Michelle Does Christmas

31 Dec
 
Ok. So. Christmas. Never celebrated it before. Never really thought I ever would. But Sam, God bless her, invited me to her house to celebrate the holiday with her and her family. Before I get into it, let me introduce Sam as I’ve mentioned her many times, but don’t think I’ve given her a proper introduction.
 
So it was a dark and stormy night on February 12, 1988 when Samantha Lee came into this world…Sorry, sorry I’m only kidding. Sam is my coworker at Hogan Lovells. We share all of our work and daily tasks and get to stare at each others beautiful faces all day long since our desks face each other. Good thing she doesn’t smell. As I was completely unfamiliar with the British education system and solicitor timetable (two integral parts of my job), Sam was basically my knightress in shining armour and put up with my millions of questions when I started here. After bonding over training records, countless lunches and our shared love of our dogs, we obviously became bff’s. Duh. 

 
Anyway, Sam invited me to spend the weekend at her house in Cheam, which is about an hour outside of London. After work on Friday, her dad picked us up and drove us through the city to their house. It was my first time in a car in 5 months and I nearly soiled myself with excitement. Once we got outside the city, her dad started speeding and weaving through traffic and it was at that moment I knew he was a great and wonderful man. Hey, if I can’t have my vehicular aggression this year, at least I can enjoy it through other means, ok?
  
Upon arriving at their house, her dad popped a bottle of champagne and my adoration for him just grew further. I was also greeted by Sam’s mom and older sister. While Sam’s family could not have been nicer and more charming, it was her Irish terrier, Guinness, that just stole my heart completely. Sam, now that I know where you live, I will probably steal him from your unsuspecting family one day. So just consider yourself warned.
 
That night, Sam and I met up with some of her friends to go out to Tooting (yes, I swear that is its name) and then to Clapham. I didn’t know anything about going out in either of those areas because they are outside central London. However, we didn’t get back to Sam’s house until 4:30 a.m., so that should speak for itself in regards to the kinds of places they were.
 
It was late to bed and then early to rise as it was time for presents! I don’t know if it’s an English thing or a Christmas thing, but I have literally never seen so many gifts in my life. DeenaPro, the expectations for Hanukkah 2011 have now been raised. Sam got everything from a tea set from Shanghai, to a vintage radio, to Bobbi Brown makeup. Have to admit, I was more than a little jealous. But then, completely unexpectedly, Sam regaled me with presents of my own. She found an American food store and got me peanut butter and jelly and poptarts, then jam from The Savoy (I’m obsessed), a British slang book and the best of all, a spray tan. I’d like to think she gave me the spray tan out of the goodness of her heart, but it’s probably just because she’s sick of hearing me bitch about what a ghost the England winter has turned me into.
 
After presents, we went and walked Guinness in the park by her house and then returned for Christmas lunch. I literally had no idea what to expect, but the food was UH-MAZING. We had turkey, stuffing, potatoes, yorkshire puddings, peas, parsnips, carrots, pigs in a blanket, gammon and more cheese than I have ever seen in my life. Eat your heart out, Jamie Dollinger.
 
 
 
We spent the rest of the day drinking mulled wine and watching Dr. Who, a very popular and very odd British program. Sam’s dad, an alcohol connoisseur, got up at one point and came back with a shot of sambuca, tequila and tabasco sauce and made me try it. Um, 2122 and Elizabeth, the ‘down 3, up 5’ would have worked wonders right about then. May I offer the suggestion to anyone reading this to NEVER DRINK ANYTHING WITH TABASCO SAUCE IN IT. Needless to say, that put an end to the events of the evening and since Sam and I had only slept a meager 5 hours the night before, we retired.
 
And that was my first Christmas. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. Sam and her family were so incredibly generous and nice and made me feel so welcome. Because of this, I have started a fund to get Sam to Thanksgiving in America next year. Donations are not only welcome, but expected. Many thanks in advance.

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One More Lonely Girl

25 Dec

So I know I promised to update daily on my progress as a loner, but that clearly didn’t happen. A lonely girl is busy, ok? Geez. Anyway, let me quickly tell you about my week so I can fast forward to this ridiculously amazing weekend I’m having.

