The Girl With The Boy With The Dragon Tattoo

Drinking Breakfast On My Last Day In Paris

Drinking Breakfast On My Last Day In Paris

After returning to America, I found accepting that the world had not come to a tragic and abrupt end to be somewhat of a perplexing endeavor (hence the long absence). Not to be dramatic or anything, but, I was dead inside, however in a really captivating way that would have you considering necrophilia. I like to think of myself as a “Masochistic Narcissist” I’ve been known to seek out sadness and then allow it to consume me – but in a really cinematic and dramatically pleasing way. You know, like, really utilizing my surroundings IE: writing in front of a rain-soaked window while playing some cliché sad music in the background (At the time, I had been favoring Bastille’s ‘Oblivion’. It really emotes a strong feeling of imminent doom while at the same time – Bonus – hints at an early death) I feel like most people haven’t really tapped into their full sadness potential yet, you need to dig a little deeper; there is a darkness and despair there that you just haven’t reached. And as a troubled wise person once said: It’s never too late to give up. Because I wasn’t depressed enough during my last week, I insisted that the Belgian and I descend a couple hundred feet underground to explore the mass grave that is Les Catacombes de Paris. (There was a big group of Americans that were humming the Indiana Jones theme song the entire time.) Six million-ish skeletons buried directly under my home in Cité Universitaire. I’m a romantic, what can I say?

Line To The Entrance Of Hell

Line To The Entrance Of Hell

Murder - Suicide Selfie

Murder/Suicide Selfie

Translation: Stop! This Is The Kingdom Of The Dead

Translation: Stop! This Is The Kingdom Of The Dead

Don't Look Down

Don’t Look Down

Feeling Claustrophobic Yet?

Feeling Claustrophobic Yet? — Don’t Worry Glenn, It’s A Great Angle!

Only Slightly Unnerving

Only Slightly Unnerving

Traslation: If You've Seen A Man Sie Sometimes Consider That The Same Fate Awaits You.

Translation: If You’ve Seen A Man Die Sometimes Consider That The Same Fate Awaits You.

How I Felt Walking Around During Paris Fashion Week. I'm The Fat One In This Photo

How I Felt Walking Around During Paris Fashion Week. I’m The Fat One In This Photo

Now, I can assure you that I handled my transition back into real life with the utmost immaturity. Have you ever tried to convince a stubborn toddler that it was time to go to bed? Or more accurately have you ever needed to employ brute force with a toddler throwing a temper tantrum to put them to bed? Reality and I had a bit of a disagreement when I didn’t feel it was quite time to come back down to earth. Opportunities to literally live in your own personal dream come true don’t come along for everyone, so I shouldn’t complain about mine being over, I shouldn’t; but I’m going to. Be careful what you wish for because it just might end. Please don’t get the wrong idea; of course I love my country. It’s just that, America: It’s not you, it’s me. Paris was everything that you would hope Paris to be. Ohhh, what can it mean? Like a daydream believer and homecoming queen’s first whirlwind romance it meant that saying goodbye was the worst broken heart, like, ever (and that’s saying something because I’ve dated a lot of douchebags) My prolonged unwillingness to move on had a simple yet screaming explanation: it never actually occurred to me that my time in Paris would come to an end. Apparently any scholarly individual who is familiar with the calendar year also now believes in this newfound notion that as I understand, is called: ‘The Passage of Time’ (I don’t know what they’re trying to teach kids in school nowadays. A liberal hoax, if ever I’ve heard one.) This abstract idea that at some point the sun would consecutively raise a certain amount of times thereby marking that my time in Paris had ended. Wayyyyy over my head.

Pourquoi, moi?

Bitter Party Of One… Pourquoi, moi?

Empty, Like My Soul...

Empty, Like My Soul…

Looking back I am rather proud of the level of denial I had cultivated surrounding my eventual departure. If the mind can repress harmful moments in the past why shouldn’t it then have the ability to preemptively repress harmful thoughts in the future (That is, without the use of a DeLorean. Side note: Is the opposite of repress – wrinkle?). Just bear with me here, this paragraph makes perfect sense if you think about it like a crazy person. Every time I would stop to savor a moment or take in a view, I assume my mind was taking that opportunity to little by little build up cognitive blinders on either side of my eyes. I encouraged the blocking out of mundane momentary distractions (on top of my Adderall prescription) to better ‘live in the moment’ but I believe I was inadvertently arming myself with invisible binoculars that shielded from reminders of reality as well. So you could imagine the slightly excessive melancholy coma that I sank into with the bitter realization that I was no longer living in my euphoric Parisian Wonderland. The streets were no longer untied Chanel ribbons that upon following were met with the smell of freshly baked bread and stale urine; where appreciation for your fellow man shined through every unjustified passing scowl; and where each impeccably dressed citizen took pride in not only their appearance but also in the belittling of others for the greater good. Those were my people. That was my home. And what did I have to look forward to here…Freedom? The belief that all men are created equal and those certain unalienable rights Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are self-evident? Pssh, where is the Parisian haughty distain? Where are the French illusions of grandeur? I miss Paris…

YOPO - You Only Paris Once

YOPO – You Only Paris Once

I have stayed in contact with Glenn the Belgian, but much more so with Sigurd the Norwegian (‘Sigurd the Norwegian’ doesn’t that just sound like a Nordic fable?). So the Norwegian has been attending medical school in Poland this past year, which I suppose, yeah, is a tad remarkable and intimidating considering I couldn’t have located Poland on a map a year ago (don’t worry, today I’m confident I could point it out with only 3 or 4 guesses). Annoyingly enough he can now add Polish to his frustratingly long list of foreign language proficiencies (Oh please, get in line. I’m sure lots of other people’s number is in the double-digits as well) Sigurd spent his summer after Paris backpacking around Europe (whereas my first 2-200ish weeks back were spent wallowing in a melodramatic self-induced emo paralysis). He had written me a dozen or so beautiful letters and postcards of his travels all in French. I have tried to keep up with my French but am ashamed to admit my responses were in no way as poetic as his. Everyone who has seen these postcards is certain he’ll be an amazing doctor (besides each of them being in a foreign language) because no one else can decipher his handwriting.

In the past year we’ve exchanged a couple thousand emails. Lucky for me Poland is nine hours ahead and his brutal class schedule for the most part occurs while I’m sleeping; and even luckier for me, his none-existent sleep schedule occurs while I’m wide awake and ready to electronically complain about my day. It took a little bit of time but through my subtle use of blackmail, unbridled threats, and just your run-of-the-mill violent hostage/ransom negotiations; I was able to help him realize that the best use of his December vacation was not to return to Norway to spend the holidays with his family, but instead, obviously, to fly out to Seattle and spend Christmas with me. Le Duh! (That’s French for Duh).

Taken A Liking To A Viking

Taken A Liking To A Viking

I was sooooooo excited to see him again, I had been counting down the days foreverrrrr. The last thing I said to him before he left Poland was “I’ll meet you at baggage claim. I’ll be the tall blonde being escorted away by security for making a scene”. I was holding a sign with the timeless French phrase  ‘Bienvenue Putain’ (which means ‘Welcome Whore’) and wore a big white poufy tutu to pick him up; strategically selected because it was the closest thing I could find that resembled a wedding dress (I even toyed with the idea of writing ‘Just Friends’ on my car’s back window. Of course I’m probably kidding, but, I digress…) I knew none of this would even faze him because our friendship was founded on me going out of my way to try to freak him out.

