I miss these crazy fools

But I'll be back in LG sooooo soooon. December 14th here I come. I am currently trying to study, but it's not really working. I am too distracted by live updates from the NU-Wisconsin game. Horrible, horrible. But remember last year's game? That was awesome.

OH, and I miss this dog too.


Gobble Gobble

Ever since the Pilgrims sailed to Plymouth Rock on the Mayflower and gave all the Native Americans smallpox blankets, we Americans have set aside the last Thursday of November to gather with family and friends to give thanks for the cornucopia of gifts rightfully bestowed on us by our Manifest Destiny.

I'm missing out today on the food and festivities that normally bring everyone together at my grandparents' house today, and I'm more than a little bummed. However, this holiday is about more than about food, and we traditionally go around the dinner table and talk about what we're most thankful for, as cheesy as that is. I didn't want to miss out on the official kick-off to the holiday season, so here goes:

First, I am thankful I have the best and most supportive family on the planet. They'll always be there, whether I like it or not (I usually like it), and I'd rather spend time with them than with anyone else. I'm lucky to have such smart, compassionate and generous people in my life, who give the best advice and love life so much, and make life worthwhile for me too.

Second of all, thank you to all my friends, especially my 3 soul-mates. After some ups and downs with friendships and living and learning, I know that true friends stick around no matter what, to share the highs and the lows. All of you make me happy day in and day out, and I appreciate all the funny things you do to make me laugh and heart-to-hearts over tea. To friends new and old, ones I speak to every day, and ones where it's been a while (drop me a line, why don't you. I'd love to hear from you!), thank you all.

I am thankful to have such incredible luck. I have no idea why I get to have all these great opportunities and awesome people around me, but thank you, and I'm working every day so I don't let you down.

I'm grateful to be an eternal optimist, and to have the gift of tireless perseverance. This is the key to my well-being, I'm pretty sure. My sense of humor does not hurt either.

I'm thankful you can always clear your head and refocus, any time you want! Life is tough, but I feel enthusiastic and hopeful for the future. What a great way to start the happiest time of the year!

Happy Thanksgiving!

***I'm writing this at Starbucks (of course) and they just turned on the Christmas music this second! I wasn't sure if I was going to hear any in France. First song of the season: So, This is Christmas by John and Yoko.
I am also thankful for Christmas Music.

More to come this weekend on my trip to that other city of brotherly love, Strasbourg.



Today in French class, we talked about bread, the center of the French universe. Our professor said that French people considered bread as the most important part of a balanced diet, and that the American obsession of carb counting is what is making us such fatties. If we ate more bread, we wouldn't have to worry about the chub.

Yes, lots of Americans are overweight, and it's an issue, but I would argue that Americans are much healthier than the French.

The French may be thinner on average, but that doesn't mean they're fit, or healthy. No one I see on the street looks particularly toned, because no one does any physical exercise whatsoever. Running on the street will attract dirty looks, and gyms are few and far between. I was reading French ELLE in a café once, and had to laugh at the "fitness" advice they gave to petite women such as myself. In order to 'feminize' our figures by whittling ourselves some sort of a waist, just do some stretches that might have been considered a warm up in an American-style work out and call it a night.

My teacher also neglected to mention that French women are obsessed with staying thin. There is even a verb for "to get fat" (grossir), that's how serious they are. If they didn't have to go to great lengths to maintain their lean figures, they probably wouldn't make such a big deal.

The French are skinny-fat, I've decided. Skinny on the outside, but fat on the inside. If someone actually tested their cardio-vascular fitness, they'd do miserably. And have we forgotten about smoking? Lung capacity, ha! At least I can blow out all my birthday candles without wheezing, Frenchies. Then I'm gonna eat my cake too. And then regret it, because carbs = the devil.


Danger at Barbes-Rochechouart

I've only felt unsafe in Paris once. It was a bit worrying to discover that the metro closes relatively early: 12:30 on weeknights, and 1:30 on weekends, but honestly it's never been a problem. You can walk for miles in most parts of the city at any odd hour of the night, and no one will bother you.

