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22 October 2011 @ 09:47 pm
I've been back for two weeks now and I thought I would take some time to write about my trip ! It was just amazing. This is one of the best things I've ever done ! No matter how much I love to travel, I always get terribly homesick when I'm abroad and I didn't feel homesick once there. There was just this one time after I left my group and was back in New York where I just wanted a hug but I still wanted to be in New York. It was so great being on my own. I met so many fantastic people and I know it wouldn't have been the same experience if I had been there with my family or with a friend from France. It was so great leaving the hostel in the morning and walking to the subway. I still remember the feeling !
Williamsburg was safe. I once walked back to the hostel at 1.30 in the morning and it was really crowded. I never felt in danger and I don't think I ever was. That was my main concern.

My flight to New York went really well. I never noticed how many people travel on their own. I didn't feel out of place. There was a cute boy sitting next to me which was quite nice ! From the moment I left my mother at the airport I think I just felt disconnected to everything I am used to and just started to see things differently. I'm such a nervous person but I felt fine ! No panic attack. I just decided to face everything step by step. First, the boarding, next the flight, next the subway to the hostel, etc. I think I can say I was really lucky the whole time. From beginning to end, nothing went wrong. I think I should have foreseen that when I saw that The Office started to play on the plane ! 

The subway ride to my hostel was probably the most terrifying moment of my trip (which is not too bad since I stayed there 2 weeks). I felt like everyone was staring at me with my huge suitcase and I saw tourists, families and couples together. Also, I started to see more than JFK airport and noticed the American flags on the typical houses. On the top of that, I was scared the subway I was on wouldn't stop where I wanted. 
My hostel was fantastic. gauloise recommended it to me and I couldn't be more grateful. Later, when people from my group asked me where I was staying in New York and I said Williamsburg, Brooklyn, they were surprised and wondered why I wasn't staying in Manhattan. Honestly, my hostel was really comfortable and clean that I'm so glad I stuck to that one and didn't look any further. The area is great : lots of bohemians young people. The buildings are lower. And it was only one stop away from Manhattan.
It was boiling in New York ! So hot and humid. It felt like some sort of tropical weather. I was so surprised ! I hadn't packed for that kind of weather. After a shower and some unpacking (and still no panicking), I met gauloise for the first time ! My hair was still in a towel and I wasn't wearing my glasses but I recognised her right away. She was staying in the same hostel and sleeping in the bed under mine. She was exactly like I had imagined. I feel so grateful to her for being there with me the first few days. I knew she was going to be there and I think that's the reason why I felt relaxed. She was so friendly and welcoming. I loved her right away (I already did but you know what I mean !). 
By that time, it was around 6 in New York but around midnight in France. I suppose I didn't feel tired at all because of the adrenaline ! Maeve and I decided to go out and we went to Washington Square for a drink. It was a great first night (I started to panic when my subway pass decided not to work which made me realise that I was getting a bit nervous : I realised where I was as it was getting dark).

I was meeting my tour group on Sunday morning so I had 2 full days in New York. I met a long-time Flickr friend there. Her name is Pres and I love her ! We had such a great time together (and then again when I came back to New York). It felt to me like I was seeing a very old friend. That definitely made me feel better and I didn't feel lonely one second. Maeve and I watched The Vampire Diaries together on the computer at the hostel (shame on us !), she took me to The Strand (no other place compete to that place! it's the king of all the bookstores), we had dinner with her lovely friend Claire, we walked down the Brooklyn bridge (one of my favourite places in New York !) and saw the 9/11 memorial. Maeve and Claire are Irish (and then later on I met Paul (British) and 4 Australians and 1 American from California (more on that later)) so I can say it was a great English class for me. The best one ! Love the accents !