A Very Benson Christmas

A Very Benson Christmas

Get Sleazy For Ron Weasley

Get Sleazy For Ron Weasley

A couple weeks before I had flown to France I went to see a psychic just for a laugh. I was expecting a lot of foggy predictions or just various fortune-cookie catchphrases being theatrically voiced aloud. But to my surprise he ended up being strangely, frighteningly, correct about a lot of things – one of them being my current health predicament. He went off on a lot of spirited tangents that my A.D.D. inflicted mind couldn’t always follow but one sentence that stayed with me was the phrase “You are the Princess before the Dragon” (Whatever the eff that means?) The week before I met Sigurd I had been complaining to my friend Logan, who is a Classics/Legends/Mythology major about my numerous ex-boyfriends’ shortcomings. Logan told me that I needed to meet a guy like “Siegfried”. Alright, but, um, isn’t he gay? No, not that one. He then told me the Germanic legend about Siegfried – How he slayed a dragon and walked through a lake of fire to save his true love. He mentioned that the story has many similar versions depending on where in Europe it was told – “For example, in Norway it’s the story of ‘Sigurd’.” (Pssh, what kind of person would name their kid Sigurd?) So when the Norwegian introduced himself I had a heart attack (If there are any 13 year old girls reading this – it was just like living in that classic Demi Lovato song). And when he started talking about the dragon tattoo (not actually lame) that he was going to get I had another heart attack. After we started hanging out we watched the film ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ at his suggestion (Which was fun to watch a movie so historically accurate based in his homeland. It’s crazy to think that just a few centuries ago at his age he’d have already slain, like, a dozen dragons. But, I digress…) Anyways, the psychic, and Logan for that matter, sort of predicted that I was going to meet him. Poor thing, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.

Sleepless In Seattle - 40th Floor of The Westin. 12/27/13

Sleepless In Seattle – 40th Floor of The Westin

The Ferris Wheel

The Ferris Wheel

Clearly America had been just as excited for his arrival as I was because every other article of clothing in fashion had some Nordic-inspired pattern (I bought quite a few of these items just so I could casually throw on a quintessential Norwegian sweater and be like, yeah, I’ve always had this); the obnoxious song ‘What does the Fox Say?’ written by Norwegian brothers had just gone viral; and thanks to the release of Disney’s ‘Frozen’ a few weeks before it seemed like everywhere you looked Norway had a peculiar yet very well-timed omnipresence. My nieces Maddie and Emma were obsessed with the film, so for Christmas I gave them both dolls of the main characters (Just what you’ve always wanted, your very own Norwegian man) along with the advice: Everyone is entitled to one Norwegian, so use it wisely.

I had a thousand things planned and took him around to all of the obligatory Seattle tourist spots. And because I was so full of the Christmas spirit in addition to my already magnanimous charitable nature, I lied and drove us to a rock climbing gym so he could get his bro on instead of having to sit through the Nutcracker ballet. Attention Readers: Prepare your best flabbergasted expressions… I actually participated! (What! Yeah, you read that correctly.) Climbing walls are difficult for me but not for the reason one might expect; the technical aspect is actually pretty easy thanks to my ridiculously long monkey limbs (Oh the irony, this is a skill I’d happily trade because I have no desire to utilize it). The difficultly lies strictly in vanity, in your mind’s awareness of what your body looks like while performing the exercise – you have to pose the whole time! The gentleman that you’re with has no choice but to stare at your backside in order to direct you to the next peg; therefore you need to be cognizant of whether or not it’s a flattering angle, on top of the actual climbing portion of the experience. Not to mention the strain of trying to keep a relaxed expression on your face. It was fun but it’s not something that I crave the way he does. Sigurd is to climbing as Kelly is to wine (and whining, for that matter).

How Sig Broke His Leg

When In Doubt, Sigurd It Out

I Look Like I'm Swimming In A Sea Of Sperm

I Look Like I’m Swimming In A Sea Of Sperm

Sig Bro-ing Out

Sig Bro-ing Out

Have you ever found yourself in Ballard fretting over not having met your Norwegian quota for the day? Might I suggest hitting up ‘Bergen Place Park’ named after Bergen, Norway; one of Seattle’s ‘Sister Cities’ and Sigurd’s hometown. According to The Google; the park was dedicated on October 19th 1975 by none other than King Olaf of Norway to validate the connection between our two cities. This goes without saying but the only rational conclusion one can draw from this is that by International Royal Decree: Sigurd and I were meant to be together 13 years before either of us were even born! I mean, it’s like a law, it’s on a plaque! There is also a store in Ballard next to the Nordic Heritage Museum called ‘Scandinavian Specialties’ where I stocked up on Gudbrandsdalsost (A delicious Norwegian cheese that he had let me try while in Paris) along with every holiday-themed Norwegian item that I could fit in my car. I was trying to integrate a little bit of his culture into my family’s holiday traditions (which, let’s be honest, primarily consist of Ping-Pong, passive aggressive comments, drinking, and an endless palpable silence while washing dishes). While there I came across a baby onesie that read ‘Made in America with Norwegian Parts’ which I almost bought for my mom to open on Christmas morning.

Hey Sig -- There's Your Tattoo!

Hey Sig — There’s Your Tattoo!

Bergen Park

Norway Or The Highway

Norway Or The Highway

As far as his Christmas gift was concerned I wanted to find something that was classically elegant yet disturbingly creepy. His favorite pastimes are still camping and rock climbing (Which I had been hoping was a phase. I’d rather they were wine tasting and gazing into my eyes, but whatever) I ended up having an old-fashioned silver compass engraved with his initials and the message: ‘Sigurd, you would be lost without me. – Kelly’ (I know, so clever. And it’s the perfect heirloom to pass down to our grandchildren). Mind you that was not the first phrase I came up with, I also wanted to use: ‘You can run but you can never hide from me’ and ‘No matter what happens, I will always be following you’.

Encompassing My Love (Mad Props For That Pun!)

Encompassing My Love (Mad Props For That Pun!)

I had warned/threatened the family before he arrived that no one was to solicit free medical advice and I never once wanted to hear the phrase ‘Hey Sigurd, does this look infected to you?’  For the most part everyone behaved themselves, I mean, everyone still spent a majority of the time trying to embarrass me but despite this, miraculously, I only regretted inviting him 7 or 8 thousand times. The worst moment was when all twelve of my ‘Family’ (angry air quotes) started singing Christmas carols at the table. Of course he loved it because he’s an asshole and will always revel in my humiliation (though I am the same way, which is why we’re sooooooo compatible). Instead of participating in the joyous singing I just stared at my steak knife contemplating whether or not to take myself or both of us out.

The little girls loved him and were forever running up to show him the pictures they had drawn on their IPads (Pssh paper is so passé to kids these days). Now because I am a mature adult I wasn’t jealous that he was playing with them and not me (hehe I can’t even type that with a straight face), though on a primal level the three of us were constantly at odds for his attention but they had the advantage. Apparently it’s not ‘socially acceptable’ every time he’d walk into the room for me (as a 20-something) to jump up and down, gleefully yell, and hang on his legs like a child when their father finally gets home from work in the evenings.

