This is Rye, NY

Scene: Yesterday, Starbucks, Rye, 8:55am.

Starbucks man: Hi, can I help you?
PREGNANT woman: Hee Hee Hooo, Hee Hee Hooo, Can I have a, Hee Hee Hooo, Cappucino?
Starbucks man: Geez, are you in labor?
PREGNANT woman: Hee Hee Hooo, yes, can I, Hee Hee Hooo, get a Cappucino please?
Starbucks man: Wait, you're on the way the hospital to give birth? And you stopped at Starbucks?
PREGNANT woman: Yes, I need a Cappucino!
Pregnant woman's husband: And a blueberry scone, please...


The Replacement

My replacement in our apartment (otherwise known as Ryan the Soccer Player) moved in last week, but you'd think he's lived here for his whole life. Not only has he adapted to living and sharing a bathroom with three women, but he's also wholeheartedly committed himself to the house activities (ie. Boggle and Indian-style rummy). Tonight I returned home late to find him sprawled on the living room rug along with Tejal, Evelyn and Dani- it's like they've become a funny little family in the past 5 days.

For all of Ryan's attributes, he is still a 25-year old guy and I was reminded of this when I opened the cabinet to check out my old shelf. I leave you to guess which shelves belong to the girls and which one is his newly claimed territory on Palisade Road. Hilarious.


Photo-bytes from la France

Every year, on the first day of summer (June 21), France celebrates la fete de la musique, a music festival which features live music and general good cheer. It is one of my all-time favorite times to be in France. Here's a fire-breathing performer at la fete de la musique in Clermont-Ferrand:

Cotton candy in French is "barbe a papa," which means "papa's beard." Here I am with a papa's beard that proves that size really does matter:

The Musee d'Orsay is one of my favorite museums in Paris. I hadn't noticed this statue before, but I LOVED it this time around. It's breathtaking and I felt like she was so real, like if I touched her, she would move.

Victor Hugo spent a lot of time overlooking the Place des Vosges in Paris while he was writing. We visited this apartment, and while I wasn't a huge fan of his taste in wallpaper, I can see why he liked the view.

And finally, here is a great statue in the middle of a reflection pool in the Jardins de Luxembourg. Kind of makes you wonder if the Lochness monster ever had a girlfriend...

Like a Virgin

I'm not so crazy about English tea or David Beckham, but DAMN, can the English make an airline! My American Airlines, sharing a 13' x 13' TV screen with 70 people, watching "Because of Winn Dixie" EVERY FLIGHT, notion of air travel has been completely blown away.

Not only was everyone friendly and nice (and gave us goodie bags with socks and toothbrushes and eye masks), but the most profound discovery for me came when I saw the ridiculous number of movies and tv shows and documentaries and music that you could watch/listen to. I was feeling pretty awake last night on the plane ride home, so I thought I'd delve into the documentary section. Three hours of documentaries about women in their 30s who want to have kids through a sperm bank later, I was hooked. I moved onto the Office, then a documentary about Russian ballerinas, and finally, one AMAZING episode of SuperNanny.

I feel very confident, after my Virgin media experience, that I can hold down an office while researching sperm donors and disciplining my other children, all the while wearing toe shoes.

I am reborn.


On a Jet Plane

It has been tough getting in the mood for this vacation, but June 15 is finally here and I leave for Paris later today. Despite the hassle of suitcase-lugging, traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I feel very "in the moment" whenever I show up at an airport, like an active member of society who is interesting enough to spend time away, despite the costs.

Or maybe I just like the free refills on the plane.

Catch you later from across the pond...


"Caught with our Pints Down..."

Today, I received this postcard in the mail:

To answer your first question, yes, that is a red blood cell with pants around its ankles (I'm no bio major, but I'm not sure RBCs have ankles...) and to answer your second question, yes, they are finally bribing people to give blood for free gas. THAT'S HOW DESPERATE THE SITUATION IS, PRESIDENT BUSH. People will now BLEED THEMSELVES DRY for a $25 gift card to Exxon Mobil.

Of course, this $25 will probably only get you to the next gas station. It may just be faster to hook an IV up to my arm and feed it directly into my gas tank... cuts out the middle man.


The Wonder of Super Nanny

Aurel is somewhat of a TV addict. He admits it himself, although he's not one of these lying-on-the-couch-eating-chips-and-drinking-soda-from-the-bottle-while-he-watches-a-"King of the Hill"-marathon type of guys. Ok, well at least not the "King of the Hill" part. He is a TV snob and he'll admit it. If he watches it, he can tell you the real name of every person on the show, including the producer, director, and camera man #3.

I, on the other hand, barely look at my TV unless Gray's Anatomy is on. I use the TV in my room as a stand to balance my cable box on. And my DVD player. And my VCR. All in all, the whole terrifying mountain of technology is a bit overwhelming and this is why I read books instead.

