Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Treehouse, the Pastry Tree & a Zombie Stroll

Cocktail Party at the Treehouse 

The Treehouse is the 6th floor apartment of 2 veteran guides, Billy & Golden.  For the last weekend in October, and thus the last weekend where all the guides & staff would be together in Paris before people started parting ways, we decided to go classy and have a cocktail party.  Girls wore dresses and heels.  Guys wore something other than a Fat Tire t-shirt (whoa).

On the metro ride over, we talked about how this was obviously just a normal part of our glamorous Paris life.  "Oh I'm just on my way to a cocktail my cocktail dress and heels...just like every weekend."  Although this was technically the last Saturday we'd have together, Halloween was on Monday night, so a costume party was obviously in order.  That was the official last big group get-together.  More on that later.

Epic brunch at La Bellevilloise

How adorable was this place? Let me count the ways.  Live piano and singing, tables everywhere, juice bar, bottomless cups of coffee (unheard of in Paris), all-you-can-eat brunch (also unheard of), funky decorations, huge open room, skylight roof.  I will be returning!!

Billy described this brunch spot the night before, and at some point he waxed poetic about bounties of pastries and bread baskets and croissants just hanging from trees and spilling out all over the place, and I thought, "Surely he's exaggerating." but no...There was, in fact, a bountiful pastry tree.

I'm already looking into planting one in my living room.

Up next...I don't even think I can talk about these without drooling all over your face.
Nutella. Beignets.

I'm just...I'm just speechless.  I'm just looking at you, and my eyes are open, but they're wide and they're like, "Can you believe this???"  That's all.  Just come to Paris, and go to this brunch place, and get 90 of these.

Daisies in the Park

Afterwards, Billy bought us all gerber daisies, and we hung out and stared at the beautiful fall colors, twirling our daisies all the while.

Even the guys.  It was adorable.  I love Billy.

Zombie Cemetery Stroll 

Paris has a famous cemetery called Pere Lachaise, and I had still never been!  Famous graves include Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Gertrude Stein.  I never knew a cemetery could be so beautiful!  It's like a park with paved cobblestone paths, beautiful bright orange and yellow trees, and gigantic family tombs lined up side by side with their own decor and style and story, mostly hundreds of years old.

My camera died, so I didn't get many pictures but this is another place I must return to.

When it's the day before Halloween, and one is in a cemetery, one cannot resist the urge to act like zombies.

Should it have gotten old at some point?  Maybe.

Did it?

Nope, not even a little.

Sitting zombie. Love it.  Happy Halloween!

Oh it's December? Meh.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

October Happenings: Eating & Moving, Primarily.

These past 3 months have been a whirlwind of nonstop activities, hanging out, dinners, costumes, themes, and late nights with this little family I've grown to love.  Both October and November have been jam packed to the point where I've had 3 nights per month of not doing something.  Three!!  In a month.  I've honestly surprised myself, I didn't think I had it in me to hang out this much, especially when late nights and early mornings are paired together.

I tend to like low key, so when given the choice between going to a bar or, say, knitting on the couch, I would invariably choose knitting 9 times out of 10.  And I don't even know how to knit.  I guess I'd just sit there with those big needles and a glass of wine, pretending.  Click click click.  "Look, a scarf!  Oh, it's still a ball of yarn?  Huh.  Great night, glad we did this." 

Mid-October started the sad, slow diminishing of the core Fat Tire crew--the long-term staff that have been here 8-9 months.  One by one, they've slowly trickled home, saying last goodbyes to Paris, to bike tours, and to this little exclusive American expat family we've all become over the course of a spring, summer, and fall of working, playing, eating, relaxing, traveling, and living together.

This tornado of activity, although slightly exhausting, has created a book's worth of great memories and experiences.  I'll spare you the book, but here's a few highlights from the beginning of October:

Nuit Blanche, an all night Paris outdoor street party with art exhibits that ended at 5am with crepes, churros & chocolate in the Bastille

Sushi dinner party where Brian (our resident half-Japanese), made amazing amounts of sushi for us!!

Girls' Harvest Party -With fall freshly upon us, we all realized it was high time we started cooking up some fall deliciousness.  On the harvest menu:

Homemade lentil soup
Herb crusted pork loin
Roasted sweet potatoes
Spinach salad with cranberries, feta, & toasted almonds
Hot cinnamon apple crisp

Also on the menu:

Hair Flipping

Girl's Tex Mex Dinner Party -I had one week left at my beloved Rue Cler apartment and STILL had not had a dinner party yet, so I had the girls over for quesadillas & tacos.  We crowded around my tiny table sitting on chairs, bedside tables, and even a couple people on the radiator, had some incredible guac & homemade salsa, and ended the evening all piled on the bed together watching Beyoncé videos.

(There was a slightly obsessive Beyoncé phase when Countdown & Love on Top came out which lasted the entirety of October).

