Thursday, January 29, 2004

01/29/04: So. It's been a week and a half that I've been home. It feels way longer, which means I have forgotten the joy and freedom of being abroad. It means I have succumbed to the banality of a routine life.

However, I do have good news, on the "banal life" front: I got a promotion! I am no longer an assistant, I shall now be a funder/closer. This means I have more files, more duties, more stress and more time to be at work. So far (the last three days) it has been pretty good, very busy, but exhilarating. And I shall look forward to receiving overtime pay.

Speaking of pay, I received a Form 1099 (from the credit union that holds my car loan) in the mail today, so that I can file my interest income of THREE CENTS. That made me laugh.

Not yesterday but the day before, I went on my walk at lunch as usual. The sky was blue and it was balmy, almost warm. So I set out sans hat, coat or gloves. It was lovely. I was reminded of how happy it made me to go walking last summer, basking in the sunshine, singing and dancing on the trails, completely forgetting about work and real life.

Monday, January 19, 2004

19/01/04: I am home now. Boo.

Look at me trying to type on a French keyboard! The trip ended better than Friday started. Over the weekend I met some more fun Australians, and I explored more of the city. I took a couple walking tours, went to the currency museum, etc etc. It was SO COLD. Really really cold. I couldn't feel my face for all of Sunday.

Got up at 7am today and headed for the airport, which was insane of course. The nine hour flight in coach was just thrilling...mostly I slept. The four hour flight from Dallas felt super cramped and I was anxious and sleepy, and I'd already finished the one book I had with me. I got through about twenty pages of a French student version of the Three Musketeers. But I just kept drifting off to sleep.

Now I am at home. It was weird walking in the door, the place looked different. But as I looked around, nothing had actually changed. It was nice, but surreal, to see all my stuff here. Had a lovely, non-button shower, finally took all the stuff out of the suitcase I've been living in for a week. I don't know. It is always nice to return to one's own bed and such, and it will be nice to see family and friends again. But holy cow, it's only been a week! It honestly feels like my trip was a lot longer than a week, though. When you travel, you do so much stuff everyday that each day passes fairly quickly. But in order to remember a few days back, you have to go through the catalog of everything you've been doing, so it seems longer than just a few days. Does that make sense?

Friday, January 16, 2004

16 Jan 2004: Okay, you can have the oyster back.

I am in Paris again. Yesterday was my full day of guided tours, first by bus in Brussels, then to Bruge for the afternoon. The former was lame and the latter was great. Brussels is interesting, and parts are very pretty. Bruge (you know, I'm not really sure how to spell it...) was lovely. Small, quaint cobblestone streets, several lovely churchtowers and a gorgeous market square. I climbed the belfry tower and the view was breathtaking. And yes, I felt the burn. Woo!

This morning I slept in...ah, wonderous. Ooh, did I mention the beautiful shower at the Brussels hotel? Oh it was perfect and amazing. Anyhoo, caught the noon train back to Paris, arrived back at the button-shower hostel, and did laundry and then went shopping. Holy cow. Talk about mad cow disease. No, I'm not sure what that meant. But people were everywhere and lines were long. It was exhilarating and frustrating at the same time.

It's gotten to that dangerous point in the trip, where the end is nigh and so one has to start thinking of it. It's only two full days left til I go back to home and work, but again, that is two entire days! Do you see what I mean here?

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

14/01/04: Look at that, I'm picking up Euro-isms all over the place. And it's Wednesday, I'm pretty sure, so that means my trip is already halfway over. But I'm trying not to think about it like that. So would the optimist version of that say it's half begun? Weird.

Tuesday I began with an eclair au chocolat (finally!) and then a walking tour of the Marais (the Jewish district, home of the Place des Vosges). It was lovely and educational, the guide was wonderful, and the rain wasn't even a problem. Anyone who is planning a visit to Paris or London should go on a walking tour, check them out. There is a Rome equivalent, whose name is escaping me, that is also excellent. Hurrah for walking tours. Then the bulk of my day (five hours of the afternoon) was spent at the Musee d'Orsay. It was incredible and huge. It just kept going and going. Also, I attended a concert at Notre Dame in the evening, which was just incredible.

