Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Craving Oysters

Eh, in kind of a dour mood, for some reason. Perhaps because I’ve been doing too much finance? Perhaps because the alcohol from last night is getting to me? Perhaps because I’m just feeling kind of antisocial, like there are lots of people here that I know by face, that I know well enough to stop and talk to, but still few that I can just plop down next to and never feel like I’m overstaying my welcome. Am not not NOT a politician, never will learn to be satisfied by casual encounters and knowing lots of names (on top of which, I have a poor head for names).

Anywho, this weekend was actually rather nice. Went out and had a wonderful evening Thursday with just a couple of friends. Nearly fell out my window after coming home because I oh-so-impetuously decided to try and crane my neck out and stargaze. Only the safety bar kept me from hurtling out onto the courtyard and squashing the sleeping chickens. Was once again totally exhausted on Friday, and slept right through dinner, but drove out again to meet a bunch of friends for an evening at Bezon. Ugh, the joys of provincial clubbing. Strange, seedy place that only becomes palatable in a group of 8 or more.

Saturday was beautiful and light, so I took the train into Paris with my drawing pencils in tow. Didn’t get much of a chance to use them, though, because I met up with a friend who wanted nothing of my nerdy ways. Instead spent the afternoon traipsing about upscale shops and trying on French lingerie (a combination of “market research” for an idea of his and personal intrigue, of course). Had a dinner of oysters in some fancy brasserie . . . . ummm. I think if I had to eat just one food for the rest of my life, it would be oysters. I’m salivating just thinking about them.

Sunday was, of course, the slumber party. Thirteen girls clustered on the floor in my living room, flipping through magazines and discussing dresses, jewelry, and boys. You know, the important things. Contrary to popular belief, we did not then strip down to our underwear and start a pillowfight. I will say, though, that there was quite a bit of giggling once a rousing game of “I never” got started. At some point we all realized that “we’re not in college anymore, honey.” Beyond that, my lips are sealed.

What with the time change in Europe, though, 8:30 classes on Monday were brutal. I was so tired I think I actually hurt my arm while in the process of catching myself falling out of my chair. Went home groggy, and slept until 6:30, when I had to get up and start prepping for the dinner party. Ah, to wake up freshfaced and alert, only to drown it immediately in endless glasses of punch!

Honestly, it’s unbelievable how strange this kind of lifestyle is. The ups of intense drunken socializing and downs of deeply quiet country living really wreck any sense of stability that you have, and in between I often find myself yearning for the simplicity of just sitting in my own little apartment in Chelsea with my cat cuddled on my stomach and a boyfriend I can see whenever I want. I know I’m being a spoiled little brat. Nyeh nyeh. But loneliness creeps its cold little head often, and I think I’m feeling it now. Tonight would be a good night for some chicken soup, maybe. Ugh, you ever want to just slap yourself for being so damned needy and pathetic? Am going to go and watch the drum circle (it’s Africa week) to shake myself out of this.

Thursday, March 25, 2004


Oy vey, so sleepy right now. Live too far away to want to zip home for a nap, so instead whittling away precious sleep time by hanging about at school, not getting any work done. Too many margaritas last night, too little water this morning. Class was slow torture. Had to get my picture taken for the CV book today—looked an absolute fright. Ech. This week is crawling by, tomorrow can’t come soon enough. Seems suddenly like we have three lectures a day, each more tedious than the next. Spring is flirting with us, playing peekaboo behind the rainclouds and the misty mornings. Don’t know if I can drag myself out for drinks tonight, but then again, staying at home in an empty house just leaves me depressed. Saturday may be just a quiet day, who knows? No plans in advance. Sunday, though, I’m excited. Am hosting a slumber party for all the girls in my section (16 girls, an unheard of phenomenon here at INSEAD). Potluck dinner, sleeping bags, girly gossip, Cosmo magazines, and of course, Sex & the City. No boys allowed. On another note, have decided to spend the P2-P3 break in London with the boyfriend, am very excited. As many boys as there are here, it’s just not the same when the boy is so far away. I feel sometimes like a person dying of thirst while surrounded by bottles of alcohol—you know that there are other options available, but you know also that really, only water will do. Eh, enough of this romanticizing. April will be here soon enough.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Bruised and Battered

