Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Family Visit and Ireland

Random view from our daily hike from our hotel to town.

My cousin and his wife came to visit me in June and I am just now posting about it. They stayed in my painfully tiny apartment but we made do. Unfortunately being the low person on the totem pole at my job, I didn't get my requested days off and wasn't able to accompany them a lot. They went to Rome and spent a lot of time wandering around Paris by themselves.

View of the Cliffs of Moher

However, we did get to spend a few days in Ireland. Being the savvy traveller (insert laughter), I booked a flight to Dublin. We then took a bus to Galway which is on the other side of Ireland.

Castle on the Cliffs of Moher

Public transportation in Ireland isn't as advanced as other places and the trip took much longer than I had anticipated. We shared the ride with some very annoying people, but after reaching Galway, all misery was mostly forgotten.

View from the Aran Islands and proof of how green Ireland really is.

While in Galway, we took a bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher and then a ferry to the Aran Islands. I was pretty happy with both outings as they were both on my "must see" list. The Aran Island we visited was incredibly fantastic. We rented bikes and road all over the largest of the three islands. Unfortunately the weather wasn't great but the outing was fabulous none the less.

Another view from the Aran Islands.

Overall, the weather was mostly gorgeous and highly unseasonable to the point of when I asked our very knowledgeable bus tour guide if there was any extreme weather in Ireland, he replied, "Yup, this." We had four days of mostly sunny, hot weather.

Picture of Galway city center.

Because the weather was so nice, people were sunning themselves at all times. The above picture shows the place where the locals seemed to enjoy the sun the most. There was a constant "Thank God it is sunny and beautiful" celebration feel to this area with picnics and beer drinking.

Random church at sunset in Galway.

Speaking of beer....Yum! I could really get used to the Irish way of life. They are such fun-loving party goers. Makes me wish I had done a year abroad there!

Old burial grounds and view of the sandstone ground.

This might sound like a really quaint observation, but Ireland is very green. I am pretty happy with my camera but the desire for a better quality camera never hit me harder than when I was in Ireland. I just could not capture all of the beauty with mine!

A real thatched roof house.

Ireland was one of my favorite trips. I hope to go back someday. While I generally like traveling by myself, it was really great sharing the trip with my cousins. It was a first for all three of us!

Picture from a cliff on the Aran Islands. There were no bars around this ledge and people could literally jump off if so inclined. However, throwing rocks off the edge is a strict no-no as some obnoxious boys found out.

I am really glad some of my family came over to visit. I wish everyone had a chance to come. I think my cousins had as good of a time as I did!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Two Posts in Two Weeks!

Recently I went to Lille, France for a weekend with a friend. This city has a really strange history because it has belonged to different countries throughout the years. Because of this, it has some really cool architecture. Although it is the fourth largest city in France, it still has a small-village feel to it and most of the people we encountered were relatively friendly and nice. We stayed for three days but I think we could have seen everything in two days.

This photo is from the Swimming pool museum. It houses a lot of textiles and statues as well as some great paintings. It was really nice and I discovered some artists I had never seen.

Overall, it was a nice weekend away from Paris; the weather was terrible for the majority of the trip but the food and beer we enjoyed made up for the constant drizzle.

I still have to post about my cousins' trip and our visit to Ireland, but I am super busy trying to finish the book I am editing and getting ready for Romania. By the way, if anyone wants a postcard from Romania, send me your address.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Busy, busy, busy, busy. I am not complaining because I like being busy, but I haven't had time to do anything I need to do-like apply for jobs-for a long time. However, I have gone to a few cool places recently. Located outside of Paris, The Chateau at Chantilly is beautiful and is one of the places a friend (Betsy) and I visited since my last post. Unfortunately, it is not the place where whipped cream was invented like I thought. However, it is a beautiful castle where a lot of famous people choose to get married.

As a matter of fact, we saw an awful lot of brides the day we went. Overall, it is a pretty cool place, although after seeing it once there is no need to see it again. After all, it is no Chateau of Versailles

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How Do You Spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R

I have been waiting to write about the Habitat for Humanity fund raising dinner for a while because I thought with time the horror of the night would wear off. I think I am finally ready to write about it, although I still haven’t recovered completely.

First of all, we organized this dinner to raise money for our trip to Romania in July. We need quite a bit of money and we counted on this dinner providing about 10,000 euros. We rented a private room at a Chinese Karaoke restaurant and planned on selling 120 tickets at 50 euros a seat, providing entertainment from around the world (with yours truly as the m.c.) and having a silent auction. We had to pay 30 euros a seat, so that was a 20 euro profit on each ticket. We also planned on making about 7000 on the auction and donantions.

