Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lady Angela's Third Annual Report

Every August, I put together a synopsis of the past year's shenanigans, in honor of my permanent arrival in Paris on August 1, 2013. I also generally write in celebration of my student visa renewal. Now, after three years of student visa status, I am in the process of (hopefully!) attaining a work visa through my current job. This would be a better situation on a great many levels, but also comes at the price of the complete unknown. My job had to mail in paperwork right before my old visa expired, leaving me bound within the iron walls (or vineyard-laden panoramas) of France and also leaving me at the mercy of an answer that may not come for months. Particularly since no French citizen in their right mind would consider doing work in August, I have no real hope of resolution until September at the earliest. It is frustrating and unnerving to end my last three years on such an unstable note, but the hope that remains will ideally create my new beginning.

In looking back on the past 12 months, I can't help but marvel at all I have accomplished. It's so easy to feel the humdrum and petty irritations of life on the day-to-day without even recognizing the momentous feats that are sprinkled into the mix. I whine and analyze and annoy with the best of them, but I try to remember the profound luck and love I am also privy to. One of the main reasons I choose to frolic abroad is my access to action and adventure in the form of epic travel. This year, I went to London twice, once in conjunction with Bath and once as a segue to Inverness and the Isle of Skye. I visited Ireland twice within a 6 month span, which provided bookends to a notable romantic entanglement. I was able to fly home twice this year as well, for Christmas in December and then again in May for a best friend's wedding. In France, I hopped over to Rouen for a day, and spent weekends in Aix-En-Provence and Montpellier. And of course my two new travel spots were Berlin and Amsterdam, both filled with history and culture and lots of food and drink. 

Amidst all of these breathtaking travels, I was also insanely fortunate to attend what I feel are the two most popular shows on stage this year. While home for my friend's wedding in May, I went to see the Broadway phenomenon Hamilton, going so far as to trek out to Weehawken earlier in the day and reenact the Hamilton-Burr duel of infamy. Even more fortunately, I scored preview seats to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child after my cousin sat on an online queue for hours at her office desk last September. I paid one million billion dollars for the former and practically pennies in comparison for the latter. It evened out in the end and I don't know a theatre dork for miles who wouldn't feel so smugly satisfied.

The job I got over a year ago proceeded to get busier and better and come with more and more responsibility, thanks to my bosses and my own keen knack for a job well done. I solidified friendships and even hosted Meetup events, as the great socialite and lover of attention that I am. Only recently, I took a children's book writing class and began a novel I hope to complete sooner rather than later on the road to becoming the next JK Rowling. 

And at long last, I had some luck in love... or in romance at least. Just before Christmas, I had a three night reminder of what a hot Australian man can offer when he is on vacation and wants to wine and dine an American lady at the Moulin Rouge. I can only suppose this was the necessary preamble to meeting the British man with whom I had the longest relationship I have ever had to date: 5 months. I know, I know, not very long for anyone post-high school but a victory for me nonetheless. I got to experience real dating and what it's like for a man to want to see me and spend quality time. In the end, it was a substantial disappointment when I realized he had no interest in a real relationship and lacked the maturity to relay this information outside of a text. But no regrets. Never any regrets in the pursuit of real love.

And so now I wait and wonder upon the wings of my past year's success. I will remain in Europe some way somehow. I will run a "marathon" in a few weeks. I will finish a novel. I will travel as soon as possible. I will see friends and family. I will continue to work and create. And let's just say it, I will find that hot loving man I so ardently desire. In writing a list of accomplishments, it may seem narcissistic or vainglorious (a word I just found in the thesaurus and sort of really love now) but it's mainly a wonderful way of gaining perspective and acknowledging how good you've got it despite disappointments or defeats. I am one lucky lady. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Surprise Kangaroos

During my lazy hazy crazy summer days off, I have been trying to enjoy the fine weather to the best of my ability. I have been lucky enough to be housesitting all of August for an American friend who traveled home for a few weeks. Her lovely abode is right near the Seine by Trocadero and has a charming little outdoor terrace for my personal amusement. While I have been occasionally plagued with mind-reading pigeons and unruly garden rats, I have also been enjoying jogs and walks along the river, sometimes as far as Chatelet and beyond. In between my weekends down in the South, I have been trying to write blogs and several other projects, work very few hours on real moneymaking employment, and see occasional new sites about town.

