Dublin Day One

We finally got to our hostel after midnight—it’s an old church turned orphanage turned hostel—and we’re sharing a room with seven other girls, bunk bed style. Of course, we come stomping in when it’s lights out and people are sleeping and we have trouble figuring out which bunk bed is ours and we’re using our cell phones as our only sources of light. Not exactly the ideal conditions to unpack, ya know?

One girl wakes up and tells us she’s sleeping in one of our beds but we can have her old one. Fine, whatever. We’re supposed to have little lockers, only my locker is right next to the head of the bed underneath my top bunk, so I’d have to stand creeper close to the sleeping girl below me to put my backpack away. Fine, whatever.

My friend Jenn and I go into the bathroom to change and brush our teeth. Lily comes in, tries to open the other toilet stall, and can’t get it open—but of course we don’t think anything of it. Wrong. We talk a little. Jenn and I leave. Lily, who had been going to the bathroom, stays and does some teethbrushing of her own. And then two guys come out of the other toilet stall, obviously not expecting to see Lily there—who obviously wasn’t expecting to see two guys walk out of a stall in the women’s bathroom while she’s brushing her teeth.

Not fine. Not whatever.

The next morning was a little rough—rough enough that I didn’t feel guilty about coming in at 1:30 a.m. and making a little noise that when people’s alarms started going off at 6 a.m and the girls left the lights on. The girl in the bed below my friend Lily’s actually tossed a pillow on Lily’s bed without comment and just nonchalantly answered “Yes” when Lily asked if we got pillows (in addition to the comforter placed on our bed and the linens we got at the front desk) and if she had taken Lily’s pillow. But the day could only get better from there, right?

Breakfast was equally hard, with the only redeeming factor being the cold milk (room-temperature milk is the norm in Paris) and the light, fluffy pieces of white bread that remind me of the bread in Alice in Wonderland. Our game plan going into Dublin was to eat a big, free breakfast at the hostel and then wait until late afternoon/early night to eat a big meal. We are poor college students studying abroad against the Euro, come on. So it was a little disappointing to walk into the church hall turned dining hall and see that the only breakfast options were carbs, just like in Paris—toast, Irish soda bread, Rice Krispies or corn flakes. There was NO flavor in the breakfast, as we didn’t even get jam and the orange juice was just water with a little bit of OJ poured in it. But did we let that distract us? Hell no! Poor college students studying abroad will eat anything, and that morning I had two butter sandwiches and many glasses of cold milk.

And it was raining and cold when we finally ventured outside. Lily even had to buy an umbrella and my feet were soaked because I’m too cheap to buy new boots when the rubber bottom has torn away from the foot part of the boot. When it stopped raining, it was still cold, but not cold enough to deter us from the free walking tour we absolutely wanted to have our first day in Dublin—not even when we got to the meeting spot and was told it was three hours long.

It was an interesting group, as international groups can be. We were in the “English-language” tour part, but we were the only Americans. There were people, mostly groups of guys, from the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil; there were two girls from Croatia too, I think . We had to go around and say where we were from in the beginning, but we really cemented our status as the young American girls when our tour guide was talking about how we had to pose for a picture to post on the tour guide group’s Facebook page and Lily automatically turned to me and did the Eiffel Tower pose that had become an inside joke for us—we saw Asian tourists in Paris posing with their heads like the “A” dance move of the “YMCA” while on the Seine riverboat tour with the Eiffel Tower in the background, and we always do that in photos when we’re being super touristy.  Our tour guide called Lily out on it, made her explain it, and then dragged her to the front in the photo where, yes, we all did the Eiffel Tower pose. Great first impression for the Americans.

The tour was long—but it’d have to be, with Ireland’s history. We went from the Vikings to when O’Bama visited Dublin last year. We went to everywhere from Christ’s Church, built in 1090 A.D. (it used to hold brothel, a pub, and a whiskey bar at some point in its long life, funnily enough) to the Temple Bar area to Trinity College to some alleyway from P.S. I Love You (which I have never seen but my tour guide had—something he said he only watched because the girlfriend made him when he called me out on giving him a skeptical look).

I also gave him skeptical looks when we walked by the famous Clarence Hotel owned by Bono and the Edge and he couldn’t remember the names of the other two blokes—I had no problem shouting out their names. But come on—he’s Irish! Isn’t it the law that they have to know all of the U2 members, if not love the band? AND I had to remind him of their names when we were in the St. Stephen’s Green park and he was talking about how since all of the members have U2 have keys to the city, they can technically have the privilege of feeding their goats on the grass in the park. Geeze Louise.

But, I guess I had my own “Geeze Louise” moments when I asked if Irish car bombs were a thing in Ireland. Turns out they really, really aren’t. The Irish car bomb—a shot of Baileys literally dropped, shot glass and all, in a pint of Guinness that you have to down before the milk of the Baileys curdles—is an opportunistic American drink, much like St. Patrick’s Day, so you won’t find it on the menu of any bar and the bartenders might not even know what you’re asking for if you were foolish enough to try, according to our tour guide. And he said some Irish really take offense to it if they had relatives who died in car bomb tragedies. Luckily he told us this before we went to a bar! And, as if that question wasn’t ignorant enough, I also went ahead and asked if Shamrock Shakes were served year-round in Ireland. Nope. Another dumb American invention.

But the tour guide was nice enough to say, “Everything else about the Irish drinking stereotype is true,” even though we didn’t even go out the first night—a Friday, no less!!—since we were still exhausted from the night before and the three hour walking tour and the frigid, freezing temperature that chilled us to the bone and forced us to shell over 10 euro for hats and gloves (a decent bargain, but still). So we ended up going to the movies to see the latest Paranormal Activity film, which was a good time for me even though I spent most of the time with my hat pulled over my face and my face tucked into Lily’s armpit.

At that point, I was emotionally and psychologically exhausted from the stress of the movie and physically exhausted from the lack of sleep and the walking. We were all in bed sleeping by ten. Not very Irish, but it was still very nice.

P.S. Ryanair was totally not the stress, since it was a normal-sized plan. And I sat next to a fellow American student studying abroad in Paris, so we just talked the whole time! No free drinks or peanuts, but you could have bought cigarettes, scratch tickets, stewardess swimsuit calendars (you’d think an airline wouldn’t want to promote stewardesses on the beach…or maybe that’s just my LOST paranoia coming in).

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I’m Flying up to Dublin!

I grew up in a suburb outside of Boston, but even there the Irish presence was really big, thanks to the Celtics, the Mc or O’ last names, and the people who liked to talk about their Irish heritage. I never got that: I don’t watch basketball, and my last name, Falcone, tells anyone all they need to know about my Italian heritage.

