June 2004 archive

(50 entries)

June 30, 2004

Welcome to the new design

If you were previously getting here through www.srah.net/weblog/index.html, try www.srah.net/weblog/index.php or just www.srah.net/weblog/. I changed the index page to a .php file extension. I don't know why, other than Katie told me to. Oh, and I'm taking that PHP class in the fall, so I can assume I'll eventually learn why the hell I just did that. Stupid PHP!

So... here it is. Yes, the left column is enormously long. I was in love with this design until I had completely forgotten all of the stuff that was in my right column before, including my blogroll. So I've squashed it all into the left column, occasionally putting things into little pop-up windows (which don't all work correctly yet). Once I actually figure out how, I hope to make things in that column expand and collapse so that they won't take up so much space. But you don't care, do you?

Anyway, enjoy. I am enamoured of my little comments box design, so please leave plenty!

srah | 5:09 PM | TrackBack
Tags:

Enigmatic?

56. Not that I'm counting.

srah | 4:29 PM | TrackBack
Tags: the abbey

Tuesday is Chooseday

TJ and I are never awake and posting at the same time, so somehow this has turned into a "Wednesday or Thursday is Chooseday" for the past couple of weeks.

Would you rather:

  1. be constipated for a week at a time and only poop on fridays OR have to go pee every hour on the hour?
    Would this be, like, painful or would it just be that you only have to poop once a week? As long as it's not painful, I'll go with that, because sometimes you can't find a bathroom every hour on the hour. Then what? You'd also never sleep!
  2. never forget a face OR never forget a name?
    There are some funny names out there, whereas there are some ugly faces you'd rather forget. Although really, what's the use of one without the other? I actually already have this power, in a limited form, whereas Robin has the other one. She spots people from high school when we're out in public and I tell her what their name is.
  3. when you orgasm, uncontrollably sing "wake me up before you go go" by wham OR "i'm too sexy" by right said fred?
    Better song. Slightly...
  4. stub your toe every day for a week OR get a zit on your nose?
    Have one already, thanks.

srah | 5:44 AM | TrackBack
Tags: memes

June 29, 2004

My compliments to myself!

Dear World,

I would have it known that today, June 29, 2004, I did make The Greatest French Bread Pizza Known To Man. Except we're in France, so it's just a Bread Pizza. Whatever.

Of course, when you finally get around to eating dinner at something like 10pm, anything is good... but I highly suspect this may have actually been tasty.

But why would anyone be eating dinner at 10pm? you ask. You nosy bugger. As a matter of fact, a new look for the blog is underway...

srah | 6:38 PM | TrackBack
Tags: food

June 28, 2004

Mrs Igor

The woman in front of me at the supermarket today was buying brains.

Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains!

Echhhhhh.

srah | 4:01 PM | TrackBack
Tags: food

'Hitler laughs when you waste bulbs'

I love Lileks. I am cracking up, but trying to hold it in because I'm at work and I should be working instead of reading this. So if you're at work, maybe it would be a good idea not to click on this until you get home.

srah | 11:09 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Tags: discovered

June 27, 2004

Unconscious Mutterings

Terms have been provided and free associations imagined up. Ford's in his flivver, all's well with the world.

srah | 6:03 AM | TrackBack
Tags: memes, unconscious mutterings

June 26, 2004

Disco inferno!

We set the alarm for 9am, but didn't manage to get going until a while later. We ate breakfast and took turns showering. While Nico was having his turn, the TV was on and there was this Belgian documentary on the Saturday morning kid's programming, all about blogs. If the sound had been on, I'm sure it would have been even more amusing!

In the morning, Becky and I went shopping together while Nico busied himself with less girly pursuits. Well, I imagine. I don't actually know what he was doing, so he could have been getting his legs waxed for all I know.

At H&M, Amande will be proud to know, I got a pair of pants, a skirt and a shirt for $25. Hooray for the nation-wide season of soldes! We also browsed at a few other stores, saw a whole store full of sale-price shoes I didn't want :( and then met Nico for lunch.

We had salads at a sidewalk table. I don't like it when my food looks at me, but I ripped the heads off my shrimp and tried to avoid looking at them. The salade norvégienne also had some rather tasteless smoked salmon and was, on the whole, rather disappointing.

We were also one of the few tables that didn't have an umbrella over it, so it was at this point that I realized that I had neither applied nor packed any sunscreen. Ouch. My nose, forearms and chest are bright red, although my chest has a strange V-mark from where my neck-scarf shadowed it. My scalp is also painful and itchy from my sunburned part.

After lunch, we all went our separate ways and continued our shopping individually. I bought a few new scarves (because my sunburn isn't strange enough already), then we all met up.

We wanted to go wine-tasting, so we headed for the area of Menetou-Salon, where there are several vineyards. We didn't know which one to go to, though, so we went to the local château first. It turns out they have their own wine there, selected by the owner - the Prince of Aremberg - himself. So as long as we were there, we tasted that wine. I rather liked it, but we decided to move on to the next vineyard, asking the guide for recommendations. She gave us the name of a few other places, but when we drove to them, they were closed on Saturdays.

We drove around in circles for a while and my hair got bigger and bigger as the wind whipped through it and I tried in vain to finger-comb it. Finally we found another cave that was open: les caves Teiller. Apparently 2003 was a good year for them and their 2003 blanc is so popular that they've had to limit its sales. Becky bought two bottles and Nico bought one, but I actually found that I preferred the château's white wine and realized that I don't ever just drink wine, so I refrained.

We drove back to Bourges and Becky and Nico dropped me off at the train station so that I could get back to P--------. I called the abbey to see if someone could pick me up and ended up giving an ETA that was off by an hour. Luckily the person I was talking to figured it out herself and didn't have to sit at the train station for an hour!

I got back to the abbey and relaxed and ate dinner, then we went to the nearby village of Ouchamps for a fireworks display. I had no idea why anyone would be having fireworks on June 26 when the fête nationale isn't until 14 July, but it turns out today is the fête de Jeanne d'Arc. So although there was a nice fireworks display, the really unusual thing for all of us American interns to see was the burning of Joan in effigy.

Don't we usually burn bad people in effigy? Maybe there's another story behind it that I don't get. Maybe that figure up there was supposed to be some English person. They built a huge pyre - sort of like a thatched cottage filled with logs - and Joan was tied to the stake (with her arms out, so really she was crucified in addition to being burned!) on top of the roof. They lit it afire and it burned for hours while the DJ played Johnny Hallyday's Allumer le feu about a hundred million times and people danced on a makeshift dance floor. It was all very strange and foreign and fun.,

srah | 7:14 PM | TrackBack
Tags: hm, holidays, shopping, sunburn, travel, wine

June 25, 2004

Brushing my teeth should not require this much concentration!

Becky and I have come to Bourges for a weekend of shopping, sightseeing and - most importantly - boss-avoiding. So after work, we did some last minute (over-)packing and took the hour and a half trip to the southeast.

We are staying with Becky's ex-boyfriend, Nicolas, who works here although he's a native Pontlevien. He picked us up from the train station in his convertible, we squashed our excessive luggage and ourselves in and set off.