First thing that went wrong: we only sold about 40 tickets (remember this part as it will be important later). So right off the bat, we came up 1600 short of our initial projection.

Despite the negative beginning, everyone soldiered on and put more effort into getting really cool stuff to auction (thanks to everyone who sent stuff!). We had all sorts of neat items, including a week sailing trip off the coast of Nice. We figured we could easily make about 6000 on the auction stuff because we had such great items donated.

For the entertainment we had African dancing, a French band, a saxophonist, and a guitar soloist. The saxophonist and the French band were my contacts; the saxophonist is a friend and the band members were my students. I felt really strange about asking my students to perform, but in the end, we were too desperate not ask them, because my saxophonist ended up not being able to come because of confusion over the dates.

The day of the dinner, I arrived at the restaurant about 30 minutes late. When I walked in, everyone was oddly quiet and I thought they were upset because I was so late. We really didn’t have time to chat because we had to start setting things up.

The guitarist showed up drunk (no, I am not kidding). He could barely walk straight. I thought, “Great, a nice kink in our plans.” I finagled the program around and placed him last so he would have time to sober up.

About 30 minutes later, my students showed up carrying their amps and instruments. As soon as they walked in, the wait staff started freaking out and yelling. Apparently, since we didn’t sell all the tickets for the seats, the room was no longer private and we couldn’t have live entertainment because it would disturb the other patrons!

Nobody thought to double check with the restaurant about the entertainment. I almost started crying because, in the first place, I felt strange about asking my students to perform and secondly, because they drove so far for no reason. What’s worse, everyone had found out that night before I arrived, but nobody bothered to tell me. Nobody!

I wish this was the end of the sad tale, but it gets worse. Since the room was no longer private, the karaoke machine was brought out in all its glory. I don’t know if you have ever had to listen to Chinese karaoke for any length of time, but let me tell you, it isn’t nice. Not only did it continue non-stop for 4 hours, it was also at a volume that made my ears bleed. Conversation was impossible. My speech that I stressed and worked on for days was quickly scrapped.

Next disaster: for some reason, some of the people who sold tickets failed to tell the people they sold the tickets to what the menu would include. It was seven courses, five of which consisted of some type of seafood. Three of the 10 people at my table were allergic to seafood so that means we had at least three, probably more, really unhappy people.

Final disaster of the evening: the auction only made us about 3000 euros. The nail in the coffin.

After it was all said and done, I tried to look on the bright side of things, but being delusional or optimistic or delusionally optimistic or optimistically delusional is not really my style.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

See, I Am Not Dead

I have a lot to catch up on and originally I thought I would put it all in one post, but after I got finished writing the Crete post, I decided to break it up. My trip to Crete…it was fabulous, although I didn’t do much. Crete, from what I can tell, is a beautiful country. I stayed in the town of Rethymnon, which is about a 90 minute drive from Iraklion. It is a port city and has a lot of mixed history from the Roman, Greeks, Turks and oddly enough, the Germans. I walked into town everyday just to get some exercise because the trip was half board, which I have found is an extremely dangerous thing. I mean, really a breakfast and dinner buffet, free of charge?! Anyway, the town was small and charming and the people were lovely.
Crete is really famous for feta cheese, olives, honey, mushrooms, goats, mythology, certain herbs, and its history. All the stores catered these areas of interest. I came back with a ton of olive based skin and hair care products, honey and olive oil.
I went shopping and exploring the two days it rained and was cold; the other days I spent lying by the beach or the pool. I know, it seems really boring, but I NEEDED the sun. The hotel was great and the people who worked there were really nice and helpful and not Greek! One of the women was Dutch and the other was German. I think Crete probably attracts all sorts of people.
I had two exceptional experiences while I was there, one good and one, well, rather strange.

