My Mission Trip to France=$3800

I have raised $3,857.00 to date. My support raising is complete! Thank you!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Can I still write in this? I am technically not "doing Europe" anymore. Let's call this a "Sheena does NY" post.

Life in the Big Apple has been grand.
After my goodbyes on Sunday I went to my friend Brittany's apartment in the Upper East Side. It was so nice to live and be with her for a bit. I got deathly sick that night though, which was a bummer, but not enough to keep me away from Trinity Grace Chelsea. Oh that church, that church is just wonderful. Totally something I could see myself being a part of and Jon Tyson is just amazing and creating a completely grace-filled Christ-centered community. Thank you Jesus for using these people so powerfully in this City.
Crashed the next day...and the next. However, I saw Lee Ann and John and their friend Heidi for a bit on Monday. That was fun, I finally walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, which I never did when I lived here as a little girl. Crazy I know. Then we had a great dinner in Little Italy and then went to GROM!!
Grom is a true Florentine gelato place; the locals in Florence told us there were two best gelato places, La Carraia and Grom. Well, we went to Gelateria la Carraia (best gelato of my life) but Grom is a chain so we thought we'd go to their store in NY! They ship all the ingredients from Florence and make it just like they do in Florence! It costs your first born, but it was so worth it.
Well Grom was situated in the Upper West Side, and while we're eating this semi-drunk woman and her daughter come in raving about how they just saw Bill Clinton at dinner. So naturally, I'm like "No way!" and the woman is like "GO THERE! See for yourself!'ll see all the Secret Service."
So John, Lee Anne, Heidi and I decide to go!
And sure enough, we get to the corner where the restaurant is and there's like three black, blacked out Escalades in front of it and Secret Service men on the corner. Excited, we go in to the bar and wine is half off a bottle, so we get a bottle and take turns "going to the bathroom."
Sure 'nuff, bam, Bill Clinton, right there, sitting having dinner.

Then we had a glass of wine and went to a free comedy show at Upright People's Brigade, which was decently funny.

The next day I woke up super late, researched nonprofits, and then walked around Central Park and Greenwich Village some. It was lovely just getting lost in the city. And I went to Bryant Park for a bit to watch the ice skaters. So wonderful.

The next day went pretty much the same, except I finally found Strawberry Fields, the tribute to John Lennon in Central Park. And I walked through the Rambles, which was so beautiful. I can't believe this is Manhattan.
Then I walked around Midtown and window shopped for a bit and when home and honestly, I fell asleep around 9pm.
Lame, I know. Even more lame, being sick.

Thursday I moved to Brooklyn Heights, where I am renting a room from a couple that goes to Trinity Grace. Then I napped, visited charity: water headquarters, and then saw Hannah and Susan WIllard! That was lovely, they were in town checking out colleges. We met up at Colombia and then got lunch and at a cute little place near there on the Upper West Side. I met Deb, an amazing woman who's Susan's friend. I think sometime this week we will make a date to bake together. AHH YESS!

Then went back to the Brooklyn.

Friday was much of the same, sleeping in and such, except I got a new book at Barnes and Noble and walked to Trader Joe's. mom's old bank is now Trader Joe's...what the heck? It's pretty crazy...
What's crazier is living back in my hometown. It feels weird and is just crazy to think that the last time I walked these streets was as a little girl.
And I still remember so much. I haven't gotten lost/not known where I was yet. That's just crazy.
Another weird thing, my fav chinese take out is now an American Apparel. Hmph.

Made some dinner and food for the rest of the weekend, then went to WTC to watch Brittany Logan's dance show. It was really interesting, sixty 60sec pieces composed by different composers and choreographed by different choreographers. Really interesting. Brittany and her roommates danced together and they did great.
Then we went to Greenpoint in Brooklyn to watch a show - the Pearl and the Beard. Fell asleep before the show started (it started at like 2am!) so I just went home.

This morning I volunteered in BedSty at a church to help immigrants learn English. It was fun and I RANDOMLY met the guy that Lee Ann and John stayed with earlier in the week. Isn't that CRAZY!?!

This world is just too small. Seriously? Insane.