We had to do something for dinner, so it came down to pizza, Chinese or making something at home, so that we could work around watching the France-Greece quarter-final Euro Cup match on TV. We decided to make dinner, so we went to the hypermarché. They were even starting the soldes there, so I found a cheap pair of flip-flops while I was there. Apparently they are all the rage these days and I was terribly behind the times, not to mention having brought four pairs of shoes with me to France... three of which are black. So now, because the red ones with strawberries on them weren't available in my size, I have some plain beige canvas ones. Flip-flops are so cheap, I'll have to keep an eye out for a more exciting pair later.

Nicolas shared with us the Pineau de Charentes he got for his birthday, as an apéritif, then we made fajitas and ate them with margaritas as we watched France be athletically humiliated, 1-0.

The game ended, we did the dishes and cleaned up and then didn't know exactly what to do with ourselves. So we went out for one drink at the bar around the corner. I had a Framboise St-Louis, Becky had a Calvados and Nico had another margarita, which came with all kinds of frou-frou straws and streamers and marshmallows and plastic monkeys sticking out of it. The glass had also been dipped in fruit syrup and then in coconut, rather than being rimmed with salt or sugar. What the heck kind of margarita is that?

Now we're back in the apartment, getting ready for bed. G'night!

srah | 6:21 PM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

Four cups so far...

I discovered that if I work in the office rather than the computer lab or my room, I can trade solitude and the ability to concentrate therein for proximity to tea-making supplies, which I would normally have to assemble from two different locations and climb two flights of stairs for.

Concentrate schmoncentrate. Lazy. Tea.

srah | 9:03 AM | TrackBack
Tags: the abbey

'Ze fast and ze furious!'

Now that I'm sober, I can tell you about last night's meal in more detail, without the danger that reviewing it bloggily would cause me to review it vomitally.

Becky and I went to the nice restaurant in town, sort of on a whim, after discussing how much we both like food. Becky told me that although she'd never been there, she'd heard that they don't like Americans, so we had to be on our best behavior and I had to do all of the talking because we'd have to speak French. We went in and asked for a table for two.

"Do you have a reservation?" We admitted that we didn't and they said that they only had one table left, so we were going to have to take that one. Um... fine with us! So we sat in the middle of the room and tried to behave ourselves, realizing that by not making a reservation, we had made our first gaffe.

Things actually got better from there. We ordered our kir royales with crème de pêche as apéritifs and by doing so, I managed to get a bit squiffy before we even opened the bottle of rosé. Once we'd ordered, the wait staff seemed to warm up to us and our waiter teased us about our bad habits (slow eating for me, smoking for Becky) all through the evening and spoke English, Spanish, German and Japanese to us as well as French.

Anyway, Becky and I each ordered from the menu. We had the salade de chèvre chaud, then she had some kind of porc dish and I had coq au vin for the main course. As we finished up our main courses, we realized there were still two courses to go, but luckily we (erm... I) had taken so long eating that they actually asked us if we wanted the cheese course or if we wanted to skip straight to dessert. I had crêpes with a Grand Marnier sauce and Becky had the clafoutis aux cerises. We adjourned to the bar for our coffee and tea, as we had outlasted everyone in our dining room and they were getting ready to close for the night.

We managed to roll/wobble ourselves to the computer lab to send drunken/potentially-sick emails to our friends, then wobbled up to bed.

srah | 4:05 AM | TrackBack
Tags: food, france

June 24, 2004

Dinner out

Haven't posted much lately because the Big Cheese is in town and we spend all of our time either preparing our presentations for him or avoiding him. Just ate an enormous 4-course dinner with Becky along with kir royales as apéritifs and a bottle of rosé split between the two of us.

So much food. So much wine. So much limbo as I wonder if I'm going to be sick.

That's the news from Lake Woebegon. Or Little America.

People kept talking to me at dinner and I talked right back because I had champagne in me and I talk back to them when I've had champagne. We flirted with our waiter and we were there for at least 3 hours. It was so good. It was so much food. Oh god, I've got to work tomorrow. :(

Still don't know if I'm going to be sick or not. So much FOOD! So much WINE! I need to sleep1

srah | 5:40 PM | TrackBack
Tags: the abbey

June 22, 2004

Tuesday is Chooseday

Would you rather:

  1. hear somebody breaking into your house and all you have is a bat OR an unloaded gun?
    My arms aren't very strong and anyone threatening me could look at me and know that. They wouldn't know if there were bullets in the gun, though...

  2. walk barefoot over 6 feet of roaches OR 6 feet of thumbtacks?
    Gross. But still better than Ouch.

  3. after playing a game of beach volleyball for over an hour, have only a pitcher of milk to refresh you OR a pot of fresh-brewed coffee?
    I don't like milk or coffee, but I guess the milk would be cold and easier to swallow down.

  4. at a neighbor's party, be caught picking food out of the trash and eating it OR going through their dirty laundry and sniffing it?
    "I was just... um... looking for a clean shirt... because I need to change mine. I have a nosebleed..." *turns around and punches self in the nose* "See?"

srah | 9:54 AM | TrackBack
Tags: memes

June 21, 2004

ABCs of me

Act your age? No, I don't. But it's 23.822 unless I've miscounted...
Born on what day of the week? Tuesday's child is full of grace.
Chore you hate? Washing dishes.
Dad's name? Bill.
Essential makeup item? Chapstick?
Favorite actor? John Hannah.
Gold or silver? Gold... I guess...
Hometown? Ann Arbor, MI
Instruments you play? I can play the piano a little... but I don't.
Job title? Intern! Glorious Intern!
Kids? If I had enough A-1 sauce.
Living arrangements? L'abbaye.
Mom's name? Mommy. What? She has another name? Oh, Marilyn.
Need? A DFE.
Overnight hospital stays? When I was born?
Phobias? Bridges. Knives. Things pointing at my eyes. Knives pointing at my eyes. On a bridge.
Quote you like? My screensaver right now says: "People are often frightened of Parisians, but an American in Paris will find no harsher critic than another American." - David Sedaris
Religious affiliation? - Nine. Oops, I mean nein.
Siblings? Alfie.
Time you wake up? 8am.
Unique talent? Don't think so.
Vegetable you refuse to eat? Can't think of one.
Worst habit? Getting lost in the computer and forgetting about real life.
X-rays you've had? Teeth and a couple of delightful chest-ones including the one in a strange, creepy French x-ray van.
Yummy food you make? Cookies. Brownies. Waffles (in the Bathroom). Stir-fry. Poulet à la Claude Andrés Renata Sarah. Things From Cans.
Zodiac Sign? Virgo.

[via swirlspice]

srah | 5:47 AM | TrackBack
Tags: memes

Mail, G.

Does anyone have a GMail invite they feel like throwing away? I'm sure I have too many email addresses already and wouldn't actually use it, but I'm a lemming and I'd like to know what all the fuss is about...

Update: Mike Toole is my hero! Wait... omigod, Mike Toole read my blog!

