28e Anniversaire et 10th Anniversary

French Word of the Day: Le futur (luh foo-tour)- the future

I wasn’t sure that I was going to write this one, but I thought it was a good one to note.

10 years ago today, I had just returned home after a stint in the ICU.  At the time, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I had been in and out of doctors’ offices for the past 8 months, and now here on my 18th birthday I had evidence of my own mortality.  I had been prepared to think I was going to live and be young forever for at LEAST 10 more birthdays.

For that last hospital visit, the nurses worked very hard to get me out for my birthday.  (Nurses are seriously the best.)  While I appreciated them, I was pretty bummed on my birthday.  It was a Saturday and coincidentally also one of our high school dances.  I didn’t end up going to the dance.  My best friend Christine came over and hung out with me all night, but I was pretty bad company.  I was sitting and thinking about all the things I hadn’t done yet: learned French, lived alone, been in (romantic) love, gone to college, or even graduated high school…

I began wondering if I would ever be healthy enough to be normal. Time seemed to have stopped and put everything on pause.

But then something happened.  Time restarted.  I began to feel better.

It was everything.

I knew I couldn’t spoil things this time, so I decided I was going to push myself.  I finished all the course work I had missed and graduated high school.  I went to college.  I got a role in every single theatre production they had that year.  I got a lead role the next year.  I wrote a play and saw it performed.  I went to Ireland on a research project.  I traveled.  I went to France completely alone and not knowing a word of French.  I learned French.  I fell in love.  I graduated college in the top 10 of my class with honors and 2 majors.  I learned guitar (well, 3 songs).  I got my heart broken.  I got an internship.  I got another internship.  I searched for a job.  I got a job.  I tried online dating.  I stopped online dating.  I begged for a job I wasn’t qualified for.  I got it.  I did well enough that I got another promotion after that.  I fell in love again.  I got invited to participate in several friends’ and my twin sister’s weddings.  I got to see some of them become parents for the first time…

I remember thinking, “I made it!” when I was sitting at my college graduation, and I’m probably one of very few people who gets excited when I see a wrinkle or a grey hair.

There have been health scares in between those moments and I’ve been sick enough to need chemo, but nothing was ever as bad as that first time because I know now what I didn’t know then- that things get better.

It’s given me the courage to put myself out there, and for that, I’m grateful for lupus.  Looking back on the last ten years, there’s very little I would change.

I look forward to the next ten.

Here’s to aging!

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Thinking of Paris

French Word(s) of the Day: la paix– Peace

The attacks that happened last night were horrific, and I’m thinking of all of my friends and family in Paris.

My friends and family were all safe, but my heart goes out to everyone who cannot say the same.

Peace for Paris

A photo posted by @jean_jullien on

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April Fools an Hour and Some Odd Minutes Early

French Word(s) of the Day: imbéciles d’avril (awm-bay-seal dav-real)- April Fools

April Fools Day is not my thing.  I’m not good at thinking up pranks that aren’t illegal.  And if they were legal, I’m afraid to do them to someone for fear of retaliation.  I’m like the French: I surrender quickly.

But today shall be different.  I’m celebrating April Fools!  (Like an hour early.  Unless you’re actually in Paris right now, then I’m right on time!)

I’m going to probably be dragging out this Paris trip for the next year, but you don’t want me recounting my days.  All I do on a daily basis is work and watch episodes of Parks and Recreation.  Trust me, it’s better this way.

Sam showed us a taxidermist in Paris, only he wasn’t your typical “here’s your dead cat in his favorite position” type of guy.  Oh no.  He was an ARTIST.

If by artist I mean someone who takes the carcass of one dead animal and attaches it to another dead animal.

Oh yeah, he went there (if you please excuse the fact that these were obviously taken by an amateur who can’t deal with glass windows):

Winged Monkey Tortoise squirrel

Because of the winged monkey, I’m guessing he’s a Wizard of Oz fan.  I don’t know what the tortoise-shelled chipmunk looking longingly at a beetle would make him, but I’m going to go with “eccentric.”

These can be yours for over 100 euro!  I know, they’re a steal.  What?  You’re not interested?!

Ah what fools these mortals be.

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Love the Louvre

French Word of the Day: fatigue (fah-tea-gay)- tired

I hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day.  I spent mine filing my taxes. (I can hear you all swooning at how romantic that is.)  It was true romance between Uncle Sam and me.  I wanted to leave him, but he told me that I couldn’t because he needed me [to give him even more money].

Valentine’s Day posts have become my grand tradition, mainly because “sparkly love hearts” is the most common term used to find this blog.  I even had someone search that term in Arabic.

For all you sparkly lovers out there, here you go:

sparly love heart

For my follow French enthusiasts, it’s Louvre time.

These Roman bros are just as excited as you are.  Check out the fist pumps:

Roman Bros

We’d had a late night before the Louvre, so we were not as awake as the above gentlemen.  We were channeling this statue:

Naked Statue

The people next to it are incredibly unimpressed.

Really, people just weren’t that interested in the art that day.

Check out the Mona Lisa.  Or don't.

I mean, that’s the Mona Lisa, and only about 5 people are paying attention to her.

I hope you all enjoy her huge wall.  It’s a such a big wall for such a small painting.  She also gets her own security guards.  She is truly the Beyonce of paintings.

But what about the other side of the wall, you ask?  You’ve always secretly wondered what was on the other side of that ridiculously large wall.  Well, I’m here to show you!

Titien "Portrait D'Homme"

Look how depressed Titien’s L’Homme au Gant looks (translation: Man with a Glove. Painters are super creative with names).  He knows nobody’s here to see him.  They’re all about Mona.  He’s so sad that he can’t even put on both of his gloves.  I mean, he doesn’t get security guards or a bullet-proof glass case.  What does a guy have to do to get some credit around here, anyway?

