Last Sunday, Gui and I spent the afternoon with his dad's side of his family at a birthday party for his great-aunt and great-uncle who were celebrating a combined 160 years of life. I remember meeting them for the first time at our wedding; they hugged me and kissed me like I was already family, and then spoke to me in rapid-fire French while I widened my eyes and grinned. Seeing them again this time was not any different, except that after saying only a word or two in French, they praised me on my progress. (How on earth could they know that I've progressed after only saying, "Bonjour, oui, très bien, merci. Et, vous?") Of course there was a six-course meal served, songs were performed by the sons and daughters of the hosts, and they even hired a theater group to perform a few scenes. It was unlike any birthday party I've ever attended, but it was really enjoyable. Gui's family are all incredibly generous and kind, and I'm finding myself easily opening up to them and feeling more and more a part of the family. It's a good feeling.
On Monday, I headed over to La Sorbonne to read an excerpt from a story and answer questions about it during my fifteen-minute oral exam. This part of the test counts for something like 30% of my final grade, but I was confident after the "très bien, Sarah" comment my professor gave me when it was all over. I breathed a sigh of relief, and went along with a few other relieved students to celebrate our accomplishment with a tasty lunch and casual conversation about how hard learning a new language (especially French) is. It was a really great way to end the semester, I thought, even if I never have the chance to see any of them again.
Of course Tuesday was spent watching the tides turn and our new president take office. Apparently, all of Paris was in search of a place to watch history being made, which left us stuck outside of an overcrowded bar and in search of a TV. We found hope in a kitshy, American diner that appeared like a neon beacon at the end of the same street as the bar. We arrived before the crowds and snagged a table front-and-center with a perfect view of the screen. Over fries, onion rings and mozzarella sticks, we watched it all unfold and then raised our glasses of red French table wine to toast to our new president. I doubt I'll be forgetting that moment anytime soon.
Wednesday nights are spent with the knitting group at L'Oisive Thé, and are designated "cook your own dinner, I'm going to knit" nights. (I don't think Gui minds, actually.) Since finishing my first scarf, I've become somewhat of an addict about knitting. I've spent hours and hours pouring over the Ravelry website, gushing at some the things people can make with a couple of needles and a ball of yarn. The possibilities are endless, which makes it so hard for me to choose what to tackle next. I'm realizing, though that it's not a cheap hobby to have and that a little investment is required to get started on the more rewarding projects. I recently ordered a set of Addi-click needles and am now anxiously awaiting their arrival so I can get started on some of those more challenging patterns. I'll admit that half of the fun is picking out patterns and choosing the yarn - I never knew there were so many choices!
I picked up some sale yarn on Thursday afternoon after a trip to the first cupcake boutique in Paris. Sam invited me to meet up with her, Leesa and Dawn to scope out Cupcakes & Co in the 11th arrondissement. I honestly didn't have very high expectations, so the cold, dense cupcake I dug into wasn't such a disappointment. The cupcakes were pretty, the frosting was tasty and made with true-blue Philly cream cheese, but the final product wasn't really worth raving about. I still had a good time and got some cheap yarn out of it, too!
This weekend turned out to be jam-packed with fun stuff with fun peeps. Gui and I checked out Slumdog Millionaire on Friday and loved it. I cried like a baby, of course, but totally dug the whole bollywood influence. The soundtrack will be mine! We finished off the night with a tex-mex dinner and a mosquito cocktail at El Rancho, which hit the spot. Saturday's lunch date with Juliet and Marc turned into an all-day event. We started out at Les Pâtes Vivantes (as usual, thank you, Mr. Lebovitz) for a [very] late lunch, and after being shooed out of there before we could have dessert, we headed over to Île Saint-Louis for some delicious Berthillon ice cream. We opted out of going bowling and decided to skip right on over to happy hour at one of our favorite bars in the 5th. Juliet introduced us to the best mojitos in Paris (and cheapest, too!) while she ran down a list of all the things she's lost to the streets or cabs or bars of the big city. There was some sort of blackout in the bar, so we downed our drinks and headed over to Belleville where we ended the eventful night in the company of old friends and preppy-dressed punk-rockers.
I managed to roll out of bed today in time to meet up for a 2 p.m. jazz brunch on the same street as the cupcake shop. It's the first time I've ever been to a buffet in Paris, and I'm pretty sure it won't be the last. There was a great variety of food (although not much in the form of traditional breakfast grub), bottomless OJ, wine, coffee and tea, and a slightly lacking, yet still delicious spread of desserts. The music wasn't without praise either, and I found the entire ambiance of the restaurant strikingly harmonious. It'll definitely be at the top of the list of places to take people visiting Paris in search of a good Sunday brunch. It's the closest I've seen in Paris to the real deal (although, it'd be nicer if they swapped out the bottomless wine for bottomless mimosas...or bloody marys).