Monday, October 21, 2013

A petit announcement or two

First... I got a job! 
If six months in Afghanistan didn't kill Nick, the shock of this might. Too soon? At least I think I'm funny. 
I'm babysitting four days a week for this really cute family with a great apartment. The kids are cute, one was dressed like a pumpkin, the other actually looks like an angel. The mom is a painter (like, a real one) and the father is a lawyer. But did I mention the apartment? It has a prime location and is massive. And covered in books and movies and art. And they have amazing windows! I couldn't stop thinking about how amazing it will be when it's christmastime and the apartment is all lit up and there's a tree and snow. Just magical. And the kids, they're cute too. 
So, I'm excited about that and then also...
I'm running a half marathon in Paris in March. 
No, really, I am. I'm registered and everything. 
Below is my disjointed attempt to explain to you why I want to run a half marathon in Paris: 

It’s like when you read Nietzsche for the first time you don’t understand it at all. But somehow you want to read more. And then you do, and it still makes no sense, but as you weed your way through it kind of begins to mean something. I promise, I’m not trying to be completely pretentious right now, it’s just a side effect of the cockiness that comes with training for a half marathon in Paris.
But it begins to mean something, and by the time you get to the end it was all worth it, even if you still don’t get it. Because the finished product (the understanding, the 13 miles) isn’t what it’s all about. It’s about the six months preceding the finish line, and about the seven times you picked up the book to read it again. 

And that's why I'm running a parathon. that's my combination of the words paris and marathon. pretty clever, i know, right? 

Thursday, October 17, 2013


I'm in a really, really, really cool café that I plan in living in for the next few months. It gives you free internet and free snacks and the people here speak to you in French even though they know you're american.

This has been a really odd week. I've been feeling in extremes. I've gone to a lot of class, baked a cake, read a little, stopped watching TV, ran a bunch of kilometers (well, relatively), and booked a trip to Ireland. By the way, the trips that are booked are: Madrid, Ireland, Morocco. The trips that I'm working on are: Swiss Alps (right after christmas to ski), and amsterdam.

Everyone tells you that it's so cheap to fly within Europe. What they should say is it's so cheap (well, relatively) to fly in Europe. Because yes, taking a plane from Paris to Ireland is not very expensive compared to the flight I take to Spokane from Oakland, but it's still expensive! And I'm broke.

So right now, in this heavenly café I am applying for jobs. I'm excited to stay in Paris this weekend. Seriously, I've been on the go since I've been here and it'd be nice to get drunk in a familiar city.

I miss you all :) xo

My next post will be interesting, and all photos! I'm sorry I've been slacking on the photos lately...

Monday, October 14, 2013

I wrote this last week!

I'm writing this in a cute little checkered hallway in my cute little brick filled school filled with cute little french people. My great friend Mary is sitting next to me looking very european in tights and shorts, which is majorly trending over here. I'm trying to post pictures from this weekend to facebook now that there's some sort of decent internet connection (unlike that in my room, which I pay- okay, my mom pays- 15 euro/month for). 

For lunch I had a little salad and some fromage blanc with blackberry jam. It was so delicious. 

But this weekend, let's get back to that. Hold on! They are playing wake me up before you go go in the quad. haha. Now, let's get back to the weekend. I went to Germany, and it was so great. Saturday was spent exploring Heidelberg, a town that was even more charming than I am. Hard to believe, I know. It turns out that my mom has also been there. That's pretty crazy, considering what a little town it is and how we aren't the type of people that often travel Europe. No, that's not true, I'm completely that type of person. I went to an adorable apothecary museum that was really small and really lovely. It was full of beautiful jars and tables, and had the feel of a cottage that was still being occupied. 

I live stuff like that. Really obscure and small museums that are genuinely interesting but not at all overwhelming. It was so homey, and so easy to be in. Unlike going to the Louvre (which is also a great experience, just different), going to apothecary museums in Germany is easy. And things like that are why I love doing things like this. 

Everyone in the GU in Paris program went on the trip and that night we all stayed in a surprisingly nice hotel and drank wine and ate chocolate. We did some serious bonding. 