The Winged Victory was out for renovations, but we did get some Venus de Milo action.

Venus de Milo

The man behind me pushed me while I was taking this and then cut in front of me, so you will have to resort to Google to get a better view.

Don’t worry; karma got him in the form of a group of school children.

Sam and I managed to get everyone lost in the museum.  To be fair, many of the staircases are closed off for no apparent reason.  On the maps of the Louvre, it looks like there are stairs up ahead, but it generally turns out to be a wall that says “Do not enter.”  The museum’s cartographer is playing a cruel, cruel trick on all of the tourists.  Or developing the world’s best maze.

It took us 45 minutes to find an exit.  That’s potentially a problem if there’s ever a fire.  Not they ever have to worry about that; it’s not like paintings are flammable or anything.

But enough about fire hazards; this is a Valentine’s Day post.  I’m ending it with some lovers.

Painting Flirtations

Proof that musicians have been kryptonite for women for all time.

But let’s go for some real love action here.  Cupid is the reason for the season (or a guy who got killed because he was helping people get married- same thing).  Here’s the master of love with his lady love:

Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss

Love to everyone!

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A Bunch of Dead People

French Word(s) of the Day: pierre tombale (pee-air tum-ball)- tombstone

Strangely enough, we spent a lot of time in cemeteries checking out the gravestones.

People would flock to Oscar Wilde’s grave to kiss it (while wearing lipstick so it would show, of course). Apparently someone didn’t like that, because a plastic wall has been placed around it since the last time I was there.

Oscar Wilde

Not that it stopped anyone.  His wasn’t the only tombstone with a sign of fans.

We had no idea why everyone was placing Metro tickets on Proust’s grave.

Proust

Other people thought we knew where everyone was, so they would stop at whatever grave we stood by.  Jokes on them that not everyone we stopped by was famous!

Not that it mattered.  We had someone ask us who Chopin was.

Jim Morrison Chopin BalzacSerge Gainsbourg

Parisian gravestones also go for a bit more of an artsy look.  Here were my two favorites:

Man coming out of a graveCats

Ricardo loooooooooved his cats.

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre Cemetary

The French get creative on their stones, but this tombstone intrigued us the most:

Fortune Teller

How does Christophe know?!?!?!

That’s the puzzle I leave you with today.

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More Monet

French Word(s) of the Day: juste nos quatre (juice-st no cat-rah)- just us four

Sam leads a tour through through Claude Monet’s home in Giverny.  We were in luck; the week we were in France was one of the last weeks that the garden was open.  It closed shortly after our visit for the winter.

I’ve discussed how much I love Monet.  Sam is also aware of this fact.  The last time I’d been at Giverny, there had been people all over the place and on all the bridges.  I was a little worried they were going to collapse.  I’d told him how sad I wasn’t that I hadn’t been able to take people-less pictures.

Sam’s tour gets in before the gardens open to the public.  He led his group to the house for their special tour (with another guide) and then snuck us into the gardens.  The four of us got to be there without anyone else for several minutes, and Sam said, “Happy birthday, Meghan!”

Happy birthday, indeed!

As today is my actual birthday, I think it’s the perfect time to share all my beautiful photos.

IMG_3965 IMG_3967 IMG_3968 IMG_3970 IMG_3972 IMG_3974 IMG_3975 IMG_3978 IMG_3980 IMG_3982 IMG_3984 IMG_3995 IMG_4002 IMG_4008 IMG_4009 IMG_4012 IMG_4013 IMG_4015 IMG_4016 IMG_4018 IMG_4019 IMG_4021 IMG_4025 IMG_4026 IMG_4028 IMG_4031 IMG_4038 IMG_4039

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Montmartre

French Word of the Day: Montmartre (mon-mar-truh)- the area of Paris with Sacre Coeur, Amelie and large amounts of sex shops

As you probably know, I went to Paris as a “you made it through chemo!” thing.  I get the same amount of joy from going there that a child gets from going to Disney World.  (Coincidentally, I also feel this way about Disney. See posts 1, 2 and 3. I found even more than that, but this entry is not about Disney.)

Joining me on my adventures were my twin sister Caitlin and my friend Grace.

When I started chemo, I set a picture of myself in Monmartre as the background on my phone.  It was to remind myself of what was to come.  When I finally got to Paris, I had Caitlin take a picture of me in the exact same spot.  It was a bit windier this time, and it looks as though someone has since taken a piece of the lamppost off:

Split image

Grace is the person who introduced me to French films (namely Amelie), and we’ve been planning our trip together ever since.

Grace and I in the cafe featured in one of our favorite films.  I don't want to discuss what my hair is doing.

Grace and I in the cafe featured in one of our favorite films. I don’t want to discuss what my hair is doing.

Montmartre is one of my favorite areas in Paris.  I’ve been there many times.  We met up with our friend Sam, who gives tours there regularly.  It was like he was hanging out with friends only he had to work at the same time.  And we didn’t pay him.  So really, not a great time for Sam.  He was a good sport, though!

Sam telling us about a place where someone famous and dead used to live.

Sam telling us about a place where someone famous and dead used to live.

It rained off and on, but it was still much warmer than Chicago!

Feerie IMG_3750IMG_3749wine sccarousel cafe des 2 moulins

Many of these photos were stolen from Caitlin.  She was by far the most avid photographer of the day!  (As evidenced by the fact that she took about 2,000 more photos than I did and that her phone usually died by the middle of the day.)

Posted in Paris, Vacation | Tagged , | 2 Comments