Monday, February 28, 2011


Today Alexandra has made the trek over from snowy Boston (well, Concord) to come and see me in Paris!
I've finally made her mixtape (with help from my father, who was really lovely and offered advice on the order of songs) and though I have classes in the middle of the afternoon, we have a lovely day planned!  She's been to Paris before, so I want to do things that aren't so touristed - the things that I love.  I'm thinking Shakespeare & Company, Le Loir Dans Le Théière, walks in the flowering trees in the Jardin du Luxembourg, the winding streets of the Quartier Latin, ostentatious lions on bridges, the gargoyle collection at St-Severin.... is there anything I'm missing?  Alex?
The mixtape I made has an awful lot of songs that are really wanderlust-y (that's usual, I promise) and a bunch that I just like, the kind that are melancholic and lovely.  There's overlap there - I've also given her my favourite Bowie song, so I hope she likes it!  If you want, I'll post the list after I've given it to her....
Happy Monday, blog readers!  How was your weekend?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wanderlust: The Netherlands Edition

Sorry it's late - I forgot to post this last night!
So, who else wants to go to the Netherlands?  How about Amsterdam, a city that multiple people have told me is one of the most beautiful European cities (and canals!)....

Image from here

Or the island of Schiermonnikoog (neat name, right?)....

Image from here

Or Utrecht, with more canals and lovely towers?

Image from here

Have you been to the Netherlands?  What was it like?  Happy weekend!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Amy Pond

The lovely Amelia Pond (or Karen Gillan, if you want to be technical).  From here.

I'm sorry I'm late posting today - I've spent the morning studying for a French exam...
Anyways, here goes.
If you are familiar with the classic British television show Doctor Who, you know that there have been 11 doctors, this last one being Matt Smith.  Most people I know think that David Tennant (the tenth doctor) was a superior doctor, but I disagree.  Matt Smith  - the youngest, most adorably awkward doctor yet - is my favourite.  And this is partly because of his companion, Amelia Pond (also because bow ties are cool).
Amelia Pond (or Amy) is headstrong and gorgeous and Scottish and basically just the coolest person around.  Everything I want to be, really.  But the point is, at one point she says "I got my spaceship, I got my boys - my work here is done."  And that I can identify with.  Not the spaceship part, obviously.  But the boys.  I got my boys, too, Pond.
"My boys" generally means Mike and Caleb - one of my best friends and my brother - but it can expand to mean the group of awkward and nerdy boys I hung out with in high school (the male contingent of our friend group).  They're generally lovely, often tactless, almost always funny.  If you weren't an overly bookish kid like me, maybe you don't know the type, but I spent four years proofreading essays (again, Mike, I'm really sorry about that Wuthering Heights essay) and they spent four years helping me with calculus (thank you, Mike, for explaining the chain rule the day of the exam).  They also do things like call when you're sick and talk to you late at night/early in the morning and yell at people for you.  They sit on the train with you for four years straight and occasionally play house, but mostly do the crossword and that morning's homework.
Brothers are a little different.  Brothers not only yell at people for you, they will occasionally make vague threats and glare at boyfriends.  My darling brother has sight-read the piano part for choral sheet music that I've brought home even though he has other work and last summer we spent five days on our own in Paris.  He is also an excellent judge of character, so um, if Caleb doesn't like you, it probably means we can't be friends (sorry).  We share a love of chocolate and good food, and even if he does mock my musical tastes, sometimes I mock his, so it's all good.
Amy Pond's boys were the Doctor and her fiancé - and mine are my best friend and my brother.  I think I won.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


So on Tuesday morning there was a pretty awful earthquake in Christchurch.  Have you guys been following this?
I have family in New Zealand (hence, you know, the name of the blog and all that), but they live mostly in the North Island.  Still, the earthquake is absolutely awful and my heart goes out to all the people trapped and their families...
Search parties are still working to rescue those trapped beneath the buildings, but this morning the BBC posted this.  This is the most deadly natural disaster NZ has seen for 80 years.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's been a while

