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things i have not especially loved about paris as of late:

ideally-quick lunches that turn into two and a half hours because the waitstaff assumes you don’t work (because no one else here does).  dirty looks on the metro.  creepy looks on the metro.  young men who think that aggressively following you while calling you “charmante” will get them laid.  man-scarves.  man-purses.  tight man-pants.  …men?  ha.  10-euro drinks.  18-euro salads.  the euro in general.

things i have loved:

warm nights.  hot rain.  cold rain.  raindrops so big they look fake.  rain that gives me an excuse to wear boots.  thunderstorms.  thunder so loud it makes me jump out of bed thinking a satellite has crashed into my courtyard.  the cool breeze that follows the storm.  double rainbows over notre dame.

*note: i wrote this on sat but couldn’t get online til now (sun)…last night was amazing, so there’ll be an update on that later.

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So I guess work has been a little more demanding lately, because once again, I’ve abandoned the blog!  This week was really crazy.  Everyone decided I had too little to do (true), so everyone came up with a project for me!  I’m actually really thankful…the week goes by so much faster when you’re not spending 5 out of 9 work hours on facebook…and I’m working on a pretty important project for the “big man” himself, so I’m stoked about that.

It’s Saturday (finally), and I’m typing this in front of the telly, which is broadcasting some sort of French equivalent to My Super Sweet 16, except it doesn’t descriminate by age.  There’s a little French duchess who’s turning 6 so mummy and daddy are throwing a 3.5 million euro ($5.5 million) fairy tale ball!  She’s Cendrillon (Cinderella).  I’m jealous of her dress.  And her shoes.

Whatever, my sixth birthday party was better.  It was at Las Trampas pool (<3 Burton Valley), and half my kindergarten class came, and we ate pizza, and Ryan (my true love who moved to Arizona and broke my six-year-old heart) gave me Aladdin jammies.  I still have the shorts.  (shhh don’t tell)

OK here’s the update.  Abridged…?  Ha.

Last weekend I went to Milan!  LaTache, one of my closest friends since 7th grade, is studying in Florence this summer.  So we obviously had to get together for a crazy Euro adventure.  After weeks of struggling with each other’s packed schedules, we finally decided on July 11-13 in Milano.  Neither of us had ever been…I would have met her in Florence, but “been there, done that” (I’m a snob, remember?), and it’s just too much of a hassle to get to Florence from Paris if you’re only staying a couple days.  Milan, by contrast, has an international airport.  Oh, and it’s the fashion capital of Italy.  Si, cierto!

I flew through Amsterdam to save a couple Euros.  I was excited; I had an hour stopover, and I wanted to spend all of it in the gift shop buying inappropriate presents for my deadbeat friends back home…but the Amsterdam airport was BARREN.  It’s northern Europe, I should have expected minimalism in the extreme, but if I’d walked for twenty-five minutes (time I didn’t have) I probably wouldn’t have found a single gift shop.  So instead, I hooked up the iPod and enjoyed the view out my gate window. 

About a week before finals/Eurotrip, my computer erased all my music.  Needless to say, I was too busy to bother with re-downloading everything, and I’m going through some major withdrawals.  I keep searching for Regina and Michael (haha Cueto, you know what I’m talking about) only to remember that they’re gone.  It’s like they died.  But Mayer and Bowie are pulling me through.  And a little Britney.  She may be a hot mess, but she’s got some talented producers with very expensive sound equipment.  Don’t pretend you don’t love the product.

I arrived at Malpensa airport around 4:30 pm.  As soon as I stepped into the terminal, I was greeted with an enormous ad featuring Patrick Dempsey modeling Versace sunglasses.  Clearly, my heart skipped a beat.  But I couldn’t help but laugh…everywhere in Europe, you find ads featuring American movie stars.  There are PLENTY of attractive European models and actors, but they seem to just like ours better.

I’d like to quote some song lyrics from the timeless classic, “Team America: World Police.”  You know what I’m talking about.  I’m pretty sure I’ve belted that song about 47 times since I’ve been here.  Typically late at night, wandering the streets of Paris with a crowd of interns/Marines/other expats.  Or perhaps at the 4th of July party, in slightly more hushed voices.

