more fun in Colonia, Uruguay

these are so out of order

black and whites of Estancia Tierra Santa

hanging out in paradise

out to pasture in Carmelo, Uruguay

Fran fell in love with Phoebe the dog at Estancia Tierra Santa. He also fed his first pig, Colette.

1. Recoleta Cemetery, where Eva Peron is buried
2. Enjoying the vineyards of Mendoza
3. The gang post excrutiating bike ride, wishing we had taken the surrey. There is nothing like trying to steer an ill-fitting, top-heavy bike along busy intersections after four wine tastings, all the while feeling a constant breeze as dump trucks almost graze your left shoulder. Funny now...painful and scary then. Really. They don't make anyone wear helmets, sign release forms...and they definitely don't inform riders of just how treacherous the journey through Chacras de Coria is. The tour organizer is Bikes and Wines. Others have had better experiences with them....just be warned these tours are NOT for the faint of heart.

found in San Telmo

We wondered around the San Telmo markets one Sunday and had the pleasure of hearing this man/fellow restaurant patron sing some tunes at the neighborhood's French brasserie, La Pétanque. According to our waiter this guy played with Elton. He looked like a pirate of the Caribbean to me.


Man purses are all the rage in Tigre, Argentina

Sunset in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

They are known for their sunsets but the ones we experienced were a bit subpar due to the rain clouds. The Frenchie is fried.

Our mode of transport in Colonia.

Fran was a daredevil and is convinced these can't flip...


Another favorite small town/city

François and I arrived two days ago in Colonia, Uruguay via Buquebus (this is the ferry that crosses the Rio de la Plata and who happened to lose our luggage) from Buenos Aires. After over a week of traveling, this is my first post...that's what I get for traveling light and leaving my computer at home. I've just downloaded the first batch of pictures and don't even know how to retrieve them on Fran's computer :(

In brief, I arrived in Buenos Aires on December 17, left for Mendoza the 20th, was back in BA on Christmas Eve afternoon and celebrated ensemble with the Alabamians (Sarah Kate, Alice and Jay) and the Parisians (Fran and Rudy). Christmas day was spent mostly barefoot on the patio-drinking rosé, sunbathing and enjoying the occassional whiff of animal dung from our 13th floor apartment that overlooks the Buenos Aires zoo and botanical gardens (the apt. was lent to the Parisian boys by their Parisian friends who went back to Paris for the holidays...it's perfectly located with great wrap-around decks, fun decor- the gal who lives their deals street art- and a great ambiance.)

That about catches us up to today. We were in Colonia del Sacramento the past two days. Rough cobblestone streets, blooming vines, baby pink and blue sunsets and a day long go-cart/scooter excursion around the outskirts and beaches of town (Fran is a better driver than me despite the fact that I used to school peeps at The Track, Gulf Shores).

Tonight we are staying at the glorious Estancia Tierra Santa in Carmelo, Uruguay. We arrived this morning bright and early and Karen Vandergrift, proprietor of the estancia, picked us up and escorted us to this amazing piece of paradise. Horses, cows, sheep, creeks, pigs, dogs, exotic birds and plants and lush greenery...and she REALLY used her background in design and textiles to make this the most comfortable, classy, down-to-earth and romantic place I've ever experienced. We have just returned from a fabulous horse ride and are genuinely enjoying Karen's company. She spends half her time with her husband in San Francisco (she's American) and half her time at this fabulous ranch she founded in 2002. Mom- you would LOVE her style.

Colonia totally captivated me and I can't wait to go back. From what I've seen of South America, I think my family would enjoy it above everwhere else I've lived/traveled.

I still don't feel like I know Buenos Aires well enough to write about it except in the bits and pieces of experiences I've had. Mendoza (wine country) was wonderful-more to come on that. I'm sad to leave Uruguay- Colonia joins my exclusive little list of favorite small towns/cities:

Beaufort, South Carolina
Bruges, Belgium
Chantilly, France
Colonia, Uruguay (topping the list in my mind right now)

Fran is BEGGING for his computer...must go...à bientôt!


New Birmingham Blog of Note

I met a fellow New Collegian last night who has recently moved to Birmingham from Charleston, SC.

