Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's that time again. . .

What time, you may ask?
The time to pull out the Christmas pajamas and the "Santa Loves A Southern Girl" t-shirt. The time to fill with glee at the sight of Christmas lights and to spend every free second Christmas shopping. The time to download every Christmas movie you can think of (or, if you live in the United States, to watch the 25 days of Christmas marathon on ABC Family) and talk your boyfriend into watching them with you (much to his unfortunate dismay).

Note: This picture was taken last year since I am presently too lazy to attach the camera to the computer to put more recent Christmasy pictures.

I know it's been time for all of those things for a while now, but I have been so busy dealing with my boss (who has been trying to forbid me to go home for Christmas - heh, yeah right!) that I've barely had a second to myself lately.
Happily, dealing with boss time is coming to an end, and this coming Thursday I am heading back to Louisiana for Sarah's wedding and then CHRISTMAS!!!! I am so excited I can barely control myself!
I have been doing some mega Christmas shopping lately, and I really hope that everyone is going to love their presents!!!!

Also, I think I completely forgot to post about it, but I DID indeed manage to finish my 50,000 word novel on time. I managed to be at 50,000 words two days early, even. I ended up with a finished novel at 57,084 words, but there are still a few gaps that I have to go back and fill in.
Oh yes, be proud of me. I'm proud of myself, even if it probably isn't anything worth reading.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

the power of boiling water

I am a fan of boiling water for many reasons. The main of which is that when the heater in your apartment is broken and your apartment is thus freezing and the water is freezing, boiling water is great for bathing.

Yesterday, though, I discovered a new reason to love boiling water. Guillaume's sink in the bathroom was completely clogged up and unusable, and so he had started using mine about 2 weeks ago. My sink also very quickly clogged up, and we tried everything to unclog them, hoping to not have to resort to sending some horribly toxic and dangerous chemical down there.

We unscrewed the pipes and tried to clean in that way. No go. We bought a sink plunger. No go. We bought a natural pipe cleaner. No go. Finally, I was going to try putting some baking soda down there followed by white vinegar. But then we went out, and I forgot to buy white vinegar, so I decided, in the meantime, to just pour boiling water down the drain, and voili voilu,. . .
Guess what?
It WORKED! That was all it took - just pouring a little bit of boiling water down the drain. Now we have two totally unclogged sinks. Amazing!

In other news, Sarah's vegan Thanksgiving potluck was fantastic, and I ended up making the muffins that taste like donuts from the Vegan Vittles cookbook. They were a big hit.

Also, Guillaume and I celebrated our two year anniversary yesterday (a bit late, mais bon), and I am SO excited about my gifts!
I got these amazing hot pink shoes (that are unfortunately too big, but I'm working on getting the right size, so I'll post a picture as soon as that happens.
And then this super cool backpack:

I discovered today that it is actually waterproof, and this thrills me to no end.

And I got Guillaume this mask of Pan made by Tihomir Marinkovic, a Croatian mask maker. Isn't it awesome! I hope he likes it as much as he says he does.

To finish, YAY Christmas is coming!!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy day after Thanksgiving!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I wanted to post yesterday, but because of my broken heater, it was just too cold in my apartment to think about doing that.
In France, naturally, they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, so I had to work while everyone at home in the states was off playing. We made turkey hands in my classes to celebrate. I trust that you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving WITHOUT killing poor, innocent turkeys in order to do so. :-P
This Sunday, Guillaume and I will be attending a vegan Thanksgiving potluck chez my friend Sarah Tyler. I am very excited!!!! :-) I still haven't decided what to bring, so if anyone has any suggestions, I am open to them.

Because of the Sunday potluck, though, I don't think that I will have time to write my book, so I was planning on trying to have it finished by tonight. Unfortunately, though, it was hard to write in my freezing cold apartment, and I sort of had to be here. On Tuesday, they spent 5 hours installing the new heater, but then there was a piece that was the wrong size, so they were supposed to come back Wednesday. I waited at my freezing home all day Wednesday, but they didn't show up. On Thursday, he showed up right when I got home from work and then installed until about 6:30. The joys of living in France.
And then today I have been sick, I am guessing because of spending all that time in my freezing cold apartment.
All that to say, I wanted to be at 50,000 words by the time I went to sleep tonight, but right now I am only at 48,111, and it is already 11:30. Looks like I'm going to be doing a lot of writing tomorrow! Wish me luck!
It's looking like the book is going to have to be a bit more than 50,000 words, anyway. I really hope I am able to finish before midnight on November 30.

I have been reading Dune throughout the writing process. Let me just say, if you ever plan on writing a novel, DO NOT read one of the greatest books of all time while you are doing so. I read a chapter of Dune and then I try to write something, and every time I am overwhelmed by what a HORRIBLE writer I am.
So, people planning on reading the book, especially those that will be reading the first draft, DO NOT EXPECT ANYTHING GOOD!

That is all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

ohhhh, La France

So, I just went to see the Duchess, which was fantastic - I cried lots and lots. I think it was almost 3 hours as well, and I barely noticed.
Anyhow, so while I was waiting to be allowed in for the movie to start, there was someone smoking not too far from me. Now, it is ILLEGAL to smoke inside in France, and everyone who knows me knows that I HATE cigarettes, so I didn't hesitate to go tell this person that it was illegal to smoke where s/he (I couldn't figure out if it was a girl or a boy) was and that if s/he wanted to continue, it would be necessary to go outside. They looked at me and then ignored me, continuing to smoke. So I told them that that meant they had to quit smoking. The person responded "Call security, whatever."
First of all, I wouldn't have known how to call security. Second of all, even if I had known how, all that would have happened was that they told him/her to stop smoking. S/he would have put out his/her cigarette, waited for security to leave, and then relit the cigarette.
That is all unimportant, though, because we are in France, and there is no doubt that the person would have finished smoking their cigarette by the time security actually came, and that would have all been null and void.
So I reiterated "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to insist that you stop smoking inside now."
The person then took his/her cigarette and burnt my hand. Yes, s/he used his/her cigarette to actually BURN my hand.
I'm really just not sure that that could happen anywhere other than France. I hope I don't get some kind of bacterial cigarette disease.
My conviction that smoking and attempted murder are one and the same is stronger than ever. I really do believe that smoking should be illegal, and with what happened today, I think it should be punished just as strongly as attempted murder.