The strange thing happened my first day on the beach. I was lying out, reading a book when I man walked up and asked if he could lay by me. I didn’t know what to say, so I think I said something like, “Um, sure, ok.” He practically laid down on top of me. I tried to be politely rude to show him he was unwelcome, but he kept talking, asking me such questions such as, “Are you married; do you have a boyfriend; would you like to go out tonight; how long are you going to be here, etc?” I tried to get rid of him by telling him I was on vacation with my boyfriend and I was just waiting for him….that didn’t work. After about 5 minutes of chitchat, he wanted to rub oil on me and I thought, well I don’t want to print what I thought, but it wasn’t a nice thought. I told him I didn’t need any oil. This seemed to appease him for about two seconds until he grabbed my bum a few times and said something about giving me a massage. That really made me uncomfortable and there was nobody else on the beach to help or intervene, so I turned over and started gathering my things up in order to make a quick getaway. He started moving around too and I just happened to glace over and he was very graciously showing me his manhood. I remember saying, “Ah Jesus!,” before getting up and practically running back to the hotel. However, in retrospect, I wish I had pointed and laughed.
The second thing was fantastic! I met a woman at a restaurant. She was my waitress; we just started talking and she invited me to her house for dinner one night. I half expected not to hear from her, but she called me a few days later and invited me to her house for dinner. It was fantastic. She prepared a feast. I think we ate for four hours. We had the best conversations; she told me all about the myths and history of the island and her family. I was really, really pleased to be in invited and that I said yes! Usually, I wouldn’t do something like that, but it turned out to be a great experience. I have to send her a “care” package from Paris as a thank you.

All in all, I loved Crete! It was beautiful and the people were fantastic. I hope I can go back someday when the water is warmer.

Friday, April 27, 2007


The last week and a half has been hectic and busy and stressful and sleepless, but I am still alive. I have a lot to post: Crete and the Habitat Dinner (tomorrow night) being the biggest. I hope everyone is well and I promise pictures and commentary in the next few days.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


This article describes most of my gripes with France, only in a much nicer way than I usually verbalize them....

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

And the Winner Is.....

I booked a vacation to Crete. I looked and looked and it was the cheapest and potentially the warmest. I was torn between Cyprus and Crete but ended up with the later because of timing. I am very excited....except I am worried about the weather. I just looked at the five day forecast and it seems to be rather chilly there right now. I leave on the 10th and I just hope it has warmed up by then. Thanks for all the suggestions!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

My So Called Life

I really have been busy lately, but nothing exciting enough to blog about. I have been working like crazy, editing a book, raising money for Habitat, going to the gym and enjoying the few days of sunshine we have been granted.

I only have two weeks left at the University, one week before the two week April vacation and one after. Still don't have a job for September and I have no idea what I am going to do. Oddly enough, I am not really stressed about it yet.

Right now I am just really concerned about where and how I am going to go on vacation. I am leaning towards Croatia, but I want to go somewhere warm and cheap. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

I haven't been posting lately because I have been super busy. Last week was fun. I went to the Hemingway bar at the Ritz, took a Salsa lesson and went to a fund raiser on a river boat. This week is all work with my jobs, Habitat and the book I am editing. Plus, to top off all this fun stuff, the weather has taken a turn for the worse and not only have we had nice cold temperatures but also rain, sleet and snow.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Shamelessly Begging for Money

I swore I wouldn't do this, but I am really desperate. I found myself sending out a mass email this morning thinking the same thing. However, here I am, doing it again. I am working for Habitat for Humanity at the American Church here in Paris and we have a "build" planned in Romania for July 2007. Unfortunately, we still need 20,000 Euros which is a little more than 26,000 dollars for the trip.

If you donate to charity, and would like to donate to someplace different this year, would you consider donating to our Habitat for Humanity fund. If you feel so inclined to donate money, you can go to this website https://www.habitat.org/giving/donate.aspx?link=2. After filling in all your information, fill this part in with our information:
Name ( American Church Paris )
ID number (6237-6872)
GV Event Code (GV8962)

Or just go to this website: http://www.habitat.org/cd/gv/participant/participant.aspx?pid=6237-6872

If you choose to donate money this way, please either email this address lferent@habitat.org and let them know you have made a donation to the American Church or let me know. If you want to donate money but don't feel comfortable donating this way, email me and I will give you other options.

If you do not want to donate money but would still like to help us raise the money, you could always mail me cool American things from home (such as peanut butter, bisquick, microwave popcorn, gum, beef jerky, etc) we could auction at our dinner fund raiser in April. I promise I will not keep any of the items that you donate!

Thanks in advance to any help and thanks to those who have already helped!

Monday, March 05, 2007


I had all the time in the world last week during vacation to catch up my posts, look for jobs, grade papers, plan lessons, go to museums, clean my apartment, etc., but I did very little of that stuff. Instead, I choose to sleep and go to the gym a lot. And you know what, it was pretty enjoyable just being lazy for once.

