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.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Conforama and Lifebook

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.


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.


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.