Saturday, February 21, 2004


Today is one of those days when it feels like the sky is crying. I had the heat blasting my entire way to school today, but still now my fingers feel cold when I touch my hands together. The emaciated forests along the side of the road stood forlornly clad in tatters of burnt leaves as I whizzed by in my lonely little island of manufactured heat, windshield wipers ticking on medium speed, wiping this way then that way against the continuous droplets. Life is like a plaintive yearning country song, only set in the French countryside.

I’ve been feeling a bit sniffly all week—it was inevitable that I would catch one of the many viruses floating around, and I’m thankful that this is as mild as it’s been. Still, going to a bar and socializing isn’t much fun when half your head feels filled with cement and the other half seems to drip continuously out your nose, so I decided to miss section drinks at the Aussie bar last night (ick, hate dive bars anyway) and mope about at home by myself. Watched Malena (an Italian film set during WWII about a teenage boy obsessed with a beautiful woman) and got myself buzzing drunk on litchi liquor. Decided it would be wonderfully romantic to traipse down to the river at midnight just like college, when I used to sit with my legs dangling over the footbridge over the Charles during stormy nights. Only at Harvard, there weren’t forests and creeks and fields to traverse in pitch darkness before you got to the river. Good to discover that my fear of darkness disappears with a couple of stiff drinks, along with all good judgment.

Woke up this morning in my jeans on the couch, head under a fleece blanket and back aching from the buttons on the upholstery. In the milky light of the kitchen, trying to soothe my fingers and throat on a mug of Lipton’s and some rice porridge, I brought out my notebook. Last night’s writings were utterly undecipherable—I guess that’s what happens when you write silly-drunk and in the dark. All the lines meandered this way and that, crossing and obscuring themselves, and the writing was no better than chickenscratch scrawls. Something about so many stars and how easy it was to spot an airplane faking as a star. Golly but I’m observant when I’m drunk. Sigh—will I ever get over these random episodes of world-weary weltanschauung-searching while sitting next to bodies of water? I probably don’t want to.

I’ve been told that I should post more frequently and less densely. Don’t know if that’s in my personality, but perhaps it would be better in terms of time management. Seem to spend awfully large blocks of time composing these things. Tell myself that it’s therapeutic and thus worth the investment, but have more than just sneaking suspicion that this is just psychological justification for wasting time.

Anywho, busy week past (my first big paper, worth 60% of OB grade, written on morning of due date, lots of group meetings, last lecture in Ethics class, which has been a wonderful counterpoint to all the factual lectures in the cores) and even busier upcoming (spend tomorrow having fun with E. who will be back in town and then all week cramming for finals). The dinner parties have mostly dried up—I think tonight’s will be the last one until post final celebrations for me.

Okay, time for accounting, no more whimsy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


I have absolutely no time right now to be writing this, but I’m so frazzled and tired that I don’t care—I must sit down and collect myself a little. Write something to tell myself that I exist as a person outside of external deadlines. A half-hour vacation, if you will.

School is getting tight—professors are handing out past exams and extra problem sets and additional reading like there’s no tomorrow. Days are jam packed with meetings and classes and running to and fro, and the food at the dining hall is getting progressively worse. Yes, the sheen is starting to wear thin.

This weekend my best friend (E) came to visit, and being the superactive person that she is, dragged me out of my little INSEAD bubble and away from the uppity chateau parties to party in Amsterdam. Wouldn’t you know it, it was my first road trip with a friend, driving on a Friday night in my itty bitty Peugeot all the way from Fontainebleau to the Netherlands, munching on bread and cheese and jambon sandwiches on the way, switching radio stations until we heard songs in English. It takes 1.25 tanks of gas and about 5 hours to get to Amsterdam from here. Pushing down on that accelerator until the windows started to rattle, laughing with the relief of getting away from an exhausting week, we observed that with the two of us in the car, it felt like we were in Florida or California instead of Europe as the highway dotted with red tail lights stretched out ahead and anonymous plains hovered on either side. Ah modernization.

In Amsterdam we stayed at a hostel smack in the middle of the red light district called the Bulldog. Our room was supposed to be shared by 6 people, but we were the only ones in the room, so it worked out wonderfully. I parked my car on the outskirts of the city (something called the Krauschland) and we taxied in, since a local told us parking fees inside were prohibitive and spaces were impossible to find anyway. The next morning, we wandered around town and shopped a little—I increased my crazy sock collection (what am I going to do when I get too old to wear wacky socks?). We stopped at a random little street café and I had the best croutons I’ve ever tasted in my whole life. They floated on top of my tomato soup and tasted like buttery crunchy bits of air—perfectly rich and unsubstantial at the same time (it’s hard to explain, but this was an orgasmic experience, trust me).