Most recently, I took the opportunity of a free afternoon to venture to the Jardin des Plantes in the heart of Paris. I was actually inspired by my failed attempt to see the gardens of the same name in Montpellier last week. I walked most of the way from the 16th arrondissment, only stopping at one point to spend money I don't have on some well-needed summer dresses. (And by well-needed, I mainly mean that lingering visa stress limbo gives me every right to indulge in a little retail therapy.) Eventually, I made it to the 5th and the glimmering gardens of the afternoon sun.

More often than not, I am entirely entranced by flowers and greenery. Despite my less-than-enthusiastic stance on things like camping and roughing it in a gross insect/wily woodland creature/no access to showers sort of way, I really do have a massive affinity toward nature. I feel rejuvenated by plants and oceans and really adorable creatures that do not scurry on your feet without permission. In fact, one of my friends once told me that if I was to ever have a magical power, it would be the ability to sing (or maybe she said shriek) at such a high volume that I could attract magical critters from all around as my own enchanted army. That works for me. It doesn't hurt that my general desire to be a princess certainly fits in with the whole mystical forest metaphor.

At any rate, I spent a good long while wandering through the rows of fleurs, discovering lily pads and hidden paths and all manner of fascinating flora. Toward the end of my adventuring, I bought a nice cool bottle of water to rehydrate my parched self and began the journey back to the metro. While I was already aware that the Paris Zoo adjoins the Jardin, I was in for quite a surprise when I passed a fenced in area quite accessible to us non-zoo-goers. I walked up to the gate and, lo and behold, but there were several kangaroos lounging in the shade! Holy dooley! Kangaroos in Paris! As visiting Australia is top on my list of travel dreams these days, and I rank kangaroos only second or third to duck-billed platypi, it was for me, the perfect end to my eco-magical day.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

La Plage et La Promenade

The next morning, we finally found our way to the beach. A cute little breakfast at a café followed by a jolly little tram ride and we could smell the salty sea air. The one problem? I had neglected to bring a beach towel, and after several failed attempts at locating one, including wandering way further up the beach path than originally intended, I finally had to accept defeat. Fortunately, my lovely compatriots were willing to share their cottony real estate and save me from the scalding sand.

At first glance, we were wildly impressed by the blue sea, the sandy terrain, and most specifically the fact that the landscape was noticeably UNcrowded. For a three day weekend in the middle of August, it was quite an anomaly in our eyes. We spent the next several hours lounging in the sun and taking occasional dips in the water. It was thoroughly relaxing and just what I could have hoped for.... Until we realized that there was no public bathroom in sight. Fun! One of my friends walked with me to the closest beach restaurant and did me the honor of pleading our case. Without question, the server let us through and I was once again surprised by the contrasting customs of the South. No crowds and no qualms about using a restaurant restroom? Shocking.

Our little jaunt also gave us the opportunity to see the interior of the establishment, along with the stunning cocktails so tantalizingly at our disposal. When we finally packed up our beachside camp, it seemed the only obvious decision to hunker down amidst palm trees and sleek white furniture and taste the delights of the season. It was definitely a club-like atmosphere with loud music blaring and bikini-clad ladies showing off their wears. Never fear, the topless contingency stayed out on their beach chairs and beach BEDS to get some sun. The beach beds had pillows. Enough said.

After some delightfully delicious cocktails, it was finally time to head back home for the night. As mentioned in my previous post, we hadn't decided on a restaurant to reserve at and we didn't think it would be such a problem to find something on a late Sunday eve. Wrong wrong wrong. We tried several restaurants who all claimed they were booked solid despite a plethora of tables available. We therefore jumped at the first place that would take us and I had a lovely plate of couscous as a reward.

The next morning, one of our party had opted to book an early train home, so the two remaining of us planned some last-minute sightseeing before our own departure back to Paris. En route to the Cathedrale St-Pierre, we managed to bump into the Porte du Peyrou which stands before the Place Royale du Peyrou and is also home to the stunning Chateau d'Eau and its historic aqueducts. I was actually sad that I couldn't just sit and read for the rest of the day in the tranquil square. 

After that, we did finally make it to the Cathedrale, which is definitely an impressive sight. Sadly, we discovered that the Jardins des Plantes right near by was closed, but in our wanderings we were fortunate to discover an outdoor art installation of beautifully decorated flags, as well as a very cute square lined with restaurants for our final Montpelliérain lunch. As we trekked on back to fetch our bags and jump on the train, I felt thoroughly satisfied with our weekend away. I will definitely keep Montpellier on my list of successful weekend getaways.