Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is the time of year that's filled with life and love,
They're those who think it's when a baby came from up above.

No matter what religion, tis a time for grace and cheer,
Embracing all around us, drinking lots of wine or beer.

The food will range from turkey, ham, to taters, sprouts and cheese,
My favorite of all time being kielbasa, always, please.

While sitting with my friends and family, stateside for a change,
I think of all the luck and joy I'm given and exchange.

The sounds of Christmas carols fill the house to dance around,
And baby nephew jingle jangles with his Christmas crown.

I hope today all those I know, or've met or one day will,
Experience the magic of a love that's set to fill.

I take this moment just to stop and through a poem say,
I love you all, please have a Very Merry Christmas day!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

One Horse, Soap, and Sleigh

This semester has been a whirlwind to say the very least. As I often muse to myself, living in Paris has the same highs and lows as living in NYC. The difference is that the highs are always higher and the lows never as low. The whole roller coaster is just elevated to a completely new level of ridiculousness.

Classes were, if possible, more annoying than the previous year but I had more flexibility than I had before. I hit what was possibly the lowest of the financial lows I've had ever but managed to find a job that fits perfectly into my schedule and I believe will help me bring my finances to a healthier level than ever before. Love-life remained confusing as ever, never a lack of interesting men to meet in my travels but always just as hard to find one who accepts the glitterstar that is me for better or worse. Travel rose once again to a stunning level, leading me to Eastern European cities such as Budapest, Vienna, and Prague, and I stepped on Spanish soil for the very first time. I also got an amazing visit from some of my very favorite family members, seeing my Dad and Stepmom in Barcelona, and hosting my brother, sister-in-law and bestest of nephews in Paris.While I may have packed away one too many pastries this fall, I also ran my very first 5k quickly followed by my very first 10k.

When I list such amazing experiences, all tightly squeezed into a 4 month span, I have no choice but to realize how profoundly lucky I am. Especially because the good fortune doesn't end there. Tomorrow I venture home to the U.S. where I get to see my most amazing friends and family, followed quickly by a return visit to the U.K. for New Year's celebrations. As I pack and prepare for my flight to NYC, I have the sounds of the Christmas season ringing in my ears. And as my oldest friend in the world used to say "Jingle bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse, soap, and sleigh." Happy Holidays!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Santa 10k

You might have noticed lately that every once in a blue moon, I mention this crazy thing called running... For exercise... Quandary... While I have never (not even remotely in the tiniest way) been called sporty, I did enjoy rather intense dance classes in my youth, and I was once known for conducting flying classes during recess when I was in elementary school. Even so, running has never been my thing. But it's relatively cheap, you can do it wherever, and signing up for various runs can actually be a lot of fun. I ran my first 5k a couple of months ago, and was rather flabbergasted that I was able to run almost the whole thing. This, from a girl who had such bad asthma in her youth that she could never get through a mile without walking half the distance. Even more surprising was when I signed up for a 10k less than two months later! My running friend and I wanted to do another 5k, but when I happened upon a "Santa Run", I instantly became smitten and daydreamed about myself galloping about in a Santa suit. 

Tragically, or rather fortuitously, the only distance in which people officially dressed up was the 10k. My stupid friend, who has not yet learned her lesson when proposing absurd ideas and expecting me NOT to accept, mentioned she might be ok with doing it. So away we went! For the past month, I basically assumed I would have to walk part of the way. My schedule has gone berserk, the weather has been terrible, all leading to me not ever having enough time to truly train. So, as the date approached, I was excited but not overly hopeful... Except for the fact that I know that ridiculousness is generally better than any sort of adrenaline or aphrodisiac. Put me in a costume or give me a prop, and all is well with the world.

Though Sunday morning was definitely presided over by Jack Frost, I made my way to the sports center ready to do my best. Unlike the 5k, this was a huge affair, tons of people around with Santa costumes, hats, and various paraphernalia of a Christmasy nature. There was loud music, a big screen, and I could see the finish line with medals awaiting us. Reportedly about 18,000 people strong, mixed among the several races of various distances, ages, and levels of seriousness, it was a lot more official than the 5k we did a while back. Everyone was into the festive holiday spirit and the energy was pumping through the crowd. 

I started the run with a high level of enthusiasm, thinking I could at least make it halfway before a break, but determined to just keep on going until my legs or lungs gave way. After the 5k point, I was pretty determined to sally forth until the end. Except for a really steep hill, for which I slowed down just in case my lungs chose to explode, I ran... the... entire... distance... Coming in at 1 hour and 6 minutes. I was absolutely floored with my result and beaming with pride! I had never run a mile before this year, never mind 10k! With a cute little medal around my neck, and a thimble-sized cup of hot wine as a reward, I went home to stretch, to collapse, and to feel utterly accomplished.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Bon Voyage and Two Bottles of Wine

My final day of family fanfare... tear, sigh... hysterical waterfall of catastrophic tears... But at least we had a jam-packed schedule full of fun Parisian treats. One of the first things we did when planning for this trip was to think of kid-friendly Parisian spots for Le Moo Moo (my nephew, and yes I really call him that.) Over a year ago, a friend of mine had mentioned Parc de la Villette as one of his favorite spots, so I indulged in a day on my own to explore. It was then that I was introduced to the children's museum located there, which I thought would be a perfect for the little man. We researched the details and sister-in-law purchased tickets for us 3 adults to escort our wee lad in an afternoon of elfin mayhem. There were tons of things to test and explore, from water games to mirrors and the like. The best, however, was an entire construction room where the kids had to don worker jackets and helmets while they carted around blocks and used a real crane to pretend to build a house. He was in heaven and would have easily stayed there forever if we had let him. Sadly, (or rather perfectly for the adults), you are only allotted a specific amount of time in the museum so that it's not completely overrun.

After this, we made our way to Montmartre, my very favorite neighborhood of all time. We wandered through some of the shops, wound our way through the picturesque avenues, took some impressive shots by Sacre Coeur, and ended our jaunt around Pigalle. After a rather long day of standing and walking, we decided to treat ourselves to a cab and escape the shenanigans of stomping through the metro with a toddler and his entourage. It ended up being our second disaster with transportation in the same day. The first was when we actually attempted the metro between the museum and Montmarte, and this time was when all cab drivers in all of Paris were apparently on break at the same time. Even through that crazy app we call Uber. At long last, we found an available taxi, and were incredibly relieved when we made it back down to the 5th. It was actually all rather fortuitous because the siblings were able to do some last minute shopping on Rue Mouffetard before their departure, and while Le Moo Moo was turning cranktastic again and almost knocked down a display in a chocolate shop, this ultimately led to him being banished outside to hang with Auntie La. Twice, workers from the chocolate shop came out to give him a free sweet, clearly much more taken in by his dimples and charm than turned off by his spirited stubbornness. This also meant that he slowly progressed into a happier mood and allowed me to take some selfies again, one of which caused us to literally topple over on the sidewalk whilst he laughed hysterically.

We decided to spend our final evening back in the Parisian pad, so we picked up all we needed in the way of treats once again, and we ended up with a feast rivaling that of Thanksgiving. Sister-in-law and I decided to share a roast chicken, 4 or 5 desserts were bought, and of course the now prevailing ritual, two bottles of wine. I was certainly sad to say my adieus that evening, knowing the fam would be packing up and flying home the next morn. But happily, I also knew I would be seeing them again in just a few weeks for Christmas. And wow, has time already been flying!