We wandered around the city, walking from one end to the other and then down and through again. Amsterdam is absolutely beautiful! So picturesque in a non-smarmy way, with pretty canals that don’t smell bad like the ones in Venice and such an individual, funky and artistic atmosphere. We visited Anne Frank’s house, which was sobering and a bit strange. By the time we got out of the museum, it was getting dark. We got some suggestions for dinner places from both my sources here and the clerks at the hostel, but it being Valentine’s day, there was no way we were getting into a well-known restaurant, so we ended up at a random Thai place on some random street. The food was fine—I had no complaints (then again, I just got soup). That night we hit a local bar where everyone spoke Dutch and we felt conspicuously Asian, and then somehow got in line at a club where the theme was Ex-Porn Stars. Not having tickets for the Porn event, we decided that it was hardly necessary for us to try to crash the party (we weren’t dressed appropriately anyway), so wandered to another club nearby, some shi-shi place called Jimmy Woo. It didn’t look good, they were turning people away at the door, but somehow E sweet talked her way with the lady holding the guestlist—E gestured at me at one point, and not knowing what else to do, I made some hapless attempt to look fetching and friendly. I suppose it worked, because it got us past the red velvet rope. Once inside, the place reminded me a bit of New York—big bar and cute barmen, people lounging around on divans looking too cool to talk, and a dance floor below. Unfortunately, the music was entirely bad ‘70’s stuff that was not terribly fun to dance to after awhile, so we booked it by 2:00am. Stumbling home along the cobblestone streets after one cosmopolitan too many, my new boots decided to declare war. I must say, I came out on the worse side of the bargain—by the time we were back at the hostel, I was hobbling and asking E (who is shorter than I am) if she’d carry me.

The next day after brunch (more tomato soup, but no croutons and worse service this time), we decided to brave the alleyways filled with ladies in waiting (I had no idea before I came that it was so public! Girls in string bikinis just inches away behind panes of glass, available for a fee—who knew!) and search out a “coffee shop” for E. I have a picture of her drinking a space shake and me with my accounting book. Alright, so I was a huge nerd—what can I say? I needed to study accounting and she needed to get high. We wandered from one place to another. She finished her shake, had some space cake and smoked a joint. I read chapters 1 and 2. By the time we emerged from the haze filled dens, the sky was darkening and it was time to go home. Amazing how easy it was to waste away the day chilling out on pot, even when I didn’t smoke any myself.

So I took my leave of E and the Bulldog (she was catching a train to Salzburg to visit other friends), and started home. Amazingly enough, I didn’t get lost! Kept myself away by chewing on butter biscuits. Made it back to Fontainebleau by 11:30. Must admit though, that I feel rather discombobulated after a weekend of hardly any INSEAD.

Last night’s dinner party underwent quite a bit of pre-finals attrition, and we were only five around the little table. As it was my turn to cook, this wasn’t so bad. Still, true to form, people had to wait 40 minutes for their supper. I must say, though, that the food turned out okay. So the tomato soup was a little chunky, and the wild rice casserole was overbaked on top—the scallops were simple and delicious, and the Toblerone fondue went capitally with fresh strawberries. I don’t recommend hosting a dinner party when exhausted, though—instead of having a fun drunken time, I just got sleepy as soon as dinner was over.

And by now I have spent far too much time “waiting for my printouts.” Must get home, clean up (electricity is still off, monsieur is not happy about the mess in the dining room) take nap, go to dinner party, and do some work (in that order).

Tuesday, February 10, 2004


There is a thin layer of very hard frost that formed on my car in the two mornings past, and no matter how I sit in the car and wait for the thing to warm up or squirt water onto the glass, the stubborn lattice just won’t budge or scrape. The secret, though, is to drive out of the courtyard and face the sun—after driving along the winding country road for no more than a few minutes, the blinding winter rays have totally melted away all the hard little crystals, and the heat is blasting and so is the music (some French version of “say my name”), and I’m as toasty and mellow as a marshmallow, coasting alongside the Seine, watching steam rise up in white columns along the opposite bank.

