lundi 31 décembre 2007

New Year's Resolutions

1. Do more: Read more books, the news, see different movies. Listen to different musics (totally unrelated, but Modest Mouse in nice to listen to coupled with the winter setting here. "Neverending Math Equation" is perfect for going down my street. And Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" is good for walking up it, but you have to start from the door of my building. Try it! And do it when the vendors are out and it's sunny). Go to more museums. Learn more.

2. Try harder: No brainer. In school, in my own personal projects.

3. See at least one other European city: I'm going to London, yes, but I have to see at least one more European city even if it's only for a weekend. I will scrimp and save. No more pints of framboise or Monaco on random days! Leader Price brand--that's the generic brand they have here for foods--only!

4. Lose weight/gain muscle: The reason has stopped being "to look good for my brother's wedding". It's not just that, and it's not a beauty thing. I used to be pretty big in high school, but I lost a lot in college, and I am 14 pounds away from being my lowest weight which I achieved my sophomore year. And just remembering how I used to be when I was there...I felt invincible. I was taking kung fu and jogging, and people would ask me to open their pasta jars, and I ate less (and saved money), and I'd take the 12 flights to my apartment and beat the elevator that my roommate would be in (no joke!) and I felt strong like I can beat anyone up, even guys, and I was in my own personal fight club without the cuts and bruises but only the pain of my muscles getting stronger, and I felt so alive and energetic and full and in tune with my body, and I want to be back there again. And I want my physician Dr. Hur to be proud of me when she looks over my health records, and I want the girls who made fun of me back in high school to be jealous at our high school reunion. Okay, I'm gonna stop before this gets longer. 14 pounds...I can do it!

I think that's a decent list. Sorry I went overboard on number 4. Yikes. Happy New Year's everyone! Don't know what my plan is tonight. Will probably just hang out with my friends, and we'll see where the night takes us. All I know is that we want to be out for the countdown. Yeah!

dimanche 30 décembre 2007

my first nightmare

Had my first nightmare since being in Paris. At least, one that I oddly remember so well. I'm with some friends who are film majors also, and we're talking to these industry people to help me get my film made. The industry people wanted my film to get made, but, they said, the only way I was going to get this film made was if I film some scenes and pretty much put on this whole show for the "corporate people", and that's totally not my style. I said that either they like it or not, they give me the money or not. I'm not going do some stupid dance for them so that they can give me the money to make my film. It would cease to be my film when all those corporate people have all the money and can tease me with it and just as easily make it their film. The setting ceased to be room where I was pitching my script, but this gaudy, monstrosity of a set that I did not envision for my film. It was a wedding scene, and we were in the middle of this church that was all decorated in flowers and white everywhere. There was this band to one side, the corporate people on the other, the industry people in the middle of the aisles, and my friends giving out direction for me because I was too numb to do anything.

And it was getting out of hand, it was not what I wanted.

And nobody wanted to do it my way, and nobody was listening except for my friend's brother Dan (fake name), also in film and in real life a bit older and wiser about working in film, who I've only met twice and very briefly. At first, he was gun-ho, thought it was a good idea, but when it was getting out of hand, he started to see. Of all my friends and the industry people, my friend's brother who I've only said 3 words to in our time together in real life, he was the one who understood. And in the middle of this circus-like fiasco, in this elaborate show to impress these stupid suits, he came to me at the altar and without saying anything, he hugged me. It was comforting at that moment, but it wasn't enough. That's when I woke up. I'm not even out of film school yet, and I'm having this nightmare. Can you imagine what terrors await me when I'm finished with school?

Other than that, a cool day. Hung out in front of Shakespeare and Co. while Nayo and Sarah were inside. I was sitting right on this bench writing some ideas down in my Moleskine:When this European guy trying out his French comes up to me with a book and asks if I'm the one selling the books. I smiled and told him, in French, that he can go inside and pay, and I point to the store. That was like the best thing that happened to me today. Being mistaken for a bookstore owner. Sarah said, "How does writing in a Moleskine warrant you as a bookstore owner?" I said I didn't know but I joked, "I should have taken his money...But what if I didn't have any change to give him?" And then this line of people behind him would form as I played the bookstore owner. The Shakespeare people are really trusting to leave all those books outside their store.

Met up also with Susie and her bf Andy, and we tried to figure out dinner. Andy suggested calling for take-out since Susie didn't have any cash, and Andy had a credit card. Susie was all, "But I'm scared!" It's funny how something so simple like ordering take-out on the phone can feel so daunting in a foreign country. I'd be scared too. They ended up getting pizza.

samedi 29 décembre 2007

this cozy home

Woke up curled up in a ball this morning. Probably because I was freezing. Figured that it was time I bought a comforter. Yes, I've been sleeping in one of those polar fleece blankets that I thought was pretty warm, but apparently not. And I don't like leaving the heater on and wasting that electricity. Fortunately, Nayo had to go to Ikea to buy some things today so I joined her.

Took the bus to the RER, and the sidewalks, the train stations, they were all full of people from all over the world. And all I could think was, "You tourists, get out of my way!" It's such a horrible feeling. I've never felt that way living in California, but that's because I never lived at the center of a compact city, and there are barely any compact cities in CA to begin with.

Had lunch at Ikea, bought a comforter, and I swear, when I got home I tore that plastic wrapping off, and I re-made my bed all nice, and it's so silly how something little like a comforter can make me happy, but I've been noticing these small, little things that make me happy every day like the little spoon that comes with my crème or the smells of fruits and vegetables outside my window, and I just hope to God that all this transfers over when I go home. And just having this cozy home at the end of the day fills me with absolute joy.

Had Indian food with Susie, her bf who's visiting Andy, Nayo, and Taylor, and it was good and cheap. Then hung out at my place afterwards. A nice day.

vendredi 28 décembre 2007

pulp fiction and the cinema

Saw Pulp Fiction at my movie theater tonight with Kristin, her bf Shawn, and Morgan. First we met up at the Mayflower, had a pint, and walked 7-8 minutes down to the theater. Heaven.

Sometimes people ask me why I'd go see a movie that I can just rent myself. Why see "old" films projected in a movie theater? Why pay the same (or slightly less) for a film when you can see a brand spankin' new one? It's because nothing beats that big tall screen, that darkness, the tiny black flecks that dirty the screen telling you that this is film and not digital. Because, when Pulp Fiction was in theaters, I was in second grade and was into whatever Disney was putting out at the time. Because I am a cinema major, a lower level of film geek, and I like sitting in that darkness with friends and strangers.

If I become rich with whatever it is that I will do in the future, I'm opening my own independent film theater that looks like the ones they tore down when towns got too big, and they put up those god awful monstrosities boasting 16 screens. Two screens. Only two screens, and we'll mostly show old stuff, silent films for the kids to watch, the classics, horrors around Halloween, romantic comedies with Cary Grant around Valentine's day. We'll serve the typical fare of movie theaters, all that candy. But only one size of popcorn and soda because, seriously, you don't really need to eat that much popcorn or drink that much soda. And at the beginning of the very first showing of a film's first run, I'll be there to welcome my patrons, introduce the film, and sit with the audience, just like the lady who runs Le Grand Action. One of my dreams since high school. It's funny because, while I was thinking of my dream to own a film theater, I learned that Shawn works in a two screen movie theater. Pretty cool coincidence.

In other news, I'm getting out of here! For a weekend only to lovely London where I will be staying with my cousin, his wife, and their baby who I haven't met yet. I am EXCITED!!! I've been to London twice before, but I'm gonna look up stuff I haven't done, and get some fish and chips. Ever since I bought my ticket I've been craving fish and chips. Yum. And then feeling like total crap afterward from all the friedness. Am going to try and not be a total tourist.

jeudi 27 décembre 2007

dyslexia and my semi-healthy addiction

Ever since I got here, I've become slightly dyslexic. I've never had this problem before. But lately, I've been inverting my pin number, writing and typing things wrong, and even jumbling my speech. It definitely has something to do with the French language. There are a lot of words that are spelled similarly and sound the same. It's just so weird that my mind is mixing the two languages causing me to feel more stupid than I already am.

Met with Nayo today to find some more really good hot chocolate again. She said "hot cocoa", but I don't even want to call it "cocoa" anymore. "Hot cocoa" brings up these images of a ski lodge and Ugg boots and tiny marshmallows and Swiss Miss packets. But chocolat chaud ou chocolat à l'ancienne is nothing like that. It's rich, melted chocolat that comes with a spoon. A freaking spoon!

Went to Gibert Jeune to look at the Paris Chocolat book, then found a good place close by. Went to L'Heure Gourmande that is located on Passage Dauphine. Completely off the beaten path. You walk through the metal gates and there's this small, inconspicuous tea house amidst art galleries. We both ordered hot chocolate. The lady comes out with what looks like a porcelain butter churner, and starts "churning". Then she pours out the thick chocolate. This one was really good, different from Angelina's. It was a little bittersweet, but I liked it. Nayo said that this place would be great to take the married man you're having an affair with since there's not a lot people that walk by, and it's one of those hidden treasures. Haha...Chocolat chaud here is so addicting, I just want to go to every good hot chocolate place here. But only as a special treat and afterwards I should make myself walk home to burn it off.