Today, I am pleased to report, you will find me in Brussels. It's quite interesting, but only when you're in the centre of the town, which is where you find the Grand Place and environs. I have no idea what I'm doing or where I'm going, but I'm remaining patient and good things are happening. I happened into a museum of chocolate this afternoon, for instance.

I booked into a small hotel today, the room is TEENSY, but it's a bed, plus a bathroom en suite. That's what matters. And there's even a TV; I can watch Euro-MTV tonight!

Monday, January 12, 2004

12 Jan 2004: That link said Zelco,e to Pqris1 7no; thqtùs not q typo0

Welcome to paris! (no, that's not a typo)

Hurrah for new keyboards!

I am here! I was even fairly awake all day yesterday (for those who didn't hear, I left at 11:30 (but actually it was 1) on Saturday and arrived (on time) in Paris at 11am. I checked in to the hostel and took for a walk for the rest of the afternoon, from Opera (in the 8th I think) back to the hostel in the 5th. I took the mother of all naps around five, passing out and then waking up at nine and not sure what day I was in. Anyway, had a fairly normal night last night.

Today had a leisurely breakfast of orange juice and a demi-baguette, and then spent a few hours at the Centre Pompidou. Went shopping and then saw a film, called Happy End, at the underground mall, Les Halles. It rather wore me out. I meant to go back out and to the Louvre this evening, but oops, oh well. Tomorrow am planning on attending a walking tour and then visiting the Musee d'Orsay.

I love being in Paris! The smells, even the icky ones, remind me that I'm really here, and that I love it. I wish I had more time to visit other places; everyone else here (well, in the hostel) is Australian or American and all have buckets of time to visit all over Europe. It's strange being a "grown-up" around all these younger student types.

Anyway, now I am tired and need a shower. I'm glad I like adventure, because the showers are just weird. It's a button. Bonne nuit!

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

01/06/04: It's a snowstorm! Stacey drove us to work, but hardly anyone was there, so the boss let us all go home! Woo!! The snow is blowing and drifting and making it difficult to drive on the empty's so lovely.

So I leave in just a few days. Yikes, I'm not sure that I feel prepared. I went out and got some things for the trip. I got a trio of camp silverware, so that I can be my own moveable feast. And some packing things will be delivered this week, I hope. Last night I drove into Seattle to get my student/youth ID, which will save me money. I don't know if I have the right clothes, or enough clothes. Winter clothes are heavier and bigger than summer clothes. I may only have room for three outfits. Then again, I am planning on shopping when I get there. Here's to hoping for post-holiday season sales in the big department stores! Does anyone want presents, anything in particular? A scarf, a snowglobe, an artist's rendering of the night-lit Seine?

Saturday, January 03, 2004

01/03/04: Is there anything more bittersweet than reading old love letters?

Thursday, January 01, 2004

01/01/2004: Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a good time ringing in 2004.

I get to leave a week from Saturday! That doesn't sound like a long time at all. I feel like I should be preparing, like sorting out the clothes and things I will take with me. Ooh, I am excited. This part, the anticipation, the preplanning, is always the hardest. It's too easy to overthink things. Especially since I'll basically only be gone a week, I have to force myself to calm down and quit worrying about buying the right clothes and accessories. I am hoping to be a little more spontaneous on this trip, but if that doesn't work out, oh well. Thinking about a day-tour to the Loire Chateaux, a morning (at least) spent in Chartres, a couple days in Brussels, plenty of time to wander museums, and a day or two flaner: an archaic French term meaning to meander the city, not exactly aimlessly, but for exploring, lazily, indulgently. The sort of day where you people watch, eat street vendor treats, stroll casually down the Champs Elysees or the back streets near your hotel, sketching, photographing, envisioning that the entire city exists for your sole pleasure.

With all this contemplation of this fast-approaching adventure, my mind is more and more drawn to thinking about my next adventure. Since I don't have money for extended travel, I am planning to move to another area of the US and get a new and different job. It is thrilling and scary and uncertain, but necessary. I am not complacent, but just plain bored with my job. I am seeking a new place for myself, where I am challenged to learn entirely new things, meet entirely new people, create a fulfilling adult life.