Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Burn This Disco Out.

Remember when DJ Tanner went to Disney World right after she broke up with Steve and kept seeing his face everywhere? I think I'm in that situation right now.

Disney World = Europe
D.J. Tanner = moi
Steve = Chicago

I spent the weekend in Amsterdam (totally love saying that casually) and the entire time I could not shake the feeling of my lovely Midwestern city. Chicago is not built on canals and the citizens do not speak Dutch but something about the friendly people and the big streets and cute boutiques brought me back to Bucktown. Or maybe I'm just secretly slipping into homesick phase.

Thursday night didn't help. I bullied my friends into checking out the Plants and Animals concert with me in a somewhat unfamiliar part of town. The night started out a little rough as we tried to track each other down around the nineteen million Metro exits and then walked through some questionable crowds along the canal before actually finding the venue. We were 45 minutes late and slightly concerned since we didn't know the protocol for Parisian concert punctuality.

If I hadn't been holding my Metro map, I would've sworn I had just walked into Empty Bottle in downtown Chicago. It was a tiny, dark place attached to a bigger restaurant where everyone stood in small clumps listening to the band. The fact that both the opening act (who we were not late for) and Plants and Animals sang totally in English didn't help my back-at-home sentiments. I did, however, keep getting those "Oh yeah! I'm in Paris!" reminders whenever the song would end and they'd warm up to the crowd in French. We were thrilled that he spoke like us (we could hear the break between words, and he used 4th semester style sentence structures.)

I won't try to claim musical intellect right now, Plants and Animals are one of my pseudo-familiar iPod bands, but if the lead singer walked by me on the street I'd be oblivious. Still I couldn't be happier that we went to go see them. It breaks my heart a bit that I haven't attended these concerts all along (I dropped the ball on M.Ward, CocoRosie... Q Tip.) I also made a fool out of myself awkwardly interrupting the conversation the lead singer was having after the show to tell him we enjoyed the concert.

"You'll be at Lollapalooza this year right!?"
"Uh, no. Pitchfork. Ugh."

Alright, asshole, throw me a bone here. You would be at Pitchfork, and you would be offended that I said the wrong Chicago summer music festival.

I digress.

It was a feel-good show, and it was refreshing to be surrounded by a different type of Parisian crowd. (I bet you can't guess how many black wayfarer glasses I spotted.) Plants and Animals are lucky because they could've played a real out-of-tune set, and I would not have known the difference since I was so entranced by the Chicago-esque atmosphere.

But no worries, I'm not ready to say au revoir to France quite yet. I still need to fill my upcoming weeks with jardin picnics and Marais thrift stores and South of France excursions.

I'll leave you with this horrifying note: In two days it will be JUNE.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm Not There.

It's a tough life trying to live it up in Paris while reminiscing about Madison but still desperately holding on to my Chicago pride.

And by tough life I mean look how lucky I am.

Seven weeks left in Paris is just the right amount of time for me to perfect the French "rrRrrkhakhkj" sound and convince a local to rent me out a public bike (that I would never realistically ride.)

Come July I can relax, guilt-free, on the big red couch Chez Hindi with a forkfull of Salwa's spaghetti in the right hand and my OnDemand remote in the left. I miiight get up at some point to walk the quarter-mile to the pool or take a train into the city, we'll see.

And then August in Madison. Oh sweet, sweet August in Madison.
I have only two words: Terrace and Bratspatiolongawaitedreunionschipotlepicnicsurbansales-

It's a great plan so far, I'm well aware, but it only extends until Doomsday (2010 UW Graduation.) So instead of searching for a graduate school that would allow me to get my masters in Engineering of Tetris, I thought I'd clump all previous paragraphs together into my very own utopia that the rest of you can hunt down for me.