Back to Milan.  I slowly started remembering my Italian, and found my way onto the Malpensa Express train which took me into the city.  From there, I explored the underground, which was incredibly simple and easy compared to Paris’s Metro.  I think there were three lines, Red, Yellow, and Blue.  I could handle that.  I took the Red east to Duomo and the Yellow south to Missori.  It dropped me off on the very quiet Corso Italia, which I followed to our little street and the ABC Hotel!  The hotel was typical European, with very sparse amenities, but the bathroom was HUGE, so I was quite pleased.  Keep in mind, I’ve been living for a month in a two-room apartment with the tiniest bathroom known to man.  There are stairs leading up to the toilet/shower (which really is toilet/shower, in the same 2.5′x4′ space).  The ABC Hotel’s bathroom was easily 4′x6′, with a COUNTER for the sink, and doors for the shower…and best of all…a bidet!! 

Luxury.

I was absolutely beat, so I took a nap to wait for LaTache and her friend, Jodie, to arrive on the 10:00 train.  Eventually I wandered over to Stazione Centrale, Milan’s main train station which is housed in a enormous, beautiful old building with columns and horse statues and overall Italian-ness.  I was starving, and there wasn’t much around, so I treated myself to a cheeseburger at McDonalds while I waited.  Delicious.  The weather was typical of Italy in the summer — hot, humid, and the deep blue, clouded sky was sporadically laced with bolts of lightning.  I wish I’d had my camera (I didn’t…and still don’t…but I will soon…long story…), it was absolutely spectacular.  I sat on the edge of a lawn in front of the station, taking in the view, when I felt a little itch down my leg.  I looked down, and saw four mosquitos chillin’ on my ankle.

Mosquitos love me.  I think it’s the sweet, ginger blood.  At one point on my Italy vacay when I was eight, i had 18 bites at once on my right arm.  Miserable. 

Needless to say, I flipped out and ran inside the station to wait.  Finally, around 11 (the train was late), LaTache arrived with Jodie and we met up with another friend, Jamie, who’s been studying in Milan for almost a year.  Jamie took us to an adorable area along the canal and to a quiet little pizza place, and I got a mouth-watering prosciutto and mushroom pizza for, like, 6 euros.  In Paris it would have been at least 10.  This was a running theme in Milan (and probably just about everywhere else in Europe)…Paris is, simply, freaking expensive.  Jamie took us on a tour of our area (our hotel was super central, great job LaTache!), which was full of little restaurants and bars and SHOPS.  The next way, we decided, would be purely dedicated to shopping.  We passed the Duomo, the enormous Gothic cathedral, on our way back to the hotel.  A huge TV to its right was casting swathes of color onto the cathedral’s face, which stood out red, blue, green, yellow against the night sky…surreal. 

We finally got to the hotel, and the girls dropped off their bags so we could go back out.  Only problem: Italy, which is silly like the United States, stops serving alcohol at 2 am.  Some bars do this in Paris, but you can always find one that’s open til 5.  By the time we were ready to go out again, it was 1:55.  We raced out the door, back to the cute street we’d been on before, and found a place that was serving beer in plastic to-go cups.  We grabbed a few and settled with a crowd of youngens at “The Columns,” a piazza between a row of ancient, ruined columns and a church presided over by a statue of Caesar.  The Columns are a popular hangout for the “regazzi” of Milano, who evidently had nowhere better to go after 2 am.

The next day, we shopped.  All day.  I don’t know if I’ve ever shopped that hard in my life…and that’s saying something.  The employees are very hands-on.  Shoe shops, for example, are not quite what they are in the States.  The walls are lined with boxes, and on top of each stack of boxes is a shoe.  It’s this way in Paris, too.  You’d think it’s set up this way to be a sort of “help yourself” scenario, but NO.  The second you touch a box, some woman is on top of you, speaking rapid fire Italian, asking Can I help you and What is your size and Can you tell that I ate garlic bread for lunch.  Instead of being helpful, we just found this to be an incredible turn-off, and it probably prevented us from spending more money than we would have.  (in the long run…a GREAT thing.)  But we succeeded in buying a couple of pairs of shoes (amore), and also some cute shirts/dresses/pants along the way.  We literally ran out of time; by the time the shops closed at 7:30, we weren’t even halfway done with the main shopping area.  “There’s still tomorrow,” we told ourselves.