But even if I don’t have the Irish roots (I mean that figuratively and literally—I am not a ginger!), I did have the Boston thing going for me. I saw The Departed in theaters when it came out and I listened to the Dropkick Murphy’s before that movie and, well, I just got used to seeing green shamrocks on everything.

When I go to Dublin tomorrow, I’ll be able to own my Boston Irish background, even if it’s not actually mine. I’m interested to know if the Irish are better at placing the city on a map or at least recognizing it better than the French have been—and considering I get more of a response when I say I live in Philadelphia (Tom Hanks! Eagles! ROCKY!!) than when I say I’m from Boston, it won’t be hard to top.

It’s funny, really, because I never was dying to go to Ireland like people I went to high school with or even one of the girls on my study abroad program (my fellow shame-eating friend Lily from the cheesecake post). Lily also goes to Drexel, along with the two other girls I’m going to Dublin with (the same ones I went to Oktoberfest with, actually) and over the summer we’d meet up to try and plan trips and name our top destinations. This was how we all agreed to go to Munich. But Lily’s number one choice was Dublin, and I was kind of meh about it because I was gung-ho on going to Stockholm or at least Copenhagen.

However … once I started into looking into transportation (pricey!) and language problems (what the hell is that letter?) and money (how the heck to I exchange money?), the dream of going to Scandanavialand became less and less intense. And once I started living in a foreign country and started dealing with translation and culture shock issues on a daily basis, the idea of going to a country with the same language became more and more appealing. I’m not that proud of that, but it’s true.

We got the idea to go to Dublin for our week-long break after I met some Irish guys and told my friends about how fun they were and that kind of reevaluated Dublin for all of us. I think we booked the trip a week or so after that.

What am I looking forward to the most? Touring the Guinness Storehouse, of course! But we’re going to be there for eight days, and we bought a reduced-price pass to go to over 34 cultural attractions in Dublin for free … let’s just say I totally plan on getting my money’s worth! I’m pretty easygoing when it comes to the other things we’ll do, but we’ve already decided on Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College (mostly to see their awesome Harry Potter-esque library), and picnicking by the beaches.

PLUS: I WILL BE IN DUBLIN FOR HALLOWEEN!!!! We didn’t even plan that and actually didn’t even realize it until recently, but Parisians don’t really celebrate Halloween and the Irish do.

The weather’s supposed to be blah and in the 40s (Fahrenheit—still haven’t gotten the hang of Celsius) but that just means we’ll have to sit by the toasty fire while enjoying a pint at the pub!

I fly out tomorrow night, leaving Paris at 10:30 or so. I’m a little nervous because I’ve heard horror stories about Ryanair and I get nausea and motion sickness very easily. But maybe I’ll contract the luck of the Irish and not have any troubles!

I will be bringing my laptop to Dublin—can you believe I have to register for next term’s classes while I’m over there on vacation?!?!—so hopefully I’ll be able to put a couple blog posts up.

I Love Lamp but I Miss Mac and Cheese

In France, there is no such thing as being “homesick.”

But this isn’t because Paris the best city in the world or because the French are so pretentious that there is no way to express that your are homesick because there’s no way you could possibly ever be homesick in Paris. I think.

No, because in the French language, if you want to say you are homesick you can’t literally translate “I am homesick” into “Je suis mal à la maison” or something. Okay, I guess you could, but the only thing it would mean might be “I am sick of this house” and, well, that’s not exactly the best thing to say to your host family. Instead, you literally translate the phrase into “Je suis mal du pays,” which literally means “I am sick for my country” or something like that.

That’s nice and all, but how can I say I am homesick for the food of my country—specifically, Kraft Easy Mac?

I feel like a terrible person for writing that. You can call me a snob, complainer, whiner, stereotypical American, whatever—I get it. I mean, I’m in Paris, the food capital of the gastronomical world complete with magical bonuses like crepes and escargots and beautiful desserts and the concept that you can eat Nutella on anything you want sans judgement. Come on, Disney even made a movie that took place solely in the kitchen of a French restaurant.

So then why the hell am I craving a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese so freaking badly????

I lived on that stuff back at Drexel. I ate it more often than I should reveal. It’s embarrassing how easy it is for me to eat Easy Mac, or just macaroni and cheese in a box.

Like, one time, I ate Easy Mac for breakfast. Another time, I used vanilla coffee creamer instead of milk when preparing my Easy Mac. And then there was the time I made the microwavable Easy Mac to eat while I waited for the stove Easy Mac to cook. I’m pretty sure that the last meal I cooked at my apartment in Philly was macaroni and cheese, but the Trader Joe’s brand of macaroni and cheese.

And geeze, okay, fine, I lied—I’ve eaten Easy Mac for breakfast on more than one occasion.

But that all stopped seven weeks ago, in August. I was the one who broke things off between me and Easy Mac because I didn’t think I could stand the long-distance relationship when I was in Paris.

You see, there aren’t any macaroni and cheese boxes in any of the grocery stores I’ve been in here. And there usually isn’t macaroni and cheese on any of the menus I’ve looked at—not even the fake fancy macaroni and cheese American restaurants offer that have lobster or bacon in it so therefore it’s fancy.

However, I did find a charming American expat grocery store called Thanksgiving that had Kraft Easy Mac … for like four euro a box. Looks like Easy Mac isn’t so easy in Paris, weird. Usually I pride myself because I can afford to eat Easy Mac and not ramen noodles, but this I cannot justify. Maybe when I get desperate in a couple weeks—but then my dad will be visiting so then there’s no point because I’ll have him smuggle me a couple boxes anyway.

But until then, and until my mom visited two weekends ago, I thought I would just power through my cravings. And I had been okay, or so I thought. There was a lot of new, fun French food to distract me. But then that honeymoon period of my relationship with French food was over and then I didn’t feel bad about letting my ugly side come out because I WAS IN DESPERATE NEED OF SOME EASY (MAC) LOVING OKAY????

And then I cheated on French food with Canadian food, in a Canadian bar called The Moose.

Ahhh, The Moose.

I was introduced to The Moose when my mom, her fiancé, and my grandparents visited me for a couple days and we thought it’d be a good change of pace from the French bistros and cafes we’d been frequenting, mostly because I was getting annoyed at having to order everything in French only to have someone else ask for the check in English and then receive the evil eye from the waiter.

It wasn’t love at first sight—later, it would be love at first bite, but when I went to The Moose the first time I ordered a chicken burger because I was so excited to find a chicken burger. I was a dummy. The chicken burger was good, but later that night I found myself thinking about the glimpse of macaroni and cheese I had seen on the menu.

