you have to let your body go a little hungry in order to pursue what your soul hungers for.


because there's not much else going on

clothing item review: the turtleneck

turtleneck and i have quite the history. throughout elementary school i wore turtlenecks with dresses, overalls, and pants. i had them in many colors, too. (aside: see how i use the oxford comma?) but somewhere around the time i got boobs i stopped wearing them. or maybe i just had a growth spurt. it was sixth grade by the time i started wanting to look cute, and therefore "borrowed" mom's earrings and started wearing a choker necklace that was really kinda cute. i even snuck eye shadow sometimes! so that's when turtleneck and i had a falling out.

that was then. now, i'm an aspiring sophisticated woman. i saw this turleneck sweater that is hunter green. first of all, i don't wear green. ever. secondly, it's a turtleneck. that's just not fashion. but it wanted me so badly, so i bought it. and today, i wore it because it was much too cold to have a bare neck.

my neck was doubly warm when i added a scarf.
it's versatile with my wardrobe as well as hair styles and accessories.
i look put together and feel more confident (i guess without fear of unsolicited cleavage shenanigans).

my neck was doubly warm when i wanted to take off my second scarf... and it was attached.
i don't have a long and/or beaded necklace or a skinny waist belt.
i couldn't reach in through the neck hole to adjust my bra straps.
i look 30.

great for cold weather (perhaps only cold weather)

in other news, yet still on the topic of clothing, gloves really make a difference in making you feel warmer. and i imagine a hat would have too, if i had bothered to wear one. i'm trying to acclimate by being just a little on the cold side almost all day, but i don't know how long that really takes! at least 2 weeks, i imagine.


les grèves (the strikes)

and now for the next chapter in my time here. you've probably heard of the french loving to strike lots. maybe you've even heard of them rioting (i know i did when i was in highschool). but this is what was happening not a mile from my home. the french are rioting. and i'm staying indoors with a cold.

and a video taken by a girl in our program, Elisa Penner. props to her for having the gall to actually be in the middle of it.

i would like to make the same distinction that french are making; there are "manifestants et casseurs", i.e. protesters and 'breakers'. basically this means that there are groups of people who come to the peaceful protest and make it violent. the interesting thing is that most of the "casseurs" happen to be teenagers (not angry twenty-something men). so much angst! and then the nice once-peaceful crowd gets tear-gassed because of the select few individuals that just wanted to break stuff.

because of all this, the university is closed. this was posted on the university website:
essentially it says "the administration has decided to keep the university closed and classes stopped until further notice. you will be told when classes start back up and the campuses reopen." i don't really like the idea of this! we just got started, i'm trying to make friends, and i only have a few lectures per week that i have to attend as it is! if i miss one, that's 2 weeks between classes. plus, we have vacation next week, so why take any off now?? *sigh* oh well...

UPDATE (22/10): it appears that the riots have settled down (just in time for everyone to leave on their fall break). the public transit system is working normally again, as far as i know. there a couple more days scheduled for protests and strikes, but considering i don't think they'll draw quite as many people, there will probably be way less violence if any. if nothing else, that means a week of normalcy!

here is what my travel alert says: "Unions will hold nationwide demonstrations in France Oct. 28 and Nov. 6 to protest government plans to reform pensions. Details and the impact of these events are still unclear, but previous actions have caused transportation and commercial disruptions. Some of the protests have become violent, especially as students have joined the protests. These incidents have been isolated and immediately mitigated by riot police."

my favorite part is the end... because what does "immediately" really mean in this case?? within 5 days? and "isolated"... meaning they closed off the Presqu'île and people living there were isolated to their homes till later in the evening. it's very interesting the way the police handle the situation, but at the same time, they only have so many options and this one seemed to be the least harmful/the best.

taking a dip in familiar waters + wedding!

(the goings on of my journey back to the states as recorded during said journey)

Amsterdam airport:
this was my first time doing a security check AT the gate instead of somewhere by the passport check. i guess they sell things in the airport that you could use to cause problems. I can't decide if I feel safer or just annoyed. they grabbed a middle eastern family and weren't letting them past questioning about their baggage. that's racial profiling. put them through the xray and get over it. they asked me when where and with whom I packed my bags and whether I'd left them unattended. I understand why but really? who just leaves their bags? who lets their new creepy friend pack their bags for them? I don't.

I didn't like the xray at all but at least it's transparent so I didn't feel claustrophobic. they frisked me and took my water which I bought in the airport in France. the lady was so kind to let me chug a little before confiscating it. so much for hydration when they don't give you shit on the plane, forgive my language. those whole 5 minutes got me pretty darn nervy. hopefully i won't be seated between so many babies. again. at least I have my book and practically fully charged iPod. and my sleep mask. that's important.

I also wish I could post this.

Minneapolis airport:
so coming back to America really is a culture shock. the bathrooms have stalls not rooms. the toilets have seats. AND toilet seat covers! people make small talk with you in public (they do it in France too but it's different). tax isn't included, oh yeah.... and we tip here. also. three size choices on coffee? okay I'll get a medium because I don't want just a shot....
holy Jesus! this thing is HUGE. but man does it taste good. I feel like a saucer-eyed foreigner discovering my own culture. I don't miss buying beer and alcohol yet but I'm sure it will come to me at some time. voice volume is normal again yay! I still have the impulse to speak in French to strangers. I already miss saying bonjour and au revoir/a bientot/bonne journée! and I miss la bise!! however I'm looking forward to all the hugs I'll be giving and getting.

I've been through security 3 times today. wow. that flight across the Atlantic was ridiculous cause it didn't get dark. and there were movies. and it felt like daytime. today is the longest day of my life: 34 hours long! they did give me water on the flight :) and food and coffee and food and coffee!