Tonight, however, having packed my books in boxes and carted them up to Yorktown, I had nothing to do but turn on the box and bask in the rays. Tejal and I got caught up in Wife Swap, something I'll have to write about another time, and then the most glorious of all shows came on- SUPER NANNY.

Tejal and I watched, breathless, as a HITTING, SCREAMING, DEMON CHILD was transformed into a domesticated lamb. SUPER NANNY laid down the law, and a family that was being torn apart by their three unbearable daughters was smiling and eating ice cream at a London fair by the end of the hour.

While watching, you can't help but sympathize with the parents. They thought it would be easy! The wife gets prego, a cute baby comes out, and BAM, here they are, nine years later, pushed around by three mini-versions of themselves.

The following conversation ensued:
Me: What if my kids are bad like that?
Tejal: They won't be.
Me: Umm that's what every Mom on this show thought before she gave birth. Maybe I can threaten to send them to bording school at Aunt Tejal's in India.
Tejal: Yeah, sure. In India, if the kid is acting up, they get a smack.

Future children of my loins, you've been warned.


Building a History

While sifting through books and journals over the past several days, I've found a couple of love notes from ex-boyfriends. Re-reading these is a little like remembering dreams I once had; the memories are tangible enough, but seem so far away that it's hard to believe they ever existed. I assume (perhaps indulgently) that these men will also come upon letters that I've written at one point or another and the fact that their attics and basements hold past proofs of who I've been is hard to wrap my brain around.

Some of my break-ups happened swiftly; others were much more painful and one, in particular, shattered my image of myself to the point that I spent the better part of college rebuilding in its aftermath. The best break-ups leave you feeling inspired and singing; the worst can create one of the most dangerous feelings of all: self-doubt.

Someone close to me is going through a tough time in a relationship and she is having a very hard time seeing what lies on the other side of the END. While I have learned that, even at the worst lows, things somehow eventually get better, she has not been down that road yet. Of course, the irony of it all is that she can only discover this on her own.

To know someone and to let someone know you is a beautiful and difficult thing. I'm positive that some of my relationships have ended quickly because of my reluctance to do one or both of these. That being said, I'm now at a place where both of these not only happen, but thrive, and it's good to finally feel healthy and well-adjusted with someone.

It seems impossible to me to know which love letters deserve to be thrown out and which will someday tell the beginning of a life-long story. Instead of picking favorites and dumping the rest, I prefer to think about them all as important voices in MY story, and therefore, they're all worth keeping.

P.S. I think this song is appropriate.


Comme une vache qui pisse

Dear England,

Please take your weather back. I'm not sure whose idea it was to switch with New York for the past 3 weeks, but the rain, umbrellas, and afternoon teas are getting a bit much. In return for our 75 degree sunny weather, we'll give you this guy (I'm sure you can find a use for him... circus, perhaps?):

Many thanks,
the kind folks of New York


The Immigrants

I started volunteering at the International Center of NY last August and since then, I've come to know two Koreans, one Japanese, and one West African. Tonight was my last night as a conversation partner. This volunteer work has been, without a doubt, the most inspiring and yet comical of my life.

Take a Korean immigrant who stopped by a Subway sandwich store because he thought that was the entrance to the 6 train.

Or another Korean that asked me if it was appropriate to call a girl his "flavor of the week" after hearing the American Hi-Fi song. My response? Not to her face...

My West African, who arrived in the states not knowing ONE WORD of English, speaks with a vocabulary he picked up on the streets of the Bronx. Favorite prononciations include: brudda, daughtta, and his ever-present "WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO, MAN" when I told him something impressive.

My only female immigrant was Kazue, from Japan, and she is pictured above with her stylish handbag that comes from Paris (she brought it tonight to our last meeting to show it to me). My favorite moment with Kazue was when she pulled a credit card application for Banana Republic out of her bag. "Can I ask you some questions about the credit card?"' she asked, "I know you shop there a lot."

Grammar tutor? Prononciation coach? Shopping assistant? I do it all.



One benefit of having moved frequently before the age of 8 is that I've grew up with the abilty to SUPER-PACK. I can take a large mound of clothing and/or other packable things and, in mere minutes, pack them so that they take up 1/10 of their normal surface area.

At the end of one of Aurel's trips to New York, he was having a hard time figuring out how he would fit everything in his bag (including his black leather jacket, which he brings regardless of the time of year). During the time it took him to read three pages in his comic book, I had everything rolled, folded, squeezed and squished in with room to spare. "WOW," he said, "THAT'S good!" I'm pretty sure that's the moment he realized it was true love.

Tonight I put my skills to the test yet again with 11 shirts, 3 pants, 1 pair of flannel pajamas, lots of socks, 2 curtains, 1 tablecloth from Provence, scarves, gloves, and two winter jackets, which I fit in my backpack. MY BACKPACK! Take THAT, two-bag limit on international flights!