Her blog shows the Magic City from the perspective of a total newcomer- with a new family and on the job hunt- and is full of quaint neighborhood discoveries and great photos. I look forward to following her journey and think you should check it out, too. Sometimes all you need is a fresh set of eyes...


Indian Ambassador visits Alabama with stops in Huntsville, Birmingham and Montgomery

Yours truly with Indian Ambassador to the United States, Meera Shankar. Tuesday at Innovation Depot.
Her visit was sponsored by the Alabama India Business Partnership and Computer Technology Solutions. She spoke to the AIBP and guests at the Space and Rocket Center Monday night and paid a visit to Governor Riley Tuesday morning before a dessert reception at Innovation Depot and lunch at the Museum of Art.

Shankar is the first career diplomat serving as Ambassador in over 20 years. She is committed to promoting economic ties between our state and India. Neat lady. Cool opportunity for me!

La Capitale du Cheval: Chantilly

Birmingham fashionista Meg Larussa gives a shout out to Chantilly and the Birmingham International Center. Tonight we'll be drinking some newly-arrived Beaujolais Nouveau and hear from Steve Sirls of the American Friends of Chantilly ( a non-profit based in Nashville.)

Check out her blog here


Mardi Gras

Today I received in the mail...

1. My Brazilian visa

2. The new Economist magazine whose cover proclaims "Brazil takes off"

Is this coincidence?!

I just happened to track my passport that I sent off November 4th, and it happened to say "available for pick up."
So I rushed out to the mailbox, still in my bathrobe at 4 p.m. (hallelujah) and THERE IT WAS.

My lovely express-mailed package bearing my passport and new visa.
Followed by what is usually one of my favorite moments in the week- the arrival of The Economist.
This is meant to be!

I can't wait to see if Carnival in Rio tops Mardi Gras in NOLA. I have my doubts, that's for sure.
In the case that Rio wins, check ya later, because I'm never coming home.


Vino Veritas

Malbec from Mendoza is amazing.
I'll be there from Dec. 17- Jan. 14 (unless I don't come back.)

Who has Argentina stories, travel advice, contacts down there, etc. to share?


Durga Puja

Some of you may remember my pictures from the Kumortuli neighborhood of Kolkata. The Kumortulis are the potters that make the Durga and Kali sculptures for the religious festivals. Recently, I've gotten involved with the Indian community in Birmingham. Here are some pictures from the recent Durga Puja that took place a couple weeks ago. This Durga was flown in from India.



Also, can anyone help me make my blog look decent without me having to switch to wordpress?
The text over my face is just junky. I need help. But I don't feel like doing a blogging tutorial.
I also need to learn to do websites. I want to totally redo BIC's website...

Indian-theme movies I want to see! And other India chatter.

BBC.com had an article about movie makers portraying India in a different (read: less "slumdog") light as of late.
I want to see these.
I think the first one about Calcutta sounds particularly interesting.

Speaking of India, BIC had our first Int'l Business Afterhours of the season tonight.
Monty Newport, the Director of the Americas division of Command ALKON, was our speaker.
The technical stuff about the business (concrete, shipping, etc.) was not too interesting for me...
but I was interested to hear about their office in India and how market maturity affects the business they do there.
Basically, the company's sophisticated technology doesn't resonate in an Indian market where scaffolding is made from tree limbs and buckets of concrete are put on a pully...all done manually. And they mix their concrete on-site. But, when India's market "matures" it will be THE place to be for a company like Command ALKON. The infrastructure opportunities are huge as is the human capital. I wonder if they need a cross-cultural consultant???

Last India thing for the day:
I'm reading Imagining India by Nandan Nilekani, one of the founders of Infosys. Mom had picked it up for me a couple weeks ago...then I saw that Foreign Affairs listed it as THE book to read this year. It will make you want to invest in India. My Indian friend Rishi thinks it's too hopeful and doesn't speak enough about dalits. It is more of a city-man's viewpoint, not the view of most Indians. Which is probably true. This is a very Westernized, successful businessman who speaks of capitalism, democracy and potential. But the facts and figures you get and the picture of India...a country on the brink of great things...is pretty inspiring. If India can get its Northern population educated and use its human capital for good, I think its potential is unlimited. This book would be inspiring, informative and important for anyone planning to work in this global economy.