I'm sorry for not posting sooner - I've been under the weather with a February flu thing and really haven't had time....  I'm not yet quite over it, but I'm doing lots better (unfortunately now my darling sister is sick).  In the meantime, what have you been doing all weekend/first part of the week?
Also, the website Flavorwire makes literary mixtapes of what your favourite literary characters might listen to if they were alive!  People like Hamlet, Little Red Riding Hood, Huckleberry Finn (I honestly really didn't like the book, but the music choices make sense), Alice in Wonderland, Ender from Ender's Game, Harry Potter, Humbert Humbert (and Lolita herself!), Holden Caulfield (one of my favourites), and Tintin. I'm excited to see who else they'll make literary mixtapes for - Matilda, maybe?  Dorothea from Middlemarch?  What would you like to see?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wanderlust: South Africa Edition

When I was thirteen I went to South Africa for two weeks with my mother, and I loved it.  But that's not really what South Africa is about for me.  Have you seen Blood Diamond?  There is a scene in which Leonardo diCaprio's character visits a man in Stellenbosch who picks up the dirt in the vineyard and presses it into diCaprio's hand and says "the red dirt of Africa."  I don't know, it meant something to me, at least... lessee, where would you like to go?

You could go to Stellenbosch, wine country....

With the red dirt of Africa....

You could go to Cape Town...

And maybe even stay on the water!

Or you could go to Durban, where my mother and I stayed.  We visited hospitals and every day drove past places like this...

But what about you?  Where would you go?

photo credits from here, here, here, here, and here, respectively.

There Are Just A Couple Things I Want To Say

Before I start, I just want to say that I'm not trying to offend anybody here.  I just thought that these were interesting.
Part I:  Everyone should go read this post on Wronging Rights about Lara Logan.
Part II: Have you noticed that there are now further protests in Bahrain and in Libya?  What do you think of what's going on in the Middle East?  Is it good - these people are finally getting somewhat of a huge chance to speak for themselves after years of oppression and neocolonialism and pretty awful stuff - or is it bad - the stability of the region is at stake?
Part III: Do you get the New Yorker (I know I've asked this question before)?  Since we're living in France, our mail is taking forever to arrive and so I've only got the February 14&21 anniversary issue that my mother brought with her (I actually don't know if there's another one out) and they had two really great pieces.  One was a Talk of the Town about the unrest in Egypt (at the time of publication, Mubarak hadn't stepped down) that compares the situation to the uprising in Prague in 1989 and has great lines like "as Mubarak raged and played at conflagration (pg. 38, D Remnick)" and "in diplomacy, the tension between moral and strategic considerations is always acute and often shaming (pg. 38 D Remnick)" - just, go read it.  Now it's a little outdated, but it's still supremely well-written and brings up a ton of great points.  The other piece I suggest is long - it took me like an hour to read, and I read fast - and it was called "The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology."  I honestly understood nothing about scientology before I read this and, while biased, the article is pretty incredible.  So go get the New Yorker and read!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


When my darling brother and I were in Paris last summer, we had a wonderful time running around to museums in the day, and eating expensive and delicious meals by night.  The expensive and delicious (for two teenagers) meals were funded by the fact that we had to pay nothing by day.  When you are under eighteen, the most beautiful art and buildings in the world open up for you for free.  So it didn't matter that we accidentally got into the Conciergerie when we were trying to get to Saint-Chapelle because we weren't the ones paying 14 Euros.  It didn't matter if we got to the Louvre forty minutes before it closed because we weren't paying anything.  We just ran around for free.
Now that I'm eighteen, I've been in the city for something like a little more than two weeks and I haven't been to one museum.  I can make excuses for this - I was signing up for classes, it's cold out, now I have classes (French for three hours every evening...) and lectures and stuff to study for - but a lot of it's because I can't just waltz into the Musée d'Orsay to see the polar bear and the Art Nouveau rooms and run out again.
It turns out however, that you can get these special cards for 15 Euros apiece that will let you have free entrance to the Musée d'Orsay or to the Louvre for a year.  But I still love the Musée Rodin and there are so many museums I still want to see!  The other option for those museums I guess is to say that I'm my brother's twin so that we can go in free.... he looks older than me, anyways.  But that's illegal and wrong...
Have you been to Paris and its museums?  Did they seem expensive to you?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


These are Mercury Sailboats from CBI on the Charles.  I know I've used this photo before, from here....

