • a checkbook
  • a debit card with my name spelled correctly (Britanny Blackmon)
  • the internet at my house
  •  the courage to have another heated debate on the phone with Gaz de France
These things have been preoccupying my life for the past two weeks.  I pretty much go to bed knowing that in the morning I will have to live again the exact same horror that is French bureaucracy.  It gives me nightmares.

Not having hot water really sucks.  Dishes don't get cleaned, showers are not taken, it's gross.  But you know what really sucks? The fact that GDF can only have one person at a time take a look at my account and that they tell me they will call me back to make an appointment and then two days later I still haven't heard from them.  I call back and it's always the same response, they need to find the person that incorrectly closed my doissier.  It's official: I hate GDF.

I also hate BNP, because again in some ridiculous instant they decided that they would hold onto my debit card until one person (the same person that was on vacation from Friday to Monday) signed the paper that I gave for my bank account.  Because that one person has to sign every single paper that goes into my dossier. We call it "la logique française" which tends to be synonymous with "complete bullshit".
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Monday, September 24, 2007

The good suprise

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I turned 21 on Sunday. I didn't know what to expect as my birthday always falls in an awkward part of the school year, as in: the beginning. On Saturday, I woke up and had to do laundry. I know its not typical birthday fun, but it was one of those necessary evils that would have left me without underwear if I had resisted another day. So Kristyn and I frolicked over to the laundry and had a battle with that. My clothes came out of the washer looking like they had been through a war. I mean seriously. Like 4 shades lighter. So after being sad by sad looking faded clothes, we had to wait for a dryer because one of the 3 dryers was not working. We watched a guy literally do origami with his clothes as he put them in a ridiculously small bag. Then another dude tried to steal our dryer but I swiftly threw a towel in before he could even try. I'm that quick.

We got home and built some beds. It was pretty badass.

Then we were invited over for a drink at the other American apartment like 2 minutes from our place. We walked over to their place rang the bell and Lyuba came to get us. We walked into the apartment and I should have know that something was fishy when I saw the living room door closed and Tanya and Christina nowhere to be seen. But me being me I was oblivious. I got distracted by the new arrangement of Lyuba and Christina's bedroom (they had L-ed the beds). Out of the corner of my eye I saw Lyuba open the door. There was a pregnant pause and then a blast of "SUUUPRISE!!!!". It was a "SUPRISE" out of storybooks, out of films, and out of control. I didn't see it, but I felt the vibrations in the apartment and the decibel level go up astronomically. To be honest the yelling scared me a bit and I jumped back. After recovering for a second I heard everyone question Lyuba. . . and all at once, "but where is Brittany?" I tottered in tickled pink and so excited, but also ready to quote, "YOU RUINED THE GOOD SUPRISE".

I can't believe they organized such a wonderful extravaganza. There was goat cheese, a post-it banner, marshmellow candy, champagne, and a colorfully dyed rose. In the US, this birthday would have been drunken debauchery, but I wouldn't have spent it any other way.


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Monday, September 17, 2007

Conforama and Lifebook

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We rented a Camion in France (a camion would be a uhaul-ish vehicle but is much more deformed and much more hilarious to drive). Kristyn had to drive because I have no idea what stick even really means and so I was pretty much there to navigate and give moral support. . . oh yea and to help unload the van. We stalled about 9 times in the parking lot until Kristyn realized the emergancy break was on and that was why we couldn't go. Oh did I mention that Kristyn doesn't normally drive stick? Well she learned on a stick but doesn't normally using her manual skills, but honestly, she did a great job.

Roundabouts in France are terrifying. For some reason in France the people coming on the roundabout have the right away and so everyone has to stop and let them get in. This makes no sense to me at all. . .but oh well I was just navigating. Oh yes. I am a terrible navigator. I don't pay attention very well and I start giggling. . . a lot. So when something would go wrong or we would make a wrong turn, I would start laughing instead of doing the normal thing and scurrying to correct the mistake. Kristyn almost killed me. But almost killed me in a good way. In a way that was both hilarious and stressful. We figured it out and ended up at our apartment where we scurried around grabbing boxes and throwing them in our tiny tiny elevator.

Then Kristyn tried to move the van. The key would not turn. Not at all. We took turns trying to turn the key and desperately laughing. Hysterical, right? Finally, defeated we sadly asked a guy what was going on with this van business. I still have no idea what was wrong, all I know is that he turned on the van.

We finished unloading and headed back. It was easy to get back. We left Conforama with one casualty: the lifebook.