The Grand Palais is the large building on the left. It has an amazing amount of windows and it is quite beautiful.

However, I did manage to keep my new found tradition of Cultural Wednesday alive by visiting this exhibit. I have to say, I wasn't crazy about it. Displayed are things discovered underwater off the shore Istanbul, so I was initially exciting about learning about the history as well as seeing some of the treasures. Entering was really cool. There was a corridor with huge pictures of the ocean and great oceanic sound effects, but that was the best part. The artifacts were displayed badly and there were about 4 million people crowded around each one. I was stepped on, pushed, ran into and also had my bottom pinched more than I care to think about.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Too Much To Do

I have a lot to post, but I just haven't had time to post it. Here is an interview I did for an expat blog. Please ignore my horrible grammar; I was in a hurry and didn't proofread it at all.

And for this answer,"I think there are nice and nasty people everywhere. I have had experiences with both types in Paris, probably more of the negative than positive. I think Parisians are less friendly than other people." I should have said, ". . . probably more of the negative than positive in the beginning." Again, things are much better now than they were last year.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Birthday Flowers

Alright, I will admit it, I love flowers. I don't care who buys them or even if I buy them for myself, it always brightens my day knowing I have a bouquet at home. I know they are impractical and short-lived, but I adore them. I always have and more than likely always will. My dear friend, Marion, brought me flowers for my birthday and they are beautiful. Thanks Marion. I have them on my computer desk, which is just big enough for my computer, but I want to look at them while I work.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happy New Year!

I wanted to post on New Year's day and tell everyone "Happy Year of the Golden Pig," but blogger was not working for me and this is the first chance I have had since then to sit down and write a post.

Since I already mentioned the Chinese New Year and have never really told a story backwards, I will start with Sunday and work my way back. I live in the Asian area of the gay/Jewish quarter. This means I have quick access to fantastic places to eat, nice clothes and loads of jewelry shops. It also means that my little area of Paris exploded with life Sunday. There were parades, confetti, a ton of fair food and balloons. I had seen lots of Chinese decorations for about a week, but failed to make the connection. Silly me! I just wish I had my camera battery charged. It was all very cool and exciting.

Saturday I went out with my friends for dinner at a nice Turkish place. We became captives of the owner of this restaurant and had to listen to all his tales of being Turkish/Kurdish and how he had given up drinking (all said over a very large quantity of alcohol). Before dinner we had a little "hair of the dog" hour and ended up with a bar tab of 60 something euros because we decided it would be a good idea to drink at Gare du Nord, one of the major train stations.

Friday (and the reason for the "hair of the dog" on Saturday) my friends had a party. While it was to celebrate a promotion, it was also a surprise, early birthday party for me (fantastic friends! They did the same thing last year). Anyway, I mixed my alcohol and ended up feeling very much like a college student on a Friday night.

There you have it; my weekend in review.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

I know I just posted this in the last entry, but here is the alabaster Kiss in the Rodin Museum. Call me romantic.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Well, here it is, my visit to l'Orangerie. First of all, take a look at the line. It was a super long wait, about 45 minutes, and I went without my coat. I hate checking my coat, so I thought, I would leave it at home. Bad idea. I froze and was more than a little anxious about catching a cold.
After the wait, I had to fight with the woman at the ticket office for my reduced fair because I do not have a card saying I am a teacher (teachers get in at a reduced rate to some museums, others are free). She was rather mad I only had an attestation from the university and not a professional card. Because I was feeling rather feisty, I told her I was upset about it too, but everything takes ages in France. I know, not the best approach when you want someone to do you a favor, in this case, letting me in for free, but I couldn't help it because I was cold and a little irritated from the windy, wet wait.
But all the hassle was worth it to see this. Monet's finest in a wonderful setting. I wish I could take everyone to this museum because just seeing pictures of how these panels are displayed is not enough. There are eight, huge wall length paintings of Monet's water lilies in beautiful white oval rooms with great light, even on a overcast day.
There was no way I could take any pictures that would do the rooms or the paintings justice. Apparently, Monet painted these in order that they be displayed in exactly the way they are displayed. The paintings are curved along with the wall. It was just fantastic museum experience. Honestly, I felt like I was surrounded by art and nature.
I have to also give a big thumbs up to the audio guide. I usually don't like using them because I find myself just listening to the words and not really looking at the paintings, but this is the one exception which I was glad I rented one because it told of how the museum was built and how it was redesigned to accommodate Monet's masterpieces.
I am definitely planning on going back to this museum if for no other reason than to just enjoy the Monet rooms. However, the permanent collection has a lot of nice paintings of Renior, Matisse, Cezanne, Picasso, Utrillo as well as another artist I know nothing about but who I found very appealing, Laurencin.
And just to end this post on a romantic note because Valentine's day is around the corner, The Kiss by Rodin which is in front of the entrance of the museum.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Cultural Wednesday has been rescheduled this week due to the author's early morning procrastination and the ungodly amount of time spent at the gym. However, tomorrow I am going here Musée de l'Orangerie which will be great fun because I have wanted to go ever since I arrived in Paris. It was closed for 3 years (I think) for renovations, so I am sure it is going to be busy any day I choose to go. Funny, when I moved to Paris, I didn't know that much about art and now I know all sorts of stuff about the Impressionists. Hopefully, I will get to take pictures tomorrow.