BIC Kickoff Reception/Visit of Irish Consul General/ Chulrua concert

Tracey Morant Adams giving keys to the city to Consul General Martin Rouine.
Chulrua concert (Paddy and Pat Egan)- Paddy O'Brien knows about 3,000 Irish tunes by heart, plays accordian.
Me and the Irish Consul General at the Tutwiler just prior to touring the B'ham Civil Rights Institute.

DC (Ethiopian food and gardens outside the Nat'l Cathedral)


In my life.

I have so much to catch up on here! This blog is going to have to become more general as I'm not traveling to distant lands...and won't be at least until December. But as I've come to find as of late, Birmingham has plenty for locals and visitors alike to discover. On that note, what would YOU, dear reader, have on a top 5 must-do/see list for foreigners coming to Alabama? In a couple weeks I'll be doing a little rambling in reverse...as in showing off my city to someone who has never visited our great state! Suggestions welcome! I'd love to hear your favorite eats, bars, events, areas, neighborhoods and happenings!

As many of you know, I'm currently working at the Birmingham International Center. Just loving it. There is probably nothing more "up my alley" in Birmingham, and I have the privilege of working with amazing, interesting, dynamic and traveled people. Two women collaborating with BIC have blogs: www.theinterculturalpost.blogspot.com and http://sportswoman.wordpress.com/ .

I'm planning some events, many related to our 2009-2010 Spotlight on the Isle of Ireland. (The BIC used to be the Festival of Arts, and we still spotlight/salute a country every year).

This weekend we hosted the Irish Consul General, Martin Rouine. He visited with Governor Riley and the Alabama Development Office in Montgomery, Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos and then joined us for a fabulous reception in his honor. Saturday morning I accompanied him to the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum. He was impressed and I think a little taken aback by the Institute. It is truly a well-done, educational and thought-provoking place. It shouldn't be missed. And it should probably be revisited often. We got to chat one-on-one about his visit to Birmingham, civil rights and Ireland. There are striking similarities between the Southeast and Ireland. I don't think it will be Mr. Rouine's last visit to Birmingham.

And speaking of the Southeast, did you know that the states of the Southeast USA comprise the world's 6th largest economy? I think that's pretty awesome. It is more and more becoming THE place to live in America. I'd love to help bring foreign companies to Alabama...and I plan to meet with ADO soon. Bob Riley has recently been named the head of the Southern Governors' Association. He has been an outstanding leader in economic development. I've yet to hear a complaint about him from either side of the fence.

So. Enough of that. I really plan to get back in the groove with stories, pictures and other fun stuff ASAP. I'm currently trying to plan a trip to Ireland through BIC, putting together a "Streets of India" night and a "Streets of France" night about Chantilly. The plan is to get someone here from American Friends of Chantilly and perhaps a renowned Birmingham chef to talk about the French culinary tradition (the event is scheduled for Nov. 19 which happens to be Beaujolais Nouveau day ;)

I'll also be speaking to a class at UA Law about my experience in India as a white, American female. So I'm putting together a little presentation.

I hope y'all will all get involved with the BIC. It seems that everyone in Birmingham has a tie to Ireland somehow. I'm personally very excited about our genealogy lecturer, Alister McReynolds, who is coming in October. He's the preiminent Scots-Irish scholar...has written books, etc.

And as far as my personal travels, I'm looking to go to Argentina later this year. I'll keep you posted. Buenos Aires , the "Paris of the South," has long been on my top 5 travel list. It just so happens that I'll have some dear friends there this December, so I'm looking into that. Re-reading In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin, as well.

That's all for now. Just a glass of Molly's leftover wedding Syrah and I'm off to beddy bye.


UP next

Pictures from DC, St. Louis and my Tibetan rug!


Ethiopian foodstalking aka Mom just drank a bottle of Benadryl

After my morning meeting, Pamcakes and I took a taxi out to the U corridor area. An Ethiopian cab driver had said there was a great Ethiopian restaraunt on the corner of 12th and U...better than the ones I'd read about in Adams Morgan.

So of course we had to go. I've been hearing great things about Ethiopian fare for a while. Even tried to eat Ethiopian with Molly in Tanzania to no success. Dukem, "the best Ethiopian food ever," as the menu says, was really good. Mom and I concurred on that. It had some of the familiar cardamom of Indian dishes but nothing was too spicy. It was served like many Indian dishes are served as well, on a big tin plate with smaller portions of many different things. We ate with our hands, using injera bread (which is like a thicker, softer dosa) as our scoops/utensils.

