OH MY GOD, there only 13 rhinos left in the world!
there are only 5 roaming in the african wild!
have you seen any??
no i think they were all killed a long time ago here
although there are apparently hippos in the north
and oh my god the loch ness monster is real! http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/05/31/britain.lochness.ap/index.html
dude, what is WITH cnn???
don't they have news other than FUN FACTS??
- cheap airfare
- Ingrid Michaelson lyrics
- egg replacement for a cake
- mla citing footnotes french
This last one landed me on a wikipedia page about footnoting and I have to say, THIS book sounds incredible:
"Luis d'Antin Van Rooten's, Mots d’Heures: Gousses, Rames (the title is in French, but when pronounced, sounds kind of like the English "Mother Goose Rhymes"), in which he is allegedly the editor of a manuscript by the fictional François Charles Fernand d’Antin, contains copious footnotes purporting to help explain the nonsensical French text. The point of the book is that each written French poem sounds like an English nursery rhyme."
I found a website that lists all the songs that are playing during the episodes and I've now spent the past couple of hours downloading a whole load of them. Check it out if you have a minute- this is good music, especially the stuff by the band "Let's go Sailing" and the singer Ingrid Michaelson.
Beware: Meredith Grey-type mood swings ahead.
There are lots of people on the Champs Elysee at this hour, but once you turn off onto a side street, things are darker and there are only the random guys hanging out on doorsteps and smoking cigarettes together. I passed a guy wearing big headphones who was smoking alone and kind of gave him the half-smile that is customary at night, the one that means "hi, you're awake and so am I, have a nice night." It didn't mean anything more.
So about 10 minutes later, I've stopped along the sidewalk to pet a cat and I hear someone call out to me. I turn around and it's the guy with the headphones. "I'm sorry," he says, "it's just that you gave me a look back there and I just... I didn't know... I mean, what are you doing now? Do you want to get a drink or something?"
He looked so nervous, standing there in the middle of the street, and my heart sort of broke for him because he was so brave to have followed me (others might say sketchy, but I really think it wasn't that. Not tonight at least). And he's standing there looking at me like I might just be someone to him and I said "I'm so sorry, I... I have a boyfriend." Which is not true.
"Ah," he said, "well, you're really so charming and it's just too bad." Then he muttered something about if things don't work out and kind of bashfully turned away and so did I.
I don't know why that lie came out of my mouth. I don't know why I, as someone who is basically obsessed with finding love in its most raw form, didn't go with the flow and have a drink. Except that I do know; because what if it was uncomfortable? And what if he was listening to loud, angry music in those big headphones and we wouldn't have anything to talk about? Or (without a doubt the scariest scenario), what if it wasn't anything uncomfortable at all?
The thing that broke my heart the most was that I recognized the look of someone hoping for something, someone searching so hard that they think they see it in a stranger passing a street corner at midnight. I feel bad that I hardened him just a bit, that I didn't create the impossible for him and accept his offer for a drink. Because guys like this, who take chances like that, they're few and far between.
At first I decided to apply to places that are within walking distance of my parents' house. But that only left me Friendly's and Kmart. So then I found out that there's a bus. Who knew!? Public transportation in Westchester; you gotta think that only maids and minions ride that bus.
Anywho. So I'm filling out an application for Borders and I get to the fourteenth page out of THIRTY SEVEN of questions about my personality. Most are asking about how much I like to speak with new people, how convincing I am, how shy am I, etc. But then out of nowhere, a whole line of questioning comes up about how well I hide my feelings, do I like to be alone, do my moods change quickly, do I hide secrets from people... and suddenly I get the feeling that working at Borders must be like living in an after-school special, when girls learn about PMS and shy neighbors turn into baby killers. Who the hell is working at Borders anyway? Or who's worked there in the past that they're now trying to weed out??
Anyway, let me know if you have any brilliant ideas for a nice $ummer in Y-town. Or if anyone needs French translations. I suppose I'll soon be qualified, what with the MA and all, and at the very least you know that I can keep my moods and violent tendencies in check.