In high school, I was on the sailing team for all four years.  And before that I sailed Mercury's at CBI for a summer or two, and on Sunfish at sleep-away camp, and before that, I learned to sail on Rhodes 19's in Boston Harbor.
There's just something about being on the water, about basically hanging off the side of the boat, pulling as tightly as you can, about that lovely humming of the centreboard when you're going really really fast.  I love sailing - I love the freedom of just hanging out and talking to my friends on the water on non-race days, I love the exhilaration of a race in a 420 with my skipper Nate, I love the satisfaction of a perfectly executed roll tack and the complete awareness it takes to sail well on a really windy day on the Charles.  The wind in your hair, the spray jumping up, the sting of the ropes in your palm - I love all of it.
This will be my first year in a while of not getting a full sailing season in - and probably no sailing this summer, either.  Honestly, the Seine is a little small to sail on, and it's not like there's an ocean nearby, so I guess I'll wait until I get home or get to university to sail again.
I'm going to university in Portland, and my uncle lives in Seattle and sails, so maybe on weekends when I don't have too much homework, I can visit him and get my sailing fix that way... he has a much bigger boat than the 12 and 15-foot long dinghies I'm used too, though...
Do any of you sail?  Do you like it?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentines Day

This is not really a thing for me.  In my house, my father brings home flowers and sometimes we all exchange cards and then have something with raspberries and chocolate.  I have spent one (actually two I think - nevermind) Valentine's day in a relationship.  The Valentine's day I remember (the first one - that's weird) was spent happily with my family in the Andala coffeehouse making cards with crayons and eating goat cheese with honey and then driving up to Vermont with family friends and playing poker.  Oh, and I also got a bookmark pen from the family friends with an Elizabeth Barrett Browning quote on it.
Oh, other thing I can't get over - St. Valentine's Day is a saints day.  The guy died for what he believed in, and then consumerism kind of ran with it.  So, you know... it doesn't really make sense.  Oh, well.
Yesterday my family went out for dinner (we were the only non-couple in the restaurant) and I started classes!  How was your Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 14, 2011


Back in my day, homeschooling was "you know how to read, darling, have some Euripides."  Seriously, that's the kind of family I grew up in - one where public school was occasionally optional if you really felt that you weren't learning anything.  Both my brother and I benefited greatly from this style of education - one in the age of parents earning their PhDs, a general distrust of the public school system but not enough money for private school, and the idealism of "you only really need books, right?"  My sister, however, is six years younger than I am and so didn't really have the same relationship with history books and Shakespeare that I did at her age.  She had the huge advantage of a group of best friends at school, so she actually wanted to go (sometimes).
Now, however, we're in Paris, and the school people here told her that she can only start in late March.  For an eleven-year-old, from here until late March is an awful lot of schooling missed, so we're going to homeschool her.  And no more just throwing books around.
Each of us (my parents and my brother and I) have chosen different subjects to help her with.  I got English, and we're starting by reading all the books I think it's necessary for someone her age/a little older to read and then moving on to Mr Howe-esque essays (more on Mr Howe later at some point).  We're starting with Little Women, and then moving on to To Kill A Mockingbird, Julius Caesar, The Jungle Book, Lord of the Flies, Walden, and Robinson Crusoe.  Catcher in the Rye was vetoed by the parents, who said that it really calls to mid and late adolescents, not eleven-year-olds.
Were you home-schooled or did you go to school as a kid?  Did you like school/homeschooling?  Any suggestions for what we should be reading?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday is the best day

Yesterday was incredible!  After a pretty late start, the entire family hiked out to a flea market a little south of the city.  There we found things like WWI model planes and ancient rosaries and full sets of silverware with family crests.  Although we didn't buy anything, it was pretty incredible to see all the stuff people were selling (and to indulge in speculation like "if I had a million euros" and "where would we put that if we got it?").
After the flea market, we walked another couple of blocks to a covered book market at a park where I bought a German anatomy poster from the 1800s and my darling sister bought a picture of a hot-air balloon and a Tintin book.  Did you ever read those when you were kids?
Tea at my favourite place, Le Loir Dans La Théière in the Marais, and hot baths on a chilly day once we got home... what could be better?
Oh yes, now I remember.  Kuzu has a dress-up day at her college where she has to dress up like a rock star.  Which obviously meant dress up like David Bowie in Labyrinth.....
How was your weekend?

