The highlight of this past week was definitely having my family around. Because look!!! It’s the most multicultural/racial family ever!! My real family met my host family, and it all happened to be women because that’s how good programs are at knowing that I live in a predominantly-estrogen household.
Mama Catherine made the best dinner ever of seared pork, galette of potatos, salad, and later a beautiful apple pie we made together the night before!
And then the next day Shane and I went to the doctor.
No, just kidding, those are not correlated. Although eating to death is probably a reasonable explanation for my future death. (Fun fact, eating to death is a phrase in Chinese that I use often for my state of fullness)
And then Thursday, we had a little party-patootie for Shane!! Pascal wanted to organize a surprise party for our lovely shanog (what even is your nickname) and although I did not get to munch on most of the fondue that night, we met up after my first shift bartending at Cafe 3C (!!! *will return to this in later narration*) to have some rosé!
Pascal is a youthful host father at heart.
*back to bartending* I don’t actually bartend, for real for real. I know you have this super cool image of me flipping drinks and throwing cute little umbrellas and straws everywhere and being like, VOILA, but in reality what I do is fumble with beer taps and ask in very strange French, POURQUOI IL Y A TROP DE MOUSSE? (why is there too much foam?!) And the other bartender around is like, let me show you my magical ways, and then he does the former description of coolness. But the Cafe 3C is a lovely place to meet people and talk to people, and I cannot escape the lack of comprehension by saying oui, oui because I literally have to make the drink they ask for and I can’t really run away with their money. It is all in all a lovely and fun endeavour.
But then on Friday, I went off with my family to Milan! Well, first we stopped briefly in Monaco to see the Casino, think of Grace Kelly, and buy a gift for my Auntie Susan for her birthday. Here is my super cool gambling queen Grandma and I in front of the casino we were told we did not have time to go into.
Here is what happened after the coolness wore off, because…
OUR CAR BROKE DOWN. Look at this superstitious trap. “DS 494 PK”
- It was rented at the parking spot 164, which in Chinese sounds like 一路死 die all the way on the road.
- “494” 死就死 if you die you die
- DS 抵死 deserve death
- PK 踣街 go die on the street
I’m not a superstitious old lady, but look at this evidence.
So what had actually happened was
- 2:30 pm. Our clutch started requiring much more energy than necessary to start and go uphill, which was especially frustrating in Monaco, which felt like the second coming of San Francisco
- Maya started screaming “let’s stop, let’s stop! The car is going to blow up!” To which Auntie Suzette said, “NO!” despite the fuming cloud of magical powder around our car and coughing fits we started getting into.
- We then decided to stop in front of someone’s enormous villa because there was room and we were approaching the highway, or on the highway, we were not sure.
- 3 pm. Stefani calls Avis. Avis tells her to call Emergency 211. 211 says LOL you’re not actually on the highway. Stefani walks along said highway to find someone to tell 211 she is on the highway. A bunch of guys tell her she is not on the highway. Stefani ashamedly calls Avis back. Stefani apologizes to all the rich people living in said villa for blocking their entrance with suitcases and a fuming car. Stefani is hungry. Stefani eats the singular avocado she packed. Stefani learns all the lingo for how to tow a car now.
- 5 pm… Are we dying yet. Time to feast on the remaining rations of bread, bread, and more bread. Kind, old, French man comes out a few times to make his presence known, and then eventually his concerns as well.
6. 6 pm. Kind, old French man turns out to be very impatient, and is so for our sake as well. He decides to drive Stefani and Auntie Suzette to Avis because he wants to get rid of the loiterers in front of his beautiful mansion.
7. 6:30 pm. Tow truck takes car away without Stefani to speak to the guy and Mother freaks out because she feels abandoned. Kind, old, impatient French man invites us into his house where we start taking shameless selfies and Maya asks for tea, to which Mother says no, because apparently tea is more rude than selfies in a strangers house.
8. We call cab. Cab gets us to go to Nice to get another car.
Basically, the trip that was supposed to take us five hours and get us to Milan by 5 pm took, all in all, 13 hours and got us there at 1 am.
But Milan was interesting. Being named in honor of this city and their language, I had to like it somewhat, right? We tried to sneak into the World Expo by faking tears,
Ate more Italian gelato,
Went night walking when there was no shopping to do after shops closed
Went shopping when forced to not look like a shabby hobo, as my mother called me,
Posed indecently next to what probably were very important statues
Saw a little culture of the Duomo Cathedral at the center of Milan
Ate an entire dinner of just mozzarella pretty much at a mozzarella bar
We gave Auntie Susan her present! And she was like “what the frick is this, am I supposed to celebrate my age?!” And then she liked it, and put it in the security box in our hotel because it was rather pricey and looked really good on her!
Then of course, we proceeded to eat. Look at these two photos of mussels. Do you see a difference?
That’s right. We were supposed to share that bowl of mussels, but the plate on the right with the empty shells belongs to me and somehow I feel like I ate all of them.
And the best part of going home was that I finally got to meet my host dad, Simon! Being half-Vietnamese and an incredible cook, he made us papaya salad with papaya from Malaysia, and then decided we were not yet full enough and so we had phô as well, because why not?
Stay tuned for the best week so far though, with my best friends visiting, and me making copious new French friends!