Bored? Or just in a sugar-induced coma from all the Snickers bars she was eating during the breaks...?
We've been preparing for the oral part of the exam for the past couple of months; this afternoon, we had to give an 8-minute presentation on a topic of our choice. Because I am somewhat business-challenged, I stayed away from topics that had lots of numbers in them and decided to talk about the draw of advertisements in the metro. Interesting, non?
So I am finally called into the room, where an overweight older blond woman is waiting to listen to my 8-minutes of brilliance. And just as I reach the end of the introduction, I see her eyes rolling back in her head.
My first thought is that she's having a stroke.
My second thought is that she's on drugs.
My third thought is that perhaps she has a lazy eye and I shouldn't say anything because that would be very rude.
My fourth and final thought is that she is FREAKING SLEEPING. Her head is kind of bobbing around and her eyes are flickering, open one second, closed for the next six, and here I am, only in my first part, realizing that the person responsible for my grade is SLEEPING THROUGH MY PRESENTATION.
So I speak louder and faster, trying to wake her up with my energy and my interesting ideas. I put more emphasis on words, but as I'm still a little unclear about the stroke theory, I feel a little self-conscious about potentially yelling at a woman having a medical breakdown. The sleeping theory was finally proven when I finished and she was supposed to ask me questions for 5 minutes. Instead, she talked about how ugly the metro is and how ads really brighten it up.
I'm going to take a wild guess and say that she heard about 2% of my presentation, none of which focused on the metro's ugliness or the brightness of ads. I'm not taking it so personally though; apparently she slept through the previous guy's talk as well. Freakin' French professors, man.
Plastic Bags: Ireland imposed a special tax on plastic bags in 2002 and cut down on 90% of their bag usage since then. If you go into a store and ask for plastic, you better be prepared to take out your wallet. Funds raised from purchasing plastic bags go into a green fund to help the environment. Whether you live in Ireland or not, check these out; they're chic and well-worth the investment.
Thus begins the beginning of book reviews here at FOL. If you've read these books and have something to say, feel free to add your two cents in the comments section...
Title: Le livre du voyage
Author: Bernard Werber
Memorable quote: The book starts with: "Bonjour. Je me presente. Je suis un livre et je suis vivant...puisque nous allons vivre quelque chose de fort ensemble, permets-moi tout d'abord de te tutoyer."
The Gist: A book who speaks to you directly and takes you on an adventure. Much cooler than "choose your own adventure" books. The book is self-aware and knows its role and doesn't pretend to hide behind fiction.
Read it when you: Need some life advice. Have a couple of hours free. Learn French (NB: I've searched the Internet and cannot describe how CRUSHED I am that this book isn't translated into English because I fully intended on buying about 25 copies and sending it to most literate people I know. I suppose the solution to this problem is that you'll just have to start French lessons ASAP.)
Haven't I heard of that author before? Yep, he's the author who writes about people as ants and the angels that are inhabiting the earth at the same time as us. In other words, sci-fi.
Title: The Solitaire Mystery
Author: Jostein Gaarder
Memorable Quote: "If we had lived in another century,' he went on, 'we would have shared our lives with different people. Today we can easily nod and smile and say hello to thousands of our contemporaries: 'Hi there! How strange we should be living at exactly the same times.' Or perhaps I bump into someone and open a door and shout: 'Hi, soul!"
The Gist: Boy meets dwarf who gives him a magnifying glass. Boy finds tiny book in a sticky bun and uses magnifying glass to read said book; discovers himself, his history, and his destiny by reading.
Read it when you: Are in the mood for something FICTIONAL in all caps. Spooky and mysterious, but smart and philosophical.
Haven't I heard of that author before? Yep, when you read Sophie's World. Or when you meant to.
