Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thirty things before 30

Living in Europe, having the experiences of a lifetime by the age of twenty, I have a lot of time to think about my life & how I would like to live it. This is what I have come up with...
1. See the Northern Lights
2. Go to Alaska
3. Hike the Swiss Alps
4. Go to an Elton John concert
5. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
6. Have a pig for a pet
7. Write a book
8. Have a tree house
9. Learn how to play the mandolin
10. Read the Bible: cover to cover
11. Book a random flight
12. Visit all 50 states
13. Start an art collection
14. Have a library that is bigger then my bedroom
15. Go paragliding in Switzerland
16. Spend my paycheck on something completely selfish
17. Have at least five pair of boots (hopefully Frye) in my closet
18. Climb Mount Fuji
19. Read everything ever written by a favorite author
20. Go on a cross-country road trip
21. Have one of my paintings hung in my house
22. Write an article on traveling
23. Buy all of my friends fresh flowers; just because
24. Make my parents cry with joy
25. Make my own wine
26. Grow and eat my own vegetables
27. Visit Auschwitz
28. Own a 1967 Red Ford Mustang convertible
29. Be a substantial member of a community
30. Still write letters

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Swan Song


this is my life right now.
blue skies and pink tutu's.


my days here in holland are filled with nothing but the purest joy.

walking past a tenth century church on my way to class
(which is held in a converted monastery),
conversation about the nature of good and evil had under a chestnut tree,
writing a note of thanks to a new friend met on a train to austria...
these are my days.

my weekends are helium filled balloons of elation.
paris one weekend
prague the next
off to austria on thursday
and planning germany.

this season is the most enchanting.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shorts.


Every weekend I find myself, usually after church, at a bookstore of some kind.
This Sunday it was the Barns & Noble by my parents house in Chicago.
Taking books off their shelves,
opening to a random page,
reading a bit,
deciding to read on or replace by another random selection,
is the most perfect way to spend a Sunday.

The gem at random this week was:
'Wonderful Town'
the New Yorker's compilation of
various short stories they have featured over the years.
It is wonderful.

Here is one of my favorites:
"The Whore of Mensa" by Woody Allen
"I think Melville reaffirmed the virtues of innocence in a naive yet sophisticated sense - don't you agree?" I let her go on. She was barely nineteen years old, but already she had developed the hardened facility of the pseudo-intellectual. She rattled off her ideas glibly, but it was all mechanical. Whenever I offered an insight, she faked a response: "Oh yes, Kaiser. Yes, baby, that's deep. A platonic comprehension of Christianity - why didn't I see it before?" We talked for about an hour and then she said she had to go. She stood up and I laid a C-note on her.

"Thanks, honey."

"There's plenty more where that came from."

"What are you trying to say?" I had piqued her curiosity. She sat down again.

"Suppose I wanted to have a party?" I said.

"Like, what kind of a party?"

"Suppose I wanted Noam Chomsky explained to me by two girls?"

"Oh, wow."

"If you'd rather forget it..."

"You'd have to speak with Flossie," she said. "It's cost you." Now was the time to tighten the screws. I flashed my private- investigator's badge and informed her it was a bust.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dear Diary...

There is this boy & this girl
that sit on the tin roof
right across my window
every night.

He likes her.
Because she flicks her cigarette ashes the right way
and
wears the right shoes with her dress.

She thinks he is
romantic
and likes the way he
tosses his hair.

They are flirting
through smoke and on top of tin.


It makes me think of you.




Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today is a Sunflower.

My days in Paris are now numbered, making my afternoons a bit more appreciated and my excursions more valued. In the build up of going home from a long stay, one always tends to find themselves feeling more reflective on the quality of time spent & pensive about lessons learned.
I am currently in said stage.

I have learned that Paris can be one of the most magnificent places on earth; full of aesthetic beauty, historical influences, cultured youth & moments you can only dream up. I have experienced the most beautiful way to enjoy a meal, the way to tie a scarf, what wine goes with what dessert, how to trek throughout the city in heels & how to assimilate to the point where I get asked directions in French.
But I have also come to realize that a place is only as beautiful as the people who frequent it. The French are a very majestic breed; very proud of their city, of their Republic & their pontification of attitude they project to the world. Surrounded by the right, home grown, down to earth people I have chosen to collect around, these attitudes are appreciated from afar, are dissected at the dinner table & has it's best parts written down in journals, ready to be rework & tried out back home.

