“I like slice-of-life.”

I am tired. There are so many ways that a person can be tired and I have felt them all this week.

When you’re young, you can have an infinite number of dreams. One morning you can fancy being a conceptual artist. By dinner you can want to be a human rights lawyer and that’s fine because by the time you go to sleep you can dream of being a rapper. Growing up is giving up on having endless dreams and aspirations as you realise there is only time enough to do a handful. It’s not the giving up on any specific dream that breaks me – it’s the loss of the idea of unlimited possibilities.

If I were to move back to the States, I would only really want to live in Chicago. If I were to live in any American city other than the one I call home, I may as well live across the globe. I guess this means I’m homesick.

Running is freedom distilled into a physical movement. You don’t need anything other than what you already got, to go on forever and ever and ever.

I hate how it’s sometimes considered a bad thing for a girl (or a guy) to be really into dressing up, doing their hair, and/or makeup. I appreciate a carefully cultivated aesthetic. The image of a woman is a construction of smoke and mirrors and a spritz of fairy dust. There’s power in that visual. Own it.

I like hugs (but not from strangers).

The Mid-Term Renewable Energy Report: Paris 2014

The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system does not decrease. This is often misinterpreted and used incorrectly for a bunch of analogies about life and whatnot. This is probably yet another one. That’s unfortunate since I’m supposed to be well-versed in the basic understandings of heat conservation by now because one of my main projects for work is on renewable energy. As always, a jack of all trades and a master of none. Anyhoo, this got me thinking about my own energy supply these days. Humans don’t have an endless amount of energy and everyone has their limit. But how do we replenish? How do we keep nurturing and conditioning our inner strength to make it through every new day?

I’m about halfway through my time in Paris this summer and even though I’m physically exhausted most days, I’m at peace and proud of my accomplishments so far. I think that’s the important key – giving yourself time to reflect on all the great things that you’ve achieved and experienced recently. Telling myself “You know what, you’re a pretty awesome person. Good job!” Modesty is an important characteristic to have these days, but it shouldn’t replace a healthy dose of self confidence. It’s not selfish to focus on yourself to make yourself a better, happier person. And so, here’s a list of some of the things that I’m glad to have experienced in Paris. Sorry for the comparatively sparse amount of pictures, I feel too self conscious snapping pictures when hanging out with the cool Europeans that don’t have time for that shit.

1. The museums here are a dream. Large, massive, mini-cities like the Louvre, to small three-story artists’ apartment/studio like the Musee Gustave Moreau.
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2. Having lunch in the shade of the Eiffel tower at least once a week. Having 4pm coffee/Nesquik milk breaks with my intern “bestie” in the office bar that also overlooks the Tour Eiffel. Still not desensitized to this view.

tour eiffel

3. Finally, finally, finally figuring out the Paris metro – even during summer reconstruction that forced me to change my route to work three times. The world will never know how many selfies I took either bored, angry, or hopelessly confused in the metro.

tired of waiting

4. Happy tipsy drinking with friends and colleagues. I was wrong – you can get drunk off wine.

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5. The exotic yummy souvenir table right outside my office. I don’t need to travel if people just bring back all the food to my doorstep. Let’s be honest, that’s all I would’ve been doing anyway. (Pictured: Czech wafers with hazelnut cream filling)
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6. Sundays when I lie in my bed and see how long I can go without moving. Also known as…

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7. That time we drove to Gent for a beer festival and I dropped my glasses in the river. But I ain’t even mad. At least I’ll have made my mark in some way since no photos of me in Gent exist… was it all just a dream?

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8. I witnessed the Bastille Day fireworks. Alone yet warmed by the company of all the people. And their sweat.

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9. Challenging and fulfilling assignments at work. This one’s a big one for which I am especially thankful. Also for the office espresso machine. Also for the hilarious and interesting people with whom I have the privilege to work. Just, god bless this internship…

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10. Losing weight and exercising without trying. This picture was taken the first weekend in Paris. Since then I’ve lost most of the excess flab I’d gained during Spring finals week. Confusing Metro closings definitely force you to walk a few extra miles…

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tl;dr – Positive vibes, chill feelings, yet still in awe like a doe-eyed college student. That is my current status update.

Days of Happiness Update #9

31. Appetizer spreads. I’m just going to list all the things I love in a perfect appetizer table: bell peppers, assortment of nuts, camembert, a sampling of the best a charcuterie has to offer, peanut m&ms, petit ecoliers, grape tomatoes. Why eat real meals when you can just eat appetizers forever. Oh, we absolutely demolished it. Here’s a little peek at the carnage.

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30. I had the best apple at the market. Perfectly crisp, lusciously sweet. Devoured it like a mountain lion ripping into the flesh of a deer.

29. I know I mentioned it before, but I think petit ecoliers might beat even bueno bars as my favorite European treat discovery. Someone else agrees with me. Basically, they’re butter biscuit cookies with a slab of good quality chocolate attached to the top. I may or may not have had an entire box for lunch today.

This entire list was about food.

