Saturday, 22 December 2007

merry christmas and happy new year

Happy to you in 2008!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

baby, it's cold outside

We got about 50 centimeters of snow over the past 24 hours. Our Christmas tree is up and decorated. I'm listening to Dean Martin, Perry Como, Bing Crosby and a little Eartha Kitt. It feels like the holidays are here. I can practically smell the molasses crinkles. I can't wait for a little christmas vacation. I have a fair amount of projects that I'm looking forward to working on and just stepping away from my computer and taking a break from all work responsibilities and baking some sugar cookies.

In other news, the win streak for volleyball continues. I am having an absolute blast playing. The girls are great and it's just silly fun to hang out with all of them. We take a break for the holidays so I'm going to have to find some other sport to keep me going and active...hmmm, skiing? Well, twist my arm.

Friday, 23 November 2007

a very happy tonksgiving

I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. Mine was delightful. Alex and I went out to lunch at a local restaurant, le Husky. We had the plat du jour, homemade hachis parmentier which seriously, I can't believe I haven't had this more often. Ground beef, gravy covered with mashed potatoes and a side salad, what else does a girl (see potato addict) need? Funny you ask, a poire belle helene for dessert to finish it off. mmmm, bliss in a big parfait glass. I absolutely love pears and chocolate and vanilla ice cream and whipping cream doesn't hurt either. This thanksgiving meant finishing up some long-awaited projects around the house. My office space is now back at the table instead of crouching over the coffee table and sitting on a cushion in a 2 meter by 2 meter space. It's heavenly and the walls are freshly painted and the windows are awaiting new curtains. Anyway, Thanksgiving was fun. I didn't make a big dinner and it was kind of a relief. But I got to talk with my family and it sounded like they had a huge meal. I missed my mom's pie though. Anyway for this Thanksgiving or I should say, Tonksgiving, my favorite part was dancing in the kitchen and singing Paul Simon with Alex....I got a nikon camera, i love to take a photograph... so momma don't take my kodachrome away....

Thursday, 15 November 2007


Between the blue sky and the fresh, white snow that has fallen over the past week, it is absolutely beautiful here. I should probably include some photos but this time you'll just have to take my word for it. Today, I feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful place and so very lucky to have a cool sister in-law that I get to go to coffee with and a wonderful husband who sends the most thoughtful messages.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

small things

I had a volleyball match this weekend. It was against our rival, Annemasse. I guess, my team's rival, I can't say I feel much rivalry with Annemasse. They were good opponents but still, we killed them in 3 games. The girls were nice though, their setter in particular, making the post-match potluck much more tolerable. I think the thought of meeting the girls on the opposing team is a nice idea, it's just that forced social interaction always seems so... well, contrived.

Anyway, I have been thinking about the holidays and whether or not I want to make an expat Thanksgiving dinner. I've talked it up a little too much so it might be a disappointment not do it but right now, the thought of it makes me homesick. I love Thanksgiving but recreating what I love about the holiday isn't really possible because the dinner is only a small part of it. Thanksgiving to me is my family; first with just my brother and my parents with all of our inside jokes and funny quirks and then, joining with the rest of the extended family to celebrate.
It starts the same way every year with my dad getting the car ready and packed. Letting my mom, brother and I, all know that we are leaving in 15 minutes. 15 minutes, definitive departure. 40 minutes later we pile into the car with books and pillows. It means a car trip over the pass, NPR on the radio, the obligatory rest stop at Indian John Hill, passing by the fruit stand and knowing exactly how much longer till we arrive at our relative's house, my aunt's creamed corn and another welcome opportunity to eat mashed potatoes, a difficult decision between dark meat or light, lots of chatter and laughter, pecan pie and my mom's berry pie, the carafes of coffee that come out after all the dishes have been cleared and the only thing left on the table is spots of fallen cranberry sauce or rings of spilled gravy and, candles that have burned down to short stubs. Talking, laughing and more reminiscing. Slowly moving into the living room and once everyone has found their spot from which to watch, the movie marathon begins, the turkey kicks in and most everyone slowly dozes off.
Thanksgiving is in the small details, the quirky traditions and those simple, special moments shared with my family. Here, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday. So perhaps this year, I'll just savor my favorite memories and call home to see how it's going and hear that my memories were a more pleasant version of the holiday, as memories generally tend to be.