*****
I came to Paris to try and find out more about myself; to try and figure out who I am when I am alone in a foreign city, speaking a language I do not know all that well, living with people I have never met. To seek out the person I am when my best friends & family are not around to sharpen me, to build me up & to bounce ideas off of.

Being here has made me realize, more than anything, not necessarily the person I am, but instead the type of person I want to try and embody.
The days are filled with introspection (sitting in parks & cafes, watching people interact & conversations being had it is hard not to watch & think) so the time spent has had unassailable value the life of my mind & the nature of my maturation. I, for the first time in my life, am able to look at my life objectively & be excited about the path ahead & the plan the Lord has for me.

And I am forever excited that He took me to Paris to
teach me who I am & to show me who I want to be.



Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fête

video

Today in Paris it is Fête de la Musique.

All over the city today, bands, artists & symphonies play music all day and every show is absolutely free to the public. It is wonderful. There is classical music playing in the Luxembourg gardens, reggae playing in the street & this little Cuban group playing outside my window on the corner.

C'est magnifique.

*****
Today Hannah, Bree, Skyler & I went to the flea market or Marché aux puces

This market is one of the largest in the world. It is so vast that they have not only made a website for this little flea market but advise people to buy maps before hand in order to see the bits they want.

Today we stumbled across the Antiques.
It was the same feeling as finding money in your pocket. I
Gold chairs, dusty paintings, jewelry from every decade, sepia photos, vintage Hermes, tablecloths & camera lenses, five story bird cages, India bowls, Moroccan goblets, classical records, men's tuxs & tails: everything was hidden in this little world tucked away in the corners of this neighborhood.

Happy, happy day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Packages & Profitérols


This afternoon, after class, I got lunch with my Aunt in the 16th.
It was absolutely perfect.
*****
My Grandmother took her in as an exchange student when she was twenty visiting from Paris and ended up staying in Washington for close to thirty years. Now that I am the twenty something traveler, she has extended the invitation and offered me an apartment for my week stay after the trip is up, gave me the secret street of Paris and taught me the best way to eat profitérols.

I have been sick these past few days and immediately when I opened my mouth, she curtailed our route to the cafe to make a stop at the pharmacie for some medicine. She was the type of french women you spend your life trying to embody.
The whispy short hair, the European hand gestures, the never ending entourage of cases, holders & leather bound what-not's & the subtle purse to hold it all perfectly in place.
Meeting her for lunch was like visiting the sister who moved to New York and got famous only to find her disarmingly warm affection stayed the same.
The afternoon was the color of a rose.
*****
The day progressed and only to get better with JoJo, the twenty eight year old "romantic" who decided to expound on the love of his life whom he met online to the entirty of line 2 Porte d'Orleans.
Jojo, as he clearly stated many a time, did not want our money, he wanted our ears and our sympathetic hearts. I do not know what for. Maybe the feather earrings in his ear and the telephone wire cord he had tied around his head as a headband. Or maybe the gameboy strapped to his body was what we were supposed to be sympathetic towards.
No money though.
*****

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Les Fleur de Soleil

****
Something about being abroad , you learn to love the things you never noticed about home (like how Americans can be spotted miles away not matter how hard they try and assimilate), willingly gain new and romantic ways to tailor your daily routine ( waking up ten minutes early so I can get on the metro with the blind piano player) and how you have a notebook full of things that read:
black leggings and Chanel shoes.
Leather jackets.
Cafe sans creme.
Get better at taking a shower with a washcloth
Note to self: when purchasing a bag, make sure it can fit a baguette
****
Going to a place to learn a language has really helped me understand language in general more. The world today does not speak correctly, on a whole. Are sentences may have proper grammatical elements (subject, verb, direct object) but we no longer speak the language, any language, like it was intended.
Our conversations are exchanges of words that have been chopped and shortened, sounds run together because it takes to long to enunciate and the etiquette of being polite to those above us, in age or rank, or those who are unfamiliar is now passed up and snubbed because it, well it takes to long to say "Thank you"
"Thanks" is now savvy.