Sunday was spent at Germany's second largest beer festival. Now they're playing Cher, I kid you not. The beer festival though, was oh goodness. If you'd like to see just how much fun then you might head on over to facebook and go stalk me. You'll laugh, I promise. Unless you're nanny, then you might cry.

I wrote this last week but never got a change to upload photos, and blog posts without photos are pretty boring, so I waited for the internet necessary for the picktchas.


Also, Oscar Hijuelos, and I am mourning him. He had so, so much talent. And I think the world is less valuable without him. 

The photos are of my trip to the Catacombs, which were really very creepy and they made me super uncomfortable. I'm glad I went, but I don't plan on returning. All of the skeletons are from children. Not to mention, it took a lot of stairs to get down there. 

I've resorted to drinking wine before 12. When in Paris...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

My Favorite things in Paris

Now that I’ve been here for three weeks, it’s time to do important things like laundry and blogging. I benefit from the first, you from the second.

I love where I live (on île st. Louis, really easy to locate on a map). It’s in the 4eme arrondissment, a beautiful place full of shopping and crêpes, two of my very favorite things. I’ve bought an inappropriate amount of clothes since I’ve been here. Also, I ate ribs and felt really sick, but it was worth it. From now on though, the only animals I eat are fish and chicken.

Tourists mistake me for a French person all the time. In fact, I get complimented on my English frequently. Only one French person has mistaken me for a Parisian though. Still, I’m proud.

I am going to tell you something I thought I’d never say: I’m tired of bread. They serve it for breakfast lunch and dinner and I’ve almost given it up altogether. It’s just lost its appeal for the moment.

If you want to read more about my life here, you should read my column for the bulletin. It’s online, and since there are editors enforcing my deadline, I actually write weekly.

Since I don’t have much time, I’ll just give you a few of my Parisian favorites:

Food: fromage blac/onctueux
Ice cream: Amorino (I think it’s actually gelato, and not French, but details…)
Place: Shakespeare and Co. bookstore
Chocolate shop: Maison Georges Larnicol (I’ve spent over 30 Euros here)
Thing to do: Read books in English, oh how I miss basic comprehension 
Shopping: around St. Sulpice
Neighborhood: Mine, hands down
Museum: L’Orangerie (as of right now, I haven’t seen enough of anything to make a permanent declaration. This one is incredible though, and small, which is nice)
Boulangerie: I can’t remember the name at the moment, but I can take you there!

Thank you to everyone that has emailed me. Patrice, I loved your email! Even if I don't respond, I still love your emails so please keep sending them :) I miss you all. 

Also, if you'd like my address then pester my mother.

I think that you'll all be relieved to know that I'm really, really happy here. I’m not happy all day every day, but my foundational emotion is joy. 

My goal is to blog about twice a week going forward, so check in on my little website here and there if you're interested. I'm going to oktoberfest this weekend, wish me luck! 

Also, there will be more pictures to come, my internet is so bad that it won't upload any! I know, I have such problems. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I am in PARIS

I wrote this a few days ago and haven't been able to connect to the internet until now. I don't have the ability to upload photos because my connection is so weak. In fact, I'm sitting in a dark hallway (the lights in my foyer turn off every 3 minutes automatically) while girls walk by and say things like "elle est un peu bizarre." Well, they're right. Hopefully I'll gain more internet in the weeks to come, I'm working on it. I also didn't proofread, so, there's that. If you want to talk to me (who am I kidding, of course you do!) then email me and I will reply when I can. I am planning on getting some sort of wireless stability with in the next few days. Even the internet at starbucks has ceased to work for me. Incroyable. In case you were wondering, every other person in the program has internet with some degree of reliability, it's just mine that's a failure. It's okay, you can laugh. 

Also, I did find a pair of boots, I think I mentioned that somewhere below.