Tuesday – Spent at the spa getting massages and facials with Sam, followed by dinner at Ed’s Diner. This diner was basically made with Jamie Dollinger in mind, as massive cheeseburgers, onion rings and milkshakes abounded. Needless to say, I’d say Day 1 of Loner Week was a solid 4/5 Lonely Stars.

Wednesday – Took off to the theater to see Les Mis by myself in true loner style. Sat in the last row of the highest balcony, which was ironic because the last show I saw, Legally Blonde, I sat in the front row. Yes, Grundt,  I’m still kicking myself for waiting so long to see it. I’ve gone to the other side now. Anyway, as Les Mis is my all-time favorite show, I still loved it despite my crappy seat status. Downside to going by myself? No one sitting next to me to make my crying seem less weird. Last time I asw Les Mis was in London with Blatter and she and I were both such sobbing messes by the end that it was fairly amusing, as we legit could NOT. STOP. CRYING.  So I’d have to give Day 2 of Loner Week a meager 1.5/5 Lonely Stars. Shame.

Thursday– After my ridiculously amazing boss handed all of us Cava and chocolate and treated us to Glee Christmas music all day, I took off to Harrods, Office, Topshop, House of Fraser and Selfridge’s in search of gifts for Sam and her family, as I was spending the weekend with them. I’ve never had to do Christmas shopping…um…ever and I now know the true blessing of being Jewish. So this terrible madness of holiday shopping need not occur for us MOT’s. Sorry, cava and chocolate, the horridness of shopping brings the day to a 3/5 Lonely Stars.

I pause and complete this post so I may start a new one regarding my Christmas weekend. I know you’re gripping the edge of your seat in anticipation, so just try and get ahold of yourself while I spit this one out.

A (Not So) Social Experiment

22 Dec
The holiday season. When it’s completely acceptable to watch Love Actually on repeat and listen to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra excessively. Known as a time to eat as many mince pies as you want. Known as a special time to be with family and friends.
 
Or in my case, a time to be completely alone.
 
Um, yes, you read that right. I am legitimately the only person in my program who will be here this week, as everyone else sets off for their home sweet homes for Christmas. Seeing as how DeenaPro flew us to Cancun last year for the yuletide, I think you can assume that the Profis fam doesn’t do Christmas in any capacity. Unless Chinese food is involved.
 
For those of you who are close to me, you know that being alone is no problem and that I am perfectly capable of entertaining myself to no end. It’s more of the what happens if I face plant in front of my building on the icy steps and bust my knee and no one is around to hear my desperate and woeful cries that I’m worried about.
 
And so a social experiment begins. And by social, I mean solo. 4 days. 5 nights. 1 girl who is going to dominate being alone and having absolutely no one to talk to, outside of my lovely and enchanting coworker, Sammy Lee, who will be my only companion. Well, her and my stuffed Molly dog.
 
I will attempt to make the most of these 4 days by doing a variety of activities, and I will update this blog accordingly. If I should not update one day, it must have been because said face plant has happened and I am lying in a giant lump on Sutherland Ave., covered in ice and snow. In that case, will someone please contact the Maida Vale police and let them know of my unfortunate situation.
Let the games begin.

What I’ve Learned in London…

17 Nov

What can you do in three months?  You could watch the entire LOST series 10.3 times. You could walk 25% of the Great Wall of China. You could watch all three Lord of the Rings movies (extended versions) 191 times.

While I would gleefully spend my time doing any of the above, I am more directly referring to the amount that you could learn about living in a foreign country on your own, straight out of college.

As I have now been a resident of London, England for three months (or 95 days to be exact) I feel that I have amassed a wealth of knowledge I am just itching to share. So without further adieu, I present…

10 Things Michelle Has Learned in London

1. One can learn a sense of direction. For those of you who have had the grave misfortune of navigating with me (specifically Arielle Gumer, Lauren Blatter and Elizabeth Hassett), to call my sense of direction abysmal would be an understatement. Truly, when God created me, the chip that was able to identify where the hell I am was left out. I could legitimately speak about this horrible handicap for hours, but if you want anecdotes, ask one of the three lovely and patient ladies I have mentioned. Anyway, when I first got here, navigating was difficult, to say the least. But somewhere in between the Bakerloo line and 6 bus, I LEARNED. Now? I AM A NAVIGATING MACHINE. Right, left, westbound, eastbound, tube, bus, DLR, National Rail Services…THERE IS NOTHING I CAN’T DO. I AM ON FIRE.
2. Use the yellow line. When you’re in a rush and trying to reach one end of the Tube platform before your train arrives, walk as closely to the yellow line as possible to avoid the idiotic people that stand completely still and directly in your path. If you are one of these such people, watch out. I will push you.