It must be a city, but not an overwhelmingly huge metropolis. It must have history. I want it to be easy to meet someone whose greatest greater than great grandfather lived in the same apartment as him. It must include a diner where I walk in and the guy with the apron behind the counter says, "Hey, Jenna! Here are your favorite fried eggs with warm pita bread and a half circle of orange slices. Just the way you like it, Hindi." It must be along some body of water and run by public transportation. I'll walk anyway because I want to forget what it once felt like to lose my car in a parking lot bigger than Camp Randall. It must have lots and lots of delicious local cuisine of every variety and I want Bobby Flay to lose.

It must be warm and sunny. I can do these oh-frost-bite-is-normal winters for only so long. But of course it can't skip Birthday Season (also known by some as "Autumn.")

And it must be populated with very legit people. The citizens will be open-minded and deep and motivated. But they will also be warm and humble. Showing newbies around is expected and being active (at political rallies, at concerts, at dinner) is necessary. I want families and bachelors and students and foreigners. They will be loud and they will smile and they will not care if you're late.

So if you've found this place, or if you'd like to help me boot it up, holla@cha girl.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Baby, I Love Your Way.

Save the date, ladies and gents. I'm getting married, and I'm getting married in Paris.

This morning, this bright-shining Sunday morning, I finally found The One. We're talking butterflies and cloud-nine feelings and everything.

I met him at the Marché de Neuilly in between scoping out fresh fruit and bargaining for scarves. I couldn't tell you his name or the color of his eyes... but oh, that sandwich.

I knew it was love when he handed me the most perfectly made sandwich I've had in a long, long time. As soon as I stepped into the market I stopped in my tracks at the sight of my beloved pita bread. I think I started to break into a sweat when I saw this man put garlic spread and baba ghanoush and tabbouleh and chicken kebab all in one heavenly wrap. A Heavenly. Wrap. It was served nice and warm, and I literally couldn't stop smiling long enough to take a bite. I never thought to put all these Middle Eastern favorites into one sandwich, but now I know. He even gave me a meat sambousek for free (See? He loves me, too.)

After admitting to myself that I couldn't keep walking around and multi-task as long as that wrap was uneaten, I sat by a fountain and gave 110% attention to my unexpected lunch. A man selling flowers tried calling out to me that his plants were better than my sandwich. Okay, Monsieur, maybe if you had falafel growing on those branches I'd take you more seriously.

The market was definitely a cool trip, but I think I started on way too high of a note to really care about anything past that Lebanese stand.

And okay, fine, maybe I'm in love with this man for the wrong reasons. (I've made this mistake once before. I thought I had a crush on Mark from the Highlander cafeteria, but it was actually just those chicken caesar wraps he made that grasped my heart.)

At one point, I think my Lebanese sandwich fiance said something to me along the lines of, "You know, I am not dating anyone. Heh. Heh?" But that makes this story a lot less cute and a lot more creepy. So I'm going to ignore that part just like I ignored him when he made the comment.

I accidentally discovered that this market is walking distance from the apartment. So next Sunday afternoon, you know where to find me. Until then, good luck trying to get, "tabbouleh, tabbouleh tabbouleh, makes me shake, shake shake my booty," out of your head.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Slow Down Smile.

I just woke up from a dream in which it was my first day back in the States.

I was happy to be home (and got really excited to see a coffee machine, which exist in Europe so I'm not sure what that's about) but during my whole dream I felt so... incomplete. All my unfinished business in Paris weighed me down.

I hadn't gone to Centre Pompidou or ordered foie gras. And I felt horrible that I hadn't even said Au revoir, merci! to my Madame. But then I opened my eyes, saw my petite fireplace and French folder, and smiled.

Plenty of friends and family make me anticipate an epic homecoming, but the reality of six whole more weeks in Paris is pretty wonderful.

Now... some Spring Break photo fun!

On my way to the Sufi Saint Shrine in Tunisia.


These beautiful, blue doors were everwhere in Tunis.

The necessary pose in front of the view in Florence.

Another picturesque view in Firenze!I had a strange obsession with these birdcages in the Roman Forum.

The Colosseum!