Thursday, June 28, 2007

Exploring Lyon

This past weekend, Sara and her boyfriend Drew came to visit me in Lyon. I got to do more exploring of the city with them and we had an absolute blast. Saturday was jam packed full of Lyonnais fun! First, we visited the cathedral de Notre Dame at Fourviere. The view is just incredible and the church is done entirely in mosaic. Even the floors are pretty. Plus, they have a sweet mosaic mural of Joan of Arc that is just incredible. Sara and Drew got semi-accosted by a bird enthusiast who had set up watch on a falcon who was perched on one of the towers of the church. He was very excited and full of information. We got to look through his high powered telescope and see the falcon, who was apparently making a nest for her babies.
After that we walked down the hill to the Cathedral de Saint Jean in Vieux Lyon (the old medieval part of town). It houses this medieval astrological clock that dates back to the 1300’s. We also toured some of les Traboules which are the medieval houses with intricate courtyards and winding staircases…and doors that are only big enough for me! Take that tall kids. Drew explored an old sewage drain in between the traboules. I tried to dissuade him by telling him it was formerly a medieval sewage drain (I mean really, he could come across some medieval excrement, which is almost as gross as coming across modern excrement), but he just responded, “Yeah, FORMERLY,” and continued walking up the drain.
After a yummy lunch of Kebabs, we walked along the river to the Parc de la tete d’or (it is called the head of gold park because apparently the golden head of jesus is buried somewhere on the grounds). But I just wanted to realize my dream of paddle boating around the lake. Even better, Drew rowed Sara and me around the lake. After that, we explored the world war II memorial and the incredible rose gardens. We also saw shrek 3 and ate dinner at one of the world famous Lyonnais bouchons. To top of the night, we checked out the Vieux Lyon neighborhood party. The entertainment of two guys speaking in unison in French was not as good as watching a little French boy throw water on all the little French girls who came near him. Then all the little kids danced to the two guys speaking in unison and that was pretty hilarious, too.

In other news, I finally have internet. Sunday, I almost had a nervous breakdown because I discovered my phone was broken again. My mom convinced me not to have a nervous breakdown, but rather to call france telecom for the billionth time and sort things out. Fighting back hyperventilating in anger, I dialed the number. When the guy picked up, I started to describe my problem, when he stopped me.
Guy: Do you speak English?
Me: (kind of excited, but hesitant) um, yes.
Guy: would it be easier for us to speak in English?
Me: (shouting with joy) YES!!
Basically he told me that the line was probably dead because my internet company was working on it and to just call them. And I never would’ve gotten that in French, I can tell you that right now.
Guy: is there anything else I can help you with?
Me: (fighting back tear of joy) no, I’m just *choked back sob* so glad you speak English.
Guy: me too miss, me too.
So then I called the internet company and went into my rant, and the lady stopped me. She asked me if I had plugged in my modem and I said no. She said well just do that, it should work. AND IT DID. So, now, I am blissfully back in touch with the world via the internet and free unlimited calls to the US. The moral of the story is, just when you think France won’t stop kicking you in the face, it gives you a hug in the form of people actually doing their jobs.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dancing Queen, Young and Sweet...