Ah, the joys of France. Lucky me, I also awoke this morning to no electricity and a tepid hangover from too many whisky shots and too much overexuberance at 2:00am last night. We held our first Monday night dinner party at my part of the house last night, since the dining room is bigger in my particular complex—had a grand time prettying it up, but am dreading the thought of cleaning up. We retired after a bit to the bigger house with the cozier living room (partially because we were smoked out by my inexpert fire in my fireplace), and from there the evening degenerated merrily from very bad singing to charades to more Limoncello shots and wild talk of future business ventures.

Last week’s Chinese week started off fun, but ended kind of wearily—perhaps it’s just burnout on my part from too many INSEAD parties, but I’ll be glad to get away from France for a bit this weekend. No more chateaux for the moment. The plan is to go to Amsterdam with my best friend, who is coming to visit! Big city, crowded streets, anonymous boys (for her, of course, not me). No solid plans so far, but I suppose I should start looking into lodging, travel, etc . . .

This weekend I did a whole lot of nothing, trying to sleep off a nagging canker sore. I get them whenever I combine being overtired or stressed with being a clutz and jamming my toothbrush against my gums. Ech, there’s nothing like a canker sore to ruin a perfectly beautiful moment or meal. Lesson is to a) not stress and b) not brush teeth. Ew. There’s tradeoff matrix in there somewhere. Learning about game theory right now in economics class—lots of fun, satisfyingly quantitative. Caught up on all my homework except for accounting, which is the one class where I have absolutely no clue (hence the avoidance). Still have no money, as I found out from the bank that it really does take up to three months for a foreign check to cash—ridiculous, but true. Word to the wise if you’re coming to INSEAD from the states—if you have a check to cash, do it in your domestic bank and then wire over the funds if necessary. Save yourself a lot of time and a whole lot of aggravation.

Alright folks, it’s now time to be off to the Peugeot dealership, which ordered a new passenger side mirror and windshield wiper pour moi for today. Hurrah, to see again! Classes were relatively short, so I’m thinking tonight is going to be an early and quiet one . . . hang out with the cats, play some piano, chill and fall asleep on my accounting book.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004


Am not sure why, but all of a sudden I feel very depressed. Today was purely uneventful, the morning after another nice Monday dinner party. Woke up, did some accounting homework, drove to the bank and picked up my checkbook, then got to school in time for a group meeting to play some sort of market game for Micro class. Didn’t have time to eat lunch, was sleepy all through lecture, and after class could not bear the thought of yet more accounting, so decided to skip the review session currently going on. Had lost my phone at school last night, but found it again in the Technical Services room, where it had been dropped off by a janitor. Lady told me I had “la chance . . .” I’ve always been lucky, but perhaps it’s because I do so many stupid things.

After class, sat down to get to some much needed email tending. Nothing planned tonight, feeling that special antisocial-ness that comes with not having anything social to do. Tried to check on my packages from the US and found that tracking service is not automatically provided by USPS the way it is via Fedex or UPS. Sigh. Tried to check my bank account online to see how few euros my US checks had come to, and was surprised when I finally figured out that the French website said my balance was zero. What the heck . . . another trip back to the French bank. Definitely the worst part of my experience at INSEAD so far has been dealing with a French bank account. How depressing. And a conversation with the boyfriend about how he would not be able to visit after all before the break. Feeling almost tearful, but I know it’s completely unfounded. Perhaps I am just tired. That must be it. That and the fact that new friends are wonderful when you're happy, but when you're feeling weak, only the old ones will do. And my old ones are so far away, all the way in the States . . . A long drive home with loud French music ought to do the trick, right? Sigh. It’s time for some comfort food—I’m going to make rice and soup tonight.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

You get a cookie.

One proviso, folks-- it's ridiculously easy to figure out who I am if you're actually on campus, since I mince no words about the idiosyncratic details. If you know who I am, bully for you. But I find it a bit eerie and awkward when this blog is brought up in common conversation. Will you do me a favor and keep it on the DL? Come get to know me in person if you like.
Thigh High Boots

Oh folks, but I’m tired!

I woke up this morning in a Parisian flat on top of Montmartre with an unobstructed view of the Tour d’Eiffel. The air felt rarefied and clair, and smelled of perfume and toothpaste. Sore from a night out on the town, we (four girlies) rolled in and out of the bathroom brushing teeth, fixing hair, shuffling about and trying to wake up. But when we walked out—oh what glory is a fresh breeze on a Paris street! Lovely, no other way to say it. I walked down to the patisserie and said in my best French, “un de chaque, s’il vous plait.” And I munched on tartlettes and petits fours and clementines as we drove around trying to find our way back to Fontainebleau.