Title: Cafe Berlin
Author: Harold Nebenzal
Memorable Quote: "Daniel, these are going to be the best moments of your life. You will think of them all your days. It will make you proud, and you will taste the sweetness of vengeance. I believe in you. You will sit with the Germans and you will listen to them and you will keep your eyes open and you will bring us he information we need. And when this is over, you and Uzi and Papo and I will meet and drink and talk about the grandest time we ever had."
The Gist: Anne Frank meets the nightclub scene. A Syrian Jew lives in Berlin during the second World War, owns a nightclub, is eventually forced into hiding.
Read it when you: Want to have nightmares about being a spy in Nazi-Germany. Wait, maybe that's just me. Seriously though, it's sexy and exciting and focuses more on the Eastern Europeans' roles in WWII than most other books about the war.
Haven't I heard of that author before? Um. Can't help you there.
The waitress was Asian, but spoke great English and even had an Irish accent. So when she came by with my plate and said "here you go, it's VERY spicy!", you can understand my confusion.
"Maybe she meant very HOT," I thought to myself, which by the looks of the steam pouring off it certainly seemed the case.
Ten minutes later I'm guzzling my 7-up, my lips are burning and (via the handy mirror hanging directly in front of me), I can tell I'm a nice shade of TOMATO. "What the hell," I thought, "This is the freaking OPPOSITE of less spicy."
Turns out that was true. Seeing my inability to swallow any of my meal without an immediate chaser, the waitress came by and asked "You asked for EXTRA spicy, right?"
She felt bad about it and gave me a bottle of water for free, but I'll just say one thing- my freaking lips were burning for the next SIX HOURS. Luckily I'm in Ireland, so I ordered a couple of pints of Smithwicks and let the beer do its refreshing thing.
Having them visit for four days can never be as good as it was to live in the same city as these girls for two years. But maybe I'll go out with them and fall asleep in a bar again because that? That was one. good. time.
Actually, I'm not being sarcastic about that. I'm pretty psyched to wear a wool sweater and suede boots again- it's like the "boot revival", you thought you were done wearing boots this season but all of a sudden Ireland in May pulls them right out again.
I just got off the phone with my Mom, who says it's raining in Miami, where she is overlooking the beach. It's also coincidentally raining in Paris, where I am looking at a pile of dirty dishes and (to no surprise) will be raining as usual in Ireland. What's with all the hate, weather?
Here are some goals for the next 6 days:
-work on secret project that I owed Matt months ago
-read many glorious books in ENGLISH
-drink hot chocolate
-BROWN BREAD FOR BREAKFAST (yes, this can be a goal, thankyouverymuch)
-take walks around the Galway Bay
-listen to live Irish music
-catch up with Jess and Edith
Ok, that's enough shameless linking to friends' blogs. Have a great week, people... enjoy the rain, wherever you are.
*not really possible, but bon...
PS. Guess what Edith lives next to? Oh, yeah, that would be the GUINNESS FACTORY. Merci, universe.
Steve: Who's going to hire you for 6 weeks?
Me: Do you need a research assistant? Maybe I can help you with your scientific studies...
Steve: Dude, I bet you could get a job at the GQ.
Me: STEVEN, I DID NOT just get a Master's in French lit to work at the freakin' GQ. What about the library? Do you think they'd hire me?
Steve: I don't know, that's a hard job to get. And how is the library better than the GQ?
Me: Um... maybe because you're surrounded by BOOKS instead of CHEESE FRIES?!?
April was a long month, and not just because it has been stretched another 12 days with this newsletter. From elections to vacations to Easter, days seemed to fly by at lightning speed. Weather-wise, April decided it had quite enough being the "transition month" between winter and spring and suddenly became July. It was scary in a Global Warming way to dress for 80 degree weather everyday, but the sunsets, man. Those were worth it in spades.
Politically, things have been shaken up a bit. Despite an impressive campaign, Segolene Royal lost in the second round to Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarko has a reputation as a scary dictator-like control freak and I was having dinner at the Bastille the other night when I had my first LIVE view of tear gas as hundreds of CRS officers fought back against about 30 anti-Sarko rioters.
