Friday, March 31, 2006

No, I'm not dead/Reader Poll #4 (I think)

I'm sorry!!!! Please don't hate me, and I hope that there are still a few of you out there reading. New job (which I love, by the way) has cut down on blogging time, and since I got back from Europe I just haven't been able to catch up with my life. Does that make sense? I've been feeling a beat behind in everything, but in a good way. Yeah, it's a bit annoying that my apartment is always messy and that I can't find time to return emails, but you know what? Right now I'm happier than I have been in a long time. So I'll take a bit of apartment clutter - it's worth it.

In the meantime, everybody play!

1. When was the last time you saw the lights come up in a bar?

2. What are you reading right now?

3. Paper or plastic?

4. Got any vacation plans for the near future?

5. Do you want children?

6. What is your natural hair color?

7. Would you ever have plastic surgery? If so, what would you have done?

8. What's your drink?

9. How's work going?

10. Ask me something!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

To be continued... I'm sure

Now that I no longer work in the confines of my previous employment, and he is no longer in the confines of his previous relationship, I see nothing wrong with carrying out a healthy email flirtation with this man.

Do you?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Givin' you people what you really want...

Yes, I met a man in France.

Well, to backtrack a bit, we met ten men in France. They happened to be the entire horn section of the Glen Miller Orchestra, in from London to play a few gigs in Paris. They were loud and rowdy and looking for some fun - just like us. My friend sat at one end of the bar, casually charming and entertaining five of them, while I mirrored her on the other end. Both of us were having a blast, and had them in the palm of our hands. All in good fun, we told tales, flirted, and learned a little bit about the life of British musicians in a basement bar in the Bastille neighborhood in Paris.

As we left the second bar to move on to the third, someone was suddenly walking alongside me. Before I knew it I had taken his arm, and we were talking easily, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. This handsome, boyish, charming trumpet player from London had captured me in about two seconds flat, and I didn't want him to let go.

The first night ended with promises from the whole group to meet up again the next, and I floated home in a somewhat bewildered state. Slightly drunk and confused about how I had even started talking to this man...

"You know, he asked me about you," my friend told me as the cab whizzed past the Arc de Triomphe.


"Yeah, he came up to me really early on and asked what your deal was. Whether or not you were single."

Well that did it. Now I was really excited. Was it possible that I would actually fall in love in Paris?

The whole next day I was ripe with anticipation. Playing different scenarios over and over in my head, as I am wont to do, until I finally rationalized with myself. Yes, I would allow myself to fall in love with him tonight, just so that I could have the experience, but I would not allow myself to get carried away and expect anything. Nope, this would be nothing but a beautiful experience - one that anyone would be lucky to have in the most romantic city in the world. Good plan.

The night was going well. Everyone was having a good time, my new love was glued to my side. Then someone decided to find out the status of everyone at table.

"Who's got a girlfriend or boyfriend?" was asked to the table at large.

Yes, no, yeah, uh-huh, yes, no...

"Yep," said the voice next to me.

My heart skipped a beat, but I managed to squeak out my own no without showing any signs of shock... or confusion... or disgust.

A quick rationalization happened in my head. This was certainly a surprise, but I didn't want to think about it right now. It was my last night in Paris, I just wanted to have fun and flirt and carry on. So let's just carry on.

And carry on I did. Until we all left the restaurant and he and I found ourselves walking together again.

"Look, I feel like I should explain something..." he began.

"Oh, is this going to be about you having a girlfriend?" I never like to be seem surprised, or give away the upper hand too easily in situations like this, so atop the sassy horse I climbed, ready to engage in a full-on battle of wits.

Because the thing is, I was never going to have this conversation. This was his thing, his guilt to feel. I had resigned myself to just enjoying the evening. He was the one who, for whatever reason, felt the need to talk about it.

"Right. Well, the thing is, I mean, I know that I asked about you to your friend last night, and it's just that, well I didn't want you to be embarrassed - "

"Why would I be embarrassed? You're the one who should be embarrassed." My delivery of this line was incredibly calm. He took about a second to process and then knew I was right. "So why did you ask about me?"

"I don't know. I guess I'm a bit of a prat. I mean, I couldn't not ask... I don't know, I can't explain it. I just wanted to know more about you... I don't know..." he trailed off.

"Look, can't we just enjoy the night?"

We couldn't. Or at least, he couldn't. I went on trying to put off the inevitable disappointment for another few hours and be my usual self, and he talked on his cell phone to... well, one can guess who. He avoided me for most of the rest of the evening out of... well who knows. Guilt? Embarrassment? Decency?

Soon he left, but not before an interesting good bye. I was afraid to really engage with him again, not wanting to crumble, but he seemed to want to tie up the encounter, somehow.

"Look, I've really got to go now. Not because I want to, but I've had some bad news, and I've got to sort out some phone calls. I just want to say that it was really, really lovely to meet you. It really was. I know that... well, you've got my email address to, well, I mean, you can do with it what you want."

And then he was gone, and I was left in a crowded bar in the middle of Paris, with an I'm-having-fun mask glued to my face. The world was swirling around me, but I wasn't experiencing it anymore. I was trapped in my mind, where I had begun to process what had just happened.