Update again: "Server Error: Gmail is temporarily unavailable. Cross your fingers and try again in a few minutes. We're sorry for the inconvenience." :(

srah | 5:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Tags: technology

June 20, 2004

'I feel something now - a terrible fright/ Danger looms ahead. Something is not right.'

Looking for exact lyrics from 1776 and The Sound of Music, I came across another musical beginning with S:

WEDGE: I can't shake him off!
Luke, he's on my tail!
Luke, if I should die here
then you must not fail!

LUKE: Wedge, I'll be alright!
You get yourself clear!
What good would it do us
if you die here?

Um, yeah. I want to play the narrator... R2-D2???

srah | 1:00 PM | TrackBack
Tags: lyrics, musicals, star wars

The things I write are only light extemporania

I spent my day just frittering - yes that's right, I say frittering - frittering away my noontime, suppertime, choretime too. Never mind getting dandelions pulled or the screen door patched or the beef steak pounded...

Oh dear, I think I'm going to be breaking out in musicals quite a few times in this post.

Anyway, I wasted most of the day sitting around and playing The Sims (although I did get some laundry done too), so around 6:30pm I thought about having my first meal of the day.

And of course, at 6:30, I was requested to be of service to the company and go pick this guy up at the train station in Blois and take him to a big event at Chambord.

Although I had been prepared from the beginning that I would have to drive at some point, I had always hoped that my first experience driving in a foreign country would be something along the lines of a trip to the grocery store with other people driving along and giving me directions. But I had confidence in confidence alone, besides which, you see, I have confidence in me. So, seeing as I was the only one with no Saturday night plans and there was absolutely no one else to do it, I accepted.

My directions were to pick him up at the Blois train station at 8pm, then take him to Chambord, getting there around 8:30. Then I would be home again by 9:30 and I might be able to make a local fête de la musique that some other people were going to. All this meant that I had to leave at 7:30. So at 7:30, when my directions were finally written out, I borrowed office keys to get into the office so that I could get car keys, then go back to my room and change my sandals for shoes and grab my wallet. When I got up there, our Properties Manager informed me that plans had changed and they were going to pick him up on their way.

So I returned the office keys, didn't bother with the shoes and went to the computer lab, only to be called as soon as I sat down and told that plans had changed again and I would need to pick him up. So by the time I got office keys again, got the car keys, returned the office keys, changed shoes and collected my wallet, it was about 7:55.

I sped to Blois. I had been there yesterday, so I had a general idea of the route to the town of Blois, if not to the train station. The directions, however, said that I needed to turn left at the first rondpoint. This didn't really make sense to me, so I went straight, in the direction that was labeled for Blois and called the person who had written my directions to make sure this was right and that she had just skipped a rondpoint in her directions. She said that no, I needed to turn left and go over the bridge. So I turned around, went back, and went out in the direction she'd indicated. After a while I called her again and said, "How far am I supposed to go before there's a bridge?"

I really should learn to go with my instincts instead of written directions.

So I got back going the direction I'd been going in, which was actually the correct one, and made it to the train station by ignoring the directions and following street signs instead.

I found the guy, who I will refer to as "Mr Mute Point" because he said that at least twice on our ride. He was trying to call the abbey when I found him and was almost at the point of returning to Paris. We got in the car and I consulted the Blois-Chambord directions I'd been given. We ended up nowhere near where they were supposed to take us, although we did get to drive past the cathedral...

So I had no idea where I was going again and called back to our directions-giver again. I told her I was on the bridge and she told me to turn left just after the bridge. UNFORTUNATELY, she thought I was going in the opposite direction over the bridge (which makes perfect sense because coming away from the train station, we should have been going in the other direction, but since I was trying to drive a stick and talk on a cell phone and compensate for driving in the wrong direction and deal with Mr Mute Point trying to give me directions to the wrong town, I guess I wasn't clear). So we drove and drove for a while and passed the château de Chaumont and drove and--

Chaumont? But wait, that's closer to home than Blois is...

I suddenly understood the whole left-after-the-bridge mishap and realized we'd been driving in the wrong direction for twenty minutes to half an hour.

I stuffed the directions in my purse, called my supervisor to let her know we were going to be even later than expected and started retracing my steps. We went back over the bridge and turned left and immediately started seeing signs for Chambord. After that, it was simplicity itself.

I finally got him to Chambord not at 8:30, as planned, but at a quarter to 10. The drive home was easy enough because I'd already driven it several times in various directions. Is there anything better than speeding through France with no idea of the local traffic rules or what the signs mean, and the guilt and anxiety building as you start to wonder how mad your supervisor is going to be at your foibles, how mad the Big Cheese is going to be when he hears about it and how mad your co-workers will be that you've had the car for three and a half hours?

Yes, yes there is. It's called speeding through France with no idea of the local traffic rules or what the signs mean, and the guilt and anxiety building as you start to wonder how mad your supervisor is going to be at your foibles, how mad the Big Cheese is going to be when he hears about it and how mad your co-workers will be that you've had the car for three and a half hours when the only radio station you can pick up is FunRadio. Techno, anyone?

So, with all these thoughts building up of how I'm not an asset to the abbey, I returned home just in time to have a cry, make myself an 11pm dinner and sit in the computer lab in the dark, eating terrible warmed tinned boeuf bourgignon, sniffling and emailing.

How was your weekend?

srah | 7:58 AM | TrackBack
Tags: the abbey

Unconscious Mutterings

While all those poor suckahs in the US are fast asleep, I am unconsciously muttering.

srah | 7:32 AM | TrackBack
Tags: memes, unconscious mutterings

June 18, 2004

W00t!

I am such a nerd. I don't even own a PlayStation of my own, but I am very excited at the prospect of my PS2-owning friends buying this.

The song list includes:

"Baby One More Time"
"Born To Be Wild"
"Cry"
"Drift Away"
"Every Breath You Take"
"Friends In Low Places"
"Genie in a Bottle"
"Heartbreak Hotel"
"Here Without You"
"Hot Stuff"
"I Believe in a Thing Called Love"
"I Hate Everything About You"
"I Will Survive"
"I'll Make Love to You"
"I'm With You"
"Irresistible"
"It's My Life"
"I've Got You Under My Skin"
"Jesse's Girl"
"Lady Marmalade"
"Let's Get It On"
"Miss You"
"My Girl"
"Papa Don't Preach"
"Perfect"
"Rich Girl"
"Rock and Roll All Night"
"Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay"
"Sweet Home Alabama"
"The First Cut is the Deepest"
"The Joker"
"Toxic"
"Virtual Insanity"
"We Are Family"
"White Flag"

srah | 11:37 AM | TrackBack
Tags: technology

June 17, 2004

Trapped!