Anyhow, that's enough of my ranting and raving about cigarettes, my least favorite thing in the whole world. One of my old LSMSA friends posted some super old pictures of me on facebook, and it is sort of ridiculous how much I have changed.
I feel like I don't look like that at all anymore, and I kinda can't believe I ever did. The Bad Religion one is almost scary.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


For those of you that were doubting my ability to write a novel in the space of 1 month when I have never before written anything in my life, not even a measly short story, KEEP DOUBTING!
(Note: journal entries and school papers not being counted as things written)
But also, HAVE HOPE!!!!

Yesterday was the 15th of November, exactly halfway through the month, and I reached the 25,000 word marked. I passed it up, even.
Tonight, by the time I go to sleep, I am hoping to have 27,000 words. I'm 150 words away, for the record.
I know, it's me keeping right one track. At this rate, come November 30, I will have a book of pretty much exactly 50,000 words. But that's all I need.
Are you proud of me? Do you think I can do it?
In the meantime, since I have decided that I AM going to finish this book, does anyone want to read it and help me edit it. I figure it is going to need some mega editing. :-)

In other news, I made some delicious dulce sin leche cupcakes yesterday from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and they were SO good that we had eaten them all by the end of this morning (not just me and Guillaume - we did have friends over for dinner last night). I had some coconut milk left over, so I decided that meant I needed to make more cupcakes. There were some old bananas turning black, so I made some chocolate banana coconut cupcakes (recipe from my mind), and they are EXTREMELY scrumptious!

Okay, that's all, folks - I have words to write!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lauren and the Cockroaches

So at the beginning of last week, when it was still vacation time, my friend Lauren Ernt came to visit me for three days. YAY!!!!

Just for info, I have NO idea why my tongue is out in this picture, and I have no recollection of actually sticking it out. Weirdness.

She is also doing the French assistant program, and she was placed in Annecy, which she claims to be a fairy tale like tourist town. From her pictures, I am inclined to agree, and I really really REALLY want to go visit her before Christmas, because I can only just imagine how a fairy tale like tourist town would be at Christmas. CHRISTMASY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am hoping that I will be able to find time. Next Sunday, I am going to spend the day at the Christmas festival in Strasbourg. I can't wait!!!!
When Lauren was here, we went into Notre Dame, and it was actually my first time inside. :-) I was mega impressed by all of the intricate and amazing Stained Glass.

We also went to see the Cockroaches play at La Feline. The Cockroaches are a rockabilly band from Montreal, and it was SO good to discover a place like that that actually has a cool atmosphere and good music. They seemed to also have punk bands there sometimes, so I am really excited about that.
We met this guy Nicky, who called himself a cat(he's the one dancing in the picture - notice the fantastic sweater) and used to live in New Orleans. He was very funny, and in the end, he insisted on giving me his friend Yannick's phone number. He had lost his phone, and he wanted me to call Yannick two days after to get what would be his new number. It was weird, but it was also a hilarious experience. I miss places like that, which are plentiful in Montreal.
We also went to the Eiffel Tower, and it was cool because they had put the stars of the European Union on it. I guess France is acting now as capital of the European Union or something. Apparently it alternates every year or so. I don't really actually know what I am talking about. But it's something like that.

And, as if there weren't already enough pictures of me at the Eiffel Tower, here is me, at the Eiffel Tower with the European Union stars on it.
That's all, folks!

Sunday, November 09, 2008


November is National Novel Writing Month, and I have decided to celebrate! I am therefore trying to write a novel of at least 50,000 words by the end of November. Right now, I am at 11,903. I've been trying to tell everyone, so as to motivate myself to actually do it. If people are expecting a novel from me, then a novel I have to give them, right?
Wish me luck!!!!

In other news, I finally finished the puzzle that I was talking about a while ago. I actually finished it a few weeks ago, but I kept forgetting to take a picture. It was actually way harder than it looks. The plan was to glue it together - given how long it took me, I don't think I'm going to want to do it again. Unfortunately, though, two of the pieces are missing. :-( Sadness!

One last thing, and I know that I said there would be no politics, but I just have this one last thing to say. I got an e-mail saying that what I wrote about war in my last entry made it seem as if I voted for McCain out of ignorance. I would just like to say that, even if I had been 100% against McCain's ideas about the war and loved Obama's ideas, I STILL would have voted for McCain. Because for me, there was SO much more to it than that, and, perhaps bizarrely to a lot of you, the war was a the bottom of my list of most important issues this time around.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The last post I will make on politics for a very long time

While I may have voted for McCain, I am very proud of the people for having elected Barack Obama. They believed in him, and because of it, they managed to elect into office a black president and an underdog. I feel like, sadly, in this day and age, there are a lot of countries that still just aren't ready for that. The American people have chosen, and though I didn't make the same choice as them, I am going to support their choice. I may not agree with some of the things he plans on doing and some of the things he may do, but if his decisions make the majority happy and help our country to prosper, I will not fault him. I will support Barack Obama in a way I never felt comfortable supporting George Bush, because he is what the people want. As Neil said, in politics, nobody is right and nobody is wrong. The government tries different things, and they sometimes work, and they sometimes don't. Now, let's see what the United States can do with an intelligent president!

Now, I want to respond to a few things that people have said, and then after that, it is no more politics for me for at least 4 years. Well, at least no more talking about them.

At first I was going to ignore the following comment, as it is not really worth my time. However, in the end, I was just too tempted by the articulate, well-thought out, and intelligent points of view within that I just couldn't help myself.

anonymous said: You are the biggest idiot I have ever seen. What is this supposed "dependence on government" that caused the financial crisis? Do you have any idea what caused the financial crisis? It was because of a lack of regulation. seriously. you suck so much.