Oy vey, what a weekend. Ski trip at Val Thorance at a groupmate’s ski house. Image to me, crawling on hands and knees while dragging snow board by foot in front of queue of strangers after ignominiously falling off of T-pole lift. Now imagine this THREE times. I fell at least 100 times, even with the 2-hour private lesson. Can’t move right side of neck or wrists or shoulders, or arse for that matter. What do you think, is this California girl a cold-weather sport person? I would say an emphatic no, but it hurts to do anything emphatically today, so I’ll have to settle for a deadpan one.

Anywho, received my grades for P1 this morning—grade distribution was actually Friday night, but we had to take off for the slopes, so my group had to wait until this morning, with the exception of the cleverest one, who had her best friend pick up her grades and call her afterwards. Did fairly well, above average on most subjects, and won’t have to study like mad this term. In comparison to college, although, in terms of personal standards, there's always that glimmer of ambition . . . I’d like to do a little better next time. Then again, there’s always the tradeoff of socializing and having fun and making friends . . . who am I kidding? I’m going to do what I do, never passing up any social invites, and the grades will be what they will be. Ech, time for class again. No time! And so many thoughts . . . must start keeping notebook. Who knows, if this whole successful businesswoman thing doesn’t work out, I may have to resort to seedy romance novels or cheesy greeting cards to support myself.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

. . . in the air

There are these funny looking trees that line the road I drive along in the mornings next to the Seine. They look like nothing so much as stodgy straight flashlight shafts with large tufted red mohawks on top. This morning, as I gunned the accelerator with my open-toed platform sandals, I finally figured out what they were-- french cherry blossom trees! They look better in pink. What a difference a spring breeze will make.

Oh folks, it's spring, it's spring! I know that the rain will start again as soon as I blink, but today is the most gorgeous day, and I'm in a tank top and skirt, my legs swishing through the freshly warm air, almost tipsy on the greenness suddenly bursting all around. Last night's dinner party was prepared with doors open, aromas of roasting chicken wafting into the courtyard from all three houses (these little French ovens don't fit more than two chickens each). It was a far better attempt on my part than previous evenings, and amazingly enough all food was ready when the guests arrived! The dessert concoction worked out wonderfully, even though the top of the brownie burned and there was no recipe for the cream fruit mousse dish. We ate on time, and everyone seemed pleased.

This morning I drove to the post office in town and bumbled my way through the bureaucracy to pick up my packages, shipped from the US on New Year's Eve. My dresses! My sandals! My sketching supplies! My winter coat!-- oof. But better late than never, and in the case of the spring clothing, it's just in time. Today's one of those days where nothing at all can dampen my mood. The whole school has spilled out into the courtyard amphis onto the grass, soaking up their vitamin D and drinking up the skin-skimming sunlight. Time for class now. I think we'll have to do beers all around during the 15 minute break. It's just one of those days when you can't get over the unbelievable, irrepressible luck of being alive.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Hubris and Bruised Hips

What a whirlwind 24 hours. Am sitting here at school in the computer kiosk in a slinky black tank-top jumpsuit, smelling of fireplace smoke and tasting of champagne. Haven't made it home yet from last night's party, but thankfully have no trace of a hangover headache. My left hip hurts, and I have no doubt that when I peel off this jumpsuit, there will be an enormous purply-green bruise awaiting me-- oof, no tight jeans for awhile.

