Saturday, June 30, 2012

Long Day

I started my day at my last tutoring session with Pierre (it's not really tutoring, just me getting paid a lot to make him speak English with me for an hour), and it was the last time so the family surprised me with a gift - a French novel to read that looks interesting, and I was really touched that they thought my English-speaking skills deserved a gift :)

I had lunch with Sarah and Rachael  in the city and we did some shopping (souvenirs and sales) and then I came back home in the overbearing humidity to watch Lise perform at her gymnastics show. Then I went back into Paris (the walk from the stadium to the train station was a half hour by itself), where I met up with Mariene and our friend Emma to crash some Jewish person's birthday party at one bar in St. Germain, and then we went to another bar to say hi to our friend Haley who works there. And now it's 1:21AM and I'm really tired and disgusting.

It's seriously really humid here. Obviously not as humid as the American East Coast is, but still too humid for me. European weather SUCKS. Why do people live here?

Friday, June 29, 2012

My New Blog!

I know some people (i.e. my dad) were devastated upon realizing that since I'll be home in 2 weeks (!), my blog is almost over. But never fear...I decided that I like blogging so much that I plan on having a permanent blog which will document my adventures and opinions when I return home to Southern California!

Sometimes, I Eat Cake For Lunch

I probably won't be updating much until mid-July when I come home, but I just wanted to give you a sneak peak.

Happy Friday!! :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Some Recent Lise-isms

Today, as soon as I picked her up from school:

Lise: Tundra is married.
Me: ...What?
Lise: The cat of my friend Leonard (their neighbor whom she goes to school with) is going to have babies. And it's with an orange and white cat, so it might be Toundra! And maybe we'll get some of the kittens!

I know for a fact that Tundra has been fixed so it's unlikely that he is this cat's significant other (Lise literally uses the word married). I tried to explain this to her, but she still spent the rest of the day trying to get in touch with Leonard to figure out with Tundra was in fact involved.

A few days ago:

Me: ...But you can also make a Shirley Temple with 7-Up if you don't have Sprite. Do you have 7-UP in France?
Lise: (counting on her fingers), we have them in six here.

She was Not Good today, but her cute days make up for her bad ones. On another subject, today was good because I had a chance to say goodbye to some people who I thought I wouldn't get to. Every Thursday when I drop Lise off at Ballet, I usually spend some time with Steve, who is her friend Alana's grandpa who's dropping her off, and Alana's brother Luke, who's 5 and ADORABLE. They're really great -- Steve is American from Brooklyn but he's lived in Paris for 40 or 50 years, and his now-adult children were born in Paris and went to bilingual schools (and obviously speak French and English because their parents were American), and one of them now lives near San Francisco while the other lives here in Clamart (Alana's dad). Alana (who is Lise's age) and Luke also go to bilingual schools in Paris and have lived here all their lives so they speak French too, but their English is even more perfect than Lise's, since their parents are American and Irish. I've met everyone in the family separately at one time for another since sometimes Alana gets dropped off by different people, and they're all really wonderful. I think it's really cool that they've made their lives here, but are still able to maintain their American (and Irish) identities, even though some of them have lived here their entire lives.

Luke and I have definitely bonded, over tickling and playing I Spy With My Little Eye while we wait for the girls to finish class. A few weeks ago, Steve and Luke were going to go to the park next door to play and they asked if I wanted to come, and I couldn't that day but I promised I would come the next week. So when I found out later that that next week's class (the last class ever!) was canceled, I was genuinely devastated because I had become good friends with them and I was upset that I wasn't even going to get to say goodbye. But it turned out that the teacher had added a class today, so I was able to go to the park with them after all and Luke and I played a (very long) game of hide and go seek :) I'll miss them, they were really fun.

Today Sarah and I went to go see Moonrise Kingdom, which I really enjoyed and would recommend (it takes place during the 1960s!). Also, it was VERY WARM today. I don't like it.

