small town

delilah and i went for a walk earlier. we came up on a dog yapping its head off in a truck parked across the street. the owners were on our side.

lady: "ohhhh it's just a yellow lab! helloooooo puppy."
(delilah executes her part of Frigging Adorable Dog perfectly, wagging her tail right up to the lady.)
lady: "awwww. you know, there are three dogs in that truck, two of'em are just sleepin'."
(grandma comes down the driveway.)
lady (talking to delilah): "oh, and here comes grandma to say hello!"
grandma: "oh, and so soft! we've never seen you before. where do you live?"
me: "over on westchester. i just moved back home with mom and dad so they're at work all day. delilah doesn't get to go on walks like this usually."
lady: "ahhh. did you go to school around here?"
me: "yeah, cal high. i graduated in 2005."
lady (laughing): "ohhh i was in 1984!"
me: "ah, then you must know nechia miller!"
lady: "oh, yeah! nechia pohl back then."
me: "yeah, we live next to her."
lady: "well, tell her you met michelle. see you guys around."

what a boring conversation, nicki. i have no idea why you told me about such a day-to-day interaction.

because this is what i've been missing. this small town stuff where everybody knows each other, where people recognize new dogs in the area and talk to strangers with such happiness. and this is why i'm so glad to be home.

i dunno how long i'll keep writing for...it's kind of weird because my audience (aka my family and only people in america) is now living with me/not more than a phone call away, so i don't really feel the need to update here. but then again, here i am, a week back home, and still i felt the need to write. i dunno, i also really like the way when i have a blog, i look at things differently, like everything could be a story.

so we'll see.


final stop: california

i made it. i'm home. dad asked on the drive home if i'd blog any more. looks like it.

oh and again, as always, i apologize a thousand times over for not blogging enough. by the time paris came i was so tired of being a tourist that i stopped writing things down and i didn't take any pictures for the first few days. both of these make for no internet updates. BUT i do owe you fbook pictures (switzerland AND france! capitalizing conjuctions!), so keep a look out for those in the next couple days.

immediate verdict upon returning home: this feels so bizarrely normal. like a year hasn't even gone by. here are some things that are different:
  • mom got a new purse
  • there's a new coffee maker in the fridge
  • mom and dad re-did the living room and study (this is actually a pretty big deal in the arnold home. we usually keep crap around forever.)
  • there's a new mug hanging on the wall
that's all i noticed so far. maybe i'll have more notes tomorrow.

NUTMEG IS STILL ALIVE! this isn't that surprising because despite her age (10 big ones!), she's relatively healthy and i've seen her on skype a whole bunch of times. i was always just a little worried about her dying before i made it home. she and delilah both remembered me, btw.

america doesn't seem that shocking yet cuz maddy and i re-westernized in europe already. but still, we'll see. tomorrow i'm looking forward to driving for the first time in over a year. maybe you should keep an eye out for me.


we meet again, paris

i'm so sorry i haven't written you in forever. i've been busy and whenever i get on the comp, it's for an hour or less, and i've been prioritizing with gmail/fbook/excuses excuses excuses. bottom line is, i'm sorry. 

i'm back in paris for the unbelievable second time in my life. a city that i never thought i'd live in once and now here i'm back here, for the second time, and it bizarrely feels like home. maddy and i are with aj for the week and it's awesome. come here if you can--he has a gorgeous apartment. when we're riding the metro, i feel like i've never left (except that i dont' know the map by heart anymore...maybe by monday). tomorrow i'm gonna see my host family. afterward, i'm going to mass at notre dame with aj and maddy, then we're going to queen. the day after, we're going to disneyland paris, which is all dressed up in christmas right now.

i love this city.


notes on western society

i've been living in a developing country for a year. after a while, i stopped noticing and just got used to things. now that i've been thrust back in to a western society--first in to austria, now in to switzerland--i've been noticing some differences between full development and developing, east and west, dirty and clean.

in thailand, "on time" is whenever something happens. the train is scheduled to leave at 8 pm, so if it leaves by 8:30 pm, that's pretty good. there's only one bell to both end one class and begin the next, so if the kids show up about ten minutes after said bell, they're on time. if an event starts at 6 pm, you can go ahead and show up around 7 pm and it's all good. if we're on a tour and everyone wants to stop and take pictures, which makes the bus late to the next destination, then fine, let the bus be late. it's not a big deal. time is just a suggestion in thailand/se asia.

not in europe. we went on the sound of music tour in salzburg (I KNOW!) and when the tour guide said the bus would be leaving at one, the bus left precisely at one. right now, i know exactly what time i'll be boarding my train on the 5th from lucerne to interlaken, interlaken to zweissman, and zweissman to montreux, down to the minute. i also know exactly when i'll be boarding the train from geneva to marseille and marseille to paris on the 8th. THAT'S ONE WEEK AWAY. do you know how foreign a concept this is to me, a person who became way more thai than she realized?

