Sunday, July 12, 2009

No Turning Back

Almost a year ago, I boarded a plane for China. 7 months ago, on December 12th, I returned home to NJ, only to leave again less than 3 weeks after my arrival.

It is now 12:07 am on July 12th. In 10 hours, I will be on a place bounds towards home and my year-abroad will be over.

I never thought my year-abroad would have been as amazing as it has been. I have lived a truly wonderful year, and I am happy I was able to share it with you. Thank you for encouraging my stories and leaving comments that sometimes made me laugh so hard, I would cry. This blog (and my China one) will stay on-line, but will no longer be updated. Who knows where the next adventure will take me - but all I know is that this ride is just getting started.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Metaphor, in the shape of a Melon

In 50 years I will remember my host family. I am sure of that. I'm not sure if I'll remember that Madame only wears blue mascara or that Priscilla isn't allowed to go out on Friday nights...but I am confident to say that I will always remember that they eat fruit with a knife and fork.

When people ask me what I got out of this semester I say that I can now peal a pear with a fork and knife. It's a life-skill, you know, though I feel like if I do that at home, my parents would take the pear away from me. Heck, even if it did that at a dinner party, people would stare. And then probably take the pear away from me.

With 2 days left, I look back at my time here and try to figure out what I've accomplished. Paris 7 was on strike; Madame said my French is better, but was never THAT BAD; I now have an obession with fur vests. It's not as clear this semester all that I have accomplished, unlike last semester.

The only "new skill" I picked up is eating fruit with a fork and knife.

I'll take it.

Last night I had a little good-bye dinner at the apartment. Just me, Monsieur and Madame 'cause Priscilla is in London, the sons had a dinner party and Lara had wedding preparations. It was going fine until Madame put a melon down in front of me.

At home, I'd just pick it up. Here...not so much. And because the conversation was focusing on "their friends, the Rothschilds", I figured I shouldn't dribble melon juice on my dress. So while I pathetically stabbed at the melon, Monsieur and Madame were cutting their with ease and elegance. Madame got up to get the next course, and in a moment of benevolence, Monsieur took the melon and cut it for me.

"I know you can do this yourself...but it'll be easier if I just do it for you"
"No, really, you've come a long way, think of what would've happened if we gave you a melon on the first night"

And it's true.

I have come a long way.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Not now Chief, I'm in the fuckin' zone

When people ask me if I'm ready to go home, the answer is YES (in all caps), then me saying "AMERICA, FUCK YEAHHH!" (also in caps), then followed by a fist pump (I am from NJ after all).

And it's true. I am ready to go home, I do love America, and I love NJ more and more by the day.

Will I be sad to leave Paris? DUH. But it's time.

Some things I am looking forward to seeing (in order the pictures loaded):
My caahhhh!

RILLLEEEEYYYY!!! (...maybe, just maybe, Heather et al too...)
My parents/home/taxidermy monkey

...a few things on the list...


ps - 10 points to whomever can tell me where the blog post title comes from....

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Be a Good American!

So this morning I picked up Caralie from the airport, bright and early.

Caralie got to experience the joy of a metro strike (TRIPLED!! the time it took to get home), had her first bites of Japanese food, did a 3 hour walk and went to dinner with all of my friends this evening (she came in from Boston at 7 am, btw)...none of those things, however, is as exciting as something else she got to do:


I know, shocking.

When we got on the monorail at CDG, there was an American lady on it with us, who started to ask a whole bunch of questions: Where are you going, what side of the bank are you on, etc etc. I finally got annoyed and was just like, I live here.

Her eyes lit up.

Oh shit.

Basically, the problem was that she had her friend's eurail pass, but was going on to Krakow in 3 hours (and couldn't get into Paris) and was unable to pass it along. So she asked me to go to their hotel and drop it off.

I was a nice person (and because it's the 4th of July); I decided to help out another American.

The kicker however was her repeating:
"Just be a good American, ok?" "Just bring it to the hotel" "I'm trusting you" "Just be a good American."

Yo, lady, I get it. If you don't trust me, don't give me the damn pass!!!

I smiled politely and offered her my cell number, as a peace of mind and told her I would glady HAUL MY ASS ACROSS TOWN and drop off the pass.

Which I did, after dropping Caralie off at the apartment.

So, dear readers, I have done my one good deed for the year. That's it. Next time I see all of you I am going to be mean, 'cause this one good thing will cancel out every other bad thing I might do.


In other news, I have spent three 4th of July's in France. Aka, over 10% of my lifetime's 4th of July's.

In other, other news, 8 days!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Moommmyyyy, Do you Looooove meeeee??

I enjoy placing the blame on other people.

Did you eat just the caramel out of the ice cream???
NOOO. Dad did it!!!

Did you eat the rest of the portugese pastries?
Nope, definitely Mom.

Of course, I like placing the blame on people even when it doesn't involve food, too.

Which I why today I am blaming 3 different parties: Eva Levy, my carte bleue and my parents. In that order.

Eva, who has the best taste of anyone I know (even if it is a bit questionable at times), really likes (liked?) the designer Erotokritos. Several years ago, she came bearing a skirt from that line for me, as a gift. I liked the skirt but didn't think anything of it.

