samedi 28 juillet 2007
I am, I admit, a self-proclaimed Perfume Junkie. I love perfumes. I have way too many of them. It is amazing to me how much a certain scent can bring back a certain memory, person, or even a period of our lives.

In high school, I loved "Navy" and Davidoff's "Cool Water Woman". I still have half of the bottle of Navy left back in the US, and whenever I spritz it, I am a freshman in High school again. My sister-in-law has a bottle of Cool Water at my in-laws house. I sprayed it just to remind myself of what it smelled like and immediately had to wash it off because I couldn't stand the smell of it anymore.

The Body Shop "Jasmine" perfume oil- my rat year at VMI, an upperclassman stopped me and asked what perfume I was wearing. Jasmine Sir! "Damn that smells good! Get the hell out of here!"

Chloe "Narcissa"- Christmas. Don't know why, but I got into the habit of spraying it in my room around Christmas time each year.

Estee Lauder "Pleasures"- a particularly lonely period of graduate school. Another perfume that I can no longer stand and finally just gave it away.

Cacharel "Amor Amor"- a perfume Alain brought me back from France, when it was still not available in the US. Usually people cannot buy perfumes for another person unless you know they love it, but he did well with choosing this one. He had gone with his mother to choose something for me. He immediately thought of Chanel No. 5, as it was the only perfume he could name. Luckily, she was there and told him that he couldn't buy a 24 year old Chanel No 5.

Dior "Miss Dior Cherie"- a perfume I fell instantly in love with and bought specifically for my wedding day.

My current favorite is Jean Paul Gaultier Classique. It is funny how tastes in fashion, food, and perfume seem to change. One thing that hasn't changed is my taste in men- first boyfriend: European, smart, and dark.
Anyway, I smelled this one about ten years ago and found it two strong and overpowering.
Now I can't get enough of it and spray it on about four times per day.
As far as men's perfumes, I am pretty faithful. So far, two boyfriends and husband have all worn Clinique "Happy for Men". This is probably because I have bought it for them.

Current collection photo from left to right:
Cacharel: Amor; Eau Fraiche; la Nouvelle Eau Fraiche; Sunshine
Jennifer Lopez: Still
Lancome: Aroma Tonic
Dior: J'Adore; Miss Dior Cherie
Delish: Clean; Clean Sweet Layer; Provence
Lolita Lempicka: Midnight Fragrance
DKNY: Red Delicious
Gaultier: Classique; Summer

(not pictured)
Michael Kors: Michael
Emporio Armani: She
Clinique: Happy

This is not counting the various small samples and miniatures that I have stashed away, and I pared down quite a bit before moving here. Well, have bought some perfumes since then. If anyone is interested in purchasing/trading some of the above perfumes, let me know and I might be willing.
Alain has all of two, both of which I bought for him:
Emporio Armani: Black Code
Clinique: Happy for Men

I wish I could have one signature scent, but alas, don't think that will happen.
jeudi 26 juillet 2007
I arrived here in France on July 22, 2005. Sometimes it is hard to believe how much has happened in two years here. I took ten months of french courses, got married, bought an apartment, and started working. With trips to Bretagne, Italy, and the US thrown in. I have survived two summers now. Not yet fluent in French, if I will ever be.
I remember how I felt on the plane moving here. Excited, nervous, anxious to see Alain again after 6 months, scared it would be awkward and that he would have changed. How it would be so exhausting to visit with his friends and family because of not really understanding what was being said but concentrating very hard.
And now, here I am, two years later. Wonder where I will be in two years?
dimanche 22 juillet 2007

I don't usually follow my exclamations of "That looks horrid!" with "I am going to buy it and eat it!" but for cheese I will make an exception.
I bought this one, Epoisses des Ramparts, for €6.50, which is higher than my usual range for cheeses.

It was covered in a plastic wrap, which made it look much worse.

However, (almost) always willing to put myself to the cheese tasting test for my adoring public, I bought it and brought it home.

It is an incredibly strong cheese, imbibed with Marc, a type of Brandy according to Wikipedia. This type of cheese comes from the Bourgogne region. This is an AOC (appelation d'origine controlé) cheese. It is said that Napoleon tried this cheese and liked it. The book further states that these cheese were highly regarded at the end of the 19th century, but their popularity waned until after the 2nd WW. It was resuscitated in 1956 by Mr. Berthaut, and that today only one farm produces the official epoisses. There are also artisanal versions.

Link to Wikipedia article.

It is a very strong cheese, best eaten last in my opinion. I am unsure that we will be able to finish the whole thing.
samedi 21 juillet 2007

Harry Potter (or, in French: Harry Potter) is coming out today, for the all of 2 people in the world who didn't know.