Take a good look. The Yellow Line. Bow to it.

3. ALWAYS carry an umbrella. It doesn’t matter if the sun is shining six ways to Sunday, DO NOT leave your flat without one. Rain can appear faster than Ashley Ross can dart around at a shoe sale.
4. Wear comfortable heels when you go out. As you will probably end up walking two to three miles just to get anywhere, save yourself the trouble and the blisters and trade those stilettos for some sensible boots or flats.
5. Don’t forget to bring your own sweets in for your birthday. In London, gone are the days where you are regaled with cakes and candy on your birthday. No, no. Here, it is your own responsibility to bring food in for your special day. If you don’t bring your own cake in, you ain’t blowin’ out any candles.
6. Our words are not their words. From the day I arrived, I have been compiling a list of words that have different meanings here. I will share that list with you now. Many thanks to Samantha Lee for helping with this.
American Word British Word
calendar              diary
bangs                   fringe
period (.)               fullstop
appetizers            canapes
whiteout              tipex
plaid                    tartan
romper                playsuit
bandaid               plasters
This knowledge will come quite handy when your coworker says ‘Can you write this in your diary?’ And you’re like, ‘Um, I don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t keep no diary.’
7. Never eat a Digestive cookie. I swear, somewhere in between the chocolate coating and wafer bottom, they have managed to lace these cookies with an addictive substance that will render you completely unable to eat only one. You may think that you can, but you are wrong. Before you know it, you have eaten an entire pack and are left with a very upset stomach. Listen, they are called Digestives for a reason.

Don't let its chocolatey exterior fool you. There are hard drugs in there.

 
8. Know what X Factor is. When I asked Jamie Dollinger if she did, she said, ‘Umm, isn’t it that show on MTV where you meet your ex or something…?’ FALSE. NO. WRONG. It’s the British version of American Idol and seriously what this country revolves around. If you didn’t watch over the weekend, you are S.O.L when it comes to water-cooler talk at the office on Monday. Credited with discovering Leona Lewis, X Factor is also the reason why Simon peaced out of American Idol: He’s bringing it to the U.S. next year. Speaking of Simon Cowell, he is SO MUCH NICER here than he is in America and I hate him for it.  But that’s a blog post for another day. Regardless, check out this season’s best contestant and worst contestant. And yes, Wagner is still on the show. Lord only knows.
9. Lie at restaurants. When you buy fast food at a Pret or EAT or Costa or one of the dozens of other gourmet fast food restaurants here, say that you are taking it out, even if you’re eating in. They charge you around .50 pence more to sit at a table. So lie. Hey, I do and I’m like 3 pounds richer. Bitch.
10. NEVER, EVER, EVER GO TO PRIMARK. You know that scene in Mean Girls when everyone is going crazy in the hallway and hitting and punching each other? That is what Primark looks like. Known as an extremely cheap one-stop shop for everything from boots to comforters, it is without a doubt the most overwhelming, maddening and stressful store to walk into. After nearly getting mauled when trying on a sweater, I have vowed to never enter that store again unless coerced or rewarded with a Digestive. Or two. Or twelve.

Seventh circle of hell.

There you go. 10 things I have learned in my three short months in the UK. I’ll add 10 more to the list in February, at the six month mark, when God willing, I’ll have mastered the art of saying no upon the offering of a Digestive cookie.

Oans, Zwoa, G’suffa! One, Two, Drink!

2 Nov

Perplexed on how to begin this post, I sought the journalistic advice of one Hillary Sarah Grey, a fellow journalism proficient, to aid me in my opening lines. She contemplated, and returned to me with a three-word opener that I fear is so ingenious, I have no choice but to use it. So, in the words of Ms. Grey, I have one thing to say:

I’m back, bitches.

