March 31, 2009

babies and dinosaurs finally as one.

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 4:40 pm

Meet Lille.

I’ll start with the train station and the street that is covered in black plastic babies crossed with dinosaurs.  No… not baby dinosaurs.  Babies with dinosaur features.  So ugly! (the babies, not the street)


Look how scary these are.  They’re only here for a few months to celebrate Lille’s European-ness.  I don’t quite understand the connection though.


It really is a nice street though. Look at this building.


Then we arrive at the opera and some sort of commerce building next to it.  Pretty huh?

img_5772Then we get to La Grand’Place.

img_57761and the other side.

img_57741Then you walk down the street with all the stores (thanks for the Christmas lights still up at the end of March).  I actually stopped at that Gap as I was taking these pictures and tried on some jeans.  Didn’t go well.

img_5779Then La Place de la République with the museum (the second biggest after The Louvre)


and the Préfecture facing it on the other side.

img_57811Then you cross a few streets and get to this church.  I went in yesterday and there was this notebook that people wrote their prayers and things in. I wanted to steal it.

img_57861And then you’re on my street!  And you can see that church in the background.


So there you have it.  My home for the last 6 months (kind of, because I moved… but for the sake of the sentence I’m just leaving it like that).  Today was my last day of work.  Tomorrow I pack things, and Thursday I meet Myung and Jung in Paris to frolic in different parts of Europe.  I leave the 15th and it’s back to tasty and affordable meals, gas station fountain drinks and unemployment. After a couple weeks in Brandon, Florida, I’ll move to DC with these people (J, I can’t find a picture of you all together, sorry).




March 29, 2009

Reason #1 to come to France

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 5:51 pm


You know how they’re always talking about this secret ingredient called “Crème Fraiche” on the Food Network? And you try to look for it at the store and they only sell it at Whole Foods and it’s like 8 bucks for a tiny container?  Well, apparently it’s because of some sort of live bacteria thing that the FDA has a problem with. I am not sure if people smuggle it in or if health food stores have different laws somehow, but in any case, it exists here in many brands and sizes and it’s amazing.  They say you can make it with buttermilk and cream but I’ve tried and it’s really not the same thing at all.

But really, the point of this post is to show you this:

image036Yes. This is the aisle of Activia at the grocery store.  Because we all know that Activia is the best tasting yogurt in America (although I really could do without their commercials), whether or not it helps the digestive system I have no idea, and frankly it could cause digestive problems and I’d still probably eat it because it is just good.  (It’s so good that my nephew, Elias, calls the vanilla flavor “cake”.  By the way, i just looked up “milk” in the thesaurus and it gave me “moo-juice”… uhh.. thanks.)

But back to the Activia.  Here’s another picture to show you how much I care about this.


And that’s only like half.  Do you know how many more flavors exist here? Pineapple, mango, kiwi, granola, 2-grain, rhubarb, blackberry-raspberry, lemon, fig, apricot, AND they have different kinds like “fruit at the bottom” and “cooked fruit at the bottom” and it tastes like you’re eating apple pie in yogurt form.  I know… why am I posting about moo-juice that has been transformed into spoonable treat-form?  I’m not sure.  I just really like Activia.  And maybe we should like all write letters to Dannon demanding they bring these flavors to America.

March 25, 2009

diamonds are from the devil

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 6:08 am

Have you heard crazy stories about hypnotism?  I have.  People acting like chickens in front of thousands of others.  I am sure there are loads of youtube clips on the subject. The reason I bring it up is because I had a weird, seemingly out-of-body, and very unexpected experience.

The other day while coming back from work, I ran into a friend at the train station.  He told me he was on his way to buy the engagement ring for his girlfriend, so I got to tag along.  Let me inform you of my engagement ring background. I have none. I have never really been attracted to looking at them while passing jewelry stores, I don’t really have one in mind that I could see on my finger, I’m not really into jewelry all that much, etc.  Which is all pretty normal I think.

And then it happened.  I dont know what it was, I don’t know how it all took place, but as we were looking at all these rings and as my friend was having me try some on “just to see what it looked like on a finger”, I think I got hypnotized.  Seriously. I couldn’t stop looking at these rings.  And it wasn’t even like I was fantasizing about marriage or admiring the huge stones, I was just fixated on these rings.  There wasn’t even any that I particuliarly liked, but holy crap it was like I was on drugs.  I felt my eyes glossing over, I felt my mind becoming really stupid and still, and I couldn’t stop it.  It took over.  My friend even mentioned it.  I literally had a noticeable physiological reaction.  And I thought to myself, even if some homeless dude on the street offered me one of these ugly ones, I’m pretty sure the brain mechamism that tells you, “this dude is wearing 4 coats and doesn’t speak in full sentences and smells like sewer” would stop working and at least for a few seconds I’d consider it because there is just something opiate about the whole thing.