Kelly, You Need To Learn How To Share

Kelly, You Need To Learn How To Share

He’s my best friend but we know that we aren’t the people who could make each other happy in the long run – the simple fact being that we would kill each other. We are too similar and yet have nothing in common at the same time. I feel like it all comes down to how you want to spend your Sunday morning: He’d like to wake up early and hike that mountain, whereas I would like to wake up early and do anything but hike that mountain. Not that the thought of dozens of red-headed children wreaking havoc and swearing at me in Norwegian hasn’t crossed my mind; but I’d say we have more of a brother/sister relationship in the deep south of Louisiana than a lasting platform for breeding. Let it be known that this awareness doesn’t mean that I’m emotionally evolved enough to not put a gypsy curse on whomever his eventual bride turns out to be, bitch.

Yeah,  I Cropped My Sisters Out Of This Photo. What, Is That Bad?

Yeah, I Cropped My Sisters Out Of This Photo. What, Is That Bad?

 

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French With Benefits

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Random Access Memories

Random Access Memories

The Belgian and I shared something very special and imagined connections like that must be cherished as they do not come along very often. When we met I saw the spark of something magical behind his eyes that I knew I had been searching for all along… Striking emotional unavailability with suppressing baggage sprinkled on top. It was like my very own dysfunctional relationship dream come true; no sub-conscious sabotaging required, all of the work was done for me! And in that moment I became Wile Coyote and before my eyes his unreachability transformed from the Road Runner into a perfectly plated Thanksgiving turkey. Finally someone I could emotionally smother with all the force behind a middle child inferiority complex; and then just as quickly disengage the second reciprocal feelings were met… We were a perfect match. It was then that I knew I could be the one to make him very happy for a very short period of time. I estimated roughly a week and a half – which would still be one of the longest relationships I’ve been in where the other party was also aware of the relationship.

How To Train Your Belgian: Step One - Get Him To Carry Your Crap

How To Train Your Belgian: Step One – Get Him To Carry Your Crap

Quite Possibly My Favorite Photo Of All Time - My What Big Teeth You Have

Quite Possibly My Favorite Photo Of All Time – MY What Big Teeth You Have

It’s all just part of my process: At approximately the 5 day mark I can’t stop obsessing over how much you’re probably thinking about me (which isn’t necessarily bad, it just means that I have lots of things to talk to my plants about). At one week I’ll make a tragic error in judgment that will take months for me to realize the consequences of. Society can be so petulant sometimes; they seem to think that the line between admiring girl and creepy stalker is thinner than it actually is (I don’t care what they say, too much of a good thing can be wonderful and you can’t put a restraining order on my heart, but I digress). Around day 8 I no longer quell my crazy and will ignore any and all interventions from concerned members of my social groups. And then finally rounding off the relationship at around day 10; when I begin to lose touch with the unrealistic vision I have made of him and will begin the withdrawal procedures. We did have a great run though and because he used to be a Belgian DJ this is the first time I’ve been able to weave dubstep into a dramatic breakup mix. The come down isn’t bad, it’s just that sometimes don’t we all miss having a failing relationship to complain about? Quel Dommage. Don’t worry, I’m not actually crazy, my parents have had me tested several times; I am merely a product of my upbringing so you should take it up with them.

Belgian Swaffle

Belgian Swaffle

Glenn was in Paris for an internship at Science Po, a Parisian university in the Latin Quarter before his Master’s program begins in September. After my afternoon classes ended I would take the 4 line at Saint Sulpice near my school to Saint Germain Des Pris, where we would meet for lunch everyday at the same bench in front of the Louvre along the Seine (even during the floods). The views were beautiful and every 10 minutes a boat full of waving tourists would go by feverishly taking photos of our Parisian lunch date of baguettes and fromage (But I’m used to this kind of attention, cause I am the most famous person I know).

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There is a famous bridge in Paris called “Le Pont Des Arts” where lovers from all over the world come to leave a lock representing their undying love for each other. After its secured they then throw the key into the Seine, therefore vowing their eternal commitment. Adorable, right? Well, this particular activity was on the top of my Parisian To-Do list from the start, and I only had the small task of finding an eternal partner to share it with (and if I ended up having to pay a homeless man, so be it). I knew right away this would be too cheesy for the Norwegian to ever agree to. So when he left France for a class ‘to enrich his future’ or whatever (which was such a missed opportunity for the backlog of Norwegian Wood jokes I had still yet to make) and Glenn came into the picture I immediately started plotting how I could trick him into vowing his everlasting love and devotion for me. So, no I was not using him as a male place holder, per se, just as a stand in soul mate (oh come on, keep your judgement to yourself, men have used women for far worse). I chose our spot because it faced the direction of our bench (Like a trashy Peter Pan, the second garbage can on the left and straight on till morning – so we’d be able to find it again. Of course, a couple of weeks later they moved the trash bins so we were screwed, oh well, but I digress).

Pont Des Arts

Le Pont Des Arts

Toujours, Or Until I Meet Someone Else...

Toujours, Or Until I Meet Someone Else…

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Le Cadenas

La Clé

La Clé

You ThrowLike A

You Throw Like A Girl

You Throw Like A Girl

pont des arts 001 (20)

His program ended a few weeks before mine so the next weekend I took the train from Gare Du Nord to Ostende, Belgium to get to spend a few days visiting all of the Flemish friends I had made in Paris.

Gare Du Nord

Gare Du Nord

C'est Moi Selfie

C’est Moi Selfie

In Dutch - Oostende, België

In Dutch – Oostende, België

En Français - Ostende, Belgique

En Français – Ostende, Belgique

I'm Never Clingy

I’m Never Clingy

I was extremely excited to have a second chance to visit Bruges after my less than stellar first experience circling the city trying to find my lost purse in Belgium’s sub-zero February temperatures. We had also spent a majority of the day looking for the entrance to the canal rides but being that myself and my group of American friends were equal parts stupid and stubborn, we refused to ask for directions and never found it. So this time around the weather was perfect and I was among a group of people who actually knew the city, so I was finally able to take my much anticipated canal ride.

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In Bruges

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Puppy

Puppy

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The Hotel Where They Filmed 'In Bruges'... I was so stoked I almost wee'd myself

The Hotel Where They Filmed ‘In Bruges’… I was so stoked I almost wee’d myself

Trees And The Most Photogenic Girl In The World Trees And The Most Photogenic Girl In The World

An Sofie - My (Life) Partner In CrimeAn Sofie – My (Life) Partner In Crime

Jilted Lovers Or Fraternal Twins

Jilted Lovers Or Fraternal Twins

Brian, Michiel, and Emilie

Brian, Michiel, and Emilie

Emilie My Beautiful Belgian Bestie

Emilie My Beautiful Belgian Bestie

It was fun to see the Belgian in his natural habitat. We took bikes around his town of Gistel and I got to see where he grew up and went to school. Now I have a better idea of who is to blame for how he turned out. 

