Bachelorette

I usually dread Party Games. In fact, I might go so far as to say that MOST people are with me on this one. Especially when you don’t know everyone attending, which is increasingly the case as friends from high school and friends from college converge for the Big Day Festivities. Last week, however, I managed to successfully DIY my way through hosting a bachelorette party game  successfully!

The rules? Simple, every attendee must select a card from the deck and complete their challenge before the end of the night! People who don’t complete their goal have to pay the penalty of the bride’s choice (often times this involves buying her a beverage-of-choice). While not necessarily all that original, this game is a little audacious, without ever crossing the awkward line into downright uncomfortable. It was a great success, and I am happy to share the [very rough] blueprint for the challenge deck with any of you who are on the hunt for a non-awkward bachelorette party activity!

Challenges!!!

Bachelorette game – DIY

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Reflections on being “home”…

This was written in June of 2007, shortly after returning home from a year spent living in Aix-en-Provence.

crossing under

I’m there…here…

When all is said and done, I’ve decided that going abroad is sort of like being a chronic not-dater. Nobody really gets it unless they’re in the exact same situation. So you end up sounding lame and whiny whenever you discuss said subjects.

Every time I begin a sentence with “In France…” or say, “When I was in France…” I feel like an unforgivable snob. And a poser. I mean, I wasn’t in France on vacation or anything. It wasn’t like I was pall-ing it up with Johnny Depp in his Villa. It’s just that, if ever speaking about France, I’m obliged to say “In France”, because that is, in fact, where I was. I can’t help that it sounds pretentious! But the other day I was talking to someone and I said “I haven’t been to the gym since I was in Paris!” (by the way, slight exaggeration, but only slight)…and they sort of rolled their eyes at me, as if to say “Oh right, back when you were in PAAAARIS. Sheesh.”

Here

In fact, I’m discovering that most people want to hear one of two responses when they ask the inevitable question asked to all first-time-back study-abroaders. And, yes, you know the question. It comes in a few different forms, but is generally the same. “SO, How was FRANCE?” or “Oh my GOSH, how was FRANCE?!?!?!” or even better, “So, FRANCE! Was it just completely amazing?”

The majority of people are looking for one answer: YES.
(The slight acceptable variation being: “Yes, it was incredible.”)

These people, who we will call the “Yessers” are slightly interested in you as something of an oddity for having not been around for the past year, but for the most part, you could’ve just been dead for the semester. Or you could’ve been really bogged down by classes and just not had time for your social life. Either way, to the Yessers, you’re back in their realm, on their turf and nothing has changed. You’re still the same person. You are unchanged. You have not matured or learned anything. You are who you were. And you couldn’t feel more de-valued by them than you do when you speak to them, because you realize that they honestly just don’t care what’s happened to you.

The Yessers are the worst.

Lost but home

The second group of people are slightly better, but only slightly. They are the “Anecdoters”. These people want the funny stuff. They want a few French Smoker stories, French kiss stories (if you have them), French food (and especially alcohol) stories … and that’s about it. You know what? I give MAD props to the Anecdoters just for trying as hard as they do. And they really do learn much more about the whole year than the Yessers, but ultimately, to them, you haven’t really changed much either. And you are integrated back into the natural grain of their lives without so much as a slight blip in the heart moniter.

To be honest, I can’t really blame everybody. Well, the Yessers maybe I can blame a little. But in all honesty, I have been home for almost three weeks and I have no idea what to think. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t know what to say when people ask. Even when it’s just a “Yesser” question.

It’s easier to pretend I was never gone. So much easier.

Sunset at Home

And then I realize that it’s been a year and everything and everyone has changed, but most of all that I’ve changed.

I miss speaking French. I don’t have anyone I can speak it with here, really. I miss living in France. It wasn’t all parties and sight-seeing and wine, you know? It was just real life in a real place. It was calm sometimes and stressful sometimes. I helped cook food and did my laundry. I went to the gym and did my grocery shopping and babysat for spoiled little brats. It was just life. And now, even thought it’s part of me, it’s just not there. Severed. And I know about 5 people that understand that.

curious

So strange. I wonder what I should think?