Ironically, the one time I felt like I was in danger was at noon. Last Saturday I woke up early to check out the marché aux puces (literally flea market) in the village of St.Ouen, just north of Paris. The North suburbs of Paris are actually pretty dangerous, but Ina and Jeffery Garten frequent this market to look for chic antiques, so clearly it must be totally gentrified and pleasant and smell like lilacs from Ina's favorite gay florist in the Hamptons.

The market itself was very interesting, once you got past the people selling Nikes that fell off the back of a truck, and a whole lotta junk, you could find covered markets selling everything from vintage Chanel jewelry and sweet first-editions, to modern art and antique furniture rummaged from estate sales and royal palaces. I spent a few hours wandering around, and decided to head back towards the center of the city. The market was closest to the final metro stop on one of the lines closed for renovation, so they had a bus shuttle service to Barbes-Rochechouart, a metro stop in the 9th arrondissement. Once I got off the bus I was submerged into a huge mob of people, so I guarded my purse and headed towards the metro station entrance. Once inside, I was confronted with perhaps 12 young men, probably my age, all waving metro tickets in my face. "They're free!" they said. Obviously not, why would you be standing around a metro station giving away free tickets when you could be out making money? Opportunity costs, people. I reached in my purse to get my own metro ticket ready so I could just walk through them with a purpose and as little eye contact as possible, when I totally panicked. The next part is kind of a blur of fight or flight and tears, but I'll try to break it down for you.

They were definitely cat-calling as I came in, being alone, but whatever, that's relatively normal and doesn't phase me much. Then they started laying their hands on me, or grabbing my arm and pulling. One of them swooped in and tried to kiss me, but I managed to get away in time. All while this was happening, they were trying to get me to take one of their stupid tickets.
All I could manage to say to these people was "I have one, I have one". Not one "stop", nor "leave me alone", in French or in English. I couldn't raise my voice at all, and I didn't even consider hitting anyone. I was too petrified and my body had gone on high alert.

I manged to make my way past them to a metro turnstile, and i put my ticket through the machine. I did this too soon, because the woman in front of me was passing through, and this voided my ticket. In my state of panic and fear, I just started to cry. Some of these men tried to give me their tickets again, but I was pushing them away and crying and running to the handicap entrance and trying to get through and considering jumping over the turnstile to escape what I thought was potential bodily harm. One guy in particular kept following me and grabbing my upper arm, telling me my ticket was "finished" in English, I couldn't tell if he was trying to actually be helpful or not, but I sure didn't want him touching me. During my breakdown I somehow pulled myself together and took another ticket from my wallet and put it through the machine and ran away to the platform.

It scared me so much, and I've never felt so helpless and alone. And disappointed in myself. Why did I let them get the better of me and overreact? Why didn't I say no? This probably happens to some people every day, and I'm sure they don't freak out like I did. What if I was actually in a dangerous situation? I probably wouldn't be able to defend myself at all. I'm supposed to be a strong and independent woman, but I felt like a fool.

Next time, I'm making like the Gartens and taking a cab.

Anyway, you should all read my friend and classmate Jennie's article on North by Northwestern. It really spoke to me, and she writes in a really honest and beautiful way. Enjoy! : I like you, but... By Jennie Wong

**Funnily enough, the photo accompanying her article is a platform in Barbes-Rochechouart. Darn you, Barbes-Rochechouart!


Spain Summary

OK, I've been terribly busy lately. So sorry I never got around to writing about my Spain trip! I wanted to make sure I wrote a bit before I forget, so here are my thoughts. And I stole all of these images from the internets.:

-Catalan is confusing
- Barcelona is definitely a summer party town. There are all these clubs on the beach, and everyone hangs out outside. It's definitely not a place I can imagine living in year round.
-La Sagrada Familia is epic, though it's still in the process of being built, so there is scaffolding everywhere.
-Park Guell was lovely, we visited the Gaudi museum and sat out on the winding benches and chatted up vendors selling their wares. I bought some leather bracelets, and my friend Nisha had some jewelery custom-made.
-My biggest disappointment was missing out on the Picasso museum. It was closed on Monday!
- I loved how everything was open so late, perfect for a night owl like me. Stores didn't close until 9 and later, and people don't sit down and eat until 10. Best tapas I had in Barca were at Tapas 24. A review with nice photos here.
-Worst? Some random joint on Las Ramblas that was handing out free shots. It wasn't my idea, obviously.
- We also hit up Barcelona's fabled night life. Most notable was Razmatazz, an absolutely humongous club, with several buildings and multiple stories. All the Northwestern students who were "studying" in Barcelona claim a room nightly here, with their friends from UChi, Stanford, Brown, Princeton and Harvard. All this social awkwardness and intelligence interrupted by the effects of alcohol makes for an interesting experience to say the least.
-The market is awesome! But don't let your waiter overcharge you for swordfish at one of the little bar/restaurants inside.
-Overall, Barcelona is a nice city, but one I'm not itching to visit again.