I lost the lifebook. Kristyn has this notebook that she refers to as the lifebook. It is the book within she writes down her life. Like everything. The notebook had only 20 pages left in it. That is how much she uses it. She uses it to write lists and then rewrite the same list (to organize them you see). Anytime people tell us something or a phone number needs to be documented it goes in the lifebook.You may be questioning how Kristyn can even stand an unorganized and disheveled individual such as myself, I question this everyday. Let's face it, the moment I got my hands on the lifebook it was lost. That is why I don't have a lifebook or at least my version of a lifebook has pictures of dinosaurs in it. The loss of the lifebook means that Kristyn is a ship without a compass, but she now has a shiny new one. I am slightly forgiven.

-please take a moment and mourn the loss of the lifebook. It was a sad day when it was realized that I had lost the lifebook.


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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Finding Something Before the Cold Sets In

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After grabbing TGV tickets and such at the Gare de l’Est, we finally had 45 minutes to sit back and relax. I thought I was going to die. I mean literally; I thought my heart was going to stop beating out of exhaustion. But I was here - in France - going to my final destination, and that deserves a wow. I made it in more ways than one. The rest of our little voyage ended pretty well we found a taxi once we got to the Reims Gare and were off to the hostel. The hostel was one of the most well maintained hostels I have ever seen and thank the stars above that they had wifi (pronounced weefee, which makes me giggle every time I see or hear it) and so I have been connected sparingly. We had a goal to stay up the first night until at least 9:30 pm just so our jet lag wouldn’t be as difficult to overcome. My first dinner in France was a salad with hot goat cheese – delicious something I had been craving for... ummm...5 years. It has actually been the token meal for me as a vegetarian; something that grows more questionable everyday. It’s weird before when I was a vegetarian I didn’t even glance back when I started eating meat again, but now as I am wee bit older and perhaps more committed it seems awkward because I know more about being a vegetarian and more of what it means to me.

The next day (Friday) we woke up and had breakfast at the hostel and started our apartment search, a search that would not be easy. We started off very excited, almost giddy as we frolicked around the streets of Reims. Every once and awhile the Cathedral would sneak up on us and we would just stop and stare. The Cathedral is stunning and even a week later I’m not over how beautiful it is. As we went from realtors office to realtors office, we started to get discouraged. They wanted us to have someone cosign for us that was French and we tried to convince them that we could have our American parents do it, but they were not budging. Finally we came to a place that showed us an apartment and by apartment I mean a house. Aparently a three bedroom place is just too large and we would get 1-uped to a house or something gigantically large each time. Not that the place was that drastic the house that could have fit six people (4 actual bedrooms and two questionable rooms) was only a thousand euro. The location wasn’t what we wanted and so we moved on. At the near end of the day we had seen three apartments, but nothing seemed to be just right. We thought we could find a place that afternoon and move in the next day. That is how drunk we must have been when we thought up this plan.

Saturday was pretty much the same story except our jetlag was finally setting in and so it made everything infinitely worse. We ended up buying this list thing that enabled us to directly contact property owners that were in our size range and price range. Oh the French, the French who decided it would be a great idea for property owners to decide every person that lives in their apartments instead of leaving it up to a realtor. The French that think it’s an even better idea to let people show apartments to themselves . That’s right. We were handed keys to an apartment and told to find it and then look at it to see if it worked. It was pretty funny, but these apartments are like the island of misfit toys and so they tend to be slightly shabby, unloved, and decorated in moldy-ish carpet. I’m not going to lie. They were pretty awful. And then we couldn't find places to sit. At one point we were calling property owners whilst sitting on a pallet we did that until we found ho,ebase in some steps near the back of the Museum of Fine Art fondly dubbed We had to cut Saturday into a half day if only because we thought we were not going to be able to continue. We struggled back defeated as only one can feel defeated in France.

But eventually things did look up and we found a place. It isn't furnished and so we had to make a trip to place called Conforama, an ikea-esque place that housed many glorious things we bought everything, paid for it and then rented a truck for the next day. They loaded the truck up and we were ready to go. What followed would be ridiculous and needs its own post.


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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Grand Adventure: Part 1

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On Thursday September 6, we arrived in France. After my 9h flight I had to wait 4 hours for Kristyn at Charles de Gaulle Airport. It was interesting to say the least. After getting off my plane, I was herded over to where everyone else going. It was a mess. Everyone was crowding around the carousel and I couldn’t even see the bags come out. I waited for about a half hour before it cleared up a bit and I could grab my bags, but other people kept jumping in my way. I quickly learned that it would be survival of the fittest and I was ready to evolve to the next level of my trip. After surviving the bags and loading them successfully on my chariot, I went to find terminal 1. Terminal 1 is not connected to Terminal 2 and so it took a while to get there. I had to walk a pretty long way (maybe a half hour) to find where I had to unload my chariot and take a interterminal train to Terminal 1. It was hilarious. I looked pretty pathetic as I struggled with all my bags, but I made it.