I am more than happy to admit to you that my life has suddenly become extremely and stereotypically French. I kid you not when I say that when I stepped off of the plane things sort of changed for me. I guess that’s when I realized that it was my job to make the experience, not the other way around. I got a taxi, found the foyer and after about 13 hours on planes, dropped off my bags and headed out at 10 am Paris time. Not to brag but that’s like 1 am California time and I had barely slept. Okay, that was totally bragging, but I don’t care. 
On the way over I was feeling very sad and tentative. I was more nervous than excited and I was really frustrated at myself for it. The plane rides were spent reading a book about kids that fall in love and then die of cancer, which caused me to cry for 10 minutes on the plane (really, not a joke). Also, I really missed my mom. I still do. My point is, I was definitely not on my game a few days ago as far as being someone that’s independent and capable and adventurous. Below is a funny example of my incapacities.
When I boarded the plane from Chicago to Paris I was focused on what I normally am focused on when I board planes: is a cute boy going to sit next to me? No, seriously, this is what runs through my mind immediately when I board an airplane. So as I watched everyone slowly come down the aisle I focused in on the only boy worth focusing in on and we immediately made eye contact. I am not exaggerating when I tell you he was beautiful. Completely European and too sexy for anyone’s good (sorry, Nanny). And he was also looking at me. I assumed he was sitting next to me or that he thought I was kind of cute, too. Either way it was a win. So when he stopped next to my seat and leaned down I was sure he was going to hit on me or something and it would be the beginning of my epic French romance (there will be one, just you wait). He leaned down and said, “Do you speak French,” with an accent. I replied, “un peu.” He sort of laughed in a I’m not laughing at you type of way and I was charmed. “Are you travelling alone?” he said. This is when I got super excited. “Yes.” And the line to end the conversation: “Oh, I’m travelling with friends and I was wondering if you would trade seats with me?” Looking back, I think he was laughing at me. 
But alas, upon my arrival and a very rapid explanation of my living situation provided in French, I felt kind of exhilarated. Paris is as amazing as they all said it would be, but maybe even more so.
The program director Marie Claire seems like some sort of fictional character from a Children’s book: incredibly sweet and welcoming, exceptionally charming and understanding, and very willing to take care of us all. Also, she’s pretty hilarious. So on the morning of my arrival Marie Claire held a meeting with all 9 of us Gonzaga kids and we chatted and explored and ate and hung out and it was just incredible.
I don’t have internet connection at the moment but we’re working on it. Also, I don’t understand French. Whenever I say d’accord (meaning okay, yeah, I agree, etc.) I really mean wtf. But I revel in those few moments when I say something in French and the subject doesn’t look at me like I’m wearing mismatched shoes (not my most creative simile, admitted).
From my observations, French people are just as fabulous as Americans claim they are. Even if someone isn’t dressed up, s/he’ll still look chic and pulled together.
I’ve taken the metro, walked a ton, visited my school, eaten a crepe, bought posters to decorate my room, seen some church or other, spoken beaucoup de French and drunk more wine and coffee than I did all summer. For the record, I didn’t drink wine or coffee this summer.
My room is fabulous, I adore it. It’s really quite tiny and somewhat old, but it’s perfect for me. It has slanted walls, old wooden furniture, colorful bedding, a tall window with sheer drapes and the perfect amount of space for my things. The walls are a tad bare but I’m working on that. This place does feel like a sort of home to me already, though.
The people in the program are pretty great. I don’t love every one of them, but I love a few of them and like the rest. That’s more than I can say about my London crowd.
My goals for the next week are simple. Since I don’t start classes until next Monday (the 23rd, in case I don’t post this soon- wifi, remember?), I am focusing on the necessities: finding a pair of boots and decorating my room. Everyone has their priorities and it should surprise not one of you that these are mine.
I tried to fit in as much information as possible here, I’m sorry that it’s such a scattered post. I’ll fill you in on more when I get the chance.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A little list regarding Paris

I haven't found my camera yet, so that's that. I have however, been thinking so much about France. When I went to London, I didn't really consider the things that I wanted to do there before I arrived. There was no list of museums or bars or stores or must-sees. Well actually, I really wanted to see the queen and did end up having the opportunity but I totally blew it. But that's another story for another day (preferably in 10 years when I'm no longer extremely bitter about it). Having had the time to reflect on my trip though, not considering what to do before hand is one of my only regrets. Once I got to London I was so overwhelmed and everything went by so quickly that it was impossible to sort my thoughts or make lists. So when I go to Paris, I want to have already constructed a list, at least a small one, of things to do and see. And here is the beginning:

2. A Café Philosophique (which I'm hoping will look like this)

And, of course, there will be more. Call me if you have any ideas! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Funny Stories and Excuses

I have a funny story for you. 

