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I smell French

As a going away present and a "sorry you lost your camera in Prague" gift, David organized the language department to get me a replacement digital camera. It's a Canon SD630. The LCD is huge. I used it when people came over to say goodbye.

This is supposed to make you think lots of people showed up. Enough did, and for that I'm grateful. I will genuinely miss you guys. I plan on maintaining vigorous, meaningful correspondence while I'm gone.

This dog came over and I referred to him as Aslan as he was a noble golden retriever. Little did I know that the next night, when my dad had his going away party, he would play dead for far too long. He rolled over with his paws in the air, tongue out and remaining unresponsive to all stimuli. Eventually a rough shaking woke him up and we all laughed again at how well he played dead. Maybe, like Aslan, he came back.

My cousin came over and we discovered our matching eyebrows.

And his girlfriend and Rae bonded.

The next day I left for a quick trip to New York before going to France. Where I'll be working for 7 months.

Rae saw me off at the airport. Not too long after this I was selected by the airline for a thorough search and questioning. People think just because you have a one-way ticket you're going to do something irrational...

Lanore took me in and I got to meet up with Greg, Mark, Matt and see Devon perform, but not much time for others, sadly. I spent most of my time buying last minute converters, getting my (lost) translated birth certificate notarized and asking people on for a couch to sleep on in Toulouse for a few days.

What I did see...

There's a lot of trash created in the city...

I'm convinced this is the X-Men's secret headquarters.

So many things going on in this ad.

Outside the Apple store I saw Steven Tyler. While walking down 5th I saw a car pull up really fast. A man with a large camera got out really fast and suddenly I noticed Steven Tyler, all done up like a celebrity, walking arm in arm with some girl. He was high-fiving people and smiling at the camera. While Greg was talking to a friend on the phone I shouted, "Steven Tyler on your left! Steven Tyler on your left!" Greg later pointed out that he's much shorter than we'd realized. I had taken the Apple store picture and had already put my camera away. Steven Tyler doesn't deserve to have a picture taken by me.

I've been to New York a couple times and have always wanted to see everything. I've wanted to memorize the subways, visit each borough and see all the neighborhoods. For this visit I planned on a day to walk the length of Manhattan. I had to cut things short, but was able to go from Battery Park (sort of) to Central Park. I wanted to go up to the Harlem River, where the Bronx starts, but didn't have the time.

I took the subway to Wall Street, a couple stops early, but I wanted to find those dumb statues of the bull and bear. I couldn't but enjoyed the walk. The financial district is the cleanest, nicest part of the city and also the soullessest. I walked to the water and planned on following the edge over to Battery Park but all these planes, helicopters, Coast guard boats and police cars secured the area so I had to cut across. I got a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty- I went to it in 9th grade, but not up it.

I continued up and around, seeing the WTC site, the City Hall park (where I joined Greenpeace...), and some massive justice/federal buildings. I then followed Broadway up for a while. I found Duane and Reade streets where the pharmacy got its name. Once I hit Spring Street I walked down, hoping to see SoHo. I got over to Mulberry and saw the San Gennaro street fair. Lots of sausage, carnival games, etc.

I reached Union Square, where Greg and I saw a breakdancer jump over five guys, and texted Lanore to find Washington Square. I backtracked down 5th Avenue and found it, then continued through Greenwich Village until I hit 23rd St. I walked over to the Flatiron Building. I remembered it being on 23rd because of the expression "23 skiddoo". Look it up.

I found 6th Avenue, since I'd walked on 5th and Broadway so much before (and because Broadway led to Times Square and wasn't in the mood), and walked to Rockefeller Plaza and saw all the NBC stuff and the Sky Mirror, a mirror sculpture done by the guy who'd done the Bean (Cloud Mirror) in Chicago. I continued back up 5th Avenue and walked into Central Park, finally resting in the large green space. I talked to Rae for a while and then walked over to Tavern on the Green (Ghostbusters, anyone?) and finally the subway so I could meet up with Greg to give him Sims 2 for Lindsey.

In total, I walked about 12.84 miles (according to Google Earth). And now my toes feel like sausages, my left knee is a little achey and I have a couple blisters. I wore the worst shoes for this but I'm glad I got to do it.

I returned to the San Gennaro Feast in Little Italy with Lanore and this guy sang Sinatra and Martin while selling canolis and saying, "How you doin'?" every two minutes.

Now I'm in London. I arrived about 7 hours ago at Heathrow. I met up with Anna and took a shuttle over to Gatwick, where my flight leaves in 3 hours. I planned on doing an early checkin or locking up my luggage and seeing the city for a few hours at night. When I went to the checkin counter at 10:10 PM I was told, "Early checkin ended 10 minutes ago, sorry. And no, the lockers are not available." So I've been here, in London, in an airport, in front of a computer, with my backpack of books, manpurse and suitcase with three wheels and no strap (I tried using my belt to pull it in New York, unsuccessfully). When I get to Toulouse in 6 hours I'll...try to find the people who contacted me from the freedloaders website and see if I can stay with them for a few days until I find a cheap place and get all my affairs in order.

I'll be honest. I didn't prepare for all this that well. I'm a bit of an idiot, but I had my reasons. I'm really nervous but keep remembering that I'll only be working 12 hours per week so I'll have time to figure things out and I don't work until October 1st.

I also want to point something out. I think I'm done being anti-American. How can I hate a country when so many people I like live there? I got a bit emotional the last week I was in Grand Rapids and I thought some things through. I want to come back. I want to come back and enjoy it and work toward change. I want to be proud to be an American. I think this job will give me some needed perspective. I'm not going away forever. I'll be back. I want to spend summer with you guys. So, don't everybody leave...


that's hilarious steven tyler high fiving people outside the mac store. haha. i love it! nyc is the best.

good luck over there in europe!

kevin. are you coming to new york for more than a day? if so, we should go eat stuff. let me know.

oh. ha. nevermind.

I don't think I ever flew out of Gatwick (Luton and Stansted!) but I imagine you had a chance to go through some of London's suburbs, at least on your way in from Heathrow. I don't know why, but for some reason I love riding through London's suburbs despite my deep deep hatred of American/canadian suburbs. I suppose the only reason I am writing this is to cheer you up since you didn't get to see London.

good luck in france, you luck bastard.

i want to see the picture of me and those guys sitting on the driveway. that was a neat one.

Emily I'll get that picture as soon as I can get MY computer on the web again.

I didn't really see much of the suburbs on the drive, Anthony. I saw crazy raining and autoroutes or whatever.

Sorry I couldn't see you Nora!

Thanks Jen.

I'm so cool with my name dropping...

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