31 December 2012

2012 in review

2012 was a big year with big adventures. I learned a new language. I started running. I got my first apartment. I turned 21.

A year ago today, I began living in France. In my six months I was there I ate new food and mastered the art of the French walk. I met best friends. We went on trips. We ate pain au chocolate and sat on blankets under trees. We listened to a poet in Morocco and watched the sun rise in the Sahara Desert.  I visited Ireland, France, Italy, Morocco and places in-between.

I saw the Atlantic ocean for the first time standing on the Cliffs of Moher. I ran around Italy during Spring Break. I saw Julia Child's house in Marseilles and walked down the street where she lived in Paris. I ate Beignets until I couldn't breath, with no regret. I found comfort in tea and emails. I cried watching "You've Got Mail" on a long train ride. I got tired. I fell in love with the old buildings and a local wine bar. I wanted to stay forever.

I embarrassed myself often and felt humbled by my surroundings. I relished being an adventurer. I became independent. I sat in solidarity and thought about my future. I fell in every country I visited, and even giving myself a black-eye, further proving the fact that I am completely lacking coordination.

I watched my little brother graduate high school, turn 18, and enlist in the United States Army. I felt scared and upset and proud.

I worked a summer for my parents. Some girls just shouldn't work construction.

I rented a small house with a new friend. I paid my first utility bill. I filled jars with flowers and rooms with candles. I started my junior year of college and declared a double major in Political Studies and French.

I struggled with depression in the fall. I reached a dark place and when I found myself laying on the floor, numb, I sought help. I am doing something I never though I would. I am seeing a therapist. Her name is Ashley, and she is helping me pick up my pieces and put myself together again.

I began jogging. I jog a lot. I started Yoga. Something I never thought I would be into. I went to a jazz club where I got blisters and ruined a new dress. I had dinner parties with friends. I danced New Years' Eve away with my best friends.

I felt happy and confused and lost and excited. When my heart hurt I ran away to the beach with my mom. I came home and felt peace. I have decided that my dreams are too important to ignore, so I will spend the rest of my life running after them. My dreams include travel, education, adventure.

I baked. I wrote. I napped.

This year taught me a lot. How to love myself and how to actually live. I accomplished so much. I did things that I know I will never forget. I thought hard about what I want to do and how I am going to accomplish it. I am both sad and excited to see this year go. 

29 October 2012

Stay safe East Coast.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those on the East Coast this evening as Hurricane Sandy hits the US. 

I hope you weather the storm and stay dry.

God bless you all.

25 October 2012

Being Social. Eating noodles.

Are humans social beings by nature?
That was a question posed to us during a recent lecture in my Political Theory class. We then broke into groups and discussed it amongst ourselves. I can’t remember what author we were reading at the time, perhaps Aristole, but I remember every point we made in the discussion.
We talked about isolation as a form of torture and punishment, joining clubs, even socializing our pets is supposed to make the world better. What is it with the humans need to socialize?
See, being “social” is something that I have been contemplating recently. I have been feeling guilty lately because I feel like I haven’t spent enough time with people. You know actually having a conversation with someone outside the classroom, someone besides my roommate and my best friends in Oregon. I feel disconnected from Seattle. It is sad that I am feeling this way. Sadder yet that I don’t really care. I know eventually something will come along to change that. That I will someday for a connection that makes me feel better.
I have been praying on it, something I haven’t done in a long time. I have prayed that I will figure out what I need to do in life. If there is something more for me out there. Who I need in my life and where I need to be.
Sometimes I am able to recognize that these are daunting questions, that will not likely be answered in the near future, but it still feels good to put them out there and get them off my chest.
Being social is hard when it is cold and all you want to do is crawl into your warm bed and read a book or watch a tv show. (By the way, I finished True Blood recently and let’s just say I am so happy to be done with that shit. Until June…)
I just realized that this entry seems like a whiny piece about being alone. But I am not trying to sound whiny, I am just trying, in a round about way to say that I have finally come to terms with the fact that while being an introvert can be safe it is also necessary to jump into a group of people and get out of your shell. This is harder for me to do than most who have met me would think. Especially here in Seattle, where I can never seem to find "my people."
But I am still looking.
Off to the grocery store so that I don’t have to eat Top Raman for dinner. Again.

09 October 2012

Unbalanced and older.

