The American Returns to Her Roots

French Word(s) of the Day: États-Unis (eh-taz ooo-nee)- United States

I’ve been back in the US for several months.  Why haven’t I updated? Because I’m a failure.

My last few weeks were spent trying to see everything I hadn’t and also trying to give away pretty much everything I owned in order to keep within the baggage allowance on my plane.  Shipping anything to the US bigger than a postcard costs most people’s yearly salaries.

Because everyone has been asking, my final pain au chocolat count came to 90. If I’d had two more days, it would have been 100.  Of course, if I had 10 pain au chocolat in 2 days, my chances of using a barf bag for the first time ever would have been 100%.

I’ve had a few requests to keep this blog up in the US, and I plan on it!  I shall forever be French with an American accent!  That, and my domain name renewed itself so if I don’t use it it’s just sitting there.

I shall keep you updated on my Americanness in the next entry.  Best to keep the French and Americans apart.

À plus tard!

FINAL pain au chocolat count: 90

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…)

Les Fleurs et Le FASHION

French Word of the Day: fleurs (fl-eh)- flowers

I have no idea if I’m repeating words of the day… I should probably make a list of the ones I’ve done, but that involves me being less lazy so it’s not going to happen any time soon.

Because I don’t have courses this week, I’ve been going to work everyday.  I wrote another article with mostly French sources about the Ivory Coast’s newspapers, which the New York Times has linked to on its page for the country (see the “Headlines Around the Web” section)!  I’m glad, because I thought the English-speaking press was ignoring it, and I think it’s a really important story.

Our team has been really interested in the Royal Wedding.  Federica and I try to slip in things from time to time, but today we got an actual story on it.  Teemu, the new Finnish intern and only male, wrote it.  As he has no interest in it (actually, that’s not true… he scorns it, which is technically interest), he was the one who got to write it.

It was his idea to write about it, so I think he secretly wants to be there for it.  I don’t take his excuse of “there was nothing else to write about and it seems important, blah, blah, blah.”

I don’t know if he’d been afraid of us before, but he certainly is after today.  Emma, Federica, and I sent him tons of links and photos.  I don’t believe the Editor’s Weblog has ever had an article that was such a complete group effort before.  At one point, Teemu said, “Does one of YOU want to finish it for me?”  The end result can be found here.  (The teabag picture was one of my contributions.  I’ll be looking for some when I go to England next week.)

As promised, it’s time for the low-down on French fashion.  What’s in for this spring/summer?

Flower prints:

All the flower prints are reminding me of 1995 and also that it’s allergy season.

Tights with shorts:

(I stole all these from offline.)  If you’re a true Parisian, you only wear BLACK tights.  Other tights would make you stand out too much.  The point of being fashionable is to blend in and look like everyone else.  I’m actually glad that someone started this trend, because short shorts alone look good on models… and that’s about it.

Bensimon sneakers:

I think we can all agree these are the fugliest sneakers ever invented.  Regardless, the French LOVE them.  God knows why, and he’s the only one.  I personally think they look like Converse’s stupider, cheaper, less attractive brother.

Suit Jackets:

Fashion suit jackets make EVERYONE look put together.  Parisians try to counteract this (no one must ever look TOO put together) by styling their hair in messy buns that look as thought they’ve been attacked with a weed whacker.

Messy Buns:

This is not messy enough, but you get the general idea.  Google wasn’t working with my “REALLY messy hair” requests.

Ballet Flats with Leggings:

Reese Witherspoon knows how to channel her inner Frenchwoman.  Ballet flats go with everything.  I know what you’re thinking: “But they have no support.”  Well, neither do these:

Booties:

But comfort is not a French concern.  You’re thinking like a nonfashionable person.  Although, if you really want comfort, you can try these:

Brogue Shoes:

The French are more forgiving of color when it appears in shoes, but black is always best.

Basically, look like this girl:

Although she looks like she’s eating, so I’m not sure she’s actually French.

I’d tell you to get shopping, but chances are that all these styles will have changed by tomorrow.  Except for the Bensimon shoes (picture found by googling “ugly French sneakers”), which have been popular for over two years.  I’m assuming this is because ugly stands the test of time.

Pain au chocolat count: 76

Spring break!

French Word(s) of the Day: vacances de printemps (veh-cawn-sah de prown-tom)- spring break

I’m finally done with my 8 thousand projects.  Or at least, for the next two weeks I’m done.  Classes are out of session!  Spring break!  Vacation! Exclamation points!

I think my neighbor is on spring break too, because her alarm didn’t go off until 8:30 this morning.  However, not everyone gets spring break this week.  One of the other residents decided that they were jealous of us spring breakers, and so s/he blasted Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” in the middle of the courtyard at 7 am.  I would have yelled at s/him, but judging by how loudly s/he listens to his/her music, s/he’s deaf and wouldn’t have heard me.

Or s/he soon will be deaf.

Everyone in the program has gone southwest for the break, so there are a scant few of us left.  As the scant few are the ones I like (aka the only other girl over 21, Brittney), this hasn’t been a problem.  I don’t know what happens between the ages of 20 to 23, but it must be significant for building maturity levels…

I did a LOT of walking this weekend.  Arnaud and I walked around Paris for 3 hours (unintentionally… we were looking for friends, but this is France so they were over an hour late).  We gave up on them and got crepes instead, because Nutella fixes everything.

On the way back, I found my pretty ballet shoe store by Opera Garnier.  It always has pretty displays, and this time was no exception.

On Sunday, Brittney and I went to see the goats.  There’s a tiny little park in Bois de Boulogne (the French version of Central Park) that has farm life.  Brittney said this is so Parisian children get to see actual animals other than pigeons or rats.

For serious, that’s all Paris has: rats and rats with wings.  Every French person who has ever visited me gets WAY too excited about squirrels.  They’ve all stopped and taken tons of photos of them.  If you’ve ever seen Up!, it’s exactly like this:

There weren’t any squirrels at the park, but there was Donald Trump in duck form.

There was also the biggest donkey I’ve ever seen in my life.  If donkeys ever form a basketball team, they need to draft this guy:

Note the real sized donkey under him.  I took this for a size comparison.  Also, French children are the only ones allowed to wear baseball hats, and only then when they’re visiting barn animals.  Otherwise, they must be impeccably clad.

Of course, this exhibit was created by a Parisian.  I assume that because they had this in the gardening section:

Either France is a hundred years behind the US in gardening techniques, or that’s a bit outdated.  I can just imagine a French farmer seeing this and laughing, “Ha ha!  We still use horse-driven plows too!  You Parisians could not SURVIVE without us.”  (Different regions in France aren’t so fond of each other.)

This was at the end of the park, but Brittney and I just had to take pictures of it:

It’s reaaaaaaaal purty, ain’t it?

I’m going to England next week for the Royal Wedding.  My friend, Vanessa, has charged me with the task of finding her a husband.  I think I’m going to try for Prince Harry, but she’s willing to go slumming for a commoner.  Her choice.

She wants him to look like the beautiful Swiss guard I met at a pub when I was studying in Ireland.  I don’t think they make ’em like this in England, but here’s a picture for reference (this is all just an excuse to give some eye candy… Duck-ald Trump and the donkey are nice, but they’re not quite as visually pleasing):

Maybe we should invite him to England for the Royal Wedding?  I won’t even make him wear his uniform.  (I don’t think he got to keep it, but he did get to keep his sword.  Swords are far more important.)

I’ll let you know if I find Vanessa her man.  And I’ll give you pictures if he looks like that. ^

Oh, I almost forgot!  This is for my Aunt Joan because she sent me a fabulous box of chocolates!

The star next to it is because I mess up sometimes when I draw stars and don’t have the heart to erase them.  So, it’s waving to everyone.

Pain au chocolat count: 75

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