I didn’t even make it two weeks before I was back at The Moose. This time it was with eight other friends that had came to eat the mac and cheese or verify that yes, in fact, I did find a bar in Paris called The Moose. We had to wait about an hour for a table of nine people, and the whole time I was shaking with anticipation about being so close to the mac and cheese but so far away. I knew it was there, somewhere, in the kitchen, but it wasn’t close enough to me.

To heighten the thrill, the (American) waitress warned me when I ordered mac and cheese. “It’s not like normal mac and cheese,” she told me.

Gulp. “What do you mean?” I croaked.

“It’s not with the little elbow macaroni. It’s with longer pasta. And there’s cheese on the top but not all the way through. There’s a light cheese sauce. It’s just … I don’t know, it’s not like American mac and cheese, I guess is what I’m trying to say,” she said.

“It’s fine. I’ll take it,” I said. You’re a terrible salesperson, I thought.

Even bad or weird mac and cheese is still good mac and cheese, you know? (I know, because I’m the mac and cheese expert).

She had built me up, the witch. I thought she meant it would be  with spaghetti or fettuccine in a weird Alfredo-cheesy sauce that, admittedly, I still would have eaten.

But good news! The blind date went well and my dish was delicious. The noodles weren’t extremely long—I wouldn’t even have noticed the slight blemish if the waitress hadn’t pointed it out. And yeah, there was melted cheese on the top and then only a cheese sauce for the bottom noodles, but that wasn’t a problem either!

There’s the money shot, baby.

True, the sauce wasn’t cheddar at all—which I was expecting because cheddar cheese doesn’t exist in France, not really. I think this was what the waitress meant when she said it wasn’t like American cheese. I couldn’t tell what the cheese was, exactly, but it was definitely like the kind of cheese I’ve eaten in restaurants or at family meals with my host mom. French-y cheese, is all I can say it was. I wish I could be more descriptive, but I like a little mystery on a first date. Maybe I’ll ask when I go back.

I had this mac and cheese last Friday—more than a week ago! I’m still trying to figure out if it’s too soon to go back or if that’ll make me seem too needy (or, ya know, too much of a fatso).

But I will go back, soon. This was the kind of mac and cheese worth waiting for. This was the kind of mac and cheese that I wanted to say, “We’ll always have [The Moose Bar in] Paris” to in a non-cheesy way.

That isn’t to say, however, that I’ve forgotten about my first love, good ole Kraft Easy Mac. I’ve done a bit of stalking on my ex. I mean, I’ve literally stalked the Easy Mac Facebook page—but I didn’t “like” it because I’m not that weird. Please, what am I, an amateur?

Maybe it’s because I never paid enough attention to Easy Mac when I had it. Or maybe I didn’t value what I had and don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone? But I found out SO MUCH about Kraft Macaroni and Cheese after we’ve parted ways that I feel like I didn’t even know it.

For example. Did you know that the website for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is http://www.youknowyouloveit.com/????? I’m not making this up either. What a douchey, cocky, but kind of funny move, don’t you think? Like the frat boy you can’t help but smile at.

Still can’t believe this is real. The website address, I mean, not that I was involved with someone so old.

It made me think of so many questions about Kraft’s history. When did they buy the rights to that site? Was it before Gossip Girl and you know you love me xoxo Gossip Girl. How much did it cost? If you make a typo trying to get to the site, does that mean that you’re actually going to get rerouted to a porn site?

Once I got over the hilarity of the domain name, I realized that there was more to Kraft Macaroni and Cheese than I thought. It comes in bags now—“homestyle” bags—that seem fancy because you can make it on the stove or in the bowl it comes in and it comes with extra features like crunchy bread crumbs or bacon bits and has flavors like “Hearty Four Cheese.”

Daaaamn, Kraft, looks like you might be winning the breakup after all.

Not making this up either.

AND lemme tell ya, Kraft has been branching out big time. Not even just into new macaroni and cheese dinners. Now there’s Kraft Macaroni & Cheese popcorn topping. What the what, right? How desperate would you have to be to try that?

LOL JK. I would totally buy it but at 2 cans for $8 + shipping fee, it’s more expensive than forking over 4 euro for a box of Easy Mac or 11 euro for The Moose’s macaroni and cheese (I’m a cheap date).

I’m not completely insane. I’m still making logical decisions. See?

P.S. I do love lamps, but not as much as Brick in Anchorman. You could say, however, that I love mac and cheese like Brick loves lamps.

How to Live in Paris and Not be Awkward

I am now seven weeks into living in France. SEVEN WEEKS! It’s astounding to think how long I’ve been here.

Yestrday was the first time I went on the Metro and didn’t wonder if people thought I was French. I don’t feel like a secret agent anymore when I wander around Paris and blend in with the Parisians. So that’s nice.

Basically, I feel like I’ve finally earned all of the moments where French people or American tourists ask me for directions in French. Although, I could have done without the two French girls asking me where the McDonalds is…

What I’m trying to say is that I feel like a true Parisian and have learned the tricks of how to survive in France. And now I will share with you the Dos and Don’ts that I have learned along the way, so you don’t have to have all of the awkward or newbie experiences that I have had. And lemme tell ya: I have had A LOT of those awkward experiences.

And to make matters worse, there literally isn’t a French word for “awkward,” because French people are way too cool like that. Like, you know in the States if something awkward happens, someone (usually me) always says “awkward….” to comment on it? Yeah, can’t do that here.  So that makes this even more awkward….

Although I am embarrassingly awkward in English without any cultural or linguistic excuses to fall back on. So I guess I’m kind of a pro on being awkward. No biggie.

For example…..

DO: Mentally prepare yourself to have French people ask if you are British or Australian or Irish. It doesn’t matter where: the Metro, the bar, the café, the street, the museum, the shops. It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting with my friends or on the phone with a friend or, in one case, when I dropped my bag and swore in English. And it doesn’t matter the age or gender of the curious French person. I get mistaken for a non-American every couple of days.

It’s not annoying to have people eavesdrop or interrupt your conversation. Having someone think I am Australian (the most common, actually) is the opposite of that. It is literally the best feeling in the world, especially if you’re a young girl like me who swoons whenever she hears a British or Irish or Australian accent. And to think that someone might feel that way about my (faux British or Irish or Australian) accent? It’s powerful stuff, man. It’s the nicest compliment especially when it’s for something I don’t have to try to be good at. People just automatically think I’m British and that makes me very, very happy.

The French are usually decent at speaking English, but they’re not so good at figuring out what type of English they’re hearing. I’ve tried to talk in a Southern accent, then a Boston accent, and then my regular accent to French people and they’ve all honestly said that they couldn’t tell the difference. Crazy, right?