-Beautiful Weather! It felt so good to wear sandals again.
-We took a free walking tour from our hostel, and it turned out to be one of the best experiences I had during my trip. I learned interesting tidbits about Spanish history and the story of Sevilla, which is rich in Spanish-Christian, Moorish and Jewish culture.
-The Cathedral is the third-largest church in Europe (after San Pietro in Rome and St. Paul's in London) and very interesting to tour. It used to be a Moorish mosque, and the famous tower used to be a minaret. You can climb to the top of the tower using a winding ramp. Apparently, back in the day, someone used to ride to the top on a pony to do the Call to Prayer in order to preserve his voice. Neat, huh?
-I met my friend and former roomie Rachel for dinner one night, and we headed to the neighborhood where Flamenco was born. Some friends wanted to pay up to 30 euros for a flamenco show, but I dined right next to an impromptu floor show, at no cost.
-Even though I liked the daytime walking tour, the night life tour was a very different story. Pancho of Pancho Tours runs a very shady business. Be wary of him. It is very unprofessional to try to make out with your clients. However, I did get to meet a Brazilian hottie on this tour. Hey Juaon, or Joao, or Juan...or however you spell your name.
-Most tapas I had in Sevilla were excellent, and very rustic. I love the little sandwiches (bocaditos) with iberian ham or chorizo, the seafood, and the vegetable dishes.
-I really really really want to go back to Sevilla. It's so romantic. It would make the perfect vacation, and there is a lot more I'd like to see around Southern Spain.

-The weather...Colder than it's ever been in Paris and rainy the entire time. I wanted to get out and explore Madrid, but it was really hard when all you wanted to do was curl up in bed and sleep.
-I hit up the Thyssen and the Prado museums and they were very nice. My favorite painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, hangs in the Prado, so that was really a treat.
-Visited Hemingway's fave Sangria bar, Las Cuevas de Sesamo, and the Penthouse rooftop bar after that. Went to la Chueca barrio for dinner one night, since my stolen-from-the-hostel lonely planet guidebook told me it was "THE place" to eat in Madrid. It was Sunday, so there wasn't much open, but it was still very trendy. Most gay neighborhoods are that way. Hey, Boystown, hey!
-I don't think I gave Madrid enough of a chance. It's really similar to Paris, so I'd definitely like to go back again and explore some more, hopefully when the sun is shining. The Passeo del Prado is beautiful.
-Found an Indian fusion restaurant called Root, because at this point, I was sick of patatas bravas and cured meat.
-Madrid is LOUD at night. Our hostel was near plaza del sol, but still, I had to wear earplugs to drown out all the noise on the street.
-Halloween in Madrid was kind of scary. Everyone was dressed as a zombie, or some sort of bloody witch. Or a ghost buster, but that's kind of random. You couldn't tell if someone was actually injured, or if they were just having fun.

But overall, a great trip. But I'm glad to be back in my beloved Paris.

Because Spain doesn't do pastries well. And Paris has LaDurée and Pierre Hermé. And it's Paris for goodness' sake. I'll have to write soon on Paris stuff. I'm so behind.

Alright, now on to my millions of homework assignments. Not joking. In the next week, I have 2 political briefings to compose since we're role-playing a session of the European Council in one of my classes. I'm Ireland! I feel so typecasted. Plus a grant proposal, plus an outline for my 15 page paper, plus an annotated bibiliography for our poltical economy debate class. FML.


Paris vs New York, a tally of two cities: le café

Paris vs New York, a tally of two cities: le café

So cute, right? I've only been to New York once, but I can just pretend it's Chicago instead. I miss you, CHI. :( Even if you have freakish chi-clones off of Lake Michigan. What was up with that?


