Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Things we learned this summer

Well it's a long list. One of them is we do not do too well with stress, especially stress related to not being able to access our money (ahem... stupid banks) and traveling woes. Ugh. Although right now I am sitting in the fancy-schmancy Delta Lounge in the Atlanta airport. You see, signing up for fidelity programs does pay. Awesome comfy chairs, open bar (not that we're necessarily taking full advantage of that. I always feel like a baby or an AA asking for apple juice...) and plenty of snacks like nutella and fancy crackers and hummus and chocolate chip cookies, free Wi-fi, complimentary newspapers, a sweet bathroom, plenty of electrical outlets... Andrew's favorite part of course is the hot chocolate fountain. I tell you, this is the way to deal with an eight-hour layover (yeah, you read that right... yuck). So here we are, trying to not look too conspicuous next to all the graying businessmen and elegant ladies. Although Andrew's wearing his suit, so I'm the one looking like a slob. Oh well, it's not like I really care. I'm in the Delta lounge. Yeah! Did I mention it's free to join? Cm'on, join the club, and we can all party at the airport! (I'd take pictures but I'm afraid we'd get kicked out for lack of propriety or something...)

Anyway, where was I... Oh yeah, stuff we learned. Andrew kept a list, and he wrote down a bunch of stuff he noticed about the French. But really, most of the time what he really meant was Parisians... Some of them are pretty funny. So in all their awesome glory, here are Andrew's notes from our trip to France this summer:

- Do I really want to spend the rest of my life in the office?
- French cashiers are the slowest on the planet
- In general, people do stupid things. In France it's smoking, in the US it's riding motorcycles without a helmet.
- For caring so much about perfume and taking care of one's body, men in France smell bad
- French people know how to beg. It isn't just asking for money. It is a complete speech filled with rhetoric, having a logical development, a stated objective, and multiple ways of funding said goal.
- Things are either on time or late. Buses are generally the latter. Metros are slightly better. I can't make a judgment on the RER (a suburban train) because it's been on strike so much.
- You have to say "hello" and "goodbye" on the elevator at business or church
- French people receive a fraction of instruction, cut off the speaker, debate it among themselves, and then tell the speaker how they should do it and how they (the French) could do it better
- The transport system in France is exceptional
- The transport system in France is horrible
- You will never find a baby pigeon in Paris
- Schoolchildren always have to hold hands on field trips
- Ham is ridiculously overpriced in France (also very good, but come on...$1 for ONE slice of ham?)
- The reason important people get special treatment is because without the special treatment, the important can't/won't work. No one has the balls to speak up to the important people. (Lydia's note: this may or may not have been written after he babysat US Senators for a weekend...)
- Just because someone at work tutoies you (the informal way of addressing people) at work doesn't mean you get to tutoie them back.
- Nobody really knows the rules for tutoying and vousvoying (formal and informal)
- Take a moment to help a stranger. It will remind you that you are human, not Parisian. (SO true. Now I know why some people travel to Paris and think French people are mean/rude/evil. Blame the Parisians!)
- The concept of "hang right" when walking through public corridors is lost on most French people (Lydia's note: "stand right, walk left" on escalators, however, is a cardinal law, and you will get run over if you so much as think of violating it)
- Forming a line in France is equivalent to a grand amoebic, cattle-herding mass. Someone makes an announcement and civility gets thrown out the window as you move like a lemming with the crowd and 50 people try to squeeze into one doorway at the same time...where is the cattle prod when you need one? 
- In France, navigating public places, much like conversations, is an awful game of smear the queer. If you are not assertive enough to bolt through lines and interrupt people, you get trampled on. (Lydia's note: or is it "smear the questioning"?)
- It is completely normal to stand in front of a metro/bus/train door so as to block the passage of descending passengers in order for the boarding passenger to maybe get a seat inside.

Are you sensing a certain frustration with public transportation at this point?

- You can park wherever you dare in France.
- Some people give the bise (kissing on both cheeks as a greeting) starting on a different cheek depending on which region they are from in France. They also give a different number of bises. (Lydia's note: this can make for some awkward dodgy greetings...)
- No one will ever see a "caution wet floor" sign in France. If you slip, it's your own fault.
- "Trust falls into two levels: Integrity and Competence. No level of integrity can compensate for a lack of competence."
- the Madrid metro is WAY cleaner/more comfortable than the Paris metro
- having a long layover in a fancy airport lounge is definitely the best way to pass time at an airport (thank you bonus miles)
- the Madrid LDS temple is one of my favorites
- It is great to be back in the USA!

There you have it ladies and gentlemen, and I don't have much to add to that at this point. The jet lag is starting to get to me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

still-no-adjective Wednesday

Well we're into week two of this Wednesday thing, and this time it's not quite so picture-intensive.