100 Days of Happiness #8

34. One day it was my turn to be the model for our portrait painting class. So I sat there in front of everyone and stared at the chipping white paint on the window pane across the room. My face was naked because I’ve become lazy in the morning to put makeup on and at night to rub it off. But then I hear my professor say “Her skin is just beautiful.” This past summer and for my entire high school years, my acne was my top insecurity. Fair, it wasn’t near as bad as some other people’s but it was bad enough for my aunt to stare at it from different angles in the elevator and ask me if I was washing my face (which I was of course. Let me tell you that no one knows more about different facial scrubs than people with acne). My mother would also comment more than once, “Oh Wendy, you look so pretty today. If only you didn’t have so many pimples.” It was crushing to my little developing self esteem in the teen years to be the one with the nasty red marks clear across your chin or nose bridge, while all your other friends are smiling prettily for the camera. Maybe it’s the carefree environment, the cleansing air, or the farm fresh food of France, but recently my skin has been clear of any new blemish for the past few months though some scars still remain. It meant so much to me to hear that my skin wasn’t just acceptable or not horribly disfigured. No, someone thought that it was beautiful. It’s a powerful thing, that. Your worst insecurity considered by an outsider to be a mark of beauty, not shame. You kinda start to believe it too.

33. Someone is interested in buying my painting. Ah. Ah!

32. Bretzel.

Days of Happiness #7

36. My host mother helped me dye my hair “noir ebone” in her bathroom today. Black dye was on the counter, my face, her sink, her bathtub, her towels. Nonetheless, she powered on and massaged my head with the goop with the expertise that only comes with years of experience in dying one’s own hair. I have never felt more like family here than I did when I was kneeling on the floor of her bathroom with her bent over me with the hand-held shower head blasting.

35. A solitary walk for three hours. No aims on a Saturday afternoon. Wandered into a cathedral, the chateau of an 18th century mistress, a Moroccan specialty store (bought candied chestnuts), and of course, Book in Bar. Spent an hour with my french book on Madame Pompadour in one hand and an old-school French-English pocket dictionary in the other. Only interrupted by French man wanting to learn Chinese. Had to disappoint him but managed to do so completely in French. My head is now clear of the muddy fog of yesterday and the previous week. The health of body and mind really shouldn’t be separated.

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Days of Happiness #6

40. Now, I know a lot of people don’t believe in that Horoscopes-What’s-Your-Astrological-Sign mumbojumbo but as a Pisces, I do have a deep appreciation and attraction to bodies of water. The Seine is weird. It moves along very rapidly in twisty jade green ribbons. Seriously, it is jade green. Like mint chocolate chip ice cream color but dulled down. And without chocolate chips. For four mornings and nights, I walked along the banks of the Seine. On the right bank, on the left bank, over the bridges connecting the banks. In the rain, in the sun, in the wind. I wish I have pictures but I couldn’t take my eyes off that river for even a minute.

39. Long, leisurely train rides. They’re like little sealed-off pods disconnected from real life. I can do almost 90% of the things I love the most on a long train ride: read, sleep, snack, converse. A little old French lady started lecturing me on marrying rich and popping out babies so you don’t have to work, though. I wonder what her husband sitting across from her was thinking.

38. Heights. I think I love being in mountains even more than being by water. Paris at night from the top of l’arc de triumphe.

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37. Christmas lights. I am very happy that Christmas lights are a thing (actually, like ten times a thing) in Europe too. All the songs playing are American though. Good cheer and touristy snacks (mulled wine mmm). I dig it.

36. Familiar faces in a strange new world. I’m nearing the three month mark in my time abroad and it’s the longest time I’ve ever been away from home. It was comforting to hug and talk and laugh with friends from Naperville amidst the Parisian lights. I was getting homesick. It’s the week of Thanksgiving after all.

This is our smug, we're-in-paris-son faces.

This is our smug, we’re-in-paris-son faces.

100 Days of Happiness #5

45. I found this amazing Muesli bread in Amsterdam. I cannot stand the taste of white bread anymore. The flavor cannot compare to the grainy, nutty, savory goodness of Muesli bread. I’m going to be trying out this recipe back in the States. (Shoddy picture but necessary to make my point).

44. We made friends with French students! We met two of them on Saturday at a bar, and on Wednesday we were dining at their apartment on homemade steaks with wine sauce. On Saturday we were making slutty brownies and Swiss fondue. I think people get the stereotype of the French being rude and snobby from Parisians. Even the locals in Aix find the Parisians uppity. But I will say that since I’ve been here, I have been on the receiving end of some of the best hospitality I’ve ever had. How many college kids in America would serve steak for some foreigners they met three nights ago?

43. This past week was full of rejections. But that’s the game. You apply to a lot, you get rejected a lot, but really all you need is that one opportunity to push you along whatever road you’re riding. My reaction was tinged with relief, which probably meant that I didn’t really want it as much as I thought I did. My summer is open, my year is open, my life is open to explore. It’s terrifying and immensely energizing to realize.

42. Reconnecting with old friends.

41. No matter what country I’m in, I somehow find my way to an Asian fusion restaurant…

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Staying classy.