After arriving at Terminal 1, I found another chariot and loaded up. I found where I thought Kristyn was going to arrive and waited. I waited about a half hour until she came out. It felt so good that our plan worked out. We had planned to meet at her baggage claim, but since the baggage claim in CDG is inside of the airport, I had to wait outside of that for her. I was nervous that she wouldn’t be able to find me. After talking to a few people I had figured out that I was standing where everyone came out so I figured she would figure it out and thankfully she did. We had arrived in France.

Kristyn’s work friends had told her they would meet us at CDG and so we waited about ten minutes until they came gallantly up to where we were standing. They were slightly astonished at all the bags that we had (I had told Kristyn to warn them about all of the bags that we had). We squeezed into the little beemer that had come to get us and after throwing a few bags on our laps . . . we were off. Finally let of out the airport bubble; breathing French air.

Kristyn’s work friends took us out for a sandwich a la baguette and then dropped us off at the RER train stop (the French commuter rail). They carried out bags out to the quai and then Helped us load them onto the train. We each had 2 large bags (me: two rolling duffels and Kristyn: two large roller suitcases),then each a carry-on (me: a huge backpack and Kristyn: a roller bag), and then each a personal item (me: a messenger bag and Kristyn: a tote bag). We looked like hell. I hadn’t slept much on my flight and had been saddened to only get to watch Shrek 3 and then some other movie about women’s bball. This all translates into bad movies and not a lot of sleep. We rode the RER to the Gare de Nord. To get off there Kristyn jumped off the train and I would start throwing the bags off to her. After that I would go grab a chariot, we looked for elevators whenever we could.

Then we got to the metro. Oh the metro. You see, the Garde de L'Est just couldn't - just couldn't - be connected to the RER. Instead we had to venture into the dark mists of the Paris Metro. Where grafitti is prevelent and the hustle and bustle of daily life takes place. Obviously not somewhere two girls with a bagillion pounds of luggage should be. Obviously. We got to the stairs and realized that there was no way we could get all the bags down in one trip. I had vertigo just thinking of trying to take my bags down the steep steps. Luckily, we had some people to help us out. Random folks would just grab our bags and help us out. It was slightly terrifying but ever so helpful. I almost died everytime someone would grab my laptop bag to take it down the stairs. I was like "Noo. . . but thank you?"

The last stairs that we had to take had an escalator and so we loaded up on it and got up. I almost fell off as my bag tipped over on me and then I had to kick it off the escalator. There was a bit of clogging. As we came up to the city level we saw that the Gare de L'Est was across the street. Our hearts lifted and dropped at the same time.


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Friday, August 31, 2007

Pleasanton, Population: 8,266

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I've been in Pleasanton/ San Antonio for 5 days now and it isn't too bad at all. I like the slower pace and I think the bags under my eyes are finally going away. The last two days we've just stayed in town and lounged around. My mom and I have been running in the South Texas heat and it has been pretty hilarious, though I'll admit that the exposure to the sun was much needed since I was ever so pale coming from Boston.

Pleasanton is small.  So small in fact that my father is a local celebrity.  Ok. Maybe that is a stretch but he has totally had two billboards up on the main drag in the two years that we've lived here.  Another thing that reminds me I am not is Boston is the lack of ice coffee.  I'm an ice coffee fanatic.  In Pleasanton, there is no ice coffee available after 3 pm. We went to three coffee shops/ taco joints before we came to one that actually had ice coffee. The owner was locking the door. He told us he had to pick up his kids from school. There was no negotiating. I had to drink hot coffee in 100 degree weather.

I'm reminded of my next big task each time I trip over my overflowing duffel bags in my bedroom. I'm not ready to pack.

I think I am going to San Antonio tomorrow. . . converter shopping, webcam buying, and maybe a few shirts.

Tonight, I'm going to the Plestex to see the Nanny Diaries. The ticket price on a friday night: $5.00. The perks of living in a small town.


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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Leaving the Bean and Embracing the South

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I left Boston over a week ago and have been passing my time in Texas, specifically in Austin and San Antonio/Pleasanton. I arrived at the Austin airport around 3pm . . . the morning had been a bit hilarious because of the combination of too many bags and too many people at Logan's terminal B. They called my name on the loudspeaker! That was pretty glorious. I make it my business to always arrive late to the airport because I hate sitting and waiting for things to get going. But this time I literally went through security and had to run to my gate. It was glorious. I slept most of the flights, I have to use most because my father booked me aisle seats based on his own preference and so I had to get up an average of 3 times per flight for the old biddies sitting next to me. I prefer a window seat. I hate getting up on planes. Typically because I've over packed and and am squished between my oversized carry-on and laptop.