I have somehow managed to be left alone in the office, where I don't even usually work, with only one of the new part-time interns who doesn't speak French and who doesn't actually start work until next week. I thought the others were just stepping out, but it's been hours. I'm going to want to eat lunch at some point, but someone's going to need to answer the phone and have scintillating conversations like this:

me: "Abbaye de P---------, bonjour."
person on phone: "Bonjour, est-ce que je peux parler avec [Coworker X]?"
me: ""En fait, elle est pas au bureau en ce moment... vous voulez laisser un message?"
person: "Eh, ben, c'est à propos du machin avec le truc pour le spectacle des choses et donc peut-être que vous pourriez me donner la réponse?"
me: "Ben.... moi, je ne sais rien sur rien... je suis là pour répondre au téléphone et toutes les autres m'ont abandonnée... alors, il y a personne ici qui sait quoi que ce soit et ça aurait peut-être été mieux si je n'aurais pas décroché le téléphone."
person: "Alors... je vais peut-être laisser un message, donc."
me: (writing down message) "Ok, donc elle devrait envoyer... un document... à une femme... à tel ou tel numéro... et c'est à propos de? Oui, d'accord, le machin avec le truc pour le spectacle des choses. Ouais, c'est très clair. Je lui dirai. Merci, au revoir."

I don't usually work in the office, so I have no clue about the everyday goings-on of the abbey or about any of the events held here. I just hope I'm not the only one who doesn't understand a word of what he was talking about...

srah | 6:30 AM | TrackBack
Tags: the abbey

June 16, 2004

Here's what I did today:

  • Work.
  • Organize a meeting for pretty much no reason.
  • Work.
  • Drink apricot juice.

    W00t.

    srah | 6:47 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
    Tags: the abbey

  • Little plastic castles embedded in her skull

    I like to think that I am the kind of person who grows and matures as she ages and learns to accept things that I used to hate, recognizing some intrinsic value in them that I hadn't noticed before.

    But then I went to the office and someone is playing Ani Difranco, whose music I have hated for about six years but haven't heard again in two or three... and I want to gouge my ears out. Stupid stupid Ani Difranco! With her stupid breathing and her stupid screeching and her stupid guitar!

    So... still waiting on that state of inner peace. :(

    srah | 7:54 AM | TrackBack
    Tags: music

    June 15, 2004

    ¡Maldita vampira!

    In the end, it was not salmonella that killed me, but rather exposure to the sun. I stood outside the entrance to the Château de Chaumont, handing out 10% off coupons for the bed-and-breakfast that our company bought a few weeks ago, in a panicked last-ditch attempt to get people in the rooms before The Big Cheez (our president) arrives on Friday.

    I will be interested to see if this new marketing scheme is at all fruitful, since I was passed by a total of about 60 groups/couples, most of whom were either local, already had rooms for the night, or didn't speak enough French or English to understand what I was talking about.

    So the rewards reaped from three hours of flyering may consist of... the sunburn I got on one shoulder because I missed a spot with my sunblock. Oh yeah, and the enormous, horrible headache I got from the sunshine. It was so bad that I had to tell my supervisor I was going to take off from work to go sit in the dark for a while. This turned into a two-hour nap-break in the middle of the afternoon that still didn't completely cure it but at least got me to the point where I could open my eyes enough to look at a computer screen.

    In a way, I hope that our efforts worked, because the B&B needs all the help it can get. In another way, I hope they don't work at all, because it might influence the Powers that Be to abandon this plan before I have to go out again next week.

    srah | 4:59 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: the abbey

    June 14, 2004

    Thar's salmonella in them thar forks!

    There is a sort of fork-vigilanteism that exists in our abbey. Or maybe it's fork-claim-jumping. Something from the Old West, anyway. I don't know where our forks have gone, but I found two and I stole them and I don't know whose forks they were but they're our forks now, dammit!

    In other news, I have to get up early tomorrow to go stand outside a château and hand out brochures, enticing people to come and stay at the bed and breakfast we own. I don't think it's going to work.

    In other other news, I got a promotion, in that one of the short-term interns here is going to be assisting me on one of my projects. Um... I have no idea what I'm going to have her do. I wish a raise came with the posh supervising responsibilities...

    In other other other news, I made a modified Poulet à la Claude Andrés Renata in a saucepan for dinner. Yes, I cooked meat without adult supervision.

    I am not dead yet, but I'll keep you posted.

    srah | 3:08 PM | TrackBack
    Tags:

    My salsa makes all the pretty girls want to dance and run around fanning their mouths

    When I went to the grocery store last week, I bought some tortilla chips and salsa, knowing that at some point, I would be homesick and need some good old-fashioned American food.

    As I stooped by the exotic foods shelves, I saw one kind of dipping salsa. I couldn't see a label indicating whether it was Mild, Medium or Hot, but I knew that this is France and they are afraid of spicy things here, so if they only had one salsa style, it would probably be fine. So I tossed it in the cart along with the triangular chips, which were slightly cheaper than the round ones.

    I opened both today, not because I was feeling any more homesick than usual but because I am the Ultimate in Lazy and they were both in my room, whereas for anything else I would have to climb two flights of stairs to the kitchen.

    As I opened the chips, I noticed that they were marked 'Chili Flavour'. Well, that's exciting, I thought, Maybe it will liven up my salsa. Funny that I didn't notice, though. I guess I was so starving and in such a hurry that I was just kind of pulling things off shelves without looking carefully. I opened up the jar of salsa and scooped a generous pile onto the chip, then put it in my mouth.

    My eyes teared up. Damn, these chips are very chili flavoured! I ate a chip on its own to see how it was, but it was only pleasantly spicy. The culprit was the salsa.

    After examining the jar more closely, I came to realize that the reason I couldn't find a label was that the tiny red "HOT" marker blended in so well with the yellow-and-red Old El Paso label. I don't think I've ever willingly tasted hot salsa.

    But I can't stop.

    There's spice, yes, but there's also juicy tomato goodness! And if I can somehow get past the burning, I can taste this tomato goodness! I'll just try another and -- OW OW OW OW OW! Well, you know what would be good for this terrible, life-threatening burning? Nice cooling tomato! Like in this tomato salsa here -- OW OW OW OW OW! Oh my god, that was a terrible idea. I am not eating any more of this. I'm going to walk away and... well, now I'm getting kind of hungry. Maybe I'll just have a chip. Well, that chip was good, so maybe I'll have another. But the last one was so boring, so I'll have some salsa on it -- OW OW OW OW OW!

    I should learn to read.

    srah | 12:11 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: food

    June 13, 2004

    Beware the fashion flics!

    Walking around the gardens at Chaumont, I decided that my least favorite new French fashion trend is capri pants on men. They are everywhere. I guess I should be glad that they're so confident of their masculinity or something...

    Becky said that her least favorite new French fashion is green hair with orange pants, but since we only saw that on one guy, I'm not sure it can be counted as a trend.

    srah | 6:08 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: fashion

    Ordered chaos... in my hair

    I went to bed early last night, in an effort to finally acclimate myself fully to the French time zone so that I could get up at a normal time in the morning and do something with my day. So you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I woke up at 11:30 am instead. Becky was coming into the room and as I popped out of bed to start making myself tea, she asked if I'd like to come along with her to the nearby château of Chaumont-sur-Loire, which recently began its summer gardens exhibition.