As for my other addiction: books. God, I love the bookstores here. There's a bookstore on every street, it seems. There's even one just downstairs, not even a minute away! All I have to do is turn a corner, and it's there. Finished Around the World in 80 Days. I really should read more classics. You're pretty much forced to read the classics in high school, but after that you're on your own. Went to WH Smith, which is an English bookseller, across from Tuileries. I had the hugest urge to read Fight Club just because the film made a big impact on me. Also went to another librairie up my street and got a children's book, Le Lion, La Sorcière Blanche et L'Armoire Magique. Also known as C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Children's books in French are fun (and easier) to read. And I just love children's books in general.

mercredi 26 décembre 2007

Christmas wish list

Okay, okay, I know I said I didn't want anything for Christmas other than handwritten letters, but after browsing the interwebs of lists of the Best Gifts of 2007 and Techie's wish lists etc..., I don't think it hurts to make a list of things that would be nice if money were no option, you know, just in case I win the lottery when I get back to the States.

1. An HD camcorder: The Sony HDR-HR7 or Canon XH A1. Because HD is crisp and clean as heck. I admit that at heart I'm an analog player in a digital world (my super 8 still works last time I checked, and you can't beat the saturation from my Russian Smena), but as long as I'm living in a digital world I might as well go hi-def. For the sake of my film, of course.

2. A Macbook with Final Cut Pro studio: Because, as my cousin had advised me--and he's a CEO or something huge for a creative agency in New York--I have to make the switch. Final Cut is becoming industry standard. The Coen brothers used Final Cut's Color to make O Brother Where Art Thou look what it looks like. Come on! Plus, I really like working with Macs. I'm not one of those diehard Mac people or anything, in fact, I love both PCs an Macs equally, but my next computer would definitely be a Mac.

3. A 500GB external hard drive: Because my 120GB back home is almost full. Man, I just remembered that I got my 120GB for Christmas for myself last year. Such a nerd.

4. Bicycle parts, wheels, for my Bike project: Oh yeah. Before I left, I was building a fixed-gear bicycle from an old bike I bought at an antique store in the Mission district in SF. I was halfway through stripping all the paint off myself by hand ('cuz it felt so down and dirty and amazing!), when Paris approached, and I had to abandon the project. Hopefully Dad didn't throw away the frame I left sitting in the garage. If he did, it wouldn't be that great of a loss anyway. Don't think I'll have the money to build the bike when I get back.

5. And, lastly, a crapload of books whose titles I'm too lazy to write here. In summation: the Chronicles of Narnia (in French), numerous books on film (on Buster Keaton and other directors), some Taschen books, and some Tintin books that Aaron had recommended.

How nerdy is this list? This list pretty much establishes me as a nerd and bike dork. I'm kind of embarrassed. Okay, okay, I think I've thought of something less nerdy and more girly...

6. Burberry trench coat: 'Cuz it was always my dream ever since I first visited London to have one. When I option or sell my first script, this is the first thing I'm getting for myself.

Anyway, I'm really content with what I have right now, and I really don't need these things. My laptoppy is in great condition, and I have Adobe Premiere Pro. My wool coat is falling apart, but by spring I probably won't need it anyway. Like Tyler Durden said, "The things you own end up owning you." It's so true.

Another lazy day. Did some post-party cleaning and am almost done with Around the World In 80 Days. Don't know what I'll do tomorrow.

mardi 25 décembre 2007

Christmas eve and day re-cap

Ahh..Time to blog. Lucia just left, helping me get rid of our amazing leftovers from last night. So good...This Christmas was not too shabby. I'll start with last night...

Was freaking out that the boucheries would be closed by the time I got back from Lucia's so I went ahead and went home. Bought a lovely roast chicken. Got home, made some pasta for Sally, who I know is vegetarian, and set up my place. Lucia came and brought another chicken, dessert, and some decorations like candles and a string of Christmas lights.Sally came and surprised us with a GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE! I was so astonished, so happy, it almost brought tears to my eyes. I know that sounds silly, but the thought of her asking her family to send her the ingredients necessary for green bean casserole (the soup, the fried onions) that are unavailable (at a reasonable price) here just makes me...well, I'm filled with gratitude. After Sally had uncovered the dish from the paper bag it was in, Lucia and I just looked at each other like we both received the best Christmas present ever.Barbara made mulled wine on my stove and bread, olives, and cheese. Teresa brought cider, the yummiest, crispiest palmiers (cookies that were literally all sugar and butter). We had a feast. It was nice to have a small Christmas, nothing too hectic and crazy. I didn't want to get drunk or worry about getting home at a weird hour. I just wanted to sit down to dinner, talk to people I haven't seen in a long time, and eat some really great food. Thanks everyone for pitching in.

Afterwards, we headed to Notre Dame for midnight Mass. We got in, thank God. I even had a "seat" at a base of one of the pillars. The Mass was beautiful. They had a whole choir and everything. We stayed until the very end until they finally kicked us out. I didn't get communion. Sometimes I don't get it when I don't feel worthy enough to have God in my tummy. I just don't feel like I haven't been my best lately. Instead, I just stood there, taking it all in, being surrounded by people from all over the world who wanted to be here, who all felt compelled to witness something truly spiritual and enlightening, and you didn't have to be Catholic to feel that every word, every action meant something, you just had to be human.Around 2am, Lucia and I walked back to my place. I told her she could sleep over, it would just be too crazy to go home. We were silent for most of the walk.

Christmas day
Woke up at 11. Lucia and I had big, heaping plates of leftovers for lunch. Lovely. Got a call from Nayo asking if we wanted to go ice skating at Hotel de Ville. Politely declined. I seriously just wanted to veg out all day. I know "it's Christmas" and all, and that was her repeated excuse for trying to make me and Lucia go out (first ice skating, then Indian food, then a bar after that). But neither of us wanted to do those things even though it was Christmas. Also Lucia had said, "I don't think I can handle smelling Indian food right now." I agreed. I just didn't want to go out and spend money. I also didn't want to change out of my pj's. So Lucia and I had a lovely Christmas, in my opinion, eating leftovers, talking, and watching movies. It was most excellent.

We talked about how much we changed in just the past few months here. Like just having roasted chicken at our table was a real blessing, an absolute treat. And green bean casserole is the best gift ever. My own home, which is probably half the size of the master bedroom in my parents' home, is deemed as "huge" in the eyes of my friends and I. We make due with no microwaves or no ovens, bad plumbing, 5 minute showers, or yogurt for dinner. We all have found our own ways to survive. Even if we've felt that we haven't learned anything in our classes, I think we all learned the value of things, to appreciate things more, and that's not something we could have got back home or in a classroom.

Talked to the fam, and they're having Christmas without neither me nor my brother! It just sounds so wrong. I have a legitimate excuse for not being there, but my brother? He's working Christmas day! 6am to midnight! Not cool. I guess next year things will be back to normal.

lundi 24 décembre 2007

bah humbug or: happy Christmas! it can go either way actually...

Woke up with total purpose. Lucia's texto woke me up. She asked me if I had plans for Christmas eve. Since no one proposed to throw a party (a Facebook group proved that wrong as I would later find out), I sent textos to people who I rarely see but did get to talk to over the break. I told Lucia, Sally, Teresa, and Barbara (via Teresa) that they should all come over for dinner tonight. That settled, I figured that Santa would give me a present (something not material) instead of coal this year for my good deed. No one deserves to be alone on Christmas eve, especially when you know people here. That's just not right.

Went on Facebook to find out that Steven was throwing a party/sleepover tonight, and a lot of people were going. Ah! If only I had known about this thing earlier, I would totally have gone. Nayo told me to just go to Steven's party and tell everyone to go there instead of here, but I already bought apple cider and other food stuffs. And I'd hate to send a texto saying, "party's cancelled we're all going to Steven's". That's just not right. Who cancels a party the day of Christmas eve? Not me.

Had McDonald's for lunch which is the epitome of depressing. Met Lucia at Chateau de Vincennes and went for a walk at the park which is HUGE and lovely even in winter. Loads of kids on playgrounds. Nayo called me while I was at the park, and I was following Lucia to the playground area.

Even while Nayo was mad at me and telling me to cancel my party and go to Steven's over the cellphone, I could not muster up any anger towards her as, I was having the effing TIME OF MY LIFE on a see-saw with Lucia at the playground. She had no idea that while she was questioning my plans, I was smiling my ass off jumping up and down, sending myself three feet into the air. The end of the convo on my end sounded like this: "Okay, okay, I don't think I'll go, sorry, have fun, but I'll think about it, but I don't think I'll go. (click) Weeeeeeee!! HAHAHAH!!" I can't remember the last time I've been on a seesaw. God, it was fun.

Saw my landlord this morning and he stuttered, "Uh..euh..uh..Happy Christmas!" Guess he forgot how to say it in English 'cuz it took him a couple of seconds. Anyway, Happy Christmas everyone! Be well, be safe. Thanks for your love and support over this past year in Paris.

dimanche 23 décembre 2007

we will never have it this good again

Another take it easy day with no set plans. Outside this morning a brass band was playing Christmas songs. I took pics and video. Got some groceries. After lunch, decided to go to the Marché Noël at Nation on the Right Bank. Went with Nayo. It wasn't that great, just loads of artisan crafts. Nayo then remembered that I wrote down the best place to get hot chocolate in Paris in my Moleskine--I had copied it from Melissa's chocolate book. Unfortunately, I only wrote the street it was on: Rue de Rivoli. But it's called Angelina.

