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in⋅vo⋅ca⋅tion: (n) the magic formula used to conjure up a spirit; incantation.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I think I'm starting to like you, Paris

For the first time in a couple of weeks, I feel like I'm starting to "get it". A couple of weeks ago, I was having issues finding housing, getting a wire transfer, setting up my bank account, getting classes figured out, etc, etc, but for the first time in a while, I'm starting to feel like the time you devote to getting settled in and getting things to work is almost over.

This last week, I signed the contract for my new apartment in Paris. It was so exciting to sign a lease for the first time in my life. My landlord and I met at a cafe (I can't do accents on this laptop so whatevs), we went over the document, and signed it. I'm getting my keys on Tuesday night and I move out of la cite, (GOODBYE, MAISON DES PROVINCES DE FRANCE!) and I move into my new apartment on the 3rd arrondissement. I'm really looking forward to moving in (not looking forward to carrying 2 overweight bags up 6 stories, NO ELEVATOR) but to furnishing the place and buying homey things.

This last week, I also got my money wired to me. It felt really good to not have to worry about cash. This is one thing that really annoys me about France. Credit cards are not widely accepted and not only that, but they barely take American Express. This is a problem because this is what I use most of the time, and sometimes, they won't even take my Visa. I'm not sure why, but they always ask for the chip...I thought mine had a chip, but I guess all this time, what seemed like a chip, really wasn't? In any case, they barely ever take American Express anywhere except for most supermarkets (except for Lidl). I've started to slowly get used to that and to carrying enough cash with me.

I had my first full week of classes this last week. I seriously felt like I understood basically everything in most of my classes. I only had one class that freaked me out, a class on the financial crisis. I've never taken economics in college, and I know a bit about finance in general, at least the minimum amount the Economist can teach you. For the first hour of the class, I was excited, I felt like "YES! I know about Madoff!!" but the second hour of the class, I doodled in my notebook, completely confused, unable to understand this man's french. I'm not feeling 100% confident yet in my ability to understand french, but I feel like it's not as hard as I thought it would be, and that's comforting.

Jenna, my friend from Penn, is coming on Thursday night, so I'm pretty excited about that too. I feel like I'll have my apartment semi-figured out by then and I'll be able to show her around with some knowledge of the city...I can't wait.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Oh, god.
It was six years and nine months ago that I said goodbye to meat.
I didn't eat seafood until 2 years later.
It has been so long since I remember what meat tastes like. I smell it and that brings back the flavor, but I don't really remember it very well.
ANYWAY, STORY IS in Paris, I'm being tempted by none other than STEAK FRITES.

I've been to brazilian rodizios, I've been to steakhouses in Argentina, I toured southeast Asia, I've seen tasty meat everywhere and never did I feel like I should just a have a little piece of steak or chicken until PARIS.

I don't know if it has to do with my French 1 textbooks from 7th grade (Au bistro...oui, monsieur, je voudrais une orangina et un steak-frites, s'il vous plait!) that made steak-frites the dish to have in France or if the lack of protein in my poor man's diet of tabouleh and cheese with a little salad here and there is making me crave the mother of all proteins: COW.

Part of me feels kind of excited (what will it feel like when I have meat for the first time after almost seven years? will I still like it? will I enjoy it?) but also sad because it's a part of who I've been for so long (can I really eat a piece of a cow? can I really do that, just because it looks good? won't I puke afterward?).

We'll see who wins.
Me or the steak-frites.

Friday, September 18, 2009


A couple of things,

1. I have an apartment. 3eme, omgah.
2. I have money in the bank. (shawty, what you think 'bout that?)

(that is supposed to be an artsy rendition of my hatred towards BNP)


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Paris is like this

Paris is like a slice of plain cheesecake with whipped cream and almond shavings on top.

(For you to understand this analogy, you must know that I hate all kinds of nuts: peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc, etc, salted pistachios are the only exception, and I really love plain cheesecake)

In simpler terms, there's a lot of good stuff sprinkled with bad stuff.

So far, I've had an amazing time with all the people that I've met. From drinking wine at Pont des Arts at 3 am and being accosted by crazies to our Euro Disney day trip and our boat concert adventure, it has been great. There is so much to do in Paris, and a Monday can truly feel like a Friday. I love how easy it is to get around and I love how (most) people dress here and I love the comfort of my nice, little room at the Cité Universitaire.

However, I still haven't found somewhere to live, I still haven't gotten my bank account to work because it "hasn't been verified", I haven't paid for my logement because of my stupid bank account, and I have zero cash with me, again because of BNP Paribas. I still haven't gotten my student card and I haven't sorted out my Carte de Sejour. Basicallly, all the administrative stuff is lagging.

