Dreaming a little dream for '08

Me: Maybe I'll meet my future boyfriend in England.
Eliza: In the English countryside.
Me: In a cottage.
Eliza: And he'll be English but live in Brooklyn.
Me: And he'll work at Etsy and offer me an irresistible job.
Eliza: And he'll speak French.
Me: And his Dad will work for Moet and Chandon and get us free champagne all the time.
Eliza: Good one! And he will have a dog.
Me: And he will have a house in a warm place like Greece.
Eliza: I can't wait to meet this guy.
Me: Yeah, me neither.

Taking off for the Motherland in a few minutes for a 9-day visit with other Saxon souls.

Happy 2008 people! May all the dreams you dream when you're bored at work come true.


And then the three wisemen came to see the baby Jesus.

And with them, they brought a gigantic cat.


I'm tired of sharing a bed.

I spent a lot of the weekend scrunched in the backseat of our Camry with the sister and brother alongside. All those warm and fuzzy feelings about having everyone home for the holidays disappear rather quickly when someone's elbow is wedged up your ass for 3 hours straight.

Last night we all went to see Charlie Wilson's War, which was really fantastic and interesting. Philip Seymour Hoffman, man. That dude is on fire right now and he deserves some good stuff for his role in this film. Tom Hanks was great too, but I did think that Julia Roberts was kind of excessive. Also, who separates their eyelashes with a SAFETY PIN? Go see the movie and try not to flinch. Do it!


Avoiding the foaming of the mouth

We're walking home from a restaurant in Brooklyn last night and we hear a cat meowing in the nearby bushes. We kneel down and start making noises to get it to come to us.

Steve: Psss, psss... come here.
Kate: Why can't we see it anywhere?
Me: Yeah, why won't it come?
S: Maybe it has rabies.
K: That's ok, I'm vaccinated for that.
S: Yeah, I'll be vaccinated in a couple of weeks.

So... yeah. I'm the only sibling who can't pet a rabid cat.


Oh, the sweet, sweet Internet

You know, once in a while I discover something technological that completely blows my mind. This need not be complicated, friends. Often I am highly impressed by something as simple as IMing through gmail. Matt, a good friend from Muhlenberg who does all our tech stuff for NIFW, sent me an email the other day with songs attached. Songs! In an email! What ever happened to cassettes?

Well this weekend, Sarah Mclo introduced me to a little thing called "Podcasts." I am sure that if you live in the world, you know about this. I like to think that I am a present being on this planet and yet I had no idea such goodness was happening for free. I just spent hours perusing the Podcast center on my iTunes and I can now say with certainty that I could commute from Brooklyn to Amsterdam and back everyday and still have Podcasts to listen to. There is so much knowledge! Just waiting there! For free!

So far I am receiving daily health tips (oh yeah, THIS is a great idea, considering...), NY Times updates, NPR shows, and book reviews. Just a moment ago I stumbled upon DAILY LANGUAGE LESSONS. I will admit that I was tempted to download Italian, Mandarin and Polish because they're available (and come on! did I mention the free-ness??), but I limited myself to Spanish Intermediate conversation.

Because now I'm having disk space problems.


Ms. Togo returns home as an alien

First meal back at Friendly's
"Oh yeah, we have a lot of [somewhat politically incorrect racial remark] in our village."
"Wait, is that wrong to say in this country?"

Interacting with the Environmentalist brother
"Then in the afternoon, I usually burn my trash."
"BURN your trash??"
"Yeah. I mean, we don't have any other options."

Driving around Ytown
"Oh my GOD, is that a giant Hummer?!?!"
"Um... that's actually a firetruck."



Best NIFW issue ever. Go forth and watch a documentary trailer about love!


Sometimes I listen to this saved voice message twice in a row just to keep the laughter going

"I'm not sure if I just read your email correctly because my EYES STARTED BLEEDING, but I think that it said [jerk's name] is engaged. Jesus fucking Christ. I don't even know how to respond to that. Why are they all getting married? Why? Why? I don't even know. Thank god I'm going to a holiday party with a lot of booze. It's been a long week, Jen. I miss you. Give me a call. Bye!"

Hilarious and true: from the lovely Leigh.


And by broadcasting, I meant 'stealing the finnicky Internet from our neighbors"

Hi folks. Sorry about the lack. Unfortunately the Internet-stealing situation is as stable as the Middle East. We're going to be rectifying that very soon... namely in the way of purchasing our own Internet like good Americans.

I have good stuff for you today, Internet. Because the weather gods smiled down and dumped a pile of wintry mix on us, I spent the day at home. Snow Days are the most fantastic type of free vacation days; they are somewhat unexpected and sort of force you to stay inside and eat cereal on your couch while watching Project Runway for hours. So while basking in the SD glory, I hung curtains and have pictures for you!

A couple of highlights: the leafy lamp is from West Elm, the linen curtains are from Urban Outfitters, the little bottle lamp with lights inside is a gift from the lovely Evelyn, above my bed hangs a map of (you guessed it) Paris, and the framed print aside of the closet is a gorgeous piece of art that Tejal made for me called "The Tree of Life."

The apartment is really coming together and we got to share our newness with Anne and Katherine when they came by last weekend for our annual Secret Santa. Before they arrived, we bought a tree on the street from a French-Canadian woman and decorated it with the ornaments Sarah has acquired over the past 26 Xmases. It's funny to see another's decorations; it feels like looking in someone else's underwear drawer.

There are only 11 shopping days 'til Xmas and I'm still giftless for the fam. A particular challenge this year is shopping for the sister- what does one buy for someone who lives in Togo and has a very limited amount of space in her suitcase for the trip back? Or the brother. What does one need when he's headed to Kenya in 6 weeks with limited space in his backpack?

As for the parents, maybe being the only offspring left on the continent will be gift enough.


Now broadcasting from BROOKLYN

Tonight on my way in the building, I crossed the street and bought a pear for dessert from the fruit market that sits on our corner. This? This is a novelty, my friends. Buying fruit by the piece! Not worrying about it rotting by buying it in advance, but rather plucking it straight from the vine (or from the crate as it may be)... Brooklyn fruit happiness knows no boundaries.

The Move happened this past weekend and for four days I kept waking up thinking "HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO CROSS THE BRONX TODAY?" I made quite a few trips from Ytown to BK this weekend; some in my car, and others in my rented cargo van (which at one point I drove in a bike lane going the wrong way down a one-way busy Manhattan street. That heart attack shaved a good 5 years off the old life!)

