Tuileries Garden (Paris) at Sunset

Ah, sunsets in Paris. They’re truly something that I will never forget. The way the sunlight hit the historic structures, the plants, the pavement... The colors, the light was heavenly. Here are two of the pictures I took in the Tuileries Garden around sunset. I know that the pictures don’t really capture the reality of what I saw, so you’ll just have to go yourself. And I’d recommend enjoying the sunset with a lover as I will whenever I return.

Screen on the Green

Last night, I went with friends to watch Wait Until Dark, starring Audrey Hepburn, at Screen on the Green.  The last time I attended Screen on the Green I went with Floyd back in college. Back then, the event was definitely less well-attended and less of a big deal than it seemingly is now.  They've moved the location from the foot of the Washington Monument to the expanse of the mall near the National Gallery of Art and the screen and sound system are much better. 

The Mall was relatively packed, full of young, vibrant people like myself.  Being in the presence of so many other twenty-somethings really made me smile and feel happy to live in this great city.  Just yesterday, I read that Fortune magazine listed Washington, D.C. as one of the best places for young, single people to live—along with Lexington, Kentucky (?!).  And I totally agree.  D.C. offers diverse nightlife and social activities in addition to a range of job opportunities in politics, nonprofit, law, public relations, etc.

One of the best lines from the movie, which really dated the script, was when Audrey Hepburn's character, who is blind, notes that she wished she wasn't blind and could do important things like make a soufflĂ©, pick out a tie, and pick out wall paper for the bedroom! 

I'm so happy that women's liberation happened and opened up a women's possibilities of "doing something important" beyond the home (though I must admit that dedicating your life to building a nice home and raising a family is acceptable too…sort of…just as long as it is a conscious choice and a woman realizes that it's not her only option.)  Just like watching a movie at Union Station, watching it amid at least a hundred others was fun as folks commented along with the movie—cheering when things went right and laughing when things got cheesy.

I guess the highlight was seeing the folks get up and dance when the HBO introduction was shown. It was so odd, and somewhat psychedelic. I don't understand it, but you better believe that the next time I attend, I'll get up and wiggle as well.



What a great weekend.  I spent it doing just about everything I like to do.  I successfully avoided basic housework in favor of reading, snacking, exercising and hanging out with friends. 

The highlight was playing around the world after aerobics.  It took me nearly 20 minutes to finish the challenge.  It's like I forgot how to shoot a basketball, particularly from the top of the key.  Eventually, my shots got better, but no where near perfect.  I think that I'll stop in the basketball court after every weekend workout session to get a mini-arm workout and challenge myself.  No, I didn't go swimming this weekend like I promised myself.  I overslept and generally punked out.  Hopefully, next week, I'll find the courage to don a bathing suit and get in the pool.

I finished my first chick-lit book in months this weekend.  It's called Jemima J. and although, the persistent talk about weight, self-esteem, etc got super annoying toward the middle of the book, the story was amusing enough but not really believable.  Next up is reading Pride and Prejudice for the 100th time.  I've already requested the three different Pride and Prejudice film productions from the library and I hope they arrive by the weekend.  It will be quite a memorable weekend of Mr. Darcy and general fantasy-land (Silly, romantic Hippo!).

No word from either of the guys who were in my life.  I still miss Floyd but more and more, I'm realizing the importance of resisting the urge to reach out to him.  I want to give him space and time to figure life out on his own and start his new journey without me.  As for Mr. Rebound, I feel less anxious about my situation with him.  I have a simple question to ask him if I ever see him again.  And based on his answer, I'll decide whether I want to see him (as more than friends) ever again. 

I will be blatantly clear, though I feel that he's already gotten my hints, that I don't want a fling.  It seemed like a nice idea at the beginning of the summer, when I was bored, lonely, and (dare I say it?!) sexually unfulfilled.  But now, I realize that I don't want or need and can't handle a summer fling—though oddly enough, Floyd and I started out as a rather casual (at least at first) but steamy summer fling.  I don't know what was different about those days that made a summer fling okay to me…I was equally bored, lonely, and horny when I met Floyd.  But I also hadn't experienced love at that point.  I guess that is the difference. 