We limped back to the hotel for naptime, and woke up to raindrops.  I hopped out of the shower to a thunderstorm, and soon it was hailing.  Oh, Italy.  We freaked out a little, but I assured the girls (with my vast knowledge of Italian weather) that it would pass very quickly and we could still go out.  I was right!  We slipped into some of our cute, new purchases, and headed down the (dry) street to the Mexican restaurant on the corner for some good, cheap eats and margaritas.  The food was pretty great considering the circumstances, and the menu translations were hilarious (“beens,” “corn’s chips,” “baby menu — menu for the babies”), which kept us laughing as we continued to slurp down weak margaritas and shots of Cointreau (Jodie’s suggestion) and (free from the bartender!) lemoncellos.

Somewhere along our shopping journey, we had stopped into a little cafe for a potty break, and Jodie hit it off with the very cute Italian barkeep who spoke impeccable English.  She was determined to return that night for a few drinks, so we did!  Sadly, our favorite bartender was gone, but another cute one was in his place.  “Walter” was from Brazil, and he was accompanied behind the bar by “Linda,” an adorable blonde wearing a little black dress, white high-top sneakers, and braces on her teeth.  Walter made us Linda’s favorite cocktail (the “Linda”….appropriate.) and he and Jodie flirted it up.  We had expressed our desire to sing and dance the night away, and Walter said his friend Bruno was coming around 3 am to pick them up and go to The Beach, a club on the outskirts of the city.  Would we like to come?  SI, CIERTO!  Bruno had been a model casting agent in Milan for eight years, and was now starting his own company.  He brought along with him a man from Senegal, which made me super excited because I’d been struggling to speak Italian for 24 hours, and now I could have a real conversation with someone–in French!  He didn’t end up coming to the club with us (good thing–I think he’d caught a feeling), but around 3:30 the rest of us hopped in cabs and headed to The Beach.

Bruno is clearly a badass, because, in his company, we were all able to cut the long line and head directly into the club.  The Beach was almost completely outdoors, but the ground was covered in astroturf.  An enormous dance floor lay underneath a stark white structure of ceilings and half-walls covered in huge TVs and strobe lights and disco balls and everything that screams Euro.  We danced the night away, got all our drinks bought for us, and stayed out til the sun poked into the drizzling 6 am sky.  Jodie was occupied with Walter all night, and LaTache and I, having absolutely no interest in the locals, pretended to be, um, “together.”  Works every time.  No, we didn’t actually kiss or anything.  Dirty minds, all of you.

Walter got us a cab back, and we stumbled into bed around 6:30.  Checkout was at 11, so we jumped out of bed at 10:30, took lightning-fast showers, and headed out for another day of shopping.  We met up with Jamie again outside the Duomo, and headed inside for a peek.  I was so pleased that they didn’t charge you money to enter this cathedral, as they do at so many others.  Compared to the ornate exterior, the inside of the duomo was decidedly subdued.  Smoke from the hundreds of prayer candles filled the space and muted the light streaming in from the stained glass.  It was so peaceful…I could have stayed there the rest of the day.

We all had to be heading out of Milan at 6 PM, so we spent the rest of the day exploring the shops we’d missed the day before.  We had a lunch of paninis and gelato (both of which are, clearly, done better in Italy than in Paris), and LaTache and I bought more shoes (typical), and finally we said our goodbyes.  I got back to Malpensa and had a lot of time to kill before my 9 pm flight, so I read my book, ate risotto at an airport cafe, and realized how sad I was to leave Italy.  ‘Cept for the mosquitos, who by now had by now caused my legs to resemble those of a plague victim.  No seriously, I wore opaque tights and pants all week at work so I wouldn’t scare anyone.

The next day, back in Paris, was Bastille Day, France’s day of independence.  I was exhausted and slept in ’til noon.  Or was it 1?  I had no desire to be on the Champs Elysees at 8 am to watch the military parade, so I didn’t feel too bad about it.  Schafer and I lazed around for a bit, and around 4 headed out to a tiny museum to the north, which is showcasing some of the ancient warrior statues found in Xi’an, China in 1979.  I’ve been fascinated by them since I learned about them in middle school, so I was pretty stoked.  The exhibit was cool, and I got a lot of language practice since the (lengthy) descriptions of each piece were only written in French.  Afterward, we grabbed a bottle of wine (on sale!) at a posh little food store next door, and hopped on the metro to Champs de Mars, the park beneath the Eiffel Tower, to meet up with Matt and Josh (interns). After having sipped some fine wine, we met up with Becca (intern) and had dinner at a little cafe near St Michel, and watched the fireworks from the edge of the Seine in front of Place de la Concorde.  They lasted 40 minutes, and they were beautiful…I was a little disappointed because I’d seen them in 2005 with my brother, and during that show, tons of fireworks had come out of the Eiffel Tower itself, as well as off the barge on the Seine.  This time it was just the barge.  But my fellow interns, all of whom are straight East Coastin’ and have seen 4th of July fireworks in D.C., said they were the best fireworks they’d ever seen.  So I can’t complain.

