Busy, Busy, Busy

French Word of the Day: pompiers (pomp-ee-eh)- firemen

I have homework, but this is ever so much more interesting.

Besides, it’s my mom’s birthday.  I have to wish her happy birthday!

Happy birthday, Mom!  Here’s a crown with star jewels.  Star jewels can only be molded by unicorns, so they’re pretty special.  And expensive.

It’s been quite the eventful week.

Friday, everyone in the office (there are only 12 of us… yay poor economy!) went out to a Moroccan restaurant.  The meal was paid for by the company to say goodbye to one of the women (coincidentally one of the two French women in the office), so everyone went all out and got expensive meals.  Mine easily could have fed three people.  We also got wine and coffee.

The coffee came with the best truffle I have ever before consumed.  I immediately went back and researched where I could buy it, like any good journalist would do.  They are on sale here.  Note the Speculoos for sale underneath it.  It’s like they can read my mind.

If I had known coffee always came with a present, I would have gotten a lot more of it.

Needless to say, the coffee-wine mixture was not the best for productivity.  I can normally slam out 2 articles in the afternoon, but I barely wrote one.  Luckily, no one was judging my slow brain.

That night, I did laundry WITHOUT BREAKING THE MACHINES!!!! It’s only taken a year, but I’ve finally figured out how to work them.  I have clean clothes!

The next day was also awesome.  I went to DISNEYLAND on Saturday.  For all of you who are sighing, “Meghan, again?!  Didn’t you JUST go?”

I went with French people.  It didn’t count.  This time I went with Americans.  We got there when the park opened (none of us were hungover… which wasn’t true of the group last time), we left when it closed, and we went on 14 rides.  We also ate a ton of candy and fast food.  Because America wins.

No offense, French people.

I actually did get sick from the food.  Apparently my body now hates grease and refined sugar.  I would say that it hates chocolate, but it’s not allowed to hate chocolate.  The girls I was with were all really nice and friendly, which helped because no one was mean or insisted on having her way.  It made for a much better outing.

Sunday, I had a ton of homework, so I cleaned my room instead of doing any of it.  I also went to Sam’s and watched the Wedding Singer with him while drinking mimosas.  I have such a great work ethic.

If you had to write 150-200 words in French about Guy de Maupassant’s works, you’d probably procrastinate too.

My neighbor tried to play her tv last night, but I threw a pen at the wall.  It was the loudest pen I’ve ever heard, probably because I have a lot of pent-up frustration towards her.  Needless to say, the tv turned off.  Violence every time!

I managed to save myself at work today by writing four articles (compared to Friday’s two articles… fail).  After work, Théo and I met up for sushi.  (I looooove sushi.)  While we were there, a fire truck pulled up right next to us.

Note that sassy, shiny hat.

When they actually started running around doing things, we had to check it out.  Normally, it ends up being nothing.  Not this time.  There was a HUGE fire.  It was easily 6 apartments long.

We watched for about 20 minutes before leaving.  As we walked away, we saw (I’m not kidding) over 20 fire trucks in the area.

Just a few…

The shiny helmet men were having a pow wow over the apartment plans, so I took a picture of that too.

We don’t think anyone was seriously injured, so that’s good.  Well, the building was, but no people were.

So yes, never a dull moment in Paris.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go figure out something about Guy de Maupassant’s stories.  The fashion and Aix-en-Provence pictures I promised will sadly have to wait.

Pain au chocolat count: 68

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More Laundry Escapades

French Word of the Day: infroissable (en-fwa-sob-leh)- I have no idea what this means, but the washing machines flash this word when they decide to break. Translation websites claim it means “crease,” but that just makes no sense to me.

I went to Marseille and Aix-en-Provence this weekend, but as I still haven’t figured out how to load the pictures from my new camera onto my computer (seriously, how can it be that hard?!  I think it’s playing games with me), we’ll wait for that update.

I’ve been searching for laundry places by my foyer in the hopes that I’ll be able to find a machine that will work.  Of course, I haven’t been able to find any.  In my desperation (not REAL desperation as I’m awesome at washing things in the sink- but that’s time consuming), I bought coins for the foyer laundry machines today.

I walked in that room and knew right away that both machines were broken because they were flashing their “INFROISSABLE!!!!!” messages.  Yes kids, someone other than me broke the machines!

When I went to the management, they were a bit disbelieving.  They were like, “Are you suuuuuure they’re broken?  Maybe you just don’t understand the machines because you’re American.”