    We went with Becky's French friend Nicolas, who has a hip little Peugeot convertible sports car. The three of us squished in and took off. I'm not sure if I've ever been in a convertible - if I have, it wasn't for a long period of time. I think that if I were to travel with Nicolas often, I would invest in some kind of head scarf, because I had to try to finger-comb my hair into something presentable once we got there.

    Becky told Nicolas that I speak French, so he and I talked about memorizing département numbers for a while, then we switched back into English, which was more comfortable for Becky.

    The theme of this year's exhibition was Ordered Chaos. Artists and designers from all over the world participated in the design of about thirty different gardens on this theme, creating a sort of outdoor art museum. Some were beautiful, some were thought-provoking, some were ugly and some were kind of lame. I think my favorite one involved potted plants sitting on tiles with a fulcrum in the middle, sort of like a see-saw. Visitors could walk across the tiles and level the plants out so that they stood straight, but they would fall back down as soon as you moved away. I don't know if you'll understand this from my description, but in three months - when you've forgotten - you can see my pictures.

    After we were done with the gardens, we stopped for a snack. There was an ice cream tent selling the normal flavours as well as their special 'ordered chaos' flavours. Some of them sounded quite strange, although I guess I could have gone for the apricot-ginger one. I ended up choosing rose-lychee. Most rose-flavoured ice cream is overwhelming, but the fruitiness of the lychee made this one quite tasty and my mouth tasted like roses for the rest of the afternoon.

    After we got back, we had a Bring Your Own Dinner birthday party for Zack. This was kind of strange for me because a) I wasn't exactly sure who Zack was and b) I didn't know this party was happening. So while I'd planned a lovely meal of choucroute, it seemed like a weird thing to bring to a party and I ended up just making some spaghetti. It was nice to chat and hang around with people, though, and I got to eat devilled eggs and chocolate chip cookies and finally figure out who Zack is.

    The highlight of the evening, however, was when Zack said that something was so retarded it was "moo-tarded". I thought this cow-image was pretty funny until I realized what he was really saying was "moûtarde-ed"...

    srah | 5:59 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: the abbey

    Unconscious Mutterings

    Unconscious Mutterings... now from FRANCE!

    srah | 7:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
    Tags: memes, unconscious mutterings

    June 12, 2004

    Mona Sarah smile

    My avatar looks strangely more sophisticated and grownupper than I do in real life. Perhaps I think highly of myself.

    srah | 6:01 PM | TrackBack
    Tags:

    Another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody

    But that's my own damn fault. Caroline went to Paris and I probably could have tagged along. But I decided I wanted to hang around here my first weekend, in the name of getting settled in. Well, if being settled in consists of sleeping until noon, watching awful Jennifer Lopez movies dubbed into French (again) by myself and playing The Sims all day, then me voici settled in.

    Maybe I'll just go to bed early. Then tomorrow I think I'll force myself to get out of my room in the morning and go for a long walk, exploring the countryside. It might be boring on my own, but I'll bring my camera and I'll bring you all along in my mind. :)

    In happier news, I finally got around to emailing everyone I know in France (and Belgium and Germany) to let them know I'm here. Perhaps my future weekends will be more exciting than this one.

    srah | 5:13 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: the abbey

    June 11, 2004

    A bit lonely

    I'm all alone in the computer lab. Which is, I guess, better than being all alone in the dark in the common room, because I couldn't find the light switch.

    Where has everyone gone? And did they take our forks with them?

    srah | 4:54 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: the abbey

    The Real World: France

    When Becky and I went for our walk the other day, she told us that the neighboring town of Bourré has a large Portuguese population, so the locals call it "Little Portugal". Our town*, on the other hand, is "Little America."

    I knew, even before I interviewed for this job, that this program was not something that I could completely agree with. The internships - that's fine. Whatever. But here at the abbey, one of our main focuses is on international education. So we have groups of undergraduate students coming over for semesters, for the summer or for chunks of a few weeks to soak up local... well, nothing.

    It is, indeed, like The Real World: Paris except that we're in an abbey instead of a château and it takes a lot more travelling and grumbling to get into Paris than a simple RER ride. I feel like I'm surrounded by Ace and CT, who don't understand why the French don't like them and why they don't speak English like normal people.

    They don't take language lessons - they just stay in the abbey, supposedly learning about French culture (you can't have culture without language) and occasionally leaving the grounds to get drunk at the café or to stand in line in front of me at the boulangerie and take forever because they have not bothered to learn any French, including the words for "price" and "bread". I wonder, if I hadn't come along and translated so that I could hurry up and get my own damned baguette, if they would have given up and starved. I wonder if they'll ever bother to learn. I hope it's just that I'm hearing the vocal few and that there are actually people who are interested in learning things during their time here. But I'm skeptical...

    Usually, the interns wouldn't have to have this much exposure to the students. But, as wireless access is tenuous elsewhere on the grounds, I have adopted the computer lab as my office. I spend most of the day here, wincing as they mangle European place names and talk loudly about how drunk they are, have been, or will be.

    During my orientation, they said that we weren't allowed to accept gifts from visitors to the abbey. They did not, however, mention anything about punching them in the face.

    –––––
    * Name withheld to prevent Googling...

    srah | 7:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
    Tags: the abbey

    June 10, 2004

    Isidore makes the connection

    Well, in case you can't tell, Isidore is online today. While sitting in the computer lab, I overheard the properties manager/IT guy on the phone, telling someone he was leaving town tonight. I'm sure I only whimpered in my mind, but he may have picked up on it because he came over and talked to me about my network connection. For some reason, he seems to have warmed to me, because he typed in all of the IP information that was missing and now I can connect from anywhere that's close enough to one of the wireless points around campus.

    Maybe it's the high heels. ;)

    So, here I am, finally online and available (and able to work!). And I will, once I get all of the stuff I need from the Internet.

    (New blog posts start here. For those of you I've been emailing - did I leave any important stories out of my blog posts? Let me know and I'll recount them to the others...)

    srah | 7:59 AM | TrackBack
    Tags: internet connection, isidore, the abbey

    Morning #3

    My calves have hurt every morning since I've been here - sort of like the muscles are tight from a lot of use. But I don't know what I've done that could have strained them. I've walked up and down a lot of stairs... they also sometimes tighten up when I'm sitting at the computer for a long time. Any suggestions, Dr Alfie?

    The flies here are driving me crazy, but I think they're mostly just lost. They'll buzz and buzz around the room, but if I go over and open the window, they'll usually fly right out. The problem is, if I leave the window open, more will fly in. Sigh. Maybe they just want attention.

    srah | 4:47 AM | TrackBack
    Tags: the abbey

    June 9, 2004

    Veni, vidi, comedi tui pistachi

    I got up earlier this morning, full of vim and vigour and ready to start the day... but I didn't have anything to do except nag the properties manager/IT guy about my internet connection. I suspect that with people pooping in the Abbey, he has more pressing and important things to worry about than me actually doing work.