Then I went shopping in Williamsburg and hung out there. It's a really cool part of town and definitely was not this cool when I lived here. UBER hipster (the birthplace of the hipster) but really nice. I talked to some people I met on the street for awhile. I wish I were staying here because we totally would've been friends...

And now...just sitting in Brooklyn after getting rained on all day. Boo. I need to get better. I need to. But tomorrow should be great, I'm checking out Redeemer Pres with my new friend Deb, then hopefully serving at the Bowery Mission (ee!) and then church later on that night at Trinity Grace. Maybe squeeze a yoga class in there.

We'll see.

Construction on the sub has been crazy, so I had to take the N over the Manhattan Bridge (what?!) to get home. As I was going over the bridge my eyes beheld the Brooklyn Bridge and the beautiful, foggy, gray skyline of NYC...and tears came - out of nowhere! It was so surprising but in thinking about it I think I realized that a piece of my heart always stayed in New York.

Oh New York.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

and now, the end. well sort of.

There's something beautifully poetic about the journey of life taking you right back where you started.

My current location is Brooklyn, NY. United States of America.

Home. Maybe....

My trip to Europe started here about ten weeks ago. Ten weeks ago. Gosh that's ridiculous.
Ten weeks ago, James and I met at Orlando International Airport and hopped on a plane to NYC. It was the first day of our trip, the first plane we would ride, the first bus we would take, the first subway we would board, the first day we lugged luggage around for more than and hour, the first day we got lost... Fast forward ten weeks and here I sit again, in Brooklyn, NY, with innumerous "firsts" under my belt, calloused hands, weathered luggage, longer hair and a mind full of beautiful memories.

Right back where I started.

James left for Orlando this morning. Friends in Otown, be sure to say hi (and Happy Birthday) to him soon.

How strange this all is! Thoughts of home, of having a home, of having a car, having a life, a job, a cat - this all seems so overwhelming to me right now. What a funny state to be in, so awkwardly thrust into reality again.

Although I guess my reality hasn't completely arrived yet. I am still traveling. Still a nomad.
Perhaps I should explain.

My travel plans have changed past the Eurotrip that James and I have so thoroughly organized.

I have decided to spend a little more time in New York, seeing how my subleaser Kaitlyn needed a place to stay for longer in Orlando. My rent in Orlando is being paid for and I have the opportunity of a lifetime to live and work in the City, so I figured, why not?
Perhaps this will be the perfect extended ending. At least I think so.

Our days here in New York were just beautiful. James and I arrived at JFK and traveled to Phillip's house in Williamsburg with ease, practically public transportation pro's by now. Jet-lagging like crazy, we ordered Chinese food and watched a movie on the couch as soon as we got in. Dinner and a movie: Hello America. I didn't last the whole movie, surprise surprise, but we did really well, falling asleep around 11pm. Two days later and I think we're pretty much over jetlag.

The next day we work up early. Actually, James and I woke up with a start at 6:45am. Um, that's like 1pm in Europe. Getting back to sleep for a bit did not come easy, for ME at least. Infer what you will about James. :)

We finally got up around 9am though and left for the financial district. There would be a Yankees Champion Parade that day; a tickertape parade through the Canyon of Heroes. Quintessential New York. It was wonderful; the streets were filled with New Yorkers doing what they do best (being loud, ha!) and people decked out in their Yankees gear. Office workers of the highrises above were throwing tickertape and shredded paper (even some toilet paper!) out their windows into the parade below. So much noise. So much litter. And people selling propaganda everywhere. Oh America.

After the parade, Phillip's roommate Evan took us to this awesome mexican restaurant in Soho. El Paso. Soup and bread, chips and salsa, two chimis and rice and beans for $7.00. So awesome.
We ate until we were grossly stuffed and felt strangely patriotic doing it.

Then James and I ventured to Central Park. It was the last day of peak season, which means that the leaves are in full color for fall. It did not disappoint. Autumn is my favorite season and I've experienced the most beautiful autumn of my life, I'm sure. Such blessings.
We walked through the park for bit until we found this big grassy field. Just perfect. We laid out in the grass and people watched while letting the sun warm us. Oh beautiful sun. Oh beautiful city. Oh beautiful life.