Anywho, to do it chronologically: Yesterday, was dead tired after a morning of classes (the last of which was managerial accounting, taught by an inneffectual and slightly officious woman who spastically speedwrote illegible formulas on the board without explaining any of the terms). Went to the computer and thought I should check out the NYTimes-- the problem with listening to the French news radio is that I really have no idea what's going on-- only the nouns and numbers jump out at me, but none of the verbs. Was greeted by gruesome pictures of subway cars with their guts twisted apart and randomly strewn about like a Dali painting gone wrong. Reading through the articles with a cold stomach, I was struck by a quote from one of the victims-- "what kind of human being could do this?" What kind indeed. What mother's son or daughter, what dreamer of dreams gone wrong? Hubris is a concept of outrageous arrogance, the kind that will lead you to deny the gods and result in wanton violence and self destruction. I can understand anger, and I can understand rebellion, but I can't understand hubris. What kind of rationalization could convince a person that they have the right to the lives of strangers? There's something missing here that I can't grasp. I couldn't grasp it in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, and I can't grasp it now.

So, after the unsettling experience starting to cry while sitting next to strangers in a public place, I booked it home, the cold splatters of rain on my car hood echoing the vise around my throat and the angry tears behind my eyes. I sent my condolences to a friend from Madrid, but what do you say? "I'm sorry, this world can be a shitty place," is so pitifully inadequate.

Nothing like physical exhaustion and emotional disillusionment to make you want to crawl into a warm bath, so that's what I did, for two hours. By the time I got out, the water was cold and all my digits pruny with moisture. Slid into bed, and as soon as I closed my eyes I was in free fall, a thick white silent sleep that lasted exactly 4 hours. Woke up, made myself some rice porridge, and with a little help from my new roommate, chose an outfit for the evening (the red dress was deemed "too ballroom").

Went to the party feeling a tad subdued under the circumstances, but it's amazing what bubbly can do for my mood and inhibitions. It's never failed me before-- I can be dead tired or screamingly angry or suicidally depressed, but get me drunk and I'll dance until I fall over. Amazingly enough, pictures are already up on INSEAD's shared drives, and oof, there I am on top of the table as usual, the exhibitionist in the alcohol. Will never learn. It was a capital party, even when I walked into the kitchen at midnight to get more strawberry shortcake (heaven when eaten with fingers and combined with French champagne), and whoosh! suddenly found myself completely horizontal, lying on my side and looking at a sea of men's shoes. Ten hands helped up up and dusted me off, murmurs of "are you okay?" and "it's so slippery in here." Thank goodness for the sheen of devil-may-care that comes with inebriation, otherwise I and my bruised pride (not to mention hip) might have jumped out the window to melt in a puddle of mortification. Yes, me the salsa teacher, the smooth dancer, wiping out ignominiously on a slick of frosting. At least there are no pictures of that.

At some point I left with a group of people and found myself in a gorgeous country manor with the biggest fireplace yet, and we gathered around with yet more champagne and me with my blanket and them with their joints and shared sleepy debates of our favorite books, from The Places You'll Go by Seuss to The Plague by Camus. Your typical post-party chill out semi-intellectual pretension sharing exercise, I suppose-- now have a must-read list for when I learn Italian. It was relaxed and softly enjoyable, but I fell asleep before I could share in the collective macaroni and cheese with ketchup craving that struck at 5:30 in the morning.