(and now i continue the story)
since i had some time to kill in the minneapolis airport before my flight to sacramento, i found my gate... and to my great joy, there was one row of seats that didn't have armrests, so i laid down for a snooze! i got probably 45 minutes of sleep plus half an hour of being horizontal, which was just enough to make me feel a little less insane.

and then i arrived in sacramento all hyped up on no sleep as well as some coffee. i used the (free!) internet to call my dad on skype and tell him i had landed. he picked me up and took me pretty much directly to in-n-out (i was hungry and it was open) and then to our hotel. unfortunately i was on france time (8am) despite it being after 11pm. i was quite the friggin chatterbox, let me tell you. i was also convinced that the sun was going to come up at any moment so i could start my day, but being convinced of a fact doesn't make it true. my dad really got a kick out of my spazziness. luckily, once i laid down on that 10-star bed (at least that's what it felt like to me) in the hotel i zonked within 5 minutes and slept the whole night.

the next morning, we grabbed the breakfast at the hotel -- it was bizarre having more than just a coffee and toast/a croissant for breakfast. i had a little of everything, even a muffin! and then we hit the road to monterey, where the rest of the family was. my task for the afternoon upon arrival was to make tiramisu as the dessert for the rehearsal dinner (which my fambam was making/hosting). i found a grocery store that actually had lady fingers and marscapone (phonebook ftw) and then managed to assemble the lovely dessert with great skill and finesse! and my was it successful -- everyone loved it! even i was surprised when i took that first bite. yum :)

the day of the wedding (remember, that's why i took this trip in the first place) was foggy and chilly. i woke up a little too early (i don't know why!) and had some coffee and toast to get started. i don't really remember what i did all morning, but i did eventually do my makeup and hair and then slip into my dress. i felt so pretty, i could only imagine how rachel was feeling while she was getting ready!!

even though i was the "flower girl" i didn't actually get to drop flowers (and i'm not so much a girl)... but i did get to roll out the red carpet, which i feel was even more of a symbolic thing. she walked down the aisle to "at last" which was nothing short of perfect. the ceremony was short and sweet, but with so many happy tears. for those who don't know, my dad opened the ceremony and rachel's dad officiated. one of the best parts was when phillip cried a tear while saying his vows, rachel wiped it away. in all honesty, i think rachel was the only one who didn't actually cry during the whole thing (but i can't be sure). they were both lovely and sooo happy!

they took pictures and then grabbed a coffee on their way to the reception (which made them a little later than people would have liked, but hey it was their day!). we ate the dinner and inevitably gave toasts. i gave a little speech, and i can't quite remember what i said, but i cried and got really really nervy but it was all washed away by the responses their eyes gave me. and then there was dancing and drinking and cake-cutting and lots of merriment.

and then we (my dad drove and my aunt and i followed) accompanied the newlyweds to their honeymoon, which was at a hotel in carmel (a ritzy area on the coast there). and then there were a few hours of free time to burn (it was after all only 9 when i got back) so i just hung out with my brothers and the groomsmen who were staying with us.

the morning brought packing up, cleaning, and dashing out of town to get me to the airport on time. was only JUST early enough (got there an hour before my boarding time). and then the journey back... the goodbyes weren't really that hard, but i wasn't looking forward to so many hours of travel. first i flew to dallas, which was fortunately only a 3 hour flight. i definitely had too much time in that airport though. i got sick of texas just being in their airport (and i've never even been to texas!). but the corn chowder was good. and a man was kind enough to let me use his cell phone to call my mom and leave a message before i headed to london.

now let me tell you, i planned ahead for that flight. i changed my seat so it was in the middle next to two empty ones (i don't know why there were so many on that plane though) hoping no one else would change to sit next to me. so i had a bed for the flight back to europe! it felt so good.
and they fed us lots -- dinner, snacks, water, drinks, breakfast. i did some sudoku and then i got probably 7 hours of sleep, so i was able to function the next day at the london airport, at least minimally. unfortunately, my 4-hour layover got a little longer because my flight was delayed (thanks to some strikes). i got to experience buying things in euros AND dollars and getting change in sterling. it was too bizarre. too bad i couldn't shop too much, being a poor student and all -- i mean not being able to afford designer anything like every other normal person out there! once in lyon, i had to pop through customs and i had a moment of panic because i don't have my residence permit, so i didn't know how they'd respond. i was happy when he glanced through, stamped and handed it back to me saying "bonsoir". win! and then i eventually got home (had to take the train-shuttle thing back) and crashed out... but i slept through my class the next morning, oopsie!

and now my great task has been getting back into the swing of things, but the strikes don't help!


wine country! (02.10.2010)

beaujolais. in short, it's the wine region that's north of lyon, between le Massif centrale (a big ol' mountain range in central france) and la Saône (one of the rivers that runs through lyon. it is famous for the wine "nouveau beaujolais" which is a wine that is fermented for a few days and consumed not long after to celebrate the harvest. however, they still produce other red wines which are quite fruity and delicious :)

our excursion involved going to a farm owned by the cutest freaking couple on the planet. he makes wine and she makes bread. the dinner was spectacular! the first course was a simple salad and the most delicious paté i've had here/in my life. the second was a beef stew with rice, which was very much like a family type of meal. then there was cheese - three kinds that were all scrumptious, served on various breads (one with figs in it!). and then two different desserts and coffee. the four hours of eating was worth every second! i was stuffed but not in the same way you get at thanksgiving -- more like every fiber of my body was somehow nourished and felt energized.

between courses we learned about wine-tasting, wine-making, organic farming, bread-making (it's so easy!), and of course we took time to take silly pictures. i bought a bottle of relatively young wine (2009) to enjoy sometime in about a year (hopefully after i come back to the states).