Friday tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Today was my last "real" Wednesday, because next week Lise actually has school on Wednesday since it's the last day. I say "real" because it actually wasn't....Lise had to be somewhere really far away in the middle of the morning for a dance rehearsal for her show on Saturday, so Anne stayed here in the morning and took care of that, and then stayed and made lunch, which was nice.

Lise was cute today. I managed to wrestle her in front of my computer to show her the Do Re Mi song from Sound of Music (she's suddenly very interested in singing and playing the guitar). Surprisingly, she liked it (maybe because she already knows Julie Andrews from Mary Poppins). We actually watched a few clips from the movie before she started squirming, which I count as progress. She even told me she wanted to watch more of the scene where Maria eats dinner with the family for the first time, but unfortunately we couldn't find what came next in sequence, so of course she lost interest right away.

On another subject, I'm still freaking out about next year because UCI won't make financial aid decisions until August. AND I called Housing today and they said that because of my status as a graduate student who isn't guaranteed housing, it's likely that I won't be placed into cheap housing until WINTER QUARTER. Lately I've been researching off-campus options, but none of them fit within my budget (No thank you, I'm a graduate student, I don't want to share a room with 20-year-old and her friends, thank you very much). I could get very nice campus housing in one or two of the new communities (apparently they have trouble filling them because of the price), but I don't want to pay over $1,000 a month. I *might* decide to go that route, but if and only if my financial aid is AMMMMAZZZING. And let's face it, it might not be. I really don't know what to do. I still have the option of applying to start Cal State LA Winter Quarter, but I just don't trust the program. There website literally tells me NOTHING about what I would be doing next year/how student teaching works/what time frame I'll finish it, etc. Every link just goes in a circle, which I consider a bad sign.

Whereas UCI, on the other hand, has been sending me helpful email updates all the time, answering my questions in a timely manner, and has just been all-around smiley and encouraging.

I'm really scared of taking out huge loans, but I guess sitting at home for another year isn't going to help either. No job I get in the meantime will make this that much easier.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back from Brittany!

It was fun, I spoke a lot of French and ate a lot. We were there for Pascale's birthday (and I think someone's anniversary?) and there were about 30 people. I couldn't really tell who was related to who in what way, nor can I remember anyone's name, but everyone was really great and it was a good weekend.

It was also (obviously) fun to see my French cousins and aunt IN France for once. Julie and I played this game with the other girl who was there who was 13, and it involved calling out the names of the pictures printed on the cards, so I picked up a bunch of new vocabulary by playing. Also, I had managed to never actually learn how to conjugate s'asseoir, which means to sit (I have avoided using it up until this point in my life), so Pascale's mom helped me run through the different tenses of it, which was much appreciated. It was very rainy, so there was also a lot of talk of escargots and limaces (slugs, new word for me!!). Also, at one point someone started talking to me, and I had absolutely no idea what she was saying because it was so fast, and then she apologized and said that she had heard me talking to someone else earlier and she thought that I was more fluent than I was, which is pretty much the best compliment that she could have given me.

I made Paul take a walk with me. 

Memorial to the people in Loyat who were deported to Mauthausen in 1944. 

Cute little Breton house. 

The soiree!

Giant seafood lunch at Pascale's aunt's house right before we drove back towards Paris. 


Chez Pascale.

It was really fun (if wet) weekend, and now I can cross another region of France off my list :) 

Friday, June 22, 2012


I've been collecting photos of some of the houses in my suburb over the past few weeks, because I get to look at really pretty houses almost where ever I go in Clamart. We have our fair share of boring apartment buildings too, but a lot of the houses are all the same style. I think they're probably old (a lot of them have some art nouveau-esque tiles), but I wish I knew when they were actually built. Unfortunately, most of them have really ugly fences around them (probably to stop American au pairs from taking pictures of them) so most of my photos can't fully capture what the houses look like. The other interesting thing about these houses is that for the most part they seem BIG. But unlike big houses in the States with lawns leading up to them, these probably have either no yards or at least they're in the back, so all of these huge houses are right up on the sidewalk. They're kind of overpowering sometimes.

I really like this one, especially the 3D green vase! Some of the other ones have statues in their walls. 