First of all, you have never seen me. Or who knows, maybe you have - I certainly wouldn't know, given that you posted anonymously. If you have seen me, or we have seen each other, I hope that we are not friends. Because I would say that 99% of my friends disagree with me on the majority on my political ideas. But they are still able to respect and accept them, because they are just that - MY political ideas, that are well thought out and not just me following the crowd or believing what I think I am supposed to believe.
Second of all, I do know what caused the financial crisis. Do you? It is my OPINION that the American people do suffer from a "supposed 'dependence on government.'" I understand that most people disagree with me, and that is fine, and they are entitled to their own opinion. If you had actually READ what I wrote (and to be honest, I'm not so sure), you would understand that I was not saying that this was the cause of the financial crisis (although, again, I think I could speculate that, in my opinion, it did play a role in some of the things that acted as a catalyst for this crisis), but that, in light of the financial crisis, it's becoming even more of a problem and becoming even more evident that it is a problem. And that my opinion is that we need to do something about this and that, again in my opinion, Obama's proposed policies cause more dependence while, even again in my opinion, McCain's proposed policies help to wean people off of their governmental dependence.

I wonder how many times I just wrote "in my opinion."

In the meantime, if you have written something explaining something why you have voted for Obama (other than just Sarah Palin is a tool, which I agree that she is), I would be interested in reading it. Because it occurred to me yesterday that it was a little weird that I should feel compelled to explain to everyone why I made the choice that I did when everyone just accepted it if people were voting for Obama, never asking questions. As if they didn't actually need reasons other than - he is Barack Obama.

Okay, other things:
Health Care - I have been told that my view on healthcare is very harsh and unforgiving. And it probably is. Health care was actually one of my biggest concerns in this election, because I am so completely 100% opposed to it being socialized. I know there are many issues at stake other than education, but even if the United States were to put programs into place in order to educate people and to promote healthy lifestyles, I would STILL be opposed to socialized health care. Just less adamantly opposed. The fact is that, I don't believe that health care is an intrinsic human right. I don't believe that it is up to the government to provide it. I think that there are exceptions, in a sense, and that our present system (which is FAR from perfect and really needs a facelift) manages to deal quite nicely with these exceptions. You could argue with me until you are blue in the face, but when it comes down to it, my basic beliefs just can't have me supporting socialized health care, at least not in the US. Harsh. Unforgiving. The end.
(Did I mention that I no longer have a gall bladder because, while living in Canada, where socialized health care exists, a panic attack was misdiagnosed. Also how when I had a blood infection - caused by walking on a beach in a third world country with a cut on my foot - I was told at the hospital to go home because I was showing flu symptoms and they weren't treating flu patients. Luckily, I persevered.)

Next - I will retract what I said about Obama calling the soldiers war criminals if it is not true. A very long time ago, I remember reading that he said that and being shocked and appalled. If I recall correctly, my source was a very republican one, and I never bothered to do any fact checks. It's true that it doesn't make sense that he would say such a thing, and I really should never have even brought it up. Because the fact is - even if he did say that, I don't really care. From what I hear, the soldiers are up to no good over there, but something like that has nothing to do with the issues at hand. As Neil said, it's just "politics of distraction," and I feel bad now for even bringing it up.

Again responding to something Neil said, maybe I am idealistic, but even with Sarah Palin by his side, I believed that his changes were caused by election pressure and that, if elected, he would revert back to being the candidate that he was at the beginning of the election period. Because there is no doubt that he changed, and not for the better, over the course of the election. He wasn't elected, so I will never be proven wrong. :-P Although perhaps I was.

responding to things that Chip said:
The War - I hate war. I have always hated war, and the idea of war disgusts me. I wish that it were possible to live without it. There is no doubt that things are winding down in the middle east, and I agree that, at this point, we don't seem to understand that killing an enemy who is not afraid to die won't really accomplish anything. But I also understand that they want to slaughter us all. And that they hate us. And so I don't know what to do. But I do know that I think we should stay over there as long as it takes to bring the Iraqi government to a point at which they are capable without us of being a stable, democratic (or other) society. And to a point at which we will no longer have to be afraid they're going to hop on over to the US and do some mega damage. McCain wants to wait to leave until Al Qaeda is defeated. I don't know if we can realistically hope for this to ever happen. But Obama wants to slowly phase our troops out and then be gone and leave it to them to have a go at creating a working government. I don't know if we can realistically expect that either. But I do know that I fear less for our country with us there than with us gone. And that could be a fear based on ignorance. Because I only know what I'm told, and I am sure that is a lot less than what there is to know, especially living here in France.

Stem cells - my problem is more with using government funding to create human embryos and on human clone research. I don't necessarily think that stem cell research should be illegal, because I think it has the potential to do SO much good. I do think, though, that we should stop trying to clone humans (or anything cloning, for that matter). But for me, the real issue is the federal funding. On McCain's website, it is written:
Where federal funds are used for stem cell research, Senator McCain believes clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress, and that any such research should be subject to strict federal guidelines.
And that's really how I feel. I hate knowing that my tax dollars go to support unnecessary and abusive animal testing. I wouldn't wish it on other people to have to pay for something to which they are morally opposed.
Although I agree with you - if it's a question of just throwing away unused embryos or harvesting their stem cells, it makes more sense to harvest them.

Okay, this was long. I also kind of fear that Obama's election was less for his merit and more for anti-Bush. I hope this is not the case. All we can do, though, is hope for the best and wait and see what happens. Obama is all about the hope, so hope is exactly what I am going to do.
And I am going to be glad that McCain was not elected and then immediately assassinated, leaving Sarah Palin as president. Because that would have been the worst of all outcomes.

THE END!!!! Let's talk about something else! :-)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just to clarify some things

There seems to have been some confusion on my stance on gun control:
I don't think that we should go handing out guns to just any and everybody. I believe in my right to bear arms (although, frankly, I SERIOUSLY doubt that I will ever bear an arm myself), but I do think that everyone selling guns should be required to keep up to date and clear records of everyone to whom they sell guns and that criminal background checks should be necessary. I also believe that, in order to buy a gun, a gun license should be necessary, and that in order to obtain a gun license, you should have to prove (or maybe even follow a course for which you yourself will pay) that you are capable of handling a gun and that you know how they work. In the same way, safety information about any particular gun should be included with purchase.