Friday, March 12, 2004


I think I'm being followed by a black hole. Am losing everything nowadays-- lost my sweater at the library last night, thought I lost my class folder at the computer kiosks yesterday (turned out I left it on my desk, bringing just my totally empty backpack to school), lost my case study for Operations class before I had a chance to read it (it's probably back at home on my bed from my abortive attempt at 3am last night), and of course, have obviously lost any semblance of a mind. Oof, mad sleepy right now, and no time to go home for a nap before 7:30, when there's a meeting to plan the summer ball. Could go to library and sleep on the couches there, but so embarrassing to imagine myself sprawled out, sleeping away while everyone else sits ramrod straight at their workstations under their belljar lamps, computers humming and textbooks rustling.
Got to class 15 minutes late this morning-- damned morning snow, coating my brain and clogging my ears. Never fails to put me back to bed. You'll be happy to hear that my car has miraculously fixed itself-- discovered yesterday that when I went to repark my car, the blink-happy temoin d'autodiagnostic moteur uttered narry a beep nor peep, so I'm going to show this gift horse into the stable and not worry overmuch about the state of its teeth, at least not until yellow lights start flashing again.
Socially, INSEAD's back in full swing. Missed a general party last night being wine-happy at a chateau dinner, and will probably do the same tonight (am excited about this one tonight, have never visited the place before). Inevitably will get too engrossed in wine and conversation to consider leaving before 2am, but I think I like dinner parties better than general invite parties anyway, with the exception of not being able to dance when the mood strikes. Friday night is our section's champagne party, at which we are scheduled to have 115 bottles of champagne for 70 students. You do the math-- there will be much spraying of bubbly and dancing on tables, I'm certain. Throughout the period, we played little games to build up the champagne contribution to an end-of-period party. You owe champagne whenever your phone rings in class, or whenever one of your neighbors comes up with a clever use of certain words in class comments. The theme for these pre-set words changed from week to week, from James Bond (octopussy) to Madonna (like a virgin). I owe three bottles, all for my blasted phone.
Saturday, the plan is to sleep through my inevitable hangover and wake up in time to go for a nice sushi dinner in Paris, after which somebody's supposed to get us on Manray's guestlist (apparently it's the tail end of fashion week, so no guest list, no entry). Oy, my liver's hurting already, but I never could say no to a party. Then a dinner party on Sunday that's Korean themed . . . mmm, yummy. And that brings us around to Monday again, our house hosts. I wonder if it's my turn to cook? Can't keep these things straight. What with the non-regular academic schedule, the hectic social pace, and my natural disinclination to organize myself, I find myself completely surprised when snippets of free time unfurl themselves at my feet. But what do I do with them? Aimless checking of email, of course, and blogging. Not a whit of work, never a hint of job search, for sure. Tomorrow, tomorrow-- it's a lovely concept, no? The grasshopper and the ant. I always thought green was a lovely color :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Oh, I'm cursed-- it's totally, completely, utterly obvious that the car gods HATE me. As I was driving to school today, a little yellow light suddenly started to blink at me from the dashboard, beeping insistently every few seconds. Not knowing what else to do, after checking that yes, my seat belt was on, all doors were closed, hand brake was not engaged, I shrugged and kept going. Nothing like continuous beeping to build up an ominous sense of doom, though. Made it to school without anything blowing up, and the car certainly felt like it was functioning normally. Got to school, parked, and took out the manual. It read this:
Temoin d'autodiagnostic moteur-- il s'allume a chaque mise du contact pendant queques secondes. L'allumage moteur tournant, signale un dysfonctionnement du systeme d'injection, d'allumage ou de depollution. Si le temoin clignote, il y a risque de destruction du catalyseur. Consultez un Point Service Peugeot.

Great. My systeme d'injection, d'allumage or depollution is disfunctioning, and there's a risk that my catalyseur is going to be destroyed. Better go see the Peugeot dealer again. They say it's the little things in life that make it worth living. If that's the case, never move to France-- it's the little things that never, ever work properly or on time, and the little things that'll drive you batty.

Other than that, welcome back to INSEAD! Ah school life with its haze of multicultural faces here and there and everywhere. So many of them now familiar enough to say hi and smile and echoe a couple of vacation pleasantries, but so few close enough to have any substantial lines or conversations to pick up from before. Had a plate of fries for lunch today because nothing else looked appetizing (in the end, the fries weren't all that appetizing either). I think I'm still in mourning that my vacation has really ended. What a glorious vacation, full of nothing but my favorite foods and people whenever I felt like them-- ice cream in the morning, eggs at 3pm, Macdonald's in bed with french fries for my cat. Sucks to have a schedule again.
Housemates have gotten back from Singapore. Met one last night, one this morning. Have to get used to not being able to traipse around nekked all the time (have switched to bringing my change of clothes with me into the bathroom so I can be dressed when I come out, but that leads to having to put on half-steamed clothes. Yick, must buy big bathrobe soon). Am already behind on classwork (fell asleep on options pricing theory last night) and haven't a clue as to my class schedule (will print out today). Business as usual, as usual.