I am a fan, but not a fanatic. I am not going to stay up all night to attend a midnight sale of the book. Besides, I don't think there was a single store in Marseille that did this. The French version, "Harry Potter et les reliques de la mort" doesn't come out until October, so I doubt there are very few French children who were eagerly waiting the arrival of the book in English today. Except those who are bilingual or who buy the French-English dictionary of Harry Potter. So, how do you translate "Jolly good mate!" into French?

I started reading the books when I was studying abroad in England in 2000. I had heard of them, mostly of the broohaha book burning by Christians in the US, so I was interested in finding out just how 'bad' they were. I bought the first, read it in about a day, and immediately bought the next two.

On the plane moving to France, I read book 6. Someone asked to buy it from me in the airport, but I said no.

When I arrived here, I bought the French version of the second book, "Harry Potter et la Chambre des Secrets" and Alain and I spent about six months reading it together before bed. It was excruciatingly slow going at first, as he had to explain about every third word. By the end, it got better.

The thing that annoys me though about the French version is that names of places, people, and things have been changed.

Hogwarts is now Poudlard

Snape is Rogue

and plenty of other changes that don't make sense.

We watched the movie version of the 4th book "Harry Potter et la coupe de feu" in one of the original version theaters, with French subtitles. This time, for the fifth movie, it doesn't seem to be playing in the original version. I don't really want to go see it in French.

So, I ordered my book, the english version, from Here's hoping it arrives today.
vendredi 20 juillet 2007

Yay! The Cheese Bible has been found! Time for fun and interesting Cheese Facts!
dimanche 15 juillet 2007
Yesterday, we celebrated the national holiday. I must say, it seems much less of a deal than in the US. No Flag apparel, no home town parades, no cakes decorated like flags. Perhaps some people have BBQs. I saw exactly one house with a flag hanging from the window, and the buses had little flags attached to their tops. That's it.
We semi-watched the parade on TV of the Champs Elysee. This year it was interesting to see the different militaries of Europe.

For the evening, we went over to Sylvain and Coralie's apartment. They have a great apartment in a high-rise building with a beautiful view of the sea. We sat and talked on the balcony, had dinner, went for a walk in the hills to see the fireworks, then went back and had dessert. We left around 1 am, got to bed around 2. It was a very nice day.

Picture above of fireworks at the Vieux Port, courtesy of
Along with some other beautiful photos of Marseille.
vendredi 13 juillet 2007
I was told yesterday, by one of my coworkers, that many people in France believe that Friday the 13th can be an extremely unlucky OR lucky day. That a lot of people will buy lottery tickets, etc. hoping that they will have good luck. Alas and alack, nothing super special happened to me, but nothing bad either. Another blog states that the first few events of the day will determine how it will be. Hmm, so I guess my day should have been bad, since the train was half an hour late (again). However, when I got to work, it still wasn't open yet, so everyone was waiting outside anyway. Just an interesting difference between France and America I thought. So I hope that even if you didn't win the lottery, your vendredi treize wasn't bad.

dimanche 8 juillet 2007

Marseille, like many other cities have already done, is having a "Cow Parade". The life-size (or almost) fiberglass cows, grazing, walking, or lying down that local artists/groups paint, then are sold of for charity after a certain time.

(click on Les Vaches to see some more pictures of the cows).

I first heard about it back in February, when there was a call for artists to submit proposals of what they would name their cow and how it would be decorated. I eagerly downloaded the form from the site, filled it out, and sent it in (three copies).

I wasn't chosen. I wasn't too disappointed, as I soon after started working and had almost no time or energy on the weekends between doing all the chores and errands that were not being done during the week now.

The cows were placed around the city in June. And about that same day started getting destroyed. Yep, some people have no respect. Especially as they will be sold for charity, it is disappointing. Some were slightly graffitied, while others had attachments and decorations ripped off. In a way, I am kinda glad I didn't spend so much time and effort working on one, only to have it be ruined. I would have seriously bawled.

I haven't seen them all yet, as I haven't yet had the time to visit the other areas.

Some are quite amazing (in a good way) and some are quite amazing (in a not so good way). You painted a cow entirely purple? Wow. What imagination.

Not that my idea was so hot, and has probably been done many times already in different cities, which is probably why it was rejected. Since then, I thought of a really cute idea, but oh well. I guess I will just have to buy my own lifesize fiberglass cow for the living room. Hey honey! Guess what I bought today?
vendredi 6 juillet 2007

So, in my (ahem) weekly blog post about cheese, this week I am going to mention this nosehair burner that we purchased a week ago at Carrefour. It is covered in pepper.

My first burning mouthful I thought I wouldn't be able to finish, but this cheese has actually grown on me. Not sure I would buy it every week, but it is definetely different. Best eaten as the last piece of cheese of a meal though.