Also, stem cell research. To be honest, I don't know much about it. I do know that I don't like the idea of creating human embryos for research purpose. I would feel the same even if it were, say bat embryos. I also understand that quite a LOT of people would be morally opposed to such research. My main issue comes therefore from using taxpayer's money to fund such research. So, yknow, when it's non-governmental money going to the research, I don't think I think I would necessarily say go for it, but when it comes to using federal funding to do such research, I would say definitely do NOT go for it. It's too iffy of an issue.

Also, as most people know, I am pro-choice. McCain thinks that it should be a state thing. To be honest, I don't really know what Obama thinks, aside from that he thinks "we can find common ground between pro-life and pro-choice" and that he's okay with the state restricting late term partial birth abortion. So I don't really feel that that was an issue that came up when thinking about whom to vote for.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Why I Voted McCain

Much to the shock and dismay of most of my friends at home in the states and certainly to all of the socialist Frenchies here in France, this election I was a proud supporter of John McCain. And here's why.

I can't say that I necessarily loved him, but he, far more than Obama, represented for me the change that our country needs. Especially in light of the present financial crisis, I think it has become evident that the American people have become FAR too dependent on their government. It seems to me that they believe that the government is there to clean up after them and help them when not only when they fail, but always. I am of the belief that less government is more government, which, in a sense, makes me a liberal republican (with strong anarchistic tendencies). It also makes me very anti-socialist. I am against most social programs, as I think these things are the role of the people and not the role of the government. Obama seems to live for social programs, and I would even go so far as to call him a socialist. Which is why I decided that I needed to forget about my liberal side for this election.

Alexander Tytler (some really intelligent Scottish lawyer) once said "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury." It seems to me that, in this election, that is what has happened. Or is at least starting to happen.

I respect Barack Obama in so many ways, especially for his stance on animals.
However, I believe that Barack Obama's policies, financial and otherwise, do nothing but create more and more dependence on the government while giving crap to people that have worked hard for themselves for their whole lives (instead taking away from them to give to people that don't necessarily need or deserve it). McCain on animals - not so much (see same link). However, I think that his proposed policies would have saved our economy and help to wean the people off of their dependence on the government. And, in my opinion, that, more than anything, is what we need.

I am living in France right now, and, if any country could be considered a socialist country, France is it. So I see first hand that IT DOES NOT WORK. The people may think they want it. They may even be proud of their system. But they are all miserable here. I have never in my life seen a country full of such rude and miserable people. They would never outwardly SAY that it is because of their government, instead claiming and believing that it is the best in the world. But when interrogated specific aspects of it, one can't help but come to realize that they are miserable the way they are in great part because they are living in a socialist society.

For those that are actually interested - THING I DON'T LIKE ABOUT OBAMA
(This is NOT what this post was about, so I am putting it at the end, simply because I gather that there are some people that were curious.) Oh, and now that I have written it, I feel that I should add that, for ALL of these issues, I prefer what McCain has to say, unless otherwise mentioned. I realize that I should have probably put why, but now it is written, and I am done.

To me, Obama's idea to "spread the wealth" basically means you work your butt off and then you use your savings to pay for someone else's life.

Health Care - Free low cost health care? Okay, so then I no longer have any say over my medical decisions and am paying for the health care of other people who can't afford it and who are suffering because of idiotic decisions that they have made in their life and that I have chosen not to make in my life. I have to say, I hate the cost of socialized health care (and have seen it failing in both Canada and France), but I wouldn't hate it so adamantly if I thought that the United States was promoting healthy lifestyles. Instead, you have the beef and dairy industries providing the only health education plans. Any surveys will show you that this basically means that CANCER itself is providing the health education plans. Very few schools are capable of providing health dietary choices for the children. Smoking is still legal, and in many states, it's still legal to smoke in bars and other public places. Etc, etc, etc. . . It's not MY fault if you eat at McDonald's every day or smoke a pack a day or drink your liver into submission. So why should I have to pay for it? Before we can have any sort of socialized health care, we need proper health care EDUCATION which the United States, for the time being, is too afraid to give. I think McCain's ideas are crap, but I prefer them to Obama's any day.

Social programs and taxes - The over a trillion dollars that Barack Obama has set aside on social spending would be much better spent elsewhere. Even better in the pockets of the people who will soon be paying it in what he calls fair taxes and I call unfair taxes. The national debt is already high enough as it is (and no, none of Obama's ridiculously high tax proposals are predicted to help decrease the national debt - and, um, bringing back the inheritance tax in full swing i.e. mega increasing it. I have never heard anything sadder). I gather that all of his social spending would do something like triple the antional debt. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but that would cause mega inflation which would cause the already plummeting stocks to plummet even further and then, goodbye the value of the dollar. Also, if we're going to be having the kind of social and welfare programs proposed by Obama, I think that people already on welfare or receiving unemployment money should not be allowed to vote. Leave it up to the people giving the money, not the people receiving it.

Gun control - let the people have their guns. People that are going to go crazy with them are going to find ways to have them no matter what, so we might as well at least be able to have our guns to protect ourselves. And guess what - it doesn't matter what KIND of gun it is. It's still going to SHOOT, and it can still kill. So if there are going to be questions about whether or not people should be able to own guns, should there really be questions about what KIND of guns they can own? Nothing more to say.

Affirmative action - it's okay, to an extent. McCain has voted AGAINST unnecessary affirmative action. Obama is all, YAY affirmative action, even if it is going to create problems, which it often does. What gives a poor kid who has dreamed his entire life of joining the electrician's union (and therefore will not NEED a college education but can still make tons of money) more of a right to go to college than someone who WANTS to go to college and is prepared to go to college - and whose family just so happens to have money? Give the opportunities to people that DESERVE them, not just people that can't afford them.