Why?
That takes all of the fun out of the spoken language.
****

I once got a letter that quotes this:
"the written word endures, the spoken word disappears; and that is why writing is closer to the truth than speaking"

I would love to read what you have to say:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

un dimanche à Paris




These were all snapped along the way during my first week in Paris. The last one is my most prized because it is the little cafe where I frequent. It is about two blocks from my apartment but it is two seconds from my heart. It is called Cafe Martini. And I love it.
It was started by two brothers, the one who works in China bought it and the other stands behind the bar correcting your pronunciation and perfecting the foam on your Kriek cherise. The inside is bare sand stone decorated with a line of twine where customers have attached their pictures by clothespin.
The chairs are red and the conversation is animated.
Dark wood floors and low lamp lighting makes any single table occupant feel that they should be writing a book, editing a memoir or finishing up a weathered paperback bought on a side street for a couple of euros.
The doors are windows that are perpetually open and the narrow cobblestone sidewalk is the table sitting next to you.
The menu is handwritten on elongated black boards where "n's" are written backwards and "m's" have three and a half humps.
He calls you his forever friend and you are eternally grateful for the extension of edearment.
xxx

It is hard being an American in Paris. The action of being American is not the difficult thing; there are Starbucks & name brands if you look closely, menus can be translated and everyone is eager to practice their french. Stereotypical aloofness between the French to Americans is easily avoided if the latter makes an effort to speak the language of the former, and pride in a society so celebrated is bizarely endearing. The real discomfort is how easily you can get by without trying.
There are few places you actually have to speak in a major city: eating and asking for something (whether it be directions, a price or a stamp). Waiters, after asking you what you would like, are hired to listen to you and the desired order that follows the question. After hearing my accent that is very obviously not french, nine times out of ten, they will speak back to you in English. While I understand that maybe they are excited to practice their English, I want be expected to speak the language of the country I am in. Cultural emersion.
xxx
Madame just made me cheesecake.

I love the French.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mon deuxième jour dans l'amour...

Today was my first full day in Paris.
Yesterday I arrived at around 13h00, met my host family & walked the Rue de Rivoli for three hours trying to stay awake.

I have fallen in love with the Parisians. Not just what we as Americans make them out to be (their petite frames, their perfectly pursed lips, their genetically gifted knack for fashion), but the way they live their lives. Life is a series of moments for the French. Meals are not something to "drive-thru" or eat quickly, it is a sacred time among friends who are like family at places that are like home. Missing it is a taboo and taboo's are never vogue.

What else can I say? The moments I have here are...formidable, ils sont précieux.

Fabrice, my host father, came out to the balcony by my room this afternoon and told me he had a petit suprise for me. He leads me to the living room and he has, laid out, his home made sangria and tai food from around the corner and we proceed to sit on the floor by the balcony window and talk about the life of Paris, the difference between it has from the states and what it is like to travel as a young person.

He told me my french was good.

I have yet to come down from that high.
It is the best feeling when a natural speaker of any language has complemented you on your dialect.

Ah, le vie en rose.
A Bientot!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Inbound




What are you doing?” said the tall, bald aggressive gay man.
Blank stare.

Um, what are you doing?

Still staring, “I have no idea.”
This man smells like Lysol.

Well, is your name on the list?
“No.”

What is your name?”
“Lauren.”
How many of there are you?
I slowly raise my index finger to indicate to this rather intimidating dinning attendant, that, just like my father says when affirming my individuality, there is only one of me.
We’ll call your name,” said the undeniably Mr. Clean look alike and with that and a brisk shooing motion, I was dismissed.

Jumping out of the booth that I had, much to my mistake, just sat down in, I made the rocky walk of shame out of the dining car, down the stairs and back into my heated sleeper cabin.
Welcome aboard.
***

EXCUSE ME Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please? ‘David’ party of three, ‘Sarah’ party of one, ‘John’ party of two and ‘Lauren’ party of one, please make your way to the dining car.”
Hmm.
Standing in the door frame of the car, I wait, with a polite smile on my face, staring at Mr. Clean, watching his Mr. Clean mannerisms. After he looks at me, checks his little list, scans the car for the most awkward table possible, he looks back up and tells me that I have the privilege of sitting right over there.
Lovely.

Here in lies the story of the most fantastic/horrific lunch I may ever experience in my life.
There were three of us at this booth: weird, I-should-be-skinny-but-I-have-never-worked-out-a-day-in-my-life-so-I-now-have-an-awkward-belly, computer, come-over man, on one side of the table and, my seat buddy, an overweight, deaf, Hispanic-Italian woman.

She sits down and starts talking. We don’t really know who she is talking to exactly and neither of us can quite understand her because she has this lisp that, when facing your direction, projects a surprisingly large amount of spit, so neither of us really want to lean in to understand.