I want more now.  I want to experience the passion of a fling (and believe me, Mr. Rebound and I had our moments), but more than that, I want the peace of mind and contentment that being in love with your best friend can give (which is what Floyd was to me, until things started to fall apart and I longed for something/someone different).  The question is, can I have both?  Can I get both sustained passion and lifelong love? Floyd and I once had passion but it was fleeting. We had what I though was lifelong love, but it wasn't enough for me (especially given everything else…e.g., he moved hundreds of miles away and we wanted different things out of life).  So, then I guess it wasn't lifelong love after all. 

Reading French actress Jeanne Moreau's words struck a chord and yet, I still don't have the maturity to see a marked contradiction between passion and love.

"Oh come on. Passion — when you get to be 60 — by then you know about love — but love is not passion. I would hate passion; I would hate to be still overcome with passion, I've done that! I have passion for life now. And now I know about love. Love and passion don't go together. Passion is destructive. Passion is demanding.

"Passion is jealous. Passion goes up and down. Love is consistent. Fidelity, that's what love is about. Compassion, you give even more than you receive. That's what love is about. I'd hate to still be a victim of passion — I would think, God! I've lived all these years and I've learned nothing?"

I don't want to be a silly "victim of passion," but I still want passsion and I want true love. 

But does it even exist?  So many people are divorcing and falling out of love.  What is going on and am I falling into the same pattern by running after passion and being fooled by passon--thinking that it is or can be love?

I think know the answer and the key to all my problems.  I need to "find myself."  I need to truly look within and figure out what I want out of life—out of my career, relationships with lovers and friends, community, etc.  At that moment, I'll have found contentment with me and I'd be less likely to fall into the trap and desperately accept passionless love and loveless passion. I think I made a big step just this year in declaring my independence from Floyd, someone I felt wasn't right for me (at least not right now) and again, in deciding that I wouldn't settle for a fling with Mr. Rebound when I really wanted and should demand more.  So perhaps, I'm on my way.  I hope I am.


Mark Morford (SF Gate Columnist) says it all

This was so amusing that I just had to share!
President Cheney Sickens Planet / Earth recoils as VP assumes role for two "unholy" hours. Also: no WMD in Bush's colon

A few sentences of note:
"Every creature that could make a noise or that could show some sort of reaction suddenly let loose and acted as though it had just caught on fire. Heck, I was standing right over there when, at exactly 7:16 a.m., at least 50 goldfish actually leapt out of the main tank to their deaths, like some sort of mass suicide. It was totally crazy.

"But then I heard about -- should I really say this out loud? -- President Cheney, and it all made sense."

* * * *

"I mean, he's by far the worst president the United States has ever known and he's done more to set this nation backa nd embarrass us and create more terrorism and repress science and women and love and hope for all mankind everywhere. But oh my God, he's still no Dick Cheney. That guy makes baby unicorns bleed."

* * * *

After Camp David doctors successfully removed five apparently benign polyps from Bush's colon, they were allegedly instructed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to see if they could, at long last, find at least a trace of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction "up in there" to help justify the Iraq conflict...


McDreamy Next Door

Why is it just my luck that the handsome guy from all the coalition meetings ends up working for my organization and is placed within my eyesight, a mere 5 yards from my desk?  It is so annoying to having to be in his dreamy presence everyday and remember that a) he has a girlfriend, b) he's out of my league, and c) he's now a co-worker.  I used to love having crushes, now they just annoy me.  What is going on?!


Hey, I already have a hobby & HP7 Update

While sitting in the park at lunchtime, I realized that I already have a hobby.  One of my favorite things to do is financial planning.  Thanks to my father introducing me to the world of investing as a child, I've always loved playing with figures and researching investment options.  For the past few months, I've been so busy planning my trip to Paris and working another job that I haven't had the time to focus on my finances.  Sure, my monthly budget is always on my mind, but setting and pursuing my mid-term and long-term financial goals is what really excites me.