Nice tiles. 

Not the same style, but I also like this apartment building.

This is my favorite, it's impossible to capture on film! It might be part of the church next door, it's hard to tell. 

This one has REALLY nice tiles underneath the upper window, but again, hard to get in a photo.

Hope you enjoyed your mini tour of where I live. I won't be updating for a few days because I'm taking the train and a bus to Ploermel tomorrow, to meet up with Julie, Paul, Marie Madeleine, Pascale and other people, yay!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Musee Quai Branley & Musee de la Poste

I hit two new museums these past few weeks! A few days ago, Sarah and I finally got to the Musee Quai Branley, which is a primitive art museum. It was great. I think the sign of good museum is that it makes you interested in something that you didn't previously appareciate. This one had stuff from Africa, the Americas, the Oceanic countries, Morocco, etc. Lots of figured carved out of wood and lots of jewelry!

Ethiopian hand crosses. I think I read that the king of Ethiopia converted around the same time as Constantine. 

Scary St. Michael costume for a traditional festival in Chile.

Oceanic Art. It reminded me of It's A Small World.

I liked this one :)


It was really dark inside, which I liked. Overall it was really enjoyable, and I would recommend it. They were about to have an exhibit on Chinese Food which I was sad hadn't opened yet.

And today I ducked into the Musee de la Poste (the French Postal Service Museum). Yes, it really exists, and I liked it a lot.

 A map of the mail lines in 1738. Apparently the lines didn't reach Bretagne at the time because it was too hostile to deliver mail there. 

Uh oh!! The tides coming in at Mont St. Michel! Stay dry little mail!!


They also had a whole section related to the mail-by-hot air ballon during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 (which I am recently very interested in). Paris was under siege, so the Parisians had to rely on hot hair balloons to get their mail to the rest of France!

Stamps. Originally, the recipient paid the postage fee (possibly a lot depending on how rural an area you lived in). Fees weren't standardized until 1848, and in 1849 they starting sticking labels to things to show how much they would cost to send...thus, the stamp was born! 

How to make postage stamps.

The weird thing about the museum was that in addition to the real photographs and artifacts, there were also a lot of fake things. Like this:

The "Gastropostale" from the 18th Century. 

And this: A "photograph" of the Centrale de Telephone Sprite in 1897, putting Napoleon in contact with Cleopatra after the telegraph was invented. 

Anyway, it was a really good museum and I walked out having learned a lot, so yay!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

24 Days Left

...23 after tonight! I can't believe it. I only have two Wednesdays left of work since today is almost over. Ridiculous. Lise has been better of late but today she relapsed into one of those short but loud You're AnNOYing-I'm Not Doing My Homework-DON'T TURN OFF THE TV-Why Does Mom Only Let Me Be On The Internet For an Hour Each Day It's Not Fair-WHERE'S MY GRENADINE type moments. But then she got distracted by the birthday crown I made for Tundra (the cats are two now but we keep forgetting to celebrate). I think Lise and I enjoyed it more than he did, but oh well.

"Really? Dry food?"

Also, trampoline!! (since this is a big part of our lives here).

23 days is nothing. Plus the timing of everything is kind of bad. Sarah and Rachael are leaving the same week that one of my friends from school will be in town, so I'm trying to figure out how to see everyone separately, since Rachael and Sarah don't need to spend their last days at the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, I'm guessing. Plus I want to spend as much time with my host family as possible too, so I'm kind of stressed about balancing my time with everyone, not to mention Mariene (who will be here slightly longer than S & R at least) and all of the new friends I've made in the last month. OMG, AHHH. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Rachael and I celebrated living here for 9 months yesterday with brunch at a cute cafe in The Marais.

It was so good. Hot chocolate made from solid chocolate, the best orange juice ever, and a croissant. This is something I'll miss about France. 

It's our last Franceversary since neither of us will make it to the 17th of the next month (Rachael is leaving July 3rd and I'm leaving July 13th). Ahhh, less than one month left!