Before I went to London, my mom got me a great new camera (Thanks, mom!). It's red. I took a bunch of pictures that I planned on showing you. But then sometime between taking the photos and getting home I lost the cord that connects my camera to my computer. Are you laughing yet? I hope so, because this is the end of my funny story. 

I am just starting to realize how many of my troubles are self-inflicted. It's okay though, because I have complete confidence that I'll find the cord. So many excuses for not blogging, but really, I would argue that they are all fairly legitimate. I'll look really hard for that cord, I know many of you are waiting on the edge of your rollie/ey chairs for a new post. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Art and Culture, but not really

I finally downloaded some iPhone pictures onto my computer so I'll chat a little bit about London today.

I'm actually really frustrated because during my visit to the Courtauld I wrote down the name of many incredible paintings and artists that I planned on revisiting or at least getting prints of. And because I'm Kara, I, of course, have lost that damn receipt that I scribbled the names onto. During the time at the museum I was actually really proud of myself for not conforming to note-taking on my iPhone, which is sitting right next to me. The irony.

So instead I'll shower you with random photos from my phone. Sorry.

These are Sean and Josh, two friends from high school that I met in London. Brian was there too for a few minutes but went to meet a girl. I believe this incident was mentioned previously on the blog. 

Katie and Julie at a pub, sorry if I've already posted this. 

Live music outside of the Tate modern on a gorgeous day. 

Ceiling mirrors at clubs make for excellent selfies- later I'll post more about this night

This photo is my pride and joy, I take full photo credit

A Ben's cookie and white russian for breakfast, neither are mine though, I promise

Vegan English breakfast

Pretty photo taken by Camden market

My lovely grandmother. This was taken yesterday. Isn't she just beautiful? 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mainly for UTH

I feel like I need to tell you up front that there will be no pictures/talk of London in this post, either. So sorry. If that's what you're after then either revisit here in a few days or spend a few hours perusing here.

This is more of a PSA/announcement of sorts about nothing important at all: my facebook. I was going to get it back before I went to paris in order to communicate with people/post pictures/keep up with life at GU and the bay area while I was gone. Today I did in fact reactivate my facebook for a good 6 minutes. And then I deactivated it again. It's stressful and overwhelming and just. completely. not. me. I know it would be so much more convenient to have a facebook than to not but...

I can't. I just can't. And I'd like to apologize primarily to you, Uncle Tom, but I promise you I'll send you the photos that would otherwise be posted on facebook. Some of them, at least.

I would tell you more about my position on facebook, but I'm afraid it would bore you all tremendously. Therefore, I'll end this little diatribe (and luck you, my diatribes lately have been quite lengthy lately) and leave you with a pretty photo (prettier than any profile picture I've ever seen).

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I bet you've missed me

So guess what! This game doesn't work too well via a blog so I suppose I will just tell you. Towards the end of my time in London I spilled water right into my darling little macbook. Yes, it was all my fault and no, I should not be allowed beverages near any sort of machinery. Don't you worry, I've already revoked myself that privilege. Point is, that's why I haven't been posting.

The great news is that my computer is fixed now. You have no idea how happy I am about that, I literally hugged the poor machine in the apple store when they returned her to me. I thought she was a goner.

I still want to post about London, I think I need to for my own sake. So for the next few months I will do my best to post diligently about the end of my trip and maybe some other things. I have all sorts of photos to look at and maybe share. When I move to Paris in September (ah!), I will resume posting live about leading a glamorous life gallivanting through Europe and whatnot. The former I can write about all the time, the latter is definitely circumstantial.

Also, tonight Nick comes home! Since most of you know him I assume you are excited about that, too. I couldn't be more happy. Fine, maybe I was a little bit happier about my laptop. But seeing Nick is cool too I guess.

Please forgive me, I didn't proofread this.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Lesson From Londoners About Love

Since coming to London, I've learned so much about British culture and behavior. Mainly by making mistakes. In fact I've violated #1,2,3,4,6 and 7. But hey! At least I have great style that is according to myself, credibility check, anyone?