    Becky just bought a new coffee pot so she's offered me her old one to heat up water for tea. It took a minute for me to figure out how it worked and I ended up spilling water all over myself, my night table, the floor and my power strip (!) in the process. Luckily nothing short-circuited or burst into flames so I think I'm okay. It was only a little dribble on the power strip, anyway. Now I've figured out where I'm supposed to be pouring the water and everything's fine.

    I still didn't have a cell phone at this point, although I was supposed to be given one as soon as I arrived. Apparently they have so many new interns, there weren't enough to go around. So I've got a Motorola C350 which looks fancier than my phone back home but I think the buttons are too small for human hands - even human hands as microscopic as my own. While I was being given my cell phone, I decided to ask for a pillow. I hadn't really noticed the lack of pillow the night before because I was too busy WHUMPing face-first into my bed, but I forgot to ask for one after that and it seemed strange and flat last night.

    I decided I needed a baguette for lunch, since I'd bought lots of sandwich fixings and found myself the night before with all of the ingredients for sandwiches... except the bread. So I headed off to what I've heard described as the "worst bakery in the Loire Valley" (I don't know who defined this or how that's measured), forgetting that the bakery doesn't open until 4 on Wednesdays. I decided to walk around a bit while I was out so I looped around and looked at the village. I think my business-casual-overdressed-for-bread-shopping self got checked out by a construction worker, which was kind of weird but kind of flattering and on the way back I found out that one of the tiny local grocery stores sells bread on Wednesday mornings.

    I made myself some butter and cheese sandwiches and ate a pear* and then reported to the office for a meeting with the office manager. She told me... well, not much more than she'd told me the day before, other than offering some suggestions for ways to attack the file management problem. So I should probably get on that, but I would like to meet with the IT staff first to see what I'm working with when I make my suggestions.

    So I had to suck it up and call the properties manager/IT guy in addition to my three emails. "I'd like to meet with you to talk about what I'm going to be doing here and the projects I'll be working on... in addition to getting my laptop on the network," I informed him. "Um, I can probably meet you sometime tonight," he told me, which was the same thing he'd said two days ago. "I'll call you tonight."

    I did not hold my breath.

    I did pretty much nothing all afternoon - I looked at one of the websites I'm supposed to be redesigning, but didn't write anything up about it because I have nowhere to save anything I write. Mostly I just bothered people in the Great Satan as they arrived at work. Sigh... I feel guilty about not doing work, but at the same time, there's not much I can do at this point.

    I got hungry after a while, so I excused myself as all of my American friends went to lunch and I went to make myself dinner. I made myself pasta with sautéed onions and mushrooms and some cheese sprinkled on top. It was lovely, if I do say so myself. I was invited to join two other interns in watching Friends, so I brought my dinner along to the TV room and we watched the next-to-last episodes of Friends and Will & Grace, which Eirlys' mom had taped and sent to her.

    After some rude students asked us to give up the VCR for them, the other interns were going to go back to their house, on the other end of campus. I had to put on shoes instead of slippers, so I told them I'd be along after I did that and checked my email. I went to the computer lab, read my new messages and put off replying until later. Then I tripped along to the back garden behind La Maison, where most of the other interns lived. The two interns I'd seen before were there with a couple of guys from New Zealand. I kept waiting to be introduced or to have it explained what they do there, but by the time I realized an introduction wasn't coming, it was too late to introduce myself. So I never felt comfortable in that situation, even though we had some interesting conversation and my shy self even contributed a little bit. And I was also being eaten alive by bugs. So when they said they were going to the bar, I excused myself to go back to my room and finish my book. I know I sound like a nerd, but I was already uncomfortable in the situation and I didn't really want to drink with them.

    I read for about 45 minutes, then I decided to go back to the computer lab and respond to my email before my friends left work. As I left the door to my building to walk across the yard to the computer lab, I ran into one of the interns and had to excuse myself from the bar again. "Um, I'm actually going to check my email."

    "Haven't you been on the computer all day?" she asked, cajoling.

    Sigh... yes, I have. And I'd be on my own computer in my room, if I could be! Then I wouldn't have these awkward situations of having to repeatedly turn down invitations to socialize.

    I emailed for a while and as the sun went down, at one point the properties manager/IT guy came into the lab with the new IT intern, to show him some of the hardware. He saw me sitting at the computer and invited me to look at it, too. I looked and pretended I knew what I was looking at and tried not to be too much of a feeb so that they would like me. I don't think it worked. I don't have an IT vocabulary and I'm not very good at faking it. He pretty much told me it was laughable to imagine that I would ever have wireless access in my room (so much for 'wireless access from anywhere on the grounds'... maybe they just mean outside) but that someday he would configure my laptop to work on the wireless network. In the meantime, he gave me an ethernet cable so that I could connect that way.

    I was very excited and went back to my room to collect Isidore. I brought him over to the computer lab, plugged him in, saw that a Local Area Network connection had been made, started up Internet Explorer and... nothing. The network registers, but I can't do anything on the Internet. Grrrrr. My hopes were quite up, too, that I would be blogging by tonight. I also found that the wireless network shows up as connected when I am close to the router, but again I can't access the Internet. Maybe it's an authentication issue I can get worked out quickly... so I can blog from somewhere, even if it isn't my bed.

    I went back to the computer lab computer and chatted on AIM until late o'clock then came back to my room. The door was locked, so I put the key in the door but I couldn't turn it. It turns out that because one of my roommates had locked the door from the inside and left her keys in the door, I couldn't turn my own key. So I had to knock on the wall into Becky's room and wake her up to get into the room. :(

    –––––
    * "I am, I said, to no one there. And no one heard at all, so I ate a pear."

    srah | 7:15 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: baguette, beckyb, cell phone, internship, isidore, neil diamond, sandwich, tea, the abbey

    Tuesday is Chooseday

    [Alrighty, masses, here is a little something to placate you while Isidore is still not hooked up to the network...]

    Would you rather...

    1. wear the same underwear for a week OR not bathe for a week?
      Yechhhh. But a decision had to be made.
    2. eat a plate full of boiled earthworms, covered in gravy OR fried bird feet with a tangy teriyaki glaze?
      Um... I love gravy with an undying passion... but the earthworms horrify me. And the fancy glaze might distract somewhat from the texture.
    3. drop your wallet and keys in a thick patch of cacti and have to dig in to find them OR play dodgeball naked?
      Erm... the not-naked one.
    4. get caught spitting in your boss' coffee OR mooning your neighbor?
      Um, depends on the boss. Because it's not so much about getting caught as being able to do it in the first place. *dreams*

    srah | 9:25 AM | TrackBack
    Tags: memes

    June 8, 2004

    'I live like a monk in an abbey...'

    My alarm went off at some point this morning, around 8 or 8:30. Whether it was because I've trained myself not to be woken by the alarm or whether it was because I was exhausted... for some reason, I didn't wake up for at least a half-hour after the alarm went, realized it had been going off for a while, felt guilty in regards to my roommates and turned it off. I went back to sleep and didn't wake up again until 11:45. So, having gone to bed at 10pm the night before, I managed to get myself fourteen hours of sleep, which did wonders for making up all of the sleep I didn't get this weekend.