I now live among four beautiful green walls and am posting from under my new duvet. Reading by the light of a new leafy West Elm lamp. Listening to Goldrick clean one room over. Listening to the lawyers dimly talk to each other through the other wall. These sounds, muted yet present, are what I like best about living in a city. I am sure there will eventually be a post about how the charming life sounds from next door have become unbearable, but for now I like the company.


The Mixing of the Paint!

Well, well, well. What a naive life I've been leading.

Today I went to a paint store after work to buy a can of the infamous green paint. "Here you go," I said to the paint store employee, handing him my perfectly green chip. "I would like a can of this color paint. Do you have it in stock?"

What proceeded was a conversation in which I realized that I have been living my whole life imagining that all paint stores carry buckets of COLORED paint. Like, I would be able to buy a can of "Brookfield Gardens" paint which is sitting on the shelf next to the "Paradise Island" and a little ways off from "Sheffield Green."

AU CONTRAIRE, MON AMI. The guy gave me the whole birds and bees talk (where do paint colors come from??) and even let me press the mixing button. Blue and yellow and some red poured in from something that looked very much like a soft ice cream machine. We stuck it in the mixer for five minutes et voila! Green!

The whole experience probably lasted 20 minutes at the most, but I left the store with a lighter step. This specific good mood was so familiar but it took me almost my whole commute home until I figured out what had specifically charmed me about the experience. The situation in the paint store was exactly the sort of thing that happened everyday in Paris. I was always stumbling into something new or different and learning by doing was a constant theme last year.

I miss that.


34th Street, Baltimore

peace lights
Originally uploaded by jenepting
Matt and Mer took me to Hampden this weekend, where we saw a quadrillion lights on one short block. Matt has a sweet car and they live in an adorable little house; sometimes when I think back to what I've been doing over the past 5 years, I wonder if I too could have a BMW + townhouse to my name.

But then, as Matt said, I've had adventures... and then some.


December's here, tra la la

I'll write more about my lovely weekend in Baltimore/DC/Virginia soon, but for now you can tide yourselves over with these photos of me, Matt, and Mer. I'll post mine tomorrow.

New NIFW is up in all its glory.

Also, how much do you want a "No Is for Wimps" thong? Or a dog tee-shirt? Check out holiday gift ideas for one and all on our new cafepress shop!


Asses of Fire!

I've joined a gym. No, I've joined a gymnastic wonderland. Because those are the two words that came to mind after the guy showed me the free towels and individual TV screens for each machine. To be fair, gyms don't need to do much to impress me. I was at Muhlenberg when we had 4 machines (2 of them those stationary bikes) for 2000 kids. I worked out in the loft, people. Kids today are spoiled.

I was planning to attend my first class at New York Sports Club* tonight, the appropriately-titled "Boot Camp". I was sort of nervous about it, the whole deal with not knowing anyone in the class and hoping you don't do something stupid like mis-align your stepper and fall on your face. (Yes that has happened to me in the past. No it did not happen tonight).

But then, in walks our teacher, who I will refer to as McBiceps. Immediately all fear was lost and was instantly replaced by curiosity, as in, "I am curious to see what McBiceps' guns will look like when we're doing bicep curls" and "I am very curious to see McBiceps' ass during squats." I will stop there because this is a family blog.

ANYWAY, the class was hell, as you'd imagine. They don't call it "Boot Camp" for nothing, but McBiceps was very attentive and pro-active about explaining the moves to me, being that I was new. But five minutes from the end, he yells out "Ok guys, you know what time it is! ASSES OF FIRE!" and then he bails on me to go pump up the volume on the stereo, while I am left wondering what in the hell "Asses of Fire!" will entail.

All I can say is after 180 reps, I can confirm that the move is correctly named.

*I wasn't going to use the name, but what the hell. In case you're wondering, they don't pay me to advertise. In case they're wondering, sure, I'll take some cash for the mention.


Freakin' Lavender.

Dear Origins,

You know that I love you. How could I not? Your skin-care products and natural make-up is the best. And don't get me started on that roll-on beige eyeshadow! I practically wear it in my sleep.

I know that a few months ago I started doubting the amazingness of your $35 per ounce moisturizer. I am sorry that I assumed the Ponds $4.49 stuff was the same. It clearly was not. Clearly the stuff you sell for 7x the price causes 7x less dry, patchy areas and makes my skin feel 7x more like a baby's ass. I'm back on the bandwagon. Promise.

But we have to talk. Your body lotion is RIDICULOUS. That free Ginger shit you were giving out for free last Xmas... well, no one really wonders why it was free. And just now, after my post-gym shower, I decided to put on some Lavender body lotion. Relaxing, right? WRONG. I smell like the entire city of Aix-en-Provence puked on me. I just tried to eat dinner and your scent reached up and overpowered everything I put in my mouth. I was all "mm, Dad, good turkey pie... BLAGH." And I'm a little bitter because I really love my Dad's turkey pie.

Your make-up colors are so natural and subtle, you barely notice they're there until you realize you just shelled out for $30 EYE DE-PUFFER. But your lotion possesses the subtlety of frat boys trying to get you in their frat house basements. Please tone it down a bit so that when Mom gets me an Origins gift basket this year we can all still smell the tree.

Love and kisses (and keep up the good work),
xo Jen


Hipper than hip

Something insane just happened. I googled "cool hip projects" (more on this later) and you know what came up? You can't even guess. Have you already googled it to find out? You're so sneaky.

CROCHET SCARVES. On what planet does Crochet Scarves come up as the #1 cool, hip project? What kind of bad-ass knitters are out there?

The reason I was googling 'cool hip projects' is because I am doing a little collaborating for NIFW. I am so excited that we're going to feature a truly cool and hip project in an upcoming issue (see: documentary about love!) and in one of my emails to said director, I mentioned that I thought that cool and hip projects should stay together. NIFW is looking to make friends with some other innovative and creative spirits and therefore I'm on a quest to find potentials.

Since googling turned out to be a bust, I turn to you. Does anyone know of any new bands or film-makers or writers or PROJECTS, really, that we could join forces with? All recommendations are helpful and I promise to be in touch with anyone you recommend. I'd like to feature projects in which people are actively out in the world doing things.

Maybe you are the founder of a scarf-knitting club, perhaps?


Thanksgiving 2007

Happy Thanksgiving from some friendly-looking people. Doesn't this picture look like one for the holiday cards (if we just photoshop Kate in somehow and get Steve's beard away from that dangerously-close corn-cob-lit-candle)? We have the photographic skills of the wooden chest in the dining room to thank...

Also, take a look at these homemade rolls!

The cats enjoyed a Thanksgiving brunch of catnip...

then Mom kicked our asses at Scrabble...

before Steve finished us off on the second round.