So, nevermind about the violin lessons or ballet classes.  This fall, I'm gonna get serious once again about increasing my financial literacy and taking charge of my financial future.  I promised myself last January that I would more regularly review my financial health especially given the big-ticket expenses on the horizon (e.g., moving, going back to school, buying a house, etc) and my concern about retirement. 

I think I'll head to the library this weekend and revisit its collection of personal finance books.  Getting involved in a legit investment club would be very interesting as well.

* * * *

I still haven't finished reading HP7.  I had anticipated finishing the book by now, but alas, a late start, regular snack breaks, and an unwillingness to go to sleep after midnight has delayed my progress.  I'm now aiming to finish the book by Friday.  Then, I'm gonna reread the whole series and watch all the movies to make August 2007 HP month.  I can't wait!

Thereafter, you better believe that I'm gonna start reading chick-lit books again… Me and Mr. Darcy is already calling my name.


"Hold your head up"

As I was walking through the park after lunch, a guy mumbled "keep ya head up, sister" when he passed.  Automatically, I lifted my head up and looked straight ahead, instead of at my feet.  A mere 4 steps later, I tripped on an uneven brick.  See, I knew that there was a reason to look down.

I know that I've been rather downcast lately given my guy drama and stress relating my career and life goals.  The solution, I believe is finding a hobby.  Right now, I'm debating whether I should take violin or ballet lessons.  I think both would be a nice change and help me fill some of my free time (so that there is less time for fretting).  I don't know which, if either, I will choose.  I just know that I need to try out something new.

As for guys, I'm pretty much a single, unattached girl again.  I'm slowly moving beyond Floyd (though still hopeful that we can one day be friends) and accepting Mr. Rebound as a summer fling (and indeed, the summer is nearly over).  I think I should write about the developments of the past few months.  They were rather tumultuous for me, which isn't saying much given that no one died or was betrayed (though in Floyd's eyes...).  But still, I think I can work out a nice novel, handbook or even just a few blog entries out of this whole experience.  And I'd imagine that if I ever saw Floyd or Mr. Rebound or met Mr. Rebound #2 who (I hope) becomes Mr. Right, I could add even more chapters to my silly "looking for love" saga.

So anyway, yes, head held high, looking toward the sky.

I just hope I don't trip.


Gotta make it through Monday!

Well, I survived a weekend of camping with the Lunch Bunch.  I made it back with all my appendages intact and only a minor heat rash and a dozen random insect bites (a.k.a., A-M "love nibbles"). 

It was really nice to be on the beach after nearly a decade away.  It was so pretty and calming to lounge in the sun.  We got to see dolphins, which was super cool too.  The camping experience wasn't that bad.  Although it wasn't "real" camping, I feel that I roughed-it enough sleeping in a tent and being woken by the bright sun and hysterically squeaking sea gulls.  I dread the day that I get convinced to go camping "for real" as I don't see myself digging a hole to poop and living off of one water bottle all weekend.  But never say never.

Ah, I have yet to start Harry Potter book 7.  I felt too tired, sunburned and itchy to settle down and read the book last night.  Plus, I felt uneasy that I hadn't reread the series and wondered what themes and plots of the finale I would miss given my fuzzy memory of book 6.  Also, I'm sad that I won't be able to share the seventh HP adventure with Floyd, the one who encouraged me to read the HP series.  Nonetheless, I will begin reading HP7 tonight.

On more thing, I would like to link to an interesting, though explicit, Justin Timberlake SNL skit.  I'm sure that at least a few of my visitors haven't seen it yet or perhaps, want to see it again.  And yes, A-M, my favorite part is the directions.


Camping + Harry = Weekend Fun!

Only a few hours more until the wonderful Lunch Bunch heads to the Delaware Seashore State Park for a weekend of camping.  I am excited but also nervous because I've never camped on the beach before.