DJ Belgian White Chocolate (That's not really his name and he gets really mad when I call him that) hehehe

DJ Belgian White Chocolate (That’s not really his name and he gets really mad when I call him that) he he he

Pico The Bird (Like De Gallo)

Pico The Bird (Like De Gallo)

Johnny Knoxville

Johnny Knoxville

Massive Bruise On Leg Surprisingly Unrelated To Bicycle

Massive Bruise On Leg Surprisingly Unrelated To Bicycle

Blow Me

Blow Me

Tour De Belgique

Tour De Belgique

There Is Nothing Hipster About This Photograph

There Is Nothing Hipster About This Photograph

He did have the height, the accent, was supportive of my double dessert after every meal diet, and we had the unspoken understanding that out of the two of us I am the funnier one. Though it would have never worked out because he doesn’t have red hair, doesn’t possess a collection of vinyl records, isn’t the front man of an up and coming indie band, and has never been mistaken for Hayden Christensen. I shall always treasure the fictional person that I made him out to be in my mind, and I will miss the way he never paid as much attention to me as I rightfully deserved. We’ll always have Paris… (awwwww, so cute!)

concert8

Driving Me Crazy

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Surreptitious Selfie

Stealthy Selfie

My program hosted a surprise event for our group the other night. Forty-three vintage cars and more importantly forty-three identically dressed twenty-something French chauffeurs (in classic navy and white striped mariners) were lined up at Place De La Concorde waiting to take us on a special tour of Paris. Our Directrice gave us all a quick but strict talking to – IE: “Don’t stand up and stick your head out of the sunroof!”  – before setting 120 boy-crazy girls and a handful of equally boy-crazy guys loose to, in her word’s ‘select your car’, though it was quite obvious that the passion mobilizing the feverish mob forward had nothing to do with the color we ended up with. We were racing to have first pick of vehicle based solely on the attractiveness factor of the driver. When European gentlemen are involved my body can tap into a primal fight of flight response similar to that of a mother accessing impossible strength to pull a car off of her baby. Being six feet tall does have certain advantages, I have long arms that can ‘accidentally’ shove and elbow individuals of lesser heights out of the way (in the past this has come in handy when catching bridal bouquets, but I digress…) I was leading the pack with impressive speed considering the none-existent leg mobility my high-waisted pencil skirt provided (I imagine my legs looked like a set of disposable chopsticks being wiggled at the bottom while still connected at the top). With the help of my covetous driven heightened senses, I could rate each of them from great distances without needing to slow my sprint to properly appraise each driver – too short, too 90’s Boy Band, too Euro-Trash, not enough Euro-Trash, until I found him… I knew it was fated because he was the only one in the line-up wearing a John Lennon hat *swoon*. His name was so French, so magical, so fitting and perfect, it just rolled off the tongue… Phil.

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Apparently the cars were fifty years old, which is just crazy because who was even alive that long ago? They also were special for like other reasons as well, maybe something having to do with the gears or whatever? I don’t know I was more focused on his profile when he spoke during the car discussion portion of the tour; but I can tell you that Phil lives in Montmartre but was born in Cannes, and is currently going to school for cinema production. The ride was a lot of fun, in addition to this being the first time in four months I had been in a car, the front seat was quite cozy because apparently 50 years ago munchkins ruined the earth and both of our legs had no choice but to nearly touch. A distance that I made sure grew ever smaller with every justifiably sharp turn. Paris is of course beautiful, but it is also my backyard so instead of taking in the sights like a tourist I spent the majority of the ride surreptitiously taking selfies with him in the background while kindly correcting most of his sightseer facts. So what if I just happen to know that the famous Existentialists John-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were buried together at Le Cimetière du Montparnasse and not Le Cimetière du Montmartre as he had just stated? It’s not my fault that a few days before I had found myself at Le Cimetière du Montparnasse where an overly enthusiastic gravedigger insisted on giving me an exclusive tour (And yes, maybe I do frequent a few too many cemeteries, but hey, everyone needs a hobby) He tried to keep the conversation professional and focused on the tour but I couldn’t help but interrupt him with more pressing questions like: What’s your favorite color? What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Do you need me to star in one of your movies? And so on… Our final stop was La Grande Mosquée de Paris, where we had an amazing Moroccan feast.

Blah, Blah, Blah... Just Look At That Beautiful Jawline

Blah, Blah, Blah… Just Look At That Beautiful Jawline

Shifting Gears

Shifting Gears

Le Panthéon

Le Panthéon

Pont Neuf

Pont Neuf

Grande Mosquée de Paris

Grande Mosquée de Paris

Awkward Prom Photo With One Of The Boy-Crazy Guys

Awkward Prom Photo With One Of The Boy-Crazy Guys

Go Home Camera, You're Drunk

Go Home Camera, You’re Drunk

Natan AKA Aladdin

Natan AKA Aladdin

Moi, Christina, et Anna. Photo Phil-ter

Moi, Christina, et Anna. Photo Phil-ter

Alas, Phil was not my one true love, c’est la vie, mais all is well because a few weeks back I befriended a Belgian. His name is Glenn (yet another exotic European name) and he is very kind and very tall. (In the past I’ve exclusively courted the tall skinnies and I have a theory that the ability to share jeans may just be the secret to happiness, but I digress). I have heard that in order to meet new people or make friends one must step out into the world and out of their comfort zone. Folks, I am here to tell you – that is a lie! I met Glenn while I was standing in my bedroom, I didn’t need to step out of my comfort zone, I merely needed to lean slightly out of my comfort zone AKA window and wave to the young gentleman standing in one of the Belgian House windows across from mine. It actually was a very fortuitous encounter; nearly every friend I had made in Paris had left that morning for Spring Break (Prague, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Cannes, blah, blah, blah) and I was morosely setting the scene for my first of fifteen sad nights alone. I can’t remember what song was playing on my laptop but being that I am the most dramatic person I know, I’m sure it was something along the lines of REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ as I contemplated jumping and moodily stared out into oblivion (Guess that’s why they call it window pane). He was with a couple friends who added my name to their House’s party guest list: Anne-Sophie (whose room it actually was) and Trees (the closest pronunciation an American could enunciate – Trace) who continued to hand me Belgian beers throughout the evening. This definitely helped to quell my nerves when they’d randomly switch from English to Dutch (let’s be honest, that language makes me feel like I am surrounded by a clan of chatty woodland elves) even in my hazy state I knew the only reason for the change was to talk about me, so I chose to believe that they were talking about how pretty I was. We have all been getting on well; I taught them how to utilize the phrase “That’s what she/he said.” and they’ve introduced a vast array of Dutch/Flemish curse words into my vernacular (True International Cooperation). 

You Had Me At Window

You Had Me At Window   —  Taken By Anne-Sophie From Her Room

Je suis très désolée for the long absence, I have been swept away by Springtime in Paris, and maybe need to up the dosage of my Adderall. 

J’espère que tout le monde est bien.

Kel

Regarde Le Ciel -- Watch The Sky

Regarde Le Ciel — Watch The Sky

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Je Déteste Tout Le Monde.

Moi, Demurely Giving The Universe The Finger.

Moi, Demurely Giving The Universe The Finger.

So, my debit card was hacked. Someone in Nigrita, Greece had quite a good time on my dime and cleared my checking account. Suffice to say, I’m slightly less than pleased. I have had to spend far too long on my massive cell phone making statements and sitting on hold with the states. My accounts will be frozen until I receive my new card from the bank, which they assured me would not be more than 10 business days… Well, that’s a relief because 11 business days in a foreign country without funds would just be ridiculous! Luckily, my loving Life Providers were kind enough to wire me some emergency cash until my account is reimbursed, for those little things like food.