Hope your holiday was just as relaxing as ours. And if you are among the CRAZY people going shopping tomorrow at 4a.m., don't forget to pick me up a little something special.


Hi Friends.

It has been quite the week and my absence on this blog is not evidence that I've picked up and moved back to Europe. Not yet anyway.

Things fall apart. And then you decide to stop letting them do so. So, in short, that's where I am at the moment. I wish that my storyline arc labeled "moving back to New York" was prettier and more arc-like, but unfortunately the truth of the matter is that it has been quite jagged. And the other day we even had a dramatic re-enactment of the Crash of '29 when I was pulled over by a cop while driving a rented cargo-van. I sobbed my way out of a ticket and then into a Sam's Club parking lot and then all the way home to Yorktown. Low point, one might say. Low point.

Blah. I hate writing about this stuff on FOL because things are supposed to be funny! and light! and interesting to read! But voila, that's how things go.

Exciting events on the horizon:
- home-made TURKEY tomorrow and spending Thanksgiving at home
- green-room-painting in Brooklyn
- Kate home for a visit from Afrique, no doubt looking like the adopted native daughter in all holiday pix
- New Year's in ENGLAND with Katie, Sarah and Harriet

Oh yeah, and by the way? I never announced nifw last week. New issue up; good poetry from boys, among other interesting stuff and a Brooklyn brunch pic I took. Check it.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving; we're supposed to think about what we're grateful for and one of my definites is this blog and the friends (both known and unknown) who read it. Thanks for hanging around despite the drama. It helps.

Happy Thanksgiving xo.


The frosty magic of PP

I spent a lot of my day making a Power Point presentation and this next sentence might shock you. It was my first time. What! You mean I didn't have to make Power Points everyday in college and I NEVER made one during my entire M.A. experience?

1. I was just above the PP generation at Muhlenberg (back in my day we used the crappy Telnet email system which was basically a step above chiseling a stone message to your prof).
2. I did my M.A. in France. Hello! My professors cleaned the chalk board with Kleenex! Power Point is still at least three French generations away from being installed.

The experience wasn't so fun until the end when I discovered a variety of "Design options" for the background. Fearing the worst for your Communications Materials presentation? Dress it in an elegant garnet-colored drape background! Some of the backgrounds are A.mazing, like the one that has fireworks coming out of the top right hand side of the screen.

Tonight (like many nights- oh! miserable existence in suburbia!), I have been sitting on my parents' couch, keeping myself warm with a laptop battery. Finally a few moments ago I had enough and revolted, changing the thermostat from 65 to 67 degrees. This revolution was promptly squashed by Master Freeze himself, who cited the cost of oil as a reason to put on a THIRD shirt. Yes, I want to save the environment. No, I do not want Frostbite.

I have therefore made a Power Point presentation about things that are acceptable at 65 degrees (bearing in mind that family rooms are not included). Enjoy.


Sweet Potato Ice Cream: a photo essay

So just in case you were wondering, yes we did make Sweet Potato ice cream, and no it was not the most amazing ice cream ever. In fact, we kind of made ourselves sick between the ice cream and Pumpkin bread. But the adventure of making something crazy with Evelyn and Tejal was the highlight of the process. There is no one I would rather fling a Mega Ball ice cream maker around in an old comforter for over 35 looong minutes than those two.

Except maybe Ben and Jerry.


Anne, party of 5

Anne moved back from London this weekend and I think we all know what that means... SUNDAY BRUNCH (and subway pix).


While Supplies Last, Part Deux (plus a frozen Padre)

I spent the afternoon flipping through books at the library and then wandering aimlessly through bedding stores in an attempt to find the perfect duvet cover. When I walked back in the door, I didn't see my Dad anywhere and figured he was in the garage. Imagine my surprise when I happened to see him out of the corner of my eye, sitting in a lawn chair on the deck, wrapped in bathroom rugs.

"Oh. my. god. he has LOST it," I thought to myself. "My poor Dad is sitting outside in 40 degree weather, staring off into the woods wrapped in white bathmats from Sears! What could have set this off?!?"

Then he saw me and started waving frantically towards the sliding door. Turns out he went out to shake the rugs and accidentally locked himself outside. He is lucky that my tolerance for Linens 'N Things is low... we could have had a hypothermia situation straight out of Grey's Anatomy going on here.

In other news, Dove has announced another irresistible offer and here is what this year's looks like:

Free tote bag 2007, here I come.

Obama '08

Just watched him on Leno and he is SO what we need... maybe Bill could be his running-mate?


What about Sweet Corn?

Good news for those following the middle child's adventures in Togo: Kate will soon be enjoying a relief from the Togolese heat via an electric fan. ELECTRICITY. IN AFRICA. Huh?

Kate's Peace Corps service doesn't end until December 2008, but she's just been hired to work for PSI in Lome (Togo's capital) for her final year. Hopefully this means better access to Internet, but I'm pretty sure all she's concerned about is having even a 10-minute reprieve from the billion degree heat.


Funniest voicemail message in recent memory:

"WHOAH. There's a runner in the road. I almost ran him over! Why don't runners at night just wear light bulbs all over their body?!?" -Evelyn


How is it that pumpkin is such a DELICIOUS choice for an ice cream flavor but I cannot think of any other vegetables that could conceivably be another viable choice? Can only imagine sweet potato as a possibility... and, as Evelyn points out, cucumber could make a decent sorbet. Leave your veggie flavor suggestions and insights in the comments and maybe, just maybe, E and I will attempt a vegetable ice cream-making adventure with the best idea.


OUTRAGE at the voting booth

I enter town hall to vote earlier this evening, tell the woman my name, and wait.

Woman Knitting Patriotic-colored Afghan: Oh you're the third one of those tonight.
Me: Oh, yeah, I guess my Mom and Dad came down. (third one of those??)
WKPA: Please sign right here.
Me: Do you need my license?
WKPA: We don't do that anymore.
Me: (don't do what, verify my IDENTITY when voting? great...) Sorry, I haven't voted here in a while, I was abroad.
WKPA: Oh, where was that?
Me: In France. Paris.
WKPA: France! Those bastards!
Me: Excuse me?
WKPA: Those people hate us.
Me: Uh, no they don't. There are obviously strong feelings towards the French in this country too. (gesture in the general vicinity of her hate-spewing mouth) And they just don't necessarily agree with our government; for that matter neither do I, but that's besides the point...
WKPA: I was in Paris a few years back and they were all bitter and hostile.
Me: Well, maybe that was around the time that the Iraq War began.
WKPA: No, it wasn't. What's so awful is how they treat their women. They don't let women work after they graduate from college! They send them here to get jobs!
Me: HUHASLDGHASLDHGASLDGHASDGLAHSDG??? (fights urge to shove Banana Republic handbag down WKPA's throat). Ok, I'm.... I'm just done.