I read this article last week about mormons and death. It's one woman's personal experience of her connection with loved ones that have passed on. I found it incredibly beautiful and especially loved the closing words about the plan of salvation:

I find myself a bit bewildered when people talk in worried tones about “making it” to the Celestial Kingdom or “losing” loved ones. It just doesn’t compute with this expansive vision — nor with a Savior who says, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions . . . none of them which the father hath given me shall be lost.” Life, death, grief, reunion are themes we see throughout Jesus’ ministry. If any power can bind us through the valley of the shadow of death, it is the power of love. He claimed to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven and then proceeded to reach out to those on the margin, to view others radically differently than society judged (as my favorite nuns call it, “radical love”), to provide chances for healing, growth, and renewal at every turn. I like that lived vision of heaven. A place to grow, to rest, to feel love, to share love, to heal, to be healed. Home. It shapes my view of the after-life, where fathers, Father, mothers, Mother await. And it comforts me. (But I still miss my dad.)

And I felt strangely reassured all of a sudden.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bastille day

This year, the theme for the military 14 of July parade was "honoring France's overseas territories". And yes, the polynesian guys did the haka. Woohoo!

Sadly, they only did it once up by the big shots, and we were way at the end of the parade so we missed it. Lucky me, it was online, so you get to enjoy it too!

My sister Sylvia came to stay with us in Paris, so there were three of us to fight our way through the crowds.

We survived, and we even saw the back of Sarko's head.

No, that's not him, although wouldn't it be awesome if presidents still wore cool hats?


There he is. I think. And here are some more cool divisions of various parts of the french army, and overseas divisions. There were so many of them, don't ask me who's who.

Check out those 'staches! Pretty sure these were North African

Yeah swords and feathers!

Some people were smart and sold these sweet contraptions: they're called periscopes, and the English translation on the side was hilarious: "what a pity, your neighbor can't see a thing! Maybe he should do as you, and get a periscope. But, the real." Cool eh? Just a simple cardboard box with mirrors. I had totally forgotten these existed.

So watching guys in fancy costumes march by got pretty old, but then the planes started flying over and that was awesome. Plus, everybody can see those just fine :)

The little girls next to us were so excited to see the horses. Again, some pretty sweet helmets too.

We got tired of the marching and the haka guys never came, so we ended up leaving before it was over, but I'd say we got the full experience. And as a favorite French pastime, we had lunch at McDonald's. Hey, don't judge, we had coupons. You don't pass up 2 euro 50 for a happy meal (organic yogurt included).

That evening we braved the crowds again to go see the fireworks. Let me tell you, you might think Stadium of Fire is nuts... that is nothing. PEOPLE EVERYWHERE! Plus, everybody smokes, so I was giving a lot of dirty looks... hey, I'm slowly turning into a Parisian. That is not a good thing people... But we did get a good spot and were able to lay out our little blanket and enjoy the rest of a massive multi-artist concert against racism while we waited, so it was awesome.

please note: Andrew and I wore bleu-blanc-rouge 

animation maker

Best Bastille Day ever.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Today is

my last Saturday in Paris. I leave for Bordeaux Monday, and after that it's one stop in Madrid and then... back home! Crazy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The joys of handwriting

OK that sounds dramatic. I meant fountain pens are compulsory through elementary school

also, I am aware that I have the handwriting of a child. I'm working on it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

(insert adjective here) Wednesdays

So I think I want to start a "thing," you know, something sort of predictable. We'll see how long that lasts, but in the meantime here is the first installment of "(insert adjective here) Wednesdays". I can't think of anything witty right now (any ideas are welcome - no, Wordless Wednedays doesn't work cause I'm not good at not using words. Also, I realize it's not quite Wednesday yet, but it's pretty close so that counts. Hey, maybe it'll become Saturdays or something, whatever). 
I plan on it being about anything I want to link to or post pictures of, as long as I don't have to come up with a major part of the content myself. Sometimes I'll share what I've been reading about, or just pictures I've been drooling over. I am feeling inspired, thanks to Pinterest (I'll invite you, just give me your email!) so here goes:

I'm thinking of combining this:

via pinterest

With this awesome idea:

via Pinterest

(Ohmygosh the dress is incredible!!! swoon. Aaaaand I realize I just sounded like a 12-year-old.)

To make the perfect duvet cover. I still haven't found the one (that's anywhere in my price range at least), so I'm thinking I'll just make it myself. Some color of linen (navy? taupe? who knows) with a big section covered in doilies (they don't all need to be perfectly white either, a mix of off-white, white and natural could work nicely) and maybe cut off the section with some of the ruffled detail from the top picture. 

In completely unrelated news, anybody have some doilies hanging around they'd like to donate for a good cause?