I don't know where mom went wrong, but it must have been her "spiced tea." A couple minutes into the cab ride to our next locale, she said she felt sick. Then i noticed her face was a little red. She got some Rolaids and used the Benadryl strip I had on hand. Neither worked, for by the time my next meeting had finished she had drunk 1/2 a bottle of Benadryl and had a tongue too swollen to talk!

On another somewhat foodie note, I've never seen as many Starbucks drinkers as I've seen here.
I've also never had such fun cab drivers. Ethiopian, Eritrean, Punjabi and Ghanaian- all very hard to understand, but full of laughter and good advice.
Friends and other randoms who read my blog religiously,

I half-way apologize for not being in blog-think mode as of late.
You know, you are either thinking as a writer/blogger...or you're not.
Kinda like taking pictures with the aim of putting them on Facebook versus
taking pictures where you look normal, boring and not 45% better than you normally do...
I've been doing the literary version of not sucking in, putting my chin down and using a coy, aloof grin.

Not that anyone has mentioned missing my postings. (Not even Mom).
But for myself I need to get back in the habit of writing...even if my most
adventuresome traveling takes place in Washington D.C. or revolves around Alabama
away games to places like Lexington and Oxford (both of which I'll probably miss by the way).

So here goes. It's midnight-ish here in Dupont Circle. My first trip to our nation's capital.
Which is pretty blog-worthy if I do say so myself. So far I'm quite impressed with this city.
Some of that has to do with the fact that the bridges crossing the Potomac closely resemble
those that cross the Seine. No coincendence considering a Frenchman by the name L'Enfant
helped design the city. I like roundabouts, too.

There is a lot of character here. And beauty. And I'm loving Kramerbooks
and Georgetown. Tomorrow I'm going to foodstalk an Ethiopian restaurant.

Updates to come...



Leaving tomorrow for a short trip to Houston, via NOLA.

Haven't heard many good things about Houston, but it's enough for me that my favorite foodstalker and my favorite beauty queen (Brittany Kent) reside there.


thinking about Paris, high on red wine

The closest you can get to France in the USA is New Orleans.
The closest you can get to France in Alabama is....Chez Fon Fon.

So that's just where I went to celebrate Bastille Day.
Accompanying me were two bon vivants that we'll call Sonny and Frank.
Sonny's love of France lies in the food, drink and fashion of the country mostly.
And by food I mean orgasmic mousse au chocolat that can only be found in dive Parisian 24-hour diners.
By wine I mean red wine, white wine, rosé and champagne...really any varietal of grape that ferments....and any wine that comes in magnums.
And by fashion I mean reading The Sartorialist.

I don't know that Frank likes France per se, but Frank speaks French, wears jewelry and smokes
cigarettes like a fiend, which therefore makes him the perfect Bastille day companion.

All I really have to say about the meal is that the frites were good.
But the cheese portions were very unAmerican to say the least.
UnFrench as well. Basically they were little bite-size portions of Comté, Camembert and a goat cheese whose name I have forgotten. The meal (for me) was forgettable. But not the companionship. And the once-yearly opportunity to
"admire a country where leaders are celebrated for screwing hot models rather than impeached for ejaculating on interns."
(Quote can be attributed to www.someecards.com).

Last year I was in Tanzania for Bastille Day.
Getting crunk with sissy in Zanzibar.
What a year, seriously!

Vive la France!


I saw a family of four today. The son had an Ole Miss Homecoming t-shirt on. You do not understand how badly I wanted to say Roll Tide. Or even "go SEC". But there is something about France that makes one want to go incognito. There is no doubt that had this scene happened in Berlin or London or Hawaii or Mumbai I would have spoken up. Had a friendly conversation about The Grove, the rudeness of French people, Nick Saban, probation, etc. etc. The usual.

But I just kept my "I'm a demoralized local French girl" face on and continued to sashay down the Croisette.

doctor my eyes

I have seen things on the beaches of Cannes that no one should have to see. If you thought the Discovery Channel had shown you the saggiest mammory glands in the world, you were sorely mistaken. Sub-Saharan African mothers of 8 have nothing on baguette wielding French grandmas. Or grandpas, for that matter. I have had an unsolicited lesson in the anatomy of old men after seeing a boxer brief swimsuit on a leathery, waterlogged 90ish year old.