“Wooh, thish train ish rocky! Well, I don’t know about y’all but I am going to Shan Antonio. I don’t really want to go there, but thatsh where I am going. I really want to go to Dallash, but itsh jusht sho exshpenshive to get there! Thatsh why I am getting off at Shan Antonio and driving to Dallash.”
At this point in the conversation I was asking myself how she was “getting off” in San Antonio when that is where this train starts off and if we were already past McGregor. I got my mouth halfway open to ask when some of this woman's so called "shpittel" flew into my mouth.
Fuck that. Not asking another question.

While we have this whole interaction between me and Little Italy’s most prized deaf Hispanic, Mr. Computer-creeper has been staring in my general direction the whole time. Sick.
“So…where did you get on?”
Fucking sick, don’t talk to me. “McGregor”
“Rad. Where are ya headed?”
Who the hell says “rad” anymore, let alone when trying to impress someone? “Chicago”
“Love that city. Did some work up there. So, ah, what brought you to Texas?”
One: No, I will not ask you about your job Two: don’t talk about my city and Three: why are you still talking? “I had never been, thought I’d figure out if all those stereotypes were true”
The conversation went on from there. He talked; I started out the window and the lisper agreed, I think.

Never before was I so happy to see Mr. Clean.



I wrote this my freshman year when I took the train back to Chicago for Christmas. I have not written in a long time, so please forgive my poor organization, inadequate grammar and silly personal narrative "voice".
Ciao.




Sunday, May 17, 2009

Greener grasses...


"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phil.2:1-4)"

Read it again.
Think about it.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility"
Humility: the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc.


Do not base your actions on the weight of your personal gains, act not out of spite for others nor for superficial gloating rights, act out of something bigger than you, be guided by something more important than the trivial, the vain, the vogue, the mainstream. Act of out selfless love for man.

I thought about this on my bike ride today.
Cheers.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

No one is counting minutes...


In three weeks I will pack my army green rucksack full of impractical shoes, black & white 35mm film, books that pair well with train rides and mark it for Paris. But that is in three weeks. Until then I have pages to write, psychological conditions to memorize and leases to sign....
I don't necessarily like until then's

There is a line in the book 'Franny & Zooey' where the two are talking and Zooey says "no one is counting minutes." It is so simple, so small in the greater context of the book, but it is one of my favorites.

I feel that at this particular point in my life, I have surmountable reasons for counting minutes. Summer is approaching, classes end in a few days (both of which signal the days of endless reading and whims of prolonged enjoyment) and another year is added to the chalk tally of my stint in academia. And while all these things are fast approaching, my time is not spent counting seconds on my hands, willing them to pass faster so that I may come even a minute closer to the prequel of my next six months. Instead they are spent on porches hoping for rainstorms, on bikes exploring forgotten streets, in fields eating picnics and in a tree house sharing sacred moments. Rather than my list of 'instead of's' these are my daily doings; my friendly take times between classes and work. These simple acts of play are my times spent.

dear minutes, you are fun.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

lovely.

Eat & be Merry.
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 2 large apples - peeled, cored and shredded
  • 6 teaspoons egg replacer (dry)
  • 1 1/4 cups applesauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
  2. In a large bowl combine brown sugar, white sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in carrot and apple; mix well.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together egg substitute, applesauce and oil. Stir into dry ingredients.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared pans.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

with love from neverland.



today i realized that i live in a play world. i am moving to europe for the next six months in close to four weeks; paris for two, maastricht for about four.
no, i will not come home, thank you.

today was a postcard day. pictures on postcards always look like perfection. sandy sunny beaches with the perfect shade of brown tan, sugar coated flowers & various architectural feats made to look even more remarkable with the dramatic shooting angle. today was one of those days. predestined run-ins and edifying conversation with every person met, it was perfect. donna walked into the store looking for my help but instead gave me encouragment in all the right places. hilary and i ate for hours, feading off one anothers theories, thoughts or concepts currently being mulled over in our minds. elle always proves true. talking love and feminism over carrot cake reads nothing but decadence.
intelligent input. postcard day. happy tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

lillac pretty.



If there is an amateur reader still left in the world--or anybody who just reads and forgets to process the information just gathered--I ask him or her, with untellable affection and gratitude, to subscribe to my blog. I offer my sympathies upfront to anyone who reads the poorly strung together words on this page and accepts them as a legitimate excuses of a time waster. I do not blog. I do not know how to blog. Nor do I think I have anything "blog-worthy". All disclaimers aside; time to go down the rabbit hole, shall we?