Friday, 9 November 2007

State of Love and Kindness

Molecular biologist at the Pasteur institute now a buddhist monk, that's a nice career path. Matthieu Ricard talks (in english) about happiness ; it's different for everyone. He also includes good insight on chocolate cake. The talk is about 20 minutes long. If you have the time to watch this, I don't think you'll regret it but then again what makes me happy isn't necessarily what makes you happy. Another great reason to listen for the full time, he talks about the MIT study on compassion and how monks are off the charts, more importanly what that translates to physically, the ability to moderate fear and anger, well-being and resistance to sickness.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

movie night

Alex and I went to see Les Méduses (Jellyfish) the other night. Delightful! The characters were all so different but wonderful in their own way. We also saw le Deuxième Souffle a week or so ago. And you know what? I don't like Monica Bellucci. I just straight up don't like her acting. But, I love going to the movies. I love the plush red seats at our theater and holding hands with Alex in the dark. Le Deuxième Souffle was long, 2 hours and 45 minutes long and, it was set in the 60's so some of the lines they use were hard to understand. The cars and the costumes were great though and I liked seeing Eric Cantona in a movie, for me he's the french Chuck Norris a bigger and badder version of Walker Texas Ranger. Alex liked the movie but anyway back to Les Méduses. FANTASTIC. And now for a clip... (I took it off autoplay, so you have to click play twice.) Enjoy! Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007


There is plenty of sunshine here today but good lord is it cold outside. I am trying to warm up with a cup of tea and a space heater. Alex tells me quite often that I am going to catch fire if I put it any closer. Right now, I'm willing to risk it.

I had my first cycling class at this new gym I'm trying out. Speaking of heat, I don't believe that they have any heat in that gym. The class was good though. The instructor was a very manly woman that really enjoyed making a show of her breathing technique but the music was good. It was an older crowd but the gym opens at 9:00 and that's when class starts so it limits the demographic. There was one woman about 65ish with rainbow cycling gloves that kept answering her cell phone during the workout, seriously you can't take 45 minutes away from the phone? It's nice to be able to work out so hard. I'm trying their pilates class tomorrow. I used to love my Pilates classes so I am excited to get back into it.

I've been thinking...

I have listened to this song by Yael Naim all day. It just makes me happy and lifts my spirits.

Sometimes I feel that moving abroad has set me back in different ways. Not to say that it hasn't made me grow and change and appreciate my life in other ways but somedays, I feel like I reverted back to being about 13, being unconfident and unsure trying to gain acceptance. Trying to integrate into a new community or new culture and meet new people is no easy process and each time you branch out and meet new people there is that same learning curve, that same test of showing people that you're worth it, that your language skills are okay, and that they don't need to talk about you like you are deaf, mute or dumb.

The problem I have during this recurrent process is that I take this all very personally and it makes me absolutely miserable. So, I'm just going to let it go. I've given hurt and anger a way to big a place in my life this past week so I'm just going to stop because I'm wasting time on people that don't matter and missing out on fun times with the people that do.

Monday, 15 October 2007

So nice to be back...

Well, time has flown by since I last posted and I think I am ready to start blogging again. The trip to Vietnam & Cambodia turned out great, hot and humid and my first time in Asia It was filled with beautiful scenery, serious poverty, delicious food and a new view of the world. The 5 weeks following that I was in Seattle and it was absolutely wonderful to see my family. Getting things ready for the american wedding was hectic but great and filled with lots of great moments with friends and family. The time went by way too fast but it makes me want to go back and visit more often.

After Seattle it was back to Paris for work for the week, hopping down to Lyon for training and now I am back in my little village where the sun is shining and we just spent a great weekend with friends at the Refuge de Mayères. Plus, on Friday I had my first volleyball practice. I just joined the Pré-national volleyball team, a kind of relatively local, womens league. It felt so good to get into the gym and play some volleyball. Bonus, that for the most part I have found that female volleyball players are a pretty fun and intelligent bunch and so far my theory is holding. So things are going well. Life is busy and challenging but I am thankful for the opportunity to test my limits and step out of my comfort zone and in doing so, become a stronger and more capable woman. Hope all is well with you!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Agent Orange

I'm in Vietnam for awhile and then Cambodia and tehn back to Vietnam. The traveling is great and the culture is new experience. Tomorrow we start a four day trek into the central highlands. Today was rest and recuperation after a 12 hour night bus ride from Hoi An to Nha Trong. Hope all is well with you!

Tuesday, 10 July 2007


Tuesday's craving...CUPCAKES! When I go back to Seattle at the end of August, I am going to Cupcake Royale.

A weekend in Les Contas

Saturday, we went to a ski-jump competition and barbeque to raise money for a local ski-racer. It's a completely different world here sometimes. It was sunny and beautiful. We drank white wine at the buvette with friends and had saucisse and frites from the barbeque. The competition was for kids from all over the region. The jump has water flowing down it and they land on wet astroturf and then go skidding onto a soccer field to slow down. Some of the better competitors jumped 30+ meters. I ooh-ed and ahh-ed like I was a local. What else can you do?