But, today, I've been feeling like there is a ray of hope to my administrative problems.

I went to see an apartment at the 3eme and it looks pretty great.

PROS: good area, down the block from Andy Wahloo, big apartment for a (very) good price, separation between the living room and the bedroom
CONS: 6th floor (without an elevator), I need a bank's caution (!), and the building will undergo renovation at some point in December (so, potential noise, etc, etc)

(I actually just called the owner to get all over this apartment)

As I walked away from the apartment, I had the feeling that I had finally found something I had liked and somewhere I could see myself in.

I walked into the metro at Etienne Marcel to come back to la Cite and I tried to get something to drink because I'm hungover thirsty (I wanted a 2.00 euro bottle of Nestea, but because I'm po', I settled for a 1.70 euro bottle of Evian). I put one euro and seventy cents in the vending machine and it returned my seventy cents. I didn't know why it was doing that and I just kept putting the money back in. After putting the money in for the third time, and just when I was ready to give up, I looked at the little screen and it said "2.00".

Someone had already put a euro in the machine! Or the vending machine got confused and thought I had put in two euros instead of one.

Anyway, I got my peach Nestea for half price.

A ray of light on a gray day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009



I'm Maria and I totes steal things from Dave to be obnox

highlights include, leopard candies, giving the keyboard dude a leopard candy, sand on my wine, reverse vaginas (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).

they were pretty great.

(Oh lolz, is that you, Ratatat?)

Monday, September 14, 2009



honestly, what if I really don't understand anything?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

streets of Paris


epic fail last night.

went to "Showcase" (a club, UNDER A BRIDGE) for a massive electronic show; line was long, waited for two hours in the cold to get in and RIEN (de rien).

thanks for nothing, kevin.

Friday, September 11, 2009


1. Pont des Arts
2. Society (fail)
3. La Cantoche
4. Society (success)

(courtesy of our social chair, Martin)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

my brother's memoirs

(Hotel de Ville, Paris, August 2009)
(Berlin, August 2009)

when in France...

do as the french professors do.

Both my methodology and french class had a dinner today to celebrate the end of the "welcome programme". A nice concept, the French have, except for the fact that I was left to the less animate corner of the table (the bane of rectangular tables, after all), sitting in between our two french professors, the conservative girl, and the girl who lusts after one of our professors. What do you do when you're sitting in the boring corner? Well, of course, you have more wine.

And that I did.

After a number of glasses of sangria, white wine, and red wine, our methodology professor decided it would be pertinent to have some beer. While some were wise enough to go home, some of us were foolish (read: drunk) enough to go along. Conversations of football, opera, and classical music ensued.

When in France, do as your french (and way more bohemian) professors do.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

do not want.
(As the glam rock band Poison so eloquently immortalized in their 1988 ballad, every rose has its thorn. Internet access in France comes at a price: the dreaded fr)


Determination, in France, is everything.

This applies to both opening bank accounts and wine bottles without corkscrews.

(Pictured below, courtesy of my blackberry, the very essence of determination: corks shoved into wine bottles to guarantee immediate access to the drink in the absence of a corkscrew. Implications? Bits of cork all over your {messy} room and cork all over your {cheap} wine)

a brief history of (my) time (in Paris)

August 28th: arrival by high-speed train from Germany and sibling reunion
August 29th: the sights, sounds, and smells of touristy Paris (Eiffel Tower, Tuileries, etc, etc)
August 30th: moving into la cité universitaire (it resembles an american college campus with dorms and college houses)
August 31st: last day with my sister, and first day of Sciences Po orientation

What I have learned about France and Sciences Po, thus far:
-Bureaucracy is an important part of how things are done.
-Efficiency; however, isn't as important.
-How you say it is more important than what you say (contrary to what the american system may have taught me).
-Don't correct professors.
-Le Figaro, a renowned french newspaper, is right-wing.
-Le Monde = New York Times.
-The first world can sometimes feel like the third world (we're not so different, after all).
-Cafes in St-Germain-des-Pres are overpriced, esp. if people seem to be there to be seen rather than to eat well.
-I want to live in Le Marais.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

but first,

aside from being an incantation to appeal to higher deities for assistance in this endeavor, I hope this can also serve as a way to document a year en France: impressions, pictures (albeit low-quality ones, SLR, plz?), little pieces of gastronomy (more than baguettes, j'espere), fashion (vintage, s'il vous plait), and all other things I see fitting (objets d'art, trinkets, and anything else are fair game).
is everybody in?

the ceremony's about to begin