July 2013
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Summer Before the Storm...

And we waited it out...
Days of heat have amounted to one very stuffy apartment. It was time for a change. I packed my bag. Water for drinking. Books for reading. Peaches for eating. Sunscreen for protecting (and the smell). It was going to be a good old-fashioned summer afternoon at the park.

Isolated thunderstorms were potentially hovering over the air.

“Well it always might rain in Paris,” Bridget reminded me via Gchat as I questioned my venture.

I barely gave it another thought as I threw on my sun glasses. I biked up to the Parc Buttes Chaumont, perching atop the hill, overlooking all of Paris. I spread out my towel and kicked off my shoes.

Summer ain’t so bad in Paris.

While tapping my feet to some music and flipping through my book, the air was clean and fresh, and I started to get nervous. This was Paris in the middle of July – it should smell more like baked urine and the heat should hang in the air like a sauna. What was this fresh cooling business?

Then I heard it. The few around me did, too. Thunder clapped overhead. The wind began to rustle the trees across the park as the refreshing air started to waft hints of ozone. A storm was brewing, but like good Parisians, we all dismissed it. It felt too good after so many days of heat.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Le 14 Juillet: On Feeling French...

I’m not French. Yet. July 14th has been, as far as I was concerned, a delayed July 4th celebration. Since 2008 I've celebrated it, always secretly thinking, “Wow, a revolution, how original. That’s so 1776.”

This year, things became decidedly more French. I embraced the fact that celebrating July 4th in France is futile. Even among other American friends, we just don’t really care. Without fireworks, what’s the point? The day came and went without much fanfare. Independence was alive and well, I just didn't need to light a sparkler to know that.

Bastille Day weekend arrived, however, and I felt a tiny swell of French patriotism. I wasn't about to memorize “La Marseillaise” or throw a baguette under my arm anytime soon, but I was excited to take advantage of the celebrations.

Next thing I know I’m along the Canal, July 13th, playing a heated game of boules, French baci ball. The fireworks are going off overhead as Parisians shoot them from the bridges crossing the water. Up the street the bal des pompiers was raging on as the music echoed from the buildings looming over us.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Thing About Gelato...

Favorite!
Traveling with a family member for the first time – like, grown-up traveling – was a fascinating experience. My sister and I spent a few days in Italy. We hadn't spent this much time together since, well, I can’t even remember since when. 

As siblings do, we had a few disagreements, though not over who gets the remote control or the last spoon of mashed potatoes at the dinner table. Instead we discussed family, friends, careers, and the perks and pitfalls of owning a dog.

She’s pro-dog. I say to wait. Alas...

Conversation got heated at times, but like old friends, and with no shortage of talking points to cover, we hit the road together without too much bickering. Mom would have been proud. And confused.

We trekked around Rome, Venice, and Florence, before one final pasta dinner and night on the town downing my downfall: gelato. It turned out to be the one thing we consistently saw eye to eye on.