Sunday, Alex and I went to see Persepolis. If you have the chance, GO SEE IT! I have to say one of the best things I have seen in maybe a year. I loved it. Absolutely wonderful.

Friday, 6 July 2007

It's long but I think there is a moral at the end of the story...

Finally! I'm finished. It was long painful and felt degrading but I am done with my carte de séjour classes. I despised attending these sessions. "Vivre en France" was no exception. Let me set it up for you, I walk in and get settled, make myself a cup of tea, get out the booklet we were asked to bring and mentally prepare myself for the day that it said to last from 9:30 to 5:30 pm. The instructor of the class pops up out of nowhere, puts her face 2 inches from mine and demands to know my nationality.
>>Euhh, americaine.
>>Je suis desolée Madame mais on n'a pas de traducteur anglais. (Excuse me? Who asked for a freaking translator?)
>> Il n'y a pas de problème, je n'en ai pas besoin. I wanted to strangle her!
During a long-winded review of every topic that was covered in the previous session, Madame decided to really lay into how laïque the french public schools are. And I agree that the french have really made an effort in this and have been very successful in attaining a completely secular environment in public schools. The Russian two seats away from me volunteered that the term laïque appears in the american constitution. (Madame whips her head around to look at me.)>>Vraiment, il y a le mot laïque. La-ïque dans votre constitution.
>>Il y a une phrase qui specifie qu'il faut avoir une séparation entre l'état et la religion.
>>Parce que les francais trouvent que c'est drole comment vous dites c'est laïque mais le président jure sur la bible.
>>Et oui madame, je n'ai pas dit en pratique c'est le cas. J'ai dit simplement il y a une phrase dans la constitution qui demande une séparation entre l'état et la religion.
>>Avez-vous le mot laïque dans votre constitution? Est-ce que ça existe dans votre langue? Parce que la langue devoile beaucoup de choses sur un peuple. On voit les principes qui sont importants aux gens.
>> (Grit teeth) No, le mot laïque n'est pas dans notre constitution. (There are so many things I wish I followed up that with but in frustration, I fell silent.)

Moving on, I won't go through every single thing she found wrong with the US, our expensive University system that selects people based (paraphrased from her rant) on their financial status as the most important criteria and isn't based remotely on merit, etc. Or the assumption that all of us in the session are all out of work and trying to take advantage of the french system. And we all shouldn't complain about finding work, if you speak multiple languages you can find work in retail. There are lots of Russians and Japanese that enjoy coming to France on vacation so if you have those language skills you should just work in a clothing store.

The best advice I got on how to deal with these classes came from a friend at coffee this morning.
>>Tu sais Karen quand t'es pas contente, tu fais comme les francais. Tu mets le feu. Petit feu dans la poubelle et hop, sentiments bien exprimés.>>
That made me laugh so hard. I feel much better just imagining a tiny fire with acrid smoke in the wastebasket.

Thursday, 28 June 2007


While I was waiting for my train at the Gare de Lyon after this last trip to Paris I took a seat at the benches. Watching as the train departure time gets closer and closer and the number of people bobbing and weaving through the crowds, sprinting to make it in time. It's like you're at the races. Monsieur with the black suitcase is in the lead, we've got hippie university student coming quickly on the left, at the turn it's.. Monsieur to take back the lead but coming from behind, it's the sweaty adolescent. SWEATY ADOLESCENT HAS TAKEN THE RACE!
The excitement, the tension, the disappointment for those that cut it a bit to close.

Also good entertainment was to be found in the people seated near me. It was a group of Americans. One mother with about 3 teenage girls. She had a slight drawl, the girls didn't sound like they had accents. The mother spoke loudly and kept things classy. Pointing out to the girls which boys she thought looked "haawt." "Oh he's yummy, I like myself a tall man. When I was in college, I dated a boy, really successful laaawyerrr. Really rich, you know, but he just wasn't tall enough, I just knew I waaasn't gonna marry hiyimm. Ooh, what do you girls think about that boy over there? " I think you get the idea. It was embarassing. I mean she didn't seem to be embarassed but I guess there's just no blending for some people. One of my favorite stories about american tourists abroad is by David Sedaris. You can listen to him read it aloud in this episode of This American Life.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

I heart Paris

I am in Paris for work. It feels wonderful to be in the city. Last night, my colleague and I went to Café Marly at the Louvre. Magnificent! We ate inside and the room we were in was exquisite and the walls a rich red and gold, just outside the pyramids gently shimmering. We started out with foie gras at my request, hurrah! with a nice glass of sauternes. The rest of the meal was delicious as well. It's just great to be in the city.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Today and yesterday but hopefully not tomorrow.