It is made from unpasteuriszed goat's milk (chevre), more than 45% fat, and is from the Fromagerie de Banon, in Banon, wherever that is.

A good cheese that I recommend. five cheeses!

jeudi 5 juillet 2007
As to be expected, the fourth of july passes rather quietly here. Perhaps if there was a bigger American community here like there is in Paris, or if I worked for the Consulate, it would be different. I don't know. Instead, I went to work as usual. Last year we went to the fireworks display on the 14th of July, bastille day. I just pretend that it is the 4th. Red white and blue, fireworks, all good. I posted this entry last year about national identity.
Am always interested in hearing people's comments.
mardi 3 juillet 2007
A few weeks ago, I was feeling poorly. I had a bad all day long headache, a very sore throat, feeling a bit feverish, etc. I decided to take a sick day and go to the doctor. I called in that morning and was told I would need to bring in a note from the doctor to excuse my absense, otherwise it would be considered unexcused. Okay, fine. I went to a different doctor than my regular doctor, who is closed on Wednesdays. The doctor asked how long I would like to be on sick leave, and I told him "Just today is fine". He wrote me some prescriptions (infection of the throat due to allergies), I paid him the 21€ consultation fee (which I guess I will later get most of it back from the health system) bought my medicines, and went on my not quite so merry way. The next day, I went in to work and proudly presented the note from the doctor. All is fine and dandy until I receive my pay for this month.
(interjection- I am not complaining about MY workplace. From what I understand, all of France is like this. Therefore, I am just explaining to you the system in general).
Yep. One day less of pay. Argh. Thank goodness I didn't take the doctor up on his offer of two or more days.
Lesson learned.
I guess if you are sick for more than three days, the health care system will pay your salary. (but I don't know if it is the full percentage or not, so I am not willing to experiment just to find out.)
But I prefer the American sick leave system- you earn two days or so per month which you store up and then use when you need them- 2 days for a cold there, 3 days for a flu here, half a day to go to a doctor. Because really, if you know you will loose pay for being absent, you are a lot more likely to go to work, be unproductive because you are sick and miserable, and therefore get everyone else sick.
Now, I am not making a judgement on the American vs. French health care systems. I (thankfully) have not seen enough of either to really have an informed opinion, though actually I think they both have their pros and cons and are therefore probably about even, it just depends on what you need from the health care system.
Anyway, back to work.
dimanche 1 juillet 2007

The tramway has finally arrived in Marseille, after about 30 years of construction, give or take 27 years.
This weekend the tram is free for everyone to use, until the official inauguration on Tuesday with President Sarkozy.
Personally, I am not super impressed. They spent ages tearing up the streets and making noise, tons of money, and finally, what is the result? Two lines of tramway tracks, which are pretty much like buses. They have to stop at each crossroads and wait for the crazy drivers to stop running the red lights, so unlike the subway it doesn't go much faster than the traffic, makes two less lanes for the traffic to circulate on, and cost a lot of money. (Oh, and one fabulous bus/subway strike in Nov 05 that left me walking to and from school each day). In no more than 6 months, I am betting, they will be covered with graffiti and not look nice. The trains are super long, about as long as two buses, but were not designed for ease of use (ie strollers, wheelchairs, etc.) in my opinion, plus feature easily-engravable wooden seats.
It is as if a whole bunch of city planners got together a few years ago and had the following conversation:

- We want Marseille to be a cool city. What should we do?
- Hmm, well X is a cool city.
- Yeah, yeah X is a cool city. What does X have?
- X has a tramway!
- Therefore, the tramway is what makes X a cool city.
- Tramway = Cool City, ergo if we put in a tramway, Marseille will be a cool city!
- Yeah! Let's do that!
- But wait, Marseille had a tramway and we stopped it.
- Shut up!

The tram is of a new generation, which means it is pretty quiet. Which therefore means that people don't hear it coming and get almost run over. So the driver has to keep ringing a bell, making it not quiet.
Plus, for years people have been used to parking their cars on the tracks, using them as another lane, not looking when crossing the street, etc. Sometimes the tram has to stop and wait for ten minutes or so for the idiot who parked right there to come back from his grocery shopping.

Oh well, it will only take a few accidents (hopefully) for people to learn that a) you shouldn't use the tramway tracks to get past the traffic bottleneck and b) look both ways when crossing the street!

I guess that with one public transportation ticket, you will be able to use all three methods of transportation in the city: bus, subway, and tram, which makes sense.

All of the businesses along the routes of the tramways have put up these city-sponsored (and mandated I'm sure) signs. "The Marseillais businesses welcome the tram"
Yeah. Sure you do. That same tram that lost you business because people couldn't actually get past the workers to get in your front door and the noise from the jackhammering was insupportable?!
So we shall see what happens.

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