Tuesday, January 25, 2011

So My Birthday's Coming Up . . .

And I'm gonna escape to Paris. 

That's right, I'm going to run away and go spend my birthday weekend in Paris.  We were only there for 2 days with my parents when they came out last year and this time we'll be there for 4 days.  I told the husband that I kind of wanted him to plan some stuff so I think he's working on it. He suggested going to catch a show at the Moulin Rouge. At first I was kind of iffy about it but the more I think about it the more fun it sounds.

There are still tons of things we didn't get to do the last time we were there.  I want to spend more time in the Louvre and see the Reaissance section.  Seeing the Eiffel Tower all lit up and night would be really awesome too.  This website has a bunch of ideas and you can book tickets online so I've been browsing there fairly often just to get some more ideas. 

Of course we're also going to go to the Hard Rock Cafe since we didn't make it there last time.  When we were in London we signed up for their "All Access" pass that gets us discounts and puts us at the head of lines when there's a lot of people waiting to get in and in looking at the spot in Paris that will come in very handy.  Other than that I'm not quite sure what all is planned.  DisneyLand Paris had been thrown out there as an idea. We can take a train from Paris all the way to the front gates (basically) of the park. It's about an hour train ride so not too horrible.  I personally think it would be kind of fun.  Although I would really like to go to Versaille, too.  Choices, choices. 

I still can't believe how lucky I am that I can just decide to up and go to Paris to celebrate my 30th Birthday. Since I have no friends or family in the area I can't think of a better way to ring in a new decade in my life. Although, I'd give up this trip in a heartbeat if I could spend the weekend with my 2 best friends, my sisters and my mom.  C'est la vie.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Christmas Abroad

Merry Christmas Everyone!  Don't know how many people that read this, but to those of you that do, I wish you a very Happy Holiday and safe New Year. 

This is my second Christmas in Germany and I've been reflecting on the differences and similarities between this year and last.  So here are a few things I have come up with.

Similarities:  Just me and David at home; way too quiet; good food (added one new recipe that I found around Thanksgiving); talked to the family on Skype to see how they liked their presents and tell them how much I liked mine; missed being at home like crazy; kept wondering what the family was doing right then; made orange rolls for breakfast (it's tradition).

Differences: I was too lazy to put up my Christmas tree this year; we had a very white Christmas; David and I opened all our presents early so I felt kind of cheated on Christmas morning.

Christmas is my favorite holiday and I know that if I would get into the spirit a bit more it would help me get through the holiday less depressed.  But then, when I start to think about getting into the spirit I remember that my family is back home and I am going to be here for yet another quiet and mundane day. David tries really hard to make it awesome for me, and does a really good job, but it's just not the same.  Because my mom spoiled us as kids I'm used to HUUUUUUGE piles of presents to open then a marathon shower and a session of trying on all our new clothes to see what we would wear to Granny's that day. Then of course going to Granny's and being eveloped by our loud, crazy wonderful family.  When you're used to the decibels of noise on Christmas that I am, having a quiet lazy day just seems wrong. 

Anyway, I hope next year I'll be a little more Ho-Ho-Hoey because we'll only have one more Christmas left over here.   You think my parents would want to fly out here for the holidays next year? ;)

Romeo, Romeo, Wherefor art thou Romeo?

I've been on a pretty decent reading kick recently and my latest victim (so to speak) was Juliet by Anne Fortier.  It's set in modern day with Julie Jacobs discovering after her great aunt's death that she's a decendant of the Juliet on which Shakespeare based his infamous play.  Now, if you're like me, you're kind of thinking, "Ok, it's going to be some sappy love story about how she learns about the 'real' Romeo and Juliet in Italy and then meets her own Romeo." And to an extent, you are correct.  After her aunt's death Julie learns her name is really Giulietta Tolomei, the same as her ancestor credited in being the famous Juliet, and she travels to Siena, Italy to search for treasure and discover her past.

Upon arrival in Siena Julie learns that instead of searching for a family heirloom or treasure that she's picking up where her mother left off in trying to break the curse that was beset on the families of the lovers.  Not surprising, all the families involved in the original story are still around and, while they aren't outright killing each other like their predecessors, there is still traditional and long standing hostility.  The interesting thing is that in the "original" story portrayed in Fortier's rendition  there were three families involved, not just two.  Giulietta was a member of the Tolomei family sent to live with her uncle in Siena after her family was murdered at their estate while she was at a local church for confession.  The Salimbeni family is the other great family in Siena at the time and the head of its household is credited with the murder of Giulietta's family, although he is never formally accused or tried because he has the whole town under his thumb.  Salimbeni decides that he's had enough of his current wife and needs something younger and with more spirit; what better choice than the daughter of the man he just had murdered? But of course, Romeo has already been on the scene and fallen in love with Juliet and they've been married in secret.  Now here's where the third family crops up.  Romeo is neither a Salimbeni nor a Tolomei, he's a Marescotti; a well respected family in Siena for their generosity and peacefulness.  They do not engage in the debauchery and low ball tactics on which the other two families seem to thrive.

As tangled and complicated as most Italian tragedies (and family trees) tend to be, the way Fortier portrayed the original story was quite captivating.  It's like a series I read based on the King Arthur legend written by Jack White that basically stripped away all the mysticism and hype and boiled it down to a historical possibility.  Fortier did the same thing with Romeo and Juliet.  She placed the story in a realistic context that both made sense and kept it's romanticism intact.  It was still as tragic as the story we're all familiar with if not more so because of the inherently dangerous nature of the time period.  It was kind of like the feeling I got when I watched "Titanic" back in high school; you know how the story ends but you still can't help but be pulled in by the story anyway.

It's a fun, engaging read that's not too heavy handed or mind bending. At times Fortier can get too verbose and overly effusive with her writing but given the subject matter I kind of think it was almost requisite.  Since I'm not a Shakespeare purist I was able to look at this somewhat objectively, I believe, and see it for the fun and modern twist on the story it was meant to be.  Besides, since Shakespeare really wasn't the first to write about a doomed love affair, why not give the real victims their time in the lime light?