Monday ended and its nastiness did not leak into Tuesday. Seriously, Monday was a mean day. Thanks for all the well wishes and suggestions!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Will Today Ever End?

Ever notice how when you are having a bad day things just start to go down hill very quickly? It is like the powers that be hone in on the one person who needs a break and say, "Nope, let's mess with her; let's push all of her buttons and see if we can't make her go psycho today." Generally, one bad thing happens and I shrug it off; two bad things happen, I get a headache, three bad things happen, I start to curse, four bad things happen, I go back to bed, if I can. Today was just a mess! I hope it is not an upcoming attraction for the week ahead! I am hoping I can work some of my frustrations out at the gym. Oh, if only they had a punching bag!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Let Cultural Wednesdays Commence!

I went to the Institut du Monde Arabe today and saw the Venise & l'Orient exhibit. It was nice, lots of old stuff, but nothing fantastic. The coolest thing was seeing the influence each of the two cultures had on one another. Apparently, both cultures were quite fascinated with each other and more importantly, they respected each other and were open to trade. Unfortunately, I couldn't take any pictures in the museum, but I took some from the top of the building.

There is a tea room at the top and it is slightly tacky but also slightly classy. It is very expensive, but has a great view. This picture doesn't do it justice, honest! Maybe next week I will have some better pictures.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Is This Culture?

I went to a French version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show last night. The actors and audience were slightly more X-rated than those I have seen in the States, but all in all, it was good fun. Halloween is my favorite holiday and since I have not celebrated it in the last two years, it was great dressing up for one night even if the only “dressing up” I did was putting on a ton of make-up.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I Am Boring

Cultural Wednesdays did not get off to a good start. I spent some of the day at the gym and the rest of the day grading tests. So far I have spent about 7 hours grading tests. I don’t get paid for grading tests, nor do I get paid for prep time; I am only paid for the amount of hours I teach, so basically I have been working incredibly long, hard hours for free. I really have a problem with working for free. I think I should get paid for grading the tests because it is actually harder than teaching class. And to make matters worse, 40 tests got lost in the mail. I just got them last night and they are due Monday. Sheesh, I know what I am going to be doing all weekend. Ahhh, life in chic Paris, grading papers all the live long day.

Speaking of mail, guess what finally arrived Wednesday, January 24, 2007. My carte Vitale. 482 days after I applied for it. Talk about fast service! Anyway, now I can go to the doctor, if I am so inclined, and pay very little.

Hopefully next Wednesday will be more entertaining. I am pretty sure I won’t be grading tests.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hello Paris

I made it back to Paris safe and sound, if not a little tired, yesterday morning. The flight was quick, a mere 6 hours, but extremely bumpy. I made the crazy mistake of taking a nap once I arrived at my apartment and then couldn't sleep last night. I had 3 classes to teach today and loads of commuting which I did in a tired, jet lagged haze. My poor students had to suffer through my worst lesson to date.

I enjoyed my vacation immensely. I got to visit with just about everyone. I wish I could have stayed longer, but my jobs demanded I come back. Actually, I should have come back a few days sooner, but since it was my first visit back, I wanted to take as much time as possible.

I have my new schedule for this semester and it looks as if I will be free Wednesdays, so I have dedicated it as my cultural day for each week. There are still so many things I want to visit and re-visit with my time left in Paris. Plus I have a ton of stuff to do for Habitat for Humanity. We have to raise something around the amount of 22,000 Euros for this year's blitz build.

I hope everyone had a great holiday!