Thursday, October 29, 2009


If your in Paris for the Halloween weekend and looking for the perfect creepy scary thing to do, then look no further than the Catacombs.

In 1788 the bodies buried in cemeteries needed to be dug up and replaced due to public diseases, and the earth decomposing in the surrounding areas. The solution was to unbury the dead and place them in an underground tunnel network, which remains under Paris today.

Walking into the Catacombs, you will wait in a line as any other exhibition here in Paris. However, after you enter, it is unlike any other experience you will find here in Paris. You will initially descend down a narrow stair case winding down, down, down 130 steps of stairs.

Once you reach the tunnels of the catacombs, you begin a thirty minute walk in silence and darkness. On the walls of the tunnels are small light lit lanterns, giving off just enough light, for you to see your way, but keeping a dark and somber tone. The path is narrow, the ceiling will rise and fall along with the floor, at times requiring you to duck through a passage way and to be cautious of your step.

After a slow eerie walk through the tunnels you turn the corner and be faced with what you are about to enter- “Arrete! C’est ici l’empire de la mort.” (Stop! This is the empire of death.) Baaa haaa haa haa haaa!

Upon entering into the halls of stacks upon stacks of bones of dead bodies from the 17th century, you will be greeted with millions of bones consisting of femurs, tibia’s and skulls intricately stacked and piled together.

Yes lots and lots of dead bodies. Essentially, wall to wall bones in stacks around five feet high. You will be tempted not to say, “I see dead people.”

While walking through you are free to take pictures (without the flash), it is quite minus a few silent whispers and the sound of water dripping. The water dripping through the ceiling added a whole new level of creepiness to our adventure. My friend and I turned to each other and said, “Um… what is that dripping on us? And is the ceiling going to collapse and pile dead bodies on top of us? Run!”

Now, walking through tunnels of dead bodies may not sound like your romantic, beautiful, Paris get away. I must admit, I was quite hesitant to check out the catacombs, but after exploring I would say this is a spot not to be missed. It is quite creepy… but with a friend can be quite fun as well. And there are element of classic touristy Paris worked into the piles of bones.

You have Art.

(Notice the heart shaped skulls. What is love without a pile of dead bones?)

There are many great Photo Ops.

(seriously who wants a pic of the Eiffel tower, you can get that off of google? Who wouldn’t want their shadow casted upon old body remnants???)

Then for the lovers out there, as in all places in Paris, even in the ghostly halls of the Catacombs, here too is a perfect chance for you to smooch.

Embrassez-moi! Embrassez-moi!


A few weeks ago my parents and I ventured off to the local grocery store to buy something for dinner. Unsure of what we were exactly going to make we headed to the meat section for some inspiration. There were the meats I recognized beef (beouf), pork (porc), and chicken (poulet).

And then there was Agneau.

Here’s what went down:

Mom: Kate, What’s Agneau?

Me: hmmm. Well veal is Veau. Maybe it’s like veal?

Mom: Are you sure?

Me: Nooooo….

(Meat man walking by)

Me: Pardon. Que-est que ce Agneau? (Excuse me. What is Agneau?)

Meat Man: Ugh… Agneau…. C’est Agneau (shrugging shoulders)

(gee thanks.)

Me: Beouf?

Meat Man: No.

Me: Porc?

Meat Man: No.

Unsure what each person was try to say, we are left with blank confused faces and insecure in knowing what animal Agneau came from. Since French wasn’t working, we resolved to a higher level of communication.

Me and Mom: Mooo?

Meat man: No.

Me and Mom: nogh nogh nogh (pig snorting)

Meat Man: No. (waving finger back and forth at us with other hand up to his face in a thinking manner)

Me: (rocking back and forth like I am swinging a baby) Moo moo.

Meat Man: No. Desole. Bonne Chance. (No sorry Good luck)

Mom and I surrender. We leave with beef. That was safe.

Today, sitting in French class, the girl next is talking about a traditional meal in her culture and says, “AGNEAU!” Then she checks with the teacher, “how do you say lamb? Agneau?” I start laughing while my teacher then writes the word to verify that, Agneau is Lamb!

