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Tales of a Post-Grad Nothing

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Other 5%

I travel alone quite a bit. I say that it's for business, when in fact, it's because there's a certain confidence-restoring, peace-inducing power in being totally surrounded by people, yet completely alone with one's thoughts. For someone who's guarded against the rest of the world, learning how to operate in a new place in a new language forces you to open up and trust in others, moreover, to trust in your own abilities. Being in a less capable way of life forces you to realize how capable you truly are.

95% of the time, traveling alone is life-affirming and does nothing more than make you realize how truly beautiful and diverse our big blue/green marble really is. Beautiful people, beautiful places, beautiful food (oooooh the beautiful, beautiful food), seeing a new part of the world is like discovering an ability you never knew you had...but then there's the other 5%. This is a story about the other 5%.

Toulouse is famous for three things, college students (4 universities in town), satellites (that's where they make them), and a tiny statue dedicated to the bond between mothers and children. My mom's a pretty nice lady, so I thought I'd take a photo of this sweet-ass statue and send it to her as a kind of "thanks for letting me slither out of your genitals" thing. It was 10:30PM and Toulouse was rockin and rollin (I mean, as rockin and rollin as the French get, which is kind of like saying "Grandma's home is really rockin and rollin"), so I didn't think it would be a bad idea to go into a tiny, tiny public park where there were lots of people to photograph the mama statue. I went in, sized up el statue (that's Spanish for 'the statue,' pretty much that's all the Spanish I learned) and started photographing the reflection of the moon against the black marble. A few minutes in, three big-ish, college-age men on bicycles rode into the park and stopped pretty close to me. Never having been afraid of boys on two-wheelers before, I didn't really think anything of it until they started inching closer to me. The first time it happened, I took note, but kept taking pictures. The second time, I started packing up the camera, and the third time, I was walking towards the nearest exit.

Let me say here that I'm a small woman. I'm not a small and strong woman or even a small and brave woman, I strive to be a small and cute in that nerdy next door kind of way, but at the end of the day, I really only qualify as small. If approached by anyone over the age of, say, eight, I'm basically out-muscled and often times outwitted as well....crap.

One guy rode past me and parked his bike, blocking my exit. The other two got really close to me on either side. One guy said, "take my picture," and me, being both incredibly intelligent AND fluent in French said, "uhhh....ummm...I don't knows the words....no." (Nice one Couch, that'll show them that Americans aren't complete morons). "Take my picture" the guy said again and taking a step back, I simply said 'No' this time. "Take my picture you stupid bitch," he said and I took off running at full speed to the exit at the other side of the park. In my wake, I could hear a string of curse words in French, then a pause, then out of nowhere, the man yelled in English "uum...uh....you is...uhh...crazy lady!"

When I reached the exit, I turned and couldn't help but double over in pitiful laughter. To be without a wallet or camera or passport is one thing, but to be without the ability to communicate your feelings (even if they're gross and uncalled for) to another human being is a totally different affair, one I can readily identify with (see here, here, or here if you haven't been keeping up). I walked out of the park and into a café, somehow feeling a bit closer to the rest of the world.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

7 Reasons To Love Barcelona

One day I'll write a real post, you know, one involving words and such.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

In Toulouse and Barcelona until Wednesday, behave yourself chillins.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Reason #68,678,290,589 why I love the New York Times:

"The Color of Victory? Wearing red increases the chance of victory in sports, say British researchers who clearly do not follow the Cincinnati Reds."

Full story here.

Reason #68,678,290,590 is simply because of this story. The New York Times: Keeping my dating pool alive since 1851.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

In Other News...

Best site ever. (Barring, of course, this site and this site). I feel like whoever writes InfoHunks is probably the kind of girl I meet somewhere random, say the subway, and inevitably end up high-fiving at some point. I figure this girl is either really really awesome with a fantastically weird sense of humor or strange to the same degree as the kid who ate nothing but catsup during high school lunch (you know exactly the kind of kid I'm talking about). Either case deserves a high five as far as I'm concerned. Favorite things about this site include:

A) Speculation on how to directly contact CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta to tell him he's a hottie. While Dr. Gupta doesn't do it for me in the same way that this guy does, I'd have to put Gupta on my list of "most attractive Indian medical specialists-cum-news reporters" alongside...you know....all the others.

B) That the author is not afraid to say in public that she would like to give Dan Abrams a testicular cancer exam. Safety people, that's what I've been trying to tell you.

C) The site confirms my belief that World News Now's David Muir actually is made of plastic.

D) From it, I learned that there is a Yahoo! Group formerly called "IHeartLesterHolt."

E) The banner constantly changes to reveal a new InfoHunk...my favorite of these banners includes Jeffery Toobin along with the catch phrase, "For girls who like curls...and in-depth legal analysis." (see below)

F) The July 15 assertion that Dylan Ratigan "Needs your lovin."