It wasn't too bad.

Austin was wonderful as always. I spent most of it riding on Segways and zooming around the 6th street area on my little self-balancing machine. Well it isn't mine, but my sister is the managing partner of SegCity, a pretty bombass tour company. I mean you get to ride around Austin on Segways. . . it's hilarious. We went and watched Flutag one night and rode out to Towne Lake on Segways. It was a good thing we did. There were so many people there that it was great to be on a machine that elevated us 6 inches off the ground. Badass.

One great restaurant we went to was Casa Del Luz, a vegan and macrobiotic restaurant that has a delicious lunch. We were there on enchilada day and everything was tasty. Except the beets. . . I hate beets*. Other great places we ate. . .East Side Cafe, a wicked yuppie place that has amazing cheese grits and great migas for breakfast. The food is amazingly fresh and they even gave us some jalapeño/cheese biscuit things that were primo. We also went to Vespaios one of the top three restaurants in Austin if I'm not mistaken. It was Italian and delicious. Though the wait was bad on a Monday. Ridiculous. I had an eggplant thing. Oh Chelsey and I made a sickeningly fantastic daily stop at Quacks, a great bakery - an AMAZING bakery- in the swanky Hyde Park area. We ate so many delicious sweets there and they have a great ice coffee.

I went to the Alamo Drafthouse twice and it was amazing. Both times I got their veggie burger both times it was great. We saw The Ten and also Ten Mph a movie about Segways that we went to as a promotion thing for SegCity. The Drafthouse is great and my favorite part are the "Be Quiet or We'll Tear Your Leg Off" clips. It was amazing, a great change from the eagle or the skier thing that some other theaters do.

I spent a wonderful week in Austin where I managed to get lost running around Towne Lake, helped Chelsey decorate her room, and had a photo shoot with a monkey.

I'm now in San Antonio and Pleasanton. . . more on that later.

Oh and less than a week till France :)

*note: everyone else said the beets were delicious


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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Action Plan

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Today was the last day of my International Business class. Our last assignment was to turn in an action plan for our year abroad. I felt weird doing it. I don't like writing lists and I don't like boxing myself in that way. The minute, I write that I have to do something, I immediately don't want to do it. It is some form of ridiculous contrariness that seems to run amuck in my life. I mean I know it's "my" goal, but maybe I'm not ready to write it down. Maybe, I want to internalize it a little longer, let it simmer at the right temperature, and then (on my time) let it cool by the window. Maybe, I'm just a difficult asshole.

But grades being grades, I did it. I wrote about my travel plans, my plans for school work and mentioned how I want to make sure my French is fluent/ perfect by the time I leave France. All things that I could of relayed/ known about myself without a dumb project. So why the hesitation, if it was so simple? Well, I don't know. Ever since Coop, the thought of something as ridiculous as a class to prepare me how to culturally adapt has seems a bit trite. I don't know. Did the assignment take me that long? No. Do I want to complain about it anyways? Yes. There is something cathartic about writing down how irritated I am with that class and the fact that a graph was displayed every time we talked about stereotypes. I think there were some good points to it and the idiots that think everything will be as easy in France as it is here, definitely needed to take it, but JEESUS a five hour class for 4 weeks!

Btw. 20 days until I leave Boston.


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Saturday, June 30, 2007

On ending Coop and Writing goals

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It's sort of over. This pretty much just means that I am returning in about 10 days. I have really enjoyed my 6 months at my job. It's been a great experience and I am totally excited to stay on part-time! On Friday they held an impromptu ice cream party for me. I didn't even expect it and I am totally the kind of person that always figures stuff out like that, but this surprise caught me off-guard. I figured that they wouldn't do anything because I am staying part-time and so I am not really leaving the company until August. Coop ending means school is starting up again, Monday, in fact.

School: weird. It will be so awkward to be in classes, but I think I will have a blast these next 2 months. I mean I'm taking Living and Working Abroad and French. You couldn't even dream up a better semester for me. I had to do my first homework assignment for LWA and the assignment was to write my goals for living and working in France.

They ended up being this (abridged version):

  • Travel to visit friends and host families

  • Figure out is France is the place for me. I think it is, but that is still looking through my 15 year old lens and I am ready to see it through the wizened eyes of a 20 year old.

  • Find a co-op in France (preferably in the technology sector) and see if this is a country I might like working in.