At this point I walk into the voting machine and am so flustered that I don't understand anything I'm looking at and just vote for three female Democrats. I still cannot even process what kind of unbiased dipshit this woman was and why on earth she was allowed anywhere near a voting machine.

I understand that lots of people don't know about other countries or maybe just aren't interested in places outside their nation. I don't agree, but I accept it. But to spew pure lies about a culture you clearly know nothing about? OUTRAGEOUS.


Wise words from Elizabeth Gilbert during her talk at St. John's University*

"A quest is the process by which a human being becomes a question."

*a two-hour subway + bus ride away from civilization in the far-away land known as "Queens"...


Tweedledee and Tweedledum do Halloween

Can't you just smell the humiliation?




Here's hoping no kids egg my car this year...

Tonight during my drive home I passed a gray Jetta and thought I saw Bill Clinton in the driver's seat wearing a yellow fleece. Can you imagine if Bill had never become president and was commuting everyday on I-684 in a yellow fleece instead of helping to save the world?

Talk about spooky...

Also, there's a new NIFW.


Wedding, Alex-style

Alex is not the first of my friends to get married, but his wedding was a first in this way: the bride and groom entered the reception hall to the Star Wars' theme. Not kidding.

Alex has always had his shit together and it doesn't surprise me in the least that he is one of the first to be married. He is also the first to be a homeowner. This may sound like a good place to be in life, except you are forgetting that this means he is now the lucky owner of the "doorstep most likely to be frequented by his un-married friends in their 30s." So I hope he is relaxing in Hawaii this week with his lovely new wife, Han, because from now on, he is the resident GROWN-UP.

Without further ado... the wedding and brunch pix:


One-track mind

"Mom, what do you think of THIS?" (shows new blog header)
"Hey, it looks like a colon!"

Fixing with Windex

You know what is truly amazing? The transformation of Tula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which takes her from Loser with frumpy clothes to Aidan's girlfriend with confidence and style in about a minute and a half. All through the magic of college.

I'm pretty sure it took the rest of us four years. Four years and a semester abroad. And I, for one, did not get Aidan as a post-grad gift.


What then?

Today was Wednesday, October 23. My friend Alex's wedding is Saturday and today was the day that I had a ticket booked to fly back from Paris to New York for the wedding.

This is the last date that was planned in my Paris life. And so as time has spun away in its quick way over the past three months, I have always had this date in mind. Because nothing beyond October 23 existed; I had not foreseen past the flight home.

I am feeling the effects of this freefall.

It's not that I'm unhappy with this life. Except that I am unhappy. I struggle with fitting back into a society and among friends; I feel foreign.

Even on my loneliest days in Paris, I was not alone because I had the city for company. I would walk the streets and take comfort from their strong facades, worn but sturdy from time. And perhaps I also allowed myself more leeway to feel lonely- I was far away from home. Loneliness abroad is explicable, almost assumed, expected. Loneliness at home, back among "all your family and friends," is less accepted, perhaps even to myself.

People pretty much expect you to be over it, four months after you move countries. I avoid talking about how much I miss Paris because the tolerance of others to listen to that sort of thing is limited; it comes across bourgeois and self-involved on my part. And yet it is so much of what is on my mind everyday. I can't help but think that this would all be easier if Paris was a man I was dating; surely it is more socially acceptable to drone on about relationship problems than it is to bemoan a city and life lost.

'Brooklyn' is the magic word, the solution that everyone offers. "Wait until Brooklyn, you'll see!" they shout. "Once you move there, everything will fall into place." And maybe they are right, maybe Brooklyn will suddenly be the answer.

But what if it is not.


In case "something bad" happens

Put a new phone number in your cell phone and label it "ICE" (in case of emergency). In parenthesis next to it, list the person's connection to you. If something bad happens and an emergency worker has to get in touch with someone quick, he or she will look for an ICE number in your phone first.

So to review:
ICE (Mom): (555) 555-5555

Thanks to Katherine for the advice, a girl who knows how much I love a good lifesaving tip.



This is going to sound cliche and like a bitter New Yorker, but I swear I would write this even if I came from the opposite of New York, like... Nevada.

Red Sox fans are SO. ANNOYING.*

Like a team if you want. Even LOVE a team. Put their bumper sticker on your car and make-out with a team if you want. What do I care? Except when you start your CRAZY LOUD SCREAMING ANNOYING VOICES, it really gets to me.

Red Sox fans are like those annoying people who cut you in the "10 items max" line at the supermarket clearly holding 26 items. They are also like the people who do not know how to merge onto route 22 in Pennsylvania. And finally, they are like THOSE people who talk through an entire movie that you just paid $16 to see and your suspension of disbelief is broken by IDIOTS jabbering on about the f'ing Red Sox.
And don't go giving me the old sob story about how they hadn't won in like 500 years until two years ago boo hoo Sox players. Their pants are baggy and their hair is ugly. And there is no 'charm' to this look:

Do yourselves a favor: clean up your act, get a haircut and wear tighter pants. Look presentable. Like a Yankee.

*If you are a Red Sox fan and a friend or a reader of this site, my apologies. You are probably not as annoying as the other Sox fans.


Making Strides Sunday

I'm not crazy about bugs and I really hate the thought of snakes, but the one thing that I am unbelievably afraid of is one day waking up with cancer. My Mom has worked in oncology for the past 25+ years and I have grown up hearing stories of her patients' "bone mets" and "positive nodes." To hear her speak about cancer is to hear of a veteran speak of war- it sounds nonchalant except when you realize that this nonchalance has grown from an OVERWHELMING amount of emotion and experience.

My Nana had breast cancer twice in her life and survived it both times and my great-aunt on my Dad's side recently went into remission from her breast cancer. Anyone who knows anything about breast cancer knows that having it on both sides of your family is NOT good news. This is a reality that I think about daily; sometimes it's on my long drives to work and other times it's when I pass a hospital and sometimes for no reason it's when I'm falling asleep at night. How long until I too join the statistics?

This morning my Mom and I walked in the American Cancer Society's walk-a-thon, a 5-mile jaunt through the gorgeous weather with about 9 billion other people. I was TOTALLY unprepared for the number of women wearing pink shirts with "Survivor" printed on the back. You hear about the numbers and you see the pink ribbons, but there, in the flesh, were thousands of women, marching down the trail, some in wigs, some whose hair has grown back, and some proud of their hairless tops. They had confronted the demon, my demon, and yet they marched, wrangled and tired, but victorious.