I feel the way about boobs now that I imagine a gynocologist to feel about vaginas.


happily ever after (every now and then)

I'm in Cannes staying at the hotel 1835. http://www.1835-hotel.com/

Working at the Jumping International de Cannes (Global Champions Tour).

The best riders in the world, the biggest yachts in the world docked right outside my hotel.
The toilet seat is heated and I have a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean.
And somehow this is all paid for. I just translate some French and do some interviews of English speakers.
I go to parties nightly and have champagne basically forced into my hand all day.

The weather is about 75 fahrenheit, windy, chopping water...
sun is setting at about 9:30 p.m.
Everyone is soaking up the sun, drinking rosé and I presume all the ladies are baring their tatas sur la plage. Will see about that tomorrow.
My last legit topless beach experience was right in this very city in 2003. With Golden and Rach, who both made me look very, very bad by comparison. It's safe to assume, however, that our drunk tour guide/bus driver- Lido - still liked it. Very much I think since he came and laid out with us. Cool.

My goal for the upcoming days is to be mistaken for a celeb. Need some sweet sunglasses. Who'd have thought I'd need shades in France. I had come to believe this place was perpetually cloudy, dreary and depressing.

A big bisous to my faithful readers.


So tomorrow/today (Friday) I am going to feed the homeless at the American Cathedral. I've always enjoyed homeless people...they are generally more interesting than homed people. But I will say that the Romanian gypsy variety that frequents the Champs-Elysees and follows me around asking "do you speak English" (which in turn forces me to speak in French) are annoying as hell.

Anyway, if no other options present themselves you can probably find me with said new friends, lighter fluid and some twirling batons outside the Pompidou center. No lie. Roll Tide.

yada yada

Evidently there are those who disagree with my stance on "Le Vide."



L'Ambassade d'Auvergne

Just one of our desserts. I haven't been this disgustingly full after a meal in a long time.

Images from sleepy, beautiful St. Emilion

After the jumping event (Feb. 5-9) I went to St. Emilion, a little vineyard town about 30 minutes from central Bordeaux. It was just beautiful, although rainy and mostly closed due to the fact that it's not tourist season.

Would love to go back. The wines are to die for. And everyone I met was genuinely helpful. The tourist office set me up with a free, personal tour of the town...and even drove me around in their own cars...I'm a "journalist," you know. The guest house where I stayed went out of their way to pick me up and drop me off at the train stations. Not part of their job...very nice.

The town of St. Emilion was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is made entirely of limestone quarried from underneath the village. Catacombs span the entire town...there is even an underground church. The other use for underground caves is....you guessed it...wine cellars. Perfect damp conditions whose temperatures don't vary much throughout the year. The town was named after a monk named Emilion who lived underground here for years and performed miracles. He was most famous for making young women fertile. They asked me if I wanted to sit on the fertility rock to which I gracefully declined.

Seriously the most beautiful horse.

And another good-looking equestrian, Tina Lund of Denmark. Google her if you want more "fun" pictures. Let's just say she's already been discovered.

Pictures from Rolex FEI World Cup Bordeaux (and more proof that equestrians have good taste and are beautiful)

The grey horse is the 2M champion horse of Belgium's (beautiful...this isn't even a good picture of her) Judy Ann Melchior.
UGHHH. I just googled her and she is YOUNGER than me (born 1986) is 5'6 and weighs 117 pounds. Now I really hate her!

more museums

Sorry. I started the previous post off talking about merde and baiser and never got to tell you about the actual merde I saw on Sunday. Thankfully it wasn't real merde Check it out...

and speaking of merde, just fyi, the nicer, cuter word would be "caca." Like poopoo versus shit.
Just for fun, this is an online game that my boss' kids used to play. Just pick out the food you want to eat, put it in the boxes...and see what happens. I promise the fact that you can't read French won't hinder the fun you'll have. Good ole mind-numbing fun. The music is a doozy as well.
See it here.

