January 21, 2011

525,600 minutes

How do you measure a year? Actually, I'm a nerd and googled how many minutes are really in a year and it's 525,948.766 minutes, but that just doesn't have the same effect when you're trying to cram it into Seasons of Love from Rent...I see the problem and the need for a modification in order to make the song work. The point is, a year ago today I landed in France ready for my big adventure. Here's how I would measure my year:

in visitors

in vacations

in strange foods

in lunch dates with Marie

in cheese

in bread

in wine

I could also measure my year in new friends, homework, skype dates, metro problems, second-hand smoke, chocolate croissants, cultural misunderstandings, ups, downs, and many more things that make me smile (or, sometimes cringe). I'm looking forward to the next 525,948.766 minutes...and at the moment it doesn't seem like enough. I love it here.

January 20, 2011

growing pains

Ok well, I'm not in Minneapolis but I am back in Paris...again, already, finally - I'm not really sure which word to use here. My trip home was strange because it felt long but short, it made me happy but sad, I was busy but bored, and the list goes on. December was a month of growing pains for me on a few different levels. The first big thing that happened was the day after I arrived in Minnesota - I turned 26, tipping the scale slightly closer to 30 than I'm comfortable with. This is the first year where I feel old, where I look at my friends and think they're old and I look at my family (no offense, guys) and think they're really old if I'm already 26. Worry not, I took a trip to Target with Jaime (well...one of several hundred trips to Target) and she took me to the vitamin aisle where I had a silent breakdown and started my vitamin enriched 26th year. So far, so good.

With my birthday came one of the biggest snowstorms that Minnesota ha
s seen in the past few decades...we were completely snowed in my first full day at home, but we were still able to go outside to relax and enjoy the view...

Although the storm foiled plans for a little birthday celebration with friends, at the end of the day it felt good to be home, snowed in with my favorite cake, good wine and good company - mostly by choice but also because it was the only option. This year I will be turning 26 again, FYI. 27 is just not an option.

Another growing pain while I was home came in the form of unwanted pounds added on to the scale. After being gone for a year, it was hard to turn down my favorite snacks and meals so I just decided to go for it and indulge...in everything. Chipotle, lattes, home cooked meals, hint of lime tortilla chips, cookies, bagels, you name it - I ate it. It felt good to come back to Paris and go back to my normal eating habits, though. When I got back I wasn't hungry for a week. All is good on the scale again...although my Chipotle cravings are beginning to resurface again. Word on the street is that Paris will be getting one this spring. I'm trying to contain my excitement and not worry about the fact that burritos will probably be $30 in France. More to come on that, though.

The last growing pain I experienced while I was home was dealing with friendships tha
t maybe I've outgrown or they've outgrown me. My time at home with friends surprised me - some friendships I expected to feel different but felt the same, and others that I thought would pick up where we left off felt different - like a kind of tangible emptiness had wedged its way in over the course of the year. I always thought keeping up with friendships was my "thing" that I'm good at, but I'm finding it's difficult to do with the distance for an extended period of time and that makes me sad. I thought three weeks would be enough time to see everyone but it really wasn't - I didn't get to see everyone and the people I did spend time with was only for a few hours, just enough to check in and catch up before I was on the plane again.

So to sum it up, home was good...
I spent time with good friends

and family, too (again with the eating. here are my great aunts with about 15 different kinds of desserts for 11 people...pretty standard)

I laughed a lot.

and got my ass kicked in scrabble.