Thankfully, I talked to one of my neighbors (the cool ones that always say hi) and they agreed to pick up my book Saturday.  So, all I have to do is stop by Sunday night to grab the book and begin reading.  I was quite concerned that my copy would get stolen given that I live on the first floor, right next to the stairway and the front door doesn't always lock properly.  But now, my worries are relieved and I only have to track down my neighbors when I get back.

I talked to Floyd again last night.  Although I had hoped that it would be our last conversation for a while, to give us some space, it appears that he remains unwavering in wanting to work things out.  I think that is great but as I told him on the phone, I don't want to pursue a romantic relationship with him or anyone else right now. 

I want to focus on having a good (and hopefully) last year in D.C. before going off to some developing country for 2+ years as a Peace Corps volunteer.  Thereafter, I'd love to get a job abroad or just use my savings to backpack through Europe before coming home to NYC, San Diego, or some other fabulous city that is on my list of places to live before I die.  Such a plan will make me quite transient over the upcoming years and I don't see the possibility of a serious relationship developing between myself and Floyd or someone else during that time.  I already did the long-distance thing and I don't want to do it again.  At least not right now.  Plus, I don't think I'm wired for flings...

I have already received my mother's blessing in regards to my plans.  She noted that I'm young, healthy, unattached and financially stable--perfect for traveling and moving around to try out new cities, jobs and experiences…aka to find myself.  Although I love D.C., I am anxious for new challenges and a new city.  I promised myself that I would leave D.C. by my 10th anniversary (unless I have an amazing job) and I will start my 9th year in D.C. this fall...


Swimsuit Season--Blah!!

I finally bought a swimsuit yesterday.  It is definitely an old lady suit--one-piece, with full coverage and a high neck.  But I think that it will be sufficient for the camping trip this weekend, and most of all, perfect for the water aerobics class at the gym.  I refuse to be the girl in the bikini at my gym's pool.  I don't consider the gym pool a place for playfully frolicking half-naked, but for serious swimming in serious swimsuits.  Yet, I've seen a number of female members in their twenties doing just that.

I hope to start taking a water aerobics class next week or I might just go to the gym really early on the weekends to swim (though I don't really know how...).  I remember taking swimming lessons when I was a child.  Although I loved going around the pool with a kick board, I freaked out (and still freak out) by not being able to touch the bottom.  As a result, I always stick to the 4 foot end near all the splashing kids. 

I haven't been swimming in the ocean since our last family trip to Clearwater, Florida.  I think I was in high school.  I feel that my body has changed a lot since those days, for the better and for the worse.  But I guess I shouldn't gripe because I have 50 plus years of sagging, dimpling, and wrinkling worries ahead of me.   What I'm trying to say is that I'm not looking forward to donning a swimsuit to go swimming this weekend or at the gym.  I will be so uncomfortable until I get in the water or put my cover-up back on. The crazy thing is that I know no one will be looking at me but self-conscious about their own bodies.  But still...


A Conglomeration of Thoughts

Harry Potter Madness

There are just a few more days until the last Harry Potter book is released.  Floyd ordered a copy for my birthday so I'm all set.  Unfortunately, I'm going camping this weekend, so I won't be able to start reading the book until Sunday evening.  I'm still debating whether I should pull an all-nighter to finish the book or leisurely space it out over a few days.  My fear is that if I don't read it Sunday night I might be confronted with a spoiler from the media or evil-doer on the metro.  I have a feeling that once I start reading the book that I won't be able to put it down, but I would hate to not get the full dramatic effect because my eyes and brain shut down after midnight.  So, I'll just have to wait and see.

Lunch Bunch Camping

I'm quite nervous about going camping with my coworkers as I haven't gone camping since I was a Girl Scout.  Plus, I fear almost dying from an insect bite like in that article I read in July's Glamour.  It totally could happen.  And I'm afraid of food poisoning (No offense folks, but I might just avoid the "cooked" meat).  After a bit of pleading, the food planning committee agreed to buy carrots.  Otherwise, I'll have to bring my own veggies to eat.  After having so many bread and meat heavy meals in Paris, I've been craving more veggies lately.  Plus, veggies will help me live long.