It's a rare day when I have to step back and toast someone who's geekier than I am, but today, InfoHunks writer, I raise my goblet to you. Footage of some of the InfoHunks below. Eat your heart out ladies.

David Muir coming to you live from Madame Tussaud's

Almost my favorite graphic ever

The single best graphic ever invented....Breathtaking indeed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

An Illustration of Just How Dumb I Actually Am

I just logged in to this very site and thought, "Man, this asshole friggin NEVER updates, what the hell am I supposed to do when nobody updates? Don't they know that it's 2:42 in the AM and that without distractions I may have to, I don't know, get some actual work done?" Then I realized that, as usual, the asshole is me and my insides shed a little tear.

Note: Last sentence may or may not be an exaggeration.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

My Favorite Watering Hole

I'm working on a series of articles on this island:

This is where the boyfriend's family hails from and considering that my family hails from here:

visiting his family is kind of awesome. Let me just say that my favorite part of the above picture is the fade-y border. Mattera said, "It's like a tractor from my dreams."

Back to the plot: The island is known for its natural thermal pools, so I've been researching spas and luxury hotels to recommend. That's when I discovered this.

Body-peeling: Check
Manicure: Check
Anti-stress massage: Check
Mud and Thermal Bath: Check
Vaginal Irrigation: .................

I'm not sure who goes to have their vaginas irrigated or even what a professional vagina irrigation entails, but what I can tell you is that these people recommend one at the temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. I'm pretty sure that getting a hot vagina irrigation on vacation is included in my idea of hell. I just noticed that the spa's director has the same last name as the boyfriend, so maybe, if I'm lucky, I can score a family discount for any of you in need of a good genital hose-down.

Monday, May 09, 2005

A Very Special Message Photoessay Thanks to Haduken

Do you ever wonder how much, in terms of legal tender, your friendship is worth? Well this weekend, the BF and I discovered that our friendship with the good folks at Haduken is worth $31 USD in shipping alone. This is approximately $30 more than expected. Instead of doing any number of things that 6 different people can do with a total of $31, the Hadukenites sent us a box full of home. See exhibit A:

Like the Native Americans, we used every part of your gift. While the BF got a little crazy with the wax bottles you sent:

I used the card to do some home decorating.

Here you can see your card (the small cat in the middle) sitting proudly next to a psychotic-eyed cat centerfold I pulled from a magazine and a hand-drawn picture of Trogdor courtesy of my college buddy Stevehog. Sometimes I tape my business card to the wall just for effect, but this is basically all the decorations we have.

By the time we had worked our way through the cookies, peanut butter, and Poptarts to the Fundip, whistle pops, and chocolate coins (which I ate immediately despite the fact that they had already turned white in the mail), all we had left was the Poprocks. Chris (the boy) dared me to taste the explosion (as the packet suggests) while drinking coke, but I was afraid it might look like this and quite frankly, my relationship can't survive sweeping up exploded brain matter.

Thank YOU Haduken, not only for your delicious treats, but for your gastronomic gesture of diplomacy, your aesthetic contribution to Chez Couchtera, and just for generally being cool kids. Keep in touch. Have a great summer. See you in the fall.


Chris and Chris

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Hold Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me

Sweet holy hell it's been a long time since I updated this bad boy. I promise to do better. People ask me a lot what I miss most about home and other than the obvious friends/family answer, what I miss most is just touch. The friends I have here are fantastic...let me restate that, FANTASTIC, but you have to start out as being a touchey/feeley with the group, you can't really evolve into that state. Other than specific people and pizza from Fairlawn, Virginia, I miss being squeezed and wrestled and hugged and just held on to by people who are probably talking about which uncanny X-woman is the sexiest (hint: it's pre-phoenix Dr. Jean Gray if you're only into the mains or potentially Wicked if you're into the lessers...I'm not erasing that last sentence even though it made me re-realize that I'm officially at catsup-eating, D&D-playing level of social outcast. I can only hope that I've already cast a level 5 charm spell on you).

Tonight I went to a pseudo-sleepover (love it) which involved the film Man on Fire and fixing an oven and mid-way through the movie, I kind of wanted to fall sweetly asleep curled up between the two friends I happened to be sitting next to, but I wasn't sure if that would be totally cool in a lion's den sort of way or uncomfortably awkward in a THAT-kid-from-the-eighth-grade-who-touched-all-the-girls way. Not wanting to risk it, I made it through the film in all it's gun-slingin, Mexico-hatin' glory, dozing off only at the end when I had a dream/flashback of waking up on the sofa of my old apartment in Virginia to my roommate, dressed in nothing but gold running shorts hiked up to his balls, spraying saline solution on me from a contact solution bottle phallus while making ridiculously bad orgasm sounds and yelling in a breathy man voice "OOOOHHHH Chris, you were sooooooo good last night." As the credits rolled, I smiled at the thought of those infamous gold shorts with the two devastatingly obvious testicles hanging inside them and for the first time in a long while, Paris seemed very far from home.