We walked from Chatelet down Rue de Rivoli towards the Louvre looking for this place. It was fun. Not too many people out, less than I expected since it's the holidays. Since the Louvre was on one side of the street, it made our job easier finding this place. We finally found it--it's across from Les Tuileries. There was a line outside the door.

We waited for 10 minutes, not that long. There was a patisserie to the left inside, and beyond the foyer loads of people sitting in this beautiful salon. If it had been more ornately decorated it could have looked like some buffet dining hall in Vegas, but no, it was stately without being pretentious. The staff was dressed in black slacks and white shirts, the girls being in black skirts and white aprons.We got what we came for: hot chocolate. Nayo and I both chose white chocolate, for a change. I also got a millefeuille, and Nayo got a Mont Blanc. The millefeuille was SO GOOD. Thin layers of buttery, flaky, crispy goodness between rich cream. Yum.
I told Nayo that I didn't think I could ever drink hot chocolate ever again if it wasn't like this: smooth, rich melted chocolate. My mouth waters just thinking about it. So decadent. Now that I know what amazing tastes like, why would I ever go back? I wouldn't. I asked her, "Do you think there's anything like this in the States other than that watery stuff mixed with powder?" She said no.

After, we sat in the Tuileries in front of the fountain where I took one of my first "Paris For A Year" blog banners. It was frozen, and there were ducks slipping on the ice. It was cute.We walked through the Tuileries towards the Louvre, then made a right and crossed Pont Royal. We walked towards St. Michel and browsed the many book vendors who sell used books along the sidewalk. Nayo bought a Henry Miller book, and I got a Tintin book. I like the drawings and Taylor's boyfriend suggested them to me.

We talked about what life was going to be like after Paris, and compared San Francisco to Paris. I agree with what Nayo said to me, San Francisco has beautiful parts, yes, but they're all spread out. Paris is one beautiful thing after another. It must be the history, the layout of this city, the buildings, the art, the food, I could go on...It must be all these things that make me fall in love every time I step outside. And I can't help but feel that I will be comparing everything else, when I leave, to Paris, and that nothing will ever measure up.

I will never forget that, despite the language barrier, the cold, the being away from family and friends...I will never forget that, despite all these things that could make a person absolutely miserable, I had it really good for one year. I had heaven.

samedi 22 décembre 2007

first day of vacation!

Ah...the first day of vacation. I love the first day of a vacation because I can finally breathe, and there's all these possibilities, so much to look forward to. Had a lazy, loungy day today. Woke up to the sound of the carnival ride that's set up across the street. It's a bunch of cars on a track going around in a circle to "It's A Small World After All". It was so annoying. I can't believe that as a child, I'd probably go ape-shit for that stuff. All you do is go around in a circle.

Had to leave the apartment because I couldn't stand the music. Took my book (Around the World in Eighty Days) that I haven't finished to Jardin du Luxem. The fountain's frozen there! Every time a kid wanted to touch the ice with his foot, a gendarme would blow his whistle and give him a very stern look. It was funny. Finished off 4 chapters. Then met Nayo, and we had a crème (coffee and hot cream...my favorite) at Le Conti on St. André dès Arts where we had coffee before. Nayo wrote postcards, and I wrote in my Moleskine a list of things to do over the break:
-organize photos
-clean house, computer
-organize life
-write script
-archive blog
-read
-French homework, practice French
-figure out travel plans, ticket to go home in July

Doesn't sound like much of a vacation, but I guess I'd rather get all this stuff done. Dragged Nayo into this great papeterie (stationery store) that had all these cool notebooks and gifts. Will probably get my friends things there before I go home. That place was amazing. Had dinner with Susie at BIA. Then hung out at my place until Morgan came over then we went to the Aux 3 Escales to meet Kristin and her boyfriend who just came in from the bay area. He's spending his winter vacation with her. Good times.

In annoying news, the D on my keyboard isn't working well, I have to pound on it to get it to type, so typing is pretty annoying. Blurg. The laptoppy has been pretty good to me over the past 4 years, so I really shouldn't be complaining, but I lose my flow and concentration when I'm trying to type and this D is ruining everything. It's easier and faster to type when I know I've got a lot to say, and I don't want to lose it all, but now with this D problem...Argh.

vendredi 21 décembre 2007

not quite done...

For one of my classes, they've extended the first semester until February 7th. Ridiculous. I know two people who are switching to Nanterre because they can't take it anymore at St. Denis. I'm going to stick it out. It's just one more semester.

Went over to Nayo's in the 7th. She lives right by Le Bon Marché, which is like a Bloomingdale's. They had all these Christmas decorations, and everyone was carrying some sort of shopping bag. It was nice, all the hustle and bustle, even if I couldn't really identify with it in any way. Just felt like some sort of tourist in a Christmas theme park.

Accompanied Nayo to Monoprix which was absolute mayhem inside. She needed groceries, and we bought stuff to make dinner. This old lady in line for the register was complaining about how crazy it is in here, it was funny. She dropped her change, and I picked it up for her, and she said I was nice so that was cool. Took a pic of this dog waiting by the cash registers inside Monop'. Thought it was cute:Showed Nayo how her oven works and how to cook eggs. She usually eats out, but she now sees how much you can save by eating in. I actually spent almost 100 Euros less on food this month because I didn't eat out or I just generally ate less. This is good; it means more money for traveling. I'd like to go somewhere, even if I only get to go outside of this country once, just please let me go. I had these huge dreams of traveling to a bunch of places while I was here, but I didn't save enough (my spring semester dug a huge hole in my pocket since I spent a lot of money for my film production class). Learn from me kids, save your money! I'll be lucky to get out of this country once, even if it's to London to visit my cousin. I've been there before, but at least I can say I went somewhere outside France. Susie and Taylor are going to Denmark, and Sally's going to Egypt! Some people are also going to Amsterdam.

After eating at Nayo's, went to my place to hang out. We passed by Place Monge, and I told Nayo how the fountain's frozen over, so she wanted to see. She tested it, and actually cracked the ice with the heel of her shoe! I laughed and grabbed her, fearing her whole shoe would get drenched. This cute, tall businessman walked by and saw, and he laughed too. It was nice. We went to my favorite boulangerie and got something sweet to munch on. She got macaroons, and I got tuiles amandes, these crunchy, sweet cookies with almonds and loveliness baked into them. Had them with tea. Susie came over, and we all just hung out and dorked around with the computer.

jeudi 20 décembre 2007

the best day ever

Today has been the best day to point out all my inadequacies as a student and as a daughter. Have at me world, the day is almost over! What else do I suck at?

Daughter first. So, met my Aunt and Michelle this morning at Musee D'Orsay. Brought them pain au chocolat. Auntie asked me if I had anything for my Mom last night, and I had said no. She gave me this weird look. I said I was too busy thinking about this week and all my work due that I didn't do any shopping. Felt this huge guilt trip just from their reactions then said that I'd meet them tomorrow morning (today) and I'll get something for my Mom. This shop that I like ended up being closed (figures), so I didn't get anything. So when Auntie asks me this morning if I had anything, and I said no...I just felt like total crap. I mean, I was meaning to get something for people at the end of the year. And I don't really get my parents anything for Christmas anyway. I figure that once I have a steady job and am totally not dependent on them, then I can start giving them things and paying for things like my brother does. It's just this sort of unspoken rule: if you're a student, then you get off easy. Once you're employed that's when you start giving back.

And school...I just don't have an appetite for writing about it. It sucked. The end.

Got a texto (text message) from Kristin asking if I wanted to go to the Mayflower, and, at that moment, getting shitfaced just seemed so appealing, but I didn't do it. Instead I said I was going to go home, cook some food for me and Nayo (who was coming over anyway to hang out), and just chill. We got bread, cheese, and stuff to make omelettes. Susie, Taylor, and Aaron came by too and we watched episodes of "Freaks and Geeks". It was a good time. Wish crappy days like today didn't have to be so close to Christmas. Being at home with friends made it better though.

mercredi 19 décembre 2007

freezing, dinner with extended fam, package of lurve

It's cold here. Yup. Last night was at Sarah's in the 9th, and we were walking toward St. Lazare, and the water on the curb was frozen! Her and Steven were heading towards my place to go shopping, and we got off at Place Monge, and the water in the fountain was frozen too! And all the leaves were suspended in the ice, it was really neat.

I'm more than halfway done! We did our skit today in a "studio". There were two cameras, and my friend Elly was explaining to the technician how every scene was going down, and where the cameras should be, etc. The guy was super, super nice and funny. It's always nice to meet someone nice and helpful when it comes to all things cinema. He filmed us and did all the audio.

Was totally packed in the metro today. A nice looking businessman with short, cropped brown hair and wearing a nice leather jacket had his back pressed up against me. It's not his fault or anything, we were all pressed up against each other. My back was to the door, so that was okay, and it wasn't the door that opens at each station. He gave me a sympathetic look over his shoulder that seemed to say, "I'm really sorry". But it was nice. It felt like the beginning scene in Buster Keaton's The Cameraman when he's pressed up against the girl in that large crowd, and he just smells her because they're so close he can't help it. That sounds really pervy here, but you have to see it, it's just so beautiful and simple. Anyway, it felt like that. His jacket was soft, and he smelled nice. When people got off, he gave me room. And that was that.