Paris, France

I finally got the photos from Paris off my mother's camera.  So, the next step is to loaded them on the web and post a few on this blog.  To maintain my relative anonymity, I won't post any pictures with close-ups of my face or of my mom.  You'll probably only get landscape shots and other random photos I took of half my face and a building.

Riding the jerking D.C. Metro this morning made me long for the Paris Metro.  Before I left, a coworker noted that the Paris Metro trains ride much smoother than the D.C. Metro and I totally didn't believe her.  But, she was right.  I think it is attributable to the fact that the Paris metro uses normal tires plus train tracks for the rides.  As a result, the ride is smoother and at times, it feels as if you are floating through the tunnels.


Yay, I didn't get food poisoning!

Last night, I had dinner with a college buddy, Night Runner, who I haven't seen in over a year.  We shared stories over pad thai at a restaurant we both used to love in college.


The big news is that she's married.  Night Runner is probably last person I ever thought would get married before me given her free-spirit.  But I'm really happy for her and I look forward to meeting her hubby.  Otherwise, she seems the same which is good.  I would hate it if the Peace Corps and living abroad had made her hard or less optimistic about the future.  She encouraged me to apply to the Peace Corps and it was good to get some "insider info" about the program.


On my way home, I ran into another classmate, Chachi—who Night Runner and I had talked about during dinner.  I love running into old classmates and given that a number of them stayed in the city, I regularly do.  In fact, one of my college roommate's friends was on the same flight to Paris as my mom and I.


My mother leaves tomorrow and I'm both happy and sad to see her go.  It was nice, though admittedly tiring to have her here—and more vexing to be in Paris with her given the close quarters and the fact that we spent all day with each other.  But I look forward to bonding over our last night together as I know that I won't see her until at least Christmas break.


No real updates on the guy front.  I still haven't figured things out but I feel less pressured and anxious about the situation now—which, I think, bodes ill for them both.


Btw, the title refers to the fact that a friend got serious food poisoning (that landed him in the hospital and bedridden for months) after eating at the same restaurant Night Runner and I visited.


Night Runner: Are you satisfied with your pseudonym?  I picked it because I always thought it was weird (and scary) that you'd head out for a run around 10 or 11 pm when we were in college.  The other option is Fruit Stand girl or 100% Honduran.


Back in the Rat Race

It feels odd to be indoors at work in the USA after a full week of frolicking—and I do mean frolicking—in Paris.  I miss the fruit tarts, croissants, brioches, and other baked goods I gorged myself on each day.  I miss the energy of the city, though I should note that D.C. has good energy as well.  I miss walking outdoors, checking out the shop wares and being lost, then found, and then lost again in the 4th and 5th arrs.

I think the most memorable thing about Paris is the sunsets.  The light cast on the historic buildings by the setting sun was phenomenal.  I took many pictures near the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Arc de Triumph during the sunset.  I'm sure that my camera could never capture what my eyes saw…but it doesn't matter as it is something that I'll never forget.

Because of the location of Paris at a higher latitude, the sun set close to 11 pm, which was quite an adjustment given that I'm used to an 8-9 pm sunset.  It really threw off my sense of time particularly around dinner and bedtime.

We experienced unseasonably cool, damp weather most mornings, with clearer skies and milder temperatures in the afternoon and evenings.  Although I prefer warm, sunny weather, I don't think that I would have liked standing in line for hours at the Eiffel Tower or walking around cramped Paris streets or through the massive expanse that is Versaille if the weather had been hot and humid.

Although I enjoyed experiencing Paris with my mother (who, thankfully, allowed me to make this trip entirely my own), there were times (usually at sunset) when I wished I was there with a lover.  So, following tradition, I made a wish as I passed under Le Pont Marie.  I wished that I'd return to Paris before I'm 50 to experience this great city with a lover (or husband).  No offense mom, but Paris is for romance...


She's Baaacccckk!

Bonjour, Bonjour

Yay, I'm back from vacation.  It was definitely a great, though rather exhausting trip.  I ate a fair amount of pastries and bread, but thankfully, i think I walked off most of the extra calories...