What struck me the most was to see how many different types of women were Survivors. Women of all races and all ages, some wearing crosses around their necks and some wrapped in religious scarves. And there they all were, glad to be alive. It was really impressive.

Along the way there were hundreds of volunteers cheering for the walkers, many of them college students from Manhattanville or Purchase. I noticed that quite a few of them seemed to be foreign students from Asia and I thought about what this must look like to someone from another culture, this huge mass of Americans marching through the streets in the name of a disease. It is something so unique to our culture and in that moment I was really proud to be part of the power that lies in belief and the unwillingness to accept 'no.'

"Rock on, you motivated Americans," I thought to myself.

Because surely we can find a way.


Friday night jinx

Every morning as I turn right onto I-684, I have this great thought for what I want to post about on my blog that night. And every night I try to recall what that great thought was to no avail. I mean, what could it possibly be? The charm of a certain guardrail?

I'm going to a friend's wedding next weekend and have made it my mission this week to avoid foods that will interfere with the whole "looking good in the new dress" thing. No one tells you this when they sell moving back to America-land, but living in this country makes. you. fatter. I wish I was kidding. But the lethal combination of not living in a 6th floor walk-up and driving everywhere puts on the pounds. I'm trying to tell myself that this is a pre-Brooklyn problem, that once I get there I will do so much more walking and I will be poorer and unable to buy cookies everyday at lunch. I also try to convince myself that I, like Elizabeth Gilbert, need an "Italy" period in my life when I allow myself to get over my recent divorce (with Paris) and let my body go. This zen-theory works much better on paper than in reality because I am having trouble with the zen of FITTING INTO MY PANTS.

And no good intention goes untested, as we all know, so today the universe decided to send two colleagues to work with donuts and one with freshly-baked chocolate croissants. I held it together though, because I'm about two binge-days away from wearing pants with a drawstring waist. Hot.

This week was full of important emails that warned me that not enough women are getting free mammograms and of my impending doom should I not forward one cheesy-ass poem to five people in the next three hours. After describing two horror stories of people who didn't forward the email (both of which ended in death, mind you), the final one reassured this:

"Richard sent this poem out within 45 minutes of reading it. Not even 4 hours later walking along the street to his new job interview with a really big company, ! when he ran into Cynthia Bell, his secret love for 5 years. Cynthia came up to him and told him of her passionate crush on him that she had had for 2 years. Three days later, he proposed to her and they got married. Cynthia and Richard are still married with three children, happy as ever!"

Sad and unemployed to married and successful in three days? Ya. Ok.*

And finally, how cool is this site?

*probably just jinxed myself.


Annnnd... ACTION!

Scene 1
Place: Kitchen table
Time: Sunday evening, post-dinner
Jen and Steve are surfing the Internet on their respective laptops.

J: Come onnnn... help me think of the top five important things to tell people about helping the environment for my blog tomorrow. It's Blog Action Day.
S: Ok, 1. Use Nalgene bottles.
J: Or maybe just any reusable bottle?
S: Yeah. 2. Eat local food.
J: Ok, I guess I can find a website that tells people where their closest farmer's market is. How about getting fashionable reusable bags?
S: Ok, that can be 3. And 4 should be Use energy-saving lightbulbs.

In the meantime, Mama Epting comes into the kitchen.

S: Also, tell them they should unplug their cell phone chargers if they're not using them (5).
M: I don't do that. I leave mine plugged in all the time.
M: Well, it's just easier.
S: Mom, I am the president of Enact. It's important that I practice what I preach and it's also important that you support me! That's like... if I was the president of the United States and you were... communist.



New issue: www.noisforwimps.blogspot.com. Check it out.


Can Tiger Sharks make photocopies?

Work this week was stressful and at one point Thursday afternoon I started having heart palpitations, sweaty palms, and a migraine. Over photocopies. Friday was much of the same and by the time I walked in the door Friday evening, I was all "RED WINE OR BUST."

So I settled down with some red wine and kettle popcorn on the couch and proceeded to watch abc.com and nbc.com like it was my after-work job. My poor brain was so dim from the intense photocopy work-outs that I even sat through completely shitty shows like The Bachelor (who has no personality and is trying to figure out which no-personality female he should procreate with). Seriously, women who want to go on that show must have a strong desire to inflict bitchy, female competition on themselves... kind of like the girls who join sororities.

Included on the night's program was also Gray's Anatomy, which as Eliza and I discussed at work, seems to never really be great TV, but we can't stop ourselves from watching.

Some Gray's Observations:
1. If I were in a relationship as boring as Meredith and McDreamy, I would pack up my shit and move to a trailer park in another rainy state to find another intern. Maybe Oregon.
2. Every time I think I like Alex, he does something to crown himself DOUCHEBAG once again. Seriously, is that guy cool or not? Because Gray's writers seem to have a problem grasping his character development... which at this point vascillates between "wow I'm hot and emotionally available!" to "wow I think I'm hot and I'm Satan."
3. Lexie, I loved you when you told George you knew you were awesome. "Yeah, you ARE awesome!" I thought. And now I just think you're weepy and boring. Which proves that you really are Meredith Gray's biological sister.


I spent some time with everyone's favorite 5th grader earlier this week, who decided that we should start a band. We all wore backwards Eric Clapton hats; he would play guitar, his 2nd grader brother was assigned drums and I was to be the lead singer.

"Jen, we need to write our first hit."
"Ok, no problem, I have paper and a pen. What do you want our first song to be about?"
*at this point, I start wondering what he'll say- what do 9 year olds think about? Love? Family? Divorce? Global Warming?
"Hm... I think... MONKEYS!"
"Um, I, ok."
"Yeah, 'cause I wrote a song last week about a tiger shark, so that's already done."

Because of course the two options for songs written by 9 year old boys would be tiger sharks and monkeys. In that order.


Hopes, dreams, and mental issues

Me: Can I ask you for some more water?

Waiter: Sure, anything else? Heads shake as he walks his adorable ass away.

Mclo: Your hand in marriage...?

Me: I don't know how I'd manage with a shrink in the beginning. I'd be so paranoid that everything I tell them slots me into a generalization. And I don't like them thinking about me as the girl who 'xyz.' I don't want to be one of many. I want to be one of one.

Goldrick: Yeah, that's called 'favorite child syndrome.'

Me: You know, I was thinking about it. You're so lucky. You don't have to worry about another gender. There's no question in your mind like, "ohh he's a MAN."

Matthew: Right. It's more, "ohh, he's a dumbass."