Hung out with Nayo while I was waiting a call from Mom's friend. I call her Auntie Teth. Her and her daughter, Michelle, are here for two days and I wanted to take them out to dinner. Nayo and I had coffee in the St. Michel area, and I asked if I could hold her cigarette and take a picture of me looking really disgusting and in bad shape like that girl in Frantic or any sort of cocaine addict, and I think I succeeded. Don't worry! I'm no smoker. I love my lungs.Nayo and I were at the metro to head back to my place. She was feeling really crappy and wanted to just get some bread and cheese and just chill. I saw these girls across the way holding big art portfolios and they looked really cool. And, totally being myself and just wanting to be funny to make Nayo feel better, I said, "What if I just had one of those big portfolios for like my regular papers? And people would be all, 'Are you an artist?' And I'd say, 'No, I just like these folders', and then I'd open it up and there's something stupid in there like some script I wrote." I'm so happy that she got a laugh out of that because then it made me laugh, and I didn't feel all stupid for thinking these things. Then we both decided to forget going home and go to the St. Michel area to see how much these big folders cost.

After that--they're not that expensive--we got a beer at Shywawa with Melissa, Susie, and Nick. Then I met up with Aunti Teth and Michelle at their hotel. I took them to my place, and we had dinner up the street. Auntie had a salad and escargot, and Michelle and I had the beef fondue which was so bomb I'd have it again if I was ever craving beef. You cook beef in hot oil and there's all these sauces, and unlimited bread. I was so full at the end. I showed off my French skills which was really cool, but I felt like an idiot when they asked me what certain ingredients were and then I didn't know. Blurg. Then the waiter wouldn't give me the check because Auntie wanted it, and he obeyed her! Then he tried to drague her, asking her for her phone number and what hotel she's staying at! It was funny.

I just can't wait until I have the ability to buy people food and things. Really. Just being able to give gifts and take people to dinner. Having that will mean that I've fully succeeded in providing for myself and others. Having that means that I have some sort of financial stability. Blurg.

Auntie gave me a care package from my parents. Awesome. One of the best care packages EVER since I didn't know that it was coming. Mom only said, "I'm giving Auntie some things to give to you.":1. Hot cocoa (from Disneyland!!!)
2. Homemade beanie knit by Mom
3. turtleneck, sweater, button up from the 70s that Mom used to wear and now wants me to wear (it's so cute!).
4. Jake and Amir shirt I ordered that came with a sticker
5. Thrice's "The Alchemy Index" and Jimmy Eat World's "Chase This Light".

And lastly a message from Kuya so lovely that it almost can bring tears to my eyes. And it's written on pieces of cardboard! That is so Kuya! Or at least, that is so Figueroa-like. I love it.

mardi 18 décembre 2007

honest to God truth

The truth hurts, I know. But I feel so crazy when I can't say "I miss you" back and really mean it. Christmas is getting closer, and I'm okay with the fact that I might be alone. I mean, I kind of wanted this, to experience this.

And I've always wanted to reach this detachment from people (albeit secretly, but now you know, dear reader). And now that I have it, was it really worth striving for? It only makes me feel less and less human when I don't miss people, things, places, food. Living like this makes me a better candidate for espionage and lone gunmen-type work. It feels cool to know this.

I apologize for the semi-philosophical rant. There's just so much occupying my mind, and yet there's space for this...I'd go on, but I don't want to upset people, especially my family, and this post might already upset them, but it's the truth. Just the feeling of missing people/things feels so negative to me. And I think I've just turned that act of missing into something positive, because I need positivity in my life. So, to me, "I miss you" is more like "I can't wait to see you again". Be it in 6 months or in the afterlife.

Lots happened today. But one thing that really, I mean, REALLY cheered me up today was seeing a graffiti stencil of Buster Keaton near Steven's place. It's on the bottom of the staircase where they filmed Elijah Wood's scenes in the Paris, Je T'aime short with him. Seeing his films here this past year has made him this ideal guy to me, which is really sad because he's (or his persona is) from the 1920s, and I'm here in 2007. It's just sad to have a crush on this guy (see pic) now. Really pathetic. Guys like him are pretty rare, and I'm extremely old-fashioned that I should really be back in the 1920s too. But seeing him graffitied there was pretty cool, gave me some hope. Will take a pic during vacation.Gosh, he's so funny, he totally makes my day.

lundi 17 décembre 2007

sacrifices

I am missing out on my friend's Christmas party because I have to meet my group for our skit tonight. Effing sucks, but what can I do? This is the only time that all of us can meet. I can't wait for this week to be over.

One class down. Four more to go. Had class in the tiny office at Micefa again. I was sitting in front of one of the computers in a position so that my back was to the professor, and I could see everyone's bored, depressed faces. At one moment, I just wanted to burst out loud into laughter just to see what everyone would do. If I did it, I mean burst into laughter, then a least these people would have something to talk about later and forget what's making them look so damn sad. It's Christmas, look alive, people. Like I should talk, though, right? I swear, I'm going crazy.

After class, Romina and Lily and I were talking about the lakes being frozen, and I had asked what the ducks do when the lakes freeze over, and then it hit me that Holden Caulfield asked that same question to that cab driver. This is significant somehow...

Watched a trailer for my friend Brandon's film final, and it made laugh so much to see him working on what he loves. He sent me the link, which was really cool of him. I love it when people keep in contact with me. You can see it here:zombie feast It really made me miss school back home and working on set with my friends and being needed.

dimanche 16 décembre 2007

the cure

If anything can cure loneliness and sadness, it's the laughter of children. And Buster Keaton of course.

Went to the cinema to watch 3 short Buster Keaton films: The Goat, The Scarecrow, and The Paleface. Invited some friends, but no one showed up. No calls or anything except a message from Susie saying she can't come which was nice, you know? I waited outside for people 10 minutes before projection, and no one came. Oh well. I came really early and got my ticket and killed time at a bookstore down the street. Bought a good vocab book that's for French people learning English. It was cheap and looks really helpful. The cinema section of the bookstore was pretty cool too.

Sat by myself in the cinema, and then this family, a mom, dad, and a little boy, sat next to me. I remember the little boy because he answered one of the film trivia questions right at the last Buster Keaton showing. Too cute. The Dad told him to sit next to me, but he was shy so the Dad sat next to me. I'm really glad he did, because this Dad was such a huge dork! He was laughing as loud as the kids! And he had this really dorky laugh that's totally unexpected and unforgettable. It really made my day. He'd read the subtitles for his son and explained major plot points for him. Too lovely. There's something about hearing French whispered that's really hot.

An old lady who was by herself sat to the other side of me, and she was laughing really hard too. I felt like I had two versions of my future sitting beside me. I could end up an old lady who goes to see moving pictures alone. Or I could find a guy who's just as dorky as me and watch Buster Keaton movies with him. I prefer the dorky boy, but we'll see what happens.

Loads of schoolwork to do, but it was nice having a little movie break.

samedi 15 décembre 2007

you just lost a customer, buddy

So, the other day I went to the fruit and veggie vendors just outside my door because I was running late to class. I bought zucchini, carrots, and clementines. It ended up being something like 2.16. So I gave her 3 euros. Bitch was all, "Non, non, non." She wanted effing change when I didn't have any! I love giving exact change, seriously, but I didn't have any. She effing looked in my change purse to look at the coins I did have, then was all, "Vous avez raison" (You're right) I was appalled. I said "Sorry" very sarcastically, and she said I was nice. Bitch. Yeah, I'm never going there again no matter how convenient it is.

Today, I went to Les Halles Mouffetard up the street where I usually go, and the vendors are nice, old guys that look like they'd be farmers from CA's Central Valley. Tan, wrinkly old guys that look like the best of friends and go fishing together. I bought carrots, potatoes, and clementines. And I had exact change, which I gave. They're so NICE, and they call me Mademoiselle and all that nice stuff that makes me smile and want to be a vegetarian as long as I buy veggies from these guys.

Had a mini pizza with Susie, then, on the way home, felt like a chocolate macaroon. Bought two, one for Lucia when I see her later because she's letting me use her printer. Ate it at home, and man, it was so good. Dense as heck. Crispy on the outside, soft and dense in the inside. It's like a full meal. I kind of feel disgusting now though. I swear, my tummy has shrunk or something.

It's so cold outside, but the sun is shining. It's kind of nice, but it's weird to handle. It's like having that brain freeze when you eat ice cream, only it's all over your body, especially the facial area that's not covered. Went to Lucia's which is close to the outskirts of Paris. She printed some stuff for me. Then went to Susie's, who lives a couple streets down. We got something to eat and took it to the lake that's part of the Bois de Vincennes.

After, headed to Kathy's around 20H (I love how they use military time here), and we helped her bake cookies, which turned out to be horrible ordeal. Why does France have to make everything so complicated? We crushed chocolate bars with forks and had to ground brown sugar cubes since they didn't have the regular kind. We watched episodes of "Freaks and Geeks" during it. Such a good show.