Acorn - I don't really think I even need to say anything here.

Education - I'm not going to talk about this, because while I hate what Barack Obama proposes (and really, I do NOT think that pre-school should be mandatory. I think at that point, kids are so young that they are almost better off at home, assuming they are living in healthy environments), I think McCain's proposals are also crap. And this isn't about me saying what I think should be done, so the end.

Energy - I'm totally okay with nuclear energy. The only thing scary about it is when nuclear plants explode or are bombed. Aside from that, they are completely clean and safe (even if they do waste a lot of energy). I don't think that we need to play with lots of energy sources and in the meantime create ethanol and waste energy resources. I do think that we should keep drilling off-shore. The wells are already there and working, and more and more environmental watches are being put on them. Let's keep this us. We are going to need this oil, especially if Obama gets his way with the troops coming out of Iraq (I don't know about you, but I don't want to pay $10 a gallon). So let's keep drilling, use nuclear energy, and keep researching better energy alternatives.

Anti-Americanism - This sort of goes with what's coming next: War. Barack Obama called the people that were sent over to Afghanistan by our country WAR CRIMINALS. He actually said that. And yeah, maybe they were doing some crappy things over there, but THE UNITED STATES sent them over there to do these things.

The War - Obama wants troops out of Iraq within the next 16 months. I think - we started something, we need to finish it! I am anti-war, and I was against the war in the first place. But the fact is - as much as I would like to believe that every conflict can be resolved in a non-violent way, it is NOT the case. And now we are over in Iraq. It's really hard for me to write about this, as I get all worked up, and I completely agree with my best friend, Cathryn, on this point, so I'm just going to post what she has said. She said it much better than I ever could have:

# Cathryn's opinion: I used to believe that conflict could always be resolved without violence. I used to think war was barbaric and unnecessary, and that Bush was amusing himself by playing GI Joe with the US military. I was idealistic, and my views were righteous, but they were naive. Because although I am skilled at conflict resolution, my training and experience has taught me that it can never be avoided 100% of the time. And in those situations where violence is imminent, you have to act quickly and decisively. Once you suspect someone is going to attack you, you HAVE to move. If you wait, for any reason, you lose. Hesitation will cause a fight to escalate.
# Obama: wants to hesitate. To have happy little tea parties with a country that wants to slaughter us and push our allies into the sea. Hesitation will cause a fight to escalate, which will result in more lives lost. One thing I learned from dealing with dogmatic people is that you cannot reason with those who believe they are right. It is a mistake that will cost lives. I believe that Obama is strong enough to realize that he needs to fight. The problem is that by the time he realizes what is happening, it will be too late.

Immigration - Obama's ideas, while not being horrible, are completely unrealistic. McCain's ideas, while being quite odd, are at least HIS OWN. What other candidate has ever been known to stand up for what he believes in while being naggered by his own party? CERTAINLY not Barack Obama!

Stem cells - my view on this is shocking, given that I am pro-choice and everything. I think, continue the research that is happening, but don't start anything new. Especially not with my tax money. Obama, of course, supports everything. McCain agrees with me. :-)

Death Penalty - Obama supports it. I don't. (For the record, so does McCain)

Gay Marriage - You know he supports gay marriage. At least he should. And he used to. But no, he just supports civil unions. Why? McCain also supports civil unions, and I respect him for it. Again, it's probably really how he feels. I can't respect Obama for it, though, when I know it is not his stance but because he is afraid of the voters he might have lost had he actually come out and supported gay marriage.

Okay, I am done. That was long, and I realize that most people won't read it. And it probably should have come BEFORE the elections. But so many people on facebook were shocked at my stance that I decided I should probably defend it.
There we go.

Friday, October 31, 2008

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!! / Weekend in Lyon

HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!!!!

I am SO sad that they don't celebrate it here in France. :-( I miss halloween! More than anything, I want to go trick-or-treating, but I guess at this point I am so big that the adults would all look at me funny and not want to give me candy. So I would sort of need a child to go with. But I could at least live in a neighborhood and have an awesome costume and all of the little kiddos would come trick-or-treating at my door and see my awesome costume. And then maybe the day before or something there could be an awesome Halloween festival with a (vegan) cakewalk and a haunted house. But alas, I am in France. So I guess this will have to wait until next year.

Anyhow, last weekend, Guillaume and I went down to Lyon just to see the city and to visit his friends Blondine, Anne-Laure, and Solene. Now, more than anything, my reaction to Lyon was that it was just another big French city with nothing special about it. This could be because I am sort of over big cities. The coolest thing was that there was this huge park that we walked through that had this sort of free zoo right in the middle of it. So we saw lots of cool animals!

I think my favorite thing aside from that must have been the cathedral, which was actually really cool and reminded Guillaume of Notre Dame.

I guess I can see how a little bit, but my favorite thing about it was the astrological clock inside. We just so happened to get there pretty much right on the hour, so we actually got to see all of the action. It actually sort of reminded me of the Glocchienspiel (or however you spell that) in Munich, but in miniature. Still, though, really cool.

On Sunday, a bunch of us went for a hike about an hour outside of Lyon. It was really amazingly beautiful, and I think it was my favorite part of the trip (aside from it being cold and a little bit rainy. I managed to catch a cold, which I am just now starting to get over. The only remnants for today are a sinus headache. UGH!).

But seriously, the view from the first viewpoint was fantastic and reminded me of a less amazing Lake Bled (from Slovenia - pretty much the most gorgeous place on the planet with Plitvice Lakes, Croatia in a close second).

On the hike on the way up, there were these cool caves that some French soldier guys apparently used as refuge during some ridiculous storm (according to Kenny's guidebook). That's a picture of Guillaume and I in the cave.

Then on Monday, our last day in Lyon, Guillaume and I explored by ourselves. We saw a cool fountain. And then we hiked up to this church thing. It was really beautiful and amazing, but it was also REALLY high up! After the hike from the day before, we were both glad when it was over.