I have broken those machines enough times to know when they’re flashing the “I DON’T WORK!  DON’T TRY TO USE ME!” signs.  But I refrained from mentioning that.  I didn’t think it would make me very popular.

The guy came with me to the machines and tried to use them, then realizing they were in fact broken.  He gave me extra coins and was like, “Ah well, you’re SOL.  Better luck next time.”  I assume it will take a week for the machines to be put back in order, because this is France.

At least now I know that I can use the machines at any time of day.  (They originally told me not after 11 pm.)  3 am Saturday night washing machine party here I come!!!!

My God, I’m cool.

Today at work, we went for a 2 hour lunch because one of the interns is leaving.  I got coffee for the first time at a cafe.  Normally, I just buy the coffee in the vending machines at school because I’m in a rush.  Because this is France, it still tastes 5 thousand times better than Starbucks.

Coffee in cafes is expensive consider it’s roughly the size of my pinkie nail.  There’s about enough room for a single drop of coffee (even though this drop contains more caffeine than 87 cases of Mountain Dew… the French are a mystery).  As an apology for not giving you much, the cafe ALSO gives you a little cookie.

Coffee at 5 times its original size

I don’t know if you can read the packet, but it says “Speculoos.”  It’s a biscuit that contains pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg.  And also 8 thousand grams of sugar.  And fairy dust.

It’s the best thing ever after chocolate.  Someone decided that having it in cookie form wasn’t enough and turned it into a spread.

It’s like Nutella without the chocolate.  It’s gaining popularity, so maybe we’ll have it in the States in 10 years.  Everyone from last semester has been asking me to ship it to them.

Just keepin’ y’all current ahead of the curve.

Maybe in the next few days, I’ll write a fashion report so everyone can be in style too.  Spoiler: men, your pants are still too tight, and you still will not let go of the man purse thing.

Pain au chocolat count: 66 (I went to TOWN this weekend and had 6 mini pains au chocolat for breakfast, but we decided that 3 minis equal one big)

Thinking of my friends…

French Word(s) of the Day: tremblement de terre (tremb-lay-mon duh tare)- earthquake

I go to a language school in Paris.  The French don’t need to learn French (though some of them could benefit from a few classes), so I usually have made friends with people from other countries in my courses.

I still keep in touch with several of them from the first time I was here.  Guess where the people I talk the most to are from?  The Ivory Coast, Libya, and Japan.

Nooooot such great places to live right now.

For me, the hardest ones to talk to have been my friends from Japan.  One was talking about how her city was running out of mineral water, and she was worried about her friends in Tokyo.  Another has been experiencing a ton of earthquakes and is desperately trying to contact a friend she hasn’t heard from…

My friend from the Ivory Coast has been here for longer, so his family are all safe, but he’s worried about a few friends.  My Libyan friend lives here now with his family, but can’t return to his country because he’ll be questioned about why he left, etc.  He’s also worried for friends left behind and has been having nightmares about bombs and Khadafi…

I’m never sure what to say to any of them when they tell me these things.

My experiences in Paris have been surreal.  I think meeting so many people has opened me up to all the catastrophes that happen in the world in a new way.  When you hear about something bad that has happened in the world and see footage, it’s hard.  However, after awhile, you find yourself distanced from it.  I’m guilty of doing this quite frequently when it’s a country that’s far away from me.

It’s different when it’s affecting someone you know.  When I heard about what had happened in Japan, I immediately went on facebook to check that my friends were okay.  It’s much harder to hear that Yulia is in the middle of an earthquake and terrified or that Reina is running out of water than that people I don’t know or can’t envision are having problems.

I think it’s made the world a bit smaller.  It makes me sad that the world is having so many problems.  I always just wish I could help them all. 😦

*EDIT*: Yulia’s friend is safe!  She finally heard from her (a week later)!!!!!  I’m so happy for her.  🙂

Pain au chocolat count: 62

Visit!!!!

French Word of the Day: visite (vees-it)- visit

My mom and her friend, Joan, were here for a visit.  They started the trip off right by bringing me a lot of items with chocolate in them from the States.  Girl scout cookies!  Reese’s Pieces!  Easter candy with more sugar than the French will allow in their candy!

It’s possible that I ate some of it before writing this.

It was lovely to see them both.  We went out for dinner every night, usually with a new French person (and Sam, who is basically French).

Sadly my new schedule doesn’t allow me to just skip days of work whenever I want, so I wasn’t able to join them everywhere, but we did get in some Opera Garnier and Sacre Coeur.