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Today my mother joins us in Paris!  Hooray!  My brother is making dinner (I think he finally decided against the frogs legs) and then we might go out to Montmartre to hear a friend of my father's play some jazz.  I haven't really gotten to spend any time in Paris with my mother, and it will be fun to do all sorts of mildly girly things together, and because she's the only other person in the family who knows any French, it will be fun to speak French to her as well so we don't seem so much like loud and obnoxious Americans (this is my secret fear - that everyone can look at us and tell right away that we're foreigners).
Hurry up, Mommy!  I can't wait!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wanderlust: Thailand Edition

Before I was born, my parents lived together in Thailand for a while.  Every so often we hear stories of greener-than-green rice paddies and spicy food that makes it ridiculously hard to breathe and even occasionally haunted houses... So, blog readers, wouldn't you like to go to Thailand?

You could wake up to this view on misty mornings (maybe even get some sailing in!)

You could go to on-the-water markets like this one for fish and fruit...

You could hike through the green, green rice paddies that my parents remember...

Or you could go to Bangkok, where there are temples like this one!

Have you been to Thailand?  Did you like it?  If you haven't been, would you like to go?  Happy Friday!  

photos from here, here, here, and here, respectively


Lectures on Ancient Athens...

Café Crème...


Jardins du Luxembourg...

The best kind of morning.

pictures from here, here, here, and here, respectively

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Shakespeare And Company

photo from here

Today my sister and my father arrived in Paris from the US!  We're just missing my mum, and then we'll all be here... I can't wait!  But after we had unpacked and designated rooms and the like, my siblings and I headed out to the 5th to Shakespeare And Co, which is actually my favourite bookstore in the world.
It's not just that it's English books in France, or that the place is, you know, named after the bard, or even the stories about the owners letting travelers stay the night for free.  It's not about the little ladders or the well in the middle of the floor.  It's that the entire place is jammed full of books.  They're shoved into the windowsill and under the stairs, stacked every which way in old cabinets that look like they used to hold China.  They look as if they're in danger of collapsing onto your head if you pull the wrong one out.
The last time I went there, I found a copy of Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories" from the 1940s and a couple of ancient, tattered volumes on long-gone religious sects.  There are shiny new paperback books and cookbooks with glossy photos and the well-loved used books that inhabit the rafters and live on stacks on the floor.  It is friendly and bookish beyond belief, and that is why I love it.  Unfortunately, we couldn't stay as long as I would have liked (you know, long enough to find a quiet corner and read Infinite Jest), but  I'm pretty sure we'll be back.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Sorry I'm late (it's about noon now, and I got up about an hour ago), but late last night a friend/foster sister of ours from Mexico showed up at our house, and well, that was that.
Edo!  We're so very glad that you're here!  She asked for a tour of patisseries, but really what that means at this point is walking through the Jardins du Luxembourg (actually my favourite place ever with the possible exception of the Musée d'Orsay) towards the fifth and saying "well, here's the café where I get my coffee," because really that's the only place I've actually frequented with any sort of regularity (twice now, I think).  Hey, I'm new to this.  I've got time.
Tomorrow my father and my sweet sister come from the States, and after that my mother shows up (she's got some sort of business trip first) and then we'll all be here!  I can't wait!
It's hard to believe that it's already Tuesday, no?  I've been here a whole week!
Have a lovely day!  Edo, thank you for coming!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Can We Talk About Winter For A Second?