I know. I kind of hate myself for posting this but I’m totally serious. And come on, it’s pretty funny, because like… wtf?

March 19, 2009

I need help.

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 9:38 am

What I love most about not going to school is the fact that I can read again and not feel guilty about it.

Last summer after graduating, I read some of the best books that I ever had. And I never felt guilty about the pleasure of the written word whereas in college, any enjoyable novel immediately made me feel like I wasn’t spending time wisely. (I figured if I was taking time to read, I should probably read what is assigned.)

So the reason I’m talking about this is because I need some suggestions in reading. I’ve crossed a lot of things off that I’ve wanted to read for a long time and now I need help. Have you read anything good recently? What is your favorite book that I must read? Here’s what I’ve recently read, what I like, what I don’t like.

It’s weird but as a French major, I never read Albert CamusThe Stranger, so finally I did it. And freaking love this book. And if you haven’t read this you definitely should. Then listen to “Killing an Arab” by The Cure. Then think about life because you can’t avoid it after reading this book. It’s short and easy. (The book, not necessarily life.)

Oh yeah, I think the best book ever written might be East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Amazing characters, beautifully written, empowering message. I’m pretty sure I cried. It’s long but when you get to the end you wish it would keep going.

I found The Life of Pi by Yann Martel at Savers for like 2 bucks and decided to get it. Whoa. I was a little skeptical after reading the back but seriously SO GOOD. Totally took me by surprise and I couldn’t put it down. It’s amazing how well Martel can write when there is pretty much just one character. Read it!

I read Dave EggarsThe Heartbreaking Work of a Staggering Genius and at first was skeptical – people that write about themselves… why do they think we’d be interested?? – but it really is good. Funny and talks about the time he met Puck from Real World San Francisco = my favorite part of the book. (Because it’s freaking PUCK!)

Hmm what else… I read Melissa Bank’s second novel The Wonder Spot and preferred the first one, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing (one of my favorites). And oh yeah, what the h happened to Nick Hornby? He used to be so good – High Fidelity, About a Boy, How to be Good were all excellent, and I read some his recent stuff and felt like he sounds bitter and like he had to crank out a bad idea in one month. Sad.

OK what I don’t like – I’m not really into series… serieses (?) Whatever. Series but plural. I read the first Harry Potter and was never really captured by the whole thing. Twilight I guess is a little different because even though I hate Bella Swan, it is this very hate that motivates me to keep reading. I can’t believe how ridiculous Stephanie Meyer is and I can’t believe her poor writing is actually popular. I do it out of shock.

Oh, and please do not suggest Eat Pray Love. I have tried. It seems hundreds of times. And I cannot handle Elizabeth Gilbert. The way she presents her story makes me angry and want to yell things. And sometimes I would, and realized I don’t have to be putting myself through this. I really tried to like it. I would wait a couple months before picking it back up and after reading a couple pages my displeasure for her writing would re-arise. Don’t get me wrong, I am ALL about eating in Italy and yoga in India (I never got to Bali, although my sister says I should have kept going) but she was just so annoying.

So, to conclude, I would love for you to tell me what to read, or give your opinions about why Twilight is actually good or about Eggars being a sell-out (I don’t agree). Feel free to comment anonymously if it pleases you.

UPDATE: Thanks for the suggestions!  I am very excited!!  Too bad I am an idiot and i didn’t return my library books on time = i have a week of suspension/punishment before I can check anything out again.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

March 14, 2009

I’m not really going to talk about the economy. This is about ME.

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 4:37 am

First off, let me just advise you 3 episodes from This American Life.  I could never really EXPLAIN the whole market crash / mortgage crisis / why we have to find jobs building bridges and highways because banks are failing, but i definitely could use the term “Giant Pool of Money” in a conversation and people would totally think I knew what I was talking about. I know they’re an hour long, but they are SO worth it:

The Giant Pool of Money

(totally awesome because they talk about people selling these crazy mortgages, their $70,000/month paychecks and how the whole thing went sour)

Another Frightening Show About the Economy

(It’s not a lie, this one really is pretty frightening.)

Bad Bank

(The one where we find out the longer we wait, the more it’s going to suck for us.)