Good old Mike and Susie

Tonight I found a letter that my Dad sent to me during my first week at college. He wrote:

"We miss you at home, but we are keeping busy. Sometimes I leave the jar of peanut butter out on the table with a knife stuck in it and it seems like you're here."

This made me laugh, particularly because I don't remember having done that, at least enough to have my Dad comment on it in a letter. In the same box, I found a whole stack of letters from my Dad and greeting cards from my Mom. Because they seem to come few and far between, my Dad's letters are always near and dear to my heart. He's a man of few words, so when he has something to say, I generally listen. My Mom's letters were full of news from home and asking how I was, did I need money, every single one signed, "I'm so proud of you! I love you! Love, Mom XOXOXOXOXOXOXO"

While re-reading some of these letters tonight, I felt overcome with emotion. I've definitely had my moments with each of my parents when we haven't seen eye to eye, but during a difficult first semester (and hell, difficult first year) at Muhlenberg, they were REALLY there for me.

As I prepare to leave New York, I think a lot about missing my friends and the city and my job. It's not often that I think about my family in this way: they always seem to transcend this idea of "missing." No matter where I am in the world, my family doesn't seem far, and I'm not quite sure how they've accomplished that.

I know that my decision to move abroad has been tough for them, but I give them major credit for allowing me to make my own decisions about my life and support me in the next step in my career. I know that, no matter what my address is in Paris, I'll have postcards, letters and greeting cards coming from Mom- and when you're far from home, that means so much. But this time, because I know that they will be missing their daughters (Katie's off to Africa for Peace Corps around the same time I leave for Paris), I'm really going to make the effort to send them letters as well. It's only fair and plus I need the good karma- if my kids inherit my independent streak, I'm in for a whole lot of inter-continental parental heartbreak...


Sophie's Choice... in print

I just finished going through my books and if I thought clothes were tough, I had NO IDEA the separation anxiety that would be caused by the book choice. Here they are, the finalists, the winners of an all-expenses paid trip to Paris for an indefinite period of time:

1,000 Places to see before you die
Lonely Planet Italian phrasebook
The little book of the Louvre
France Travel guide
The Feast of Love by Baxter
Siddhartha by Hesse
The Alchemist by Coelho
The Lover by Duras
Dubliners by Joyce
Paradise Lost by Milton

Thrown in for good measure: Let's Go Europe 2006, Webster's dictionary, my college American history text book and the Bible.

The fiction that I'm bringing never ceases to inspire me (and in some cases, intimidate as well). Guests in Paris are encouraged to bring a book to build the collection in exchange for lodging, fresh croissants, and a damn good time.


The Break-Up

I just finished a fashion show in the living room for Tejal and Danielle. It's become time to part with the clothing, to eliminate just enough so that everything will fit in a few suitcases, and to make those life altering decisions: would I wear this or am I holding onto it because I bought it in a foreign country?

While moving your life across an ocean gets complicated REAL fast, I might also add that it adds a much-needed fresh look at your life. I'm living that "what if" question- if you only could bring one thing to a deserted island, what would it be? Lately, I feel like I'm constantly paring down my wardrobe, book collection, shoe collection (yes, I'm distraught) to my bare necessities and I wonder- if I wasn't moving abroad right now, how long would that "Muhlenberg in Action" tee-shirt stay with me? What about the red signature tank that provided me with so many fun nights at the Discotheque? Or the Nine West sandals, one of which my brother broke last year, that I keep meaning to super-glue?

It's taken an intercontinental move to light a fire under my ass, but it's lit... and from what I know about apartments in Paris, I won't have much space for broken sandals or sentimental tee-shirts anyway. If Aurel and I do decide to live together, I'm going to have to learn to share my half of the closet with his collection of comics... which bodes the question: can slingbacks and comic books ever live in harmony?


The Blush Factor

Tonight at work I gave a presentation to about 50 people. I'm not shy, so I wasn't all that concerned about it and I didn't need to be- it was a nice audience and they were receptive and smart. After my part of the presentation was finished, I headed over to grab some water and I noticed that my ENTIRE BODY HAD TURNED FUSCHIA. From my shoulders to my chest, to my neck and up to my ears, I could have been classified as a new race. I hadn't realized it as I was speaking, but somehow during those 20 minutes, my coloring had changed from a pale white (my tan from the Dominican Republic is long gone) to a blush that could inspire Clinique.

After a bit of research on the old internet, I found out that humans are the sole blushing species and scientists aren't sure what causes it. Much reference was made to being embarrassed, but I wasn't embarrassed until the blush occured. This creates a chicken and egg complex: which came first, the blush or the embarrassment?

I suppose I should be glad that I belong to a species that blushes on our faces as opposed to, let's say, our asses. A couple of evoluntionary steps back, and things could have been a lot worse: