Friday, January 28, 2011

My Favorite Travel Books of All Time

I've discovered that reading travel writing is especially exhilarating and interesting while you, yourself are travelling. You get to compare and contrast your experiences with the experiences of someone who has done all the same things, and seen the same sites, but who has the added benefit of also being extremely funny, witty, and interesting. Here are a few of my favorite books that I've been reading over my last few months abroad:

The nonfiction account of a woman who moves to Paris after her husband dies, and "the dizzying delights and maddening frustrations in learning to be Parisian." Nightmares finding an apartment? I hear ya. Tips on flea markets, the best cafe and bakery finds in Paris? Yes, please. The tale of how completely impossible it is to get a fax machine abroad and the lurid details dating a French count? Tell me more.

One of my favorite passages, about her new dog, Sam: 
"Sam's personality began to emerge. She had bad eyesight which made her fearful of curbs; she stepped down gingerly. She was afraid of grates. And sometimes she just got stubborn and sat down, refusing to budge. One day during one of these sieges, I tried and tried to get her moving-- without luck. A Frenchwoman passed by, looked at Sam, saw me tugging away and commented 'Hmmph, that's France for you. Now even the dogs are on strike.'"

I love all "nonfiction," by Twain, with quotation marks because his nonfiction is usually liberally flavored with exaggeration and embellishment, all for awesome comedic effect. For example, in his nonfiction work Roughing It, about traveling to the Wild West, Twain manages to almost freeze to death in a blizzard 15 feet from a comfortable inn, set Lake Tahoe on fire, and become a millionaire for only one day because of fluctuations in the gold rush. Innocents Abroad is the equivalent crazy yet fact-based journey of him and a group of American tourists who go on a cruise to travel the world. They visit nearly all of Europe, Egypt, and the Holy land, and he alternately mocks and praises where ridicule and praise is due. 

One of my favorite passages:
With our travel guide we have played that game which has vanquished so many guides for us--imbecility and idiotic questions. These creatures never suspect--they have no idea of a sarcasm. Our guide walked his legs off, nearly, hunting up extraordinary things, and exhausted all his ingenuity on us, but it was a failure; we never showed any interest in any thing. He had reserved what he considered to be his greatest wonder till the last--a royal Egyptian mummy, the best preserved in the world, perhaps. He took us there. He felt so sure, this time, that some of his old enthusiasm came back to him:
"See, genteelmen!--Mummy! Mummy!"
The eye-glass came up as calmly, as deliberately as ever.
"Ah,--Ferguson--what did I understand you to say the gentleman's name was?"
"Name?--he got no name!--Mummy!--'Gyptian mummy!"
"Yes, yes. Born here?"
"No! 'Gyptian mummy!"
"Ah, just so. Frenchman, I presume?"
"No!--not Frenchman, not Roman!--born in Egypta!"
"Born in Egypta. Never heard of Egypta before. Foreign locality, likely. Mummy--mummy. How calm he is--how self-possessed. Is, ah--is he dead?"
This is the one remark which never yet has failed to disgust these guides. We use it always, when we can think of nothing else to say. After they have exhausted their enthusiasm pointing out to us and praising the beauties of some ancient bronze image or broken-legged statue, we look at it stupidly and in silence for five, ten, fifteen minutes--as long as we can hold out, in fact--and then ask:
"Is--is he dead?"
That conquers the serenest of them.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fois Gras, Champagne, and Awkward Facial Hair in Lyon

I recently went to a fois gras and champagne exhibition, because the invite contained the magic word: gratuit. Libre means “free” like being free from one’s chains, but not all of the liberté, égalité, or fraternité in the world can compare to gratuit, because that means “free” as in “does not cost any money.” I’m there! As soon as I walked in, I knew I had made the right decision. There were about 50 booths all selling cheese, fois gras, pesto, wines, and champagnes with which I could drink my duck-induced guilt away. (Fois gras, or duck liver, is the most inhumane and evil of meat products. But damn, is it delicious.) I soon developed a pattern: drink a little, eat a little, drink a little, eat a little. Repeat until you burst of happiness. Or fullness. Whichever comes first.
If fois gras had a "before" picture, this would be it. The "after" picture would be a jar.
My favorite booth was towards the end of the exhibition (my judgment at that point may have been a little buzzed/biased), and it was run by a large, jolly, red-cheeked man with a RIDICULOUS Mario or Luigi meets Salvador Dali mustache. It was thick like Mario’s ‘stache, but curled upwards obscenely into a spiral, like Salvador Dali, or a cartoon villain. He was a very nice man, but with facial hair choices like that, it was hard to take him seriously. In fact, it was hard to listen to him at all because I was so preoccupied trying not to stare at it, worrying that I was staring at it, and checking to make sure that I wasn’t. It was like the elephant in the room, but this time the room was only my brain.
          No one else seemed to have a problem with it, and I bet he certainly enjoyed it. But I almost felt like it needed to be brought up, because to ignore it would be ridiculous. It would be as if I were talking to someone, and they were naked, or wearing a three foot tall hat. That sort of thing definitely merits a response, right? As if they’re expecting your remarks, and if you don’t give them, you’re obviously ignoring it on purpose. Somehow, I managed not to say anything through four different champagne samples, and I really did enjoy my conversation with that man, despite his outlandish facial hair.

"Excuse me, sir, but I couldn't help but notice that your face looks INSANE."
        The more I drank, the more uninhibited I was, and the more comfortable I was speaking French. By the time I got to Mustache Man, I was a regular social butterfly. Every time I have a good conversation entirely in French it feels so rewarding, and I feel so proud of myself, and so accomplished. If I hadn’t been full of fois gras, I could have stuffed myself on my own bloated ego. But I bet it wouldn't have tasted as good.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Real French Fact #5: French Bureaucracy is Ridiculous

          French bureaucracy is ridiculous mostly due to the insane amount of paperwork. The French love to require their copies, their photos of you, copies of photos of you, photos of copies of photos of you… you get the picture. Want a visa? Prepare to fill out a small dictionary’s worth of files. Want health care? Sorry, your card isn't going to be processed until you've already left the country for good. It has been so much work getting my visa validated, my French bank account opened, my French phone plan arranged, my French bus pass seen to, my bus pass compensated for by my work, and I still have to work on getting health insurance and possibly some rent compensation. (Phew!)

Le defeat. 
         After my first month in France, my visa was finally approved after a health examination, which culminated in me having to strip and being pressed against a very cold pane of glass so that they could x-ray my lungs. The con was that for a few awkward minutes I had very little dignity and keen sense of a draft; the pro is that now I have a spiffy x-ray of my lungs to look at, whenever I'd like. They are a fine specimen, I must say. Especially given that I have no idea how good lungs differ from bad lungs. But I'm sure that mine are spectacular, as lungs go.

          My boyfriend also deals a lot with paperwork, at his job at a law firm in San Francisco. Yesterday he sent me: “Now, time to burn CDs and to file! That could be my superhero name... The Filer. I would catalogue and label my villains, and then SEAL THEM IN CABINET DRAWERS FOREVER. TO DIE."

          Boyfriend would fit right in here in France. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Roman Ruins and Bad Puns in Nîmes

          When you think “Nîmes,” (pronounced “Neem”) if you don’t think, “Uh… where is that?” you tend to think Roman ruins, and very intact ones at that. Last Saturday, we took the hour long train ride from Lyon to Nîmes in order to see them all. The first of many bad jokes came shortly after we arritved at Port d’Auguste, the old gateway into the city. My friend Sunny sat back, stared at it wonderingly, and exclaimed “It’s unbeneemable!” We wasted no time in glaring and kicking him.

Port d'Auguste Pros: Um... it's very old?
Port d'Auguste Cons: Not much to look at. It's just arches and a statue, surrounded by noise and traffic. Also counted against it is the fact that it was 8am and we hadn't yet had breakfast at the patisserie we would find around the corner.
Final grade: C-

The next site was the Jardin de la Fontaine, or the Fountain Gardens:
The Gardens
Sunny, "discovering" the Temple of Dianna

Tour Magne
Pros: The temple of Diana was pretty cool, covered in graffiti that was from as long ago as the 1800s. The park also had gardens, fountains (go figure), a fake cave, palm trees (seemingly out of place in France, non?), and the Tour Magne, a Roman tower built on the highest part of the city as a lookout.
Cons: It cost money to enter, and boy are we cheap.
Final Grade: A-

Then came the Castellum, where Romans used to get their water:

Pros: They are impressively old, and Roman.  Also comes with the nifty fact that it was the ending place for the Pont du Gard aqueduct water.
Cons: Yaaaaaaawn.
Final Grade: C-

Then a quick lunch of tartiflette (melted cheese, ham, onions, and potatoes in a giant lump of ugly deliciousness) and we were at the Maison Carrée:

Pros: It's an incredibly complete, perfectly restored, blindingly white temple surrounded by picturesque cafés. The ceiling is also pretty nifty. 
Cons: The interior has been modernized and turned into a movie theater for a film about gladiators, which we didn't care about, and it costs money, which we don't like to spend.
Final Grade: A-

Last but not least was the Amphitheater:

Pros: It's entirely complete and still used for performances and concerts. You can climb to the top and take a look at the city, or lie on the benches and tan while you listen to the ridiculous audio guide commentary, complete with pompous accent. There's even a mini-museum about gladiators, with some of their old sandals and armor.
Cons: It's much smaller than the Coliseum, but still pretty cool regardless.
Final grade: A+++

Sunny: “It’s not what it… sneems!”
Ollie: “I’m feeling some real aneemosity towards you right now… can you stop?” 

Invaluable Lessons Learned: 
  1. Bad jokes do not make friends.
  2. Pigeons will poop on anything, no matter how much it is ancient, cool, or imbued with historical value. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Students Wear Leopard Print Fur Coats to Class

In America, they would look ridiculous, or like they were trying too hard. Here in France, it just makes them fierce French bitches, fashionable to the extreme and not to be trifled with.

This outfit can also be worn grocery shopping, getting the mail, or taking out the trash. With stilettos, of course. The French have never heard of sweat pants. And if they had, they would never wear them. 

Interestingly enough, the girl on the right is making the exact face my students give me when I'm teaching the last class of a Friday afternoon: indifference and borderline dislike.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Visiting the Pont du Gard/Being Afraid of Imaginary Dinosaurs

      The Pont du Gard is one of those things that merits being stared at, like the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum. You can watch it for an extended period of time without becoming bored, because there’s so much to take in. People come to swim in the river during the summer, or hike in the surrounding forest, and I can easily picture picnicking under it as a French family, and just staring for a while in awe. It’s not a UNESCO World Heritage Site for nothing.

Yeah... I wish I took this. But I didn't.

          The complex at the entrance to the Pont du Gard is much bigger than I’d anticipated—with a kids area, a movie theater that plays a documentary about the monument, gift shops, restaurants, the works. There’s also an amazing museum, which you can tell they poured a ton of money into, because it managed to make a bunch of potentially dry and boring facts incredibly interesting through videos, audio tracks, dioramas, life-sized replicas, and even a huge representation of a limestone quarry. You walk through tunnels, over sand, and through light shows. There are fountains, ponds, faucets and waterfalls everywhere, so for the love of God, make sure you don’t step foot in the exhibit if you have to pee.

Museum Pont du Gard
          At the point of my visit, over the weekend, it was of course mid-January, a low tourism month. This means that there weren’t many people there, with the exception of the Asian tour group that enthusiastically wanted to take my picture, for reasons I don't totally understand. The shops were empty. The tables and chairs were empty. It was a ghost town, but with souvenirs for sale. Being in a huge, yet deserted touristic center inevitably reminded me of Jurassic Park. I felt like at any moment, as I drank my chocolat chaud in the vacant restaurant, a raptor was going to creep around the corner and I’d have to hide in a stove in the stainless steel kitchen:

           The chase scene I envisioned was made increasingly more alarming as I realized I wasn't sure how fast I could maneuver and avoid giant lizard predators in my tight denim skinny jeans. But if Jeff Goldblum suddenly showed up in a torn black shirt spouting condescending scientific facts, I decided that I would be ok with it. Sometimes, one must accept their fate. 

Vicious, raptor-induced death, if it comes with this? The pros outweigh the cons.
[Editors note: Did you know that if you Google search "Jeff Goldblum," like I just did to find the image above, the first item that comes up in the search bar is "Jeff Goldblum is watching you poop"? Yeah. We should all be concerned.]

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to Get to Pont du Gard from Nîmes or Avignon by Bus

Warning: This post is more informative than fun. My “fun” post regarding my reactions to the Pont du Gard will be posted tomorrow. J

Me in front of the famous Roman bridge and aquaduct.
           I chose the title for my post, hoping that Google will direct the confused and lost potential tourists of the world to my site for an explanation, because, awesome as the Pont du Gard was, figuring out how to get there was nearly impossible, completely confusing, entirely stressful and totally discouraging. In short, a real pain in the ass. All information currently online, I discovered from my research, is out of date by several years, with all the bus charts being from 2007 or older, even on the Pont du Gard website itself. The buses have all been entirely renumbered since then! Even my guidebook was irritatingly unhelpful on the subject.

           But let me reiterate to you: it is completely worth it to visit the Pont du Gard.

           You want to go. Trust me.

           Especially because now, I’m here to provide you with answers:

          If you are leaving from Nîmes (pronounced “neem”), take bus B21, for about 1.50 euro. It will take about 45 mins plus a teeny bit of walking, but there will be a giant billboard at the round-about to point you in the right direction. You pick up the bus itself by the SNCF station, and there is a screen outside that lists what buses are arriving when. Simply look for the one that says B21 and go to the corresponding numbered parking space. There’s also a sales office for the bus company, Edgard, inside the train station, but it’s only open Mon-Fri for a few hours at a time. They should have current schedules there, but what we had to do, since it was a Saturday, was ask a random bus driver just sitting around in his bus if he had an extra Edgard schedule.

           If you’re leaving from Avignon, take bus A15, for 1.50 euro, and it will take about 40 minutes. You pick up the A15 at what is called Gare Routière. If you are facing the Avignon Centre station, go left, past the Ibis hotel, and down some stairs into a creepy, sketchy looking tunnel, where the scary, unlit bus garage awaits you. (It is worth it even though it is dirty and scary. The bridge is that cool.) There is an information desk open during weekdays who can give you a schedule, and a TV screen in the bus garage where you can search for A15 buses and the corresponding numbered parking space where your bus will await. Get off at the Rond Pont du Gard stop and follow the giant billboard's arrow. It will be a 5 minute brisk walk. I left on a Monday morning at 8:45 am and caught the next bus at 1:24 pm. This was the perfect amount of time for a thorough tourist. Both the A15 and the B21 pick up are at the same spot on the round-about.

           Renting a car is of course the ideal way to visit this place, and there are reliable directions for that elsewhere online and in books. If you prefer to take a taxi, it would be considerably cheaper to take it from Avignon than from Nîmes, and would cost you about 40-45 euro each way, if your taxi driver is being fair. You can also book a private tour through the Avignon or Nîmes tourism centers, but those can be pricey depending on if it's guided and where else you visit. I was unable to get a tour in January, because they require a minimum amount of people to go on a tour, and I was travelling alone in the unpopular season for tourism. 