Or, if you are talking to the butcher in the store you could always ask, “Pardon, Agneau C’est Baaaa Baa?”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The brave...

“Hold onto your dreams. Fortune favors the brave”

Who are the brave of the world? When you think of someone who is brave- do you ever think of yourself? Are there requirements on what it takes to classify someone as “brave?”

I think each one of us are continually given challenges, that ask us to step up and be brave. It looks different for each person, because well, we each have different fears and limits set within ourselves. When life requires us to be stronger than we have the resolve to be, we must find the strength and courage within ourselves, to live larger than we believe we are capable.

Prior to moving to France some people called me crazy, others called me brave. I was just doing what I was ahead for me to do. Moving across the country seemed easy. I trusted what I was called to be doing, so I followed suit. However, I was losing my mind over a boy I was dating. I remember talking to a friend who said, “Katie, you are moving across the world, how can you be scared of a boy?” My response, “Anyone can move and set up a life, it’s much harder to build a relationship.” My friend and I had two different perspectives, two different life circumstances on what is and is not possible out of life. Now a year later, I realize I should have had a bit more fear about moving, but I didn’t at the time, I just did what it took. And I leaned and gleaned from her strength (and many others) to get through the situation with the boy.

Now living in another country away from everything, different fears on different days at different times comes across my way. But I love watching people and hearing their stories. There are so many extraordinary people who daily amaze me with the strength they find to live their lives. We each have something that scares us. Yet, to stand up to it, and declare you will not be afraid, but continue to live forward, is truly inspiring.

An act of courage could be a number of things. It could be saying yes to that person who keeps asking you out, forgiving that friend that hurt you in the worst way imaginable, going to an AA meeting, asking for help, asking for forgiveness, saying hello, saying goodbye, taking the job, going back to school, telling the truth, quitting the addiction, standing up for yourself, or standing up for someone else. These are the real brave things in life. The ones that challenge you to the core and make you believe you are worth more.

The things we think we are incapable of, the stuff that paralyzes us from moving forward, those are the most difficult tasks to do. The ideas that linger in your mind all the time as a desire, but are stifled by thoughts believing it’s nothing you could ever actually do, though you want it more than anything in life. It’s taking that step and doing what you are capable of, even at the risk of failing, but doing so without shame. It’s these challenges that require us to find courage, that make us brave.

The obvious challenges in life aren’t what make us brave. That’s the situation, the adventure, the fight. What makes you brave- is standing up and deciding you will go for what you want in life. You will not let the circumstances win over what you are capable of doing.
You will rise. You will go forward.
You will succeed.
You will be brave.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

That's now how I wanted it...

This weekend I had big big plans to do nothing. I have been on the go with fun things to do for the last month straight, but I knew I needed a small short break. With the weather being cozy as it is right now I thought it would be the perfect weather to cuddle up with cozy blankets, drink fresh hot tea, and to re-read twilight to enjoy the passing of time.

I got what I wanted but not on the terms I wanted it on. I wanted to be healthy choosing to stay at home all snug and warm. Instead, I am sick and forced to the chambers of my apartment. I wanted to sip and enjoy my hot tea, not have tea as my only option to help soothe and ease my throat. The cozy blankets I longed for, are now necessary but have me jumping from being too hot, then a few moments later, I am freezing with the chills. I am 25 not 55, I should not be having all these hot flashes. I had planned on taking a few leisurely strolls and now my whole body is worn from exhaustion, due to my entire body being forced through my heaving coughs. I am waiting for my lung to pop out as I type this out.

Next time I crave a relaxing weekend I must remember to think, “I want all of this, while being healthy, not sick.” I need to get to the store to buy some orange juice and crackers but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I am pretty sure the Frenchies would not appreciate me hacking breathing in their Carrefour. And I am pretty sure I might pass out while walking through their mega version of Wal-Mart looking for those two items or from the long lines that precede me actually being able to return to my car.

