Saint Valentin, Le Retour

French Word of the Day: retour (ray- ter)- return

This is my fourth time posting this week.  I’m giving everyone a false sense of how prolific I am.  Please don’t expect this next week or ever again.  Normally, I’d wait a bit to post again, but I’ve posted every single year for Valentine’s Day.  (And by every single year, I mean the last two years.)  You can’t break tradition.

It’s become very fashionable to hate Valentine’s Day, especially if you’re single.  I completely sympathize.  Television stations are exclusively playing awful chick flicks.  (I love a good chick flick, but can we discuss how terrible Sweet November is?  I got stuck watching it on Saturday.  Keanu Reeves- normally unparalleled in his awful acting- went above and beyond even his own worst role.)

My inbox and social media has been flooded with single friends’ statements of anti commercialism  and it’s becoming rather annoying.  Please stop.  You all sound extremely bitter.  I’m allowed to say this because I’m also single.  (Couples, don’t even attempt to say something.  You will be brutally rebuffed.)

Even though most of my close friends are currently in relationships, we decided to take a different route this year.  Valentine’s Day shouldn’t just be about trying to find a meaningful gift for the person (or people) you’re dating; you have your anniversary to do that.  Today should also be about everyone you care about.  To that end, we’re all having a huge group Valentine’s Day celebration with pizza and two games devoted to love: Wink Murder and Cards Against Humanity.

I hope you’re all spending the day telling the people you care about that you love them!

Because the most popular search term for finding this blog is some form of “sparkly  hearts,” I’m ending on a glittery note.  Currently, this term has been searched for 1,800 times.  I’m glad I’m not the only person concerned with sparkly hearts.  Here’s for all you dreamers out there:

Source: Zakka Life
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The Great London Adventure

French Word(s) of the Day: le marriage (leh marr-e-ah-geh)- the wedding

I did very well in the UK.  Will and Kate’s wedding ended up being the perfect vacation.

Vanessa and I went to Stonehenge and Bath on Tuesday.  I won’t describe Stonehenge; you’ve all seen it in photos.  It’s pretty much the same in person, except bigger.  They stopped letting people touch the rocks in the 70’s due to erosion.  I didn’t get to touch it, so it’s uninteresting.

Bath had the Jane Austen Center.  Clearly, the only Austen character any female has ever cared about is Mr. Darcy, because there are about 8,000 photographs of Colin Firth in his Darcy gear gracing the walls.

Wednesday was our official celebrity sighting day.  We stumbled upon Natasha Bedingfield singing at the London Tower.  She was singing for a tv special.

When we got back to the hostel, my new Swiss-Italian friend, Diego, informed me that he knew where Keira Knightley would be singing autographs.  As a celebrity enthusiast, I decided that would be agreeable, and we joined him.

She was speed signing.  I couldn’t even get a good shot of her face, but still it IS her.

Thursday, we filled my Shakespeare love and went to the reproduction of the Globe Theatre.  We bought standing seats (very cheap and the best “seats” in the house) and saw “All’s Well that Ends Well.”  Vanessa and I had to explain some of it to Diego, but he did well considering.  (Shakespeare is confusing enough if English is your first language.)  Thankfully, it didn’t rain, as the standing seats aren’t covered…

We then walked around and stared at all the people in tents outside Westminster Abbey.  Some of them had been camping out for an entire week.  Personally, I like a more comfortable setting with a bed, running water, and heating, but their devotion to the Royals cannot be denied.

I’m not hardcore enough.

Friday, we woke up really early and headed to Hyde Park to watch from the screens.  We were considering lining the streets, but after seeing the people in tents, we knew we’d never get a good spot.  Also, Hyde Park’s screens would show us more of the event.

Luckily, this is where most of the real British people were.  They were sporting a collection of the ugliest hats I’ve ever seen.  Those Brits sure have awful taste in head wear.  I was considering bringing hats back until I saw them.  Now, I think we should be very afraid of them.

My friend, James, came in on Friday night to see me.  He’s in the British Air Force, but they got Friday and they’ll get tomorrow off, so he had/has some free time.  He turned out to be a font of knowledge of the Princes.  They’re both in the Air Force, so he’s had drinks with them and some of his instructors have taught them.  I got to hear a few stories, and am uber jealous.  Although, I guess I would rather not have Prince Harry think of me as a drinking buddy and more as someone who could possibly join him in Holy Matrimony whilest wearing Alexander McQueen.

Posh Spice would absolutely be there.  And Sir Elton.

I’d been seeing “mushy peas” on the menu everywhere.  James said, “They’re even worse than they sound” but insisted I try them at least once.

They’re definitely worse than they sound.  Which really, you have to admit is quite tough to do.  Anything “mushy” already is unappetizing.

They don’t even look like they would taste good.  The fish and mashed potatoes more than made up for them, but why does this exist?

On a related side note, I bought heartburn medication in London.  It was needed.

James then took me on a pub crawl of all his favorites.  I became addicted to this fabulous drink called Pimm’s, which I believe is gin and lemonade.  Much like sangria, they put fruit in it.  I had James pose with it.

(His is the more manly-looking beer in the foreground.  He didn’t join me in the deliciousness that is Pimm’s.)  Check out all the fruit!  I’m pretty sure that counts as a daily serving of fruit.  Five glasses of Pimm’s, and you’re good for the day.

James and I were going to meet the next night because we’d had such a successful and fun bar crawl, but he was still recovering (he even missed his stop on the way home).  Poor kid.  I guess the British just aren’t as skilled at drinking as those of us with Irish in our blood.