Late last night, long after my roommate had gotten back from a party and the neighborhood had fallen asleep I lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling, watching the shadows dance. Wondering what this year would bring, how it would be different from all those before it.
Last night I turned 21.
Milestones like this make my life seem unbalanced. Libras like balance. I mean change can be a good thing for those who are unhappy but what about us that were happy and then change came along and fucked it up? I was happy in France. Happier than I have ever been. I actually felt like I was living. Not simply going through the motions. Wake up, walk to class, sit and stare, go to work, type something, go home, watch tv, eat dinner, study, fall asleep.
Rinse, repeat. This mundane existence isn’t living, is it?
So this morning I decided somewhere between taking my first sip of coffee and walking out the door, that this year would be different. I am going to challenge dare myself to find something more. To find the happiness I seek. This is going to be a different birthday.
That being said, Birthdays are weird. Everyone wishes you Happy Birthday, and the older you get the more you realize that you are just getting older. They are wishing you older.
More things are worrying me now, like bills and classes and jobs and graduation. I am being fully embraced by this thing they call the Real World. I am no longer that young, doe-eyed traveler, who likes to paint and write. I am now responsible for my actions.
Tonight I am going out with people I have gotten to know over the last two years and are proud to call friends. I am excited to order my first Legal drink (in the US at least). I have been thinking this over (or over-thinking which ever you choose), because it is not a small decision. Mohitos, Tequila Sunrises, Cosmos, Mimosas… All the colors of the liquor rainbow are running through my brain.
I am looking forward to a night of casual drinks with friends, nothing serious to talk about, only jokes and stories to share. That is all I want from tonight.
That being said, I do like presents. And the best present I got for my birthday (besides the new boots from my parents) is my best friend telling me that she is going to be coming up this weekend to celebrate with me. This piece of news thrills me more than you could ever know. She hasn’t been to Seattle to visit me before and this will be the perfect opportunity.
We will hit the town like nobody’s business so ladies lock up your brothers, and hide the booze, we are 21.

Resolutions: 21 edition.

I've been thinking alot about beginnings lately. New beginnings. Newly twenty-one and trying to grow up. Even if that means looking hard at my life and the many paths I have to take soon. As soon as I finish with one chapter, another appears and sometimes they are harder to get through than the last, but any good book is like that. Here I am twenty-one and the whole of life is just beginning to open up to me. The future is fresh with possibility.

1/ Smile more
2/ Take more pictures
3/ Stop waisting all my money on Starbucks lattes
4/ Turn this year into my best year at school
5/ Spend every sunny day outside. Explore the City. Live like a Tourist (kinda)
6/ Live on a budget. Save, save, save and make, make, make Money.
7/ Throw away my scale.
8/ Get off the computer an hour before bedtime.
9/ Read one book a month.
10/ Continue running, try to run a race.

05 October 2012

Chatting and birthday plans.

 I have been in such turmoil about my birthday. I don’t know what it is but I have never liked my birthdays. I love planning and celebrating others birthdays but when it come to my own I just feel confused. I get so nervous. Especially if there is a chance that my waiter is going to sing to me.
It is weird knowing that you are not going to be around your family for your birthday. Especially when I have been with them for the last 20 years on birthdays. But this year I turn 21. I will be celebrating it in my new place, with my friends. This year I will become an adult.
I am both nervous and excited about turning 21. I know that it is just another birthday, marking the day I get older, but I feel like this birthday is more of a milestone than those before. All these new things will be open to me. And I don’t just mean bars and clubs. I mean that now if feels like I have crossed the line dividing youth and adulthood. What does being an “adult” constitute? Do I know need to stop watching Glee and start a 401k?
But Tuesday should be fun. I am going out to a local bar with a group of friends for some happy hour drinks. And I will be buying my own bottle of French wine to take home. It will be a fun night I think.
Today was a good day of speaking to the new students who are going to Grenoble this year. I am so excited for them. They are about to have a good time, and I wish I were able to join them. But it was nice to relieve some of the special memories with Bradley and see the students sigh in relief.
I need to go and vacuum/do the dishes because Natalie is coming to visit me!! She is coming to go to a concert with our friend but she is going to spend the night and we will watch movies and eat brownies before I leave tomorrow to celebrate my brother’s accomplishment of becoming an Eagle Scout.
Here's to the freakin' weekend! I'll toast to that!

27 September 2012

Love List // September

Fall . Crisp weather . Soft scarves . A warm bed . Hardwood floors . Caffeine . Black coffee, one sugar . Plaid shirts . Black pants . Sun on my face . Men with kind eyes . Books about travel . Yellow leaves . Running . Shoes on a treadmill . Sweat . Sitcoms . Pasta . Roommates . My Oak table . Yellow placemats . Sleepytime tea . Church bells . Ed Sheeran . Ella Fitzgerald . Long talks with old friends . Big hugs from new friends . Yearning for France . The Language . The food . The culture . The promise of a future . Carving out a path . My own little promise of tomorrow . Envisioning a life for myself, beyond what I have known . A life of law, of travel, of love .