The New Yorker Festival 2007

Here is what has run through my head at the start of every October for the past five years:
"Ok, Steve's birthday present, check, what else... OH SHIT I FORGOT TO BUY TICKETS TO THE NEW YORKER FESTIVAL."

This year, promising not to miss the boat again, I sat at my parents' kitchen table in mid-September and counted down the seconds until the tickets went on sale. In my left hand, I wielded a phone with ticketmaster on speed dial. In my right hand, the ticketmaster website on a laptop computer. And after a furious 4-minutes of double-teaming ticketmaster from both ends, I emerged, triumphant, with tickets to three events. And holy gorgeous event-spaces, were they worth it:

*Friday night: Reading by Daniel Alarcon and Zadie Smith

You know those authors who read in that monotone voice, only slightly lifting their tone at the end of a paragraph? As if using something other than flatness would ruin their hipness and their art? Daniel Alarcon is one of those. And the thing is that everyone fell asleep. Because he was reading some passage about a man who decides to leave his wife and baby and it was literally like sitting in church and zoning out because the melody of the psalms are always the same. Boring.

Then Zadie Smith came to the front of the synagogue. My first thought was "wait, Zadie Smith is black!?!" and then immediately "wait, Zadie Smith is British?!?" This just goes to show that I made it through the hefty On Beauty without so much as taking a glance at the inside back cover. Other than her charming accent, Zadie Smith also impressed by reading the first two chapters of her yet-to-be-published book. I have nothing more to say than her writing was beautiful and stylized, original and nuanced. I even waited on line afterwards to shake her hand and to tell her that she is lovely.

*Friday night, George Saunders and Jonathan Safran Foer, conversation about the "Incredible"

I wanted Jonathan Safran Foer to be adorable and witty; instead he was adorable in a "I-look-like-Harry-Potter-at-age-30-without-the-scar" and not as witty as he was intense. Especially in comparison with George Saunders, who was so lovable and funny and comfortable with himself. One of the most interesting comments of the evening was when someone asked JSF if he and Nicole Krauss (his wife) sit around talking about their plot lines and eating donuts in bed. (This is, of course, what many of us imagine to be true when two young, dynamic authors are married). Unfortunately, JSF confided that he leaves the house to write (he did not specify where- a park bench? a synagogue? the Park Slope YMCA?) and his wife writes in the house. When he comes back after a long day of work, he does not discuss his book and sticks to an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. I gotta say, it might be true, but it sure does lose its fiction magic to hear that. I like my writers toiling with their work and tortured by characters that plague their consciousnesses. What JSF described might very well be true but it just feels so anti-artist and, how shall I put it... soccer mom.

*Sunday morning:
Robert Hass and Katha Pollitt poetry class
I wish I could start every Sunday morning in a poetry class led by these two. They shared poems that have inspired them (Milton's "On Blindness", Wallace Steven's "Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird") and then spoke a bit about how they come to the page. I loved that Robert Hass keeps a folder of scraps of paper and envelopes and post-its with words or phrases on each one. When he wants to start a new poem he opens the folder and pulls something out and goes from there. Makes you dream of the possibilities for the back of your Con Ed bill, non?


Top 5 "men looking for women" ads on craigslist as of NOW

Ahh, what a menu. WHAT a selection. Craigslist, you really outdo yourself, I must say. Every once in a while a friend will forward me a particularly fantastic-sounding man's ad. And inevitably, I scroll down. And weep. Luckily they are tears of laughter, though I'll tell ya, it's kind of enough to send a single girl to the nunnery.

Top 5 "m4w" headlines of the moment- GO!

5. Let's be honest, nothing too loose.
4. With Strings Attached. The Better to Play Love's Sweet Music.
3. Wanted: Sassy witty, frisky, loyal girlfriend.
2. Matt Damon trapped in George Costanza's body.

and finally,
1. Man with Bod of Porn Star Seeks One Woman.



It is becoming increasingly apparent that I am not destined to become a famous musician. Nor have I demonstrated an acting talent that stands out as a hobby that I should pursue. My artistic skills are questionable at best. Try as I might, I don't understand modern dance and other than the 45-second ballet I still have memorized from Kindergarten, my dancing skills are nothing to write home about either. I will not be known for being one of these types of artists.

So what do you do when you realize you're never going to play for sold-out crowds? Maybe you change your dream.

I write this because there came a moment yesterday when I pressed the "publish" button and No Is For Wimps became a reality. This was followed by the "HOLY SHIT" face that I make when I am VERY excited about something. Then ensued ten minutes of rummaging through a box of CDs on my bedroom floor and then five minutes of dancing around to the sound of Outkast blaring through my little Dell speakers.

Organizing a bunch of people to contribute their voices to the Internet chorus, saying YES, and feeling like I am doing more in my life than working to pay my bills. This, my friends, is the closest it gets to being a rock star for me.

Sometimes I think about what my children will say to me one day about the George W. Bush years. How will I respond when they ask why I did nothing to stop the incredibly awful things that have been happening during his reign? It is not enough to say that I am one small voice out of many; it does not make me feel like a good person to say "politics don't interest me"; I am sick of reading about Iraq and Iran, but I do because it's important. I don't try to pretend that this blog or NIFW are going to save the world. But they are something for me. They give me a lifeline of communication, of voices, of perspectives.

And so I rocked out to Outkast yesterday like the rock star I will never be. Because I acted. Because I started. Because something came into existence yesterday that was not there before.

And maybe that is all that matters.


No Is For Wimps

I'll have more to say about this later, but here's something important you want to be reading:


pps update that blog sucka

My brother ended his email this morning to me with these poetic words.

I spent last week living and commuting out of Brooklyn. I'm moving in with Goldrick and Mclo as of December; living with such friends alone makes me feel like I've won some kind of roommate lottery. The apartment itself is a charming three-bedroom with a gigantic kitchen and a peaceful living room complete with a flowered couch (ahh, I've spent many a night tossing and turning on thee).

But other than the apartment and the girls, there is Brooklyn. Brooklyn is so incredible, it makes me want to write poems about it. Here's a sample haiku:

Brooklyn bookstores plus
independent coffee shops
plus Joya
make JOY.

My Mom says the word Brooklyn with disdain. "Oh THAT place," she moans. "I HATE driving in that place." Luckily for me, I don't drive there. I float there with Brooklyn love.

I saw my relatives last weekend in Pennsylvania for the Day of Auctioning Nana's House. It went sort of how you might expect an auction of someone's crap from the past 92 years to go; a couple of items went for big money and the rest was sold at $0.50 a box. I told my relatives I was moving to Brooklyn; whenever I say this to someone who doesn't live close to the city, I imagine the Brooklyn they must imagine in their head. A Brooklyn full of chubby, accented pizza guys, of immigrants, of Dodgers.