I know I will be fine though. I still have Bella and Edward to pass my time with and Tylenol p.m. to knock me out when I am ready to sleep. I hope to be refreshed and ready to live strong soon!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This One's for the Moms

The past few days I have been given the insight to a whole new type of life. If I thought moving to a foreign country was a lot of work and change in pace of life; then thank goodness I am not a full time working…


This week I have been subbing in as parents to a 10 yr old boy and a 14 yr old girl while their parents are out of town for the week. Thus the parental baton of responsibilities has been passed down to Moi.

And she’s off and tumbling running.

The two chillins I am watching could not be any easier or better. They pretty much take care of themselves- to the point that they even wake themselves up for school and get ready. Rather than me having to wake up before them and ensure they are getting up and ready to get out of the door on-time. It’s actually more like the other way around. I am pretty sure they are both up a good 30 minutes before I decide to roll out of bed. I wonder if I could train them to start a pot of coffee for me?

What surprised me the most consumption of time is the actual driving around from point A -> B -> C back to A -> D then from D -> home, takes. Both kids start school at the same time 8:00 a.m. To get to school it takes about twenty minutes of driving in the dark to get them to school. The sun has now decided it will not rise until about 8:30 a.m. After dropping them off at school, I either scoot off to my French class or trek 40 minutes to work, and then work a full day, until it’s time to take the kids back from their respective education centers.

Every day except for today the kids have both gotten out of school at two separate times. Some days one kid has a short day, while the other has no school at all. Or there is an hour between child one and child two and the time they each need to be picked up. My favorite is apparently days a teacher calls in sick, class is canceled! Um… Excuse me? Seriously??? I didn’t get the luxury of canceled classes due to a teacher’s no show until college; these kids get to start in junior high. No class for them = Bonus pick and retrieve drive for moi.

Today while waiting outside of the elementary school to pick up the kids, I was waiting in line with the rest of the too lazy to get out of the car parents, when I hear a click click clack. I look up and see a massive horse. My heart stops. Could it be? My night and shining armor coming to wisk me off on his horse here while I wait in the middle of Fountainblu to pick up someone else’s kids? Wow! It really does happen when you least expect it!

Nope! It was the policia! Yes, the police on a horse. I have been officially scorned in French by an officer on a horse. Apparently they don’t like you parking in the middle of these small streets while waiting to pick up your kids and wanted the line to move forward. Nothing speeds up traffic in front of a school then following the lead of a horse on a one way street.

After the retrieval of the kids and doing whatever they each do after school- like any soccer mom I head back to their home and prepare dinner. (which is simmering as I find the time to type this out) By 8:00 each night I am wiped out. How do real mom’s do it? I get to joke around with the kids, not overshadow their homework. Most dinners are easy and pretty much pre-prepared. The kids are self sufficient and I am still exhausted.

Just when I finally started getting the hang out taking care of myself, I was handed two adolescences to be responsible for too! Shiesh.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Words??? Where did you go?

Is it bad when you feel guilty about not blogging? Cause I do.

Every day, several times a day, when I open my internet browser there is a tab screaming at me saying, “STOP IGNORING ME!!! WRITE SOMETHING! ANYTHING!” I close my eyes and switch the page to something else and sigh… “So many ideas of what to write, but nothing to say.”

How does this happen? I used to have so many ways to write and explain what I was thinking, but no real idea when I started what the exact topic would be. The topic just occurred organically through the process of writing. Now I have a list of ideas, Yes a LIST. A full on, 8 item list of ideas, of what to write on; but no idea on how to actually write and explain in a fun and witty way, what I have to say.

Suffice to say, I am in a writing rut, and frustrated with it. I want my time of writing to be fun, but I don’t want to forget or outdate the happenings of my Parisian state of mind. Will my blog have to become a disciple until I get back into the flow of actually writing words? How did a trip to Italy with my parents have me return with nothing new and creative to say? It must have been all that rocket fuel “Grappa.”

I know I can do it. The ideas are there, I just need to motivate myself and dig deep into the empty shell head of mine, and pull something, ney, ANYTHING out of it. I am sure once I travel into the unknown maze of my lil brain, something is bound to come up. Like falling off a horse, you just have to get back on again- I just have to find the motivation to want to get back on. At this moment my only motivation for writing about absolutely NOTHING (other than I have nothing to write about) is a distraction from something that haunts me even more… My French Homework.