After this experience I’ve come to the conclusion: If You’re Part of The Solution, You’re Not Part of Bank of America. A few of my friends took pity on me; first the cell phone, then the camera, and now my sad little life savings. So to cheer me up they brought me to a sunny café and like only true friends would – encouraged me to drink my feelings and then covered the bill. Awwww, so this is love!

Amitiés,

Kelly Lauren

April In Paris

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I Love European Men

I Love European Men

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So first and foremost * The Caption Contest * I know you have all been checking back every hour on the hour for the past 18 days, anxiously waiting to see if you’ll be the winner of the Coveted Lavender Soap!!! I must say each and every one of your entries gave me a laugh, and in my eyes, you are all winners (though maybe some more than others). Of course it would have been a slight conflict of interest had I entered a caption suggestion into my own challenge, but if I were playing – the first photo “This Smells Like Roofies” and then for the second – “Two Horses”. But enough about me, my favorite caption for the first picture was Lynne Lund’s “The First To Blink Gets No Drink”. Bravo Lynne, you slay me! The second photo caption that gave me a demonic laugh was given from the same family – Jamie Simons “You see crazy back there? I’m gonna have to slap that smirk off her face if she ever talks to me again.” It’s like I always say ‘When in Doubt, Embrace Violence’ Congratulations Ladies, you’ll be smelling Frenchy Fresh in just a matter of months!

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My camera and cell phone were stolen from my floor’s kitchen a couple of weeks back, and therefore haven’t been able to take any photos for pretty much all of April. Suffice to say I’ve been less than pleased; the camera I guess I can understand swiping, but some a-hole out there felt the need to take my program issued/hand me down/ P.O.S/brick with an antenna cell phone that was so old it didn’t even have snake. Pourquoi? It wasn’t an Iphone, it wasn’t even a blackberry, it was a crappy pay-as-you-go blockie with T9 texting that, let’s be honest, only pimps use… but, I digress. I was able to procure another 5 pound phone and my loving parents/life providers were kind enough to send me another camera, as well as a massive care package filled with all of my favorite things that do not exist in Europe like Cheese-its, Hersey’s Cookies and Cream Chocolate Bars, Butterfingers, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

I’ve felt a tad disadvantaged the past few weeks, but mainly just bitter. I have seen so many amazing things that I’ve wanted to capture but have been camera-less for – Easter Mass at Notre Dame, EuroDisney, 4 Days in Berlin, Le Ménagerie (The 2nd Oldest Zoo in the World), Le Chateau de Vaux-Le-Vicomte, Marie Laurencin aux Le Musée Marmottan-Monet, La Cathédrale du Sacré-Coeur, Montmartre, Les Jardins des Tuileries, Le Musée Rodin, Morey, Victor Hugo’s House in Place des Vosges, Le Jardin de Versailles, and my heroic struggle saving that family of 12 from a house fire. I haven’t wanted to post anything without photos and have been trying to gather pictures from other people, but being that I don’t have a facebook, it’s been a challenge.

Pussy Envy

Pussy Envy

United Nations

United Nations

The Norwegian flew back to Norwega for the rest of April to take a few courses; this wouldn’t be the first time a gentleman has crossed international borders to escape my clutches. But hey, it’s not my responsibility to reign in my enthusiasm, that’s the court’s job. I’m not ashamed to admit I knew next to nothing about the People’s Republic of Norwegistan before we met, so with the intention of not coming off as an ignorant American, I did what any inquiring mind would do and consulted Wikipedia. And don’t try to act all high and mighty and tell me you already have a vast knowledge of Norland. Apparently it’s like, north-ish and is cold-ish, and isn’t America so who really cares? Nevertheless, a very interesting thing I did come across was that his hometown of Bergen is a ‘Sister City’ to none other than Seattle! I guess we gave them a totem pole a decade or so ago, which is just so cliché on Washington’s part. Still I found this connection to be somewhat disconcerting (I mean, besides the incest bit) I can remember reading that Seattle had a ‘Special Relationship’ with Dublin as well… This leaves me no choice but to conclude that Seattle is a really slutty city. Sheesh, no respectable municipality is going to want to have a meaningful monument with you (and who knows maybe even little statuettes someday) if you keep giving out your totem poles and plaques to every strapping European city that comes a calling. Ireland and now Norway? A little sisterly advice: go for somewhere slightly closer to home. I’m not saying you need to settle for a Renton, but, you know, why not try a U.S city every once in a while?

His return and my remaining time in Paris will only overlap for a couple of weeks which is probably for the best. I mean, who would really be interested in a descendent of Vikings’ whose arms are bigger than my waist, speaks five languages, plays guitar, will one day have Dr. before his name, somewhat resembles Ron Weasley, and willingly sat through the film ‘We Bought A Zoo’ in it’s entirety without threats of retaliation? He does go on a few too many camping and hiking trips for my liking though (and not even those ‘hiking trips’ that actually translate to: drugs in the woods). Maybe it’s just me but someone whose hobbies and interests include pretending to be homeless for any period of time could be more under-medicated than I am. In a parallel universe where the world is topsy-turvy enough to allow me to reproduce, and then subsequently my spawn walking the earth doesn’t cause the apocalypse – I fully plan on using outdoor recreation as a threat and punishment for my children “If you don’t clean your room right now your father is taking you camping!”. Bien sûr, it’s not my intention to raise my offspring to dislike nature, per se, it’s more just to be wary of any gentlemen trying to lure them to the middle of the forest (aka: the scene of the crime) where no one would hear them scream. All dressed up and nowhere to run. He is a good sport and I know he’s reading this right now so – Bro, maybe you should switch up and work on lower body for a while, your calves aren’t nearly as defined as they should be. I also know that his friends are seeing this right now so – Ohh my gawwddd Siggy I miss you soooo much! I’ll be anxiously awaiting your return in the bushes outside of La Maison de Norvège! Jeg håper dette skremmer deg og gjør deg til å le.

The weather has been absolutely beautiful this week. For 2 months straight we’ve only had miserably cold gray windy rainy freezing Seattle-ish days and then pretty much overnight le printemps est arrivé. Yesterday, c’était merveilleux so to pass the time like any emotionally healthy individual would I visited a cemetery. Le cimetière du Père Lachaise is a strangely popular attraction in Paris, it’s where you’ll find the graves of Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Gertrude Stein, Modigliani, Chopin, and my favorite Mr. Oscar Wilde. denlalie 034???????????????????????????????

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Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

Speaking of Wilde – The Importance of Being Earnest was playing in Montparnasse last month and Tracy and I were able to get tickets. I knew a lot of the humor would be lost in translation, even just the title “L’importance d’être sérieux” drops the main joke of the story, but it was amazing seeing it preformed in French and we had a great night just seeing Parisians expressing emotion for the first time.

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We are going to Champagne on Saturday and then to Monet’s home and gardens at Giverny on Sunday, so fingers crossed that the sunshine continues. Blah, I have a test tomorrow morning that I can not put off studying for any longer.