I'm back up in Yorktown, far away from the doughy-arms of the pizza boys. My pants feel tight from not walking anywhere in 36 hours, from sitting in one spot with my computer glued to my lap as I prepare a new endeavor. Launch date is tomorrow, so get ready- No Is For Wimps is on it's way!


The Feast of Love: otherwise known as what should have probably been my first blog post ever

Every relationship has at least one really good day. What I mean is, no matter how sour things go, there's always that day. That day is always in your possession. That's the day you remember. You get old and you think: well, at least I had that day. It happened once. You think all the variables might just line up again. But they don't. Not always. I once talked to a woman who said "Yeah, that's the day we had an angel around."
-page 17

I have a hard time imagining who I was before I read The Feast of Love for the first time. Does that sound dramatic? I hope so. Reading that book during a family vacation to Block Island back in 2000 was a kind of life-altering experience that I can only associate with religion. Charles Baxter converted me with his words that summer, completely made me a believer- not only in love, but in fiction's power to explore and inspire.

I discovered FOL at a time when I was feeling pretty fragile. My heart had been recently broken - BADLY - and I was pretty confused as to what kind of emotion steamrolls over your identity, your confidence, and your heart in one thundering move. The only thing I knew for sure was that I didn't want to be anywhere close to that happening again. I bought copy after copy of the book, giving it to friends, obliging boyfriends to read it. When one such boyfriend told me that he hated Diana's character, I knew we couldn't last. Any complex woman must admit to being part Diana - and anyone who says otherwise is lying. If he couldn't understand what made her tick, he wasn't going to get me.

I started writing to Charlie Baxter, FOL's author, not long after I read the book. He is incredibly gracious and has written back to me every time I send something his way. Last year I wrote to him to suggest that he read Andre Gide's Les Faux-Monnayeurs because the structure reminded me of his work. Imagine my glee when the author of my favorite book responded with:

"Oh yes, I read LFM (The Counterfeiters in English) many years ago, and although I had one or two reservations about it, I felt, all in all, that it was a masterpiece, and in any case it became part of my mental background, my spiritual furniture, as did Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveler (its title in English)."

Spiritual furniture! What a guy!

So now this film is coming out on Friday and the girls and I are going to see it. I'm a little nervous to see what has been such an important book translated into another art form, but I'm trying to let go and see it for what it is. If you have read the book, let us know what you think about the film in the comments' section (what are YOU apprehensive about?). If you haven't read the book, well, there's only one thing to say. Enjoy.


You know when you think you're hip and have it going on and then a 5th grader disses you? Yeah, me too.

5th Grader Babysitting Charge: Jen! I need to write a speech because I'm running for Vice President of the School!
Me: Ok, well what kinds of things do you stand for? Like, why should someone vote for you?
5GBC: Hm. On rainy days, I think we should have a better movie selection for recess. But that's all I can think of!
Me: How about cooler field trips or inviting a great guest speaker to come to the School?
5GBC: Nah, that's too much work. How about "I promise to get recycling bins in the cafeteria"? Or no, make it "I promise to TRY to get recycling bins in the cafeteria."
Me: Oh yeah, that sounds like a politician. Hey- remember when they had that wolf come to the Pre-School? That was pretty cool! Maybe you could get them to bring an exotic zoo! With um... scorpions!*
5GBC: JEN. WE ARE 5TH GRADERS. Come on, be cool.

*Scorpions, their level of toxicity, and the plethora of ways to shoot a scorpion with a paintball gun were all heavily discussed earlier in the evening.


The most meaningless sentence in the English language

"You know that Barnes and Noble? It's right near the Starbucks."


Hell, I'll take a free trip to Club Med right about now...

Here I am, wondering what to write about tonight, feeling a little mad that my day consisted of commute/work/commute/work. On nights like these, I have a kind of inner rage that comes out like "DAMN ALL OF YOU FOR CONVINCING ME IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO LIVE HERE! LOOK AT THIS LIFE I LEAD!" Particularly because my busy days at work leave me with little to no energy to post on this here blog. And no one likes that.

So I'm sitting here stewing about not having any inspiration when I log onto my gmail account and find no less than NINE emails with a subject line of "FEASTOFLOVE/clubmed sweepstakes." I almost spammed them into the spam folder, but out of curiosity, I opened the first one and found a name, a phone number, and a birthday. All eight of the other emails had the same information.

So obviously someone somewhere is having a sweepstakes for a club med trip and accidentally using feastoflove@gmail.com as the email! Hilarious!

Some super-sleuthing on my part has noticed that those emailing me:
1. Mostly have NY area codes
2. Are in the 35+ age category

The paranoid part of me thinks that this is some kind of insanely intelligent computer virus and my whole system is about to crash in 30 seconds because I even dared to open these emails. The curious part of me wants to write them all back a group email to explain the confusion.

And maybe become their new best friends because clearly a club med/feast of love sweepstakes situation is hot stuff.


At least Britney isn't opening THIS awards show...

I never watch the Emmys. This is mostly because I don't watch TV, or at least not anything that's current. Mostly I stumble across the 'good shows' when I wake up hungover on someone else's couch and they put in some HBO DVD that blows my hungover mind away. Sex and the City and Entourage are two examples.


This year's Emmys show is kind of serving as the background noise for the shopping I'm doing online, but I am vaguely listening in and have to ask- what are all these miniseries and Masterpiece theaters and made-for-TV-movies? Literally every award they've given so far (and I've been watching this long enough to choose 9 Xmas gifts for myself...) has been for one of these things. Why is Grace from Will and Grace in a TV movie about being a starter wife? What does that mean? Why is the Queen looking so serious in her new TV movie? And why can't that cute guy from The Office be on more often?

We had a little party here on the deck this afternoon to celebrate my M.A. The deck is a lovely venue for all types of parties, except that after about 90 minutes of party, it started to feel like a deep-freezer. By the time everyone left, they were wearing borrowed sweatshirts and some were wrapped in fleece blankets. What is it with you, September? Why you gotta be that way? Can't you let the good times roll without being a frosty bizatch?

After the guests left, I opened a few gifts, one of which was a very generous one in the form of a COACH BAG. First I passed out and fell on the floor with glee and good fortune. Then I picked myself up and called Goldrick, who is my go-to girl for all things made to hang on your shoulder and carry your money. Because that is what you do when someone gives you a wonderful gift you would never buy yourself- you call you friend who WOULD buy that for herself to give her a telephone high-five about it.