Monday, June 18, 2012


Today was an unusual Monday because Anne came home really early from work since some of their friends from when they lived in Minnesota were visiting (it was friend of Juliette's from gymnastics and her family). It was really fun to not be the only American in the house for a few hours! They were really nice, and Anne served farcie for dinner (must learn to make for when I get home. They eat it in Nice a lot with pesto, it's seasoned ground beef served in tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis, etc). MMMM.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Mariene and I went to Shabbat again this past week, and it was really fun because three of my AEPhi friends were. I really enjoy going, but I've also discovered some MAJOR pet peeves of mine that I didn't previously know existed. Let me preface by saying that everyone I have ever met there is REALLY nice. However, it bothers immensely me when:

...People say they're from somewhere when they actually only live there. There was a whole group from Israel this week and we thought it was strange that they had such English English accents. Oh wait, we found out afterwards that they were English. I feel like it's not really an honest introduction if you leave out the place where you lived for most of your life, since that's what shapes who you are. Living somewhere doesn't make you FROM there unless you grew up there, in my opinion.

There was this other guy I met the first week I went who was really vague about everything, but who was only willing to say that he was from Tel Aviv, which was weird because for the most part, he definitely had an American accent. Only after a lot of prying was I able to get him to admit that yes, he grew up in Washington, which is what I, as an American, was actually asking when I first asked him where he was from. How hard is it to say, "I grew up in _______, but now I live in _____" ????

Another pet peeve: When people who for all intents and purposes are American (see: the guy above) adopt a light Hebrew accent when saying Tel Aviv. YOU'RE AMERICAN. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO HAVE AN AMERICAN ACCENT WHEN SPEAKING ENGLISH. Ugh.

Also, a new pet peeve that I only just discovered last week: There were about a million native American and English people there, who, when talking about Jerusalem IN ENGLISH, and to other native English speakers, who referred to Jerusalem as Yerushalayim. Just like that, totally nonchalantly mixed in with their other words in their native English. BARF. It happened the week before too with the two hot guys from New York. I WANTED TO THROW UP EVERY TIME.

As Lise often likes to say, "An-NOY-ing".

Saturday, June 16, 2012


It's still raining a lot here. Today on my way to the train station, I was wearing my yellow rainboots (on which I get millions of compliments at home, but which people find strange here), when I ran into the dad of Pierre, whom I get paid to speak in English with once a week. He was standing in line at the bakery on the way to the train station, and the whole family is really really nice, so we said hello, and he said something about my boots which I didn't understand, until finally I realized that he was telling me that my boots are the same ones that fishermen in Brittany wear, which I'm choosing to take as a compliment because he also told me they were really great. And on the way back home today, a woman walking by me exclaimed, "Oh! Quelles belles bottes!". So I'm 2 for 2 today.

I just realised I used the phrase "dad of Pierre", which is definitely Lise rubbing off on me. No matter how much I try to help her, she can't use English possessive Ss, so everything she says sometimes ends up sounding a little bit formal: "the sister of my mom" "the brother of Boule Boule", etc.

I opened my big suitcase and started packing today. It's hard to pack when you're still living somewhere for about a month, but I don't want to wait until the end since I'll be really busy. It's hard though because I can only realistically pack about a quarter of my belongings, but I guess that's better than nothing! I also took down everything taped to my walls. I just wish the weather stayed within one season, because then I could pack all of my dry weather clothes or all of my cold weather colds, mais no. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Good Friday

Today was productive. Sarah and Mariene and I (and also Kasia, whom we met the other day while dropping off the kids at school, who is from Inverness and who's a summer au pair) started out the day at Au Petit Fer Au Cheval (At The Little Horseshoe) for our favorite chai tea lattes at the bar. Then we went to the vintage-by-the-kilo place, where I was determined to find something perfect since I had been saving cash all week, but alas, nothing seemed good enough. Then we window-shopped a little bit more on Rue de Rivoli, after which I met up with my friend Kristen, whom I studied abroad with in Bordeaux. It was really good to see her, and we had coffee in St. Germain just over the border from the Latin Quarter.