19 September 2012

And they're off!

Today was the first day of my classes.
I had one whole class today.
Which started at 10:55. I’m not bragging. Really.
Before class I woke up early and made a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs and cheese and poured myself some fresh coffee. Made with my sweet little French press. I sat at my sturdy oak table and looked out the windows, trying to spy on my neighbors. It was therapeutic taking the time to sit down for breakfast.
I got ready, spending too much time on my eye liner. The right eye was just not cooperating with me. That’s what you get when you are partially blind and try to put on eyeliner I guess.
Then I walked to school. Early. Like a kindergartener.
I sat next the Reflection Pond and read a few pages in my new book. When I looked up I saw my friend Annie who came over and said hello. Then we ran into Bradley and Taylor. It was great seeing them. Going into a new class I felt like I could take on the world because I had people like them to call friends.  
My one and only class today was intro to Political Theory. It was so weird listening to a professor lecture in English. Since I understood the words I found myself drifting. Not a good thing to have a professor who also can be derailed with the mention of Coltrane.
I think it will be a good year if the rest of my classes go this smoothly. I just need to reorient myself with the English language. But I also need to go to the French conversation group on Tuesdays. It’s a teeter-totter, my life. Such is the life of a Libra.

18 September 2012

Why is it so damn hot?


Tomorrow I start my Junior year of college.

Holy Shit.

When did I get this old?

But I really feel like this is the year. The year when I stop taking required classes and finally start carving out the path I hope to take. That sounds fun... Especially when that path has three classes based on Politics. What can I say? I think politics are both disgusting and intriguing. 

That was my thought today while I was in a hot office, elbow-deep in files. I cleaned and organized the office. It looked so good when I was finished that I think it actually shined. It could have also been the glare from my sweaty forehead. Where is the cool, crisp weather we are supposed to have for the start of classes? I bought a new (if slightly expensive) scarf that I would like to wear soon, but this weather is not cooperating. 

After work I walked out into the blazing sun, sweating like a pig, and saw my dear pal Bradley. I was so excited to see him that I ran over and interrupted the conversation he was having (oops.) and gave him the biggest hug. And I will say this about the man. He gives great hugs. Bone-crushing, feel-the-love-hugs. I felt giddy just from seeing him.

He asked me to hang around while he said goodbye to his friend. So I did. Because it's Bradley. And then he asked me to walk him to the bookstore. And I did. Because it's Bradley. We caught up a little, asking the other what they were up to and promised to go and see Irish music at Kell's when I turn 21 (in 3 weeks. When did I get so old?). And although we were together for maybe a total of eight minutes, I left feeling happy. Because it's Bradley.

Tomorrow is the first day of my third year of college. oh boy.

I need to shower and pick out a "first day of school" outfit. I have been in school for 15+ years and I still get nervous on the first day of school. Will the teachers/professors be mean? Will the Freshman eat me? What will I have for lunch? What if they call on me and I don't know the answer?

In all my years of going to school I don't think I will ever actually look forward to the first day.

14 September 2012

Real Life

Cher mes amies/Dear friends,
I am back! By back I don’t mean once again in Europe. Unfortunately. I mean I am back to Seattle for my Junior year of College (?!) and back to blogging. I decided that when I got back to the states I was going to give myself a break from blogging and see if I wanted to continue doing it when I returned to Seattle. And this summer when I found myself drinking too much Diet Coke and watching too many stupid shows with my best friends, missing blogging. It is an outlet for my writing, which I haven’t been doing a lot of this past summer to tell you the truth.
It was a weird summer for me, spent sleeping on the couch at my parents house while I looked for an apartment in the city. I also worked construction which was… Interesting? Sure a Diet coke addiction (I jest) and construction is not as interesting as traveling on a camel through the Sahara or watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle, but it is Real Life. And Real Life is not always sparkly towers and Condolas in Venice. Sometimes Real Life knocks you on your ass. Sometime Real Life is an exhausting apartment search then paying too much in Rent because you in the big city. And for a college student sometimes Real Life is papers, and lectures and finals. So welcome my dear friends, welcome to my Real Life.
Here’s a semi-short lowdown on my life thus far:
-          This summer was spent searching for apartments in Seattle with my Roommate. She is a doll. She talks way too much and eats junk food. We are basically twins. She is also a Senior this year so I might be sad in June when I realize that she will be leaving me behind to go and do great things. I might also be happy because then I won’t have to share our tiny bathroom.
-          As for my summer job… this summer my parents needed my help in their small construction business. And me being me signed on without knowing what I was getting myself into. As I was knee deep in Concrete I started to question my sanity. But I got to spend a lot of time with my family. So much family time.
-          Now working a job where you have to get up at 4:45 in the morning and when you get home at 4pm and all you want to do is die, kind of wrecks havoc on a social life. I did get a nice farmers’ tan though.
-          Basically all I did this summer is lay around on my couch-bed and watch TV with my girl Natalie. And if you thought I was kidding about the Diet Coke addiction think again. So I think what I am saying is that I need to whip my ass into shape. No more brownies, cut back on the crack in a can, and get myself to the gym. But I have set some goals for myself and I’ll be damned if I won’t reach it.
This is going to be an interesting year. Stay tuned for ranting, raving, and the semi-boring life of a girl who is about to turn 21. It’ll be good.

