samedi 29 septembre 2007


I don't know what's more unsettling, the inscription ("Consume and be silent") or the Hitler mustache on this recent vandalism at my metro station:Very interesting. I actually didn't see the Hitler mustache until I uploaded this photo onto the laptoppy. I like seeing reminders here and there to not be such a consumerist. A couple days ago I saw some really nice boots that I thought would look great with jeans, and all the Parisien girls here wear boots. Now I don't want to buy boots so much. Or anything material right now for that matter.

Okay. Dead people. I just went and saw some famous dead people here buried at Pere-Lachaise cemetery with my friend Kristen. I actually like cemeteries, and this one is huge. 105 acres. We bought a map of the cemetery from this total douchebag who hates America and kept spouting off stuff while we walked away.

I went to see this guy, Georges Melies, one of film's earliest contributors:He did A Trip to the Moon. If that doesn't help, it was the inspiration for The Smashing Pumpkins' music video to "Tonight, Tonight". Youtube it, and you'll know. You've probably seen that. Saw him, Oscar Wilde, other French writers and philosophers whose work I don't know, Edith Piaf, and Jim Morrison. I want to go see Chopin next time.

What attracts me to the dead and to cemeteries is this idea of immortality. We either leave behind a familial legacy, a body of work to be remembered, and/or a headstone with our name on it. I'll be lucky to have all three, but I bet the majority only have 2 of these things. Wait, I can't do that first one because my future children would have my husband's last name, not mine. Dang, so I'm already down one!

Anyway, I want to be immortal. I don't want to be forgotten. When I die, I want there to be something that'll tie me back to the living world other than my tombstone in some cemetery and my body rotting in the cold earth. This is why I write so much, why I want to make films. Why I take photos. These words, these photos, these memories--they all mean something to me, and I want them to mean something to someone too. So that way I live on. Am I obsessed? I think so. It's a lifelong obsession hidden beneath everything that I create.

UPDATE: Added "paris - film" album to show my collection of crews filming in Paris. Added "paris - grim" to show my recent visit to Pere-Lachaise cemetery and my future visits to the catacombs and other cemetaries. Update to "graffiti" showing the anti-consumerism vandalism and update to "mes choses" showing my tiny cell phone.

Also, I've added another blog to my list of friends who are spending their year in Paris with me. They're not as crazy as I am, blogging as much as I do, but they are keeping a record of their time here, and that alone is a good thing. Check 'em out. Because not everyone is having the same experience as I am. I'm not an au pair like Kathy, and I don't go to Erasmus parties like Romina. No, I go to cemeteries, and I sit along the Seine reading Salinger like the loner that I am. That's my experience. That's where this blog is coming from. Read their side of the Parisien student lifestyle.

jeudi 27 septembre 2007

cultural adaptation and film

We had our last cultural adaptation class. It was a really helpful class, giving us insight into French culture, politics, school systems, and so forth and helping us deal with adapting into French life. What interests me, and what was brought up during our last class, is the way children are raised here. They're seen as the extension of the parent, and not as individuals. So if they're good, they're bien eleve--well raised. They're also taught to be "seen not heard". So, at a dinner party, they wouldn't be loud or the center of attention. They'd be reading or playing while the adults talked. A lot of great films, among other things, come out of France, and it's partly due to these people who cultivated such great imaginations and story ideas from childhood on. I don't think that Delicatessen could have come out of the States.

I totally connect with this sort of upbringing. I guess it's because I was a shy kid and loved to read and daydream, but I don't know if I could come up with something like Delicatessen. I really don't.

Anyway, it's been raining all day, and I really like it. Maybe after a couple more months of rain, I'll start hating it, but I'll definitely let you know once I hate it. I went on a walking tour with Kathy and Morgan, despite the rain, and it was nice. I didn't take pictures though. But I did get a picture of this while waiting at a station for Keisha a couple nights back:It's a film reel in an escalator thingy. So cool!!! Only in Paris. They were at this station:While waiting at the station, I checked out this cool walkway that goes over the trains. It seems like an awesome place for a scene in a film. I'm thinking about making a short--come on, I'm a film major in Paris--and incorporating this setting in at least one scene. I have to shoot at least one movie while I'm here, even if it's not for school.

open market

As I mentioned before, I live on a street that has a "Farmer's Market" kind of feel going on. Loads of vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables. You gotta hand it to these guys. They work 6 days a week. They set up way early in the morning and take it all down at night. How do I know this? I can hear them from my window, 6 in the morning, putting up their tents.

For the first time since living here, I bought fruit from them. Not the guys outside my door, but up the street. And it was...interesting. I usually don't like communicating with people, even in the States, so this was a feat for me.

I was bagging some apples and peaches, and then I take it to this old cashier guy. He weighs it, tells me how much it is (in rapid French). I caught a deux in there. I give him 10. He puts the 10 in the register, and then starts to give me my change. Then he stops. He says, "How much was it?" (Remember, this is all going down in French). "I forgot." He asks, "What did you give me?" And he had this look in his eyes, like he was testing me. We both looked at the register, overflowing with the profits of the day, stacks of 20s, 10s, and 5s. I figured he eyed me as a student, probably poor, who buys 2 euros worth of fruit anyway? It was 3 apples and 2 peaches. "I gave you 10," I say. He takes the 10 I gave him out of the register and says, "This 10?" "Yes." Then he's like, "Okay." And then gives me my change. I bid him "au revoir".

Jeez, I'm not going to sheist you, old man. Don't know if I'll go back there, but maybe this could be our little thing, our little relationship. It was my first time there.