I am trying so hard. I'm trying to make people understand my sarcasm and my jokes. I'm trying to be comfortable in social situations, talking with people that I don't know and ignoring that face they make, the I'm really trying to understand what you are saying because you have an accent and you clearly don't know how to speak french face. You know, it's not like I just started speaking the language yesterday. I am trying to say it's great to work from home when I know that I'm really a social person. A social person who can feel that her social skills have atrophied and are disappearing. I'm trying not to hate being here because I love someone who loves it here. I am trying to be positive but today, it's absolutely exhausting.

Thursday, 10 May 2007


I am craving s'mores - the sticky, gooey mess of lightly charred marshmallow with chocolate on a crispy graham cracker. The sunshine today made me want to go camping and eat smores, lots and lots of smores. Make a campfire and afterwards go to bed fully dressed smelling like smoke and drift off to sleep snug in my sleeping bag.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007


I was in Lyon to see the John Butler Trio. There are concerts that you go to where you don't know the band and are pleasantly surprised or groups that you love that disappoint live and then there are the concerts that you set your hopes high, almost too high and you wonder if you are setting yourself up to be disappointed but then you go to the concert and it surpasses what you expected. Blows it out of the water. John Butler Trio would fall into that category. Le Transbordeur was a great venue. It's large enough to accomodate everyone but not too big so that it no longer feels intimate. The music was amazing and they played old songs, new songs, and threw in a quick Bob Marley song for good measure. John did a solo, instrumental piece while the bassist and the drummer (who were both fantastic as well) took a short break. It was 20 minutes. It was beautiful. My words don't do this evening justice but here is a little clip to give you a taste. This is taken from the Taratata show, I think it airs on fridays but you can always watch the full show here. I recommend it. They get all different artists on the show and it's purely music. They do brief interviews while setting up for the next band to play.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Sitting Pretty

Went to the movies last night. Waiting in line for our tickets there was a group of teenagers behind us lining up to see the movie Hellphone. The tagline for the film: Sans abonnement. Sans forfait. Sans pitié. Almost enough to make you see it.

But we were there to see Le Dernier Roi d'Ecosse. As we settled into our seats, I was too happy to see the subtitles appear at the bottom of the screen. It has been ages since I saw something in V.O.

What a thrilling film. It was beautiful: the music, the acting, the setting. I loved Forest Whitaker. You fall under his spell. There were some violent parts, pretty graphic but served to show the violence of Amin's regime. The best estimate, from the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva, is that it was not less than 80,000 and more likely around 300,000 were killed during his 8-year reign as president. Another estimate, compiled by exile organisations with the help of Amnesty International, put the number killed at 500,000. The total population in Uganda at that time was around 12 million. Civil unrest, mass killings, tyranny. It sure makes my life feel very plush and comfortable.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007


It was amazing, beautiful and all around fantastic. Sunday was a day filled with powder skiing and I loved it. My legs hurt and I was absolutely exhausted by the end but it was completely worth it. We were going to ski at Saint Gervais because there was a big snowboarding competition at the snow park but Charlotte convinced me to ski in Les Contamines. Good thing she is persuasive. It started with a couple of long runs on Hauteluce in the sunshine before lunch followed by a short pause for a ham sandwich and a little coffee and some fantastic people watching.

Sidenote: I love the French use of the combinaison, the one piece ski-outfit most I see are from the seventies/eighties but somehow they are still making them and they are still selling like hotcakes today.

So back to it, Charlotte and I met up with another friend just as we were about to head out for more skiing and did a couple hors pistes runs where things were pretty well skied over. Then we hit the jackpot on a hidden spot and skied the same run about 5 times in pristine powder. It felt so good. I am finally able to keep up with the locals. It's nice to be with everyone that has been skiing since they were 2.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

joyeux anniversaire

I just celebrated my 26th birthday. It was one of my best yet. AM organized a surprise party with all of our friends. It started off with delicious champagne, the same that we had at our wedding and fantastic hors d'oeuvres prepared by my sister-in-law and her boyfriend. The whole evening was hilarious and all the boys were pulling pranks left and right. My friend, Jen, from L.A. and her mom were in town to enjoy the festivities as well. It was one of those evenings where you just don't stop laughing. After drinking and more dancing late into the night, it ended with Jen and I eating oreos and all-natural peanut butter from Ashland, Oregon at 4 in the morning. Delicious!
We woke up to a beautiful day and went up skiing. A day where the Alps stretched out forever and one that made me remember why I love it here. A very happy birthday.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

la première fois

Bienvenue sur mon blog.