Thursday, April 30, 2009

Art and Ice Cream

One of the things I love about Europe is the art.

It's accessible to the public.

It's often free (or at least there are certain times when it's free).

It's everywhere - in museums, in parks, on buildings, in the streets.

Art is a daily part of life.








Crazy modern things that have no names.

It's everywhere and in everything.

You just can't help but appreciate it:

But sometimes you find it in the most unlikely places.

Like in a bathroom.

On the towel dispenser.

It doesn't surprise me to find a sticker like that in a bathroom. Given that it's a kid having a poo while reading a book, I can't think of a more appropriate place to put it than a bathroom, except maybe a library bathroom.

But what I wonder is, who thought it would be a good idea to make a sticker with a silhouette pooper?

Who decided to print those up?

What purpose was it meant to serve, if any?

What did the man at the sticker factory think of them?

Where did they sell the stickers? Are they still for sale? Can I buy some?

What kind of label did they put on them?

"Stinker Sticker?"

In other news, last week was FREE ICE CREAM DAY at Ben & Jerry's, which is only the most delicious ice cream that ever existed. If it weren't for the price, I would prefer it even to Blue Bell ("GASP!" go all the Texans).

My friend Kaotar and I met up to go get some free scoops, but before we could go she had to give something to Aisha, who was taking care of sweet little Ayu for the afternoon. As Aisha had nothing to do, and Ayu is 5, we decided to all go together. Who can't resist free ice cream?

We started out at the Ben & Jerry's at Sol and ate our scoop as we walked to Plaza Mayor where the other Ben & Jerrry's is located. On the way we saw musicians, clowns, a crazy llama dude, a magician, a man covered in plastic fruit, and various other street statue/performer people.

Ayu was in heaven. He got TWO WHOLE SCOOPS of ice cream AND saw all kinds of fun things in shop windows AND got his picture taken with the man covered in plastic fruit. What 5 year old wouldn't love that?

Aisha and Ayu left us and then Katoar and I continued on to meet my friend Paola for a third scoop of the deliciously sweet frozen calories. And it was worth each and every one of them. :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009


The first time I saw María I was waiting for my drink at the end of the bar in Starbucks. Suddenly her little head ran across the store at table height as she accosted Roberto, who was making my tall mocha (two pumps, no whip cream), and demanded, "Give me a chocolate!"

Roberto was caught off-guard by her boldness. He hesitated.

"Um, go ask your parents."

And off she went, running back to the register where her father was ordering a frappaccino.

A few weeks later I sat by myself in a nook of four comfy armchairs and her parents approached and asked, "do you mind if we sit here?"

I recognized the tiny-tot immediately.

They sat and the madness began. All the energy of an atomic bomb, the cuteness of a toddler, the sass of a teenager, and an ability of speech far beyond my own wrapped up in a tiny little three year old adult with marker all over her face. Her parents are both actors, and it doesn't take long to realize that María has inheirited the drama-gene, particularly of the comedic variety.

Tonight I saw her family sitting by the door and waved from across the café. Not five minutes later while I sat on my comfy sofa chair María, accompanied by her mom, dad, two of their friends and her baby brother joined me and a poor, slightly overwhelmed stranger in my nook, bringing with them all the noise and energy they could offer. Apparently María wanted to say hi to me, and since they were sitting by the door in a cold draft and saw that I was by myself in a warm corner, they decided to relocate all together so that I would have some company and they could have some warmth. :)

Tonight María had a butterfly, heart, and a flower drawn on her face. She wore a brightly striped dress over a purple long-sleeved shirt and kelly-green aladdin pants. She looked just like a little hippy, without a care in the world.

At one point her mother told her that I'm studying their language. I said, "that's right, so I'm still learning how to speak like you" and she told me that her brother only knows how to say, "AAAAHHH." Well, I suppose that makes sense, seeing as how he's not yet a year old.

Then she pulled up her sleeve, bent her arm and stuck her elbow out, pointed at it and said, "look at this!"

Thinking there must be a boo-boo or a freckle of some sort, I asked, "what is it?"

She responded with, "my elbow, of course!" and looked at me as if I were the most dense person she had ever met. How could I not know what an elbow was?

We all had a good laugh and then I said, "Yes, but what's on it?" (Keep in mind that the word of "on" is the same as the word for "in").

"Bone," with a sweet smile.

Of course. Common sense.

She then extended her arm so that her elbow disappeared and declared, "and now it's gone! It's magic!"

She then took an umbrella, dropped it behind her and held up her empty hands while saying, "ta da!"

We asked, "where did it go?"

"It flew away."

Simple as that. The umbrella flew away.

Can we all go back to being three again? How much fun would that be? We can jump in puddles, make our lap disappear, and drink caramel cream frappaccinos without worrying about how many calories we're consuming.

Life is so beautiful when you're three. :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Paris, City of Light

Last week, another childhood dream became a reality:

I went to Paris!!

The week before Easter is "Spring Break" not only for all the students here, but also for the majority of work force. Last year, I was uninformed of the mass exodus of the general populace and was left alone with no friends and nothing to do. It was lame, to say the least.

I decided that this year would be different. No lonely Laura in 2009. No sir-ee.

So I took part in the coordinated, overpriced group exit of the country and went to Paris with a few friends, along with a third of the rest of the country.

Now, some people rave about how absolutely faaa-bulous Paris is, while others shrug and say, "it's alright."

And of course, we all hear stories about how rude the French are.

And let's face it: I've come across some of those French who have left such a "memorable" impression on the rest of the world and thus marred the French reputation for all eternity.

But I must say: everybody was so polite, helpful, even friendly. I was very pleasantly surprised. Not that they all wanted to best friend, but I had already accepted that not everybody says "Howdy" a few months after leaving Aggieland (otherwise known as Utopia).

We saw just about everything there is to see in Paris, at least as much as our budgets would allow. We saw (and went to the top of) the Eiffel Tower:

We took a day trip to the palace in Versailles:

We went to the Louvre:

And we picnic-ed and ate pastries in the park, surrounded by tulips:

In general we had great weather. It rained a few times, but mostly while we were inside museums, and when we did have to face the elements, we chose to enjoy the moment rather than run for cover:

I am now one of those who will rave about how faaaaa-bulous Paris is. Yes, it is overpriced, but that's the reason why I ate homemade salad and leftover lasagna every night for the past month, and it was worth every bite of frostbitten veggie lasagna.

Speaking of being a thrifty spender, my dad would be very proud of me.

At the airport while trying to decide which overpriced meal we were going to purchase, I noticed a tray of trash, just waiting for the food court employees to throw to the trash can, with a sad, lonely, unopened yogurt.

That yogurt called to me.

It cried out for help.

"Laura! Save me! They're going to throw me away! Don't let them throw me away! I haven't expired yet! I'm still cold! I must be eaten!"

I looked around.

Nobody was coming to claim that tray of trash.

I waited a minute.

Still nobody.

So I saved the yogurt from a sad, lonely fate in the trash can, where he didn't belong.

And it was tasty, too.

After 5 full days of fun, from 4:30am Monday morning to 2am Friday night (Saturday morning), we were pooped!

Paris may have been expensive, and our hostel may have been creepy, but it was worth every penny spent and parasite we might have contracted. I look forward to the day I go back.