New York was much more than I expected. People said I would feel very small and insignificant there but I felt quite at home. That means that I managed to enjoy it from the first day there. I felt a bit under the weather on my first morning there. I don't know where that came from. Maybe the stress (or maybe the relief that I was finally there and that I had made it!) or maybe the food (American food is different). I'm glad Maeve was there. I must have been so annoying ! Yet, she went back to the hostel with me and sat down for a while (it was pouring outside!).
I think I never realised where I was. I was always looking around me and never thought "oh this is New York". I just didn't realise or see things that way. I decided I would take it easy and not run all the time. My favourite place to start the day was Union Square ! My routine was : breakfast at Whole Food (BAGELS WITH SESAME SEEDS ! Why don't we make those in France ?) with Donna Tartt and The Secret History. Then, a look at The Strand. And I was finally ready to start the day.
My favourite things from those first days : Brooklyn bridge, lovely Brooklyn houses, Madison Avenue, best pizza ever in a small place.

I was supposed to meet up with my group on Saturday night in a hostel in Manhattan but as we found out later, there's something happening in New York right now : some hostels are being closed for safety reasons. I got an e-mail and found out that I had to go to a hotel in... New Jersey ! Long story short : worst journey of my life. I wanted to cry. At one point, I thought I would have to ask the bus driver for a place to sleep. I did get there but it ended up being a running joke with my friends from the group. We were all traumatized ! The hotel was in the middle of nowhere (near Secaucus, NJ) but quite nice. I had a large bed for myself. I was to share the room with a girl from my group. She was already in bed, ready to sleep when I arrived. Her name is Kerry, she's 30 and she's Australian. We became very good friends. Everyone from the group was special and incredibly nice. I loved them all ! We were only 6 : Kerry, Paul (30, England), Donna (50, Australia) and Carole and Herman (60) from Australia. Kerry and I were always together (except when we got lost in the Air & Space museum in Washington DC !). Donna and Paul stayed with us the whole time too. Carole and Herman usually had breakfast and diner with us but they would spend the rest of the day together as they didn't want to go as fast as we did. Our leader was Brendan from California. He was from Morgan Hill, CA. I know that because he said that would be his way to remember my name at first ! I think our group was really great. I'm shy but I quickly felt very comfortable with everyone. Kerry was so lovely. We were very much alike which is great when you travel together. We always wanted to see the same things. We got up around 7 am and were really exhausted every night ! We would have a nice diner and go to bed around midnight. It was perfect for me. Donna was so much fun ! She felt so young to me ! She was very proud of her three sons and always had great stories to tell. She knows how to tell a good story ! I told Paul he reminded me of Tim from The Office (UK) because of his accent ! I loved his English accent. Sometimes I would sort of close my eyes / look away and hear him. That's like music to me ! Anyway, I felt really well and I loved our little group. I felt like hugging them most of the time.

I will try to sum it up. From New Jersey, we drove to Washington DC. It was the perfect start. What a lovely city ! I feel like I know it quite well now. We saw everything when we got there in the afternoon and then one again at night the following day. We went to the National Gallery (where I saw a painting by Edward Hopper !) and then to the Air and Space museum which I really didn't expect to like that much. Random thought : there are the best signs in the museums in the United States. For example, there was one there which said something like : Shirt required / No Food / No Guns. That's quite something ! In the morning we went to the Arlington cemetery which was awesome. It's huge ! My favourite moment in Washington was our second and last dinner there. We stopped to have some French fries in a family restaurant. It was quite late and we were just relaxing with Donna and Kerry. Then, we realised Paul was inside the bar having a drink so he joined us. We were outdoors, it was really nice. I realised there was a Barnes & Nobles on the other side of the street and I had been looking for one that day !

From Washington DC, we drove to The Finger Lakes. We stopped in Pennsylvania to have lunch in the best diner on earth. We tasted some wine in a winery. It was really beautiful. We were near Ithaca, NY (and Cornell (which made me think of Andy Bernard and traversant!) I never thought I would love that part of our itinerary that much. Seriously, I almost always think about Upstate New York and how much I want to go back to see more. The small towns are all so beautiful. It feels like I was in a film or in a book. That was amazing. We stopped at a supermarket to buy some food from breakfast and lunch. I didn't think I would enjoy being part of a group that much. It felt like I had all the pros and none of the cons. We all had to buy one or two things from the grocery list. When I'm abroad, I love going to a grocery store and looking at the products ! I was in charge of the baguettes of course !
That night (and the following night), we were sleeping in a cabins. I have to be honest : I thought I would hate it ! I've never been camping before and I need my comfort. I really did love it, though ! In a way, it was much better than sleeping in the hostels. My sleeping bag was quite comfortable. Kerry, Donna and I shared a cabin. The first night, Kerry and I took a 3am - ish walk to the toilets under the rain. That was quite an adventure ! I loved every second.

