Sunday, July 30, 2006


Last weekend my family in Germany and I went to Prague. What a beautiful city! I can't wait to go back. We stayed in an awesome hotel but I think staying in a hostel would be just as fun. There seems to be a lot to do and see in Prague: a bunch of castles, churches, bars, etc. And although, it is part of the European Union, they don't use the euro, so things are a lot less expensive than in other major cities, big plus for me at the moment.

We had a leisurely weekend, however we did go on a 4 hour tour of the city. It was really informative. Back in the day, Prague was 5 cities which eventually merged into one, so each section of the city holds different charms. Each one is named and they all have a few really interesting sites.

The Jewish area was one of my favorite areas because of the cemetery. It is located on a hill, but it isn't really a hill, it is layers of bodies. They only had a limited area of space so they had to keep burying the bodies on top of each other. Supposedly, the bodies in some areas are 12 people deep. The museum in the Jewish section is very educational and interesting as well.

Even a long weekend certainly isn't enough to explore this fascinating city and I can't wait to go back. I bet it is really pretty in the winter!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

German Encore

I am visiting my cousin, his wife and their toddler in Germany for the next two weeks so my posts will be somewhat erratic. We are going to the Czech Republic this weekend and I cannot even begin to describe how excited I am about that. I have wanted to visit Prague since I arrived in Europe and now I am finally getting to go! Yay!

I spent some of the day on an Army post and in a gym. It was fantastic! Oh, and I got to buy running shoes, Jello, deodorant, and macaroni and cheese. I felt like a kid at Disneyland. I miss the U.S.A. I think I might get the flag tattooed on my forehead

Weirdness Becomes Me

The other day my friend Marion helped me look for apartments (again). We basically searched ads all day and she called the places for me. Trying to find an apartment is emotionally draining and Marion did most of the work, so I would like to take this space to give her a big, virtual high-five; Marion, you are the greatest!

After spending all day doing this, I got in the metro system (the bowels of Paris) to do the long ride back to my ghetto. In Auber, one of the large stations, an old, wealthy looking woman asked if she could pass with me through the turn style because she was fat (her words, not mine). I thought this was really strange, but she was old and I was tried, so I let her. She kissed me three times for letting her pass and said, “Grazie, Thanks, Merci.” Then she started talking to me in English, which was terrible, and told me she was a teacher of “diplomat babies” which I assumed meant children of diplomats. I didn’t really believe her or understand her much, but she was old and was holding my hand so I was sort of stuck with her. There were some stairs and I decided to help her down the stairs.

I have a heart necklace I wear often. It isn’t expensive but it was expensive for me when I bought it and I love it. The old woman saw my necklace and touched it and said, “Someone has your heart.” I said yes because I didn’t feel like getting into the whole relationship talk with a woman I didn’t know. Then she asked me if I had babies and I said no because I hate children. She slapped me. Just in case you didn’t get that, A TOTAL STRANGER SLAPPED ME for saying I hate children. Then she kissed me again and pinched my cheek.

At this point, I was a little worried I was going to get my pocket picked because the situation was so bizarre. She told me about being a Jewish woman and said she didn’t want to be Jewish anymore and then kissed me again. Then she asked me what I did and I told her I was a teacher so she kissed me some more. She started talking about religion once more and asked me what I was and I said, “I am nothing,” and she slapped me again. This slap was also followed by more kisses and a cheek pinching session.

Finally, I was able to pull myself free of her grip and run away. I really think she was just a lonely old woman, but I am beginning to think this southern politeness thing is for the birds. The only reason I helped her and spoke with her is because I was raised to respect my elders and I think after this experience, I will let someone else respect them. I don’t want to sound like a big baby, but she hurt me! My cheeks really stung for hours after those slaps and pinches. And for what? I didn’t get my pocket picked or anything; it was just a really crazy occurrence.

I don’t think I would mind the fact that my life is obviously marked by the powers that be to entertain others, I just wish it wasn’t in comedy form. Even as I type this, I still can’t believe this happened; however, if somebody were to predict this farce and tell me that it would happen to someone in my life, I would automatically know it would happen to me and I think all of my friends would know that I would be the one to endure it too. Why can’t my life be cool instead of goofy?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Bastille Day 2006

National Assembly building decorated for the 14th of July.

I have not been posting a lot recently because I did not have many positive things to say. After the last few posts and out of consideration for my French friends, I swore to myself I would write something positive about France or French people in my next post. Nevertheless, it has not been the easiest thing to do; mainly because I am looking for an apartment and it seems like it is going to be impossible to find one. For those of you who do not know, I signed another year contract with my university, but if I cannot find an apartment by September, I will be coming back to the U.S. So American friends, start getting your spare rooms ready! The longer I look, the more I feel coming home is highly likely.