Thursday was a very special day. 1) my phone got fixed. Turns out the guy who set it up, checked the line, which was fine, and then when he screwed the outlet back in, he messed something up. Anyways, I still don’t have internet, but at least once it’s ready I can use it, now that my phone works.
2) I got to go to the tenth anniversary celebration for merial, the company I work for. It was awesome. First, we all got bussed over to the Tony Garnier Auditorium which apparently used to be a slaughterhouse, but now it’s a place where the likes of Beyonce and Justin Timberlake come to play. Anyways, we were first ushered into the building where we were greeted by a dancing horse. Then, a film screen lit up and a lady with a flower painted on her forehead began to tell us the story of the company like it was a fairytale. Then we went to another screen where some modern dancers clapped and said merial and then spelled out merial with their bodies. Of course I got excited and yelled out, “oooooh, they’re spelling it out, . This was followed by a balloon drop. Then more of the history of the company followed by confetti cannons. Then we were ushered to the final screen where we heard the end of the story, the lights were turned off, the modern dancers returned with sparklers and they danced in front of some sweet pyrotechnics, basically a mini, indoor fireworks display like at a rock concert. Then we were led into the auditorium, where we sat down for the show. It basically went two managers come out and tell the story of a certain merial division, followed by a short video of some farmer in east bumble, France giving a testimonial, then there was a short intermission. The first intermission was modern dancers, in what can basically be described as wrestling onesies (yes, even the men), jumping and dancing and clapping as only modern dancers know how. Then, there was a guy who came out pushing a mop, but then stuck the mop in his pants, put a coat on the mop, stuck one arm through the sleeve and pretended to feel himself up. There was also a juggler who dropped his balls which subsequently rolled off the stage. But the kicker was the guy who mumbled his way through candle in the wind and then they transitioned into…..wait for it….the MACARENA. It was awesome. It took me right back to the eighth grade father daughter hoedown at gps.

This weekend was another story. Friday kicked off with a lunch time birthday celebration that involved sangria. At first I thought it was just punch, but no it was my old friend. The lady who handed me my glass was like, oh this is Spanish. Ah yes, I know you well sangria. I briefly contemplated downing the whole bowl in order to make the office party less awkward for me, but then decided against it. Tough call, but I had a meeting with my boss later that required me to be lucid. But it would have made the “who do I pretend to listen to”, “how do I look not awkward”, and “should I double kiss the birthday boy and girl who I don’t know” questions a lot easier. Friday night, I went to Clermont for nanda’s friend yvan’s going away party. He’s moving to china and boy did we send him off in style.
This is Yvan!
After lots of dancing, eating and drinking we finally left his house around 5 am. The French sure do know how to faire la fĂȘte.

Dj Boz - Tara, nanda and I stayed with boz and his wife. The guy with the safety goggles is german. I don't know his name, just his nationality. Around 3 am, i decided to don the safety goggles myself.Dancing up a storm! YAY! French men can dance!

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Wedding Edition

Dance Party!

This is a special wedding edition blog dedicated to my new and extended family. This past weekend my uncle chris, who is very cool, got married to an equally cool lady, and they are now somewhere fancy in the carribean being fanned by palm fronds and drinking copious amounts of fruity tropical drinks. Congratulations, Newlyweds! Even though I spent more than 30 hours travelling there and back over four days, it was totally worth it. I have never seen a wedding this spectacular before in my life. The sheer volume of food alone would have been enough to make it an event. I was literally worn out from eating, something that I’m pretty sure has never happened before in my life, and may never happen again, so take note. The rehearsal dinner was on the water of the harbor in Baltimore. It included a dessert buffet that basically looked like someone had piled all the desserts you had ever dreamed onto one giant table to create a mountain of confection. It was like heaven. I’m actually kind of surprised that no one found me the next morning underneath the table, face covered in chocolate, sleeping off my food coma. The only disappointment is that not nearly enough embarrassing stories were told about my uncle. He’s got a bazillion and I wanted other people to share in the hilarity of classics such as him yelling “naked baby” and streaking through my mom’s young life meeting when he was little. But alas, such a dream was not to be realized.

The handsome groom.

The wedding itself was in the garden of the Mount Vernon club in Baltimore and was very elegant. For the reception, all of the guests were trumpeted to the art museum where we kicked off the reception by consuming an inordinate amount of appetizers and drinks. At one point, my mom asked me to give my cousin a cracker to which I replied, “crack her? I don’t even know her” followed by me laughing hysterically at my own joke. It’s one of my favorites, I’m not gonna lie. So then my dad said (in the driest, most sarcastic way possible), “And that’s only after one drink, think of the jokes she’ll tell after three.” But let’s face it, we all know I would have made that joke sober.

Dad breaks out his best moves in a pre-wedding dance session.