DON’T: Say you are from China if someone asks you where you’re from, especially when you are a white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl like me. Sarcasm doesn’t always translate. I’ve received a couple of blank stares from people after that joke fell flat.

D0: Expect to have random strangers come up to you and strike up a conversation based on your accent. If you’re with a group of American girls in a bar, chances are you’ll end up talking louder than most French people, and since you’ll be talking in a foreign language, you’re going to attract attention. It’s an instant conversation starter that can last all night and it can be very informative and funny to compare customs or phrases or movies or shows.

And it is very, very odd to realize that just because you are American you are instantly cooler and more interesting.

I’ve literally had a group of Texan boys walk by me and my friends in a bar, then turn around and point to us and say “Americans.” And, this is true, I only knew that they were Americans from that first introduction because Europeans would never have been that rude.

DON’T: Shy away from the conversation. It sounds sketchy, and if someone back home tried to pull the “Where are you from?” I’d be a little annoyed and like “Really?” But here, I’ve met really great people from all over—Norway, Germany, Ireland, and mostly France—just because they heard me talking. I’ve had Americans come up and try to talk to me too, just to talk to another American. The conversation can be awkward and stilted sometimes, but usually it will turn out to be pretty funny.

DO: wear deodorant. Dear God, please wear deodorant or antiperspirant or even slather on some hand cream under your armpits, just so you don’t smell like B.O. It is so, so obvious when someone isn’t wearing deodorant. Not in a HA I’M SO CLEVER, I FIGURED IT OUT kind of obvious, but more in an obvious way like you pooped your pants and you smell and your butt is brown and yeah it’s obvious.

JUST WEAR DEODORANT AND EVERYONE ELSE (OR AT LEAST ALL THE AMERICANS) ON YOUR METRO CAR WILL SILENTLY THANK YOU AND LOVE YOU WHETHER YOU KNOW IT OR NOT.

DON’T (bother) wearing perfume if you go out: you will inevitably end up smelling like cigarette smoke because everyone and their mother (literally) smokes here. Why put on purchased perfume when you’re going to wear free eau du cigarette anyway?

DO: count on seeing blazers, leather jackets, nautical striped shirts, endless colors and types of scarves, skinny jeans and pointy shoes (for men and women). Every other stereotype about French fashion is true. BUT…

DON’T: count on seeing a beret. Seriously. Start prepping yourself for endless disappointment and no beret-sightings as soon as you make up your mind to go to France. No berets ever.

No. Berets. Ever.

NO. BERETS. EVER.

NOBERETSEVER.

(Imagine the last line said in the high-pitched Gretchen Weiner “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!” voice)

DO: Get ready to kiss cheeks. A lot. All day, every day. I feel like I’ve gotten, if not better, than at least less awkward about my bises. You just have to get used to it, I guess. Practice makes perfect. And it’s not worth complaining about the bises to French people, because then they don’t know what to do when you go to say goodbye or hello to them and they awkwardly stick out their hands. It’s so awkward that kissing them is just the better alternative (never thought I’d have to ever write out that sentence, am I right?)

DON’T: Hug. No hugging, ever. You know how in Arrested Development  there’s the running joke with George Bluth Sr. in prison where he touches one of his family members visiting him and that prompts the guards into yelling “NO TOUCHING! NO TOUCHING!” and he immediately puts his hands up and repeats “NO TOUCHING! NO TOUCHING!” That’s what I’m like in France. NO TOUCHING! NO TOUCHING!

I’m such a huggy person, it’s embarrassing. I hug for the dumbest reasons. You got an A on your exam? HUG! You failed your exam? HUG! You went to your exam today? HUG! I am the opposite of the hug Nazi—HUGS FOR EVERYONE! And I have to remind myself not to hug people. It’s hard for me, all right?

DON’T: order shots at a bar. They will be ridiculously expensive. Like, 5 euro expensive when a beer is 5 euro and a mixed drink is 8 euro. And they won’t even be good shots. It’s tequila, rum, or vodka here; and none of that flavored stuff either. If you ask for a shot of vodka you’re going to get a shot of Absolut and no chaser. It is not worth it. And the cutsey, fruity, sugary shots are usually more expensive when they’re available. The French don’t binge drink, ergo they don’t need shots.

D0: Buy wine. A bottle of wine at a grocery store costs as much (more or less) as a shot at the bar. Sometimes it cost less than soda or juice. Good wine too, not just shitty wine.

[sub-don’t]: Buy the disgusting rosé for two euro that came in a plastic bottle, like a soda bottle. It came with a plastic cap and everything. Wasn’t even worth a cork. with a cap and everything. Good story, bad wine.

DO: Eat bread. Eat all of the bread you are offered and don’t feel bad. Bread and carbs are your friends here. No, scratch that, they’re more than your friends—THEY ARE YOUR AMIS! Trust me, that low carb/no carb crap? It’s a mean American invention that just magically doesn’t exist in France so you should definitely take advantage of it while you can.

Pro tip: Keep your bread on the table, not on your plate or your napkin. Don’t worry about the crumbs, because the French don’t. Just trust me. I’ve eaten a lot of French bread in a lot of French places.

DON’T: Look to salad to being your healthy meal. Salads in France are loaded with weird, random, not-salad ingredients, like ham and deviled eggs and lots of other lunchmeat. If you go to a café, or even a take-away café, the salads are usually at least 3 euro more expensive than a baguette, and it will be salad with lunchmeat or eggs on it and maybe tomatoes.

And if you buy a prepared salad at a grocery store, it will usually have cold cooked pasta on top of lettuce. SO WEIRD. It is completely acceptable, therefore, to take pictures in the Franprix of “Penne salad” that is, as the simple title states, penne in an Alfredo or olive oil-based sauce on top of a bed of lettuce. Even if there’s more on the salad, like chicken or carrots, you’ll still get the pasta with it too. So they’re not always as super healthy.

I’ve even ordered a salad in a restaurant with mayonnaise as a dressing (with the other toppings being shrimp, grapefruit, apples, and tomatoes). And it was called La Salade Louisiane, or the Louisiana Salad. Although I’m pretty sure that salad doesn’t exist in Louisiana or in all of the United States. Because mayonnaise on salad doesn’t exist.

Basically, the French aren’t AMIS with the salad. Therefore, Alissa isn’t an AMI of the French salad.

Pro tip: Best bet for an American salad is to buy your own ingredients and just make your own. Just don’t expect to find any salad dressing either.

DO: eat Nutella on everything. Your takeaway from this is that you should eat Nutella always. It’s a free pass! Nutella for breakfast? Okay, sure! Nutella crepe for lunch? Why not? A knife’s-worth of Nutella for a snack? Sounds good!