    I walked around the grounds a bit, but it was quite hot and I was overdressed. It's been so cool in Michigan lately, that I assumed when packing that it would be the same in France. Apparently it is the same in France, because last I heard, it got up to the 80s in Michigan as soon as I left. I think the next tank-top I see will have to become mine.

    In the afternoon, after I finally had a shower and felt clean and rested, my roommate Caroline and I had our orientation meeting. We signed a million waivers so that if the Abbey falls on our head, we can't sue. :( So much for that plan to actually make some money...

    The best part of the meeting was when we were talking about my job description and the tasks I would be taking on while here. Every time we talk about it, I understand my job a little better, so that's useful. But this time, my Detroit supervisor - who came over to France at the same time as me and was sitting in on the meeting - described Human-Computer Interaction and Information Architecture to the interns supervisor here. It was great because it saved me from explaining it yet again (something I've already spent plenty of time doing both here and at home), because I found out that she'd actually been paying attention and listened to my explanations that I am not IT and don't know anything about hardware or networks, and because she made what I can do sound so interesting and valuable and not the constant disappointment I seemed to be at the Detroit office. When she mentioned organizing the company's information structure (in terms of file storage, etc.) the office manager's ears perked up because it was a project she'd been meaning to take on but hadn't had time for. I actually feel like I will be useful to the company over here, in a way I never felt in Detroit...

    At this point, I was starving and I still had no food because no one had made a trip to the grocery store the night before (and I didn't know the way myself). I tracked down Anca, who had been introducing me around yesterday and had mentioned something about such a trip. She said she was going to go at 4:30, so we rounded up Caroline and left. I had hoped to run down to our tiny local shop to get some iced tea or a candy bar or something to tide me over, but there wasn't time so I ended up going on a completely empty stomach.

    One of the things I missed most about France was the food, so being let loose in a French grocery store on my first day here and on an empty stomach probably wasn't a good idea. I had to buy myself all of the things I missed, walking down every aisle and grabbing everything that caught my eye instead of being organized and buying only what I needed. It didn't help that I wasn't sure how often we would be going to the store so I felt like I had to stock up. As a result, I ended up buying things like tortilla chips and salsa - anticipating my longing for food from home before I had a chance to long for it.

    I knew this was going to be a problem even before I left, but I ended up buying a cartful of groceries even though kitchen space is limited. We have one kitchen (with two refrigerators) that we share with any student groups in the abbey, a tiny kitchen of our own that also houses washers and dryers (so it's constantly hot) and an additional refrigerator in another laundry room. I have my own shelf in the interns' kitchen's refrigerator, but there is no storage space for non-perishables, so I ended up bringing them back and storing them in the display case in my room (which used to be part of the abbey's museum). It feels a little strange, as though I were trying to show off my soup mix packets and cereal, but it works.

    By the time I did all of this shopping, I was too tired and hot to do anything special so I made a salad with carrots and mushrooms. The kitchen is a little understocked in terms of kitchen implements, so I had to peel carrots with a butter knife and make my salad in a tiny soup bowl. It was tasty but certainly small. I also had Petits Suisses (fromage blanc) for dessert. It was so nice to see my beloved again...

    After dinner, my other roommate Becky and I took her recyclables to the recycling bins and went for a walk around town. We talked about travelling around France and I told her the latest Abbey gossip, which I'd heard at some earlier point in the day: last night had been the first night for a new student group and the last night for an outgoing one, so of course the stupid kids went out and got drunk. Then they got in a fight. In the morning, our properties manager had to clean up not only blood, but also a pile of - um... feces that someone had left behind. Ugh! How do you do that? If I had at all considered associating with students, I think this turned me off completely. I think I've told everyone the story of Rob's shoes now, though.

    After we got back from our walk, I went to the computer lab and bothered everyone back in the US at the end of their work day. As the sun went down, the bugs started coming out in full force. They are numerous and various. There are some tiny little gnat-like flies that will just fly into you and stay on your shirt (but they're out all day long - not just at night), some larger, noisy horseflies, moths and I even had a dragonfly land on my computer monitor and sit there for a while. But I ain't never seen an elephantfly.

    srah | 5:35 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: the abbey

    June 7, 2004

    Better as the evening goes on

    My "roommate" (three of us have connected rooms) and I bonded over our lack of sheets or towels, then she found some for both of us and we went to dinner and had french fries*. Things are looking up.

    –––––
    * ha!

    srah | 3:56 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: the abbey

    'Timid and shy and scared are you of things beyond your ken'

    Well, I'm here. I sort of have a room to myself, it seems, although there are actually three rooms connected and everyone in the other two rooms has to walk through mine to get to theirs. My room is in the part of the abbey that was a museum at one time, and as a result there are three glass display cases within my view right now. I should get some shrunken heads to put in them.

    Another intern has shown me around a bit, so that I know the general area of where the shower is, but not which specific door to look behind. But then again, I also know that I forgot to pack soap OR a towel, so I will have to be creative with the washing and drying of myself until I am able to get to a store.

    I know that there are refrigerators for us to store food in, but I also know that the only grocery store I have found closed as I was walking past it, so if I want to eat dinner tonight, it will probably be a solitary café meal.

    I have met people, but I am too sleep-deprived to remember names and faces together, except those of the IT guy, who told me he could get me on the network "probably tomorrow night or something." I am homesick and emotionally fragile and I want to blog! Tomorrow night is a million years away!

    I have no sheets on my bed. Was I supposed to bring sheets? Who do I ask about sheets? Shall I just sleep on top of the duvet, like I did for my nap? Then all of the traffic flowing through my room will be able to see me! I kind of just don't want to deal with finding sheets right now, though.

    I'm just outside of my comfort zone right now. I'm far away from home and confused and disconnected and exhausted. I'm sure it will work itself out soon, but in the meantime, I am hungry and dirty and lonely and tired and rather tear-moistened.

    srah | 11:20 AM | TrackBack
    Tags: the abbey

    Does Baby want some attention-wention?

    I have not yet sortied Isidore from his pochette. I am terrified of draining his batteries and I keep hoping that sleep will be an alternative option. So much for Sims All The Way To France!

    srah | 4:22 AM | TrackBack
    Tags: isidore, travel

    Also thinking in the train from Paris to St Pierre des Corps

    What the hell kind of name is St Pierre des Corps? Saint Peter of the Bodies? And why do I have to wait an hour and a half for a train I will be on for 20 minutes?

    And where are all of these Americans coming from? I haven't really spent long stretches of time in France during the summer, but is this normal? Is it because of the D-Day anniversary? Is it because this is the Loire Valley? It's frightening!

    srah | 4:20 AM | TrackBack
    Tags: travel

    Back to the Future

    For the benefit of I Don't Know How The Hell To Change It And I Don't Really Care, the next two and a half months will be brought to you in glorious Eastern Daylight Time. If you care to, you may add six hours to posted times in your mind and understand that I do not, in fact, blog at 3am.

    Or that if I do, it will say 9am and you will think it's perfectly normal.