           I hope you take up my advice and check this place out. The museum was incredibly nifty too, and not worth skipping.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Leave it to the French to Create a Mob Over Wine

          In November, the Fête de Beaujolais (or Festival of Beaujolais en anglais) celebrates the release of the Beaujolais brand’s new wine of the year with free tastings. Oddly enough, they choose to release it on a Wednesday night at midnight, probably because they know you have to teach a class very early in the next morning, yet that you are also irresistibly drawn to the promise of free wine, and because they hate you.  So despite obligations, many of the other assistants and I went at about 9:30 pm, yet suffered anticlimax: there was an empty stage and a lot of event tents that cost money to get into and only sold food, which we didn’t need. So what do ten or so creative English assistants do when faced with nothing to do and a distinct lack of wine? Head to the bars in Vieux Lyon, of course.  

Vieux Lyon at night.
          Vieux Lyon translates as Old Lyon, because the buildings are still from the middle ages, and the narrow streets are all cobblestone. It is without a doubt my favorite part of the city.Vieux Lyon also hosts a wide variety of bars, both English and French. And by English, I mean legit British. We headed to one such pub, where the bartender spoke not only spoke English, but had this sign posted near the register:

          At about 11:30 we returned to the festival and a crowd had gathered. A parade rolled the barrels of this year’s new wine down the street with torches and a band in tow, and most of the audience formed a conga line, hip swiveling and sometimes even singing together as they trotted alongside the procession. (Did you know that alongside was one word, according to my spell check? Yeah, I didn’t either.) I have to admit the impromptu conga line was my favorite part. 

          Then were was a lot of getting rained on while watching fireworks, getting rained on while waiting for the wine to be dispersed, and getting rained on while fighting through the crowd for free wine. My hair was drenched, and I was being crushed by other French folk, but we were laughing and we found fun in the (rather soggy) chaos as we were squished and compacted in the mob. The wine was actually quite good, and we had a fun time walking around in the rain and hanging out by the giant statue of a man riding a horse. A little later on, we noticed a strange phallic shape coming off of the side of the statue for absolutely no reason. We were concerned:

          My friend who had studied abroad last year in the same city saw my photo on Facebook and gave me her response photo, taken in front of the exact same statue, also inebriated on good French wine:

Same place, different time.
          It made me laugh out loud. Good to see that my friends and I are only continuing a longstanding and noble tradition of wine-induced public shenanigans. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Obviously, I Keep A Cool Head in Stressful Situations

I live in perpetual fear that a few of the French guys that I see in my daily life will ask me out. I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, poor you. Your diamond ring must be so heavy.” But it’s worse than it sounds! I have an amazing boyfriend, who sends me kickass care packages like this:
Everything is from him except the jack-o-lantern, of course.
 He Skypes me twice a day. Even if Joseph Gordon-Levitt himself asked me out, I would feel compelled to say no.
Saying no immediately results in an overpowering sense of rejection for the unfortunate guy and then I feel bad for crushing his hopes, and guilt for being a bitch to someone who only wants to be nice to me. And then the awkward silence ensues afterwards, and this is the WORST. My insides twist up and I want to die. So I really, really don’t want these poor French men to ask me out, for their sakes, and for mine.
I mean this in regards especially to the timid and kind-hearted teacher that I work with. He’s young, not bad looking, and obviously he’s smart because he teaches econ, a subject which wastes no time in making loud “WHOOSH”-ing noises over my head. He tends to wear sky blue knit sweaters and soulful puppy eyes. He’s also so quiet, and shy, and sweet, that I dread whenever he’ll eventually gather the courage I can see building in his super awkward body language.  Today, for instance, he walked over to me determinedly and started making small talk, and of course the conversation wound its way towards shaky ground. In French he asked, “Do you ever eat in the cafeteria?” with this hopeful tone to his voice. My mind started flashing red lights and going ALERT, ALERT.
“Uh… no, never. I bring something because it’s less expensive.”
“Ah…” Cue crestfallen look. I even hated shutting him down in sneaky subtext! I tried to escape by making copies, but he followed me with copies of his own. As we stood at our separate machines, the copy room scene from 500 Days of Summer flashed into my head and I quickly smothered it. SHUT UP BRAIN. 
“So what do you like to do on the weekends?” he started up in French with a newly resolute air about him.
“Um…” I started, just as I noticed that in my fluster I had been making huuuuge, double sided copies and that I was wasting tons of paper on worksheets that were all wrong.
“Usually, I stay in… uh…” My French suffered as I distractedly jabbed the cancel button, or what I thought was the cancel button because it was red, but maybe it was the log out button? Is “supprimer” delete? Or is it “annuler?”  I flashed through French verbs frantically in my head.
I heard myself blabbing on, stuttering over the French phrases: “But I think that I will start to be a better tourist--” Jab, jab, JAB, push. The copies stopped, but then started AGAIN, even more zoomed in.
“The other English Assistants and I have some plans for this weekend, so that should—that will—that was--will be fun.”
“I see. Well... have fun then,” he responds, walking out of the room with his head down and his body language reeking of misery.