DON’T: NOT eat Nutella on everything. Your host family will think it’s weird you don’t put it on chocolate chip bread, American bread, or a baguette for breakfast. And they will laugh when you say it is too early to eat something so sweet.

DO: speak French as much as you can. Even if you know a little French, like “Bonjour” or “Merci!” it will go a long way. And if you know more than that, like how to order food at a restaurant, then you should totally use it.  The waiter or the French speaker might switch to English, but stick to your French guns if you know enough vocabulary.

I’ve also done this with French people at bars, where we agree to talk in our other language until we get to a word or a phrase we don’t know and then we switch back to our native tongue. For whatever reason, that makes the idea of conversing in French less daunting for me, and I think it really helps everyone out in the end. Usually I’ll try and describe a thing in French and ask what that word is in French before I’ll just say the English word. It really has been helping!

DON’T: be afraid to ask someone to speak slower or repeat or explain. Maybe it’s because I do this with my host family more than with random people, but I’ve gotten rid of my fear and embarrassment about this.

DO: Study and practice using the different colors and sizes of Euro bills and coins so you won’t fumble with them when you buy something. You will be tested on this and just like regular tests, it is not a good feeling when you fail or do poorly on them. Your tests are when you try and buy something and you have exactly 0.5 seconds to get the right change out before the shopkeeper starts judging you. Not the best feeling in the world. So it’s worth dumping out your change and wallet on the bedspread and pretending to play “shopkeeper” with yourself so you know how to do it in the real world. No shame.

And, you know, if you can get a friend to play with you, you’ll probably feel like less of a loser…

DON’T: Call the different colored Euro bills cute. The French do not think they are cute. And they will not think you are cute for calling their money cute. Just trust me on this.

DO: HAVE FUN!!!!! YOU ARE (OR WILL BE) IN FRANCE!!! C’EST LA VIE EN ROSE COLORED GLASSES!!!!

DON’T: worry about making a fool of yourself. Just accept it. It’s gonna happen so you might as well have fun and get a laugh and a story (or a blog post) out of it. It doesn’t matter anyway because you are in France and that means everything will automatically be better, even the bad parts.

Oktoberfail, Part Two

My second Oktoberfail that I experienced at Oktoberfest last week has to do with the camping situation … the one I had built up so much in my head prior to actually visiting it, where the reality of the campsite (plus the rain one night) made it all come crashing down.

I am not a camper. I am not even an outdoorsy person. The last time I slept in a camp was when I was a sophomore in high school, and that was not even by choice. It was a team bonding exercise for my soccer team and it was only for one night, and no one got any sleep then anyway so it doesn’t really count as camping in my head.

It should be noted that I did not plan on camping at Oktoberfest when we started organizing the trip. But alas, my friends and I started booking stuff in August and by then it was too late to find any space for four people in any of the hostels in Munich or by the festival. So one of the travel guide sites we were on also recommended a camping site in an Olympic stadium … which did not really register as camping for me since it would be in an Olympic stadium, not a random forest or woods or river or whatever, and there would be showers and toilets and running water. But really, I was in it for the Olympic stadium.

The name of the place was Wies’n Camp, which is in Olympic Horse Stadium München-Riem. In the 1972 Munich Olympics, this was where all of the equestrian events occurred during the games. I’m not a horse-y kind of person (I do like things, I swear, just not horses or camping), but whatever, I knew this was the closest I was maybe ever going to get to the Olympics and I didn’t care (sad, but true … unless the Olympics or the world finally recognizes the sport of competitive speed-reading).

Plus, it was cheap, and it was kind of our only option. It was 35 euro per person for a four-person tent and I was naïve in thinking I wouldn’t be spending a lot of time at the campsite.

Oktoberfest all day! Party all night! Sleep when I’m dead … or on the train back to Paris!

As you’ve already read, none of those things happened. Oktoberfail.

Our six-hour train ride from Gare D’Est in Paris to Munchen Hauptbahnhof in Munich got us in the train station at night. So we knew we’d miss the Friday night of Oktoberfest, but we were in no hurry.

We arrived at 9:30 p.m. My friend Jenn got hit on by a cute German guy in lederhosen at 9:35 p.m. Maybe it’s because we were tired or hungry, but we just giggled the whole time we watched them interact and complained about how of course Jenn is the one to get the first guy.

However, none of us were too envious once we asked him for directions to our camp and he thought we were crazy for actually camping outside. At first, he thought it was just a translation issue and the “camp site” we were talking about wasn’t the “camp site” he thought he knew.

“Camping? You are going camping?” he asked. Yes.

“You are going camping outdoors?” YES.

“You are all going camping outdoors? To sleep under the sky?” FOR CHRISSAKE, YES!

He started cracking up once he knew that yes, we were all going camping outdoors.

It turns out it was so hilarious because “German girls don’t camp. And European girls don’t camp.”

“Well, these American girls do,” we said before ditching him.

Hmmph. We thought he was just sexist or something. Surely German girls, or at least European girls, camp! I mean, there isn’t a stereotype of American girls camping and none of use camped regularly, for the most part. But camping was a thing at Oktoberfest, or so we thought based off of all of the camping options that we had to choose from.

Campsite … don’t zoom in like I did and look at all of the weeds in the stands 😦

Whatever. We shook off Cute German Guy, both literally and figuratively, and we finally arrived at the camp after figuring out the Metro line and getting off at the most random, remote Metro stop ever to follow a crowd of people into the night.

But actually, the first thing we noticed once we arrived at the campsite was that we were the only girls in the registration center/bar/dance floor/bathroom makeshift building.As soon as we followed the loud American Top 40 music and cheering into the makeshift building and saw picnic tables, a bar, and an entire dance floor mostly comprised of guys (most of whom were wearing lederhosen), we all just looked at each other.

Well, okay, we weren’t the only girls there. It’s like there were only two handfuls of girls (does that mean ten girls? Because that’s what I’m trying to say but in an earnestly clever way) in the makeshift building … and we were four of them. And the other girls that were there were all standing next to boys, AKA were taken, AKA maybe weren’t there because they wanted to be there or originally proposed camping.

AKA, umm, maybe Cute German guy had a point…

We scoped out the scene while we stood pressed against the wall with our backpacking backpacks and waited for Lily to register us. It was a little dark in the room, but we were pretty sure there weren’t any girls on the dance floor.

This got me thinking.

Not about how, as The Hunger Games’ Effie Trinket might have said in this situation that the odds were ever in my favor. Not about how there was American pop music playing that was relevant when I first started standing pressed against the walls at parties and dances in middle school. And definitely not about how everyone in the place was hammered and we were all way too sober to be dealing with the crashing reality that this was not exactly what we were expecting.