  • Be more opened minded. I want to stop comparing it to my old experience. This will be a new year and it will be different.

  • Pass all my classes. I really want to be invited back for the 2nd year and so I am determined to get good grades! Note: In France I will have to take 10 classes in 6 months. Northeastern only counts the 4 best grades and so some students tend to focus on the 4 and just coast by in the others. Also, in France an "A" is a 18-20/20, which to most French students is very difficult. French professors do not hand out "A's" like candy.

  • I'm excited to go back. Monday is going to be great. I can't wait to see my French Professor.

    Also Edwin and Lana moved out today and that was so sad. I will be visiting them in a few weeks so it seems more like a vacation, but it's not. Lana goes to Argentina at the end of July and Edwin is living at her parents for 6 months. I will miss them both. A lot.

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    Sunday, June 17, 2007

    Where do the Days Go?

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    I find myself in the middle of June and I can barely believe it. Well, I actually know where the days go and they are sucked into the black hole of full-time employment. Which is O.K., but slightly depressing at the same time. Lana leaves in two weeks and that is very very sad. I won't see her for a long time. Edwin goes with her. I will be visiting mid-July, but we have lived together for practically 3 years! So sometimes it is hard to say, "bye", but I am so happy for her! She has her living arrangement in Buenos Aires confirmed and will be living with a Dutchman and a German girl along with the Argentinian family. Also she plans to hike the Inca trail which means Machu Picchu is in her future. I really want to go to South America, it needs to happen.

    I've been having weird back pain which has had me popping Advil and using a heating pad on a regular basis. To make matters more bizarre. .. I (gasp) have (more gasping) a cold! I never get sick. I rarely ever have a sniffle, but as of late the mucus in my sorry little nose has transformed into Niagara Falls. This is frustrating and I do not like being sick or the thought of being sick. I do not like carrying tissues. I do not like sneezing! I especially do not like being unable to breathe through my nose. No, this sickness will not do. It must go. Soon.

    My little Chelsey needs to visit me. I miss her. I want her to do something Harry Potter with me, but I will settle for her company. She is good. I like being around her, she makes me laugh. I go to Ohio in 2 weeks, which will make me very happy. Because I will see friends and family. This will be the last time I can visit them for potentially 2 years and that is somewhat terrifying. My cousin is now 5 years old. I helped my Aunt fill out her adoption papers and now our family seems like it would be incomplete without her. She is a little spark of light and I love that my Aunt was able to find her. Sometimes things work out so perfectly and that to me is especially amazing.

    Courtney will eventually come to visit me. I think she is planning on coming out here at the end of July. She is always fun to see the sights with and we always have a good time together. We might even go to NYC because Courtenious has not seen the Big Apple.

    Things are coming together (and inadvertently falling apart at the same time).  I have a little more than two months left in Boston.


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    Saturday, June 9, 2007

    My Day: Haiku

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    today: gray and long
    the Tomb: cake, drama, a tip
    O.13 is hot
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    Tuesday, May 29, 2007

    Addis Red Sea

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    Monday night, I went to one of my favorite restaurants in Boston, Addis Red Sea. ARS is an Ethiopian restaurant located in the South End. I love the South End. But what I love more is eating with my hands and laughing with my friends. From the moment you walk down those steps underneath the glow of red, green, and yellow, you are transported into a totally different world in the midst of Boston. 

     Ethiopian food is utterly delicious. I got my favorite item on the menu, Yemeser Wot (a lentil dish cooked in a spicy berbere sauce). When I first started going to ARS, I would order their vegetarian platter which lets you taste four of their veggie dishes for about 15 dollars. After getting that a couple of times (and realizing that it is kind of too much for one person) I started just ordering my favorite of the 4. Though if you are new to Ethiopian food, I would totally recommend getting one of the combination plates.

    Also, if you are going to Addis Red Sea beg them for their baklava. It is absolutely divine. Like nothing I've ever tasted. The way the honey glaze mingles with the filo dough. . . Mmmm. So good.

    I think one of my favorite parts of taking new people to ARS is having them enjoy the ambiance. You get to eat at a low sitting Mesob (handwoven table), your food is brought out on a platter, and you eat with your hands. 

     Ethiopian bread is also a huge focus of the meal. It's called injera and it is part bread, part utensil. You use the injera to pick up your food (most of the food is heavily sauced and so you need to scoop it up) and soap it up. The injera is a spongy flatbread that your food is dumped on. Each dish is brought out in a tiny bowl and then turned upside down on the bread/plate. This makes sharing hilarious and fun. It also makes being the only vegetarian very interesting, but no worries the sauces are typically thick enough to not run around and the bread keeps it in place.