Maddy and I were in the movies that afternoon and when we came out, there were tons of police vans everywhere. I went up to one of the cops to find out what the hell was going on:
Me: Hi sir, is everything ok?
CRS: Fine, thanks, how are you?
Me: No, I mean... (gesturing to the cop population) there are a lot of policemen...
CRS: We're just a family. Sometimes families like to eat together (it should be said that these guys were all eating dinner in their vans).
Me: (getting pissed) Right, well, if we take the Metro, are we going to die?
CRS: Go ahead, take the Metro.
I later find out that these CRS guys are like robots, trained to only fight the public rioters. This explains this man's lack of soul. A few hours later Maddy and I watched as a smallish group of drunk guys threw bottles in the name of anarchy and got tear gassed and chased by said robots. Can you imagine if your son or father was a CRS? I am mystified by this brand of cop that doesn't want to reassure you that things are safe and instead treats you as a threat.
I probably spent more time on bridges and the edge of the Seine in April than I did in the Metro. That's A LOT. Some nights, we'd just take a bottle of wine down to the Ile de la Cite and hang out, calling friends and all meeting up for a spontaneous evening together. These hang outs got me through a tough month of GM'07 and proved yet again that where once there was loneliness, now there are FRIENDS. It just takes time.
I read a funny book called "A Year in the Merde" this month; it's about an English guy's experience living in Paris. At times I couldn't laugh louder or harder at the way he so accurately described this culture, this society which is so STRANGE for Anglo-Saxons. But it was all said with love, with appreciation for a country that can allow a 35-hour workweek and still roll with the top countries in the world. There are a lot of things that need to be reformed in France; it's hard for some people to admit, but it's true. But there are also traditions and a certain joie de vivre that I have only found here. And even though I've decided to stay another year, I know that when I do leave, I'm really going to miss it.
I think this must be how it is to send your kid to college; after weeks of shopping for laundry bags at Walmart and packing fall/winter/spring clothes, the door to the mini-van slams and then you're left sitting there, wondering what the hell you're supposed to do next.
I went to see an apartment yesterday because, as of July 1, I'm homeless in Paris. The room was nice and the location was fantastic and the price was decent, but the two other roommates weren't the right ones. I wish they would have been, but I've done this enough now to know that I need to listen to my gut and so I'm not going to take the place. Living alone for the past few months has changed me in a way that I really don't want to put up with someone else's weird singing in the middle of the day. Or practicing to be a mime (arguably a quiet hobby, but... um...). I'm 26 years old and I want to have a home, a place that feels like mine, with a cat and my music and the solitude that I sometimes need.
And how will I pay for this solitude, feline-laden music paradise? Well let's just say that the next couple of weeks should dictate how I make my money next year. There are a couple of very interesting jobs that I'm up for and if those fall through, I guess I'll be back to turning tricks in the world of ESL.
The good news is that Ryanair stopped its moodiness and I am now the proud owner of a 6-day vacation to Dublin and Galway. I haven't left Paris since Prague, and I'm itching to go see some green in Ireland (not to mention party and/or have good talks with some French and American ladies that I haven't seen in YEARS). I really can't imagine anything better right now than spending time along the sea in a warm sweater with a book and a cup of hot chocolate. And maybe a torrid 6-day love affair with a freckled Irish farmer boy. Very Far and Away.
Along with all of this, a nice case of insomnia was born a few nights ago and I now spend my nights thinking about different ways to enter a credit card number and where I will live in September if I can't find an apartment before I leave in July.
So just wanted to stop in and say that lots of things are coming, Paris newsletter for April is on its way, as well as reflections and new projects and the like. But patience is a virtue and GM'07 has to get done first.
I hope you've also realized that this post is lame; this was intended by the author who wanted to create the "mise en abyme" effect- you know, using lameness to describe the LAME.