July 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Adorable Animals - Taking the Big Step?

Cat-sitting success, Lindsey's baby Cali...
I had that dream again.  I wasn’t falling.  I wasn’t dying.  I wasn’t at my high school reunion dressed awkwardly in a tux drinking Champagne (that was Tuesday).  No, it was that dream where I became a father.  My child?  A young red tabby cat.

It’s an all-too-recurrent dream of mine.  I want a cat.  Well, actually, I think I want a dog, but I can’t leave a dog along for a day without paying the price.  I always grew up with dogs, rabbits, turtles, sea monkeys, birds, fish.  We had animals everywhere in the house, and even outside.  One summer we decided to set my brother digging in the backyard resulting in an aquatic garden, an ornamental pond full of tadpoles and koi.  The large golden fish were beautiful, and apparently very tasty to the endangered blue heron that they attracted to our backyard…

Though as long as I can remember, while the puppies ran around the house chewing shoes and the parakeets squalked in their cages, I had a stuffed reddish-orange cat that at one point lost an eye.  No one in the family wanted a kitten.  Cats are off-standish, unaffectionate, unfriendly.  Who needs that when you have a gushing, slobbering dog on the couch just yearning to be pet?  So I kept my plush cycloptic cat hidden safely in my room, never manifesting any real desire for a kitten.  While raised a dog person, I think I may be a closeted cat person.  Sorry, Mom.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Paris Fail: Someone Left the Bread Out in the Rain

It had just finished raining in the Luxembourg Gardens and the sun started to peak through the clouds when I came across this loaf of bread perched all alone on a park bench.  Someone left the bread out in the rain.  The saddest part was not that the bread would eventually get soggy and go to waste.  I could deal with that.  Instead, it just looked lonely.  

Who would leave a loaf of French bread all alone in a park during a rainstorm?  A sub-par eclair or a stale croissant I could deal with, but bread?  What would Donna Summer think?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Artisanal is the New Pink...

Thanks, Georges...from Le Bonbon au Palais candy store...
I laughed when I read on an application for the Sorbonne that a letter of motivation had to be “manuscrite,” or written out by hand.  In an age where virtually every aspect of our lives passes through a computer keyboard, I had to hand-write a letter in ink on a blank sheet of white paper.  No lines allowed.  How backwards, I thought.  I’d rather just type it.

I ended up not doing the application.  Lacking interest in the program, or simply playing the lazy card, I did not want to write the letter and waste hours recopying and applying white-out.  Some people say this method is used to gauge your character based on your handwriting.  Others say it’s to test your dedication.  I think it’s just to get a laugh out of the 19 year old girls who still dot their eyes with hearts.  It’s cute, but at the Sorbonne?

The idea of doing things in an artisanal fashion, keeping to tradition, doing things by hand, is a hallmark of French culture.  That’s why you can sit at the dinner table and discuss food for hours with the French because it’s all wrapped up in tradition – it’s not just about the taste and presentation, but where it comes from and how it is made.  It can be a fantastic obsession, resulting in the best, homemade, handcrafted anything.

But sometimes tradition gets in the way.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

This Nostalgia Tastes Likes Cardboard...

Just a box...

There’s a certain giddy feeling that we all get when we see emails from loved ones, friends, or family.  Especially living abroad, where email has replaced the written letter, it’s nice to know people are thinking of you.

But the emails can get a little sad.  You can’t touch them. You can’t hear them.  They are easily deleted and forgotten.  There is another form of communication, however, that evokes much more true emotion than my Gmail account.  Cardboard.  It’s nostalgic.  It’s unequivocally full of love like an email can never be.  You don’t think so?

Whenever my mother sends me a package, it’s always in a cardboard box. Be it cooking supplies, Halloween candy, or the most recent carton full of Tasty Kake pastries, the cardboard is an immediate signal that, “Hey, someone’s thinking of you!”  Envelopes sometimes have this effect, but it’s hard to get nostalgic about a letter when the phone bill comes in similar packaging.