I know I’ve been MIA and I return today under heavy fire from many of you to update. What have the past weeks been filled with? Hmm…let’s see…trips, work, adventures, exhaustion, heavy alcohol consumption, traveling, class etc. But what majority of you have been pestering me to write about is Munich. So let’s start there.

A bit of math before we begin. What do you get when you take 13 Americans + 3 days + 1 city known almost solely for its boisterous beer halls? Numerically speaking,  yes it’s 17 – I did learn something in AP Stat, Shira Hinds. Figuratively speaking, it’s one hell of a weekend that will be nearly impossible to rival. Ehh actually, FlaGa ’09 might. Thoughts, Grundt?

To skim over the weekend, touching on the highlights, I’ll start at Friday night when, after our 3am wake up call, 6am flight and a sobering visit Dachau (the first Nazi concentration camp in Germany) the 13 of us headed to Hofbrauhaus. FPC, I would LOVE to hear you try and pronounce that. Hofbrauhaus (pronounced Hoff-bra-house) is a massive beer hall in city center, filled with long picnic-esque tables.

Drunken Americans

When you walk in, it becomes every man for himself, as seats are hard to come by. Luckily, using our good ole American aggression, we managed to score a table right in the front for all of us. After ordering some pork knuckles, goulash, spatzle, Bavarian beef, bratwurst and bread dumplings (stop drooling, Jamie), there was only one thing left to do: drink. Let me dumb this down for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the drinking culture of Germany and their chosen beer container – the beer stein. These steins are not some measly cans or bottles suitable for slipping in a coozy or a jean butt pocket. No, they are not even pints. They are LITERS. They are longer than my head. Seriously. In an effort to adequately portray the amount of beer that fits into a beer stein, watch the following video. Please excuse the super creepy guy in it.

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the stein (see, this blog is educational), a tale is in order. DeenaPro, this might be the point where you should stop reading…come back in two paragraphs. Anyway,  after drinking a full stein at a very rapid pace in my fervor when I first arrived, let’s just say I was feeling good. Confident and wanting to keep up with the boys, I order another stein. You know how you sometimes you’ll be with a group of people and someone will say, “Hey dude! You should chug the rest of that!” And you’re like “Ehhh, ok.” Yeah, that didn’t happen. Rather, without knowing how or why, I find myself standing at the head of my table saying, “Hey! Who wants to see me chug?!” Apparently when I said this absurd and irrational statement, I was not using my inside voice, as I suddenly realized there were approximately 50 people that had heard me and were now beginning to say – yep, you guessed it – Chug! Chug! Chug! I look up, I look back down, I see that I am holding a massive beer stein, and one word comes to mind: Shit. I try and laugh it off as if to say, “Oh, you all! Such

Oh, dear.

pranksters!” But this rowdy group of drunken masses won’t stand it. I am standing at a crossroads. To chug, or not to chug. And one thing has come to mind: What would Dana Somerstein do?  And goddammit, she would chug. And so chug I did. Sadly, much to the disappointment of my 50 new drinking comrades, I only made it about 3/4 of the way through the stein before I was fairly certain beer was about to start pouring out of my ears. So put a fork (or a stomach pump) in me, I’m done. If only I had a funnel, things might have turned out much more differently. I hope I did you proud, Dana. You too, Jamie. Oh, and DeenaPro, you can come back now.

After this epic night, we returned to our hostel, complete with our own private room (thank you SO much again, Sarah V.) and fell into a drunken slumber. But it was early to rise the next morning as we took off to Neuschwanstein Castle, two hours outside of Munich in the Alps. Fun fact for you, Rebecca Cohen – this was the castle that Cinderella’s castle was based on! Incentive for you to come visit me?

Our trek to the castle was without a doubt the best thing we did on our trip to Munich. Not only was the castle itself absolutely stunning, but it also gave us a chance to really see how beautiful Germany is. We climbed up a mountain, we went inside the castle, we hiked through a gorge – it was amazing. Photos below.

The castle, holllaaaaa!!

