Wednesday, November 29, 2006

As promised . . . (Paris Photos!)

This is Paris as seen through a really cool monument that they have just at the other end of the Trocadero. I thought it was really interesting. I took this picture on the day that Tayneshia and I split up to explore Paris on our own. Shortly after taking this picture, I ended up being followed (I think) by an unknown individual. We got off the metro at the same time, and then for a while I would see him every 5-10 minutes, whenever I went. It freaked me out a bit, but eventually I just started walking in the opposite direction, in close proximity to a older French businessman, and my would-be stalker gave up.


Above is a photo of me and Tayneshia in front of the Palace at Versailles. The photo on the right is the Arc d'Triomphe. I love the waving flag. It rained quite a bit on our trip, which in some ways was kind of a bummer, but the accompanying breeze sure makes the flag look cool, doesn't it?






Here is Notre Dame. I came to Paris for one day with my mom about 10 years ago. On that trip, Notre Dame was covered in scaffolding, so I wasn't able to take any really pretty pictures. The cloudy sky didn't really cooperate with me in taking this picture, but at least there's no scaffolding. Also, I like the cluster of umbrellas in the front--especially the yellow one.

Yellow is my favorite color, in case you were wondering.


And, finally, the photo to the right is a rather blurry, cheesy, fake-smile picture that Tayneshia took of me riding the Carousel that stands in the shadow of the Sacre Couer Cathedral at Montmarte. Cheesey fake smile aside, it was great fun to ride the Carousel (the fourth I've ridden this year incidentally), and great fun to be in Paris in general.



And I suppose that is enough for this entry. Getting back to regular life has been good, easier and more enjoyable than I anticipated. Sunday I put up my Christmas tree, and I spent my spare time yesterday and today decorating it as well as the rest of the house. Nice.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I love Paris in the springtime (and November too!)

Well, I'm back from Paris. I'm not back home to Utah yet (this is coming to you from New York City), but that will come later on today. In a bit (like a few days or so) I'll try to upload some of the 100 or so pictures that I took in Paris and Versailles, so you can look forward to that.

For now, a little travel review, with perhaps a few details on some of the more quirky aspects of the trip:

We left Salt Lake City for New York, where we crashed at the home of some of our friends out here for two nights. While here we were able to see a revival of Sondheim's Company, which I mostly enjoyed. Other than that, we mainly just hung out with our friends out here, and I was able to meet even a few more of Tayneshia's friends. That was a nice little treat. I was also able to attend Sacrament meeting at the Inwood first ward here in Washington Heights. I was surprised to see no fewer than four people that I already knew, one of them whom I hadn't seen since my high school days. The world is indeed a very small place.

Sunday night we boarded our flight (Air India) to Paris, arriving in Paris in the early afternoon. We spent the next four days seeing as much of the city as our legs, energy, and Euros allowed. We saw Notre Dame, and the Palace and Gardens at Versailles, and the Musee d'Orsay and the Louvre, and the Rodin Museum and the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower, and Montmarte, and lots and lots of Parisian alleys and back streets. We shopped and ate and laughed and rode metros and trains and a funicular. We met and became friends with other Americans, and Parisians, and people from Mexico and England and India.

It was wonderful. I Love Paris.

Here are (briefly) some of the oddities of our trip. I'll try not to go into too much detail, but you know I am prone to rambling, so be warned!

Versailles-We took the train to Versailles. It was beautiful and ornate and amazing. After we had gone through the palace, Tayneshia decided to take a little mini-train that would take her around the gardens and surrounding area. Not understanding just how vast the area was, we determined to meet back up at a certain place in 30-45 minutes. So, Tayneshia went on the train, and I went walking around (I love walking. I just love it).

Well, each path I took led to another path, and soon, I'd been gone about 40 minutes. In those 40 minutes I was able to see the estate of Marie Antoinette (among other things), which was a little treat. However, I was far far from 5 minutes away from our meeting place. So, I started walking back to what I thought was the palace at breakneck speed.

As I was furiously marching along, I noticed the flow of tourists to be lessening somewhat. I also noticed that fields that used to be bare now contained grazing sheep and cows. Not the best sign actually. I began to wonder if where I was and where I thought I was were the same thing. Finally, I came to a corner where I was reasonably sure I could turn and head straight to the palace. By this point I had been gone about 60 minutes.