waiting for lights at crosswalks.
do you know how much time i waste waiting for the stupid little standing guy to turn in to a walking guy? why don't we all just use our brains and eyes, look both ways, and decide for ourselves if it's time to cross? why do we all stand like morons at a corner where there are clearly NO cars in any direction? just go.

how hard is it to smile?

fitting in.
people speak to me in the native tongue first. i have to be the one who corrects them. nobody has asked to take a picture with me in a week. nobody stares openly because i'm white. i love this.

when you pay for the bathrooms here, sometimes the woman who maintains them wipes the toilet seat between users. i've used hand soap every day. in india, i ate dinner off a sandy mat on a beach that was pretty damn close to being a trash can.


nobody likes you when you're 23

i'm gonna take a little break from the 'holy crap this new place is so neat!' crap that my blog has become as of late because 1) let's be honest, it's getting repetitive and dull and 2) i have something else to say.

i feel SO OLD right now. capital letters old.

maddy and i are couchsurfing with this girl martina right now. she's 21 (born may 17, 1989, just a week and a half before you, kate). last night, i could feel the age difference. for the first time ever, really, i felt like an old person. she was talking a lot about how she liked to go out until 5 or 6 in the morning (which i never actually, nor did the idea ever actually appeal to me, but a few years ago the idea was at least a possibility for me). she mostly just hung out with her friends all the time. her walls are covered with pictures of her friends.

this isn't to say that mature people don't have pictures up on the wall (i'm putting college pictures on my walls as soon as i get an apt) or that old people don't go out...it's just...my priorities are different now, i spose. i don't feel like going out because it just means spending a lot of money on drinks, having a bunch of potentially awk conversations, going from place to place trying to find the ''best'' party, paying for a taxi ride home, blah blah blah.

i'd rather stay home on the internet, go to bed early, then wake up early tomorrow to walk around town. this either makes me an old grandma or a major nerd.

so martina said last night that tonight (friday night), she'd be going out with some friends and would we wanna join? oh, sure, why not. she seemed nice enough. we were sort of hesitant today because she likes to go out until the sunrise and we're happy with a 10 pm bed time, we're poor and have a lot more travel ahead of us and lots of drinks are sort of out of budget, and we really like getting sleep. but whatever, ok, we'll go.

but then this prague couple showed up. for some reason, martina decided she could host all four of us--me, maddy, and prague couple--in her tiny room. before prague couple even showed up, we were wary.

then they came. they were all over each other in the way that only young, incredibly horny couples can be. they immediately made themselves comfortable on martina's bed and alternated between making out, talking only to each other, and chatting with us. then mostly touching each other.

czech girl is going to india pretty soon with her family, so we talked about that for a while. we talked about how even though we only went to mumbai, india's an intense place you really have to prepare yourself for. it's hot, people beg you for money all the time, it's hard to figure out, scams are abound, not everyone's trustworthy, etc. nonetheless, she's trying to convince czech boy that they should visit india together next summer.

they've been together for a month and a half. he's 20, she's 19. she's preparing to take what are equivalent to the SATs. you know how they met? free hugs.

''what's free hugs?''
''ohhhh, you haven't heard of it?''

they googled it and showed us a video. it's just that thing where people hold up a sign that says ''free hugs'' and they hug strangers. i thought this was just a college thing cuz people at ucsb used to do this, and i saw youngish people in hanoi doing it, too.

''so you guys just hugged and then you started dating?''
czech boy: ''well, i was horny.''

later czech boy tried to convince us we need to go to places like slovakia to see ''real'' europe. to see little villages, not all this big, rich western stuff. like he didn't even hear us talk about how we've been in thailand for a year.

yeah we're not going out with them tonight. i'd much rather put on my pjs, drink a beer, and go to bed early.


bundling up

we're in vienna, austria now. it's freezing, as predicted. but it's absolutely gorgeous. i'm not sure why, but i didn't realize it'd be autumn here. stupid comment, i know. but i didn't think about how all the leaves would be changing and coloring the sidewalk, or how the bright sun and the crisp air would make that feeling that's just so uniquely fall. i haven't had autumn in a long time. 

yesterday i wore a scarf, huge jacket, and boots. last night i put on socks, pants, and a long-sleeved shirt to go to bed. 

i love the cold.

(p.s. i probably won't be this happy about the sub-zero temps in a couple weeks, so when i start to complain about it then, don't be a douche and remind me about how elated i was.)


going out west

it's our last night in egypt. we're back in cairo, planning to leave in half an hour to catch our 2:55 am flight. by tomorrow morning, we'll be in vienna, austria.

this is the first time i'll be in western society since i left america. it'll be the first time i can blend in with the locals in over a year. i won't be a spectacle. people won't just stare because i'm white.


but it's gonna be effing FREEZING. you guys, the high is 46 degrees. farenheit. THAT'S SO COLD.