After that, we were ushered downstairs for the dinner and a family photo (finally a family photo where I’m not ten, wearing glasses and a Christmas sweater with a frilly lace collar and rhinestone buttons). There was plenty of dancing and we were allowed to wander around the museum which was fun. Sydney and I danced with our little cousins. Trina’s dancing was pretty standard for a 6 year old, but Tara, the 2 ½ year old, certainly showed us all up with her combination sumo rocking, frog jumping, break dancing, booty shaking. You’ll have to ask my sister to do a re-enactment of tara leaning forward all the way with her butt in the air and wiggling it back and forth. Not surprisingly, she was voted most likely to be in a rap video in 15 years. Ok, so Sydney and I were the only ones who voted, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I was so glad to see everyone and was pretty sad to go back to France without the fam. I mean, I still wanted to go back, I just wanted to take some people with me.
Me and Sydney with the beautiful Bride!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Emily vs. France take 1,900,001

I had my physical for work Friday morning, it was interesting, as usual. First, I thought that it was on Thursday, but when I showed up the receptionist was like what are you doing here and then I showed her my letter and she’s like, um, yeah it was yesterday. Oops, apparently I had a moment of numeric dyslexia and mixed up the dates. We rescheduled for Friday morning, and I got hassled by security, because the guy was like weren’t you here yesterday. So, I had to explain that I’m an idiot and I came on the wrong day. So, he had to call around and confirm that I wasn’t a terrorist using medical visits as an excuse to break into the animal health company. The new lady at reception in the infirmary was a total jerk to me. First, when I came into her office to tell her I had arrived, she shooed me out and told me in a not so nice voice to go be patient in the other room.
Jerkface: Have you been vaccinated?
Emily: yes.
JF: Do you have your little card
E: no.
JF: Do you know the dates of you vaccinations?
E: no, my doctor in the US has them, though.
JF: (irritated) Well is there someone you can call?
E: I guess, but not right now, it’s 2am there.
JF: (annoyed at stupid American) Here in France we have cards. Everyone must have a card. How am I supposed to know you are vaccinated?
E: Well I have my carte de sejour and I had to be vaccinated to go to school, so that’s what I got. I’m here for three months lady, lay off.
Ok I didn’t say that last part. But I should have she was all annoyed and huffy with me. Then the doctor spoke no English, so it was a little difficult to give him my family history since I didn’t know how to say I don’t have a gallbladder and my mom has high blood pressure. But he was really nice and would be excellent in a game of medical charades. It still weirds me out that you strip down to your underwear and have to sit there without a gown. Ah well. I was pronounced fit enough to do a three month stage. Yes!
This weekend started out frustrating. The france telecom guy didn’t show up because he tried to call my cell phone and he had the wrong number. When I tried to call Friday night to reschedule, the guy basically said he didn’t know what to tell me and that I should call Saturday morning. So then I called Saturday morning and understood only enough to know that I would not be having someone else come out to my house, but I didn’t understand enough to know why. Then I went to the store to talk to someone and the girl had to explain to me literally six times what had happened before the light bulb of understanding flickered above my head. I wanted to quit around the fourth explanation because I was so frustrated, but I figured now or never or rather, I would have to go to yet another store to ask since I would be too embarrassed to return to this one. Finally, near tears, I figured out that the guy who tried to come to my house transmitted my file to another technician who was going to fix my problem from a distance sometime this week. Ah, why are things so complicated? Other than that, though, I had a good weekend. I went to the parc tete d’or which is basically awesome. It has a zoo and paddle boats and softserve icecream. It was very fun. In other news, I got asked to go out for a drink twice, once by some kid with a big fake diamond earring and the other time by two drunk guys. I turned all of them down. The first kid I felt kjnd of bad about and came to the conclusion that turning people down was not the way to make friends. The second time I really didn’t feel bad, because I had just bought a ticket to go see a movie and because it’s pretty much a terrible idea to go off by yourself with two drunk French guys or any drunk strangers for that matter. Stranger danger people, stranger danger. So the new plan, is the next time one, sober person, who seems nice approaches me, I will go to drinks with them in a well lit, public area. In hind sight, I wish I had done something other than see 88 minutes because it gave me nightmares and it wasn’t that good.