Luckily for me, at this point, there was a nice French man, walking his dogs. He didn't speak English, and I don't speak French, but by doing a few gestures and pointing at my map, I was informed that the turn I was planning to make was going to take me exactly opposite of the way I should be going to meet Tayneshia. Horrors!

I turned around, and then really put it all into high gear. As I whizzed by, slowly I started seeing more and more tourists and less and less sheep. My legs were killing me, I was so thirsty I could have drunk a lake, and my imagination was going full steam. At this point, I had been gone nearly 90 minutes. I could just picture Tayneshia, who I supposed had been waiting for me for over an hour, frantically speaking to security at the palace, trying to explain that her dear friend was surely killed or at least hopelessly lost and in danger. I pictured them worried about me beyond measure, and I pictured them being relieved, but not a little bit annoyed with me when I finally arrived.

And I finally did arrive. When I made it back to the fountain we had agreed upon, I saw Tayneshia scanning the fountains below. Relieved that she had apparently not made her way to the police yet, I called to her and ran up, making it clear that I was safe and there was no need to worry.

That was when I discovered that Tayneshia had only been at the meeting place for 5 minutes. The train ride had been much longer than either of us had anticipated either.

So, we laughed over our silly mistakes, walked back to the train station, and went back to our hotel, no worse for the wear.

And, I think that might be enough for this entry. There were more adventures, to be sure and perhaps I'll write about some of them in detail, but for now, I'll just list them.

  • We made friends with a couple from Mexico
  • I was followed for about 30 minutes by a man about my age. This kind of freaked me out, but probably wasn't as big of a deal as I made it (that imagination you know)
  • I saw the tunnel where Princess Diana was killed in that car crash
  • We had a GREAT Thanksgiving dinner
  • I had a nice conversation with a man in a grocery store--a man who knew about Salt Lake City and Utah because of our Word Perfect and Novell connection.
  • We learned that the French meaning of the slang "bling" is not precisely the same meaning that we might have.

And I think that's definitely enough for now.

Au revoir,

-char

Friday, November 17, 2006

Pre-Paris Ponderings

So, tonight we leave for Paris. Actually, tonight we leave for New York City, and then on Sunday night we leave for Paris.

Have I even mentioned why I'm going to Paris?

Well, last summer, Tayneshia and I were thinking about where we might go for a vacation, and we found a company with some really economical (i.e. cheap) package deals to different places in Europe. We vacillated between London and Paris, but finally settled on Paris.

Then we got looking at times, and determined that Thanksgiving would be an ideal time to go, really. Tayneshia's family lives in Houston, and since she goes home for Christmas every year, she never goes home for Thanksgiving. As for me, I always go home for Thanksgiving, but this year I decided that I could bear to spend it in Paris, since I'll be with many of my family for Christmas. Since we get a few days off for the holiday anyway, we are able to take the trip without using up too much vacation or getting too far behind on our duties here at work. So, that's the deal.

We'll be spending about a day and a half in New York before we board the plane for Paris. That should be fun. We'll be going to a Broadway show together on Saturday (the new revival of Company-it's in previews now), and then on Sunday I'll be going to church while Tayneshia takes in a production of The Color Purple. Then we'll board the plane that night, sleep the whole way (I'm hopin'!), and wake up in blissful, colorful, romantic Paris.

Yesterday I was a little stressed about the whole trip. This always happens to me. Every time I go on a trip that involves any more than the smallest bit of planning, I tend to get burned out on the whole idea, and by the day prior to my leaving I'm asking myself what possessed me to plan to spend so much money and time on such a frivolous and potentially wasteful venture. I get myself a little bit worked up (it used to be a lot worked up, but I've learned a few helpful anti-worry combatants since the old days) about the things that could go wrong, and almost convince myself that I'm not going to have any fun at all.

But I never get worked up enough to cancel, and then by the time I'm actually leaving (like today), I'm all excited and thrilled and can hardly wait to go. So, I leave, and invariably I have a glorious, magnificent, superb experience, and it banishes all those bad thoughts from my memory.

Until the week before I'm to go on the next trip.