So, the Pompidou Center. The fourth floor is quite modern. Some of the large paintings were nice. But THEN there were eight rooms...8...with nothing in them. This was part of an exhibition, I kid you not, called "Void." Eight different artists, each with their own room. Outside of each room was a BS explanation for what we/I should gather from this nothingness.

I mean I'm lazy, but even in college I wouldn't have had the balls to turn in a paper meant to discuss let's say "The Meaning of Life" with 8 pages of blank paper. WTF. I mean, I would just not turn the paper in. Or turn it in a semester late with an excuse blaming depression or "getting my life together," etc. But I wouldn't say "oh yes, here's my paper which I feel, as a good writer, is worthy of an A+," which is essentially what these artists are doing. And to give some of these artists a fair chance, the museum had some of their other works in other areas. It too, though not white, was merde. Give me a break about how all this white means virginity and purity and how I should contemplate it.

Outside the merde, however, there were some cool displays on the fifth floor. Namely some Matisse (from the Fauvism era) and Kupka (one of my new faves), Delaunay and Roualt. A part of the top floor was devoted to Madame Pompidou, the former President's wife who founded the museum. Some of her favorite artists were on display. My favorites of her favorites are below.

Lastly, there was an Asger Jorn exhibit that was nice. I started taking pictures but then got in trouble by the security guard. Embarrassed, I left...sans pictures.


Which translates to French shit.

Now, this week is my Museum week. And seeing as most museés in Paris are free on the first Sunday of the month, I was on that. The FABULOUS Rodin Museum was my first stop. I found it on Sunday morning while attempting to find the American Church of Paris. I guess it was a sign from God because I walked past the Rodin Museum about 4 times, but never the American Church. After browsing through all the listings of museums and exhibitions in Pariscope (the weekly 'what's on' magazine) I had actually decided this museum was one I didn't want to see.

And I'm so glad I found it. For those of you who don't know, Rodin sculpted The Thinker
among thousands of other sculptures. The museum is informative without being overloaded or stuffy. It used to be a hotel for artists and is therefore surrounded by really nice gardens. It was a très bien way to pass a pretty morning. Perfect for a picnic, reading, etc.

Something I learned about Rodin that probably contributed to my affinity for his work is that he failed many, many times before he succeeded...and many, many times after he had earned critical acclaim. He was denied acceptance by the Fine Arts school (Ecole des Beaux Arts) of Paris three times and when he wanted to become a priest, he was denied that as well.

Another great point about this museum was the room devoted to Rodin's student, Camille Claudel. I like her work as much as his.

Oh, and one more thing I like about Rodin. He gives his works totally straight-forward names. Here you have The Kiss,The Thinker, and Girl with a Flower Hat. The title of The Kiss in French is Le Baiser. Don't forget the "le." In French, the verb baiser is a very vulgar word for "sex" that starts with an F. But put "le" in front of it and it means "kiss." The French would get these two confused.

How to earn money on the mean streets of Paris

Exhibit A is a lady I presume to be middle-aged who is dressed as a sheep (I think?) and dancing to bizarre music. She has no talent, which is probably one of the reasons she's wearing a mask. She picked a good location though...Pont Neuf at midday. Don't know if she made any money or was just gawked at...but it did give me ideas.

Second picture is of a fire twirler behind the Pompidou center...who I made friends with. Here's how it went down...
My English friend Carly calls me around dinner time and says "Hey I'm broke so I'm going to do a fire show. I need to go to a supermarket and buy some lighter fluid. Want to come?"

I would think this a strange idea, but coming from Carly it seemed normal. It would be like if Allie said "hey let's go hang out with homeless people and prophesize."

And considering the fact that I had nothing ELSE to do on a Friday night in Paris I said "sure let's do it."

Unfortunately we never found the lighter fluid. But we still had a fire show. Because our new friend pictured below had lighter fluid. And beer. Me and the Gothic French and Italian kids actually had a ball. We made no money. The night ended with an after-party at my good friend Louis' apartment in the Marais.


Things I'm giving up for Lent/ Shout out to New Orleans!

Since I didn't make a New Year's Resolution (I'm becoming a cynical Frenchie) I feel it rather important that I make a legit Lent resolution. Something difficult to prepare me for Easter, you know. I don't know if the French know what Lent is (damn secular culture) and they sure don't know how to celebrate Mardi Gras (wouldn't want to be like "kitsch Americans")...but I'm going to do it anyway.