I hope all is well in your land,

Kelly

A French Child's Pencil Pouch

A French Child’s Pencil Pouch

Typical French School Supplies

Typical French School Supplies

Caption Contest

Bonjour Tout Le Monde

I’m sure you are all wondering why I’ve gathered you here today –

In France, April Fool’s Day is called “Poisson d’Avril” or April’s Fish, and is similar to ours but without as many clever pranks. Over here the classic prank is to stick a paper fish to someone’s back without them realizing it; they are therefore the “April Fish”…. yeah, kinda lame… Anyways, I have been so excited for today because this site would have been the perfect platform to freak out my family on a grand scale with a bogus posting. For the past few days I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with the best story – running off and eloping with The Norwegian, or being kicked out of the program for various illegal shenanigans. But alas, lightning never struck, and I couldn’t stand behind a second-rate prank. Nothing would have bested the phone call I made to my father from New York a couple years back. I had been staying with a friend who went to school in the city and I called my parents to calmly inform them that we had been arrested for cocaine possession.  Her father had just made bail for the two of us and we now owned him $14,000. I wasn’t allowed to leave the state because I was facing felony charges and potentially looking at 5-10 years in prison. I was just making everything up as I went and it sounds ridiculous in writing, but you can just ask him – I can be quite believable on the phone. This went on for a good 15 minutes, and I just kept apologizing and asking him to please not be mad at me, and to his credit he did stay quite calm. Afterwards, as to be expected he was a tad put out, but soon said he had never been so proud!

Provence is famous for its lavender fields (my favorite!) so while I was down there I picked up a few bars of soap and handmade sachets filled with lavender. I’d like to offer these as prizes for the best caption for each of these photos. Sorry you wont receive them till June but you’ll be granted instant bragging rights! So feel free to leave a caption suggestion for one or both of these (Labeled Photo A and Photo B).

Bonne Chance!

Love K

Photo A: Logan And Moi

Photo A: Logan And Moi

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Photo B: Mona And Moi

A Day In The Life: 22/03/2013

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Mon Lit

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Mon évier.

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Ma Table, Chaises, et La Fenêtre.

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Mon Placard de Beaux Vêtements.

Wake up in the morning feelin’ like P. Diddy…

Friday Morning 8:00am (Midnight – Seattle Time)

Made tea, finished a paper in French, got dressed, and left the Fondation Des États-Unis. A short rant about my building – Every Maison on the Cité Universitaire campus has a keypad at the front door that requires a code to enter the building. The lobbies have a security guard at the front desks and yet another keypad hindering the public from accessing the dormitories. Sounds safe, right? Well the Americans have all of these amenities except for the security guard, and after living here for 8 weeks I’ve realized you don’t actually need to type in the secret code to enter, because at every hour of the day/night the doors are unlocked!

Attention Terrorists: Are you looking for a convenient way to kill 250 sleeping Americans? Are the embassies too heavily guarded for your liking? Well then the Fondation Des États-Unis is the place for you! Just fill your backpack with explosives and waltz on in like a eager student!

Anyways, back to my day – I walked across the street and took the RER-B from Cité Universitaire to Denfert-Rochereau (Pronounced Donfare-Rowsh row) from there got on the 4 towards Porte De Clignancourt. Got off the train at Saint-Sulpice and walked to the boulangerie for un pain au chocolat then to Le Instuit Catholique de Paris.

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10:00am – Practiced all of the French vowel sounds as a class in unison which sounded like some ancient pagan ritual chanting. For a minute there I thought we might be raising someone from the dead…

Everyone took turns describing popular landmarks in their home countries. One of the girls was telling us that the largest aquarium in the world is in her hometown of Okinawa, Japan; and mentioned all of the different fish and animals they have there – including the Phoque. Like English, the French pronounce the ‘Ph’ sound as an ‘F’, and ‘Qu’s as ‘K’s (I could literally and metaphorically spell it out for you, but I’m trying to somewhat resemble a lady, so just sound it out). Most of the class had been drifting off but jerked their heads to attention at the word. Someone holding back a smile asked the professor “Qu’est-ce c’est Phoque?” (What is this: Phoque?), and she just kept repeating ‘Phoque, Phoque’ as if repetition would be enough clarification, but all anyone could do was raise an eyebrow or laugh. So she tried a different approach, while continuing to exclaim ‘Phoque, Phoque!’ she bent forward, started clapping her arms and making barking sounds. I was dying. If anyone is familiar with Goldie Hawn’s film ‘Overboard’ there is a scene on the garbage scow where this same exchange takes place, had I not already known Phoque meant Seal, I probably would have wee’d myself.

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1:00pm – After three hours of French lecture I picked up a jambon et formage sandwich and sat with a few friends in the courtyard for lunch (It was good but I would punch a baby for Taco Time). The sun was out so Tracy and I walked to the Jardin du Luxembourg to lounge near La Fontaine Médicis.

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4:00pm – Tracy had an au pair interview with a family in Félix Faure, so I went with her on the 4 from Saint-Sulpice to Montparnasse-Bienvenue, where we switched to the 6 and then changed to the 8 at La Motte-Piquet Grenelle; until finally arriving at Félix Faure. We had a little time to kill so we stopped at a brasserie for a massive bol de sorbet.

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5:00pm – Tracy went to her interview and I got back on the 8 then got off at Madeleine to see L’église de la Madeleine.

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6:00pm- A few weeks back I hung string around my room so I could clip pictures/tickets/mementos up on the walls in an effort to downplay the mental institution cell vibe. Each time I have visited a new city or museum I’ve purchased a postcard to add to my magpie collection. The night before I had run out of clothes-pins so I stopped in at Monoprie (France’s higher-end Target) to pick up another pack. Every cashier had a line at least 5 people deep except for one random register in the middle with just one woman making a purchase; I looked around and didn’t see a sign indicating it was closed or anything so I just got in line after her. The second I crossed the threshold Every single person in the vicinity turned and stared at me, even the cashier, but not just staring – critically appraising every inch of me up and down. I wondered briefly if this is how Lindsey Lohan feels all the time. As I looked behind me to check that I didn’t have toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe I eyed a small sign that read “Cette ligne est réservée aux femmes enceintes” (This line is reserved for pregnant women). Yep… So I arched my back and just went with it.

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8:00pm – Strolled around the huitième arrondissement and ended up in the beautiful Parc Monceau where I experienced the lovely Parisian moment of getting caught in the pouring rain. I tied my scarf around my head like Audrey Hepburn at the end of Breakfast At Tiffany’s and hurried to find a métro (not a cat). It was wonderful and cinematic for about three minutes before the novelty wore off, then it was just freezing misery and flu-like symptoms. My trench coat wasn’t waterproof by any stretch of the imagination, my tights were soaked, and my mascara had started to run. I caught my reflection in a store window and I was sad to find I had less of a Jane Mansfield vibe than Jane’s addiction. I was able to get on the 1 at Concord, transferred to the 6 at Nation, until finally arriving at Glacière where I was meeting up with friends at Anna and Christina’s apartment for drinks.

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Living proof that if you make ‘That Face’ it will stay that way.

11:00pm – Everyone at Christina and Anna’s place went out and I headed back to Cité Univeritaire via the RER-B for the American/Belgian House Mixer in our basement. 
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The Germans

3:00am – I was able to make a few interesting friends but overall the party was kinda lame, there was the plethora of Americans using the phrase ‘hella’ and not in an ironic way. Everything was winding down so Natan, Michael, Sigurd, and I went upstairs to open a couple bottles of wine.