Left pretty late, around midnight with Lucia. Before we crossed the street, we saw a man on a scooter, not even 100 feet in front of us, get hit by a car. He was thrown off his scooter and onto the ground. The second it happened, a crowd of guys (probably out to go clubbing) from all corners of the street rushed towards the scooter guy. Despite this being a pretty tense scene, just seeing all these young men running towards a fallen Parisien comrade was very touching. They crowded in front of the car that hit him--cuz the guy looked like he was going to drive away--and they yelled to their dates/girlfriends to call an ambulance. Scooter guy got up, probably still shocked, but I think he was okay.

vendredi 14 décembre 2007

freedom

By this time next week, I'll be free. God, I can't wait till next week is over. Until this whole month is over in fact. I just want to start over again. I really blew this semester, academically. And it's not all my fault, the strikes definitely played a part. With such a long summer vacation, who has the will to learn or try harder? I know that I don't really do well at the beginning of a school year, being back from summer and all, but I progressively get better during the winter and into the second semester. But after such a long vacation, I don't think I'll do better until spring. I don't especially do well when it's all shoved down your throat to make up for the lost time, that doesn't help at all.

Next year will be 2008. Hopefully it'll be better than the last half of this year. I love Paris and everything and being abroad, but things have been such a nightmare. I don't think I could have gone through with it if it weren't for my friends who are suffering with me.

Mom called to tell me about Auntie visiting. It sucks that I'll be busy the entire week. Dad bragged about Kuya's board certification. He's a certified nuclear pharmacist. He told me about his big bonus which I will not say how much it is because it'll make your head spin. The equivalent of Kuya's board certification would be like me getting into the Writers Guild or Directors Guild of America. Or any guild for that matter in the film industry. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so in love with something like cinema. If only I had the stomach to be a nurse or doctor, then at least my future would be secure.

jeudi 13 décembre 2007

indiependence, yeah! or: alone again, naturally

Went to the Mayflower last night and got compliments from friends about the new "hoodie". It's not even a hoodie, hence the quotes, because it doesn't have a hood, just this weird funnel neck that I love. And although it is H&M and mass produced, it is quite unique in that, as Nick said, it's not something that you'd find in the States. And I like that idea. Everyone was mentioning how annoying it is to see the same purse on everyone here and in the States. I know that when I first came here, I wanted to look the part because I didn't want to be labeled tourist or American, that I'd rather be mistaken as French. Now I don't want either. I just want to be me.

Felt sort of bad that we were kind of being loud at the bar. David, the awesome and lovely bartender, came by and told us to keep it down. Yikes. I'm naturally a quiet person, and I'm only loud in rare occasions, but I'm afraid that when I get back the States I'm going to feel like the volume's been turned up around me. David wasn't mad or anything, and when we left he blew us kisses from behind the bar.

Kuya asked me via Facebook why I changed my status from "Single" to "It's Complicated". Mainly because I like to mess with people. Naw, kidding. I just don't want to go out with anyone right now, and I know that guys (at least the wrong guys) won't bother when they see that. (Sidenote: One guy that I was interested in last year did ask me why this was my status and asked if I'd be single when I came back, but I found out he's got a girlfriend now. C'est la vie.) Anyway, It worked for me last year, and I'm sure it'll work again this year. So pretty much, "It's Complicated" means "Don't effing bug me, this is the most amazing time of my life, and I want to experience it by myself and/or with good friends" and the implied "Yes, I don't care if this increases my chance of being a cat lady or that fun, single aunt when I'm older".

Class did not happen today. Big surprise. Instead I got sucked into another French class since the secretary of the Foreign Language department suggested we just stay anyway for this other class which turned out to be really boring, yet informative, and this German Jim Halpert-ish kind of guy sat next to me and talked a lot, so that was cool.

Have been feeling really detached from the whole Christmas and holidays thing. And it's not because I don't have any decorations or anything. I have the one card from Edel up on my wall. I don't know..It's like I'm watching it all happen before me on the screen in a movie theatre, and I'm sitting in the audience. I'm on the metro every day, and I see these dads and moms, husbands and wives, young people carrying shopping bags of nice things to be wrapped. I see couples embracing and kissing on the quai while they wait for the next train or walking hand in hand down my street. And I'm happy that they're all enjoying this. The scary thing is that I'm not even sad about it, it just doesn't touch me anymore. I've learned to become really indifferent and detached to a lot of things since being here.

I once sent a message to my brother ending it with, "your assassin abroad, Elaine". And I did it as a joke, but I do feel like an assassin, being alone, trying to adapt, figuring out escape routes (I was doing that the whole time during today's class and then finally left partway through when the prof left to talk to someone). It's fun training, and I like playing the part and getting the experience. Also just watched Hitman, and Timothy Olyphant was pretty badass.

mercredi 12 décembre 2007

you could be a model

I saw the most beautiful plus sized girl on the metro today. I'm so sick of all these skinny girls everywhere I go all wearing the same boring thing. Over and over and over again. This lady had a bosom and she wore these amazing boots and a short skirt, and she ROCKED it she was so gorgeous. And then, and THEN! She pulled out a Harry Potter book out and started reading. Lovely lovely. I'm not into Harry Potter anymore, but the fact that she was reading it is just lovely to me.

Screw losing weight. I just want to be confident as heck with my body and stop thinking that I have to look like "everyone" else.

Had class and practiced for next week's skit. Prof came by and listened to our skit, giving us tips on pronunciation. It's probably one of my better classes, and I really wish that I learned more in it. Stupid strikes. In the skit, I play the mistress of this guy. It's supposed to be like a soap opera. The prof suggested that we "dress up and wear make-up". Made me laugh when she said this. I purposely look grungy and undone because I hate the attention of being made-up. It also deters strange guys from hitting on me. Seriously, I've heard some SCARY stories on girls getting hit on. Screw that. I'm comfortable looking grungy/tomboyish. Sidenote, and I don't mean to brag, but I look BOMB when I'm made-up. Everyone flipped out when they saw me on prom night. I haven't looked like that since. Standing in front of a mirror for long periods of time does not interest me.

My aunt (really Mom's close friend) and her daughter are coming to Paris for a couple of days next week. It sucks that it's during my last (and craziest) week of class, but I'll get to see them, definitely.

mardi 11 décembre 2007

stress

This was inevitable.

In addition to the stress of school (craploads due before Christmas), there's just this overall stress of trying to make sense of this past semester here. We've come almost to the halfway point. What's different now? There's the expectation to come home a different person. And of course we'll come back a different person, but underlying this "different" is that we're supposed to come home a "better" person or finally resolved/found/accomplished something. What if that doesn't happen. What if we come back home a jerk? I don't think I'll come home a jerk, but I just have this feeling that when I get home there's going to be some disappointment.

I'm taking the advice of a friend that suggested ways to combat depression. Not that I'm depressed, at least I don't think I am, but I do engage in activities that those depressed would engage in. But I'm not depressed! Don't worry! So here's the plan:

1. Stop sleeping late: I'm going to sleep at least 8 hours a day.
2. Three meals a day: I've lost my appetite usually by the end of a crappy day or am too tired to eat something. Being with friends is good, because I like eating with people.
3. Stop watching movies online!: Totally against my principles, but I let it go this year since I'm poor and they don't have Netflix here. I'll limit to 2 films a week. This is valuable museum/learning time that I'm wasting when I'm waiting for a Nic Cage film to download. I admit I watched National Treasure here because I missed America.

As depressing as this post seems, it felt really good to write it. Now for some happy things...After class today, Suzie and I went to H&M on rue de Rivoli. I initially wanted to just look around and kind of wanted something to wear for Christmas. Bought a brown jersey dress that's in the same style as an olive one I have, a winter Radiohead-esque sweatshirt (it reminds me of Radiohead for some reason, and radiohead has been saving my life via my ipod shuffle), and a scarf. I'm really happy with the things I bought. They weren't really impulse purchases, I mean I had good reason to buy them. The dress to wear for Christmas, the sweatshirt because some of my hoodies are getting ratty, and the scarf for...well, it looked really cute! I guess I'm not so close to enlightened detachment from material things after all. Tried on several pairs of different sized pants to test out how much weight I've lost, and I'm now down two sizes. Yeah! Didn't buy them or anything, just wanted to see where I was at. Also bought boots online that are badass as heck, but won't be getting them for a while. They're definitely better than the boots here, and they're way more durable. More bang for your buck, as they say. They're Engineer boots made by Frye, the oldest shoe company in the US. Their boots were worn by both sides of the American Civil war. I love history like that. And I've always wanted a pair of boots like these. I figured they're more cost effective since tall boots are more of a winter thing, and I'm only spending one winter here, why not buy an amazing pair of boots I can wear all year and they get better with age? Anyway, Keira Knightley is wearing them here:Got a snack then went to Melissa's place in St. Michel. Hung out with Kristin, Nayo, Melissa, Sarah, and Kathy. Then we went to Gare du Nord area for Indian food. Met Sally there, and Susie's friend Jason came along. He's from New York and his year abroad is almost over. He's really nice and looks just like Jon Heder (the actor that plays Napoleon Dynamite). I'd say he looks likes Napoleon Dynamite just to make fun, but I didn't.