Then we walked down to Serendipity; I wanted a little cookie something and some coffee and thought it would be cute. We got there and there was an hour and a half wait. Ha! So instead we took a picture, went to CVS, got A&W Root Beer and Butterfingers and laughed about how we were such Americans.

We did some shopping at H&M, which is cheaper in America than in Europe. Oh happy day. Urban Outfitters was having a crazy sale for women's gear so I got a dress and shirt for $15. At Urban!?! For reals, I was so happy. James was upset men don't have these types of deals, but happy for me of course.

Shopped out two hours later, we returned to Brooklyn and went to a 24hr falafel place down the street to use internet. Manna.
Hours passed through good coffee, good conversation, and good company, and we successfully stayed awake in time to meet Daniel Beeler at midnite. Yes, my childhood friend was able to take a random trip to NY before a work trip to Minnesota. So sweet. After getting him settled we fell asleep to some great Jim Gaffigan.

The next day I took Daniel to the Staten Island Ferry, then Wall Street, the World Trade Center, Central Park, the Empire State Building, Rockafellar Center, and Times Square! We ate NY pretzels and pizza. This day feels like a blur. I was quite the tour guide, and we had a great day, although I think I wore Daniel out. Apparently, I'm euro-walking conditioned. Suh-weet.

We met James at Junior's in Times Square for dinner; some good american eats and NY cheesecake. It was also perfect that this was James and I's last meal together because this was where we had our last meal in America before our flight to Europe.
Round and round this full circle we go. So perfect.
We sat in a booth near the same one we had before and all got amazing steakburgers with fries. Then we each got a slice of cheesecake; Daniel got original, I got raspberry swirl, and James got strawberry cheesepie. It was lovely and everything Junior's cheesecake is supposed to be.

We left for Brooklyn and went to Manna again, getting internet. Then we stumbled home, tired (and sick, in my case) and went to bed. I had a hard time sleeping without the ability to breathe, but was up in time to tell James an early goodbye.
So strange.
Then Daniel and I got breakfast at Gimme Coffee! and I told him bye.

So many goodbyes.

And here I sit. In New York. Alone and back where I began.
Postgrad Eurotrip, check. Done and done. And now? Now, I am faced with the decision of what to do next in this endeavor called life. I wonder what will happen, where I will be, what I will one told me how terrifying and exhilarating this would be.

I'm right back where I began.

About 22 years ago I was born at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Sweet life, you've brought me here again. My hometown.
Full circle. And just perfect.

Thank you friends for joining me on this journey. It's not done and I'm sure will never be. But I'll see you soon I'm sure...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

the burbs.

For the past two days James and I have been staying in the most wonderful home of the Minors, residents of Middlesex London, the burbs if you will. They live in a lovely little town called Hampton Hill, and life here has been so refreshing. God gave us the perfect ending to our long and wonderful Eurotrip. The Minors have an AMAZING home that they graciously invited us into. I can't tell you how refreshing just sitting in the hottub with a glass of wine has been these past two nights, refreshing to my body mind and soul.
Tonight I will be in New York.
This is craziness.

I am so sad to be leaving this continent, but excited to have a working cell phone that will put me in touch with loved ones soon.
Look out tonight, I might call you.

Love love.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My last night in Paris.

Je t'aime Paris.

Oh city. Oh sweet, intoxicating city. How you have captured my heart.
Nothing quite compares to you.

I've realized that sometimes the cliche things in life can be wonderful. Perhaps this is why they are made cliche; so many people have found joy in doing these acts.

Sitting at a cafe that overlooks the sparkling Eiffel Tower at night and sipping on a cafe creme while reading Hemmingway and writing in your journal is uber cliche.
But so wonderful.

Thus describes my night.
Unplanned but enjoyed, I ended up walking around the 7th arrondisement, my old "stomping grounds" if you will (from when James and I had an apartment) and getting maybe (a little) lost. In the end I managed to find my way to an endearing cafe where the bartender laughed at my French (very poitely) and the waiter, dressed in a black vest and black dress pants and awesome Parisien shoes, of course, answered my question of "Does this view ever get old to you?" with the sweetest, most French reply of "It's the best view in the world, no?"

Ah Paris.