15 June 2012

Notes from a friend.

The other day I received a note on Facebook from Taylor, who is still in France, traveling around with her mother.  She wrote this sweet little note on my wall about a woman we saw frequently while in France.  This woman owned a small Kebab place right next to the tram track and we went there our first night in Grenoble. It became a place to meet up, to eat good food, and practice a little French. She became a woman we all looked up to, and she became our friend. 
Anyways, here is what Taylor wrote:
Last night I visited our favorite Kebab Vendor. She was sitting around with a few friends from the city, a french woman, a niece of her’s from Turkey--who also speaks French and English, her husband, myself and my mother. We chatted for a while, about life, the roles of women, men, what to do after college, what to do when your feet hurt, love, and Coca Cola. You would have loved to have been there!

She says that every year it’s the same. They come, her étudiants, and they eat her food. She learns about their lives. Some bring their parents. And they become her family. Then they all leave. But they never really leave. She has them all in her heart. All of us are in her heart. Always.
Her note brought up so many memories and emotions and I spent a little time reflecting on how I am feeling. I was sitting in the car on the way home from Seattle, after spending the day looking at apartments with my mom and roommate. It was so incredibly beautiful out. One of the days that makes me fall in love with the Northwest again. I was just so happy to be in Seattle/Portland. I miss Europe so much, but I feel like I was ready to get back to familiar.
This perfectly describes how I feel, how I still feel about my time spent living abroad. I have left the places and people where I found them, but they have never really left me. I have them all in my heart, where they will stay forever.

04 June 2012

Trying to sum up.

I am dreading "that post" that I'm supposed to write to sum up my entire experience without being too wordy. How does one write about an experience like the one I've had? Am I supposed to talk about the places I have been, how everything I saw made the world a little more beautiful? Am I supposed to talk about how every person I met taught me something and changed me a little? Should I mention all the food I ate, and how miraculously my pants still fit?

Five months ago I left home bound for Europe. It was the first time I had really traveled without my family. It felt weird, scary and exciting. I landed in Lyon and discovered how beautiful France was. Lyon was inmensely beautiful and I fell in love immediately. I discovered how great it was to make new friends. I met the Chardiny's who I would discover were the kindest French people I would ever meet. I felt homesickness, I felt scared starting classes, but I discovered a new kind of power, being on my own.

In Feburary, I went to Dublin. It was earth-shattering, heart-breaking, mind-blowingly beautiful. I am thankful for the people I got to travel with, the friends I made and the things I saw. I saw the Atlantic ocean for the first time! I drank Guinness looking out over the city. I laughed my way threw a literary pub crawl. I laughed so hard that I thought I would never catch my breath. I felt so Irish.

In March, I went to Geneva and discovered that Swiss chocolate is actually pretty good. I discovered that all this traveling has made me really consider Seattle homebase. I missed it's green and rain. I went back to Lyon, and found it to be just as beautiful as the first time. Midterms kicked my ass but I was introduced to the French school system. It makes me really thankful for SU. I went to Avignon and saw Coeur de Pirate in concert. I fell in love the guitarist. Finally, I fulfilled my dreams and went to Paris. I ate saw it sparkle, ate Macaroons under the Eiffel tower in the sun, and explored la belle ville with some people I hope to always call friends.

In April, I started really freaking out about having to leave France. After the past few months I have finally mastered the French walk, fast and smooth. And I was starting to get a grasp on the language. Just when I was getting comfortable in France I decided to go to Italy. I spent a week visiting five cities and it was tiring. I saw all the things you read about in History and Art books. It was surreal. It was unforgettable. But at the end I came back to France and felt relieved. I missed France.