Weekend highlight: Feeling like a WINNER with good friends and a hot suede bag.
Weekend lowlight: Feeling sad knowing that it's going to be a good couple of years before any of the winning HBO shows make it to my brainwaves.


Needing some Art on a quiet Friday night...

If I wrote tonight about what I am musing about lately, it would be a depressing look at marriage and a frank self-inquiry about why I would ever want to enter into something as terrifying as spending the rest of my days with someone unpleasant. But I don't want to go there tonight.

I used to play the violin in school; for ten years the YHS orchestra suffered just a bit because of my participation in its ensemble. Musically, I was not talented enough for the group, but I like to think that my energy was what landed me a spot. Plus I was dating my stand partner, who was rather talented, so I had connections.

Our orchestra director, Mr. Szabo, (who should be cited in this blog more often because he was one hell of a character), told us once about a crazy phenomenon that happened between instruments. It has to do with resonating and purity. If you play a pure note on a string instrument, the other string instruments in the room will vibrate with the note (provided they're also in tune). Isn't that a beautiful thing?

The reason I tell you this is that this is how I feel when I read certain passages or see certain paintings or hear certain songs. Like Art is hitting my chords. And so on that note (ha!), here's a beautiful passage from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath that makes my inner chords vibrate everytime I read it:

...I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.
I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.


Because overactive imagination isn't transferred by genetics.

Tonight I decided to take a walk when I got home from work. Because the only exercise I've gotten in the past two days has been walking from my desk to the printer and back. Which is exactly 3 and a half steps. Round trip.

I left my house and was heading down the block when it occurred to me that the distance to the bus stop is possibly only a bit further than the printer in my office. And here I spent all those years bemoaning the marathon walk! Because it was uphill both ways!

I was just about back home when I passed a couple of women walking towards me. My first thought was "oh, that's my neighbor David's Mom and the woman that lived at his house too." My second thought was "who is that other woman?" And then, as if modern times smacked me across the face, my third thought was "LESBIANS! THEY ARE LESBIANS! THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN LESBIANS!" Thrilled at my discovery, I came down the front steps with old adages echoing through my mind about how blind we are when we are young and how sweet it is to think of a time when we are young enough not to judge. And then I came inside and declared my discovery to my Dad ("Dad! Our neighbors are lesbians!").

"No they're not," he said. "Some guy lives there too. Some guy that walks a pit bull every night."

"Maybe that's someone else?"

"No. That's the guy who lives there. You just made all the rest up."


June Carter was one lucky gal

I spent part of my last day in Paris at the Fondation Cartier, not far from Montparnasse. They were showing an exhibit about the history of Rock and Roll and as I wandered through the rooms listening to different selections of hits from the 40's and 50's, I couldn't help thinking "man weren't they lucky back then, to have grown up in a simpler time when Elvis crooning about being a hound dog was the most complex stuff they heard on the radio."

Ya, I'm naive like that.

I have to recommend the exhibit though for those who are still in the Parisian region; I could have spent a lot more time watching the videos and sitting in the "studio" listening to the recording sessions of Elvis and Johnny Cash, among others. And if you haven't yet seen Walk the Line, you need to clear a couple of hours this weekend and do so. Cause Johnny + June = hope in true love in a post-rehab world.


And now I don't get the student price EITHER...

Me: So how's the commute from Hartford going?
Co-worker 1: It's fine, it's living with my parents that's making me crazy.
Me: Yeah. I hear that. Overall, I'm cool with my parents, but last night we ate dinner at 4:14pm.
Co-worker 2: What! You're like, living in a retirement home!
Me: I know, just like that. Only no senior discount at the movies.


Paris Newsletter: Month Twelve

Dear Paris,
A few years ago, a friend of mine was preparing to go abroad. She was nervous to go and we spoke on IM for a while about how much she would grow during her time in Scotland, how much she had to look forward too, and especially how strong she would feel when she came back at the end of the semester. "This will be you," I wrote:
love love love
love you love
love love love

I have never felt as close to that diagram as I did this past week in Paris. What I thought would be a horribly depressing seven days ended up being my best yet in a city that welcomed me as if I had never left. Everything was just as I left it, the Champs Elysee still led to the Louvre, Notre Dame was still catercornered to St. Michel, and all the Starbucks were still where I'd left them. What a relief to know I hadn't imagined the beauty of the Jardin de Luxembourg or the quiet calmness of the Seine.

In some twist of inexplicable efficiency, I managed to see every person I wanted to and then some. I only cried once while walking through the Tuilerie gardens, and that was only out of sheer awe at how much beauty could exist in a city, and more importantly, how much beauty could exist in the people I have come to know and love over the past year. I saw ex-boyfriends and wished them well; I saw ex-students and apologized for my not coming back; I sat down with my ex-boss and spoke frankly about how disappointed I was to not work with him, but how excited I was to return to my new job. It was as if I stopped beating around the bush with every person and told each one of them how much they meant to me. And holy shit, was that ever freeing.

On Friday, I spent the afternoon walking through the Latin Quarter alone, eating ice cream for lunch. My joy must have been spelled out across my face because every single person I passed smiled and said "BONJOUR, MADEMOISELLE! QUE VOUS ETES CHARMANTE, MADEMOISELLE! C'EST BONNE, LA GLACE, MADEMOISELLE?" It was like that scene from Beauty and the Beast where bakers and bookstore owners and sheep are all popping out of doorways to watch her as she walks through town. And I'm not kidding, I just about died of happiness, I just about converted to Parisiennisme, leaving behind the mess of men and boys and taking a vow of celibacy, all in the name of baguettes and cheese.

Maybe it seems like I'm rambling on too much with love for a place that is known for its sneers and its snobisms; perhaps some of you will read this and imagine that I'm romanticizing a place that pays way too many civil servants per year and should be "happy that we saved their asses during World War II." But I can only say this. To have felt so much joy, so loved, so free, even for one afternoon must mean something. Someone must be doing something right in that city so that I was able to feel that even for 30 seconds, and for that, and for my friends abroad, I am forever grateful.

The trip ended with a mind-bogglingly funny night in which Maddy and I got plastered on the Pont des Arts, seduced a Scottish barman into giving us double the alcohol we paid for, and ended up taking the bus home with a bunch of rowdy rugby fans. Perhaps my favorite moment of the whole trip was what happened next, when Maddy used her insane convincing power to make two men MAKE-OUT in the bus after having promised one a kiss for it. Somehow we made it home with French flag colored painted on our faces, and proceeded to eat Dunkin Heines chocolate icing from the jar. Hung over for most of my inter-continental trip the next morning was a bitch, but damn wasn't it worth it, wasn't it all so freaking worth it.