Hi! Using the Wi-Fi (Wee-fee, in French) to do work at Starbucks. I no longer feel guilty going here. Have you ever had French coffee? IT SUCKS. Starbucks isn't the best ever, but it's better than what I could get most anywhere else in Paris. Italians make good coffee. Spaniards make good coffee. Americans make good coffee, since it runs through our veins in place of blood. The French do not. They drink a lot of bad coffee out of teeny tiny cups, and are too stubborn to improve it. But Starbucks is always full of Frenchies, so they must be coming to their senses.

And also, they play really good music. It's always the same, and I think I have the playlist memorized, but I like it just the same.

And they play so much Sam Cooke! He has the best voice ever, I'm pretty sure. Why does all good talent die so young?


Some Pictures. Ole!

Placa de Espana, Sevilla

Wine in Sevilla

Sitting by the River in Sevilla

Nicole and I in front of Barcelona's Arc de Triomf

We went to the sub-zero Ice Bar on the beach in Barcelona (Barca is basically Miami in Spain). Clearly I was too occupied with the cold to realize I was having my photo taken. Sooo silly.

Probably the best tapas I had all trip, in Sevilla! Grilled Squid and Spinach with Garbanzo beans. Very rustic. That fat man on the left really ruins this picture. I can see your belly, sir.
My Dress matched the flowers in Park Guell, Barcelona!

16th Arrondissement: BCBG rap

Hello, I'm back from Spain! I can write more when I'm not such a busy bee (this weekend?). But here's a funny rap about the Parisian neighborhood I live in. I'll post the lyrics in English below, but I just stuck the french ones in a translator, so it probably doesn't make sense to those of you who don't speak french. But I don't really care. Tant pis!

BCBG rap (Bon Chic Bon Genre, Good Taste Good Style, aka French version of yuppie)

hey dude
Let me introduce myself
My name is Charles-Henri Du Pre
I live in Neuilly
In a neighborhood but then lost
I am the only son
In a mansion
Is the cross, the banner
To sustain me.
Not an Arab corner
Neither a Euromarket.

Auteuil, Neuilly, Passy: This is our ghetto

Hey man, my name me
It Hubert Valery
Patrick Stanislaus
Duke of Montmorency
At 5 ½ years
I already had my Ferrari.
J'pouvais not lead (pouvais is could...I could not drive?)
Of course I was too young!

Have you grabbed my friend
Our desire to revolt?
I want to scream
"Damn, flute, shit, shit ..." (lol)

Auteuil, Neuilly, Passy is no picnic
Auteuil, Neuilly, Passy: this is our ghetto.

Hello, how are you?
Hello, how are you?

Y is tired of Fauchon
From Hédiard, salmon, caviar

Hello, it's Patrick on the device
Yeah, that's Pat, 'You okay?

And me? And me?
You do not know what is my life?
A rub Chantal
Or Marie-Sophie
To make the hand-kissing
Has evil sluts fucked (ed. note. whaaaa?)
Finally, I wanted to say
In girls a bit stuck ...

I want to be a thug,
True true outlaw.
But when you're born here,
You do not choice. (choose?)
Y is fed up with Mylène
Ségolène, Gwen, Celine, Eglantine
Marie-Chantal ...

Y is tired, my brother,
It has big problems.
Y is tired, my brother,
To experience the system.

My future self is already mapped out:
Private boxes, Sciences Po (ed. note. HOLLA!!!), ENA or H.E.C.
And in the worst case
If I do not work,
I'll have to resume
The box of candy.

Hello, how are you?

Auteuil, Neuilly, Passy is no picnic
Auteuil, Neuilly, Passy: this is our ghetto.

Dude, we're all products
In a society dependent on economic
Market fluctuations
Destabilizing the market.
Yes man!
And out of this straitjacket
Economic, capitalist
We need to say no, no, no, dude!

Hello, how are you?

Auteuil, Neuilly, Passy is no picnic
Auteuil, Neuilly, Passy: this is our ghetto.

Hello, how are you?

We come from a family who has ever suffered
We come from a family that can no longer suffer.