He left me standing alone in the copy room, feeling like an asshole, and holding 50 unnecessary double-sided pictures of a cartoon turkey.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Dangers of French Coffee, and the Perils of UPS

Real French Fact#4: Need something shipped to you from the U.S.? Don't use UPS.

My parents wanted to send me a care package full of the essentials of life, namely food and cute new shoes. They went to UPS first, who offered to charge them $50 for a teeny tiny box to be shipped to France. Then they went to their local post office, which charged them... $9.00.

On an unrelated note, I’ve now finished my espresso, and now I feel a little deflated. I could go get another (in fact, if it was American Coffee, I’d get five more), but French coffee will MESS YOU UP. You think you know what coffee is? No, you have no idea. Starbucks has nothing on French coffee. Combine three espresso shots from Pete’s Coffee at home, stir in a little pure adrenaline, some unadulterated amphetamines from an illegal drug warehouse, stir in the sensation you experience as you buckle yourself into a rollercoaster, and add a dash of attempting to ride a wild tiger that wants your blood, and you will have a vague idea of the effects of French coffee. I can drink a grande Starbucks latte and take a nap directly afterwards, to the astonishment of my friends. But I swear, any more than one teeny cup of French coffee, and my hands shake, I flash hot and cold, I feel painfully alert and uncomfortably conscious, and I BOUNCEBOUNCE BOUNCE around the classroom, speed taking with a crazy, disturbing grin on my face. “OKAYSONOWSWITCHPARTNERSANDASKTHEMNUMBERS8-10. READY!? GO!”  I quickly learned to keep to one cup so that the Crazy American Girl didn't scare the students

Not sure why I went with the decision of giving pre-caffeine me T-rex arms. In the moment, it just felt right.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

France is a Desolate Wasteland (When it Comes to Sandwich Condiments)

All I wanted a peanut butter and jelly English muffin. You wouldn’t think that would be terribly dramatic. However:

Real French Culture Fact #3: They do not really sell peanut butter in France. Sometimes at grocery stores they do, in the “foreign” aisle, next to the soy sauce and the tortillas, but it isn’t a sure thing. If you want some when you are in France, bring your own.

And that is exactly what I did! And that blessed jar of Skippy lasted me… until today. I had been carefully rationing it out once I noted in panic that I was 2/3 of the way finished, but I had slowly chipped away at it by the spoonful until I had scraped the bottom clean. The last time I wanted peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I had swiped the last little bits off the sides. This time, refusing the toss the jar out, I spent literally eight minutes scraping with incredible precision to get the last half of a tablespoon off of the sides and the bottom.

Decide what is geekier: the fact that I did that or the fact that I timed myself.

What can I say? The French have no appreciation for peanut butter, but damn it, I do, and I was desperate. 

Desperate measures.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cause I'm a Grown Up Now

As a new teacher, I feel a strange amount of pride every time I accomplish the most mundane tasks at school. Having a key and closing up the classroom makes me feel so mature. I get a rush of "Look at me! I have a job! I can lock doors LIKE A BOSS" as I test the knob and walk away. "Classroom secure," I imagine reporting to my imaginary walkie talkie. Every time I make copies of a lesson plan, I celebrate my own smugness: "I know that A4 means single sheets of paper, and I'm going to select it and I want 35 copies, baby. Centered and single-sided. Watch me go!" Getting coffee from the special coffee vending machine is of course the best experience for feeling superior. Sipping my espresso casually in the teacher's lounge, stirring the sugar cube into it with the disposable plastic stick, my smugness exudes "I'm an adult, doing grown up things. I AM DRINKING GROWN UP EXPRESSO." I'm so drunk on the power of my maturity that I nearly burst.