In May, I finally got that tan that has been avaiding me. I finished classes, and felt like I passed my exams. I packed up my suitcase(s) and I think they might be under the weight limit. I got to travel to Morocco with 11 other students. I some great Moroccans who made me sugary mint tea, and learned how to actually bargain. I slept in the Sahara Desert under the stars with only a sheet between me and the sky. I watched the sunrise. I rode a camel. Morocco has broaded my world view.

Since January I have been to Lyon, Chambery, Vizille, Dublin, Cliffs of Moher, Annecy, Geneva, Lyon (again), Avignon, Paris, Milan, Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome, Vatican City, Marseille, and Chartreuse.

In the last five monthes I learned how to live in the moment. I learned that laughter is the best medicine. I learned to be thankful. I learned that I loved France. I spent my time seeking adventures, sometimes they were little and only involved me eating a macaroon. They were different each time, but together they have changed me completely.

Today I come home. Slowly the hours are ticking away before I land in Portland. Time is a fickle bitch.

It feels like my heart is breaking. I wish I could go back and yet move forward. All the things I've seen and done, and the people I met are just memories now. Unforgettable memories.

03 June 2012

Finally, home.

"You can't go home again." - Tom Wolfe

"There is no place like home." - L. Frank Baum's

"You can go home again as long as you realize that you may not be coming home to the same home."
 - Home Improvement (aka stories of my life)

21 May 2012


I am Thankful:
- for my parents, who have my back every single day.
- for the sound of rain. It's my favorite thing in the world. Sometimes I'll close my blinds turn on my hour long soundtrack of a thundery night and just pretend.
- for books, books, books.
- for travel. It just doesn't get any better than that.
- for Iced Chai lattes.
- for Fish Tacos. Or Mexican food in general.
- for Nick my real life hero. For killing spiders for me, eating all my Nutella, and laughing at episodes of Psych with me every Wednesday, like a good little brother.
- for the Emerald shine Seattle shares with me. I love you and all your quirks.
- for clean sheets.

17 May 2012


One day when I was at my host family's house, my host sister asked me if I wanted to make some Macaroons, which you know I love. And when in France, make French food. Trying to make Ms. Julia Child proud I discovered they are simple and difficult at the same time.

I am in Morocco, so everything will be quiet here for a few weeks. Excuse my absence while I am out riding camels across the Sahara Desert and trying not to burn. I will try to catch everyone up when I get back but y'all might have to wait until I get to the States. Much love, Jen

15 May 2012


I can't believe that finals are over.
I can't believe that I have packed everything in two suitcases (and a backpack and purse).
I can't believe that I leave for Morocco in 48 hours.

I can't believe it.

Today this little old lady saw me struggling to carry two bags filled with things for the giveaway, and she was walking in my direction so she offered to help me. Along the way we chatted. She asked me if I was English (a question I get a lot here) and I told her non, je suis americaine. So we chatted about the U.S. and school and stuff. And in the middle of this conversation I started to get that panic-y feeling, like my heart is breaking. I don't want to leave. I love it here so much.

But in less than two weeks I will be getting on that big jet plane in the sky, checking my two suitcases of "necessary" items, heading home to smiling faces that love me. That's always nice.

First, I have to survive Morocco, where average temperatures are 102º. Burn baby, burn. 

Random picture, that I took the day it stormed here. I love that the world became black and white for a while.

14 May 2012

In 3 weeks I will be home.

Not sure how I feel about that...

This weekend was great. I laid in the sun under the trees then I dressed up and went out dancing. There was dancing while we drank berry infused wine, there was dancing in allies, there was dancing across the bridges. When I finally fell asleep I slept like a baby, with blisters in my feet.

13 May 2012

It was all very Sound of Music

We went on a "petit" hike in the mountains near Grenoble. When I say petit, I mean it took us a whole day because we kept getting lost. 

We got lost in the car. We got lost when we got out of the car. And we got lost every time we hit a fork in the path. 

But can you really be "lost" when the scenery is breathtaking? We ate flowers, chased lizards, came across a field of cows wearing bells, and hummed music as we walked. It was a great outing.

12 May 2012

A day in Grenoble

1. Sun in Grenoble
2. Sitting in Victor Hugo park
3. & 4. Art exhibit at Musée Grenoble
5. Voting 
6, 7, 8: Classes, which are finally over. Thank the Lord
9: More sun with Despé

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