Okay, time for class. Sigh . . . .

Friday, March 05, 2004

The sweet sound of manhole covers

Am home! Oh, there's nothing quite like the first vacation after school starts. Brings back college days when I hopped a last minute flight back to California, stuffed myself silly on my mom's cooking and didn't ever want to go back again. How absolutely wonderful to be so comfortable, to know every corner of the room and the neighborhood, to have my cat sleep on my tummy and wear nothing but the boyfriend's old t-shirt because the heat is on full-blast!

I know, I'm such an ungrateful little homebody-- country living in France and international business school aren't exactly anyone's idea of torture. Obviously I've been enjoying myself. But there's no place like home (which for me is the boyfriend's tiny studio apartment in the heart of Manhattan with a horrifically cramped kitchen and wall-to-wall zebra-print carpet on the floor).

So, one period over. In retrospect? Probably the most intense semester I've ever had, but then again, that could have something to do with the fact that it was squeezed into two months. Studying was hard-core for the last week,when everyone hunkered down in the cubicles. In the end exams were as expected--completely unexpected. Accounting kicked my ass (although I am proud to say I learned the most in the that class, having started from absolute zero); statistics was okay (although the focus on regression, which was hurriedly and badly taught, was pretty unfair for most students-- if I hadn't had experience doing regression models before I think I would have been pretty stuck);Microeconomics was relatively easy but involved more number pushing than conceptual understanding (so who knows if I really learned anything useful?); Finance was damn hard (still embarrassing that I don't understand finance-- damnit, options are next semester-- will definitely resolve to do better); OB was a hurried harried stressball of an exam, with breakout yelling and recrimiination toward the last minutes before paper hand-in, but who knows about the actual product? The class is definitely more about process-- ah, "continuous learning," what a wonderful way to avoid ever admitting defeat.

The thing is, you're never aware of how you've done until you pour out of the amphitheatre with the rest of the students and start chatting about your reactions, since everything's relative. By that measure, I did normal in accounting (everyone except the CPAs were shocked by how hard it was); I did well in statistics (everyone was fairly confused); I did average in economics if I made no dumb mistakes (everyone thought they did pretty well, so the curve will center around 90 and standard deviation will be 4, making 78 a failing grade); finance I did below average (some thought it was hard, a fair number were pleased with themselves, so I'll be on the low side); and OB is always a toss in the dark, but they never fail anyone. Overall, don't think I failed, but am hardly gunning for dean's list either. Results day is in two weeks. There were quite a few very stressed out folks floating around, but then again, what do you expect when you know you're going to be measured against everyone else? INSEAD claims that their system doesn't increase competition among students, but I think that's bullshit. Everyone is impressively helpful and nice at taking time out to explain things to me, and I wouldn't hesitate to do the same, but I've never ever felt this kind of competitive pressure to perform on an exam before, not even that one semester at Harvard when it was get A's or die. It's just whack when you don't know where you have to perform in order to do well, or even to pass. They've done studies on how inconsistency in expectations leads to increased stress-- remember this vaguely from my psych days, but those poor dogs in the study ended up high-strung, hopeless, anxious, skittish and depressed because they never knew whether they would receive a shock or food when a certain bell rang, or something like that. The grading system just sucks, even if I did learn quite a lot.