Planes flying over Champs Elysees with the colors of the flag. I couldn't get the blue.
Anyway, I have not been feeling much love for France or the people and I do not want to complain every time I post so I just decided not to write about the two crazy, scary experiences on the metro, or the guy who took my picture WITHOUT my permission, or all of the insanity around Zidane. I am getting ready to go to Germany for two weeks and I think this visit, followed by another two weeks in the South of France, is really well timed. Hopefully I will come back with a better attitude.

I feel sorry for these guys because their berets look so stupid.
But for the time being, I do have a few positive things to say. First of all, yesterday was Bastille Day and Paris was alive with people, parades and fireworks. I got to Paris around 9:30 and stood behind a ton of people to see all the military personnel march down Champs Elysees. I expected a little more from the air show than just planes flying in formation, but overall, it was a nice experience. I stood next to a man who kept letting me stand on his step stool so I could see. He was really nice; he told me all the names of the military vehicles in French and then told me I should marry a Frenchman. I laughed a lot at the suggestion until I realized he was serious.

Yes, that is the Eiffel Tower in the background.

I met some friends around 9 p.m. for a picnic by the Eiffel Tower and to watch the fireworks. I have to say, the show was awesome. It was fantastic seeing the Eiffel Tower turned off to then be lit up with fireworks. (I have a few videos for those of you interested). To top it all off, the weather was incredible yesterday. The worst part was getting back to the ghetto because the trains are being rerouted this weekend (not such a smart public transport move by the powers that be); it was just really crowded and slow, but not dangerous.

The second positive thing involves a church. And no, I did not burn one down. I am going to start volunteering at the American Church in Paris. Although I do not buy into organized religion (by product of being raised in the South and having it shoved down my throat everyday of my everlovin’ life by everybody, after which a person either love it or really, really, really, really, really hates it, but that is a whole other blog), I am excited about it. I think I will probably meet some nice and/or interesting people there plus I will get to help the community. My week picked up after these two things and I was able to end it on a positive note.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Last Sports Post

Shop window in the Marais. Amusing because this is a predominately gay area and I would be willing to bet the majority of the inhabitants could care less about sports.

Well the French lost in a very anti-climatic or underwhelming (semi quote stolen from my friend Dan) game. All the surprising and recent support of their fellow countrymen didn't help Les Bleus. Paris was in a state of frenzy yesterday in preparation for the game. There were tons of French flags for sale at all the clothing stands around the main metro station and everyone was dressed in red, blue and white. This massive display of patriotism is quite unnatural in France so I really liked being able to see it for a change. My friend, Marion, was less than impressed because she felt it was too little too late. I think I agree with her because nobody was cheering for France during the France/Togo match. Nonetheless, it was nice to see French people finally supporting their country.

The match itself was massively disappointing mainly because of what happened in the 110th minute. Zinedine Zidane made what could possibly be argued as the worst mistake of his career. For those of you unfamiliar with him, he is considered one of the best football players ever and French football fans hold him in a type of god-like awe. The match between France/Italy was his last game, his retirement game.

Fans outside a public viewing arena 2 hours before the game began.

Did he go out in a blaze of glory? No, he violently head-butted an Italian opponent, Marco Materazzi. Physically unprovoked, Zidane turned around and hit Materazzi so hard in the chest that the Italian player fell down. I don't care what was said between the two players, Zidane's aggressive physical attack was shocking and repulsive. I have had a bunch of nasty stuff said to me and I don't remember ever reacting with violence. Zidane ended his career with an explusion from a World Cup final game and to top it off his team ended up losing. Now he has to answer the questions of whether or not the French would have won if he had played the game to the end.

Honestly, after seeing Zidane act in such a way, it was hard to cheer for the French. I think Zidane knocked the breath out of all the French fans as well. It was like a giant balloon deflating. I think the Italians deserved to win after that incident.

Nobody seems to know why or what caused him to do this, but I think his behavior was shameful! The French commentators even said, "Why Zidane, why?" After leaving the game, he did not return to accept the second place medal or to stand with his team. A continuation of his nasty behavior, or embarrassment? Who knows, but I thought it was reprehensible to act the way he did and then refuse to come out and be with his teammates. The French fans may not want to say it, so I will: Shame on you, Zidane for disappointing your teammates and your fans.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Yes, France Really Does Hate Me

Well the French won. They will play Italy on Sunday for the World Cup. I cannot even begin to explain the atmosphere in Paris after the game yesterday. As soon as we walked out of the bar we saw a man shooting fireworks into the windows of a nearby building, people were walking around draped in flags, cars had massive amounts of people in them, on top of them, and everybody was shouting. It was a crazy, scary, exciting environment and the only thing I can compare it to is Mardi Gras.