After, Suzie and I went to Shywawa to meet up with Taylor and his bf, Aaron. Didn't drink, but just hung out for a while, it was nice. I feel like I'm learning more and more now how to socialize better which'll be a good thing for me to have when I start working in film. I'm learning something! Yay!

lundi 10 décembre 2007

feels like failure

Got my test back from last week and got a 10/20. In the States that's an F. And it certainly felt like an F, but here it's a C. It's passable. God, I hate that class. Was sitting in class feeling absolutely miserable. I experience in each class here what I used to experience on my worst days in cinema classes, which are very rare. You know, just one of those days when there's something else plaguing my mind and I'd rather be doing something else than discussing the male gaze. I can't even imagine the euphoria I'm going to feel when I'm back in my cinema classes, whether they're production or screenwriting. It's hard work, but at least I love it.

Was waiting at Montparnasse in the rain for Nayo, Sarah and Steven when this guy in his late 30s walked pass me, and he smiled at me in a nice, non-confrontational way and walked on. I didn't smile back. I turned that switch off a long time ago. I could feel my head trying to make the choice: smile back or don't, and it chose the latter. I usually look badass/pissed off when I'm alone in public so no one messes with me, but getting that smile on a rainy day from a stranger made me miss America a little bit. I'm used to walking down some random street in SF like Irving or something and smiling and making eye contact with at least one person. I'm afraid that when I go back to the States that friendliness I used to have will be replaced by the defensive skills I've developed in France.

Went to a Starbucks to hang out. Didn't get anything to drink. There were two separate tables each with at least one American sitting at them, and I could tell because they were the loudest people there. And it annoyed me so much that I could hear everything they were saying. Not just because I could understand it all, but they were so loud. And I wondered just how much more I'll be annoyed when I get back to the States and then I can hear everyone speaking. It makes my head spin.

Went to Nick's place in the 16th. We played on his Wii. It was my first time. It was fun, but I was still pretty down about my F. He's such a great host, putting out bread and cheese, making us drinks, cooking the mini pizzas we bought beforehand, and so forth. It's nice feeling welcome in someone's home, especially when you feel crappy.

There's going to be another metro strike on Wednesday. Unbelievable.

Copied Nayo and taped the x-ray of my chest to the wall. It actually looks pretty cool.

dimanche 9 décembre 2007

rainy sunday

I just finished watching Home Alone 1 and 2. Hilarious movies. I love stories where kids are in danger and are forced to grow up/be brave/overcome a fear in order to save themselves in a world of incompetent, clueless adults (parents, authority figures). That seems to be a common underlying storyline for children's films. It must be difficult to write films that'll appeal to both adults and kids. I love the first two Home Alones when I was young, and I still love them. Some things never change.

After Ikea on Saturday, met peoples at the same bar where we celebrated Kathy's birthday. Met Kristin's Epitech (a technical computer science school in Paris) student, Tibault, who speaks very good English. His goal is to speak it so well that people will think he's an Anglophone. Good for him. Talked about Macs vs. PCs--he's a Mac guy. I love both equally, but I want my next laptop/computer to be an Apple just because Final Cut Pro is the industry standard. Kathy, Nayo, Sarah, Nick, Taylor, his bf Aaron, Melissa, her bf Cedric, and their two friends were there too, but not all at the same time.

Sunday, biked to the Crous (student cafeteria/restaurant) to get a crazy cheap meal: 2.80 euros. Met with Sarah, Susie, Nayo, and Steven. Had pizza and a tart. You will not believe how frugal I've been. Had to turn down the Salvadore Dali museum with Liz, which I felt really bad for. It cost 5 euro, and all I could think about was that I wanted to see the Buster Keaton showing down the street (with live music) next week, and that cost 8 euros. Oh well, the sacrifices we must make. Besides, that museum will still be there, but I can't miss my favorite silent film actor.

Biked around on the Velib with Nayo and Kristin. Started to rain, and we couldn't find any stations that had empty posts to leave our bikes. These bikes lock into the posts, and then you're free to leave. Biking in the rain reminds me of commuting in SF. Finally went back to where we originally took the bikes (in St. Michel), then went to Starbucks (not my favorite place anymore, but cheaper than a regular cafe), and warmed ourselves with hot chocolate. Got some Christmas postcards, headed to Nayo's place to hang (cute place!!!), then headed home because I felt ill.

When I was feeling better, went to Mass across the street. Mass at night is pretty cool at my church. I like the way they light the interiors. It feels like they got some DP to light it. Just so cinematic. Had lots and lots of tea when I got home, and then I did something that made me so proud of myself...I got to fit a crapload of things in my closet.

It sounds so stupid, but my closet is really small, maybe 1/3 of my closet at home or just as big as an airplane restroom. But I got to fit my huge suitcase and the awkwardly shaped vacuum cleaner in the closet and still manage to have all my clothes and shoes in there. Felt so proud of myself. I was just so sick of having my suitcase in plain view. Just reminds me that I'm only here temporarily and that there'll be a day when I have to go home.

samedi 8 décembre 2007

goal attained

Went to Ikea with Susie and Kathy for 1 euro breakfast which was bomb. That's me and Susie in the photo staring in awe at Ikea. Half a baguette, a pain au chocolat, and all the coffee that you could ever drink. We sat and talked for more than an hour after eating. I've never done that back at home. We took our time and got at least 3 cups of coffee and hot chocolate between conversations. Didn't just go for breakfast, went to do some shoppings.Realized, after leaving and buying nothing for myself, that I finally reached that level of detachment and restraint from new material things that I've always wanted. I actually picked up things to buy that I wanted and needed (like a hand towel and tupperware), but I ended up not getting them. I came up with reasons to not get them. And I saw some Christmas things that would be nice to decorate the studio, but I didn't get that stuff either.

We also went to the factory outlets next door. Was looking at shoes since Susie remarked that mine had holes in it. They're pretty worn out since I wear the same pair every day, and I walk a lot. Looked for my size, tried on a pair of New Balances that were kind of tight, but didn't bother to look for the larger size.

I left feeling very lightened. Also, never felt more at home than in an Ikea and that factory outlet that resembled that crappy outlet right outside Las Vegas.

vendredi 7 décembre 2007

therapy

Went to group therapy yesterday which was really helpful. I'm not the type to go to group therapy or even seek professional help. Writing has been my thing. And although this is my official public outlet, I do have a private outlet being my journal. The stuff I write in here is sort of filtered and censored for the sake of my audience.

But it was a nice change to be able to confide in a group of peers and to Barb from MICEFA over things which I will not write of here, but will probably write of in the future. I got a lot out of the session.

The fact is this:

1. I am learning things that are unquantifiable. What I am learning cannot be finalized with a letter grade, cannot be charted on some graph.

2. This is the most selfish thing I will ever do in my entire life.

3. I will not be apologetic for who I am.

4. I'm not going to be the same person when I come back. And I'm not going to change back into who I was when I left. You are going to have to deal, and even then, I think/hope/pray that you like the new me.

And, lastly, no one will ever truly understand what happened to me my year in Paris. And those who have experienced this year with me will have the most understanding of anyone else. But my family, my friends, the people I left behind, they will never understand, and as much as I'd want them too, I'm okay with that. I can live with that, because this year is mine.

jeudi 6 décembre 2007

a big "merci" to a grade school friend and café culture

Received Christmas card from grade school friend. Checked my mail and there it was: a red envelope addressed to me, not to my landlord, to ME!

It was this envelope that brought me sunshine on this cloudy, rainy day. Suddenly, "Crap, I have to go to class, which is probably canceled, but whatever.." became "I hope we have class today, it's been a while."

It was understood that I'd be the one sending postcards and letters. And that I'd get them from my parents too. But when the sentiment is returned, especially from a grade school friend I rarely see and keep in contact on the interwebs, I am touched.

Thank you, Edel. You made my day. Expect a postcard/Christmas card/birthday card or a combo of the three when you study abroad, and I am back in my home country.

Another visit to my lovely café. The waiter is cute, and the owner is named Noel like my Kuya. Lovely lovely. Went since class was cancelled and wanted to kill an hour or so writing/brainstorming/people watching. Hour was killed beautifully. Sat at a table this time, not bar, with my Moleskine and stylo plume, or fountain pen. Not my Lamy Safari, which was a birthday present from my parents, and stays at home, but with the cheapo one I got at a bookstore. Wrote this little bit 15 minutes before leaving:

These two guys outside having coffee are hilarious, debating the laws of gravity. One guy had his pack of cigarettes in one hand and a sugar cube in the other. He dropped them on the table from the same height. The friend takes a drag from his cigarette and does not seem convinced. I wish I could hear them, but just watching is too funny.

I love how no one bothers me. They see me scribbling furiously on my graph paper notebook, and they know it's business. They know not to disturb.

On the other hand, I have my money out. When are they going to pick it up? This part always confuses me. It makes me nervous as hell. Years of conditioning, impatiently waiting for the Denny's server to pick up my money and give me my receipt so I can go, go, go.

And it feels absolutely wrong to me to leave an establishment with the money on the table and no hint of, "Yes, I paid. It's there. I'm a good person." I'm a good person.

Okay, I'm gonna go. I put the money out, and cute waiter has passed by a couple of times he knows the money's there...Maybe I'll wait a few minutes. It's so nice to people watch in the square...Okay, I'm leaving...Other places are different. You can pay at the table or at the bar. It all depends. Okay! Cute waiter got my money. Now for home.
A bit juvenile, and too stream of consciousness, but that's me. Cute waiter said "au revoir, merci, bonne soirée!" or "goodbye, thanks, have a good evening!" like the French always do, which is nice. I imagine when I get back to the States I'm going to be saying "Hi" and "Goodbye" to every person I come in contact with.

mercredi 5 décembre 2007

"none of us are really happy"

Was on the metro with Susie and Taylor when we were talking about whether or not we were happy. We tried to name people who we thought were happy, but we either couldn't name anyone or weren't sure if he/she was really happy. It can be really hard to tell. I named one person that I'm pretty sure is happy.