I beg my mind to be creative and fun once again. It’s no fun, neglecting something that brings me so much joy. And it’s even more no fun knowing that now it is a task, but once upon a time was just plain simple Fun.

Please, please, please, words come back to me!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monsieur Serendipity

To all those who said that I would move to Paris and fall in love with a cute French boy and I brushed off… I am here to tell you: You are correct. Now all I have to do is find him again.

Saturday may go down as one of my favorite days thus far in Paris. I was able go to coffee with two girls I have become friends with, which turned into an entire day hanging out. We walked around Paris, had dinner, and then went to watch a French football (soccer) game. I believe this may be the first Saturday night in Paris, I have hung out with a group of friends and it felt very refreshing. My schedule has been so hectic lately that I haven’t been able to meet up with these girls who mean so much to me here.

While hanging out with my “French Amies” was fabulous, the Nutella on the Crepe (Or icing on the cake), of the day was the cute boy I met who I will call Monsieur Serendipity. This football game was very different from the first match I watched. The first game everyone was very intense and hyped up and this one people seemed more relaxed and the game was more a background than the main event of the evening. Apparently France played a team from a small Island who is not as skilled as other European teams. I must admit I did not watch much of the game but was enjoying being with my friends.

Shortly after my first “French Amie” left, the boy next to me and I started to chat a bit. Nothing serious but he was charming none the less. Through our conversations together we spoke a bit of French, Spanish but mostly English. He is an avid soccer fan ,while not such a big American football supporter. I told him, he must give it a chance because I am giving soccer a try, though I think it is quite boring compared to our American football. Our difference in taste I am sure is from what we were exposed to as a child, thank goodness I got the best one. Then we agreed I would be a France National Team fan if he was a Charger fan. One more Frenchie supporting the Chargers!

After the grand finish by the French National team (Score 5-0) it was time for Monsieur Serendipity to leave. As he was leaving he turned from his friends and said, “Well, it is time for us to leave,” Now reaching for my hand while giving me the traditional French goodbye Bisous finishes by saying, “But you know, life is crazy, and I hope we will run into each other again.” And then I was left swooning. The best goodbye ever.

Now I must find a way to find the boy. Time to start going to lots of football games and hoping the French keep on winning so that in the end… I can win too!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Departure

On Sunday morning I woke up early and headed to the airport with my parents in tow. Their time visiting was over and it was time for them to return to their home far far away. My parents nor I were looking forward to the separation after such great quality time together over the past weeks.

When we were pulling into the Charles de Gaulle airport, there was a line of fire trucks pulling in, right in front of us. The emergency vehicles were in no rush, but 7-10 ten trucks pulled in none the less. I headed inside to save my parents a spot inline while they unloaded their luggage. Once inside the check in area- I was evacuated from the area with everyone else who was standing in line. Apparently a bag had been left unattended and required extraction in case it was armed.

This was the third time I had been evacuated out of a section of CDG due to unattended luggage. However, this was the first time I was pushed back outside the sliding glass doors of the check in area, while everyone standing outside the check in doors stood their anxious like a Mervyn’s sale saying, ‘Open. Open. Open.’

An hour later the flood gates of the check in doors were re-opened and a rush of chaos and people headed inside to get a spot to check in. My parent’s flight was scheduled to take off in ten minutes. While they had to get in the check-in line, I tell them I will be right back. I head to starbucks to get some drinks, I knew it would be a long wait and we were all in need of caffeine this morning. When I search for my parents in line, they are missing. I begin to walk towards the front counter and see my mom standing their crying, thinking I had disappeared, and that she would have to leave without saying goodbye. I walk up to my mom and give her a big hug and assure her I am fine.

My parents missed their flight and are now being re-booked to another flight. There is only one more flight leaving this morning to the U.S. and it’s headed to D.C. Passengers booked on the D.C. flight are being offered: Free tickets for their flight, a hotel room, and 800 Euros per person willing to allow other passengers who missed their flights on to the D.C. flight. (Seriously! Who would not accept this offer? What could you possibly have to do that day that would earn you 800 dollars and free plane tickets!?!?) My parents decide the possibility of making the D.C. flight is slim and decide to take a flight the next day. This makes my mom very excited that for one more day she gets to stay.