Last night, Ranna, Meghan, Courtney, Tallie and I (interns) went to a cute little Tibetan restaurant near Oberkamf, and ate a cheap, delicious dinner underneath Tibetan flags and a huge portrait of the Dalai Lama.  We wandered back to the Latin Quarter for gelato, and then Ranna and I went to the Long Hop for some free drinks (Thanks, Adrienne!) and to observe rowdy, drunken Americans singing along to all the favorites and grinding up on each other.  We felt very much at home.  Tonight I’m going out with Jackie and a couple of her friends for dinner and clubbing…it’ll be my first Parisian club experience!  I know, that should have happened like on the first weekend, right?  I figure I’m well prepared by now, especially after The Beach.  Yikes.  I should just not wear makeup and show up in a potato sack, and hope no one hits on me.  Still, unlikely.  French men’s standards are, eh, not so high.

Anyway, all is well, and I’ve caught up on sleep a bit, and I’m back to “love” in my love/hate relationship with this city…for now, anyway.  I still need to get it together and do more touristy stuff…there’s still so much I haven’t seen!  But I’ve got time.  Sort of.  Maybe tomorrow.

Happy Monday!  I’m (reluctantly) back at work after another restless weekend.  Friday was July 4, and therefore a “holiday,” so of course we went out Thursday night.  My fellow intern Adrienne just began bartending at The Long Hop, a bar that looks like a quiet English pub on the outside but is huge and lively inside.  Another plus: bartenders/clientele primarily consist of native English speakers. 

Since my arrival three weeks ago I have become so much more in love with my native country/culture/food/language.  I just have to keep reminding myself that it IS possible to be simultaneously staunchly patriotic and a non-Republican.  It IS.  God help me.

So Ranna (intern) and I finally succeeded in dragging Jackie (intern) out on the town for a few free drinks (Thanks, Adrienne!!) at the Long Hop, which was a great time.  The next morning I had to be at the US Ambassador’s palatial residence for his annual Fourth of July party, the primary function of which is to entertain and spoil local (French) politicians, diplomats, etc.  Happy Birthday, America.  My task was to stand on the back balcony, greeting guests and escorting VIPs down the carved limestone steps to the lush garden, which was filled with tents and booths from various French and American cities.  The theme was “Jumelages,” or Sister Cities…I guess there are something like 22 cities in France and the US that have special relationships.  I wasn’t really paying attention.  The food and drink looked and smelled delicious but interns were explicitly ordered NOT to touch…typical.  So I smiled and greeted til my jaw hurt and my head spun from hangover/no sunglasses/trying to speak lousy French.  A choir sang the French and American national anthems, the Marines presented the colors, and the Ambassador gave a beautiful speech (in French).  The ceremony itself was quite moving, the Ambassador himself breaking into tears by the end of his speech!  Pretty cute.

Hours later, after painstakingly ushering out over 2,000 guests, Schafer and I ran home to nap and change for the REAL party.  This Ambassador is unique because, unlike his predecessors, he throws a Fourth of July party for the AMERICANS after the formal party.  Good guy.  We got to wear jeans, eat hot dogs and hamburgers and potato salad, and drink good old American beer from a great little microbrewery in one of those states in the middle.  My favorite part was the music…a US Army band stationed in Germany was flown out, and they were funky.  Tight horn section, great repertoire, and a big, black singer who could hit some wild notes!  If you ignored the Parisian mansion in the distance, we could have been at any small-town bandstand in the States–kids dressed in red, white, and blue playing football and tag, smoke wafting from the barbecue, and a jazz band tearing up old favorites.  By far the most homesick I’ve been since I got here.