Listened to my Christmas playlist on the way to class. Christmas songs are kind of depressing. There's a line in "Winter Wonderland" that just scares me in the same way Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods On a Snowy Evening" makes me think about death: "To face unafraid the plans that we made walking in a winter wonderland!" That line in bold just gets me every time. I can't remember the last time I faced something new unafraid. And if Sufjan Steven's "Count Thou Fount of Every Blessing" doesn't move you with just one tiny bit of sadness, then you are a robot.

Arrived at school, 9 in the morning, to find class was canceled. Great. I went home still listening to my Christmas playlist, skipping Adam Sandler's "Chanukah Song" and Guster's "Donde Esta Santa Claus" and heading straight for Elliott Smith's "Angel in the Snow". Why do I even put that lighthearted stuff in the list when I just want to fill my ears with somber winter songs?

Did laundry which cost too much, and my clothes aren't even dry enough. And I didn't want to pay more for the drying time. Then decided to get my Christmas present for myself. Something cheap and useful. I hate how shopping makes me feel better. It has become less of a therapy thing now when I'm trying to save money. Now, writing has replaced shopping. Plus, standing in the middle of a crowded H&M surrounded by people who all look the same I found myself saying in my head, "This no longer pleases me."

Found the perfect agenda, something great to start the new year right. A Moleskine limited edition weekly agenda. It's bright red instead of black. It's quite nice. I can't help but think about what I'll be writing in it next year: shoot schedules, film ideas, instructions for applications in final cut pro (I found some in my current Moleskine). It was endless, the possibilities.

I am happy, even if it's kind of displaced.

mardi 4 décembre 2007

another day in the trenches

I have this overwhelming urge to watch both Home Alone films (it really ended after the second one) back to back. Gets me in the Christmas spirit.

Classes are back to normal-ish. Had class in a tiny, cramped office no larger than my studio where we watched a film on an iMac. Waste of time. She gave us assignments that'll be due before Christmas break. Great. This German girl sitting next to me would exchange looks of boredom with me. Then we'd chuckle to ourselves. We sat in the back so it was okay.

I want to go to this therapy session on Friday that MICEFA is having for the students who aren't doing so well here (emotionally). Not that I'm having problems or anything. I'm actually doing okay. Mom asked if I wanted to go home for the holidays again, and I said no. Plus the session could be helpful. Maybe I will go just to save myself from my horrible class where that girl would not shut up.

Things to do:
1. Homework: presenation for oral class; "scrapbook" about the strikes; Paper on the film Les 400 Coups.
2. Laundry: I'm kind of sick of washing my clothes by hand. I'm going to take the money I set aside for my groceries and take them to the laverie. Can you believe I've been washing my clothes by hand since September? It's almost 10 euros gone, but I think I can get away with not buying groceries or eating out for a week. I have lots of cereal. I'm trying not to spend too much money on foods and eating and drinking, especially since it's the holidays. I spent way too much last month, but I still managed to lose weight so it's a miracle.

lundi 3 décembre 2007

one of the best days of my life in writing

While studying for my horrible test, I remembered one of the best days of my writing life which cheered me up.

Junior year of high school in my AP English class. Right before passing out our essays that we had written in response to Susan Sontag's essay "On Photography", my teacher and my first writing mentor, Mr. Powers, handed out a photocopied paragraph of someone's essay that he had particularly liked.

It goes without saying that every girl was in love with this teacher. Rather, every girl with raging hormones. I regarded him with total curiosity as he was the most interesting and tallest man I've ever seen in my life. Hitting over 6 foot 5 and rickets thin, he was someone I would definitely liked to have met (and date) in my future college years and proofread my papers, if I would ever meet a boy like that in college. (I never did.) But I didn't have a crush on him, in fact, I was terrified of him in the same way one is terrified of that smart looking boy sitting in the corner of your class and reading a book on string theory.

He was terribly honest. On your paper, and in your face. He had an aluminum baseball bat that he would hit your desk with 2 minutes before an in-class essay was due. He stood looming over my best friend as she rushed her last and final sentence on his final. His laugh boomed through our corridors and hallways always causing us to ask ourselves, "What was so funny?" He was attentive. He listened to you. He cared about you. (That scared me the most.) He was like our father when our own fathers took a vacation from our pubescent and post-pubescent phase. He told us that boys only want one thing and that if you sleep with a guy on the first date, the cost of dinner was the cost of you. He was a no sex before marriage kind of guy, and his wife was a no sex before marriage kind of girl. I met her, she's really nice. He was a rarity, pure and simple, and I appreciated rarity.

Back to the classroom, he handed out the paper, and then read the paragraph out loud in his soft, warm voice that was perfect for reading poetry but not good enough for Shakespeare. He stopped at certain points explaining why this sentence was particularly good, or why the structure of this body paragraph supported the essay. He ended with, "I don't remember who's this was, but it's a perfect example of strong writing."

I smiled to myself holding the photocopy of my essay, my second body paragraph to be exact. There was hope. I was getting better, and someone recognized. And he didn't remember whose it was, that it was me, that fat (I was really fat in high school) shy girl second row to the right. The anonymity kept me on my toes for that year and the next and didn't give me a big head. I thought of him walking to the copyroom, making copies for his classes. I was famous. Anonymously. And it felt good.

Thinking about this made me feel better about not doing well on my French exam. It actually wasn't so bad. I just..it helped me come to terms with the fact that I can't be good at everything unless I really tried. I just keep hoping for this prodigious miracle that one day my French will be spot on and I can understand everything, but that's not going to happen unless I work harder. It's the same with writing. I used to get B- on my papers in Mr. Powers's class until I wrote more and more and got better. Moral of the story? Practice, practice, practice to infinity. Then one day, someone won't answer you back in English.

After the exam, went to BIA in the Marais with Lily and Romina. This Ralph Macchio kind of guy was working. Totally dorky and 80s cute. We were outside waiting for a table to be free, and he came out saying, "These people are crazy. Someone just asked me if we could toast her pancake." Hilarious.

Tonight will hang out with Kathy at her new place near l'Arc de Triomphe. We're going to watch When Harry Met Sally, which I've never seen and eat some glorious food. It's going to be great.

dimanche 2 décembre 2007

warm coziness and Christmas already

This weekend totally made up for my crappy Friday. Was walking back to Gare du Nord from having dinner with Susie, Sarah, Nayomee, Kristin, and Steven, and my tummy felt so full from the tasty Indian food. The weather was really crappy today. Rain and very windy. And I love weather like this sometimes, except when the water has soaked through your shoes and into your socks. Yuck. Was thinking about the warm coziness of my studio waiting for me. Sitting at my windowsill in my pajamas and blogging on the laptoppy with a cup of tea at my right. Lovely. Then SPLASH! My right foot sinks into this disgusting puddle of water. No worries, I'm home now. My shoes are drying by the heater, and I'm doing the aforementioned daydream.

Yesterday was a blast, had some friends over for a study group. Our exam is tomorrow. 50% of our grade! Insane. The group was really helpful. Then went out to meet up with some peoples for Kathy's birthday. She's 20! Morgan led us to a bar lounge in the Centre Pompidou area. Totally cool since happy hour is till 11. Unlike the bars in the St. Michel area, this one wasn't crowded. We had this corner to ourselves and sat on these low comfy couches. There were red filters on all the lights, so everything was red. Had two drinks then went home while the others went to the Mayflower.Christmas is everywhere! Went to the first week of Advent mass. They even put up and lit the Christmas lights on my street. It's really pretty, I'll take a photo when it's not raining. I wish my place was more Christmasified, just a little, because it always seems like spring or summer in my studio just 'cuz there's a lot of blue and yellow, and it's nautical themed. I don't want a tree or anything, just some red and green somewhere. Am going to Ikea with Kathy and others for some chaotic fun and 1 euro breakfast. So I might see a little something there that'll make my place feel a little more like Christmas

Also, had a chocolate macaroon for the first time the other day and it was DELICIOUS! I'm trying not to visit the patisserie too much, but I really wanted it. It's like a brownie that's dense on the inside and crispy on the outside.

vendredi 30 novembre 2007

worst afternoon ever.

Went to class, which actually happened, big surprise. But I sort of wished I didn't because it was an effing waste of my time. Even Sally, who agreed to go to class together said to me, "I'm so sorry I made you come all the way out here."

We got there, and it started out fine, great. We got some papers back and went over grammar, then some chick starts asking questions about the strike. Pretty normal, of course we're all pretty confused and want to know what's going on. This then turned into a debate that lasted 2/3 of the class! It went on for like an hour and a half!

I sat there thinking, "Is this really happening?" We wasted so much time, and we finally have class, a real class, and we're arguing and debating over the strikes? It's just so flipping counter-productive to be having this argument about how it sucks that we can't have class during actual class. What the hell. I want to learn. I'm here to learn. You can debate outside of class.