The last time I went to Europe, I was kissed by a street performer in front of about 35 Romans and four other tourists. We'll see if I can top that this trip. (I'm kind of hoping that I don't) Stay tuned.

I don't expect to have Internet access while I'm gone, so this will probably the last entry for a bit.

-c

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I can't think of what to title this entry

How's this for a random picture?

I took it on a trip that I took to Philadelphia last February. The plaque was on a restaurant about 2-3 blocks from the Liberty Bell.

Tonight I'm going to watch The Ghost and Mrs. Muir on video with some friends of mine. We get together every other month or so to watch old movies. So far we've seen American Graffiti, Lawrence of Arabia, The African Queen, and Frenchman's Crossing. Next we're looking at possibly El Cid, but I wasn't up for something that long tonight.

Last night I said goodbye to a friend. She's the girl I spoke about in the last entry, the one who is going home to Kansas to receive radiation therapy. She's actually not leaving until Monday, but I'm leaving for that Paris trip on Friday, and we won't end up seeing each other between now and then. So, we gave goodbye hugs and went on our way. She promised to e-mail from Kansas every two weeks or so, so that's some consolation at least.

Have you ever stopped to think about what your favorite word is? I have, but I've never come up with anything conclusive as of yet. I like the "ch" sound, as in "mocha", "chrysalis", and "chamomile" though. I also love the word "taffeta". A bit odd, I know.

I think that's probably enough randomness for today.

-c

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rachmaninoff I may never be

Well, the wedding went well. Dorothea and Sergei both looked blissfully happy, and it was a lovely event. In an added bonus, the wedding luncheon featured what is probably the best potato salad I have ever eaten. Nice huh?

Tonight I'm going out to dinner with some friends for yet another celebration. One of my friends has recently completed her prescribed series of chemotherapy (having been diagnosed with breast cancer last February), and will be heading to Kansas in a week to undergo her radiation treatments. (She has more family support in Kansas than she has here in Utah) So, it's kind of a celebration/farewell kind of event.

(note-abrupt change of subject coming up)

I've been taking piano lessons for over a year now. I took lessons when I was young, but quit before I was able to get very good. So, a bit over a year ago I started up again. For a while there, I felt like I was making some real progress. Now though, my priorities seem to have shifted somewhat, and it is becoming harder and harder for me to find the time to practice. So I'm kind of at an impasse. I hate to quit the music training, because I think it's important. But I hate to feel like I'm wasting my money, and when I don't practice, that's exactly how I feel. AND, I hate to spend time practicing when I could be spending it exercising, sleeping, being with Elijah, or fulfilling some responsibility that I have.

So, who knows how I'll work this all out?

For the moment though, it's kind of a moot point, because . . . in five days I'm leaving for my Paris vacation! Wa-hooo!!!!! Why worry about piano lessons when I have Paris to consider??

-c

Friday, November 10, 2006

You would think it was MY wedding or something!

All is well here.

For a brief moment this week, I was concerned that I had contracted infectious mononucleosis, but I got a good night's sleep both Wednesday night and last night, and now I'm feeling fine again. So, the hypochondriac in me can go back to dormancy.

Speaking of hypochondrism, and other mental challenges, I have to write a bit about the struggles I've been having regarding the wedding of Dorothea.

First, a few words:

Dorothea has been one of my best friends for a few years now. We've been there for eachother through good times and hard times and crazy times and everything in between. When my cousin took his life last Thanksgiving and I was bawling in the middle of the night, I called Dorothea for comfort. I didn't know it at the time, but she had also had an uncle take his life, and so she was very well equipped to comfort and help me. Plus, she didn't mind (terribly) being awoken at 2:00 a.m. by a crying Charlotte. That's the kind of friends that we are.

So, Dorothea has been dating this great guy (we'll call him Sergei) for a while now, and a few months ago, they decided to get married. The wedding is tomorrow. Because I'm a good friend to Dorothea, I helped her decide which of two engagement rings she should get (ask for), helped her make pecan tarts and mints for her reception, helped to organize her bridal shower, and I will be bringing a giant spinach and orange salad to the wedding luncheon tomorrow. Because I'm a semi-talented singer as well as a good friend, I'll also be singing at the actual wedding.