Also, Pimm’s probably has less alcohol than beer.  A lot less.  It’s the fruit.

I walked around St. James’ Park on Saturday and saw Buckingham Palace the day after the wedding… not as exciting as the day of.  But I did see this:

Today at the train station, I met another writer!  I had two hours to kill, so I bought a coffee and was writing stories in my notebook at one of those huge, collective, meant-for-6-people tables.  He joined me when the other spaces ran out, and asked for some help on dialogue with a play he’s been writing.  After he found out I was also a writer, he asked me to read the entire play.  He’s going to send the final version to me when it’s finished.

Yeah, I’m expanding my literary connections!  I’m going to have writer friends in all parts of the globe.

I’ve never tried writing at a cafe like that before.  Must make it a habit.

I’ve convinced the members of the group I have to do a speech with on Thursday that the Royal Wedding should be our topic.  OOOOOH YEAH.

Pain au chocolat count: 77

Joyeuses Pâques!

French Word(s) of the Day: Joyeuses Pâques (juh-why-oose pack)- Happy Easter

In France, the Easter bunny doesn’t bring French children chocolate.  Here, it’s the bells.

Church bells don’t ring on Good Friday, so parents tell their children this is because the bells have gone to Rome to see the Pope.  When they come back on Easter, they bring chocolate and candy with them from Rome.

I suppose it’s just as plausible as a giant, white bunny hiding eggs everywhere.  It makes finding chocolate bunnies much harder in France, though.  I’m not kidding: I can find chocolate cows, but not chocolate bunnies.

Brittney invited Martin and me to a concert for tonight, so I spent part of my Easter here:

Brittney and I were interested in one of the opening acts.  We had no idea who the headliner was.  Imagine our surprise when it turned out to be this guy:

Yes, that is a large feather on his hat.  He’s also wearing a pooka shell necklace with giant, plastic shrimps on it.  His name is King Khan, and Brittney’s description of him was “the middle eastern James Brown.”

His band did remind us that it was Easter.  His drummer looked exactly like Jesus.  I attempted to take a picture of him, and this happened:

His hair and his beard are the white light shining in the pink background (I outlined them in orange for you), which is strange as he had brown hair.  Brittney likened it to Shroud of Turin.  We declared it to be one of the magical mysteries of Easter.

Martin disappeared, but I suspect that’s not as much a mystery of Easter as it is that he found a romantic interest.

During one of the sets, a French man rushed onstage and bisous-ed (gave kisses on both cheeks) to every single band member.  Only in France would anyone decide that this would be the proper course of action after rushing the stage.

Brittney and I also hung out yesterday and walked around the passages of Paris. They’re gorgeous… If I ever become rich, I’m basing my house off of them.

We also went to the Palais Royal; a place I’ve shockingly never been before.  It’s absolutely gorgeous.  I’m ashamed of myself for having missed it thus far!

One of my doctors here told me that it was absolutely necessary for the health to have one glass of red wine a day (two for men).  Brittney and I have taken an intense concern for our health and have been following her advice.  We’ve tried to have at least one everyday this week.  Health is very important, you understand.

Now I’m off to prepare for London.  I have my camera prepared to take pictures of the strangest Royal Wedding paraphernalia I can find.  I promised my coworkers I’d bring them back something.

Pain au chocolate count: 77 (must buy TWO tomorrow for London…)

Hi there, Snooki

French Word(s) of the Day: crème de la crème solaire (crem duh la crem soul-air)- cream of the sunscreen

This was on the metro today:

You’re all thinking, “Thank God America can share the best parts of its culture with the rest of the world.”  That’s what I thought too.

I know, I know.  I never update anymore.  I’ve been really boring and doing mostly school work.  I have to try on these because they’re group projects.  If it’s a project on my own/ a test, I could care less.  Last week, I gave a speech on how to properly go through Disneyland.  I rehearsed it once.  I kicked the other speech’s butts.  See?  Not caring makes you a more interesting person.

Louis, I’m sorry I offended you.  I still had a ton of fun with you all at Disneyland and you’re all awesome, but the Americans just know how to get the bang for their buck.  I retract that it didn’t count.

Speaking of Louis (’cause he was there), we were by the Seine Saturday night.  It was such a beautiful day that being outside was necessary.  Half of Paris joined us on the Pont des Arts (the bridge Big and Carrie met on for all you Sex and the City fans) with their wine.  This time, we weren’t stopped by the police.  They tried to slap us with a 350 euro fine two years ago, something about “drinking in public.”  I assume they’ve given up, as everyone in France drinks in public.  (Don’t tell Snooki.)

The Editor’s Weblog (the site where I work) beat its all time record for number of hits in the month of March.  We had 73,000 hits, I think.  Even if it’s a coincidence that I started working there March 1st, I’m going to take all the credit for it.  I assume you all helped, so THANK YOU!!!!

I wrote an article today using only French resource material.  You should all just stare at it here.  Emma (my boss) also had Federica and I write bios.  I had trouble finding a picture, so I put the one from the Fashion Week party.  I’m such a professional, I know.  Apparently a Finnish guy is coming to join our team on Friday.  I’ll let you know how much we scare him.

Now I must study for a test I don’t care about and write a power point for a presentation I haven’t researched.  Scholarly fail.

Someday, I will give you your fashion update.  Promise.

Pain au chocolat count: 72

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

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