Here is where the problem lies:
Wednesday started the first day of sales, here in Paris. Sales are a BIG THING. It is the only time (well, twice during the year) that stores are allowed to unload stuff at near-loss prices. This obviously is my favorite time of the year.

Prior to the sales starting, I could count the amount of material things I purchased on 2 hands:
2 Petit Bateau Shirts
A pair of Espadrilles
Louis Vuitton Bag
Dior wallet (passport wallet)
Leather wallet (everyday)
A pair of gladiator sandals
H&M skirt

(and I also purchased a pair of jeans and a winter coat in Cologne).


So when the sales started on Wednesday, I just thought I'd go to look.


I was at Galleries Lafayette, just to see what was going on. And I happened to past the Erotokritos line. And I tried on a dress. And fell in love.

Amusingly enough, I hate shopping. Mainly because I am a) really self-conscious about how I look (in general) and b) everything I like normally costs 800 euros.

So, when I tried on this dress, the starts aligned and I LOVED IT (and looked good in it too, obvi). I decided right there to purchase it. For those who know me, I don't shell out big money on anything. (Minus foie gras.) Now, the dress was way over 300 euros full price. Thanks to the sales, I bought it for around 150.

It's just been a slippery slope from there...I spent the last 2 hours at Le Bon Marche, looking at more Erotokristos dresses. Luckily, I held out and decided not to purchase another dress (not today, anyway), but came out of there with a brand new pair of Joe's Jeans for 40 euro! They'd be that much 2nd hand at home! Lots of exclamation points!

Part I: I blame Eva for introducing me to Erotokritos.

Part II: I blame my debit card for letting me make these purchases. Prior to the debit card, I just carried around cash. And because I don't carry around a ton of cash, I never made big purchases.

Part III: I blame my parents for not footing my shopping habit.

Part IV: Shameless plug: Go to Disco Noir, Eva's handbag line.

Part V: 13 more days!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Stuffed Animals!

The list of things I love is not too extensive, and can be broken into 3 categories: food, animals, and people. Yes, that's in the right order.

The animal category has 2 sub-sections: alive and dead.

My confession? I love taxidermy.

It goes beyond that though: I really, really love taxidermy.

Tell your friends, if anyone has extra taxidermy they no longer want, I'll be more than happy to take my truck and pick it up. Priorities go to people who no longer want their full size animals. It's an obsession, and an expensive one at that.

This love of mine can be directly traced to my mother. For someone reason, the lady who really dislikes the outdoors has a soft-spot for taxidermied animals.

Our collection started at St. Ouen, the main flea market in Paris. I think I was around 15 at the time and my mother made me bargain (in French!) for the animal who is now known as "Richard".

Sadly, I don't have any pictures of Richard on my computer, but for those of you who have not had the pleasure of using our downstairs bathroom, Richard is the (taxidermy) monkey who holds the toilet paper. He is small (no larger than 2 feet tall), and is just at the right height to make men feel self-conscious. Please, where else would you put a taxidermy monkey?

Later, Carlos (the deer) joined Richard, as well as the fake cat (not taxidermy, but more than plush). Our cleaning ladies love us.

Every weekend, I go to the St. Ouen flea market. I look for vintage handbags, fur vests and taxidermy. I succeed weekly in finding all of these things, but only seem to come home with handbags. Fitting a full cougar in my luggage and not declaring it is just asking for trouble, I know.

But today, today was going to be different. After my weekly call to my parents (the "Hey, Mom, Guess where I am?!" phone-call), I found the perfect taxidermy turtle: the size of a small puppy, with the most beautiful glass eyes. He was going to be a gift to my mother, but I'd re-claim him for my first appartment. Sadly, Mr. Turtle was not held together too well...while my love for taxidermy still stays strong, my love of formadehylde has started to waver...


Friday, June 19, 2009


Today I used the word "remplir" in a sentence. I've never used this word before in my life, but while I was talking to the ladies in the Communication Department, it just came out of my mouth. It was the right word, not like I used "bitchass" for "network", but at the end of the conversation I was just like, "Hmm...maybe I'm getting it."

One of the Communication ladies wears this amazing perfume; I just want to stand next to her and breathe deeply. Good thing I'm not that awkward (yet).

The salad bar at work is awesome (grounds to move, H).

Other than that, excitement comes in the form of sushi dinners (thanks again, Ann!!) and finding Madame locked outside of the house. I guess it's a trait in that family; the amount of times I've let someone in because they forgot their keys is insane. Take the following conversation that happened about 2 months ago:

(11 pm, weekday)
*I'm sitting at my desk and hear the interphone ring and try to ignore it, as I thought other people were home. After 5 minutes of constant ringing, I decide I should pick it up*
Me: Allo?
Monsieur: 5 minutes, Michelle? Vraiment?
Me: Uhhh...*buzzes him in*

Monsieur: (in English) Can I borrow your keys?
Me: Uhhh...
Monsieur: (still in English) you see, I am very forgetful sometimes. Just like my wife.
Me: 'k.
Monsieur: (even more English) I'll be back soon!

(12.45 am)
Monsieur: Merciii! *gives me my keys*
Me: Uhhh....

There are times when you just don't ask questions. This was one of those times. And yes, sometimes Monsieur just likes to break out the English. It's indiscriminatory, but when he's on a roll, good luck stopping him.

(...3 weeks and counting...)