We saw more of the Finger Lakes (still gorgeous !) and drove to Niagara Falls. Once again, I didn't think I would find it that exciting. I loved the boat ride ! It was so amusing and surreal. It was quite impressive. Canadian Niagara is some sort of Las Vegas made of only 3 streets. That's adorable in a way ! I had the best veggie burger there. At that point, we were all obsessed with diners and eating in small family restaurants. I was always hungry and felt stuffed most of the time because I was eating way too much, way too fast ! I'm ridiculous.

I may be confused but I think that's the day we drove near Scranton, PA ! That was quite a moment for me !

And then, here it comes : Boston ! Beautiful Boston ! I don't know where to begin. The thought of Boston fills me with excitement. Charlestown and Beacon Hill were my favourite parts. In the morning, we went to Harvard which was awesome. I can't believe some people are so lucky ! (I wish they could take a look at my old and grey university !) We wanted to take a tour and we found out after 10 minutes that it was a tour for the future students ! Not for tourists ! It was quite interesting, though ! I know everything about how to get into Harvard, student loans, classes, dorms... That was really cool. Around lunch time we started the Freedom trail which we completed around 4. Basically, Boston is made of beautiful gardens, old graveyards randomly scattered across the city, 18th century churches next to glass buildings, Donkin Donuts and other objects of marvel. We spotted Fenway Park ! I bought my Red Sox baseball cap (I can cross off that of my list of things to do before I die, I'm silly like that...). We walked to MIT (explored MIT (and got lost in) MIT to be precise but I'm not sure we were allowed to !) and walked down the Harvard bridge at night. The Charles river bridge is one of my favourite things there ! So beautiful ! We also walked the 294 steps of the Bunker Hill monument !
Unfortunately, sullypants and I missed each other because of my stupid phone. I got her texts two days later when I was already back in New York !

We drove back to New York. We passed near Hartford (Gilmore Girls !) and Yale. I still had three days in the city. As I said earlier, it was really sad to leave the protection and comfort of the group. Kerry and I spent every remaining days together though as she was also staying in New York three more days (I shared my time between her and Pres to be precise). We went to see a Broadway show together ! Mamma Mia ! I'm so, so glad we did. It was such a great experience. I went to the MoMA (amazing collection of photography !), I rode the Staten Island Ferry, I spent one morning in Central Park (even better than what I thought !), I saw the Flat Iron building (also one of my favourite things in New York), I saw the students of NYU and went to its very cool bookshop . I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of things but I'm sure everyone has stopped reading by that point so I will make this quick. The two nights I spent on my own, I decided to go see a movie as it was pouring rain outside.

I should probably stop there. I'm sure I forgot many things. I'm so sorry, this is very long ! You can see the pictures on my Flickr page. I'm still not done posting them but you can see the pictures from my first days in New York, Washington, upstate New York and Niagara Falls. I will post the rest very soon !
I feel very nostalgic and I'm dying to go back. Everything I read or see seems to remind me of places I went to. Kerry and I were always listing the films we have to see again now that we've been there.
Thanks for reading if you made it that far !

Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn bridge
13 July 2011 @ 11:21 pm
I know I have been a bad blogger ! Yet, I felt like writing here tonight. I've been thinking a lot about my upcoming trip to the United States lately. I'm currently working at my summer job (and will until August 12th) so I'm trying to save a some money. I don't know if I will end up buying these things for my trip but I've had them on my list for a few months. They're only inspirations of course. I know I need to be really comfortable as I'll be walking a lot. I also need to be warm I suppose. I'm not sure what the late September / early October weather looks like in New York and New England. Will I need some sort of jacket / coat ? I have no idea yet. Tell me if you think these are good ideas or not !