Instead, I wondered: What’s German for “sausage fest,” anyway? Do they even have that phrase? They have to, since sausage is such a huge part of German food culture. Right? Does that mean that are there different sausages used to describe different sausage fests? Like, ‘Oh, last night was such a Bratwurst fest’ or ‘This is a total Knockwurst fest.’ Hmm. Maybe I’ll have to ask a German. I wish I had thought of this when Cute German Guy was around, since he seemed to be in the know about how German girls don’t camp! 

My Mindy Kaling-esque musing was interrupted when Lily came back with our tent number. We were #305—and after putting our bags away and worrying if anyone was going to steal anything, we decided to go back to the makeshift party and represent our tent and our country. Or something like that.

This fits 4 people and not 4 Rumpelstiltskins. It’s funny because it references a German fairy tale and the fact that we had to sleep in the tent.
LAUGH AT MY WIT BECAUSE I AM A GENUIS.

The dance floor was just the area to the left of the bar that was between the wall and the first row of picnic tables. It wasn’t a big area, especially when it was full of drunk guys all unironically dancing together in the same space despite the fact that there weren’t any girls on the dance floor—something I’ll probably never see back in the States!

We were kind of bopping on the edge of the dance floor just watching as we planned our mode of attack. And the guys that came up to us to ask us to dance didn’t do so by getting all up behind us and just grinding, which is unfortunately pretty standard at Drexel. The guys were still wordless (maybe a language issue? completely possible), but they’d hold their hand out for us to dance. It’s a nicer invitation, I think, especially because their dancing styles were how I imagine my grandparents danced when they were my age—my hand on his shoulder, his hand on my waist, our other hands entwined in the air.

Of course, the first guy I talked to was from France. What are the odds, right? C’est la vie. He was a fireman from a tiny French village about forty-five minutes away from Paris and he had come to Oktoberfest with a couple of other guys from his squad. Now, I don’t know if it’s because he was talking me up or because it’s actually the truth, but I walked away from that feeling like French firemen were so much more badass than American firemen, mostly because the firemen in France also function as EMTs and that the French government bends over backwards for their firehouses. See, I learned something cultural and interesting at Oktoberfest!

But because I knew I’d have an early morning the next day, I went back to the tent around midnight (aka before “Tik Tok” came on and the two friends that stayed on the dance floor were the only people in the whole building who knew the lyrics). Big mistake. It was FREEZING and miserable and cramped and I was wearing every object of clothing I had brought, minus my spandex tights and the pair of black gloves that got eaten by my backpack—so, Under Armor spandex shirt, long sleeved shirt, a fleece zip-up sweatshirt, non-hoodie sweatshirt, jeans, two pairs of socks, scarf, and hat. I did bring my winter jacket but it didn’t fit around my layers so I used it as a pillow and a blanket.

And that wasn’t enough! I don’t know if it was the cold or the fact that I had to pee so badly but didn’t want to go into the actual cold, but I didn’t sleep at all. At around five I finally got up, grabbed the spandex tights, and walked back to the dance hall to go to the bathroom and change. No one was there, it was dead silence, and I just walked to and from this building, but somehow during all of this I ripped a big hole in the kangaroo pouch of my sweatshirt. And the next morning I woke up and saw that the rubber layer of the heel of my boot was just chilling on the grass outside of our tent. I don’t even know how any of that happened but somehow I was already a hot mess without drinking anything at Oktoberfest.

Photo Cred: Brittany Handler

I already recounted my Oktoberfest activity here, so I’ll keep this post strictly focused on the campsite activities…which unfortunately are equally not WOOO OKTOBERFEST!!!! even though that’s what the atmosphere was like at night.

And I don’t know what they were during the day, because the next time I came back to the Wies’n Camp was at 2 p.m. and that was when we all stumbled into our tents and took a three-hour-long nap. What I saw after I woke up was that there weren’t nearly as many people in the makeshift building, but the people that were there all looked incredibly sober and no one was wearing lederhosen.

This was not the same camp we came back to at about midnight after walking around Munich with a Drexel friend I met up with who is studying in the city. The dance floor was now an actual dance floor and not the passageway it functioned as during the day, and the same drunk lederhosen guys were there dancing to the same American Top 40 songs with the same drunk lederhosen guys from the night before. Once again, only ten girls in the place and we were four of them.

And even though we did relatively little that day compared to what we could have done, we just headed back to our tents at around midnight. This was, once again, another big mistake because it rained the whole damn night. We didn’t get a ton of rain in the tent—just a little puddle by someone’s end of their sleeping bag—but it was still really cold and it’s depressing enough when it rains (for me at least) and to be stuck in a tent in the rain meant that I was not a happy camper (see what I did there? It’s not a cliché because it was true in that case!).

It was only drizzly the next morning, but we still went right to the train station instead of going back to Oktoberfest. One breakfast of beer that weekend was more than enough, thank you very much.

 Author’s Note: I feel terrible having to write this out, but I did have a very fun weekend, despite the complaining in this post. I’m just saying … I went to Oktoberfest and I got a tour of Munich with my friend, and what I did there was enough for me for my fill of Munich. I may not have spent a lot of time at Oktoberfest but I liked what I did every second of it and I have no regrets. It’s just if I get the opportunity to go again, I’m not sure I would go back instead of traveling to somewhere new and doing something new there.

That’s’ not to say I didn’t like Oktoberfest. I did! It wasn’t what I was expecting (well, I did expect all the drunk lederhosen guys), but it still turned out very good. The best part was meeting new friends and finding out cultural differences with the foreigners we were seated next to—something that is my absolute favorite thing to do abroad.

Furthermore, Oktoberfest weekend was a good bonding experience with my friends, and a great preview for what will happen during our week in Dublin next week for my Toussaint vacation. I’ll be in Ireland from the night of October 25 to the morning of November 2 (UM HELLO HALLOWEEN IN IRELAND), so you can expect more timely blog posts about Dublin around that time!

Oktoberfail

More than a week has passed since Oktoberfest ended and my liver has finally recovered … from the two liters of beer I drank all that weekend.

I know, I know. Believe me, I’ve had a lot of people judge me because I didn’t get completely wasted at Oktoberfest. The worst part is, I didn’t plan on drinking so little either. I thought I had prepared for Oktoberfest, but I didn’t prepare for Oktoberfest to have to start at 9 a.m.

Beer hall!

I don’t know if it’s because we were lazy or if it’s because we just told ourselves that it would be impossible to plan activities at a festival where we’d be drinking heavily, but we didn’t really have a set plan for Oktoberfest. We knew we had to get to the site relatively early so we wouldn’t have to wait in line to enter a beer tent. But we didn’t have an exact time of when it started, so we just planned on showing up at 9 and walking around for a while before we would try to enter a beer hall.