Ah, but enough about that. Exams are over! No more . . . until two months hence, of course. Ick. After exams I had been planning to hop a ride to CDG airport in order to get on an earlier flight to New York, but the Air France lady on the phone had told me not to bother, and I figured that the stress was too much, I'd just catch my scheduled flight the next day. Instead, fell in with a bunch of folks who decided to have dinner and then go out in Paris. Went to an adorable argentinian steak joint near the Pompidou (I think). The place looked like a condemned building from the outside, but inside was all warm reflective light glinting from the candles and the antique tiles covering the walls and celings. The wine was excellent (too dry to drink alone, but absolutely divine with the juicy steaks), the waitresses motherly and kind (could have something to do with the fact that we were there with two very cute respectful spaniards who did the ordering and asking), and the flan caramelly and sweet enough to send you into sugar shock after one bite. A lovely, albeit rather expensive (60 euros is quite a lot on a student budget) gustatory experience. Afterwards, went to VIP. There were eight boys and two girls, then another girl and boy came to join us. Some silliness at the front with the second group, even though it was Wednesday night for goodness' sakes, but we all got in okay. Imagine the shock to the poor guy getting first round when we found out that each drink (a dribble of gin and a spritz of tonic) was 20 euros! So that's why there was no cover! What a whack, ridiculous, and utterly French thing to do. Not wanting to brave the streets again (lazy, lazy), we decided that it would be more prudent (although the word prudence has nothing to do with that particular evening) to buy a bottle and share. A bottle of Smirnoff was 200 euros, which we found so offensive that we decided on a bottle of Belvedere for 250. Of course, a few stiff drinks later, all the rancor just sort of faded and the night took off. The music felt better, the other patrons not quite so annoying or badly dressed (I think '80's is rather in right now in France), and the poles suddenly inviting. And of course, true to form, my judgment went right out the window and I found myself on the countertop, grinding with another girl, head spinning, ears buzzing, and loving every moment of it. Helped that the other girl had previous belly dancing experience (INSEAD is diverse, remember?).

We closed down the club at 5:00 am (after a couple of rounds of shots-- don't ask, some students here are just rich and generous, I guess), and I crashed at A.'s place in Montmartre again. The next morning woke at 11:00 with chest constricted, stomach doubtful and head in a vise, so i kept my head resolutely on the pillow and one eye closed while she had a morning cigarette out the enormous window into the foggy Paris air. We must have looked rather like a bad artsy french film, two girls in bed wearing her boyfriend's plaid shirts, chatting about men and how to light a cigarette from an electric stove.

Went to lunch at a delightful chinese restaurant off the Champs-Elysees (the absolute best spice salted crispy prawns that I've had, period). Then did some shopping (didn't buy anything, was feeling rather guilty about the previous night's exuberant overspending) and hopped the train to de Gaulle at 4:15. At the airport, was informed rather shortly that there was no way to change my flight back to France to a later date, and that if I missed my flight I would have to buy a whole new ticket. Have never heard of such a policy (especially since my ticket was a gift and they'd paid a premium for a flexible date ticket). But after landing the story was the same. Am so sad about having to leave so soon! Sigh, but we'll use the money we save on not buying a whole new ticket to get the boyfriend to France again sooner, I suppose.

Alright, daylight's coming out, the cabbies and street riffraff are making more noise, and New York is awake again. Time for me to throw out the potted mini christmas tree that the boyfriend has for some bizarre reason kept on the windowsill until now, defrost the kielbasa, put on some clothes and run to the corner bodega to see if I can buy any soymilk for pancakes. God I love this city, with all its dirt and noise and American gaudiness. Vive les Etats Unis!

Monday, March 01, 2004


This is my little prize to myself for studying all day. It’s 4:54 right now—I have to stop writing by 5:20. Am going a bit stir crazy from sitting in this cubicle for five hours without leaving. INSEAD provides these lovely enclosed spaces on campus for groupwork or study—the ones in the upper gallery are made up of moveable curved partitions upholstered in orange fuzz, and there’s a round table and a computer terminal provided in each one. Amazing how human beings live nowadays—this is definitely not what my ancestors had in mind.

Anywho, my first set of INSEAD finals start tomorrow—in the morning is OB and in the afternoon is accounting. Yikes. I no longer am convinced that I will fail out of accounting, but am still not absolutely certain that I’ll pass. OB is kind of a toss-up—who knows what will happen? It’ll be six of us in a cubicle, yelling politely for about an hour and typing away furiously for another, then coming together again to realize for the last hour that we had no idea what anyone else was writing. In this way, we are supposed to learn to effectively lead groups (beats me).