OK so as I walked the streets of Lille and listened to Bad Bank, I was validated in my recent decision to delay life for another year.  What does this mean you ask?  It means finding a job in America scares me.  So instead, I’m going to be a nanny in Paris!  Yes. I will not get a real job or start a masters because a) I still don’t know what I want to do, and b) it’s a year of getting paid in Paris!  (Well, it’s not really IN Paris, but it’s right outside of it.)  Through some random people and connections, I was offered a nanny job starting in July for one year.  Super cute kids, well paid, gigantic house with gym, home theater, indoor/outdoor pool, my own living quarters with 2 balconies and washer/dryer, cool parents, right outside of Paris… basically I couldn’t see why not really.  Oh, and a summer house on the Azur Coast. AND I go on all their vacations with them… and get PAID to do it.  … are they kidding??  I mean, I’ll have like responsibilities too, and since I’m used to working about 10 hours a week, my body might reject it at first, but I bet the outdoor barbecue and pool in the summer home will ease my pain.

So that is my news.  Bad economy = move to France.

March 5, 2009

I love burritos.

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 2:35 pm

Sooo I went to England for the first time.  And I have to say… it was pretty much like America, with like, smaller streets.

And those of you who know England will probably disagree with above statement and we just have to live with that.  I flew into Manchester (ps – got a roundtrip ticket for FIVE EUROS with Ryanair, and I was expecting plastic seats and turbulence and crashing but actually it was a very normal airplane experience.  Oh but in the airport there was this family of like 6 who was in front of me in the line where they look at your stuff in that tv and these people in front of me had containers of every type of liquid: juice boxes in every bag, perfume, water bottle… Have you been alive for the past 8 years?? I was floored.)

Anyway, to continue my previous sentence. I flew into Manchester and took a double decker bus (!) to the train station/center of town, and what did I see… freaking burritos (clue #1 that England = America).  Yeah so I ate a burrito and it was delicious, and it didn’t taste like curry like all Mexican food in France does.  AND it had fountain drinks.. and ICE.  These things don’t exist in my life and so I was really happy. I sat there just staring and things relishing the refillable diet coke.  So good.

Ok then I almost got hit by about 4 buses because even though i was well aware of the whole driving on the other side of the road thing. You don’t actually realize that it’s totally different until you cross the street in front of a line of traffic – gotta look the other wayyyyy in englannnddd.  Good thing in London, the streets tell you which way to look:


It’s very considerate.   In London, more evidence:  everyone is wearing Hollister and Abercrombie, Vitamin Water, Revlon, more refillable fountain drinks, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and ethnically varied cuisine – I ate Thai and Indian and Mexican and a lot of chicken. And actually even though they say London is the most expensive city in the world, I found it rather affordable, not meaning I have a lot of money, because I don’t (I mean, I don’t even have a bathroom in my apartment… I have to walk down the hall for it), you can find stuff that isn’t super expensive.  I even took a boat ride on the Thames with my cousin, Dan, the humble genius at Cambridge.  img_5754

Oh yeah, here’s another reason England is like America:


That’s right. A Wal-Mart, sandwiched between a HUGE mall and a Costco.  Amazing! Even a McDonalds attached on the inside! Cute!  I look like a little person in the picture. What the h.  No, but really, England was great. Hung out with cool people (former student, mission friend, cousin), went to Mossfest and ate like a true American.

March 3, 2009

Basically I’m on the internet.

Filed under: Uncategorized — irenejk @ 7:17 pm

OK so remember how I taught French at BYU?  And remember how it was like the best job ever because I’d work an hour a day and never work weekends and just correct papers and make my students watch Foux da Fa Fa (click on it, it’s pretty entertaining)?  Well some of them actually wanted to learn more French and I ended up seeing 4 of them IN PARIS.  They’re all on a study abroad and I saw them, along with a co-worker, and two kids from the MTC. But seriously, what could make a teacher more proud then seeing them in the country??  Oh I have the answer to that, it’s finding this comment on ratemyprofessors.com, after googling my name one day. muahaha.


I should make this the background on my desktop and constantly be reminded of my good fashion sense. ha ha. (apparently never dressing up for work = good fashion sense.) Whoever wrote this comment, amazing. I love that I somehow know more than every other teacher (totally not true) but it is true that we had some good crepe parties.  Also, one of my students, Lana, has decided to become a pastry chef at The Cordon Bleu in London and so she let me crash at her place which was like down the street from the Buckingham Palace (I love my students!) which brings me to my next subject: England.  But first, let us look at the cake she made while I was there:


Isn’t that amazing? It was delicious.

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