We only wandered for a couple minutes before one of the three other girls in my group wanted to follow a crowd of people wearing lederhosen and drindls (traditional Bavarian outfits that are nowhere near as slutty as their American Halloween costume counterparts). Little did we know we were actually in line for the actual king of Oktoberfest beer tents, Hofbräu-Festzelt, and the crowd we were following was actually 10,000 people that would fill the festival’s largest beer tent in ten minutes, according to the friendly Norwegians sitting next to us.

The inside of the beer hall.

We were also clueless about how much a liter of beer can be, especially first thing in the morning. Let me tell you, the term “breakfast of champions” takes on a whole new meaning when it’s 9:30 a.m.  and there’s a liter of strong German beer sitting in front of you.

But once again, that was just us. The Norwegians seated to our right and the Germans and New Zealanders to our left didn’t make any puckered faces. They had no problem yelling “Prost!” and clinking beer glasses when it was closer to 5 a.m. than 5 p.m. And the other 10,00 people were equally ready to wake up and smell the beer.

Within minutes of being served our beer, people started standing on the top of their picnic benches and chugging their entire beer or what was left of it. And the crowd was so into it, cheering the person on and clapping when they finished or, in a worst-case scenario, booing if they couldn’t. This happened about five or six times every hour, for all of the five hours that we spent at the beer hall.

The Germans and New Zealanders (the ones in the lederhosen, surprisingly). And The Beer.

Because it turns out that Oktoberfest is the happiest, most magical grownup place on Earth where it’s weird if you’re NOT day drinking, you DON’T really want to have beer for breakfast, and people will judge you if you CAN’T finish chugging a liter of beer in under thirty seconds or CAN’T drink more than three liters of beer in three hours.

I had two beers in five hours, and two of the other girls I went with only had one beer in the same amount of time. And I don’t know if it’s because we are girls or because we are Americans or what, but that was the perfect amount for me and my wallet—one liter of beer is 11 euros, or more than $14! And keep in mind that the human stomach can only hold about 32 ounces of fluid, which is basically one liter.

The trouble was, though, that in order to keep your seat, you had to keep buying stuff, either food or drink. So we ordered sparkling water and torso-sized German pretzels and even a half of a roasted chicken to split all between us just so we could stay without the scary waitress barking at us in German. I wasn’t even that hungry, but I just wanted to stay.

And I thought Americans had huge portion sizes!

The Germans next to us very helpfully ordered all of our nutritional demands, though they did tease us for not being able to drink as much beer as them.  In all of the five hours that we were there, they didn’t get up to go to the bathroom once. Talk about German efficiency.

They were genuinely distressed that we were leaving and didn’t want to spend all day drinking with them in the tent before going to a club at midnight—and didn’t understand that we would probably die or pass out if we tried to at least catch up halfway to them.

I don’t know what happened to those cute, friendly German guys in lederhosen. All I know is that we went back to our tiny tent and took a four-hour nap. My Oktoberfest might not have been like their Oktoberfest, but it was good enough for me.

The things you do for cheesecake … I mean love

I found the best dessert I’ve ever had in Paris (and my life, but let’s keep this Paris-centric) and I have no problem admitting that it was not a macaron or an éclair or a little pastry or even a cake.

It was a cheesecake. And it was so good that my friend and I ate the last slice of cheesecake in this tea shop, asked who their supplier of cheesecake is, and then walked ten minutes down the street to go to that bakery and ordered another slice of cheesecake.

No shame. No regrets. No nutritional content.

It started, innocently enough, at a tiny bubble teashop called O Bubble that we wandered into walking down a winding street in the Monmartre neighborhood. I’ve only ever had bubble tea once, in Philly, and I wanted to sit down and have something little to tide me over before dinner, where I had made plans with a group of friends to eat later.

It was just supposed to be bubble tea. But then we saw a sign for a deal for bubble tea and a cupcake for five euro and thought, why not?

But when we went inside and saw that the cupcakes were tiny French-sized cupcakes that wouldn’t even fill up Thumbalina, we were kind of thrown a curve ball. This is the first sign that we are serious dessert eaters.

Of course, after the promise of a sweet treat was made to me, I couldn’t go in there and not eat something (Lily felt the same way and this is why we are friends). But the cupcakes were tiny and the cookies didn’t look that great, so the only other option was cheesecake.

Cheesecake is not one of my favorite desserts. It’s not even in my top three favorite desserts at the Cheesecake Factory. But like I said, I wanted a dessert, so I agreed to try the regular cheesecake instead of the lime cheesecake (Lily said it would be a crime to key lime pie and this was when I naïve and didn’t care that much about that cheesecake).

Our bubble tea came at the same time of the dessert, and for the first couple minutes we lavished all of our attention on the tea. You have to take a plastic wrapper off of it, how cute! Oooh, look at the balls, they’re so pretty! These straws are so weird!

To my eternal shame, I didn’t even remember the cheesecake until I was a couple sips in. That simple, unassuming cheesecake. It knew. It knew it would be worth the wait, the beautiful bastard.

One bite. That was all it took for me to know this had to be documented.

I took an unassuming bite. Just cheesecake, right? Wrong. The sound I made when I took my first bite, when coupled with the way I licked the spoon, made me forget all of the times I had scoffed or rolled my eyes at female characters who made sex noises while eating and inadvertently started making their male companion pay a lot of attention to her fork and her mouth.

Lily and I looked across the table. We weren’t on the fake date we had jokingly said we were on before. We were now in a threesome with a piece of cheesecake.

The cheesecake was the best of the bunch. Instead of the usual graham cracker-y crust, this cake had a cinnamon spice cake bottom that I originally thought was a carrot cake bottom. For me, this was the best part of the cake, though the cheesecake part was thick, not floppy, and very smooth. I ate those bites like I was eating frosting out of a can with a spoon.

Lily and I didn’t talk much other than “Oh my God” and “This is amazing” and to wonder whether the bottom part of the cake was cinnamon cake or carrot cake. And because we’re dessert experts, we went on to discuss how amazing it would be if there WAS a cheesecake with a carrot cake bottom, or a cheesecake with a red velvet cake—dessert stoner talk, if you will.

After I finished scraping the plate and Lily finished tearing apart the doily the cheesecake was served just to find more crumbs, talk turned to how if there was another slice we totally would have bought it, no shame. And Lily decided to ask if they made the cakes on-site or bought them from somewhere else, no shame.