I wanted to go to Champs Elysess but my friends and I thought it would be too dangerous. We ended up walking through the Latin Quarter and watching the people dance in the streets. We stopped to talk with a group of people around our age (mid to late 20’s) and that is where my night went south. I was talking very excitedly with the females in the group about how much I love football and how much I want France to win. They smiled at me and very rudely told me I couldn’t understand football or France because I was American and Americans cannot understand anything about football or France.

For those who read this blog on a regular basis, you know I am not a Francophile and that the French culture and the French get on my nerves. This is a prime example why I will never be able to say, “I love France.”

The French football team was the first French thing I liked immediately. Everything else I like now had to grow on me, but I instantly liked the football team and, after team U.S.A. was out, I cheered for France. I yelled “Allez les Bleus” so much my throat hurt and then I was told by French people I couldn’t understand the game, the French or anything because I am a stupid American. Thank you again France for reaffirming my belief that France houses the most unpleasant, negative people in the world.

I am not saying all French are that way, my friends never act like that, but I am afraid this type of behavior and attitude reflects a large percentage. This is also one of the reasons why I haven’t tried to learn more French; when I arrived here I was excited about speaking the language, but I ran into many people who more or less told me my French was so bad they would just speak my language. It is like they get pleasure out of making other people feel as bad as they feel. After about a month of hearing from the French that my French was intolerable, I just quit trying to speak it. I mean, after all, it isn’t as if French is the dominate language in commerce or anything and they are such jerks about it, why should I try. I know it is a lousy attitude and I want to learn the language now, but it was hard to talk myself into being positive in the beginning.

I truly believe the average French person strongly dislikes the United States and Americans and they have no problem telling an American how they feel. They will tell Americans how much they hate the American lifestyle while wearing Levi’s and Sketchers, drinking a Starbucks coffee, eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger, and listening to 50 Cent.

I could respect their attitude, whether it is deserved or not, if they weren’t so nauseatingly hypocritical about it and if they could give me a concrete reason why they feel the way they do. However, most of the time I never hear a valid reason why they dislike Americans so much, just the same old mantra of bad politics or bad lifestyle. (My friends are not included in this generalization and certainly not the whole of France, but as an expat living here, this is how I see the general attitude.)

Anyway, a lot of my enthusiasm died after talking to the random French folks; I realized my friends are part of my bubble and I don’t really consider them French and therefore I forget how I am really viewed by the average person in Paris. I felt like a total moron for thinking the French might actually appreciate the fact that I was trying to fit in here. It took the wind out of my sails, so to speak, and I seriously doubt I will cheer as vigorously for the French team now. I still want them to win, but I don’t want to celebrate with the French population. If I watch the game at all, it will more than likely be at a friend’s house or on my computer.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Have a Great One!

This isn't one of my photos and I kind of feel like I am cheating by using it, but I wanted to wish everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July. I wish I could celebrate! Shoot off some fireworks for me, please.

Football Fever

Another picture from EuroDisney. Did I mention how much I LOVE Disney?!

I have football fever! France beat Brazil; the number one team got beaten by a bunch of old Frenchmen. There is a real chance France might win the World Cup. That would be so exciting! Paris exploded Saturday night and I sure it will be crazy Wednesday if they beat Portugal. I cannot even begin to imagine what Paris, will be like if France wins the world cup! I have never been in a big city when a major sports event was in progress.

I really dislike the way the Portuguese play because they are such drama queens; I definitely hope France wins that game! I hated Brazil so I am quite happy France beat them. As much as I dislike many things about France, I like the way the French players are playing; they practice good sportsmanship. I do not know if this is always the case, but from what I have seen, they act very decent during the games.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Not So Scary Experience

This picture has nothing to do with the post. I took it last year in Miami. I am in vacation mode and long for a beach and it reminds me of one of my best vacations ever.

I got my hair cut in Paris yesterday. It is the first time I have had my hair cut in Paris. I got it cut once in Germany and loved it and once in one of the suburbs of Paris and hated it. I must admit, I was very worried. I don't dress up much or wear a lot of make up or jewelry, so my hair is my one object of vanity. It isn't great or anything, and I never fix it, I just like it.

The lady who cut my hair had a really funky hair cut and I wondered if she would cut mine like hers. She picked up the razor (the type they use to cut boy's hair) and cut off a huge chunk! It was horrible and the place was hot (of course) and I just keep thinking, "I am going to have to wear a hat for the rest of my life." However, after she finished my hair looked great! I am really happy with the cut!