Of all the days I spent with my parents I think this day just might be my favorite. It was so unexpected and wonderful. After driving back to my place after missing their flight we just hung out together. There were no tours. There were no sights. It was just resting and being together. We hung out down by the Seine, my mom cooked dinner (just might be my favorite meal from the whole trip), and we watched a movie together. It was nice and peaceful and a perfect way to end the trip for the second time.

The next day taking my parents to the airport once again it was easy for me to say goodbye. Yes I was sad to see them go, but I knew I would be okay. Having my parents around giving me love and comfort helped give me a boost of perseverance for my time remaining and the care I needed to fix my tired spirit. All the moments of laughing, cuddling, enjoying life together empowered me to have the strength, capacity, and the confidence to finish strong my second half of my stay here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Italia by numbers

1 Trip of a life time

2 Tours of the coliseum

3 times I had to be covered

4 Euros for the best pizza in the world in Naples- but the only reason to go there. Ever.

5 great cities of Italy- Rome, Sorrento, Florence, Tuscany, Venice

10 hours of walking tours in one day, in Florence

15 tours total of all the cities

20 bowls of amazing pasta

(pst- Lindsay, this picture is blurry but it's from your restaurant)

50 times my dad would read the Rick Steve’s Guide book in Each city

100 times my mom talked about how her feet hurt.

200 pigeons that didn’t move when I tried to chase them in Saint Marks Square

450 gondoliers’ in Venice

1,000 people wearing the color purple

1,372 pictures

5,000 pieces of art in lots and lots of churches and museums

20,000 times of laughing at my quirky mom

50,000 Prego’s

800,000 Euros to buy a license to be a gondolier

100,000 times I had a great time!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The choice to continue

After such a long long absence from writing on my blog I almost don’t even know where to begin. I have even questioned many times of even continuing. But I don’t think I could stop, even if I wanted to. It is here on my blog that I capture the happy, and not so happy, quirky, funny, lonely, unexpected, adventures, and special moments from my journey here in Paris.

Since I have been away for a few weeks and have gained some new followers, I thought I would start by reintroducing myself to my blog and those who stumble across here.
When people find out I live in Paris, they are often curious to know how I ended up here. I regularly wonder the same thing myself. I work for a Christian Missions organization that works with over 30 countries of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. That is what I do when I am here in France. Though, that is never directly the topic of my blog. I chose to avoid this as a blog topic for a few reasons though it is my only purpose for being here. The main reason (and most important) I do not blog in regards to what I do for work (other than mentioning a country I am traveling to) is for the protection of those I work with.

In the U.S.A we are blessed with the freedom of religion and can freely mention names, places, and events that we are doing to share Christ with others. However, with the areas of the world I work with, liberally placing those details online for others to read would be doing the missionaries I work with a disservice of trust and safety. Working here I know the realities that face people daily and would never want to be a cause of risk for any of the wonderful people I have met and the beautiful work I support them in doing.

While I work the typical 8 hour day (or more) like the rest of the world, when I am off work I live in the French culture. Be assured that though my blog looks like all I do is play, there is lots of work being done too. I love the work my job accomplishes but I want to remember the people I interact with when I am strolling the city. I want to take any opportunity that is presented to me while I am here, because to not be open, would seem as though I am rejecting a blessing waiting to be taken. Through each of these opportunities, I am taught something new and want to always remember what I am taking away and give it back to my readers and supporters.

Be assured that though my blog looks like all I do is play, there is lots of work being done too.

I love my life here in France. There are many moments that life here in France is the toughest choice I have ever made and must trust in the Lord’s plan in knowing this is where he wanted me to be. There are other times I wonder why I was chosen to be here and be so blessed. I get to do amazing things both in and out of work and in a wonderful life enriching part of the world at the same time. Living in France and traveling throughout the region for work- gives me a perspective of many different cultures all of the time.

I am happy I have decided to keep my blog- I think I would have missed it greatly if I decided to stop. And I fear it would become a regret that would haunt me after this time is over. I want to remember, I want to remember it all and share it all with you.