Yay weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Weird Things About France

1. They don't drink milk here (as a drink), which is too bad because they have a lot desserts that would probably taste even better when paired with something dairy. In my experiences here and in Bordeaux, people pretty much solely drink water (when they're not drinking wine). Which is weird, because milk is really healthy too! They pretty much only drink in cereal (though you can always order an expensive glass of warm milk at a cafe).

2. They don't use the phrase "in two weeks". Instead, French people use the completely illogical "quinze jours" (fifteen days). As in "Sorry, I can't go on a macaron-eating binge with you today because I'm going to the South of France for one of my unnecessarily long vacations that it's totally normal to take multiple times a year not including summer, but let's do it in quinze jours". Not fourteen days, which is what people mean, and not two weeks, which is the easiest way to pinpoint the day in question on one's mental calendar, but quinze jours, which they don't even mean. Some things, I will never understand.

3. In French schools, kids take 2-hour lunch breaks, eat lunch on real plates with plats, entrees and desserts, and use real silverware. They also eat really delicious sounding food, and Anne told me that no one brings packed lunches to school -- if you don't eat in the cafeteria, then you go home for lunch. And they eat all of this while drinking only water!!! I seem to remember part of my elementary school experience was eating bad food on styrofoam disposable trays, while being told that dairy was important, and therefore drinking a lot of chocolate milk. French people are weird.

Also, I wish I could say that this photo was posed (but I can't). I really was walking down the street in Clamart this morning with a coffee-flavored macaron in each hand. No regrets. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June 13th

I'll be home in exactly one month! I hope parade preparations are underway.

It's been in the 60s and raining everyday here for the past 5 days. The other day, it started POURING rain when I was with Sarah and Rachael in the St. Michel area, so we took cover under the awnings of Gibert Joseph, a used bookstore on the Blvd. St. Michel (it was convenient for Rachael who buys books a good 25% of the time I'm with her...which is often).

I obviously decided that when I got home I was going to change out of my soaking wet ballet flats into boots, but by the time I got back to Clamart less than an hour later it was warm and sunny, so I just decided to wash off my dirty feet in the shower and change into a dry pair of Ballet flats. I had twenty minutes at home before I had to get Lise from school, and I enjoyed the sunshine from inside. I left the house to go pick her up, and precisely as I reached the point on my walk to the elementary school where it was now too far to go back home, it started pouring rain AGAIN. I really should know better by now. Lise and I walked to gymnastics under my umbrella and we stayed relatively dry (if squishy), but for a few minutes of that walk it was raining probably harder than I've ever been stuck outside in in my whole life, ahhhh.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

To Do List At Home

1. Thoroughly clean out my room and closet. There are SO MANY things that I haven't missed this year, and I CAN'T WAIT to simplify.

2. Make a cake and use pure Nutella for the frosting.

3. Make up for all the salad I couldn't eat this year by eating salad at home ALL THE TIME.

4. Watch Season 2 of Boardwalk Empire with my parents, since we're all caught up to the same place now.

5. Rent seasons 2-4 of The Wire and watch ALL of the audio commentaries so that I can pretend to relive those joyous few months when I was still watching it for the first time.

6. See a lot of outdoor Shakespeare in Griffith Park.

7. Make a lot of mixed drinks at home with EB, since neither of us want to spend money.

9. Drink a lot of Monacos (beer, 7-Up, Grenadine).

10. Buy Grenadine. Put it in everything.

11. Cook more. Thank you, Pinterest, for making me extra excited about this.

12. Drink at least a liter of water a day.

13. Make my parents start drinking wine with lunch.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I'm Going to Miss Them!

Lise has been so pleasant lately, probably because I'm leaving soon. Ahhhhh, it's going to be hard to leave them. There's been a noticeable difference, mostly because she's been letting me make decisions that she usually doesn't let me make. Tonight when we read before she went to sleep, she suggested that I choose the book, and didn't even specify that it should be in French. And when we watched a movie after dinner, she specifically told me she wanted me to choose (as long is it was scary and it was The Witches). 