Last night we were dropped off at home by 4:30am by some club-happy INSEAD gentlemen that we ran into at Manray, a club near the Champs-Elysees (I think). We only danced for an hour or so (2:00 to 3:00) and then went off in search of a café. I had sorbet aux mandarines. Mmm—cold and tart and orangy, just the thing after a sweat slicked hour gyrating atop the podium. The evening had started out auspiciously, with dinner at an absolutely darling restaurant near the Moulin Rouge district—it was called le Tiger, a small family run seafood place with the freshest scallops and most delicious fruit compote that I’ve had—oh, and the homemade pate wasn’t bad either. Quite a couple of glasses of wine later, we prettied ourselves and hopped into a cab with an extremely loquacious (not to mention flirtatious) cabbie. Until the moment I shut the door, he still had that goofy smile, pen ready to take down our cell phone numbers. Ah cities, you gotta love them.

Then, a slight dip—we waited for fifteen minutes outside La Suite along Rue George V—there was some sort of private event and we kept being passed by massive groups of not-so-clean looking men accompanied by gorgeous exotic women. Tired of feeling short and not so supermodel-like, we retired to a nearby bar and collected our thoughts around (for me at least) a wonderfully New Yorky passionfruit cocktail. Then onto Manray on a recommendation from the waiter, which worked like a charm (as long as we claimed that we were not from the US, but from China, of course).

Before dinner in Paris at A.’s flat, we had spent the entire day shopping at La Vallee—oh dear, but Curly (aka yours truly) was a bad bad girl. She spent loan money borrowed from the US government for the betterment of her mind on thigh-high Ferragamo boots and little one-shoulder knit tops from Gianfranco Ferre . . . what are we to do with her? But on the plus side, she resisted the sex-kitten getups at Givenchy, which would have put an additional four-figure dent in the tuition plan. Aren’t you proud? I think I’ll call it outlet fever. Extremely acute onset, and no known cure.

It was a nice trip away from normal life in sleep old Fontainebleau—I missed the Bling Bling party at Villecerf this weekend, but I’m sure there will be opportunity to hooch it up again soon. Last week’s salsa lesson on Tuesday went surprisingly well, and people picked up quickly. One slight miscalculation—tried to teach a complex behind the back hand change turn to a mass of 30 beginners, and miscounted to boot! They were all so confused, but thankfully the girl-to-boy ratio was almost perfect, and people were too busy flirting to complain much. There’s actually a tremendous demand for more lessons, so we shall have to see what we can do about making this a regular gig. Now that word is getting out that there were actually a few more girls than boys, I’m sure the next lesson will be mobbed. Moving elephants can seem impossible, until you discover a couple of peanuts in your back pocket.

The week was a blur of trying to study, running from this to that, dinner parties that went far too late with far too many names to recall, and waking up to a silent blanket of snow. I have discovered a severe inability to wake up when it snows. Perhaps I have some sort of throwback hibernation gene, because trust me, nothing works. Without fail, I sleep through all alarms whenever there are flaky bits of sky piling themselves softly down on the car hood. I missed an important group meeting, I slept straight through a statistics class, and I was utterly unable to run my errands (which consisted of-“buy bread and get gas”) by 2:00pm. Only got as far as “buy bread.” Oh, and this car genius also managed to break yet another piece of her car—who knew that trying to work the windshield wipers don’t work when they’re iced down? It was all Greek to me until I heard the crack! and witnessed the left wiper laying on the side of the road, so sad and lonely. Sigh. Yet another reason to visit the Peugeot dealer, but who can deal for even a few days without a vehicle to hurtle home in with Evasion (the techno radio station here) playing the French version of "Total Elipse of the Heart" at full blast? Later, later, the left wiper can wait. It’s like when I used to step on my dance partner’s foot—he’d always say, “don’t worry, I have another.”

Anywho, onwards as always. Next week is Chinese week, so I’m supposed to wear my qi pao to school. T'will be interesting, I’m sure. There’ll be a Kung Fu competition (for people who don’t know kung fu) and Karaoke and a Full Moon party at the end of the week. Now time to go home, recharge the phone, and bring that old sketchbook down to the river . . .