This girl would not shut up. And she had this whiny voice that hits that high C and could probably make your ears bleed if listened to at lengthy intervals. And I hated her with such passion for starting this downhill slide, for taking away my class time, for keeping me from learning. After hating her voice, I just started to hate her face and her stupid haircut, and her clothes. And I thought about what would happen if I had to fight her and what her weakness would be. I was bigger than her, definitely. So I had that advantage. She looked like she'd be quick, maybe she'd run before I did any real damage.

This guy had the right idea in our class. He just picked up his stuff during one of her rants and left. I should've done that. That guy had courage. Of course, I had to sit in the middle and in the front where the prof could see me, and it would be too noticeable. I should have just picked up my stuff and left and made a scene.

What an effing waste of my time. If I wanted to listen to a bunch of kids arguing and resolving nothing, I could have gone to the general assembly. At least they're French would be better.

Walked home and passed by Notre Dame, and it was lit up, and there was this Christmas tree there all lit up, but it didn't make me happy or anything. And then this French guy tried to hit on me in front of his friends, but I said nothing and shot him this stare like I was ready to put a shiv in him if he tried anything more, and he backed off, and all his friends watching laughed at him.

I passed this mirror walking, and I saw myself, but didn't recognize myself. I just saw this coldhearted bitch who's ready to beat someone, something to a pulp if anything more ticks her off. What a wasted day.

I'm sorry I'm so pissed but..No wait, I take that back. I'm not sorry for being angry. For once, I'm going to stop being sorry for things that I shouldn't be sorry for.

jeudi 29 novembre 2007

second chances

Watched Sofia Coppola's Lost In Translation today for the second time in a long time. When I first watched it, I didn't think it was that great. I thought everyone just hyped it up too much. But being in a sort of parallel situation as Scarlett Johansson--kind of lost in a foreign country--it seemed fitting to watch it, to give it another chance. And I liked it. I really did. Well done, Miss Coppola.

And it's funny, because I haven't thought about it in a long time, but I have had something similar happen to me before. Meeting some stranger that had an effect on me. I was on a plane going home for Thanksgiving, and the most amazing man sat in my row, and we talked the whole flight. It's a long story, which I will recount
here
(NOTE: This is the original journal entry from that night I met him). If you don't care to read it, just continue reading here.

He was 31, and I was 19. He was funny, passionate about his work, and handsome. Just a whole lot of qualities I look for. But he had a fiancée and was getting married that week. And this guy...he was just so bright eyed and so in love, it was beautiful. Anyway, we bid goodbye at baggage claim, and we sort of hugged. I actually held my hand out to shake his, but he ignored it and half-hugged me since he was carrying a lot of baggage. It was so nice, it could make you cry. I think I did cry a little bit when I left him. Anyway, Lost In Translation made me think about that plane ride.

Went to the Montparnasse cemetery today since class was cancelled. I just have this thing for cemeteries. I was sitting down on a bench in the cemetery looking at the map of the cemetery when this lovely old French lady asked me, in French, where we were. I helped her out with her map, and then we ended up talking for 45 minutes! It was amazing. It seems that the only French friends and acquaintances I might be making are senior citizens. At least they're more forgiving of my French. She knew some English. We talked about school, Paris, French grammar rules, French verb constructions, and French to English translations of common phrases. She was actually visiting Paris, she lives outside of Paris. She was really sweet. We walked around the cemetery together, and then we both decided to leave once it started to rain and get really cold. She bisoued me and said, "Bon courage!" (Good luck)

mercredi 28 novembre 2007

grilled cheese party and not going to class for my own safety

I could have tried to go to class today, but I was just too chicken. Plus, woke up and didn't feel so good. A cold, maybe. Got an email from the prof telling us of an elaborate way to get into the building. She told us that we should be discrete and blah, blah, blah. Just go in through the gate entrance when a car pulls up and follow the car. She didn't say what we should do if the grevistes (or strikers) saw or approached us. Um, explain that you're a foreign exchange student? Say that you're there to help build more barricades and towers of chairs?That's just way too sketchy for my tastes, sneaking in with a car. I didn't want to get cornered and beat up by some French kids, or better yet, I didn't want to kick the asses of some scrawny, scarfed French boys and girls. I could get deported, and I didn't want that. But nah, don't think it'd come to that. They'd probably just talk my ear off until I turned around and left.

So, I read at my spot, the Jardin du Luxem, in front of the Senate and facing the fountain. It was freezing. Thought the sun would keep me pretty warm since it wasn't cloudy, but I was wrong. After a couple chapters, I left.

Thought about more organizing ideas to keep my photos and blog in order. It's really creepy, almost borderline Martha Stewart what I've done/plan to do. Keeping receipts and grocery lists, posting daily, putting dates on photos in my Photobucket. Even putting descriptions, showing the context of each photo taken. Is that too much? It's incredible how much this year means to me, how much I want to document it. And it's not like anything extraordinary is really happening. I just want to remember it all. Is that so bad? I mean, I'm never going to have something like this ever again. After this year, it's back to SF, to film school, and everything's going to be pretty much back to normal. I'll graduate, move back to LA, get a job, and start dating some guy I met on a film shoot. God, when I see it all written there, my future, it just looks so horribly boring. Is this what's going to happen? I'll just be so bored with the present in the future, that I'll keep looking back at my past--all these posts and photos and postcards...I don't know. I hope to God not, 'cuz that's depressing.

At least I'm doing this modern scrapbooking on my own time and not substituting it for going out.

Kristin, Nayo, Susie, and Morgan came over, and we had a grilled cheese party. We went to Franprix together and bought things to chip in: sliced bread, emmenthal cheese (me), camembert, goat cheese (Kristin), pickles and ketchup (Susie), pita and hummous and cider (Morgan), chocolate (Nayo), and Vienneta.

The grilled cheese was tasty, and we watched episodes of "Ready Or Not" on YouTube. Pretty, laidback night. Talked to my landlord when my friends left. Don't know why, but felt a steaming wrath underneath my landlord's calm face when I corrected him saying I had cider and not wine with my cheese tonight. Good thing I didn't say we ate grilled cheese. I just said "cheese" foreseeing myself staying 30 seconds longer than needed in the cold stairwell explaining what grilled cheese was. He might have evicted me then and there.

a letter to friends visiting me

A letter to those visiting me. I apologize for my frankness (maybe living in Paris has made me this way), but this needs to be said. This is me at my meanest.

I am in Paris. You, you are on the other side of the world. I am not your travel agent, and I really don't know the best possible place to get your ticket. I did my own research, and you should too, buddy. You should too.

This is your chance to be as autonomous as possible. I'm here to be your guide in Paris. IN PARIS. I can't council you in airplane tickets and all that needs to be done at your end. Please, please, please, be responsible and plan ahead.

If you never plan on studying abroad, I want you to heed my advice. By not asking me for advice. At least don't ask me advice while you're still at your end and while you can find the answers yourself. Be in control. Get answers through your own research, don't just come to me all the time. The research, especially the traveling kind, is fun! I want to help you, I really do, but am I really helping when I am both your tour guide and the FAQ of traveling? You can do this. I have faith in you. Have faith in yourself that everything is going to be okay.

I am your friend. I love you. And you will thank me for this. Maybe not immediately, maybe not at all. But I will take your sullenness, your pouting, your slight rudeness to me through the interwebs as thanks. Why? Because you are learning, and you're good people, at least the right kind and I know you are the right kind since you're my friend. And good people are always thankful. Especially for learning...Be independent. It's a great journey. Get lost and find yourself. I will be with you for part of the way. And when we see each other at the airport for the first time in a long time, we will hug and you will forget, hopefully, that I was being terribly honest by making you grow.

With love, patience, and terrifying truthfulness,
Elaine

Here's what I will answer:
1. Yes, it's cold during winter. It's nothing you so cal people have experienced before.
2. Yes, bring money. Lots of it.

mardi 27 novembre 2007

vacation

In a way it makes sense, it makes absolutely effing sense that the semester I lose interest in learning French is the semester that my uni goes on strike.

Fate. Destiny. Vacation. So far, I've received emails on assignments to do at home, on my own time. That's fine with me. It's an absolute waste of my time to trek all the way out to the uni, find that the building is blocked off, class is canceled, and then go home. I could be sitting at a park, reading, writing, or visiting an art museum.

Met up with Susie after the trek to St. Denis. We went to Printemps, a department store much like Macy's at Union Square in San Francisco. We looked at all this ridiculous expensive brand clothing. Had lunch then hung out at Melissa's place who lives in the St. Michel area. Had a beer at Shywawa. Will post pics up later.

Had fast food today. Quick Burger. It's a fast food chain. Had the fish sandwich, fries, and a Coke. It was good at the time, but right after I felt sort of sick. Not like sick to the stomach, just like, "Man, no more fast food." I'm okay eating grec sandwiches and fries, but when two out of the three items in the meal (the fish and the fries) are deep fried...no more. I'm done. I just felt really gross afterwards. It's like when you eat fish and chips, and it's so good, but you feel just nasty right after. I guess it's because at home I've been eating more healthily, and my tummy's gotten used to it. But I still like grec sandwiches. That's the only time I eat meat.

To do:
1. Start studying for a my exam next week (boo)
2. Start assignments: presentation on the university strike. Look for a French song to present.
3. Organize photos.
4. Organize laptoppy.