bonne année!

sometimes a change in plans results in a better time than you planned. unexpected can be good!

i haven’t done half of the things i planned to do here in paris, but it doesn’t matter. and it has been great. one of the nicest things has been having this apartment here, and being able to just ‘be’, to live here in paris and relax, not rush around doing all the touristy things, and to walk down the stairs in the morning to the bakery on the corner (“c’est la meilleure boulangerie au quartier!” said a man to me in there the other day – ‘the best bakery in the quarter!’) to get some “pain au tradition” and pain au chocolats… they also have fabulous sandwiches.

on tuesday, alex and i made the trek to versailles. we didn’t arrive until closer to 3, so there wasn’t a tonne of time to see everything but we did make it through the main part of the chateau, and after walking through just one room i would have felt the trip was worth it. man was it ever gorgeous. i was trying to imagine what it would have been like to have lived there… so much space, so much splendour. i really want to go back in the spring when the gardens are green and can have a picnic, see marie antoinette’s “cottage” at the far end of the property… it was pretty surreal to be there, aside from the throngs of people, which i expected.

on wednesday, alex, claire and i spent a solid 6+ hours at the louvre. we managed to walk (albeit quickly) through two entire wings. i saw the mona lisa (from a distance, through its bullet-proof glass casing, and over the heads of a giant crowd of people), the venus de milo (aka aphrodite), the winged victory of samothrace, phsyche and cupid, the wedding feast at cana painting (it’s GIANT), the seated statue of ramses II and much, much more. it was quite incredible. the croque monsieur i had for lunch was less than incredible, but our waiter was great and gave claire a free beer! after the louvre we went to find a place to pick up our daily bottle of champagne, and then we all found this lovely little french restaurant where we enjoyed a very generous portion of foie gras, a delicious red wine, steak and frites and veal, and coffee. the three of us decided it had been a pretty successful day, only bettered by g+ts and a movie in our apartment afterwards, and claire missing the last metro and staying over with us. and yes, we all fell asleep watching beauty and the beast (what ever happened to disney making actually good animated movies??).

last night being new years eve did not go at all how i had envisioned it months ago when plans were being made… i thought we would have dinner in the evening, and slowly make it over to the eiffel tower (which i have yet to see up close, by the way) with friends, watch the light show, maybe go to a club with everyone after… instead, claire, caitlin, naz, and two of cait’s siblings, adam and sally, came over to our apartment where we shared some champagne etc., and at 11pm we hopped on the (free!) metro to go up to monmartre/sacré coeur to get a view of the entire city of paris while midnight hit. we were still on the metro about five minutes before midnight – and not at our destination stop. so we ran off and started walking. alex popped the veuve cliquot at midnight and we drank it amongst us whilst walking through the rowdy streets of paris. in the end, we didn’t actually make it all the way up the hill, and i think i saw one firework… (shouldn’t have worn heels, i knew it!). all in all though, incredible new years!

a lot of people are really happy to see 2009 leave. we said that about 2008 though. i wonder, maybe (and not to lessen the struggles people have gone through), whether our attitude is wrong. sure, a lot of unexpected things have happened, and not the good kind. but through struggle comes new outlooks, new understandings, and even good. our character can be strengthened, we become new versions of ourselves. if handled positively, challenges make us better and stronger, and help us to treat others with love and kindness as a new empathy transforms our understanding of humanity.

i think it is dangerous to go into a new year with the attitude of “whew am i ever glad THAT is over! this next year is going to be the best ever!” … not that optimism is a bad thing! but to place that kind of expectation threatens to lead to disappointment and a repeat of the end-of-year-good-riddance attitude. i think it is a matter of expecting both challenges and great times, and always remaining open to the changes they will bring for you. a whole decade of 2000’s have gone by, what have you done in the past 10 years? who were you at the turn of the millennium? what do you remember most from the decade and what did those events mean to you? retrospect is always the clearest view…

anyways, after all that, happy new year! enjoy a new years cookie for me (i don’t get any this year 😦 and i could practically smell the ones grandma thiessen was making in florida while skyping with mom and dad earlier…) and good luck remembering to write 2010 when you date things for the next couple months!

cheers!

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