That night we went back to the Long Hop to wind down with a couple of drinks, but we were exhausted and called it a night early.  Saturday “morning,” Ranna, Schafer and I went on another tourist adventure!  Last weekend, Schafer and I explored Montparnasse, specifically the cemetery, which was beautiful and serene and definitely gave us the “bug” for more sightseeing.  We thought the “dead people” theme was a winner, so we decided to check out the catacombs.  After an expensive, anorexic lunch at a restaurant to which we will never return, we got in line. 

Parisians would hate me for saying this (like i care), but their city has a lot in common with Disneyland.  Mostly the proliferation of mothers who run over my feet with their strollers, and the fact that you have to wait at least an hour to do/see/eat ANYTHING.  As Jackie would say, it’s Socialism in action!

An hour later, we were climbing down the 130 spiral steps to the catacombs, where the bones of over 6 million Parisians are buried, including Robespierre and some other famous dudes.  The catacombs were started in the 18th century because cemeteries were becoming so overcrowded, in some areas leading to huge outbreaks of disease.  Cute.  Over the next hundred years or so, bodies were dug up and bones were artfully arranged in miles of underground tunnels, already cleared by limestone quarrying.  They’ve played a colorful role in Parisian history, which I will absolutely not bore you with, but needless to say, the catacombs are pretty excellent.  And it’s freezing down there!  Creepy.

Next we hopped on the Metro to see the free (yay!) Grace Kelly exhibit at Hotel de Ville (city hall).  This line was almost two hours.  But we got in just before the doors closed, and I personally thought it was worth the wait.  The exhibit was full of old pictures, video clips, letters from famous friends, beautiful clothes and jewelry.  My favorite was the hand-written letters to Grace from people like Bing Crosby and Greta Garbo, and the letter from Grace’s father, flat-out chastizing her for deciding to date Rainier, the Prince of Monaco.  Twice her age, ruin her career, your mother is worried sick, the usual.  I think Princess Grace turned out okay.

Naptime, and again out on the town!  After pre-partying with some fine three-euro wine from Nicolas (great little wine chain), Becca (intern), Becca’s little sister, Ranna, Schafer, and I headed out around 12:30 to Pub St Michel, where we met up with Josh (intern) and his friends to sing some Journey at Karaoke night.  The rest is a bit of a blur, but eventually we ended up at Pub St Germain, a posh three-story bar where drinks cost eleven euros fifty, but you talk yourself into it anyway because the surroundings trick you into thinking you’re rich.  I enjoyed a Mojito in Love (made with real raspberries) and made the acquaintance of two charming British boys who are friends of Matt (intern).  Well, one was charming and one, who was in love with George Bush, was perhaps not.  Next we wandered back to St Michel to hit up Galway’s Irish Pub, right beneath my apartment.  We drank Guinness til 5, I dazzled the Brits with my “perfect accent” (their words…one of them said my accent was better than his!  that’s gotta be a lie…), and as the sun came up, Schafer and I dragged ourselves up the six flights to bed.

Sunday “morning,” it was due time for Breakfast in America, a tiny restaurant where they speak English and serve big portions of American food for cheap.  I’ve been desperately homesick for a real, American breakfast, so this line (45 minutes) was actually worth it: I got a huge mushroom and swiss omelette, home fried potatoes, a stack of pancakes, toast, orange juice, and bottomless coffee for 15 euros 50, or about 23 bucks.  Okay so that’s still a little steep, but Ranna, Schafer, and I left with full stomachs and contented souls, which is pretty priceless around these parts. 

We hopped on the Metro to go to the “end of the line” to Porte de Clignancourt for some flea market/antique shopping.  This stop technically took us out of Paris, and it was pretty obvious.  We could have been in Morocco.  We were greeted at the metro exit by throngs of leathery, toothless men pawning off fake designer sunglasses and watches, but after walking about 500 meters we came across an enormous flea market.  I got a beautiful little scarf (turquoise and tan with fringe) for a steal and splurged a bit on a golden key pendant (Kappa Kap!).  I soon discovered that I shouldn’t have spent more than $5 on it, because under a huge bridge began the antiques market.  You could buy everything: furniture, jewelry, clothing, books…so charming and completely overwhelming.  We all wished we had our own houses so we could decorate them in Parisian antiques…there were some absolutely beautiful pieces.  I made some great finds, some of which are presents, so I can’t talk about ‘em!!  :)