You guys know this picture, right?  It's Alfonse Mucha's "Les Saisons."  From here

I like winter, generally.  I mean, I get tired of the snow and the cold and the sodden feet, but I like complaining about it, too.  I like wearing so many clothes that my family can't recognize me.  I like running in the winter (when there is no ice).  It's a season.  It's a good one.  Necessary, and all that.  And in Boston, we know how to do winter.
Because this weather we're having in Paris?  You know, in early February, the month of moping and sitting inside and eating comfort food?  Yeah, this isn't winter.  There are flowers blooming on the balcony across the street.  I regularly go outside in jeans and a sweater.  That's what I wear in the summer at home (well, sometimes when it's cold and rainy).  This is mid-April weather.  This is sailing weather.  This is not winter.
On one hand, it's kind of like "great!  Springtime!"  We don't really get spring the way normal people do in Boston either - it's a couple months of mud and ice-melt, a week of lilacs, and then mosquitos and sunburns.  It'll be nice to have a proper spring for once - one with balmy weather that isn't too hot and not too much rain and wildflowers growing in the parks.  On the other hand, it's like "wait, it's February.  What did you do with my seasons?"  Just to clarify, I've never went to school on Valentine's Day in high school. Not once.  Because we had snow days every year.
Just wait until my family gets here from Boston, which has like six feet of snow.  I wonder what they'll think!

It's Always Better When You Have Someone to Share it With

As I said on Saturday, my darling brother came to Paris and is staying with me!  Actually, we're all living together, but it feels like he's staying with me given that I got here first.  He got in at about midnight Saturday (or Sunday, depending on how you look at it) after unannounced flight delays and a horrific experience with the RER.  So naturally, we went out to dinner.  Like normal people do on Saturday nights, or something....
I love hanging out with my brother, especially when I get to show him things.  The last time we were in Paris it was for four or five days on our own and I got to show him things then, too, because I had spent about two days in Paris on an exchange trip in junior year (we spent the rest of it in a village near Lyon).  And now I get to show him the wonderful things I've seen and heard about and get to feel a little like a big sister and a little bit like a close friend.  All in all, an excellent feeling.
Yesterday we went to L'As du Falafel in the Marais for a really long line and some of the best falafel I've ever had in my life, and this morning we went across the street for hot pain au chocolat!  I love spending this time with my brother (I feel like I barely get to, because either I'm in school or he's in school or we're just busy with our respective friends) and although I have my placement test today, I want to show him around as much of the city as possible before my father and my little sister come on Wednesday morning, at which point we both want to drag them around to our favourites.  Any suggestions for things to do in Paris, either with my brother or with my whole family?

Saturday, February 5, 2011


In about an hour, my darling brother comes to meet me in Paris!  I'm going to take full advantage of this to go out to eat, given that I'm a little embarrassed to go to a restaurant by myself and show him the city at night.  Hopefully, he won't be too tired after his flight from Marrakesh.  We're going to have so much fun, just the two of us!
For about a week (okay, four days) last year, we went to Paris from Switzerland on our own and ran around the city in August, almost getting in trouble and doing ridiculous things.  I imagine it'll be a little different in February, and us almost six months more grown-up.  This does not mean that ridiculous things are out of the question!
Bienvenue, Caleb!  Let's have as much fun, if not more, as last time!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wanderlust: Greece Edition

When I was twelve my family went to Greece for a wedding.  Before the wedding, we drove around the country as much as possible, ate freshly picked fruit, and listened to "The Very Best of Marvin Gaye" for about a week and a half....  And one of my closest friends is Spartan (he won't ever let us forget it) so I guess I'm a little biased.  Wouldn't you like to go to Greece?

You could go to Poseidon's Temple, which overlooks the ocean and isn't too far from Athens...
from here

Or to Athens itself, the seat of ancient civilization, and eat tzatziki somewhere with a view like this...
from here

Or visit Galixidi by the seashore, which I remember as one of my favourite places...
from here

Where would you go?  Happy Friday!  Enjoy your weekend!

Paris: Make Sure You Don't Do This

photo from here

It's been a hell of a day.  That said, running back and forth between our apartment in Montparnasse and the Sorbonne in the Quartier Latin means that I've gotten a lot of exercise today....
First things first: Get a visa.  This is something that we didn't do properly or something, and so my morning was full of people saying things like "you don't have a long-term visa.  We might arrest you" and teary phone calls to my parents at five in the morning and trying to figure out where the embassy was.  Eventually, I was able to take another class, so I can still go to the Sorbonne, but not for the same class and not as long.  Not awful, considering.
Other things: If you have a credit/debit/bank card, make sure it works.  We eventually got ahold of the bank so now mine works, but there was another panic-stricken hour or so before I was finally able to sign up.
Also, eat.  And don't eat things past their expiration date.  That should be obvious, I know....