So purty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we returned back to Munich from our day trip, it was more beer halls, more goulash and more sightseeing right up until we left Munchen and arrived back in London at 2am. No time to rest, right back to work six hours later. You know, because I’m a real person now and everything (brushing dirt off shoulder).

The two weeks since I’ve been home from Munich have mostly been spent recovering, along with a smattering of other events. Another trip has been booked for February (**e**n* – hey, gotta keep things interesting). I worked on and presented a group project this past weekend. Hitting up the Black Keys concert tomorrow night. Currently navigating yet another Tube strike. Received a massive package from DeenaPro filled with cookies, shoes and DVDs (and a certain something that I cook for 22 seconds – shoutout to 2122, I know how much you miss those). And speaking of DeenaPro, we are only three weeks away from her and LoPro infiltrating Londontown for a great, big British Thanksgiving! And yes, Lauren, I am making Mommy make me tuna cassarole and you can just have fish and chips that night. Deal.

So, that is about it for me on my side of the world – I am all blogged out. I promise to never go this long again without posting, as I seriously feared for my wellbeing based on the scathing threats from some of you. Consider me warned.

I hope all is well in America! Quick fun fact – our Daylight Savings Time is a week earlier here, so there is only a four hour difference between us for just this week! I see no reason why this should affect anything at all, but it’s a nice thought, isn’t it?

I love you all. Book some flights. I stole a stein from Munich and if you come visit, I’ll let you drink from it.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Why Today Rocked My World:

3 Oct

Ladies and gentleman, I interrupt this broadcasting for the most important announcement I could ever make.

Today, on the third of October, I, Michelle Suzanne Profis was one of 170,500 lucky people that got…..GLASTONBURY TICKETS!!!

All you Americans reading this probably don’t understand what a big deal this is so let me put into a series of phrases you can wrap your mind around: Biggest outdoor music festival in the world. 5 days. 700 acts. 177,500 tickets. Sold out in FOUR HOURS.

Listen people, this is no ordinary music festival. It is absolutely legendary. Tickets are nearly impossible to come by and security is so tight that your ticket is mailed to you with your picture on it, making scalping or selling absolutely impossible. I could go on and on and on about how this is something that I’ve wanted to do for years and could not be more excited and have been pinching myself all day and want to just crawl out of my skin in ecstasy and how headliners rumored for this year are Coldplay and Madonna and U2 and I just want it to be tomorrow and…..ok, I’ll stop. As we have 10 months to prepare for these heavenly 5 days, there’s no need to wear myself out now. Hey A.Ross, too bad I couldn’t have added this to my music festival article, huh?

To familiarize yourself further with Glastonbury, and to bask in the rays of your impending jealousy, check out more information about the festival here.

I AM SO EXCITED I JUST CAN’T STAND IT!

Dublin, Guinness and how I almost missed my flight…

28 Sep

Dublin, Ireland. Home to ridiculously overpriced drinks, Irish accents that are nearly impossible to understand and the deliciously deadly Magner’s cider. And this past weekend, it was home to Julie and me.

We landed in Dublin at around noon on Friday and took off for our hostel, which as hostels go, was pretty nice. Lauren Blatter, you may be happy to know that there were no snoring, fat, old men in this one, circa London 2008. After dropping our stuff off, Julie and I went to the Dublin Writers Museum to learn about James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde, to name a few. It was a fairly small museum, but, um, please. As if I would pass up the chance to see a writer’s museum. Hell to the no.

After the museum and wandering around Dublin a bit more, which is a fairly small city for those of you unfamiliar with its layout, Julie and I decided it was time to begin the night…at approximately 5pm. Hey, don’t judge. So out we went. Dublin is known for a section called Temple Bar, an area with tons of closely packed pubs, live music and drunken, burly Irish men. After moving from bar to bar, drinking an exorbitant number of Magner’s that I do not care to share with anyone, and a particularly nasty fall (note to self: heels on cobblestone – not such a good idea), we decided to turn in for the night.

Saturday began with the obligatory water chug (shoutout to 2122) and then off to wander the city. We started by heading to Trinity College, as it not only is gorgeous and very prestigious school, but I have also filed many a degree from there at work and was curious to see what it looked like. Although rather small, it was beautiful.

