Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Ripening

There are something like 5 million different kinds of pollutants in Paris. This number has yet to be confirmed (so maybe I made it up?). But I believe it.

Not only could I make a long list of these stinky city smells (dust, ciggie smoke, cars, buses, mopeds...just to name a few), but I could include a detailed memory of each coughing encounter.

And this is why I love Spring in Paris.

It has a remarkable way of ripening a memory in the middle of the dust and dirt - of her with that blue polka-dot tank top and those starch white shorts, snipping the roses from the side of our house to set on our kitchen table.

All with the shocking waft of one flower, hung low and full on its branch. As you pass by on your way to catch the bus.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Blessings

Yann and I spent the weekend in Toulouse over Easter. This was our third trip down South since my arrival in France last June.

I so enjoy our breaks in La Ville Rose (rose because of the clay-colored brick buildings and the glow of sunshine that seems to cast a rosen glow over the city).

It is a time for family, food and fresh air. Oh and for Rufus, the family dog.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Make Your Own Happy Day

My dear friend Brooke recently told me the story of a little boy who sat in the corner of the playground during recess, crying for no particular reason. After a few minutes of these antics, a pig-tailed, four-eyed classmate bopped over to him to see what the matter was.

Through snot and hot tears he shouted "I don't know! I'm just having a bad day!"

To which she responded, with the matter-of-factness of a well-trained school teacher: "You make your own happy day!"

Sometimes, a bad day comes along. And when that bad day comes, there should be a Jump Planet for each of us to create our own Happy Day.

I think my niece Paige would agree:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Swedish Fever

Yann and I had the great pleasure of going to Sweden this past week to see my friends Cecilia and Brad. Cecilia and Brad are expecting their first child in just over one month so it was high time to make a visit before their 2 lives became 3.

For 5 days, we roamed around Stockholm in some pretty frigid temps. Paris has openly welcomed Spring with its warm sunshine, flowers blossoming and terrace cafes maxed to capacity...while Stockholm was still in the final grips of winter. That is to say: this girl was NOT prepared for the cold.

The solution to cold weather in Stockholm?
- Stop for coffee and one of the many lovely cafes offering 'take away' lattes and cinnamony, buttery pastries
- Spend all day basking in the warmth of a Swedish bathhouse - complete with humid and dry saunas, aromatherapy rooms, turkish baths and jacuzzi
- Hide out in fabulous museums. Top choices: The Photography Museum, Modern Art Museum and the VasaMuseum
- Eat AMAZING food at one of the local, covered markets. Fresh fish + delicious sauces + boiled potatoes + cream = SO SO good
- Wear warmer clothes

As Brad summed up for me : "There is no such thing as cold weather, just poor clothing". To this I say "Shutup Brad".

Saturday, December 4, 2010

On Friends and Food

The snow is coming down in Paris and I can feel the rise of nostalgic sentiment brewing as the Christmas music plays, the gingerbread bakes and the twinkly lights glow (insidee the apartment :)). Forgive the sappy verbage but I've finally succumbed to warm glow of the holiday's too late now.

It all started last week when my dear friends Brooke and Justin came to visit me (oh and Yann!)here in Paris. Ohhhh how I've missed friends!!! What is life without the people who know you best - your history, your faults, your triumphs? The answer: It's sad.

Yes, I have made some good friends here and I am very very grateful for them but there is something to be said for the people with whom have shared a history and who help you to grow. They are rare gems and I have never been so grateful to the friends in my life as I am now - 5,000 miles away from Seattle.

Anyways, Brooke and Justin were here and we had a lovely time eating our way through Paris. Part of the food exploration included a Thanksgiving feast with a lovely gathering of 7: Brooke, Justin, Carole, Guillaume, Annaelle, myself and Mr Yann.

It was a meal that began and ended with a little French zest - morning trips to the market for produce, cheese and to pick up our bird (you have to order in advance here as they don't do turkey much), a stop in at the wine shop and of course a break at home for a cafe. We finished the meal with cheese and then dessert in front of the TV watching a rugby match (the closest thing to football!)

During the meal, as we went around the table to say a few words about what we were thankful for (ahh yes, they were good sports my French friends who were experiencing turkey day for the first time!), I thought about where I would be without the support of my friends, new and old, and how life is just so much richer with them in it - especially for those moments when you share a meal that includes hot buttery gravy and garlicy mashed potatoes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Coming out of my hole...

So yeah, it's been a big black hole on this side of the pond since ohhhh I started work and my life became consumed in the routine of 70+ hour work weeks. But alas, there have been a few moments of sweet relief...praise the Lord for national bank holidays in France!!!

Here are a few photos from 2 weeks ago when Yann and I headed east to the lovely town of Strasbourg. On the border of Germany and France, this lovely little town holds a special place in my heart as it was here in 2000 (10+ years ago!!??) that I came here as a fresh young college student to learn french and hang out with a group of girls - yayyy Whitworth!! Oh and yes, we did drink our share of vin chaud and hot chocolate, yummm...

It was a lovely fall weekend in November when Yann and I took the train over and in the spirit of all that is Franco-German, we ate our share of delicious food (sauerkraut, tarte flambée!) and drank fabulous beer.

Ahh it did our body a world of good to escape the noise and pollution of Paris and bask in the autumn sunshine...usually while eating and drinking by the quai of the quiet canals.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Métro, Boulot, Dodo

Yann and I took what I call our 'mini-moon' just after the wedding at the beginning of September. It was basically an extended weekend in the South of France - Marseille and Cassis. A region known as Provence.

For four days, we sat by the pool and soaked in the sunshine, ate fabulous seafood at sidewalk cafés and took long runs on dusty trails down to ocean inlets known as the 'Calanques'. It felt like the first time in a LONG time when we could both just sit back, relax and enjoy.

My how far away that minimoon seems!

I have now since started working in Paris. I remember back in 8th grade my french professor taught us the phrase: "Métro, Boulot, Dodo'. These were french 'argot' - slang words to make us feel a little more hip. The phrase meant: subway, work, sleep. We learned that this was the life of the Parisian. Their daily grind.

At the time, I imagined little gray people, looking sad and wiped out, packed in like sardines inside a subway car and down on life. And I must say, I wasn't too far from the truth :)

But I am happy to be back at work and, while I get used to the "métro, boulot, dodo" daily grind, here are a few brief observations about working in France:

1) Everyone says 'bonjour' and 'bonne journée!' to everyone on the elevator - EVERYONE! I left work tonight with 7 people telling me 'have a good night!'. Fabulous, if not sometimes awkward.

2) Work starts late and ends late. When I arrive in the office at 8:45AM, I am the first to arrive. But when I leave at 7:30PM, I am the first to leave.

3) Lunch is mandatory. It could be 30 minutes long, or 1 hour 1/2 long, so long as it happens. There are no exceptions (that I've seen anyways...). Another win (because I love to eat...and not at my desk).

4) "Want to grab coffee?" here means: "Let's take a walk down to the kitchen so we can push a button and get a shot of Nespresso!" While this initially was a let-down, I have been making a calculation of how much $$ I will be saving by not taking my daily Starbucks break as I used to back at home.

5) No positive feedback from anyone is normal. The ultimate goal in working in France is to have no feedback whatsoever - this means 'Great Job!'

Those are my initial take-aways from living and now working in France. I will keep you posted on what transpires and how I may be spicing up my daily routine so as not to turn into one of the hundres of gray, sad Parisians I see in the métro every morning.