After the church, we hiked a little bit more, and we came across some really cool Roman ruins. Because it was raining and a little bit cold, it totally reminded me of Rome, because when I was in Rome looking at ruins very similar to these, it was cold and raining. Also because it was cold and raining and Guillaume didn't have hood, I detached mine from my jacket for him to wear, and I have to say, it was pretty funny. It's funny thinking about how we're walking around these ruins basically just looking at old stones, but back in the day, it was a marketplace and people were there buying their vegetables.

Aside from that, we went to see the movie "Law and Order," which had Donnie Wahlberg (YAY NKOTB!!!!), Al Pacino, and Robert DeNiro in it. I LOVED it, but everyone else just thought that it was okay. We found three restaurants where we could eat. Toutes Les Couleurs, where the food was good, but WAY overpriced, Soline, where there was only one option, which was delicious, and Bar Natural, which had FANTASTIC smoothies and sandwiches. Lyon wasn't very vegan friendly, but we did alright for ourselves.

Okay, and one last thing. I know that this is already long, but my mother reminded me that there was a book I read during that time period that I forgot to write about, and since I LOVED it, and I going to do so here.

Memoir From Antproof Case - Mark Helprin
* * * * * (5)
I LOVED this book. Seriously, the only thing I didn't like about it was that there was no "an" before "case" in the title. The main character was funny and serious and quirky and extremely well-developed, and while most people would have probably thought him crazy, I sort-of fell in love with him. And understood him. And, while I never LIKED coffee, by the end of the book he had me feeling morally opposed to coffee. And now I can't stand the smell of it. This is really a book that I would recommend to anyone.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Audrey's Summer Reading List 2008 Part 2

Alright, so to make it a little bit less overwhelming, here's part 2!!!! And for those of you that asked me last time what YA is - Young Adult. Meaning that these are books for people about 10 years younger than I am. :-P

Big Boned - Meg Cabot
* * * * * (5)
It's Meg Cabot; need I say more?

Avalon High
- Meg Cabot
* * * * * (5)
Again, Meg Cabot

Kabul Beauty School - Deborah Rodriguez
* * *1/2 (3 1/2)
This book was terrific; it was comedic but to the point about a very serious topic: Afghanistan. The story was heartfelt, touching, and amazing. Sadly, though, it was badly written, which took away quite a bit from what could having been an AMAZING book.

the Spell Book of Listen Taylor - Jaclyn Moriarty
* * (2)
Australian YA. I was expecting real magic, but instead I got quirkyness. :-(

the Man of My Dreams - Curtis Sittenfeld
* * *1/2 (3 1/2)
Curtis Sittenfeld is a wonderful author, and while this book was nothing compared to Prep, it was still a very enjoyable and thoughtful read. (Can a read be thoughtful?)

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
* * * * * (5)
Now THIS is an extremely well-written book about Afghanistan. I wasn't sure if Khaled Hosseini would top "The Kite Runner," but with "A Thousand Splendid Suns," I really think he managed. Three decades of Afghanistan history, two very different women brought together through their struggles. . . I laughed and cried, but more than anything, I hoped.

Size 14 is Not Fat, Either - Meg Cabot
* * * * * (5)
I did mention before, I think, that Meg Cabot is just amazing.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka
* * (2)
Don't get me wrong, I DID like this book, and it was well-written. I just didn't particularly like the WAY it was written. And the characters annoyed me. And if anything, it made me hate both Russia and the Ukraine. And yet I am for some reason oddly compelled to read other books by this author.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
- Gregory Maguire
* * *1/2 (3 1/2)
If you read "Wicked" and liked it, you should also read this. I like Gregory Maguire enough to keep reading everything he writes, even though I don't really find anything special or impressive about his characters, his stories, or his prose.

I Am American! (And So Can You!) - Stephen Colbert
* * * * (4)
My brother gave this to me, and before that I had never heard of Stephen Colbert. And so while reading, I had NO idea if he was joking about things he actually believed in or joking about things he found ridiculous. Until I read the speech he gave to Bush at the end. I don't think I'll start watching the Colbert Report, but this book was HILARIOUS!

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Shiguro
* * * * (4)
A colony of clones raised to be organ doners. This book could have gone either way, and it went the right way. Instead of focusing on the unbelievable or the ridiculous, he focused on the PEOPLE and the EMOTIONS, and in the end it made for a brilliantly touching book.

the Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
* * * * * (5)
Kind of like "The Host," this book immediately jumped to my top 10. Don't let the cover fool you! This book is romantic (while making you believe that it's not), funny, sad, happy, original, scary, and everything else that a good book should be. (Yes, Kristen , I have read this book. :-P)

Pretties/Uglies/Specials - Scott Westerfeld
* * * * (4)
I loved this YA trilogy. Even though it was written for younglings, I thought it brought up some really interesting ideas and points that ALLOWED you to think without actually making you think. Which I thought was cool. The stories were great, and the characters were well-developed, even if the two main characters COULD get annoying from time to time. I'm looking forward to reading Extras, which makes these books not a trilogy despite still being considered a trilogy.

Spin - Robert Charles Wilson
* * * * * (5)
This book is an amazing modern day sci-fi creation. I really thought that sci-fi had just sort of gone down the drain. I still love fantasy, but when it comes to sci-fi, I had resigned myself to the fact that if I wanted a good read, it had to be an old read. This book proved me wrong. What would happen to the Earth if some hypothetical beings encased it in a sort of membrane inside of which time moves millions of times more slowly than on the outside? This book brings up many important and interesting issues and makes something that is really probably outside the realm of possibility seem, well, possible. AWESOME book!

Shoe Addict's Anonymous - Beth Harbison
* * * * * (5)
This is what a chick lit book should be. Seriously. It was the best and most refreshing book of the genre that I had read in ages. All that was missing from the experience was a comfy couch next to a fireplace with a steaming mug of vegan hot chocolate.