    The wine at ARS is also pretty good and they serve a honey wine that is somewhat interesting. I've also been told that their beer selection isn't too shabby, but haven't really tried any.


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    Sunday, May 27, 2007

    The foodie diaries: Brittany’s Unofficial Guide to Restaurants in the Boston Area

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    We are going to Magnolia on Tuesday.  This makes me happy and has also prompted me to add a new category to this blog.  I have a ridiculous obsession with food in Boston. . . well umm. . . pretty much food anywhere.  I will start to document the places I go and my take on what is good and where I want to go in the future.  Be warned I'm a vegetarian and so most things will involve meat-less entrees.


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    Friday, May 18, 2007

    Badass

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    My days are measured in points. Or more appropriately, I guess I should say that my food is measured in points. But then again, when I think of how much I think about what I'm eating, how much I'm eating, and when and where I'm eating; I might as well say that my day is measured in points.

    Sometimes after a failed difficult day with Weight Watchers, I think that when I try to log onto the website I will receive a "We're sorry but you've exceeded points for the year, better luck next time" message or "Hello Fatty, how was that cake?" message. But, oh well, the program does work, well it will work if you follow it correctly.

    But even when I have a rough day with it, it's o.k. and I know that tomorrow I will get up and go to the gym and attempt to gather up what self confidence I have left. Because although I may look like a fool (half dying as I bumble through my hour workout) I know that the moment I finish the whole thing, I will feel. . .well. . .badass.


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    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Fast Forwarding and Rewinding

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    When I was fifteen I lived in France for a year. I was excited and ready to go if even a little too young and impetuous. It was the best year of my life (so far) and in a nutshell utterly wonderful. Fast forward five years, 40 pounds, and more than one case of champagne and you will find me here, on my bed, writing my blog.

    I'm going back to France and I'm absolutely terrified, but at the same time overjoyed. It's the culmination of my college career. The only reason I ever decided to come to Boston/Northeastern (Northeastern possesses an amazing BSIB program that allows one to stay abroad for a potential 2 years; something at 18, I highly valued). It's not that I'm afraid of leaving Boston. . .well . . . maybe I am. Boston is the place I've made home for the past three years and have spent minimal time away from since my arrival freshman year. It's where I can easily access the treasures of the city by train or bus. It's the place that has beautiful springs and gorgeous falls and I am going to miss it.

    But then I think of France and the gorgeous way of life that is there. The slowness and familiarity of French life dresses me comfortably. I want to be there and more than that I want to want to be there like I wanted to be there five years ago. I know I have to go back and truly want to go back. Because there isn't a moment in the day when my inner monologue doesn't skip merrily between French and English or I don't see something that reminds me of my French friends. I need to go back because there are so many things that define me that are in France, and I need to find out if it's where I want to live and be for awhile. I love France. I love the streets, the cafe culture, and the way I evolve into a strangely confident person whilst gravely spouting vous, tu, et nous without a moment's hesitation. When I am there I am so much more sure of myself, my freedom, my entire being. I think that is why I cling so much to my year in France; it let me become what I always wanted to be and for a moment I wasn't absolutely terrified of who I was or what I was becoming. For a year , I was just me and that was o.k. no extra adjectives needed.

    I've gone into this ridiculous indecisive post because I've been planning where I am going to live and fast forwarding in such a way is choking me with the reality of my departure. This time next year I will be working in a French company speaking French with the Joneses. I'm also planning flights with no return in mind (one way ticket, my friends) and it's frightening. I've never been one to gasp at reality, but at 20 things like this are much more real and the consequences seem greater. I'm sadly realizing I've lost some of my 15-year-old self in these past few years. Five years ago, I wouldn't have been scared. Five years ago, I wasn't scared of anything.


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    Tuesday, May 8, 2007

    Jolly Good Porter

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    Work was good today. I worked on a blog post that took me an absurd amount of time, but it did require some research and some creativity; also, posts like the one I did today often distract me because they have a myriad of options. The day got even better because I knew that Steph was coming in to check out the new HP for our website. I merrily tapped along on my laptop at as I waited for a good afternoon of shopping in Porter's Square.

    Steph arrived and I got very excited because it meant that shopping was soon and work being done was even sooner! We hopped in the car after buying Diet Coke PLUS (with vitamins!) at Brooks and were on our way. We didn't get lost. We swiftly found parking and we're out on the street in no time. Porter's Square is lovely. I am in love with it. I'm in love with the shop full of Mexican treasures. I'm in love with the five billion Indian stores on Mass ave. I'm in love with it all and we only made it down one side of Mass ave.