In no particular order :

1. A backpack
I know this might seem a bit too much but I thought it could be fun and most importantly really handy to have one ! But I'm not certain. I don't want to look too much like a tourist ! (Those are by Bensimon. It's my favourite !)

2. Good walking shoes
I already own a pair of black Converses so I'm pretty sure I'm going to bring them. That will probably be necessary. The last time I wore those was in high school, though ! But I'm also thinking that I might be overreacting. Maybe my everyday-life flats will do as well !

3. A nice dress (this one is made by Topshop)

4. A wool cardigan
I would like a black / gray one. (This one is made by APC Madras)

5. A water repellent map of Boston and of Washington
I should probably put that in the list of things I absolutely need to have ! I remember the night I arrived in Edinburgh, it was pouring rain and my paper-made map was ruined in 5 minutes ! My Dad got me the New York City Borch map for my birthday and it's really great.

This is a bit crazy, isn't it ? I thought it might be fun. I hope everybody is having a nice summer. For some reason, it doesn't feel like summer to me yet. Maybe it is because my trip is so late ! My summer job is going very well. I do lots of different administrative stuff. I can't complain !

In other news, my exams went well and I already registered for my third (and hopefully final) year. I had my doubts but decided to pick Public Law. Now, I'm really excited to start in October !

I've been a very happy reader lately. I don't think I've ever read slower, though ! I finally re-read Brideshead Revisited. I knew that it was perfect and that it was in my top 5 but yet, I had somehow forgotten 80% of it. These are the best books, right ? You re-read them and it seems like it is the first time. Now, I'm starting Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides which I am loving. I think it's a fascinating book !
Later this summer, I want to read :
- Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
- The French Lieutenant'sWoman by John Fowles
- Sylvia Plath's Unabridged Journals 
And re-read :
- The Great Gastby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald
- Tender is the Night by Francis Scott Fitzgerald
Wish me luck ! I yet have to decide what book to take to the United States !
13 February 2011 @ 09:00 pm
Then there are the books we love so much that we read them every year or two, and know passages of them by heart; that cheer us when we are sick or sad and never fail to amuse us when we take them up at random; that we press on all our friends and acquaintances; and to which we return again and again with undimmed enthusiasm over the course of a lifetime.
- Donna Tartt, afterword to True Grit by Charles Portis

I thought it was so well said ! I couldn't agree more.
13 February 2011 @ 01:42 am
This weekend was my last weekend before starting my second Semester on Monday. My last exams (oral exams) went well. Then, I had four lovely days to enjoy my break. I'm sure the next few months will be rather intense as I'll have a two-hour class on Saturday at 4pm which seems to me pretty odd and rather completely and utterly unbelievable (I've been complaining to everyone ! Sorry, you were the next ones on the list !).

Today, I went to Ladurée with my friend J which was really nice. They had all those nice decorations on for Valentine's Day.

And then, we went to see Black Swan. Here are my thoughts + 4 lovely caps!Collapse )

I'm reading True Grit by Charles Portis (Donna Tartt wrote the afterword) at the moment which I would like to finish before I see the film. The film looks very good ! We saw the trailer today.

I hope you had a great Saturday too !
current music: a case of you by james blake
03 February 2011 @ 02:04 am
I went to the David Nicholls book signing today ! I had never been to a book signing before so this was really special to me. There's something strange about meeting someone you've read and truly enjoyed a book by. I don't know if that makes any sense ! But he was really kind and friendly. He seems to me as a very humble person. He read from the book (skipped some sentences here and there because he can't bear reading them anymore !) and then we got to ask some questions. And I got my book signed ! 
I chatted with a couple of people who were so friendly. It was such an exciting thing to do for me. I'm looking forward to do this again !


current music: ben affleck on jimmy kimmel
30 January 2011 @ 11:40 pm
I finally sat my three important exams this week. I'm glad it's over. I have still three exams to sit in the next two weeks but it should be less stressful. I decided to take Friday and the weekend off. 