You’d figure with the way INSEAD’s grading system works, I’d have done more studying by now—it’s a non-absolute system, so potentially you could get a 90% and fail, or a 20% and ace, depending on how the rest of the students fare. I knew this theoretically before, and didn’t worry about it too much, but what with the horror stories floating around about previous students who had to repeat after getting 72% on a stats test, and seeing how much everyone else is plugging away on campus, it sort of gets to you . . .

But of course, being me, I always find some reason to procrastinate or goof off. E. missed her flight last Monday, so was stuck in France until Friday! Read: never ever fly Iceland Air. Not only are they overpriced and underserviced, but their staff is also totally bitchy. Luckily for me, since we’d already exhausted the 3 things there are to do in Fontainebleau (eat pastries, eat bread, see castle), she decided to leave for a mini extended vacation to Strasbourg, and I got in a little bit of studying. In between there was also a school-scheduled medical exam required by the government for our Carte de Sejour—dude, I am unimpressed with the medical exam procedures. I was handed a cup in a public space (filled with random French people and INSEAD students), then motioned toward some ill-smelling toilet stalls. Socializing has its limits—you can not do it when holding a sample of your own urine. Then, after probably failing the eye exam because I couldn’t understand what this French doctor was asking me (The one above? The one below?), I was put into a small cubicle and told to “take off your cloze.” Certain I had misheard, I sat in this little room wondering what I was supposed to do, until another door opened on the opposite side, and a random guy wearing a labcoat looks at me and says, “Take off your cloze!” Um . . . so I take off my shirt. He shakes his head, points to my bra, and says, “no, no, take eet off!” Interesting. I take that off, and feel naked (because I AM), stand awkwardly with my arms crossed. He then gestures to my throat and says, “Put eet een your mouse.” “Excuse me?” “Your neeklis, put eet een your mouse, for ze eex-ray.” Ah, my necklace in my mouth, of course, what could be more normal? Suffice it to say, I got a clean bill of health, although who knows how long it might take for the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms to set in.

Then, Friday comes around, and you won’t believe it, but E. missed her flight AGAIN! This time it was SNCF’s fault—her train from Strasbourg was over 3 hours late with no explanation, and she simply had no other alternative. Luckily, what better weekend to party hearty but the one right before exams? We went to salsa night at Lez’Art cafĂ© in Fontainebleau—unbelievably, it was a bar in town with an actual swimming pool in the back, right before the property fades off into royal forest! Inside was a petite dance floor, delicious mojitos, and I must say, some French boys (large, muscled, black and cool) who could really dance! With the language barrier, I couldn’t get up the guts to ask any of them to dance (they were there to provide the show before open dancing started). Maybe next time . . . but for the time being the INSEAD contingent provided more than enough partners for me and E. to salsa and merengue the night away.

Went home promising myself I’d be more productive on Saturday. Saturday comes around, and what do I do? Go to the boulangerie, spend the whole day gorging on bread and cheese, then come to school in sweatpants to get a couple of printouts. Get invited to dinner (ai yai, never could refuse a social offer, this will be my downfall), bring E. to meet about 7 classmates in a nice restaurant in Barbizon, and then, of all things, get dragged to Bizon . . .

Bizon is a nightclub (or so they claim) in Barbizon. The walls are painted black and dayglo with stars and planets (think street airbrush artist and moonscapes), the clientele is either under 18 or over 40, and we actually saw a guy dressed as Michael Jackson (hat and all), MOONWALKING on the dance floor. Add this to the fact that I was utterly underdressed (down to the mismatched pink socks and oversized college T-shirt) and the music was awful (either techno far too fast or house far too slow), and you can see that it actually made for a wonderful evening. E. had a blast—her first real French meal followed by a nightclub experience as can only be had in the boonies of France.

But today, today I am putting my foot down! Sent E. off to Paris to explore on her own and am now scheduled to work my way through at least three past Finance finals (how embarrassing that I know nothing in Finance, when I did investment banking for two years?). My time is up, I’m off, wish me luck with the Z-score fairy!