Blast from The Past: My Roman Holiday

I wrote this in the early Spring of 2007, after travelling to Rome for the first time. 

Trevi

Today marked the end of my four-ish days in the Eternal City . I am exhausted, but I saw it all. Or at least, it feels like I did. It was a whilwind trip. Four days is a remarkably small allotment of time in the grand scheme of things, isn’t it? Actually it was only really three and a half because the Ciampano Airport in Rome was too foggy to land until lunchtime.

So, in those three-ish days I saw:

  • the Colloseum
  • the Pantheon
  • the Vatican
  • The Monument for Vittorio Emmanuel
  • The HUGE church of St. Peter
  • The Teatro Marcello
  • The Mouth of Truth
  • The Circus Maximus
  • The Baths at Therme (sort of, they were kind of boring, though)
  • The Castel St. Angelo
  • The Catacombes at St. Sebastien (cough cough, the original catacombs)
  • like 13 Basiliks from Egypt (did you know there are only like 5 left in Egypt itself?!)
  • About a BAZILLION churches that were covered with frescos and sculptures
  • several fountains (I was very clichée and liked Trevi Fountain best, although the Piazza Navona had an awesome one too!)
  • probably a partridge in a pair tree

Bernini's ElephantI actually think I got callous to artwork after about the fifth time we just happened across Bernini artwork in random piazzas and on occasional streetcorners. And don’t even talk to me about ruins. Did I mention that I went through the ruins of the Roman Forum? And the Imperial Forum? Twice? I saw enough pillars, whole and in pieces, to last me well into eternity. It was incredible. We also did a little touristy stopping and shopping at random points throughout our more-intentional visits. Suffice it to say, right now I’m tired. But like I said, we did it. I think I’ve officially and successfully “done” Rome. Whatever that means.

Columns

Without going into EVERYTHING I saw and did, I’ll try and share the high and low-lights…and any generally interesting bits.

First, the Youth Hostel experience (my first, I might add) was not so wretched as you might imagine. I mean, I’ve always thought they were ineptly named, I mean, who wants to stay in a place whose homonym is Hostile? It just sounds a bit off, doesn’t it? Well, we actually didn’t get what we expected, but it worked out. We got budged out of “Ciao Bella” hostel and into “Pegasus” hostel due to shower issues (we didn’t ask for details) and it worked out just lovely, with the exception of The Smoker from Senegal (self-explanatory) and the Precarious Toilet Paper Stock (also pretty self-evident). It looked a little shady for a bit…especially when our “guide”, whose name was pronounced aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-LEX, didn’t speak to us and GOT LOST on the way to our new hostel. . . all while singing “My hips Don’t Lie” to himself (SHAKIRA?!?!). Special kid. But we got there and it was okay. So: no Youth Hostel nightmare stories. Phew.

Oh, and, it’s true. Gelati is really just better than pretty much. . . everything you’ve ever tasted.

gelato

via

You know, we call ourselves a developed country in the USA, but why don’t we have pear, lemon and tiramisu flavored ice cream at every streetcorner? There’s even Gelato in McDonalds here. I didn’t try it, but it was THERE. (Clarification, I didn’t try it at McDonalds…I did try it. No fear.) Gelati joints are to Rome what Starbucks Shops are to NYC: They’re EVERYWHERE. Speaking of coffee, just as a side note, Italian coffee is just amazing. I had the best Cappucino ever. And I don’t even like coffee.  Soooo, good coffee and insanely good gelato. And the chocolate gelato? Lets just say, I may never eat chocolate again, because I don’t know if anything can measure up to this particular brand of Chocolate-Flavored-Italian-Nectar-of-the-(proverbial)-gods.

fountain hoppingNow, while the gelato legend is absolutely true I think the Italian Men legend is pure myth. I’ve gotten MUCH worse in France. We got lots of car honks, but people pretty much left us alone, except for the old men who were cute and told us we were beautiful at restaurants. Granted, we didn’t go out drinking at night, so that might’ve seperated us from the source of the myth. But still. And for a while I wondered if maybe it was just because we all looked like crap after doing the Extreme Rome visit (which involves inSANE amounts of hiking around Rome which begins at 6am), but I don’t think we looked that bad. (By we, I mean myself and the three other girls that went with.)