So, I'm kind of involved with the whole wedding thing, as it turns out. I had kind of thought that this wasn't all that big of a deal for me, but then I started having weird dreams about the wedding. Last week I dreamed that Dorothea had asked me to take tickets for the wedding. (Apparently she had decided that there would be so many people wanting to come that she would have to restrict entrance to those who had a ticket). Unfortunately, rather than sending the tickets out with the announcements, she had given the tickets to me to pass out, and then to receive. The tickets were very involved, and even had the name and picture of the guest on them.

So, in my dream, I'm there, trying to hand out and gather tickets, all by myself, and I'm doing a terrible job. Worse still, I'm holding up the line, and so the wedding is about to start and only one or two people are in the room, because the rest of the guests are all out with me, trying to get into the wedding, but being barred by my inablility to sort out the ticket situation.

Aack!

Then, last night I had another Dorothea wedding dream. This one wasn't quite as stressful or involved though. I just dreamed that I caught a cold and couldn't sing at the wedding after all. Luckily, when I awoke this morning, I felt completely fine.

Also luckily, Dorothea doesn't have tickets for her wedding, and I don't need to pass them out or receive them. So, chances are the whole event will go off without a hitch. Then perhaps I can go back to having weird dreams about my own life and the events there.

And now it's on to the weekend!

-c

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

obscenely early meetings, globetrotting, and chores

So, life continues as normal these days. This morning we had a meeting of the Board of Trustees for the company for which I work. The meetings are held at 8:00, which is an hour earlier than I usually arrive at work (I know, lucky me!). So, my morning schedule was kind of thrown off today. Oh well. The meetings are only once per month, and really, how many accountants have jobs where they don't start until 9:00 a.m. for all but one day of the month? Not many that I know.

I'm in the throes of preparation for the trip to Paris. Yesterday I went down to my public library and checked out four guide books (2 of them pocket-size) on Paris. Except for the time I spent as a Mormon missionary, this will be my first Thanksgiving away from my family. Actually, since my mission was in Northern California, this will be the first time I will spend a major American holiday in any country besides the USA. So, it should be interesting.

And other than that, things are pretty much the same as usual. My parents are coming up tomorrow, which means I need to get my house in "mom-approved" shape before tomorrow afternoon. Since I've been kind of slacking in the housecleaning area lately, that may take a bit longer than I would hope. Still, it shouldn't be too bad.

I guess that's enough for now.

-c

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Weekend of Celebrations

Well, I had a very busy but very enjoyable weekend.

Friday I went to the movie Flicka with Dorothea. It was Dorothea's idea, and we mainly went to see it because of Tim McGraw being in it. Dorothea is a die hard country fan. Anyway, the move was quite good. The scenery was beautiful, and I liked Tim McGraw much better in this movie than in Friday Night Lights. That could just be because he plays a much more likeable character in this one though.

Saturday was the busiest day of the week. I started out the day by attending a wedding of a friend, a friend with whom I actually went on a few dates back in April. Funny how things work out, huh? He's now married to someone else, and I'm with Elijah. I think we're both happy with our choices. It's so nice when it works out that way, isn't it?

After the wedding, I had just enough time to run a few errands and change my clothes before it was time to go to the bridal shower that I was helping to throw for Dorothea. That went well also. Dorothea has a whole bunch of really nice friends and family, so having them all together in a room laughing and eating and (my personal favorite) opening presents was a treat.

After the shower, I had just enough time to run home, and pick up a present to drop off at the wedding reception for the friend I mentioned before. After that I ran to Elijah's, and we then rushed off to a birthday celebration for yet another friend.

Before that celebration was completely over, we left there so that we could go Contra Dancing. Have you ever heard of contra dancing? If not, check out this website: http://www.sbcds.org/contradance/whatis/ All I will say is that it is FUN! I had been a few times in my college years, but it had been several years since I'd gone and Elijah had never gone. We messed up a bunch, and because of our inexperience, we ended up messing up a bunch of other people as well, but everyone was patient with us, and we all had a great great time.

Sunday was also a pretty busy day, but I think this post is already quite long enough. This week looks to be quite eventful as well. My father and mother are coming into town later this week to make a presentation to my Relief Society, and then Saturday is Dorothea's wedding. Then the next week I leave for Paris! Yippee!!

ttfn,
char
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