The slightly awkward move was worth it in the end, because it turned out that they bought their cheesecakes from a bakery down the street called Berko. The helpful cashier wrote down the address on the back of a business card and handed it to Lily, who looked at me.

I said it, but I didn’t have to: “We’re fucking going.”

And we fucking did.

We were supposed to leave and meet up with friends to go shopping for clothes. That did not end up happening at all. We chose cheesecake over shopping.

It was worth it. It was a bad decision but it was the right decision for us. We were screwing over our friends for our drug of choice. We cackled the whole walk from one supplier to another. We rubbed our stomachs anxiously as we became one more step closer to getting our fix. And in case this metaphor wasn’t hitting home for you, we even compared that cake to drugs.

First it was “Can you imagine what this will taste like if we had the munchies?” And then we moved to harder and stronger drugs. This must be what crack is like. I’m getting cocaine jitters. When we finish this cake, it’ll be like we did heroin. And then we can pass out into an opium-esque food coma.

The girl behind the counter must have thought we were on drugs too. Hell, we were on drugs—the drug that is that cheesecake. She literally shook her head when we told her we had just come from O Bubble just to eat another piece of cheesecake.

SO many flavors. Gotta eat ’em all!

And then she laughed at how big our eyes got when she went over all of the cheesecake flavors: key lime, salted caramel, banana caramel, Oreo, natural, white chocolate raspberry, berries, a cheesecake completely dipped in chocolate, and something with brown swirls and a gingerbread-esque cookie on top.

It took a while to decide. Two other customers came and were served while we deliberated our choices. After all, we had a lot of thinking to do.

Natural was out, since we had already tasted that. Lime was out because, as Lily said earlier, it would be a crime against key lime pie. We agreed it was either the salted caramel or the white chocolate raspberry, with the former ultimately winning the competition.

We’ll get the white chocolate raspberry next time. And then we’ll each order a slice so we can share them, we agreed. Mind you, this was before we even ORDERED the cheesecake.

Since Lily bought the last cheesecake, it was only fair that I bought this one. I’ve got this date, I remember thinking.

It was the best date, real or fake, I’ve ever been on. Mostly because we only ate cheesecake and ended up laughing so hard we cried about two minutes into our date.

A couple minutes after we had lowered our voices and moans from our first couple of bites, two pretty, blonde, thin French girls (one blonde and one brunette, just like us!) wandered into the store. They ordered their own individual cheesecake slices—Oreo and that gingerbread-esque one—and sat down at the table behind us. Lily, who was facing them, gestured to them so I’d turn around, and when I looked back at her we nodded understandingly at each other.

So perfect. So, so, perfect.

They’re like us. They get it.

Except, except they weren’t like us and they didn’t get it. They left before us, even though they came after us. And even worse, THEY ONLY FINISHED HALF OF THEIR RESPECTIVE SLICES AND LEFT THE CHEESECAKE ON THE TABLE AND WALKED AWAY.

This was all willingly, too. No one was there with a handgun forcing them to leave their cheesecake behind.

I couldn’t help expressing my thoughts on that. Hey, I’d rather be spewing word vomit that regular vomit—which was still an option, unfortunately, at that moment.

“Those idiots,” I seethed, probably sounding like ole Richard Nixon when he found out that those Watergate burglars got caught.

Lily burst out laughing, which wasn’t surprising because we had been giggling pretty regularly for the past fifteen minutes. But the girl behind the counter—all the way on the other end of the room behind the counter—turned and looked at me and started giggling too.

“Idiot” is the same word, and pretty much the same pronunciation, in French, so she’d have to be an idiot not to have understood what I had just uttered.

Whatever, she thought I was crazy anyway. Love makes you do stupid things.

And at least I didn’t walk over and finish their cheesecakes.

This is not an exaggeration. Yesterday was the silliest, stupidest, and happiest I have been in a long time—and to think it was just two pieces of cheesecake!

I think the quotes say everything I need to say:

Me: “Are you crying right now? Seriously?”

Lily: “These are tears of laughter. And a little bit of joy.”

Me: “You have mascara all over your eyelids.”

Lily: “You know what? I don’t even care. Let me just have this and then I’ll worry about the makeup. Because I might cry later when this is finished.”

 

Me: “I want my wedding cake to be this.”

Lily: “I’ll marry myself just so I can have a whole cake of this at my wedding.”

 

Me: “Right now I have the shakes and the giggles. And I’ll probably get the shingles later, but it’s fine.”

 

Lily: “You’re not eating right now! Why?”

Me: “I feel so full. But ugh, fine. I’ll power through it.”

Lily: Starts laughing and shakes her head.

Me: “You make sacrifices for the ones you love.”

 

Lily: “I can’t eat anymore.”

Me: “I know, me too.”

Lily: BURPS.

Me: Laughs.

Lily: Picks up a fork. “More room.”

Me: Stares. “Wow, you’re actually eating more. I thought you were kidding.”

Lily: “I feel better though!”

 

Lily: “Might as well just slapped [this cheesecake] on my thighs and taped it there, because the main ingredient in this is cellulite.”

 

Lily: “I think I’m going to throw up.”

Me: “If you throw up here we can’t come back …. Oh, wait, we can just go to the bubble tea place instead. Okay. Never mind.”

Lily: “I’m really glad I brought this long sweater so I can cover up my stomach.”

Alissa: Sputters her water across the table. Bursts out laughing.

Lily: “I didn’t even mean for that to be funny! I was just thinking out loud!” 

Lily: “I almost just want to take my belly button ring right off.”

Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and our taste buds yielded more power than common sense. We were only able to eat half of this richer, thicker cheesecake. We hung our heads when we asked for a take away box, but the girl was understanding.

The absolute worst part that was even worse than asking for a doggy bag in France? That we were planning on going home for a bit before meeting three hours later at a bar. And we actually thought about who would get custody of the cake before we came up with the idea that we would bring the cake to the bar and then take a cake break (like a cigarette break that is probably equally unhealthy) to finish it.

As Lily said when she packed up our cake: “I’m just gonna leave our spoons in there. Mine is the one with half of a bite left on it that I couldn’t finish.

I had to keep telling myself, no shame. Absolutely no shame. But my stomach was definitely feeling my shame for me.

I would say that I was like a kid in a candy store … except I was just like a little bit older kid in a cheesecake store.

And, wouldn’t you know it, we never even ate the cake at the bar. I actually ended up throwing it out after I discovered on the subway ride home that the box and torn open and the inside of my purse was covered in cheesecake.

But to be as honest as I have been this entire blog post, I was actually more upset that my purse got to eat that hunk of cheesecake. Because I was totally planning on just going home and eating the rest of the dessert at two a.m.

Love you, Lily, but I think I might just love that cheesecake more…