    After a bit, we got hungry famished and if Steph gets hungry one does not cannot forget it. She will remind you each second! So we began to look for a place to eat in earnest. After seeing a plethora of Indian/Thai/Chinese options, we began to rethink the idea of eating in Porter. We also began rethinking the 2 hour time limit of our parking spot. Slightly defeated yet cheery we moved onward to the good ol' VW. Suddenly I was overcome with the fact that I wanted, no, needed, to eat pasta. So I suggested the only reasonable place to go if one is in Somerville Dave's Fresh Pasta. Sounds slightly brilliant right? Well if you answered, "yes" to that rhetorical question you would be more than wrong. Because Dave's Fresh Pasta does not in fact sell pasta for eating. Well, that isn't correct either because it does sell pasta just not the kind one can consume right away; which translates roughly into, "cook it at home, bitch." We settled. We settled for the most delicious sandwiches one could ever eat. I really mean it. Mine was of the gods. Stephanie suggested that the perfection lay in the perfectly toasted and delicately tasting baguettes (for the record, I had originally wanted asiago cheese bread, but being the fantastic and FRESH place that they were; they were simply out). We devoured our happy marriages of tasty and fresh and were on our way home.

    Nothing is more perfect than driving over the Mass ave. bridge on a sunny day. Nothing.

    (also, we only got lost once, but just once)


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    Sunday, May 6, 2007

    a good slumber party

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    I love my friends. Why do I enjoy them so much? Well, first off they put up with me and my disaster of a life; second, they like doing things like slumber parties. For the record, we are not 13 year old school girls, but even in our early 20's we do love a good slumber party. Last night was our second slumber party and the date coincided with Cinco de Mayo. My friends (never missing a chance to add a theme or title to our extravaganzas) immediately decided that this party would be a Mexican fiesta: a celebration of tequila, pinatas, and random debauchery. Brunch would follow the next morning and is typically my favorite part of the entire process.

    The night started off with a trip to Wal-mart in Steph's VW. We went to buy a pinata worthy of our party. There was an ample selection of paper mache goods and it boiled down to a unicorn, a Mexican star, and Dora. Each had its own unique benefit. The Mexican star fulfilled the theme requirements, the unicorn= totally badass, and Dora, well nothing could make me more happy than beating the shit out of Dora.

    We picked the Unicorn and named him but kept forgetting which name we chose.

    The night was as expected, debaucherous, full of pinata, and tequila.

    Brunch was delicious, Mexican, and as usual we were a difficult group to accommodate.


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    Thursday, May 3, 2007

    In the Dark

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    I'm sitting at my kitchen table with 11 candles (nine of them tea lights) lit and typing this entry in Mac mail. Why you might ask am I sitting here with the light out?

    • Is it to enjoy the seemingly romantic and ambient light cast by the candles? No. 
    • Is it to relax and envelope myself in the delicate perfumes of cucumber and cantaloupe? No. 
    • Is it to reduce energy emissions? No. 

    My electricity went out around 8:30 p.m. and I am none too happy. I am afraid of the dark. I've always been afraid of the dark. I used to make my younger sister sleep with me because I felt that somehow having my little sister in my bed with me would make even the scariest bogeyman go away. Always being a cautious child, I made her sleep on the side nearest the door JUST IN CASE!

    The electricity going out brought an unexpected meeting with one of my neighbors. I encountered a schoolteacher, who I previously thought of as the door- that- hangs- seasonal- mittens. She is duly afraid of the dark and we nervously chatted; pranced around like schoolgirls while showing each other our respective apartments by the glow of a flashlight. Her apartment has the MOST adorable black and white checkered tiles and even has a built in bookshelf, granted her apartment is smaller, but 50's chic is absolutely fantastico. I loved it. It's kind of how I imagine my post grad apartment. A little cramped (but cozy), a little dingy (but homey), and definitely involving an adorable little kitchen; it's the kind of place I could see myself pouring out craft projects out of craft zine or knitting!

    (update: I left at 8:30 and came back at 10:45)

    I left my house at 8:30, the tea lights were looking low and I was starting to get hungry. I had been planning on cooking a meal of rice and broccoli something light and healthy to balance out the veggie burger and donuts from the office. . . sigh. I walked around the corner hoping to find the bright lights and sweet sounds of mariachi music of my favorite burrio place El Pelon, but alas, the stools were upside down and the floors were being wiped. To further mock my rumbling stomache I could smell the sweet odor of bubbling black beans and the delightful grease of good fried plantains. I trudged on halfheartedly. I made it to TOMB where I giggle with Steph, Matt, Garytt, and Noah over my dark dilemma and then headed over to Quiznos.