Spanish Steps - Empty for Once

Speaking of our daily jaunts…All roads might lead to Rome, but, once you’re there, good luck finding a concrete sense of direction! I was designated direction-finder for the past four days (ish) and, let me tell you, it was an adventure. I can now boast, however, that I can find my way around Rome all by myself. I’m a big girl now. The only real big botch was the extra 45 minutes walking to the catacombs, but we DID get to meet the cute old Italian lady who hand-signed us directions. I still hold that the experience was worth the extra walking.

We didn’t see the Pope, but I don’t think he would’ve been nearly as impressive as his house.

The VaticanGoodness gracious. If I was the pope (moot hypothetical, I know) I would totally just spend all my days walking around my MUSEUM at the Vatican!

Fresco . . . Not to be confused with Fresca

Paintings, sculptures, mummies, mosaics, maps, everything. . . You name it, they’ve got a room for it.

Llama in the VATICAN!The Cistine Chapel is absolutely exquisite. My favorite part of the ceiling is definitely the part where Adam and Eve are in the garden, sort of above the square with God and Adam doing their little finger-touch-tching-heavenly-choir-moment. Michelangelo was the man.

BOOM
If I could see any one thing in Rome restored to its original beauty, it would definitely be the Colloseum. The forum might be neat, but the Colloseo would be UNBELIEVABLY cool. Out front, there are all sorts of men dressed as gladiators walking around. They’re hard to believe…especially when they’re talking on cell phones, but if you sort of squint and have an active imagination, you can see how incredibly incredibly incredibly impressive it once was.

gladiator on a cell  phone

Wednesday morning was fabulous. My dear friend Kate and I lived out a mutual dream and had our own personal Roman Holiday, from the Spanish Steps, to Via Margutta 51 (which we actually got INto, thanks to some nifty construction workers leaving the door open!), to the Boca della Verita and on. No haircuts and no success finding strappy little sandals, but everything else was fabulous!

spanish steps

Lets see, any other general things? Hmmmm. Yes, we ate pasta and pizza. Yes, the food was fabulous. Yes, we got serenaded by street performers while eating. No, we did not succeed in our diabolical plan to hijack ourselves a couple of Vespas, which was a shame for our feet, but probably helped balance out our daily gelato tastings. Yes, I did hear somebody ACTUALLY say Mamma-mia. No, I didn’t buy any designer clothing. Hmmmmmm. . . .

Rome's Pantheon

When I got off of the plane thismorning in Marseille, ALL I wanted was to be getting home to my REAL home. Because as much as I love France, I still hold that there’s nothing like travel to make you realize there’s no place like home.

The Little Things…

I love music, as you may already know.

Today, I received a digital copy of a song that I recorded as part of our music group this year. After giving it a listen, I was struck by one significant thought: I am unbelievably thankful for the opportunity to make music as part of my job. 

In honor of that thankfulness, I decided to share the recording of “Spain” (originally performed by Chick Corea) as it was performed by students and yours truly, in all it’s unpolished/live glory:

And if you haven’t had enough, feel free to listen to the unpolished version of Autumn Leaves that we put together in about an hour last week. I can’t say it was an “on” singing day for me (ouch, sometimes listening to yourself can be less than fun!), but I loved what my students did with their parts, and I’m so impressed with how much they love music and how much they teach me!

My Real Life: Living With Roommates

roommatesI have lived with 17 different people since leaving for college back in 2004. 17 is a large number. In my years as what-feels-like a professional roommate, I have learned a lot. I have met some lovely people and some not-so-lovely people. I’ve had some wonderful experiences and some unexpected experiences. I’ve done some growing up. . . some. I might even have begun to understood what is important when living with people. But if nothing else, having roommates cycle through my life has provided me with moments of sheer ridiculousness. I have decided to share them, in all their limited artistic glory, just because they happened. To me. Which is pretty darn wild. SO, with a complete lack of chronological order, it begins.

married bf killer