All of these superfluous perks, however, vanish in the classroom, while I do my actual work. I fumble with my work sheets, struggle to make the students understand, to make them speak up, to quiet down, to speak up, and to quiet down again. I constantly try to act like I know what I'm doing and display confidence, but I'm really just flying by the seat of my pants. My opinion of my job really depends on how receptive the class is, and how much they seem intellectually stimulated by the lesson. If they are intrigued, then I have the best job ever that I want to do for the rest of my life, and I can't wait to guide them through the lesson like a motherfucking Beacon of Knowledge: 

If they're apathetic and bored and they think the lesson is dumb, I hate teaching and I never want to do it again and I want to crawl into my corner of shame for ever naively thinking that "Supersize Me" was promising fodder for discussion.
Man, these stiletto-clad, fashionista French high school girls can cast you such a withering glance, which amazes me with all the ways it can make you shrivel at once. With only the eyes, they manage to effectively communicate: "Not only are you beneath my notice, you unfabulous thing with your untailored jeans, but you presume to make me care about your words, and you will be sorely disappointed because I do not give a shit, and you can't make me." (Ok, the untailored jeans part might be me projecting, but I promise the rest is all there.) When this glare occurs, on the outside, I continue my lesson as competently as ever. On the inside I go "I know! I know! Who cares about fast food social experiments?! I'm sorry that I'm not as effortlessly trendy as you--I'm sorry! I'll wear heels tomorrow!" 
If only secret, internal, fashion-insecure me could meet and take notes from I'm-the-king-of-the-world, watch-me-drink-this-espresso-cause-I'm-an-adult-with-a-job me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

An Open Letter to My Brain

Yes, you.
Dear Brain,

          Jet-lag is a funny thing, isn't it Brain? Our body is in Lyon, France, yet you, for some reason, are still in the Bay Area of California, and I heard you when you said you'd be damned if you'll synchronize for my sake, despite my asking nicely. "Bwahahahaha!" I hear you laugh the evil-nemesis laugh of mad scientists as I fade into unconsciousness at embarrassingly early points in the day, and on the bus as I'm about to miss my stop. Even when I wake up (at 4-6 am, by the way), I still feel groggy because you've convinced our body that it's really only 9 pm and that I should be turning in soon. WHY DO YOU DO THIS. Too tired to be awake, too awake to be tired, I end up groggily and irately watching episodes of Bones until its time to get ready for work. Is this all your elaborate plot to get more exposure to shirtless David Boreanaz? Because if it is, that is underhanded and mean, and you should know that I would watch Bones regardless of your shit.

The best torso picture I could find was unfortunately also the worst facial hair picture I could find... why did he think this was a good idea?
            BRAIN, YOU ARE IN FRANCE NOW, DAMN YOU. It's time you start acting like it. These childish pranks are below you. You're giving us under-eye bags. I know how vain we are-- is that really what you want? As I find myself counting down the minutes until 7pm when I can pass out with shame like an elderly person in an assisted living center, I not only lose my dignity, but also an ability to lead a normal life, or to take the bus.

              SNAP OUT OF IT, or I will make us listen to Lindsay Lohan music. 

          Don't think I wont. 

          Fear my wrath. 


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bonjour! I have not died.

I did in in fact emerge from Charles de Gaulle airport victorious, and then became swamped with real life stuff like family and holidays and scarfing down Mexican food while I was still in California and it was still scarf-able. But a new post will be up soon, and not to be arrogant or anything, but I'm sure that it will be charming and hilarious and worth the wait. So, just hang in there. I promise I will stop having a life soon, and post.