After three hours of rummaging through treasures, we were wearily heading back on the Metro, when Schafer got a text message from our new Marine friend, Rudy, whom we’d met at the 4th of July fête.  Rudy, a sassy latin boy who lives in a huge house with the other Marines on a compound in Boulogne (right outside Paris), wanted us to come by for a drink (full bar–they have “everything”) and a trip to the Bois de Boulogne for the Solidays music festival (AIDS benefit).  We were utterly exhausted, but we couldn’t turn down good company and free booze!  We never did make it to the concert, but we ate and drank and got to meet most of the guys (only 8 live in the huge house right now), and they were all so nice and welcoming and, to my surprise, completely unthreatening.  I guess I’d pictured Marines as aggressive bundles of testosterone, but they were actually really chill.  There’s even a girl Marine!  We’re going to go back to cook for them, because they don’t have a chef and they’re miserable cooks and we love to cook and we’d get to eat for free!  Hooray for everyone.  I love the Marines!  Who knew??

So now I’m back at work with, clearly, too much free time on my hands.  I booked my flight this morning to Milan…I leave Friday morning and come back Sunday night.  I can’t wait to see LaTache and meet some of her sorority sisters and have an Italian adventure!!  Oh, and eat.  A lot.

Miss you all so much…thanks for the comments, and keep in touch!!

L.B.

catching up.

so i made this blog thinking, “sure, i’ll have tons of down-time to keep it updated!”

wrong.

but now that work has slowed down (the entire country starts yawning in july and full-on passes OUT for august), i’m going to begin using my nine hours at work wisely.

i’ll try to start at the beginning.  short and sweet as possible.

i left san francisco for dulles at so-early-you-feel-like-you’re-gonna-throw up…you know what i’m talking about…and on the plane sat next to a silver fox from virginia who went on and on about his wife and children (adorable) and we were about to get into washington when the pilot said something about thunderclouds.  whatever, just land the effing plane, i’ve got places to be.  we circled for a while until the pilot decided we’d have to land in richmond, refuel, kick it, and try again later. 

tres problemos.  we land in richmond, you know, the CAPITAL of the state of virginia, to find out they don’t have a ladder tall enough to reach our plane.  and all the airport employees are on their weekend.  including the dude who puts gas into planes.

…#$%&*??!

i was about to pull the cord to release the happy yellow oxygen masks and the happy yellow slides, but i sat tight.  the job got done, and we got to dulles three hours late, and i’d missed my connection to paris.  not the end of the world, but the next flight out of dulles to paris was the next morning.  i started work the next morning.  so i got daddy on the case and he found me a flight to frankfurt (thanks, father dearest!) which then connected to paris and i’d only get in 12 hours late…way better than missing work.  especially considering that i work for “the man.” 

i got to spend some quality time in the frankfurt airport observing all the weird sh*t (which is pretty much everything in germany) and all the weird people (which is pretty much everyone in germany) and needless to say i was happy to get outta there and into paris where people are normal.  ha.

i got to paris around 5 pm, and obviously they’d lost my bags, which i didn’t get until four days later.  no huge deal, it’s happened before, it was just kinda funny improvising work outfits the first couple days…they probably thought i was a hot mess.  i’ve since made up for it.  but anyway, i climbed up the six flights of stairs to my INCREDIBLE (if tiny) apartment, which is located in the middle of all the action and looks over the seine and has views of the louvre and notre dame.  honestly, you couldn’t live anywhere better.   schafer (roomie) and i treated ourselves to an authentic french dinner at a cafe downstairs, drank some fine wine, and passed out because we started work in the morning.

funny story…i can’t talk about work.  but it’s great and i’m learning a TON and i love my bos(ses) and my two fellow interns are the hottest girls around.  they call us “jerry’s angels” (jerry is one of our supervisors…embarrassing, hilarious, true). 

the first week is a blur of jet lag and wine and cheese.  but saturday was fete de la musique, a huge festival all over france for the summer solstice.  most of the other interns and i (there are 15?) had a picnic in the jardin de luxembourg (sooo beautiful and neatly combed and franch) and wandered the streets til sunrise, drinking wine out of the bottle (legal) and listening to bands scattered around the city.  fantastique.

the next day i think i slept.