As I sat, various Parisians rode by on their Velib bikes, identified by the flickering white light that is signature to the front of every bike. Oh how I wish I had had the opportunity to ride one, but such is the plight of an american with a credit card sans a puce.
As I sat and sipped my coffee, a group of people my age sat down at a nearby table. They spoke French eloquently and I secretly listened as I hid behind my book.
"Would these be my friends if I were a Parisian?" "Would I do this on a Monday night if I lived here?" These questions filled my mind, along with the fantasy of a Parisian life.
With every word they uttered I wished more and more that I could speak French as eloquently as they did. I promised myself (again) that one day I will master this language. Their conversation continued, and I switched to actually reading again. Just as I started to get lost in my book the Eiffel Tower started to glitter.
I was so awed and amazed by the sight.
My awe did not go unnoticed though. No longer the invisible American girl, the group of Parisians made sure to recognize my presence by laughing at how I was utterly GAWKING at the Eiffel Tower.
They mimicked my position of hand-on-chin-mouth-open-eyes-dreamy and I laughed when I noticed what they were doing. After making eye contact with me, they spoke to me gently in English and said "I know, it's very beautiful."

C'est trop vrai.

I shyly smiled in agreement, knowing that I was probably blushing as well.

After the light show I decided to write. I have to admit, I got lost in writing, and really needed to keep better track of time because I had to beware of missing the last metro home. I understand how Hemmingway and Joyce and Fitzgerald must have gotten lost in their writing in this way. For days and days. Oh sweet city.
As I wrote in my journal, I thought of them, these great writers of the past who decided to be expatriots in this city. It's amazing to think that someone, far more talented than I, was able to take the same setting I was in and create such beautiful works of art.

After finishing my cafe creme, I paid and then left for the metro, literally catching the last one. I'm practically a pro at this now. The ride into La Defense was surreal. As stop after stop passed by, I realized more and more: I'm not ready to leave this city.

As I walked through the streets of Courbevoie to my temporary home at 2 Avenue du Parc I saw the Eiffel Tower sparkling again. I wished I had taken more time to watch, but the cold was cutting through my jacket too much so I had to walk faster. But even this brought me joy because I am convinced that Parisian leaves crunch classier. Oh fall.

So last night in Paris. Okay. I suppose I can handle this for now. Maybe this is like eating the best meal of your life, and not being ready to leave the restaurant. Something amazing and beautiful happened there, but now is the time to go home and digest, and let your body process what has just happened to you. You can not stay there longer, or you will ruin it. Maybe tomorrow you will remember the meal throughout the day, and smile and rub your belly. But you know it's too soon to go back, no, that meal will not be tomorrow night's dinner. Or the night after that. Or the night after that.
But maybe in a little bit you will return, and it will be just as lovely a feast as before.

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for all of Paris is a moveable feast.” - Hemmingway

Oh Hem, you got it right.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Because a picture post is way overdue...

Friends, these are a crazy mix of pictures from Paris, Nice, Cannes, Berlin, Switzerland (Huemoz and Lausanne), Rome, Florence, Barcelona, and Bilbao.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


So the Parisian metro closes at 2am, the RER line closing at midnite. The buses stop running around 5am.
Let's just say we took the metro home last night...and not because we caught it before 2.

Quick overview.
Going to the ChampsElysees. Crazy parties. Realizing it was too expensive for us, then going to the Republique area to a bar that had already closed at 2am. WHAT?
Meeting Kasia and Ania and old friends from afar. So crazy. Hanging out in Paris and getting fries and candy from a Turkish cafe. The turkish man who served me making fun of how I speak French, but maybe in a very polite way. Oh well.
Such good fries, then a pastry shop open at 3am in the morning. WHAT? Hallejuiah, yay for drops, so good. Latrrice avec aumand et chocolate. Yummay gimme.
Then walking to Bastille, so much walking. Parisian police giving us the wrong directions. Boo.
Then stumbling upon a random club in Bastille, asking if we could get in for free because it was like 4am in the morning already...and the bouncer complying. WHAT? I am magic.
So Sheena +4 in a Parisian club with a 20euro cover on Halloween night FOR FREE. Most awkward club ever, complete with eer race, a disabled person in a wheelchair on the dance floor and a couple random OLD OLD men.
Strange music, but fun dancing.
Walking home on tired footsies but so happy the metro was open again. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Happy Halloween from Paris.