Today at work was exciting.  My boss offered me a job for the summer.  As long as I can legally do it, I think I will.  After all, when someone offers you a job in Paris, you take it.  Unless it’s at the Moulin Rouge, in which case you seriously consider it before deciding that you might want to go down a different career path.

I also did my first journalistic interview (where I was the interviewer and not the interviewee) with someone from Tumblr, the blogging site.  I ended up telling him I have a Tumblr (I’m a fan of the pretty pictures on it and like adding my own sassy comments to them… that no one reads because I have no followers…)  He asked what my name on it was and laughed when I said, “the meghan.”  There is only one Meghan, and apparently it’s me.  I can’t help that.

Mainly, I use the site to entertain myself, so I assume he’ll judge me if he ever looks it up.  I’m okay with that.

I was glad to be able to tell my mom my job news in person.  I hadn’t asked if I could stay, so I was flattered that my boss offered me the job of her own free will.  My mom was very encouraging and happy for me, because she rocks.  🙂

I hope she and Joan had fun!  I had fun with them.

I haven’t done my homework for tomorrow, but I’ve decided to be a slacker this semester because my grades count for nothing.  I’ve never been a slacker before, so this should be an interesting experiment.  I’m not good at not trying, so this will be a challenge…

Pain au chocolat count: 61

Gold Stars and Birthday Crowns

French Word of the Day: reine (ren)- queen

It’s my lovely Aunt Susi and cousin Bridget’s birthday today, so I’ve made them sparkly crowns (I tried tiaras, but they looked more like blobs of yellow).  May they have many more birthdays!

My Aunt Cheryl sent me a FABULOUSLY YUMMILICIOUS box of truffles (chocolate cures EVERYTHING except obesity), so she’s getting a gold star, as well.  God, I love my family!

Glitter hearts, sparkly hearts, and stars are now the most frequently searched terms to find my blog.  I also had one “glitter boyfriends.”  I’m glad this is how everyone is getting to know me, and also that people actually search those terms.

It’s International Women’s Day tomorrow, so I hope all the women will be celebrating.  I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by a ton of them, so if you’re reading this, I sparkly heart you mucho!  Have chocolate on me!

*EDIT* Thanks to Uncle Hank for the chocolates too, of course!!!!!!!  They are very much appreciated!

Pain au chocolat count: 61

Fashion Week

French Word(s) of the Day: Fashion Week (fah-shon week)- Fashion Week (sometimes they don’t change it)

Fashion Week is going on as I type this.  Beautiful, famous people are everywhere.  (I assume, I haven’t seen them.)

This also means that there are beautiful parties with free food and alcohol.

I work for a newspaper organization, but it’s not the type of place that would get me invitations to fashion parties.  Although, we do know how to have fun.

For the Christmas party, everyone gets flown to Germany (man, did I come at the wrong time, or what?!).  They decided to steal some of the wine from the party and bring it back.   Yesterday at the end of the day, we popped open a wine bottle and had more fun writing and editing articles than usual.  I think we still created decent articles.  I actually had finished writing by the time I had a glass, but I think the editing part went well.  It was the first time my boss didn’t have anything to correct for me.  Maybe I should only edit after alcohol consumption?  Here’s how it turned out: http://www.editorsweblog.org/newspaper/2011/03/uk_study_finds_low_numbers_of_women_in_j.php

Roanne has been interning for a PR firm that represents designers, so she’s been partying it up for Fashion Week.  She texted me during the workday and asked if I would like to attend the Marie Claire magazine party.  I was uberexcited.  I’ve only seen parties like that in cinematic gems such as 13 Going on 30 and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  I assume those are exactly like real life.

I assumed I’d never have the chance again, so I accepted.

Roanne asked Martin to come with us, and it became a reunion of the 3 people who decided to stay the whole year in Paris (such a chore, I know).

The invitations are so artfully displayed on one of my reject dresses.

I had Roanne make sure I was dressed properly.  My clothing was still too bright for the fashion industry (for a group of supposedly “fashion forward” people, their color palate is decidedly lacking… black is the new black), but I assume that I’m also happier and more mentally stable than most of the fashion industry and was completely unconcerned.

My nose is really red in this picture, but I had just come from outside.  It isn’t red in the later pictures, but that was when Roanne told me to stop smiling because models don’t smile.  Instead, they look like they’re in pain.  I assume this is because of their shoes.  But anyway, I wanted to look like I was having a good time… and not like I wanted to kill whoever was taking my picture.