this past weekend, my family friends, steve and abe, came to visit.  they’re my dad’s friends whom i’ve grown up with and are like my uncles, going on camping trips and going to the beach…hands-down nicest people, ever.  so steve texted me around noon saying “let’s eat with the stars…meet you at giorgio armani cafe at 1300.”  stoked.  i hopped on the metro and met them at boulevard st. germain, a bustling street in my neighborhood which is full of great shops and famous “intellectual” cafes.  it’s named for the adorable st. germain des pres church which sits in the middle of it all, one of the city’s hundreds of beautiful little churches nestled among the bustle of modern shops and cafes.  so i find the guys…it had been soooo long since i saw them last, and i’m already homesick…it was such a treat to see them.  we walked upstairs into the cafe (swaaank) and ordered some 30 euro entrees, when abe said, “that’s giorgio armani.”  we all swung around, and sure enough, the dude himself was walking in with two other older guys.  he was so unassuming, just a tan, chic guy with whitish-grey hair in a clean white dress shirt and black slacks and great, shiny black shoes.  the italians know how it’s done.  but anyway, i freaked out a bit…this guy makes my dad’s suits!  the suits which, my mother always said, she would cut up if he cheated on her!  (so you know they’ve gotta be worth something.)  but anyway, yeah, ate like five feet away from giorgio.  and the food was definitely worth the price tag.  love.

it was abe’s first time in paris so he wanted to do touristy stuff.  so we went to the louvre!  i’d been before, so i was pretty much along for the ride.  we were on a schedule so abe chose three things he wanted to see: the egyptian stuff, the winged victory, and the mona lisa.  we spent dayyys in egypt, which is always interesting, but not really my thing…if you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it.  i know, i’m a snob.  the winged victory was incredible, as always, and much more impressive than it looks in pictures.  she’s a big ol’ headless lady.  lastly was the mona lisa, so we started toward the italian paintings (my fave).  we were wandering down the hall admiring the botticellis and the flat, medieval paintings of 8 lb, 6 oz baby jesus when three guards approached us.  we were probably 20 feet from the room which houses the mona lisa, and the louvre was closing!  poor abe.  we hadn’t been paying any attention and it was already 6…i felt awful.  but they’re trying to come back in september (i hope i run into them again!!) and do more touristy stuff.

schafer and i met up with them later that night (after our requisite european naps) to go out on the town.  after a drink in their posh hotel bar, we wandered to marais, which is the gay/jewish quarter, and always a great time.  they’d heard of this restaurant, chez janou, which took us a year to find…it was in the middle of nowhere, but suddenly it appeared, people spilling out of it onto the street, waiting for tables and having drinks and smoking cigarettes…a little sparkling jewel in the middle of blocks of sleepy apartment buildings.  the food was (french) southern style and flavorful and fresh and creamy and to die for.  we finally finished dinner around 1:30 am and said our goodbyes (they had a 7 am train for st. tropez to catch)…such a good visit.

the next night was the euro final.  there’s an excellent canadian pub (yay, dyok!) right around the corner where they speak english, serve real hamburgers, and play north american sport on the telly.  fabulous.  schafer and i went, paid the 20 euro cover charge which also paid for two drinks, squeezed into a table between some texans and some frenchies (all rooting for spain…wise.) and ordered up a pint of guinness.  the bar was, clearly, really rowdy.  after my guinness i decided to get some bang for my euro buck, so i ordered “the magnificent one,” the most expensive drink on the menu, which was pink and full of wonderful liquors and gave me a healthy hangover at work the next day.  spain won and people danced in the st. michel fountain, singing and waving spanish flags…excellent.

last night i attended like my sixteenth cocktail party since i arrived, a pre-4th of July party hosted by our, um, “big” boss.  i really can’t talk about it…haha.  but seriously, all these people do is go to cocktail parties.  i guess it makes for good diplomacy…and no way am i passing up free champagne and appetizers.  i am poor.

i’m having a blast, but i miss everyone sooo much already!  text me on my american cell phone (it’s really cheap for you and free for me) and i’ll call you from one of my super cool phones that makes it cheap and/or free to call the states.  cool.  and feel free to leave loving/funny/biting/sentimental/bitchy comments.  anything would be greatly appreciated…because vous me manquez!!!!!!! (i miss you.  beaucoup.)

grosses bisous,

l.b.

bonjour!

i should be writing a paper, but instead i made a blog.

i am leaving for my european adventure from SFO at 7h15 on 14 june.  i will arrive at 6h20 on 15 june in paris.

i will proceed to pee my pants. 

i start work at *censored* on 16 june at 9h45.

i hope my pants will be dry by then.

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