Trinity College

After checking out some churches, parks and castles, we reached the apex of the day. Yes, you may have guessed it: Guinness beer is headquartered in Dublin. Was I skeptical? Of course I was. I’m used to buckets of Miller or Coors at Swamp, not a beer so dark in color it looks like it was scooped from a pig pen. But after much hesitation, I tried it. And believe it or not…I LIKED it. Not enough to ever, ever want to drink it again, but for this one day, I managed. What do you think of that, EDH?! Anyway, the museum itself was actually very interesting. Not only did it explain the entire history and process of how Guinness is made, but there was also a gravity bar on the top floor where you could enjoy both gorgeous views of Dublin and a nice, cold pint. Best part of the tour? The floor where you could master the art of pouring your own pint (45 degree angle, then slowly tilt up, then let sit for 119 seconds for maximum enjoyment). Yes, I became a Guinness pouring master extraordinaire and yes, that’s going on my resume under ‘Special Skills.’

Oh, check out my sweet certificate. You can refer to me as the 'The Bartender' from now on, please.

After the factory, there was only one thing left to do…go back out. After asking a bouncer where we could find a good dance floor, Julie and I took off for a beautiful bar/club away from Temple Bar. This place was GORGEOUS. No, I didn’t take any pictures of it, but Julie likened it to a club you would see in Vegas. But, I’ve never been to Vegas so that means absolutely nothing to me. Lodge reunion there in 2011, anyone? Grundt, you can plan it. Dana, you bring the funnel.

When we returned to the hostel later that night…oh, and by ‘night’ I mean 4am…we realized we had to be up at 5am to catch our 8:40 flight. Psh, we scoffed, no big deal, we can set three alarms and snag an hour of sleep.! Ha. Ha. Yeah, no. Bad idea. I was woken up to Julie shrieking, “Michelle, Michelle, wake up it’s 7!” Gulp. Enter panic mode. Chaos ensued, clothes were flying, sprinting down the street to find a taxi occurred, and by some miracle performed by the Irish Leprechaun Gods, Julie and I made it through Dublin, through security and to the gate with 15 minutes to spare. We’re that good. Thank you, thank you, I’ll be signing autographs after the show.

So that marked the end of an epic weekend in Dublin and my first trip (of what will hopefully be many) this year! I do have one more trip already planned  that’s coming up in about a month but I feel like keeping everyone in suspense of where I’m heading until then. Julie and I returned back to London at around 1pm on Sunday and instead of retreating to our respective flats for some much needed R&R, we dropped our stuff and headed out to Wimbledon, which is about half an hour away. Julie has a coworker, Alan, that lives out there and he graciously invited us over to recuperate from our weekend over burgers and Zombieland, which is a terrifying movie that I do not recommend for the faint of heart. Ask Julie to imitate my face for 95% of the film and I’m sure she would be happy to oblige, seeing as how I am fairly certain she got more amusement from watching me than the movie itself. Ugh.

So, have I covered all my bases?  I should think so. What can you expect to see here in the next week? For starters, as promised, a post dedicated to Sammy Lee, my wonderful co-worker, fellow dog lover and honorary Gator. And yes, Sam, we will finish the filing eventually! Also, more reasons why tickets should start being booked. I know there are a few of you out there who have been looking into it this week cough Rebecca Cohen cough cough Elizabeth Hassett. Who’s going to be next?!

Oh, an ENORMOUS shout out to Melissa Robin Chalef for sending me a postcard this week, which promptly went front and center on my bulletin board.

Thank you, Melissy!! It was a wonderful surprise and I loved hearing from you!!!

Cause we're BFF (y.g.t.p.)

In case anyone else out there wants to shoot me some snail mail, you can reach me at Flat K, 129- 131 Sutherland Ave., London W9 2QJ. Ok, great. I’ll expect magazines, boxes of Velveeta and the new Guster CD in the mail by next week.

I’m beat. As always, big, squishy hugs and sloppy, wet kisses to everyone. Sending all my London love back over the Atlantic and keeping my fingers, toes, arms, legs and eyelashes crossed that I will get to see some of you in the near future. As in next week.

Cheers!