    It's so ker-aaaaaaaaaaazy in The Future!

    srah | 3:16 AM | TrackBack
    Tags: travel

    What I'm thinking in the train from Paris to St Pierre des Corps

    Headache. So tired. Have no cash. Have a plug converter (finally). Should have bought more damned postcards in Paris. Darnit. What am I going to eat for dinner tonight? Do I have email? They should have free wireless access in TGVs, for no reason other than 'I said so.'

    Headache. So tired.

    srah | 3:13 AM | TrackBack
    Tags: travel

    June 6, 2004

    Travel fashion tips

    Note to self: When you are going to spend the day travelling on airplanes and removing your shoes for security checks, do not wear white socks with ducks on them.

    Duh. Everyone knows, the blue socks with ducks on them woudl have been a much more appropriate choice, because they don't show the dirt as much.

    srah | 8:02 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: fashion, socks

    Picka Frenchatoni

    Last time I came to France, I played Spot the American. I'm now, on the plane, involved in a simplified version of the game called French or American?

    I suck!

    This should not be harder than Spot the American, but so far none of my guesses have proven to be correct.

    David Sedaris, in his infinite wisdom, points out that you should be able to tell by the shoes. Hate to disappoint, David, but this planefull seems to have had a mutual footwear-swapping orgy, or else I'm just hopelessly out of touch with modern French and American fashion trends.

    Um... don't answer that.

    srah | 7:47 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: david sedaris, fashion, france

    I'm not scared of planes but I can be made afraid...

    This was one of the last blog posts I read before I left today.

    srah | 2:56 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: travel

    Whump!

    Yar, bugger it. I've forgotten to blog before leaving. So much last-minute packing, so little last-minute sleeping. And now at least ten hours of travel time before I collapse onto my newly-ordered bed at the Abbey (or at the patch of floor where the bed would be, if it hasn't been delivered yet). Whump!

    srah | 1:34 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: travel

    Unconscious Mutterings

    So very sleepy... Here'sh shome free ashoshiations.

    srah | 1:43 AM | TrackBack
    Tags: memes, unconscious mutterings

    June 3, 2004

    Monkey in a human suit in a Suit of Power?

    I had a Real Live Grown-Up Meeting this morning. It was set up during the day yesterday, while I was at my other job, so it's lucky that I happened to check my internship email and find out about it. I ended up having to go alone to the web design firm that did one of our websites years ago, to show them the report I'd done on the usability and information architecture* of one of our websites, which I wanted them to update and modify.

    I left 25 minutes before the meeting, although the directions my supervisor gave me said that it should take 11. I knew that I would get lost and sure enough, I did not disappoint! I managed to miss my exit and got off at the next one, but I made up for it quickly and easily by heading in the general direction of the road I should have been on and actually jumping further along in the directions and taking some sort of shortcut.

    I was very nervous about this meeting, so I wore my Magic Suit of Power. I hoped that my Magic Suit of Power would make me look (more) like a Grown-Up and not the Five-Year-Old that I felt like. It would help me deal with Real Live Professional Web Designers and hopefully I would be Strong and Firm and would not say "Well... I think what you did is all wrong and you suck as a human being. Unless... maybe I'm wrong. I'm probably wrong. So you just do what you do there, Mr Professional Web Designer, and I will shut my Inexperienced Grad Student Face."**

    [Are you laughing? This is a serious concern! In my line of work, I am constantly insulting people and then suddenly taking a turn for self-deprecation to try to make up for it! Maybe not to that extreme, but I when I get nervous, garbage just pours out of my mouth. It's disgusting. Anyway, back to the story...]

    So I show up in my black suit and heels and mascara and things, hoping to impress the Real Live Professional Web Designers and am met by... two twenty-somethings (possibly younger than myself) in khakis and Hawaiian/polo shirts. Seriously, what was I thinking?

    Well, the Suit of Power works its Magic even when I feel weirdly overdressed, so I was actually able to express myself - perhaps better than I am able to do here at my internship, because I was in a familiarly nerdy environment. Did they hire interns this summer? Did they want some? I was fantasizing that they had always been looking for an information architect and there I was, right there on the doorstep, looking so professional, showing them some excellent work I did... and that they would hire me away from my internship and offer me wealth and travel and academic credit and kittens and comfy chairs and I would accept and live Happily Ever After. Unfortunately, no such offer was made (maybe they'll email me the paperwork later today).

    It went pretty well, especially because they were young and webbish and I felt comfortable with them, even when I had to admit that I really didn't know exactly what my company wanted from them. We finished up, exchanged contact information for future communication, and I left.

    I realized on the way to work this morning that my gas tank was almost empty and I didn't want to go any further without filling it. I also didn't have time to pack a lunch. I remembered seeing a BP and several fastish food places while I was "lost" so I decided to retrace my steps rather than following the directions.

    I filled up on gas and then had to decide where to fill up on me. I picked Tim Horton's because our local TH only has doughnuts and coffee and the egg salad sandwich commercials on TV have been haunting me for weeks.

    They were super nice to me there. Maybe it was the Suit. One counter girl chatted with me when I said I needed a minute to decide because I'd never been to a Tim Horton's that served lunch before. Another woman was very nice when I wanted to get a combo but substitute almost everything in it. When I said I wanted it "to go," the same woman seemed disappointed and tried to convince me that I should eat it there, because WOMC was coming by for some reason and I might be able to be on the radio. Unfortunately, work called, so I had to take my egg salad sandwich, chicken noodle soup and cup of tea*** with me and avoid the siren's call of celebrity yet again. So the moral of the story is: If you are in the area, go to the Tim Hortons on Evergreen Road because I love them.

    I got into the car, turned on WOMC (never heard anything about Tim Horton's, unfortunately) and headed back to the office. I missed the 696 entrance, ended up in a 2-lane suburban area, turned around and found it again. Then I somehow managed to miss the Telegraph Road exit but didn't realize it until I passed another exit I'm used to seeing on my way home from work. "Hmmm," I thought, "Maybe Orchard Lake Road is really windy and curvy and crosses 696 twice!" No such luck. I drove all the way to Novi**** before I was able to turn around and head back.

    Anyway, back to my Last Day Of Work!

    srah | 1:15 PM | TrackBack
    Tags: work

    June 1, 2004

    Tuesday is Chooseday

    Would you rather...

    1. be trapped in a room for an hour with 15 scorpions OR one rabid dog?
      I guess it would be easier to run away from or fight off. Plus, it wouldn't crawl on you. *shudder*

    2. grow hairy palms OR go blind?
      Palms can be shaved or waxed... if I were blind I wouldn't be able to enjoy Isidore half as much.

    3. be addicted to alcohol OR gambling?
      Hmmmm. If I can be an artist and produce lots of tortured works, then sure. I don't really fancy gambling, so it doesn't seem like it would be as pleasant to be addicted to.

    4. save an old lady from a flood OR a dog from a fire?
      Human being over canine! Plus, she might leave me money in her will! Plus... hot dog!

    srah | 11:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
    Tags: memes

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