At the same time, Paris is beautiful.  It sure doesn't feel like winter here, but last night I got to stand on the balcony in just a sweater and watch the Eiffel Tower light up.  I got to sit in the little café and listen to a bunch of kids talk about why "The Social Network" was an awful movie (I haven't seen it - is it awful?).  I got to walk by all the independent, well-dressed nine-year-olds going to school by themselves.  It's beautiful here, even in February, my least favourite month.  I'm pretty sure it's going to be an incredible six months.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I would tell you guys all about Paris...

But I want to talk about Egypt instead.  For most of the day now, I've been glued to either my French studying so I can pass the placement exams tomorrow, or to Al Jazeera English and its accounts of the violence and protests in Cairo.
Are these protests good or bad?  What do you think?  On one hand, I think that protests against corruption and for democracy are great, and they show that the Middle East can no longer really be exploited in the same way that it was been.  On the other hand, people are dying and I'm not sure if instability in the region is really the best thing for... everyone right now.  Really - what do you think?  Have you been following what's going on in Egypt?  Let me know!

La Sorbonne and getting lost

Today I woke up really early (the sun doesn't rise here until about eight o'clock - kind of scary) and got ready to go over to the Sorbonne to register for classes.  This led to a new hobby - getting lost in Paris.  So far, almost every time I have got to a street corner, I've picked a direction at random.  This has led to incredible discoveries, like finding cafés where students sit in the back with café au lait and Sartre and municipal workers stand in the front knocking back espressos and waxing poetic about "les femmes".  Also, does anyone know how much a cup of coffee usually costs in Paris?  I paid 3 euros 20 for mine and can't tell if I was scammed or not.
I got to the place where you register really, really early so I wandered up and down the streets for a while.  Sometimes I think it would be easier if you smoked in Paris because then you could just stand outside with your cigarette and not walk up and down the streets trying to look like you have somewhere to go.  At the same time, how else would I have found my café?
Anyways, upon registering I was told that I can take the placement tests tomorrow so I plan on studying for the rest of the day... but I already love the city!  I love all the flawless-faced, wrapped-in-scarves girls and the fact that although it's February I can go out in a light jacket and jeans (at home there's about two feet of snow on the ground) and the buildings with tall windows and wrought-iron balconies.  In the apartment all of the ceilings are high and there are fireplaces in just about every room.  Already, I love it here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


So, I made it!  Coming in from Charles de Gaulle at eleven thirty here or at about six in the morning at home, I woke up enough to see Sacre-Coeur and the Eiffel Tower... and when I got to our apartment in the 14th, promptly fell asleep until about now.  I've missed class registration for a day, but I can still register tomorrow, I think...
Bonjour Paris!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A love letter

picture of the Charles from here.

I leave for France today.  In less than 24 hours, I'm getting on a plane and leaving my life here behind.
Goodbye, beloved city!  Goodbye, Marlborough Street in the springtime, when the flowering trees close over you so that you're biking in a tunnel of flowers!  Goodbye, lovely hospital and wind on the Charles and sailing by the salt-and-pepper bridge!  Goodbye, long runs on the Esplanade and down by Weeks footbridge!  Goodbye, Toscaninis with the best mango ice-cream and the Andala with cardamom-spiked tea!  My city is vibrant and alive and stunning - goodbye, twisty financial district roads and the Back Bay and the many one-way streets of Cambridge!  Goodbye, hot humid summer nights and muddy March, goodbye that one glorious week when the lilacs bloom!  Goodbye, slow and screeching Green Line and the Red Line crammed with exhausted residents!  Goodbye, MIT and your domes and the fancy biotech companies of Kendall!  Goodbye, brick buildings of Harvard!  Goodbye, my thriving and teeming city!
I love where I live.  I love the city where I have grown up, I love my bedroom with the pointe shoes hanging on the wall and the quilt I made in sophomore year.  I love all of the books stacked on the floor because they don't fit into my shelves.  I love my home.  But I also love the idea of travel, my wanderlust kicking in and making me giddy with excitement.  Goodbye, beloved city!  Paris, here I come!