Keeping the Moon - Sarah Dessen
* * * 1/2 (3 1/2)
I normally love Sarah Dessen. When it comes to emotional, lesson teaching YA books, she really is the queen (I could be saying this, though, just because she wrote the books that were the basis for "How to Deal," one of my favorite movies of all time). Sadly, though, I didn't feel that this book lived up to most Sarah Dessen standards. It was good and touching and predictable, yes, but I just felt that there was something missing.

Playing With Boys - Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
* * * (3)
This was TRYING to be everything a Mexican chick lit book should be, and that was just the problem. It was trying way too hard. It was a quick, fun read, but there were often things I just wanted to rewrite for the author.

the Shadow of the Wind
- Carlos Ruiz Zafon
* * * * 1/2 (4 1/2)
This book was FANTASTIC! It was a mystery with mysterious subplots. And those mysterious subplots had more mysterious subplots. But in the meantime you sometimes wonder if what you are reading is actually a mystery. This book was really perfect. And hello, a Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I MUST find one of these! Aside from the fact that I would have ended it differently. And that there was one thing (which would give away too much of the book for me to say) on which pretty much the whole story was based but that didn't actually make sense to me and was never explained. Which is why it only gets 4 1/2 stars. I still HIGHLY recommend it!

And presently reading:
The Gravedigger's Daughter - Joyce Carol Oates

I've just started it, but so far it seems good, aside from the really erratic punctuation. It's my first Joyce Carol Oates, but I hear she is amazing and that when I am done, I will want to read everything by her.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Audrey's Summer Reading List 2008

Since reading is basically my favorite thing in the world to do (with the exception, perhaps, of sleeping, but only when the book I am reading is not the best book ever), I decided to compile a list of books that I read over my summer/beginning fall(i.e. the months of July, August, September, and October until now) , with ratings and one or two sentence reviews. Perhaps this will help some of you who may be having trouble finding something to read. Or it might give you an idea of books that you could recommend to me (you'll see I have very varied taste, so it's not that difficult)!!!!
N.B Some of these books might have been read before that date but accidentally gotten mixed in, but for the most part, this is the list! Also, there are a lot, so I've decided to separate it into two posts. Please don't feel too overwhelmed to read them all. :-)

Your Big Break
- Johanna Edwards
* * * * (4)
Great chick lit! Not the BEST, but still a very satisfying and diverting read!

The God of Small Things
- Arundhati Roy
I would give negative stars here if I could.
This is possibly the WORST book I have ever read. The author was trying to hard, and it seem like she was deliberately trying (but failing, actually) to confuse the reader (maybe into believing that there was a point to her ridiculous prose). I persevered thinking the end would maybe save it; it absolutely did NOT!

the Almost Moon - Alice Sebold
* * * (3)
Certainly not "the Lovely Bones," but still a well written, interesting story (that only bored me a very little bit).

A Lesson Before Dying - Ernest J. Gaines
* * * * * (5)
A story about how a life can be changed for the better, even in the worst of circumstances. Heartfelt, well-written, powerful!

Before I Die
- Jenny Downham
* * * (3)
She has cancer, she dies. I cried and cried. It was good, but I didn't actually LIKE the main character, so not great.

Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr
* * * * (4)
The best kind of YA fiction - YA fantasy fiction! I loved this book, really! And I'm looking forward to reading others by Melissa Marr!

Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
* * * 1/2 (3 1/2)
A wonderful, descriptive book that makes one want to take off and explore the world for as long as necessary. Even if sometimes it got repetitive and long. By the end I was ready for it to be over, but at the same time not. As there were still life lessons and amazing experiences to be had by the author.

To Have and To Hold - Jane Green
* * * * (4)
Jane Green is one of chick lit's best, and this was a refreshing change from most chick lit in that it really made me feel that I was watching the characters instead of just reading about them.

Peony in Love
- Lisa See
* * * * 1/2 (4 1/2)
I would give this 5 stars, except that it's Lisa See and it's not "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan." I really can't get enough of this author and everything by her.

Airhead - Meg Cabot
* * * * *(5)
Predictable but at the same time not predictable and different. I literally could NOT put this book down, and I will be buying the sequel the DAY it comes out and most likely reading it then. I would recommend this book to any YA fan.

How to Be Bad - E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle
* * (2)
I was expecting a lot more from this book. Don't get me wrong, I ENJOYED reading it, but by the end I sort of wanted to shake the authors and ask them to do things differently. If you like YA, though, don't listen to me, as most people seem to be giving it 5 stars.

Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
* * * * * (5)
When it comes to vampire love stories, this is as good as it gets. Romance, suspense, excitement, and VAMPIRES all packed together. . . I wanted more, and thank goodness, there was more to come.

New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
* * * * * (5)
As if romance, suspense, excitement, and VAMPIRES weren't enough, let's throw in
WEREWOLVES! While not as fantastic and riveting as Twilight, this is still one of the best books I have ever read. Seriously. And y'know what - maybe it was actually better than Twilight, as this one also made me feel sad.

the Host - Stephenie Meyer
* * * * * (5)
I'm still thinking about this book. I've had dreams about this book. It's riveting, tantalizing, and emotional, and it left me questioning myself and the world and civilization. This easily jumped to the top of my top 10 (which may actually contain more than 10 books, but in no way takes away from the validity of what I am saying about the awesomeness of this book).

Ender's Game
- Orson Scott Card
* * * * * (5)
HOW had I not read this book before? A sci-fi classic and with reason! It left me LONGING for more!

Les Thanatonautes
- Bernard Werber
* * * * (4)
This was an AMAZING book that only gets 4 stars from me. Because when they stared putting ads up on the road to heaven, that just got to be a little too much for me. It was cheesy in a book that was trying to be serious. Aside from that, though, this book was next to perfect, and it left me wondering if some day humans will find a way to explore the afterlife.

Hyperion - Dan Simmons
* * * * * (5)
Another 5 stars, another sci-fi classic that slipped by me in my youth. It's the story of seven very different pilgrims on the same quest for seven very different reasons. The telling of the story and the story itself was original and magnificent!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I've Got the Whole World in My Hands

This is a puzzle I did a little while ago. I LOVE puzzles! Especially 3-D ones!!!! But not especially the one I am doing now, which is really cool, but I'm about 20 pieces away from the end, and I just can't seem to get it done. All of the pieces look EXACTLY the same. :-( Boo!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Abbie's Wedding

First and foremost, I apologize for my inability to correctly format the previous entry to make the pictures seem like they are in some kind of nice order. If anyone has any formatting tips, please, GIVE!!!! Now, on to better things.