Here I was - across the ocean - and faced with the same bad luck when it came to men. Once again, he was the pursuer, and once again, I had the rug ripped out from under me. Was it me? What am I - a fly strip for dysfunctional men? Are there clear red flags that I for some reason completely miss? I suppose these are questions that should definitely be answered. But not right then.

Because right then, I had Paris to enjoy.

Do you think Santa will bring me one of these next year?

I promise I'll be good...

Nutella and Coffee

My two new obsessions.

The Nutella I've managed to get a hold of now that I'm home, but the coffee is proving to be more difficult. My drip maker is no longer curing my fix, and a before work trip to the closest neighborhood coffee shop yesterday was highly disappointing, so I am left in a quandry of what to do.

My frugal nature will not allow me a trip to Starbuck's every morning, plus I'd like to feel a little bit more chic than that anyway. So do I spring for an espresso/one cup maker, like our hosts in Switzerland had? The coffee was delicious every morning, and incredibly easy to make. I was in awe of their machine, the little coffee pods, everything about it. But, it will surely be expensive. Or do I just suck it up and force my tastebuds to once again wrap around my normal Americano way?

Dear friends, I ask you - what is a Babe on a Budget with uncurable epicurean tastes to do?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dans le Sacre-Coeur


We hadn't quite realized the magnitude of the destination that awaited us at the end of the Fodor's suggested walk through Montmartre. We stood outside, mouths agape, snapping photos just like the rest of the tourists and then decided to duck inside.

The quiet and peace inside was a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle that had surrounded us for the past few days. Security guards were busily shushing people who were being disrespectful, silencing cell phones and forbidding cameras. Being there on a Sunday turned out to be a good move - we had come in during a worship service and decided to take a seat for a few minutes.

No sooner had my friend wondered out loud, in a barely audible whisper, if maybe we'd hear some music, a harp started playing and a cantor began singing. The nuns were dressed in white robes with black habits, and the lead voice was strong and clear. As the congregation faithfully echoed back the refrain, I wondered about their makeup. Were they regulars to this church - locals who made a daily or weekly habit of worshiping here? Or were they visitors like us, who considered themselves lucky to experience the beautiful service in this historic landmark?

We only stayed for a few minutes, and soon resumed our picture-taking and general touristy merriment. But the unusual peace of the huge and crowded cathedral has stayed with me, and I find myself looking back to it when I need a few minutes to rest my always busy mind and center my sometimes restless soul.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My Sunday Morning in Paris


I am swaddled in a bright, touristy jacket, fleece scarf bundling me up, camera in hand, wandering around the 17th arrondissement snapping pictures of everything that inspires me. The police officer's shielded motorcycle, the sushi restaurant, the van from Champagne...

I wander into a small cafe and decide that it's small tables and windowed wall will make it the perfect location for my breakfast. I settle in and am pleased with myself as I manage my first conversation with my rudimentary French, and wait for my pain au chocolat and cafe au lait to come.

Before I left for the trip, someone had asked me what I was most looking forward to about Paris. My answer had been simple. I couldn't wait to just wander around the neighborhoods quietly with nothing but my camera and my journal, observing the day to day life of people in Paris. Interaction was not important to me - I preferred to simply blend into the background (as much as my clearly American attire and demeanor would allow), and drink in the nuances of a life that was seemed different from my own.

When my breakfast arrived I took a moment to enjoy the fact that it looked exactly as I would have pictured it. The pastry was flaky and warm, and the coffee and milk swirled together beautifully. This trip would be singularly responsible for getting me hooked on strong, bitter coffee. As I snap a picture of my food, I can't help but wonder if to the locals I look like a complete idiot, or perhaps a cute American on an adventure. I decide that I can't worry about that - the answer probably really lies in how I view myself, and at this point I'm not sure.

I sip my coffee, anxious to get all of the caffeine in my body to fight my Tylenol PM/jet lag hangover, and contemplate our agenda for the day. Part of me is excited to finally get to see the Eiffel Tower and Montmarte, while the other part of me just wants to keep doing exactly what I am doing for the rest of the day. I realize that hitting the tourist spots is the price you pay for being a first time visitor. Perhaps on my next visit I'll be able to give into the luxury of just being there, but for now it is time to pay my dues and see the sights.

My coffee is cold. Time to pay the bill and set off. The perfect Parisian cafe experience is over, for now. I'm sure there will be more in my future.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Par-donn-ay moi

Bonjour, mes amis!

So sorry for the long absence. I've been in Europe for the past week on a whirlwind trip through France and Switzerland, and have been sans blogging abilities.

But rest assured, many stories, antecdotes, and pictures will be forthcoming. Here's a small preview:

-Wine tasting in the Jura Valley
-Potential romance with a British trumpet player in Paris
-Our epic search for a traditional French Aspic

Suffice it to say, it was the trip of a lifetime. Today I am recovering, unpacking, and preparing for tomorrow. Oh, have I not mentioned what tomorrow is yet? It's the first day of my...

new job!!!!

More on that later also.