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13 Little Blue Envelopes
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Well, as anyone who reads my Twitter account may already know - I loved, loved, LOVED Maureen Johnson's book 13 Little Blue Envelopes, which I finished reading a couple of days ago. It's such a perfect novel for any American - especially, I think, any American girl or woman - who loves or has a yen for European travel. The heroine races all around Europe meeting amazing (and sometimes crazy) people, it's all vividly and perfectly described, it's very, very funny, and it all felt completely real to me. (Which is astonishingly rare for me, ever since I moved to England and realized how inaccurate most American literary versions of contemporary England really reading this one and feeling a joyous inner leap of recognition was like getting a wonderful gift.) It also gave me waves and waves of nostalgia for my own days of jumping on a train for yet another European city, back when I was around the same age as the heroine. (And it made me think again how ridiculous it is that I've been living in England for 6-1/2 years and still haven't spent more than 3 days in London in total!)

It was cool timing, too, since tomorrow will be the 7-year anniversary of my final move to Europe (after various shorter stays beforehand). Seven years ago from tomorrow, my dog Nika and I each got onto a plane heading from Detroit to Vienna, where we were going to meet Patrick (ending the long-distance aspect of our relationship for good, thank goodness!) and stay for 6 months before moving to Leeds to start my PhD. Patrick and I hadn't yet found an apartment to stay in, or any jobs to work while there. I only found out as my own plane was taking off that Nika had been put into a different plane, transferring in a different city - and when I tried to ask about her at my transfer airport of Frankfurt, the USAir employee just looked at me blankly and said, "Dog? What dog? I don't have any record of a dog on that flight!"

AAAGH. I was very, very, very unhappy about this.

Luckily, when I arrived in Vienna, she was waiting for me in her crate, surrounded by a gaggle of cooing Austrian stewardesses, all absolutely adoring her...and being Austria, I was able to take her out of the crate immediately and console her with a meal of excellent Viennese sausages, served chopped up in a very classy dog bowl at the airport cafe while we waited for Patrick to arrive.

So all felt like a big leap into mid-air (exhilarating AND terrifying) as I was doing it, but it's all worked out far more wonderfully than I could have imagined in so many ways (if Nika were still here with us, I would say in ALL ways), and my own upcoming European anniversary made me enjoy the novel even more. Thanks so much for the recommendation, Eugene!

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