I would give up chocolate, except I joined the Club Med today. And I have limited funds to buy food. So it can't be diet related. I'm already on that.

And I'm just not going to give up caffeine because that's silly. No one wants to see me in a coma-like state. And it would be too easy since I only drink 1-2 teas a day. Every once and awhile I throw a coffee or Diet Coke in there. And I would be losing out on potentially life-saving antioxidants. So this popular idea loses with me.

Plus, giving up "unhealthy" food groups and forcing yourself to look good in a swimsuit just in time for beach weather all seem a little selfish...a little superficial, don't you think? Kinda loses the reason for the season.

So I'm going to do something more meaningful and more difficult. Something that requires a little more energy. Something for my emotional well-being.

I am giving up French men. I quit you. As of tomorrow matin.

So there.

When Lent begins I will start my search for the ideal Irish, British or American man. Or I will go find Christian Ahlmann.

By the time Lent is over I will be safely home in Alabama, free of the drama and endless BISOUS of French men. This, my friends, is exciting.


People who ride horses are the prettiest people in the world

Exhibit A:

This is my sweet future boyfriend Christian Ahlmann. I don't know if the attraction lies more in the fact that he looks plucked straight from the DKE or KA house, his Olympian horse-riding abilities or his bad-boy appeal (he got caught for doping his horse after the Equestrian Olympic Games in Hong Kong). I have basically decided that he and his high, horse-riding buttocks are meant for me. And my colleagues who know him agree. As my previous post notes, I'm not down with all the lovey-dovey bisoussssssss the Frenchmen are blowing my way; seeing a burly German drink pints of beer hits closer to home...in a good way.

You know, I just can't bring a dude who owns a hair dryer to Gallette's. But this guy, yes. And I have it on good word that he likes American women. Basically, I'm in like flin.

More to come concerning the looks of equestrians. I must go watch Christian jump to glory on his 10 year old gelding, Sebastian. A tout!


Since our last meeting, the following has happened:

1. I went home for Thanksgiving and the SEC Championship. Hung out with Taylor Hicks, met my new cousin Daniel, had lunch with my SSS at Bottega, had impromptu spend-the-night parties with Allison, Allie, KT, Molly and Mom (all pretty routine), had culture shock over how big and commercial the US can be, etc. I felt like I had never left although I had been gone 7ish months.

2. I went to Prague for Christmas where I learned to like grog (rum and hot water) and stayed with Caroline's Czech family. Prague is beautiful. Unfortunately I forgot my camera and am now waiting for a friend I met there to send me his pictures. As you can see, that is going well...

3. Paris for New Years (where I insisted everyone listen to Alabama while I tried to TEACH square dancing). Also was pretty adamant that all the multicultural guests at aforementioned party listen to the lyrics of "The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down." The musical selections went well with the foie gras and champagne, I'm just sure of it.

4. I got sick of French men saying "bisoussssssss" at the beginning, middle and end of every conversation. Almost makes me miss emotionally-absent males! I think I will find the happy medium in Ireland. For the non-Francophiles among us, bisous means kisses. And it's just hard to take someone seriously who is saying this all the time...and who "misses" you after one date. Maybe I'm just that awesome. The book "Talk to the Snail" by Stephen Clark that Caroline so kindly and thoughtfully gave me for Christmas has shed much light on French culture and men. I will have some quotes later.

5. I have not had seasonal depression. I realize that winter is not nearly over, but considering that it has been much too cold for my taste basically since the day I arrived (Sept. 5th), this is an accomplishment. There are a couple plausible reasons for this...one being no exams or anything due around December, another being that I'm not in Tuscaloosa, another being that snow has been very much involved...not just dreary, blustery winds...and lastly...fluexotine.

6. I have secured an apartment for the last leg of my journey. In the 1st arrondissement beside the Louvre. I could not be more excited to be a faux-Parisian for a month and a half. Allison will be bringing some Tuscaloosa to my life for nine days, which will be just fabulous. I hope we make it out alive and don't pull any stunts reminiscent of Freshman year at the Blount dorms. After this I will be returning home at the end of March for Molly's wedding festivities which I am seriously pumped about.

7. And my new year's resolution (well, one of them that I wrote on a post-it note 3 days ago) is to blog once a week. Maybe even more.