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The Norwegians: Sigurd and Michael (Does anyone else think that with the mustache Michael looks like Westley from Princess Bride?)

Sigurd (pronounced Sig-UR) is a very interesting gentleman, he’s originally from Norway but is in Paris studying medicine and working towards his PhD in Neuroscience in order to become a neurosurgeon (which I guess is impressive, if you’re into that kind of thing). But besides that he’s the first person I’ve encountered here who not only understands my humor, but has been very quick to counter all of my deplorable remarks with something as equally offensive or absurd. Our first interaction will make for a charming story to share with the grandkids; he needed 9 more red solo cups to start a game of beer pong, and believed an individual with certain endowments would have better luck convincing the bartender to hand them over. He therefore approached me solely because I met the bill of being female. I explained that I was flattered to be his 12th choice in a lineup of girls but because my body so closely resembled a cereal box he would fare better seeking out a curvier co-ed to do his bidding. He laughed and stuck around long enough for me to reprimand him for rocking the double denim (the unforgivable denim shirt and jeans combination, commonly known as a ‘Canadian Tuxedo’, cornering the market on the hipster-farmer look). We had a ridiculous back and forth banter that if anyone had overheard they’d quickly assume we needed to be committed.

He is hilarious but far too emotionally stable to be compatible with my co-dependency; I just don’t know how to work with that? He has yet to exhibit any signs of what I refer to as ‘Male Pattern Madness’ a checklist I’ll go through when contemplating a potential gentleman suitor. He’s also quite outdoorsy, and is into all that camping and rock climbing nonsense, which for me is just a little slap in the face from Jesus. Though on the plus side he does appear to be ‘glass half full’, which would give us a strong foundation for everyday arguments, and therefore more ample opportunities to harbor disdain. In addition to this his emotional compass does appear to always point north, a vital counterpoint to my fickle conscience, which inevitably would lead to lessened jail sentences. So maybe there is a future there after all! We’ve hung out a few times since meeting, and he just got on a train at Gare de Nord to Rotterdam for a week. This separation timeline is perfectly placed, a seven day absence is all I need to over-analyze every interaction we’ve had thus far and make something out of nothing. Knowing me, by Sunday I’ll have already made the transition from bitter cynical woman to preteen singing love songs into her hairbrush.

Ooh La la!

Love Kel

When It Snows, We Pour…

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In The Morning

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Later That Afternoon

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Midnight

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2am…

It snowed four inches the other day so I stopped at the grocery store to stock up on the essentials (tequila and bananas) because the train schedules were affected by the weather, we wanted to make the most out of our confinement so Delaney, Logan, Natan, Eva, Tracy, Lacey, Alli, Shannon, and I started drinking at three. By midnight word had spread that a massive inter-continental snowball fight had broken out in the courtyard behind La Maison d’Internationale so we ran to join in. As to be expected the Americans were at an inebriated disadvantage and were owned by a handful of very strategic Germans and an impressive group of snow virgin Brazilians. Though we were able to take down most of Latin America and parts of the Mediterranean (America eff yeah!)

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Logan And Natan

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Delaney

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Eva, Alli, Tracy, Shannon

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Delaney, Tracy, Lacey

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Quentin

I called my friend Quentin (pronounced Key-ton) who was one of the guys we met at the Belgian bar to join us. His English is about as good as my French (which is not saying much) and afterwards said ‘Thank you Kelly for inviting me to the battle of snows’. He is in Paris on a full ride scholarship to one of Europe’s most prestigious acting schools and just happens to be a famous up-incoming young actor in Belgium, as well as a preforming magician (though everyone knows that Belgian movie stars/magicians are a dime a dozen so I wasn’t that impressed) In his very thick accent he invited the girls and I back with him to the Belgian House ‘to see some magic tricks’ the humor behind this proposition was not lost on me. My original game plan was to pretend to be deaf so as to avoid unnecessary conversation and judgment from native French speakers; but Quentin is very patient and doesn’t mind when I channel Stephen Hawking and assign Google Translate to speak for me. He is starring in a new film that just premiered in Belgium and I was able to find the bande announce (film trailer) online. Top billing, pas mal!

Voleur et demi : Bande annonce

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Joseph And Quentin

There is a Scottish pub in the 11th arrondissement called The Auld Alliance that the members of my posse and I now frequent. We have become quite chummy with the bartenders and a few times a week we’ll close down the bar then head to another pub or one of their apartments until the morning trains start running again at 5:30am. I have become closest to Eliza who is originally from London and Tristan who was born and raised in Paris but moved to Scotland when he was 18 (because of this speaks English with a very thick Scottish accent… French AND Scottish… Swoon…) He is so charming that I was honored to have a 90 minute conversation with him about the merits of American vs. French professional sports, a conversation topic i’d usually consider a punishment. I happily batted my eyelashes as he informed me that the French are known for having the best canoers.

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Eliza And Moi. At some point during the night my camera turned itself on to black and white and i couldnt figure out how to switch it off...

Eliza And Moi. At some point during the night my camera turned itself to black and white and i couldn’t figure out how to switch it off

Tristan And Lauren

The Adorable Tristan (and Lauren, who unfortunately is in this photo as well…)

We took the TGV bullet train down to Avignon, Provence for the weekend, I’m not ashamed to admit there was a moment when I pretended I was on my way to Hogwarts. Quite impressive we traveled 600 miles in less than two and a half hours, c’est vrai! Sadly, my camera went into seizure mode soon after arrival, so I’ll have to pause this story until I have been able to steal photographic evidence of the trip from other members of my group. That and I have a test in 8 hours that I have been putting off studying for. D’accord, je n’ai plus d’excuses, je fini d’étudier maintenant.

Au Revoir

Kelly

My Asian Twin

My Asian Twin (Don’t Worry Lindsey Speed, I Have Not Replaced You)

C’est Toi Que Je Veux. Toujours.

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Obviously I have no way of validating it for sure but my Phonétiques professor may very well be the devil. She is one of the most deplorable people I’ve had the misfortune of being in a subordinate position to. If this were elementary school, she’d have the playground reputation of being the Meanest Teacher Ever; we’re talking Miss. Trunchbull status from the book Matilda. I heard that she eats babies and must feed off the sorrow of others in order to keep her human form, again, I have no proof of this, but it’s common knowledge in the hallways, so it’s not like I’m gossiping or anything. The ability to properly speak another language is incredibly difficult for anyone to master, and naturally it takes time and practice to teach your voice to make new sounds that are completely unfamiliar to you – this basic premise is a completely foreign concept to my professor. Her ‘technique’ is to have everyone in the class go around and say a new phrase aloud while she rolls her eyes and makes the occasional ‘suicidal gun to the head’ motion with her hands, before then begrudgingly gracing us with the correct pronunciation. This teaching method may work for some (though I can’t imagine who) but for me it is completely counter-productive; I have to hear an incorrect pronunciation repeated back to me 25 times before I’m allowed to hear it properly once, all my mind can recall is a French phrase spoken with a strong Vietnamese accent. After the third day of hearing everyone also complaining about this problem outside of class, I finally raised my hand and in the most delicate French I could think of asked if she could teach us the pronunciation before… and that’s when I was labeled the entitled American and was granted second-class status in her classroom. She no longer says my name when calling attendance, instead just grunts in my general direction before reluctantly checking me off. At first I tried to apologize because I was terrified at the thought that I had offended her, but I was put in my place and didn’t look up from my paper when I received what I can only assume was a verbal skewering (that I was quite thankful I couldn’t follow). From that point on I have taken a different approach and have been just as much of a B-Word back (sorry to use harsh letters). I’m always the first person she calls upon with a trapping question, undoubtedly with the intention of stumping and embarrassing me – though I have yet to come up short *Self High-Five* She’ll delve out a ‘très bien’ to another student’s lesser response to the same question and I’ll receive a smart remark or just ‘hummph’ after answering correctly. I’ve transitioned into the mindset that I’ll never get her to like me so, fine, I’ll meet your cheekiness and raise you a little sass. I’ve started to add innocent sarcastic taunts onto my responses as well “Pourquoi vous me regarder comme ça?” (Why are you looking at me like that?) which is a phrase I usually reserve for creepers on the subway. She seems to have a sense of humor buried under her warty vindictive exterior, because on occasion she’ll let an expression resembling ‘touché’ cross her face, I think I’m slowly gaining her respect as a formidable adversary.