The main photographer snapped a picture of Roanne and me.  I assume this will be in every Marie Claire magazine next month- all 25 of them.  Roanne and I are Very Important People, even if we don’t have Porches or BMWs.

You do get free food and drinks at these parties, but you must pay for it in pain.  To be “in fashion” means wearing stilettos: shoes designed by a man who hated feet and wanted them to die.  I actually did engage in this fashion ritual.  I will never be going to a Fashion Week party ever again so I wanted to do it right.  My heels were 4 inches.  That was high enough.  I don’t know how anyone could go higher and still walk.

It was worth it.  The food was fabulous!  We had crab sushi, risotto, paté, shrimp, and fillet mignon served on sticks.  I’ll have to make a few million dollars before I eat that well again.

The champagne and cocktails were also quite lovely.  God bless the man who invented the “open bar.”  (Don’t worry, I didn’t overindulge.  Even if I had, fillet mignon cancels out alcohol.)

The space was a bit cramped.  I think I would have chosen a bigger place.  We mostly stood by the bar and the stairs to ensure we got first dibs on anything food-related.

There weren’t any famous people there, but we did talk with a boy sporting black fingernail polish and a brooch of Marilyn Monroe.  He assured us that brooches were coming back.  Of course, his brooch was black.  If I hadn’t been able to see the color on my dress, I would have assume that the room had some kind of color-changing device that automatically made any color black.

Roanne managed to find the only straight male in the entire room.  I don’t know how he even got in- everyone else I met definitely batted for the same team I do.  I think they’re going out today.  I’m glad she’s expanding her contacts in the fashion industry.

We all got to take home a magazine.  I took one in Portuguese and one in French and Roanne took 3: French, Italian, and Arabic.  Martin didn’t take any, but he wouldn’t have been able to carry anything as he was in charge of helping me walk.  (By this time, I had stopped being able to feel my feet.  It made walking more difficult.)

All-in-all, I gave the party an 8.  The lack of famous people and space brought it down 2 points, but the food and drinks brought it back up.

I might be a tourist today in hopes of seeing some celebrities breaking up.  I’ll keep you updated.

Pain au chocolat count: 60

Meghan Works in France

French Word(s) of the Day: Je suis toujours en vie (juh swee too-jur on vee)- I’m still alive

It’s been so long that I’m sure some of you are convinced that I went back into the hospital/ have been kidnapped and sold into slavery.  Fear not!  Je suis toujours en vie.

My neck finally decided to start working again on Friday, which was good.  My doctor told me that stress was making my lupus act up and that I should be “all good” now.

It was quite the event-filled weekend.  My friend MJ, Théo and Théo’s dad all had birthday parties this weekend, so my days were spent recovering.  They were mostly in French, and I found that I now understand people when they speak in French.  I no longer have the deer-in-headlights look.  Sometimes, I can even respond properly.  Successsssss.

I started my internship today!  I wrote an article that can be found here (though will probably not interest any of you… look at it solely for the byline): http://www.editorsweblog.org/newsrooms_and_journalism/2011/03/bbloomberg_lpb_the_success_story_that_ke.php

In my excitement, I forgot to properly cite my sources, so anything that says “according to” has been added in by my editor.  Oops.

Everyone was really nice.  My boss took us all for lunch at a cute cafe to welcome me to the group.  Everyone speaks English, but we do sometimes translate French articles/ have to communicate with the French IT guy.  I was misinformed about the French levels.  I’m not sure how good everyone’s French is, but I do know that many of them at least can understand it.

My neighbor and I had to have a talk a week ago when she decided to turn on her television at one in the morning.  She answered her door naked (why?!) and stood behind the door the entire time glaring at me.  I wanted to say, “Look, you’re the one who decided NOT to put on a towel or something before answering the door.”  Instead, I just ignored it and continued to talk to her as if she were fully clothed.

She unwillingly agreed to wear headphones if she turns on the tv after midnight.  This really means that she has just lowered the volume slightly.  As I can now sleep, I don’t care.

I’ve also started classes.  The infamous Madame Dubois is baaaaaaaack.  She seemed excited to see me, and there ARE other Americans in the class, so I’m hoping I won’t be attacked this semester on behalf of my country.  You all are hard to defend sometimes.

I’m off to analyze some poems in French.  A student’s work is never done.

Pain au chocolat count: 58