YAY!!!! Congratulations, Abbie!!!! On October 12, 2008 (exactly a year and a day after the wedding of Shawn and Kristen), Abbie Mullaney became Abbie Patterson.

And last weekend, I flew out to Boston for the wedding. Alex picked me up from the airport,

and we went directly to his friend Sara's house, as it was her birthday. I was super jet-lagged, but we were playing charades and celebrity (this fantastic game that is like charades but has three rounds and involves only well known people), and they were active, so it kept me awake. I had a great time - it's rare that I get to play games like that.

Then Saturday, I got to spend the day with Alex. :-) We hung out and went to see the movie Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which was way less good than I thought it would be, but still alright. And there is a vegan ice cream parlor in Boston, so we went and got yummy ice cream. That night we drove down to Rhode Island for the rehearsal dinner, and by the time we got back, I was DEAD. It had been good to see Abbie and talk to Evan and to see Asha and Joe, though.

Then Sunday morning we had to wake up RIDICULOUSLY early for the wedding. It was SOOOOO beautiful!

Abbie was, of course, GORGEOUS! And she and Evan wrote their own vows, and Abbie was crying, and it almost made me start crying as well. The ceremony was fairly short, and I did a reading of a Bob Dylan song that took up at least half of the ceremony. I hope I did a good job.

The reception afterward was fantastic! For a while, the music wasn't so great, but then the DJ realized that no one was dancing, and he started playing GOOD music, and we all started dancing, and it was SO much fun. They even played that song "Everybody Walk the Dinosaur," and so I walked like a dinosaur, which I for some reason interpreted as sort of limboing without a pole, and I am sure that I looked ridiculous. Great times were had, though.

It was especially good to see Asha and Joe. They seem so happy together, and I hadn't seen either of them for ages (well, I guess I did see Asha at the bachelorette party), and it was great to catch up. They seem to be doing really well. And of course it was great to see Abbie, and she just seems SO happy.

A funny story Abbie told me: Abbie's sister Mollie is a nurse, and one day, she got a phone call from someone who was setting up an appointment for her son D'Jean. Well, Mollie, unsure how to spell D'Jean asks the woman if she can please spell that for her. So the woman responds "D up comma J E A N." And Mollie was like "Um, by up comma do you mean apostrophe?" And the woman claimed to have never before heard the word apostrophe in her life. She was all "Dang girl, I didn't know there was a word for that. I always thought it was just a comma high up." Soooo funny!

Anyhow, after the wedding, Alex and I drove back to Boston, and we got delicious vegan calzones, and then we were going to watch the movie "Blood and Chocolate," but I fell asleep within the first 2 or 3 minutes of the movie. And then the next day I had to leave. Sadness.

And now that will make this two posts in one day. Awesome!

While I Was Home: the triathlon

Okay, so this will be my last writing about while I was home. My last day in Louisiana, David and I drove up to Natchitoches to watch my Dad and Tina run/bike/swim their first full triathlon. They did super awesome! I was incredibly impressed, not only by them, but by everyone else there. There was one incredibly HUGE man whose gut kept bumping into his legs. I don't know how he even managed to stand, much less do a triathlon. But do the triathlon he did, which is more than I can say for myself, and he did it in good time, too! I was inspired to some day try to do one myself, but unfortunately Paris really isn't the best training ground. So for now I am contenting myself with preparing to try to start training by playing Wii Fit (which my mother gave me as part of my birthday gift! I love it! YAY!!!!).
Sorry there are no pictures of swimming. I have some pictures of the water, but they don't really show much, so they're not that exciting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

While I Was Home: Lafayette

So, I am getting behind myself here, unfortunately. So much has happened, and I really want to write about it, but I also really wanted to write about my whole trip home. And I just keep having so much trouble finding time to write.

So first - Lafayette. On Saturday, Mom and I decided to go down to Lafayette. Donald has moved there for school, and since Russell was in Baton Rouge, he and Miranda were going to be able to meet up with us there. And of course Aunt Debbie lives there, so we were hoping to be able to see her as well.
We met up with Russell, Donald, Miranda, and Missi for lunch - a sushi restaurant. For some reason, the WHOLE family seems to just adore sushi, with the exception of me. Which is weird, because I'm the one who LOVES Japan. It was sooooo good to see everyone! And it was great to get to spend some time with my mother in the car on the way there and back.

Living in France, we hardly ever get to see each other, and I pretty much only get to talk to her while she is at work because of the time difference. I miss her! :-)
At the sushi restaurant, the brothers, of course, decided to eat baby octopus:

It was really the most disgusting thing ever, as you can see from the picture. I really don't know how they did it.
But oh, they did.

Maybe I am wrong, but I really think that Russell enjoyed it more than Donald.

Aunt Debbie came and joined us at the restaurant for a bit, and it was good to see her. Afterwards, we went to see Donald's new apartment, which was awesome. It seems like he is doing SO well, and I was so glad to see it. He put on awesome music (some Operation Ivy, oh yeah!), and the apartment was covered with posters of Bob Marley. We talked about Russell and Miranda's potential move to North Carolina and looked at houses that they were going to be looking at. Apparently they have now found a house, but I actually have no idea where it is. As in North Carolina or Louisiana or some other state. Hmmmm. . .

So after the apartment, Russell and Miranda went back to Baton Rouge, and Missi, Mom, and I went to Target, and I found seasons 4 and 5 of Smallville on mega sale. Happiness. I also discovered that they are rereleading L.J. Smith's the Secret Circle. More happiness.

Anyhow, great times were had, and it was fantastic to see Mom and the brothers. And now, it is Guillaume's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GUILLAUME!!!!), and there is celebrating to be done.