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Alli and I visited Le Musée d’Orsay to see all of the Impressionist exhibits. The building used to be an old train station and was filled with incredible works of art from van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, and Degas – just to pretentiously name a few. The museum also has a large selection of early 19th century photographs; to an art history major I’m sure this was a profound avant-garde reflection of the human form through the filter of conventional existentialism – however, being the art novice that I am, it was basically just a room full of photos of naked people. I observed a mother wander into the exhibit with her young daughter clearly unaware of its contents, when the little girl immediately ran up to a black and white photograph entitled “L’hermaphrodite”. As I watched the woman’s eyes double in size I quickly leapt in front of the wall to obscure her child’s view of the questionable photo before getting too close. The woman quickly took her daughter’s hand and led her into the next gallery after gratefully whispering ‘merci beaucoup’.

Monet - Femme Avec Parapluie (Woman With Umbrella)

Monet – Femme Avec Parapluie (Woman With Umbrella)

van Gogh - Self Portrait

van Gogh – Self Portrait

– Portrait Photos Courtesy of The Google

If you’re under the age of 25 and hail from a country in the European Union all museums and attractions are free or significantly reduced. Being that America does not fall under that category, I was extremely pleased to discover that my hard-earned French student visa grants me the same status. So far I’ve crossed five museums off my list and I have yet to spend a euro! Versailles was also free as well…

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From Belgium, With Love

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We watched the film ‘In Bruges’ before taking the train to Belgium. If you haven’t seen the movie I highly recommend it, though ye be warned: there are a couple of if-y scenes. Without giving away too much of the plot, Colin Farrell’s character is stuck in Bruges and begins to believe that the city may be the closest to Purgatory one can experience while on earth. I thought all of the medieval buildings were beautiful and the beer divine, but the area was eerily quiet and strangely throughout the day no matter how far we walked or how many random turns we made, we repeatedly ended up on the same street. I can now better understand the film’s overarching theme; death may just be an eternity forever circling Bruges. It was very bizarre and felt like Hotel California (yeah, good luck getting that chorus out of your head… You’re Welcome). This suspicion was heightened when we were heading back towards the train station and I realized I had lost my purse and subsequently my passport, credit cards, residence hall key, and cellphone. Before I allowed my imagination to run wild with worst case scenarios (all including various torture scenes from Tarantino’s film Hostel) I retraced my steps and thanks to the city’s mystical magnetic pull towards deja vu, my complete lack of direction didn’t hinder me from locating the Belgian frites stand we’d had lunch at earlier. For years i have made it a habit to locate a found cellphone or wallet’s owner to build up good karma for this very situation.  I profusely thanked the server and the god of idiot tourists when miraculously my bag had been turned in and was waiting for me behind the counter.

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Anna, Myself From The Future At 40, Logan

Anna, Myself (Visiting From The Future At 40 Years Old), Logan

Speaking of Belgians… So my residence hall is located in an international student housing area known as Cité Universitaire. Which consists of 40 different buildings, representing and housing 120+ nations’ students. My building the Fondation Les États-Unis primarily consists of American students, this is comforting because everyone I live with speaks English. It is an amazing campus but located in an extremely sketchy area. Other students in my program were housed in apartments in beautiful arrodissements throughout the city; they can step outside their door and it looks like what you’d imagine Paris to look like – picturesque cobblestone streets lined with twinkling lampposts, scores of bustling sidewalk cafés and  musing street artists all wearing berets – just general french chain-smoking splendor. You walk outside of our building and you are magically transported to Detroit.  Our metro line the RER-B is notoriously the seediest (may very well stand for Rape Everyone Railroad). It is forever breaking down and attracts a more frightening crowd than the others. No one walks outside of the campus perimeter after dark without first choosing ‘Cryptes ou Sangs’ (Cryptes or Bloods) and more than once while walking home I’ve found myself humming the Elvis’ tune “In The Ghetto”. Ironically out of all the countries represented, the American House is by far the most rundown. It was built in 1930 and really hasn’t been renovated since the war (even Canada’s House is nicer than ours, which is just unacceptable people). My window directly faces the Belgium/Luxembourg House, so for the first week that i was here, the girls in my hall would drink red wine and stalker-ly watch the Belgium boys. We found them all to be strangely fascinating, almost as we were a bunch of 12 years olds at summer camp and they were from the boys camp across the lake. I even toyed with the idea of attaching a couple tin cans and string to our buildings. I finally stuck my head out the window, and started a conversation with a gentlemen who just happened to be standing there. Before I had learned his name was Jerome and he was from Luxembourg, I had already named our children.

American House

The American House

Belgium House View From My WIndow

Belgium/Luxembourg House View From My Window

All of the Houses have large common areas and bars in their basements for their residents to mingle in (Rumor has it the Mexico House has incredible fiestas in the spring). Apparently the Americans did have a bar in our basement years ago, but it has since been shut down and gutted on account of bad behavior and uncleanliness. Our ‘common room’ basement now closely resembles a crack den (not that I’d know what that looks like…) and smells like mold and misery. Not really an inviting location to meet new people. Our House’s year long probation has just been lifted (being that the drinking age is 18 here, American kids were having a little too much fun in comparison to their European comrades, who have always known 18 to be the norm) so we can now throw parties in our dungeon once again. Jerome (who was very tall and good looking) yelled from his balcony and invited myself and the gaggle of girls standing behind me to their bar where we met a handful of his friends. Out of the blue one of them asked if my friend Delaney and I swam, to which I replied yes (meaning, yes, I can keep from not dying). They then asked if we wanted to join the Belgium Water Polo Team on campus. Now anyone who has ever witnessed me attempting to play a sport/participating in anything athletic knows what a hilarious proposition that was. Seeing that I am still mastering the art of walking down the sidewalk without dislocating both of my kneecaps, I had to pass up this opportunity to shame my country. I think its safe to assume i would end up drowning either in pursuit of a ball or more likely before the game even began by tripping and crashing into the pool. I’ll just stick to watching the Belgian Water Polo Team practice…

Bonne Soirée,

Kelly Lauren

Tell Him/Her 'I Love You'

Tell Him/Her ‘I Love You’