Archive for November, 2009


There are five kids hanging out at the laundromat, and not waiting for clothes to dry.


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This morning I got up extra early for work. I was the only project manager available to monitor the global client request email account for about 2 hours. We have +50 clients. So I couldn’t be late.

The job terrifies me. A single refresh of my Lotus Notes could mean that the next 5 hours of my life are sucked away from me – frantically calling linguists for a 10,000-word rush translation due in one hour. The source would be some obscure language, say Kirundi, to Farsi. How many Burundians or Persians do you know? And out of the 3 Burundians you happen to know, how many of them can translate Farsi or speak it?

I walk to work every morning (most mornings) and take more or less the same way. Google maps says the walk is approximately 3.1 kilometers – downhill on my way to the office and uphill on the retour. Jim showed me a new path yesterday and I think it’s my new favorite way. Rue Lemercier. Anyway, I was nearly to work: passed Place de Clichy, St. Lazare, the Grand Boulevard and was almost to La Madeleine church when I saw the “Je pourrais etre votre grandmere” gypsy and her younger, but haggled all the same counterpart. I pass them everyday, but this morning was different. I caught them before they had gone to work begging, feigning illness or stealing. They were writing out their signs for the day on cardboard stacked up next to a green trash bin. I saw one of the signs: ETRE HUMAIN. There they were writing on rotting cardboard – misspelled words, bad grammar, misplaced accent marks, with a dried out marker.

I didn’t slow my pace for very long as I passed by, just long enough to read their signs. I made it to the office with time to spare. Grabbed a coffee and got to work. Only one new translation request came in – English to Dutch.

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Brunch might bring to mind a slow Sunday afternoon sipping on a Bloody Marys and eating Eggs Benedict; or maybe tucking into a pile of hot cakes covered in butter and maple syrup. At Coquelicot brunch doesn’t fit that mold – they take the French approach – a table covered with baskets heaped with crusty golden baguette and served with individually wrapped servings of unpasteurized AOC butter and locally produced honeys and jams. Coquelicot is a boulangerie-p√Ętisserie that also serves brunch and small lunches. The lines out the door were witness to their delicious staples – bread.

When we arrived the greeting was less than convivial. The dining room upstairs had been reserved for a private party, so that meant we were to fend for ourselves for the 4 interior 2-top tables or grab a seat as it opened up outside. We were meeting 4 other friends, so we opted for the outside sidewalk tables – grabbed three empty tables once they became available and lined them up. Lucky us, right? Sitting outside is a 1st choice – on a nice day, but on a windy, cold day the interior dining room would have been ideal. They did, however, have a single, under-performing overhead heater. It didn’t work, but it looked good. Good thing more than one of us came extra-prepared with scarves. The company was great. We were two Americans, three Turks and an Italian. Our conversation was peppered with English, French and Turkish.

Ordering wasn’t easy. The waiter – who looked about 18 years old – was in a mass confusion when his hand-held computer wasn’t reading the same thing we told him. Some of us ordered eggs, some eggs and bacon – and we all had brioche and baguette in abundance. I had an oeuf √† la coque (soft-boiled egg) with 4 perfectly sized pieces of baguette served beside it- just right for dipping in the gooey egg yolk. A feast for the eyes! The brioche was chewy and the mie (crumb) matched my egg yolks – toasted to perfection. We ate it with raspberry or apricot jam; I had mine nature. We had to ask more than once for the honey. Glad we did. It was a sugar rush produced by fancy bees in the South of France. The baguettes were sliced lengthwise, perfect for dipping into our piping-hot bowls of coffee or hot chocolate. This is a typical way you could have your morning cup a joe in la France. It’s also perfect for warming up cold hands.

We spent about 2 hours in all sitting outside. There wasn’t a single boring moment – a gang of trumpet-wielding gypsies even passed by in song. When I couldn’t feel from below my knees, it was time to go. Paying the bill was easy. At the register, we told the server what each of us had and paid separately.


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early in the morning

this is where i begin my search.

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