It's usually really hard to get her to do homework, and she's usually really distracted and absolutely will NOT let me look over her shoulder or ask any questions about what she's learning. But today the assignment was to read a few lines from a story and then in her writing book describe one of the characters. She got frustrated right away and said it was too hard, but I told her it was actually easy and explained that they just wanted us to tell them what the mermaid looked like, and she went, "Oh. This is easier with you". (DUH LISE. That's what I've been trying to tell you for 9 months now). Anyway, I probably got a little misty-eyed when she admitted that. She also told me that she would like it if I was the class' substitute teacher, because I "couldn't be mean". Awwwwwwwww.

We started watching The Witches (with hot chocolate and under a blanket and a cat because it was raining), but pretty soon after it was time to go to bed, and she didn't argue or anything (so strange). When she was in bed, she asked me if we could read for a little (shock!), so I chose a book in English called The Library Mouse. First I read it to her, and then I suggested she try to read some of it outloud in English, and she didn't even fight me on it! Anne came in and heard her reading, and she was really impressed to, so that was good. 

Ahhhhh, I'm going to be legitimately sad to leave them :(

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fun Sunday

I got to start out my day by doing absolutely nothing but watch The Sopranos until 2PM, which was great.

I met up with Lewis and we went to Coutume, our favorite cafe in St. Germain. It's very high-tech and sciency. It's expensive but the coffee is arguably better tasting than anything. He had never been to the Mosque before and it was raining, so we left the 6th and went to that part of the 5th for tea. The Natural History museum is right across from it, so we were going to go in but it was closed (when it's this light out I lose all sense of time). So instead we walked down the middle of the park past the zoo. Some of the cages are visible even if you aren't in the zoo, so we were able to watch a red panda eat lunch for a few minutes. ADORABLE.

After that, I met up with Erica (who goes to school in DC and whom I met at Shabbat) and her friend Ilana so that we could go to a going away party in the 2nd for someone we know who is going back to Israel. It was really fun -- it was in a really well laid out and pretty bar that had happy hour until midnight (!), and there were a lot of really nice people there. I've met about a million fun Jews just when I'm about to leave, go figure. It was really good for practicing my French (and for practicing listening to French with Israeli accents, too). Eventually Mariene and Sarah met me there and they got to meet some of the people I've been hanging out with lately, and then we left. We were going to go to falafels again (yes, we had just been the night before but I was in a Jewish mood), but it was raining, so we went to the Latin Quarter for kebabs instead. C'est la vie.

I haven't seen the kids literally all week, and I'm actually looking forward to hanging out with Lise in the morning. Ahhhh, I think this means I'm going to miss them :(

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chateau de Vincennes: Best Less-Than-A-Day Trip Ever!

Today a bunch of us went decided to go check out the Chateau de Vincennes, which is a nice castle surrounded by a nice park on the edge of Paris. It was so easy to get to (it's the end of the metro line 1), and it nice to see something like this without having to plan an itinerary anywhere!

I didn't know anything about the castle before we came, but it has an interesting history. It was built in 1150, and a bunch of French kings made improvements/were born/hung out there. Charles V used it has his study, and then later it was a porcelain factory, and even later than that a prison (there are still paintings on the walls done by prisoners). In 1791, a group of Revolutionaries planned on taking it down a la the Bastille, but no such luck. Then after that it was used to hold ammunition, and it's where Mata Hari was executed. 

There's also a big ornate tomb to someone called the Duc d'Enghien, who was apparently executed there on false charges in 1804 under Napoleon. I don't really understand what happened, but apparently it was received badly by the public. He was eventually exhumed and they built him a big monument in the chapel. I read something about how the monument used to be somewhere else, and that it was a pain to get it in its current location. 

(See? It takes up the entire room! I have no idea how they got it in there). 

Anyway, it was fun to visit!

Nice chapel. 

The view of the chapel from the castle. 


There's also a lake nearby with boats that we're going to try to go to next week, rain permitting. We did make it to the Parc Floral, also right next door, because everyone needs a photo with big letters that spell out Paris!