On Saturday, I had lunch at my friend's Julien (I had never been at his place before!). He's most definitely the most vegetarian-friendly friend I have ! He made soy and cereals steaks with salad and it was really delicious. I had never had those before so I'm grateful he made me try it ! We stayed in and chatted. It was really nice. He showed me around his neighborhood before I left. I fell in love with that area of Paris.

Today, I met up with my friend T and we went to see Rear Window which I loooved and I was pleased to see it was even better the second time. I have a newfound love for James Stewart. I don't know where that comes from ! It might be my 4th favourite after Psycho, The Birds and Rebecca ? I have to think about it... I have yet to see Marnie which my friend loves. 3 CAPTURES to prove my point !Collapse )

And to finish with the screencaps, I couldn't resist putting some images of the Michael Scott / David Brent reunion on this week's episode of The Office. I really wanted kels450  to see that ! the office : the seminar (CAPTURES !)Collapse )

On Wednesday after my English exam I decided to go to the David Nicholls book signing. It's ridiculous but I am so excited to go ! I've never been to one before ! I probably need to learn how to spell my name after the Marcus Foster debacle (Morgane became Morjane !)

I hope you had a great weekend !
current music: hit the road jack by ray charles
21 January 2011 @ 10:00 pm
In 2009 (I think) I started writing short reviews for the books I was reading but I stopped for no reason. I thought it was really fun ! I remember it led me to talk about those books in details with some of my friends here. So I thought I could try to do that again, maybe ?

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

(This is not my cover but I can't find a proper image and I like this one better !)

I decided to finally read that novel which I had had on my bookshelves for years (to be honest, on the back of my copy of Special Topics in Calamity Physics, it is said that the book can be compared to The Secret History and The Virgin Suicides so I decided to see if I agreed !). It's typically one of those books you start reading knowing they're considered as classics and even masterpieces. And this is exactly what it felt like to me.
The right word for it is bewitching. The narrator is a young neighbour who was spying on the girls. He shares his fascination and he seems almost oblivious to the disturbing and creepy quality of the narration and the story. He constantly goes back and forth, from the present to the past, before and after the suicides. The narration is made up of evidences and various elements of the investigation he and his friends did after the deaths. He focuses on details which gives an impression of mystery.
You're going to laugh at this but : it's not a fun book to read! I'm not sure readers generally feel that way towards the book but I thought it was a really "heavy" book in the sense that everything about it seems so dark and suffocating.

I really loved it (it wasn't much of a surprise!). I'm really looking forward to read Middlesex now. I knew right away while reading this one that I would read his other novel. I thought his writing was quiet and peaceful (trying to contain the tragic quality of the story in a way) and then, sometimes, a few words would shine and I would stop to read them again. 

It didn't matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn't heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree house, with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.

Have you read it too ? What did you think ? (Or maybe Middlesex ?)
I hope this wasn't too boring !

While I'm on the subject of books, I found that great article about the Most Anticipated Books of 2011. It's a great idea ! I noticed Marisha Pessl and Stefan Merrill Block but it looks like there are other interesting book to check out as well.

Have a nice weekend !
current music: ryan gosling on jimmy kimmel live
19 January 2011 @ 09:56 pm
It's going to happen: David Brent will meet up with Michael Scott before Steve Carell leaves The Office. Vulture has learned that Ricky Gervais shot a top-secret cameo that will appear in the cold open of the January 27 episode of the NBC series.
This is beyond amazing ! I know I will only believe it when it actually happens because it just seems too unreal. (In a way, that makes Steve Carell's departure even sadder than it already is which is not an easy thing to do.)

I'm still in my books and papers and I've been :
- watching Fringe Season 1 (I am absolutely in love with the show) as a daily break
- reading The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (which live up to my expectations, even more)
- listening to The Strokes (I saw Somewhere by S. Coppola (which I loved) last week !)

I hope you're all having a nice week !
current music: rebel, rebel by david bowie