1) Don't talk on the Tube
2) Don't eat on the Tube
3) Always stand to the right on escalators on the Tube
my obsession with the tube continues
4) On a daily basis one should dress a step above casual
5) Whether you are a man or woman, great style is valued and appreciated
6) Be knowledgeable about current events
7) Showing love is not a big deal here

And right now, I want to talk about the last.

Love here is celebrated daily. I witness it constantly. In parks, on the street, on the Tube, in restaurants, in grocery stores, etc. People love to love each other in London. Romantic love is extremely visible, yes, but it's also common to see people holding hands or platonically kissing their friends and family members. Call me a hippie, but I think it's sort of beautiful.

In my American life, witnessing other people's affection is rare, very rare. And typically if I do, I am put off by it. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought public displays of affection were annoying and I had no interest in witnessing or partaking in them. I see pda in America as a ploy for attention or social validation, and in some ways I think it still is. If people are really in love then why must they showcase it blah blah blah...

But then I came to London and realized how graceful public affection can be.

In London being publicly in love has nothing to do with a facebook status or photo on instagram. Here it's the opposite: not caring at all what the world thinks because it's not about them, it's about being happy. In my experience, pda in London (and likely more of Europe) is not for show, it's just real. And because of that it is remarkable to witness. To see two people no matter their relationship genuinely wanting to be near each other and touch each other, not noticing or caring about the presence of other people is inspiring. It reminds me that there is a place in the world where a kiss is still, purely, only for the people directly involved in it.  And lucky for me, I'm in that place right now.

So I suppose what makes the difference in how I see pda is the motivation behind it. Is it for someone else or is it for no one except yourself and whoever you're with? I know that I can't judge this on a case by case basis, and I don't intend to. Instead I will try to change how much I judge those six middle school girls walking arm in arm through the mall laughing too loudly, or the mom that kisses her son on the lips, or the couple that insists that piggy back rides are still a valid form of transportation.

I guess what Londoners have reminded me about love is that it's the most beautiful escape. Seeing a couple kiss five feet away from me knowing it has nothing to do with me, with war, with judgment, with social validation, knowing it has nothing to do with anything but love, well that may just be the most hopeful display I have witnessed. And so now I welcome it.

After proofreading this I realized that I probably am a hippie, but maybe that's better than being my jaded american self. Cheers.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

This & That, Here & There

Hello there!

You may have noticed I changed my blog a little. I needed a bit more pink in my life. I decided that I am going to post more often, as well. Blogging is such an effective way to document things like traveling and I really don't want this blog to be something else I just sort of let die. Like dogs #1, 2 and 3. We switched to rodents after that.

So what have I been up to lately?

Cambridge, first of all: A lovely town, charming school. I daresay I may like Cambridge more than London itself. Though they are too different to really compare. I went last week and I think I was delighted to just be able to cross the street without panicking about the car on its way to amputating my left leg. It was so very nice to escape the city for a day.

I am not one of those people who normally has suggestions about where to go/what to do when people visit places that I have been. However, I am telling you all that if you ever come to London you need to go to the National Gallery. Hands down my favourite I'm british museum of all time. It's a beautiful building full of amazing art. Since pictures are prohibited, I can't properly communicate its magnificence to you. But just know that the first time I went was Wednesday and I have already returned. If you go to london then please just visit the National Gallery. But go right when it opens at 10 unless you want to be swimming in a sea of adorably uniformed British children on field trips. And trust me when I say that it sounds cuter than it is.

Yesterday I took the train to Brighton with a few girls from my program and my great friend Katie who came to visit me. We shopped a little, laid in the sun, basically did everything I expected we would. I forgot my phone and camera of course so I don't have pictures of Brighton, either. Mom, I wonder if this is where Brighton originated?

This is Katie, I brought her the obligatory Guinness to the train station. It sort of exploded in line to buy her oyster card

Oh! And weirdly enough I kind of ran into some of my great high school friends that happened to be in London last week. Well, they emailed me, but still. The weird thing is that my friends and I are not the type of people that are cool enough to run into each other in Europe. It was just so obscure. We had dinner and then one of my friends Brian left early to meet a girl he had hit on at a museum the previous day. Brian and I became friends about four years ago, three schools ago and two countries ago (including his travels). And let me tell you all how very comforting it is to know that truly, some things just don't change. 

Thank you for reading! I miss you all. xo