Also, I've had autumn on my mind lately (don't judge, I have a history of anticipating seasons way too far in advance. Quick segue: there is a diary entry from when I was 13 in which I pumped myself up for my first day back to school and I may or may not have written: "look out world, here comes the new Lydia")
Anyway... I'm thinking this is a nice back to school outfit. Or maybe that girl just has such an adorable smile that I'm instantly sold just because.

via Pinterest

That's it for today

Right now

Just sitting at the table working, with the window wide open so I can hear and smell the pouring rain. It's absolutely beautiful. Living in Utah, you forget what real rain is like. It's one thing I will definitely miss when I leave this place.

Andrew doesn't always cooperate too well...

"-Hey, make that face again so I can get it on camera
- No"

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Being ambassador comes with some nice perks

Living here, for example:

We went to a belated 4th of July party for the embassy employees today, and it was really nice. Classy, but not so much that kids weren't having fun running wild. The ambassador's residence is gorgeous of course, and there was a big lawn set up for snacking and playing.

And speaking of playing, these guys rocked. They're a US Air Force jazz band stationed in Germany, and they were certainly making it a lively party. We danced :)

Good ol' American pride

What else can I say... it was a lovely afternoon, plus Andrew didn't go back to work after so I got him home with me for an early weekend! That's always awesome.

Also, Andrew has a very nice new suit that we got for so cheap it's ridiculous.
Well, that's about it for today, and we send you greetings from a bit of American soil abroad :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Paris in the... wind? rain?

It can't quite make its mind up.

That being said, it's lovely either way.

I got to go meet up with Gab (Gabe, Gabriel, whatever) today. He is well, in case you were worried :) It's kind of funny to think we met over four years ago in Provo, and here we were sitting on the steps of the Louvre, just chatting in our native country (and language. duh).

I also had to get a photo of his awesome man style

Too much sun? 
Also, a bride was taking pictures outside the Louvre pyramids.

And I like my new dress/tunic. Yay for soldes (you see, in France there are two times a year that are government-designated for sales, and stores go pretty crazy... which has helped me expand and re-europeanize my wardrobe as of late) It doesn't actually make me look this chunky, it's just an optical illusion, I'm pretty sure. You know what? I don't care, I like it!

I happen to be one of those people who sometimes really like a certain item because it'll be such an awesome pregnant dress/shirt/outfit... (not an announcement, calm down) Anyway, this dress is comfy and has room to stretch. And I'm done saying silly things.

See? I like it.

Hypocrisy... I'm good at it

Sometimes I feel like a total hypocrite.

For example, ideologically speaking I can’t stand girls who just care about fashion and worship their husband and dream of being the perfect homemaker. And yet I secretly enjoy shopping (or should I say, I enjoy to have shopped. I kind of can’t stand big crowds most of the time) and feel so unfeministic about  it. Deep down, I don’t actually want to be a big tough working girl… I don’t think I’ve got what it takes. Also, those girls often seem like the most blissfully happy people.

And then there’s the dumb people who have DSLRs and wear them like they’re an accessory… but I would kill to get my hands on one (figuratively speaking of course).

Oh and my undying hatred for rich people (sorry rich kids), but really… sometimes I wish I had grown up with a daddy that got me everything I always wanted on a silver platter. It’s not that I’m a socialist, I just kind of wish I were born in one of those fancy upper classes of society. Then again, I'm grateful for my artist's daughter upbringing and how many places we've lived. My dad was definitely more fun than yours, hands down. (No offense)

Anyway, that’s enough of my hypocritical self for today. Hey, at least I own up to my hypocrisy every once in a while, that’s gotta count for something right?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Uninspired wednesday...

So instead, here's my latest blogging discovery... I'm loving it.

Maybe one of the reasons I love the U.S.

"[American history] is the most romantic of all histories. It began in myth and has developed through centuries of fairy stories. Whatever the time is in America it is always, at every moment, the mad and wayward hour when the prince is finding the little foot that alone fits into the slipper of glass. It is a little hard to know what romantic means to those who use the word umbrageously. But if the mad, impossible voyage of Columbus or Cartier or La Salle or Coronado or John Ledyard is not romantic, if the stars did not dance in the sky when our Constitutional Convention met, if Atlantis has any landscape stranger or the other side of the moon any lights or colours or shapes more unearthly than the customary homespun of Lincoln and the morning coat of Jackson, well, I don't know what romance is.

Ours is a story mad with the impossible, it is by chaos out of dream and it has continued as dream down to the last headlines you read in a newspaper. And of our dream there are two things above all others to be said, that only madmen could have dreamed them or would have dared to -- and that we have shown a considerable faculty for making them come true."

Sorry for stealing this! source