    Quiznos is slow. It's also hot and gross from their magic toasty machine. After them taking 8,000 years to make my sandwich I walked over to TOMB, hung out, and finally left when they closed. I went with Noah and Matt to the grocery store and looked for a flashlight (hoping against all hope that I would come home and not need to use it), but I couldn't even find out. Not a single torch could be found.

    As I walked back to my apartment some of the streets showed signs of life and signs of light. My street was still dark. I walked slowly, talking with my sister and as I neared my door POP all the lights flicked on. It was magic. I have never felt more like I was in a book or a movie or even a fairy-tale. It was beauteous. It was almost as if someone had flicked on the light as easily as I flick on my bedroom light. Everything illuminated at once. Magic. Perfect. Wondrous.

    The lights even looked a little brighter.


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    Wednesday, May 2, 2007

    A Tuesday and a bad beginning of May.

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    You would expect a Tuesday morning not to be so tragic - Monday, yes is a totally proper day for tragedy- but Tuesday, Tuesday is the day you are supposed to have your shit together, it's the second day of the week and so by default totally less tragic. But not a Brittany - first day of the month - Tuesday. Tuesday was the 1st day of May and coincidentally the 1st day of the May T pass.

    On Monday night, I decided that I couldn't - just couldn't- go get my T pass at the end of the day, and so I decided that I would get up a bit early, walk across the park, run to Espresso Royale (Mmmmm bagel), and skip up the stairs to the Cashier's office. After getting up somewhat early, shuffling my feet across the park, practically inhaling my delicious creation of carb and dairy, and dragging my body up the flight of stairs, I arrived at the Cashier's office to wait in line.

     The office opens at 8:30 on the dot ( I have to be at work at 9am).  I am obligated to add on the dot because they never NEVER open up even a tiny bit early for the pleading and mildly convincing faces of co-op students. After waiting about 10 minutes in line (10 very precious minutes) I arrive at the front of the queue and find out to my dismay that I hadn't even paid for this pass AND that Northeastern doesn't provide T passes in the summer. I do what any other somewhat educated girl would do, I panic. I panic all the way down Huntington Avenue and barrel down (still panicking mind you!) the stairs of the Symphony T stop. I throw myself on the "no cash" guichet and try to do the TAP TAP TAP and GO! of the Charlie Card (UPDATE: it's 8:55).

     Finally I get it all to work and I am further distracted by a man asking me for 10 cents to pay for his card/ T fare. I dig in my abyss of a purse and desperately try to find the right coin. As my hand digs out another penny, I hear the din that can only mean SHIT, A TRAIN IS APPROACHING! I apologetically/distractedly say that I don't have the change and bumble over to the train. In my defense I was getting on the E line. The E line is death. The E line is probably the slowest and most unreliable part of the MBTA and so I had to just had to get on that train or suffer the consequences of potentially being an hour late!

    I finally start to feel a little less panicky granted it's 9:00 and I am definitely still in the Back Bay and definitely not sipping my daily dose of caffeine at my desk in Davis. But at this point there is nothing I can do, I mean I'm stuck underground so pretty much absolutely nothing I can do without revealing my secret identity and showing everyone my magic skillz. The train rumbles on PRUDENTIAL. . . COPLEY. . .ARLINGTON. . .BOYLSTON. . .THIS TRAIN IS DISABLED PLEASE GET OFF THE TRAIN. . whatttt! I scramble off the train, run up the stairs and hurry over to Park Street (where I can finally catch the red line) and get on my safe, secure, little bundle of joy headed towards Alewife.

    Final time of arrival at the wonderful working pod: 9:30 am

    I hate the T.


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    Sunday, April 29, 2007

    A weekend.

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    I just got back from the most excellent weekend, ever. There was adventure, yard sales, polaroids bought for a song, and lots of belly laughter. Nothing compares to good friends and good times. It's true. The weekend was perfect in almost every way.



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    What a Catastrophe!

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    My name is Brittany and this is where I write. I live in France.  At 8, I knew that I wanted to go to France. At 15, I went for a year. At 21, I'm here for two. When not writing this blog, I will most likely be sipping champagne in the caves of Reims, schlepping through the marché or thinking up ridiculous shenanigans. My life is glamorous.

    Most likely if you are here (reading this blog) you know me and how I am kind of ridiculous. I always end up living in the living room of my apartments. I currently live in the metropolis of Reims. . . I'm moving to Paris in a few months.

    p.s. This blog is on it's own journey as much as I am; changes will be somewhat often, most likely drastic, and absurd. This is just the way it is.
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