Moving to a new apartment - After 7 glorious months in previously mentioned beloved Rue Cler apartment, my sad, dilapidated savings account, nearly sucked dry, dictated that I must find cheaper accommodations.  Our manager, Jack, was moving back to Austin around the same time that both Jillian and I were looking for a new place for our next year in Paris, so we decided to move into his apartment (which I love!).

I was sad to leave my adorable apartment, I just loved it so much.  I'll miss waking up and running across the street to get my favorite little puff pastries & a baguette for a leisurely morning, I'll miss the constant piano playing, the lively market street just outside my door that burst into life every weekend, and I'll miss that beautiful courtyard with walls covered in ivy.

I must say, this was my first time to move by cab.  It was a little weird to just bring everything down in suitcases and shopping bags, load it up in a taxi, and drive off to the new place (with the help of Maygan & Kyle, thank you!!).

Look, the movers are here! 

And it looks like they're about to go on a lovely seaside vacation but they're just trying on my beach hats.  Which reminds me...I need to plan more beach trips next year.  Otherwise the hats will go to waste.  That's the main reason.

So yes, I'm in a new apartment now!  Closer to work, bigger kitchen (with an OVEN!! Ahhh!!), and even a dishwasher - unheard of Paris luxuries.  No washing machine, though, and I have responded by not doing laundry.  I should look into that.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The End of the End

Coming at you live from the exciting corner of my room, eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon!!  It’s been nearly a MONTH since I’ve given any sort of update at all.  For good reason, because it’s been a jam-packed past month filled with good times, friends, laughter, goodbye gatherings, and memories, and I’m almost afraid I’ll forget it all if I don’t document it somewhere. 

November marks the end of Fat Tire’s busy season, and this is the month where everyone leaves.  I’ve been spending every possible minute I can with this group that has become my Paris family.  I don’t know how to express the weirdness and sadness that’s going on inside me.  At first, I doubted whether I’d form any kind of connection with this group of people, I felt so much like an outsider most of the time.  Then somewhere along the way, it changed. 

It had to be sometime after the seemingly endless early 8am’s, attempting half-nice-sounding “good mornings” through groggy eyes while hauling bikes outside…maybe it started when the notoriously stoic tour guide, Ned, who didn’t even make eye contact in the morning let alone respond to your hello, started giving a round of morning hugs.

Maybe it was all those battles together at the Javel train station, shoveling customers onto trains (with their bikes) into a sea of commuters, or stacking bikes at the end of a 12-hour day, after getting 100 people through the office, past the register, through that disgusting smelling bathroom, onto a bike they haven’t attempted to ride in 10 years.  I believe there is an unspeakable bond amongst accomplished, educated people who are cleaning toilets as part of the deal to stay in Paris.  

More likely, it developed across many nights under the Eiffel Tower drinking wine out of little white plastic cups with the makings of a poor man’s picnic spread before us.  We’d tell time by the Eiffel Tower because it gets more beautiful as the night goes on, and we’d cheer along with the rest of the Champs de Mars each time it sparkled.  Each cheer-inducing twinkle reminded us that another hour had already passed until suddenly the darkened tower with only white sparkles told us it was 1am.  Then we’d just hang out and laugh and talk under its darkened silhouette. 

I think of serene, almost impossibly beautiful late night bike rides with these friends through empty Paris streets that made me want to pinch myself because I felt so lucky.  Throw in girls’ night dinners, and boat rides down the Seine, and dancing in the streets, and late night conversations in the kitchen.  More late nights at our favorite neighborhood bistro, and even later "How did it get so late?" nights at the familiar Canadian pub.

We worked together, got frustrated and tired together, and laughed and danced and acted stupid together, and complained together and saw beautiful things together.  Little by little, friendships & bonds formed slowly over time until they became something, the way the trees on Rue Edgar Faure were suddenly one day this glorious bright orange color that really wasn’t that way yesterday.  A few bonds were formed quickly and easily, and with those friends came deeper conversations, the revealing of fears, doubts, hurts, questions, family, beliefs, death, life.  We are each other’s friends and family and support system here.  

It’s a strange and beautiful thing.  I watch them walk out the front door of the Fat Tire office and out of my life, probably forever, like a movie scene that requires some great soundtrack to accompany that walk up the hill.  Yesterday, another guide left, giving a round of hugs before making his epic movie scene don’t-look-back walk off into the distance.  Then I went to the bathroom, closed the door, and stood in the middle and cried because I was so sad that everyone is leaving.

I realized that this is the end of the end.  A chapter is closing, and this one feels like a volume.  Like I’m reading the last few pages of this book but I don’t want it to end.  I’m grateful – so grateful – that I have at least another year here in Paris, because Paris is just…I don’t even have words.  But this experience with these people has reached its end and can never be repeated.  I have so many beautiful moments and memories that I’ll cherish, and I have lots of Fat Tire friends to thank for that.

Eventually, I’ll get out of my sadness slump, and then I’ll share some good stories and memories, and this will be a chipper place again.  But for now...someone needs to take away this jar of Nutella.  And I mean, please sneak into my apartment and physically remove it from the cupboards.  And by cupboards, I mean bedside table.