Paris was beautiful and I can see why people consider it one of the most romantic cities in the world. However, I was there with my mom and although I did encounter a few cuties, I didn't have a torrid love affair with a hot Frenchman who doesn't speak English.  Maybe next time...

I anticipate writing more about my trip (and posting pictures) in the upcoming days and weeks, but for now I want to rest and run some errands before heading out to my friend's swap/block party.  I look forward to resuming my normal routine this week, though rather anxious to know what projects and tasks are waiting for me when I get back.

Another yay that I get to see an old college friend this week.  She's in town for a few days after spending the past few years in the Peace Corps and now as a school principal in Honduras.


Happy Fourth & Bon Voyage!

Here's a recap:

I just got back from watching the fireworks on the National Mall.  As always, there were loads of people and the fireworks, particularly the heart, smiley face, and star pyrotechnics, were amazing.

Hedging Bets
I had a strained conversation with Floyd today.  I really miss him and just wanted to talk, but he asked me not to call unless I have something relevant to say (i.e., "I'm sorry and I want you to give me another chance because I regret everything I did").  He says that I'm selfishly hedging my bets when it comes to Floyd and Mr. Rebound (yes, I'm finally starting to admit it; damn your confusing emotions and face reality, foolish Hippo).  Perhaps, I am such a selfish, immature person…But i refuse to be any longer a typical neurotic, vulnerable woman who gets played...

Family Affair
After only one day, my mother is already driving me crazy with her 21-questions and everything else.  I now realize how much I value my space and alone time.  But I also know that I'm on a short fuse right now, so I just need to calm it down.  She is on my side after all…

Whatcha doing?
Ah, I've already planned out in my head all that I want to accomplish over the next two months--in terms of refocusing on myself in order to get over Floyd (as my friend, lover, boyfriend, confidant, mentor, etc of seven years!  How will I ever fill the void he left?) and feel less emotionally invested in Mr. Rebound (because he is, after all, a rebound guy and someone that I'll never actually end up with...Face it at once, foolish Hippo!).  There will definitely be some de-cluttering involved as well as solid personal and platonic bonding time.

Concluding Thoughts
I guess that's all.  I need to get some sleep as I still have a few things to get done tomorrow before we head to the airport--including signing my lease.  I've basically given up on trying to live downtown.  I'm quite concerned about having to give up my solo lifestyle, sense of safety, and moderate rent just so that I can more easily stubble home from the bar (oh, and walk to work).


Paris? Oui, Oui!

I leave for Paris, France in a mere 54 hours and 30 minutes.  I am so excited about all the things I will see and experience.  I look forward to savoring pastries and sipping coffee at a corner cafĂ© and frolicking in the park after a leisurely picnic.

My mom arrives this evening and (thank goodness) my apartment is quite spotless, though still cluttered.  We'll spend the next day finalizing our itinerary and repacking our belongings.  Then, we're off!

I'm bringing along a journal and perhaps, I'll share a few entries when I get back.  I promise to remain calm, patient and hopeful during the trip regarding the stressors (i.e., work, boys, and life) that I'll have to face when I return.  But, I'm quite sure that I'll have a totally different outlook by then.


Another Phase

So, Floyd and I are totally over for good.  For a while, we, or rather he, held out for a positive resolution.  It never came. I know that we both didn't want to lose each other.  But I didn't want to lose my best friend; he didn't want to lose his best friend and lover.  That was the ultimate difference.

So, I am quite lonely now without Floyd.  I feel a bit empty as if his spiritual presence has left my heart, my home and my mind.  My apartment remains filled with reminders of him and it is rare that I don't hear song or pass by a restaurant and not think of him.

But as always, I am hopeful.  I am hopeful of what tomorrow will bring and I am open to fully embrace whatever it brings, good or bad. 

This weekend, Floyd and I officially ended an important chapter of our lives.  It is a sad time but also a calm, hopeful time as I am now charged to spread my wings and fly.