Also, for the first time, I used an ATM for my bank account here. And I swear, I freaked out because it asked for my pin, and there were 6 spaces for digits. They give us two codes, one 6 digit one and one 4 digit one. And I swear I thought the 6 digit one was for something else and not for the ATM. I only memorized my 4 digit code. I didn't want the machine to eat my card because it would be weeks before I get another card again. You can't just get the bank to retrieve it for you; they make another card. I felt like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade when he had to spell out Jehovah, but in the latin alphabet it's spelled with an "I". I know that scene and my situation aren't similar, but I liken it to that. I typed the 4 digit code and left the remaining spaces blank. Enter. How much money would you like to withdraw?

Sweetness! Those tricky French. Don't mess with Indiana Jones. Went to McDonald's with Lucia, and it kind of sucked. I always see these skinny boys getting BAGS of food for just themselves there. Then they take it to Jardin du Luxem. and lounge and eat. They have this "double menu", where it's 2 burgers, twice the amount of fries and drink. It looked like a heart attack. And yet the boys are skinny here. I don't get it.

mercredi 26 septembre 2007

last class, rain, and un diablo menthe

It's raining right now. It's kind of nice and crisp, like a real autumn. Mom sent my winter clothes by mail, and they should be here soon, which is great timing. Rain here reminds me of that scene in Amelie when she's baking, and she imagines Nino going out to get her baking yeast, and then she starts crying because it's all in her imagination. It's a sad scene, but touching and beautiful.

We had our last class today with Katia, which was fun. She first started out by evaluating us out loud in front of everyone else. It was kind of strange, because back in the states, things like grades are really private. She drew arrows to show our progression, like on a graph on the board. If it's slanting up, that's good, slanting down bad, and so forth. She drew a slanting up arrow saying I improved immensely over the course. YAY! I was so happy. Then she passed out our last test, saying who got first place, second place, and I got THIRD PLACE!!! I was so happy. I got a 15/20, which is what I wanted (see post below). So awesome. Then we had our fete, and there were lots of pastries, and Nick--my classmate--made a bunch of American food: mac and cheese, homemade salsa with chips, deviled eggs, and brownies. It was SO GOOD. Katia tried them all. At the end of class, she bisoued all of us, which was nice, and I love getting bisoued. Yesterday, my friend Taylor bisoued me, and it was so funny cuz he has a beard, and it tickled me.

So I'm done with classes and university starts in two weeks, so I'm going to be a tourist and see things that I haven't yet seen: the Catacombs, Les Deux Magots, and this free tour my friend Morgan told me about. Yay! I also can't stop drinking this:No, it's not absinthe, and it's not even alcoholic. Taylor had one when we were at a cafe. It's called a diablo menthe, and it's a children's drink. It's green mint syrup and limonade (or Sprite) mixed together, and it's delicious and refreshing.

UPDATE: Check out the new photos.

mardi 25 septembre 2007

montmartre, finalement

Finally got to visit Montmartre, if only for a little while. It started raining while we were by Sacre-Coeur, so we decided to leave. We had a special tour at 3pm, and I was at my stupid school signing up for classes (more on that later) at 2:30. I was afraid I'd miss the tour, but fortunately the tour was canceled because the guide was sick. We took the funiculaire (sp?), kind of like a sideways elevator, instead of walking up the steps to Sacre-Coeur. When we got there, the view was so amazing. It kind of sucks that it was overcast and everything was just light gray on top of light brown, but still it was a lovely view. Then we went inside the basilica, and photos weren't allowed, but, oh man, it was...I don't think any description that I can come up with right now will do it justice. 1. My English sucks. and 2. You just have to see it for yourself. Or at least Google it. It's just...another world. I walk in, and I feel so safe, so far from my problems, so secure. Every church has been like that for me. I don't know I guess it's because I had such a nasty day today.

Yup, my first sort of bad day in Paris ever since my first week here that was just pure insanity. It started out well. I had a test, and I think I aced it, or at least got a 15/20--which is good here, they don't do anything out of 100, and 12/15 is passing or a C. Then we watched this French comedian, and everyone was laughing so hard, except me. I just...I don't know, I was laughing at some parts, but I have a weird sense of humor so I don't know if it's because I didn't understand it (I understood 3/4 of it) or because my sense of humor is weird. Anyway, that kind of got me down.

Then I went to St. Denis to register for classes. Pure. Mayhem. SFSU has got it EASY: you go online and you put in your number for the class, and you press a button. Not here. You go to the secreteriat's office, you look at a posting of classes and make your schedule there, and then you wait in line to speak to the secretariat so that she can put you on the list for each class. It's a nightmare. This poor Japanese girl who's in the foreign language program (but not through MICEFA) had freaking tears in her eyes, but this nice guy who works there (he had helped me out too), was explaining everything to her. I felt really bad. But you gotta be tough here. No one's going to hold your hand.

I finally got to register for the classes I needed, and even added an extra one in case I can't get into the cinema one I want to take. I'm already taking 2 cinema courses (not production), but that's cool. Hopefully, since they're in French, they might double count for both my majors.

Oh, but, gosh, God is teasing me with cinema stuff since he knows I can't take any ateliers [labs]. I saw two groups of students doing cinema stuff today. The first was doing stuff with a video camera, and the second one was doing production sound. One girl was boom, and the other girl was a recorder. And it PAINS me that all my friends back home are doing cinema, and I'm not at a level (language wise) to be in a production class right now and I vowed to myself to improve my French and go with cinema next semester. ARGH! And THEN, when I come home, another FILM CREW has their 16mm camera set-up by the entrance to my apartment building. WHAT THE HECK! Stop teasing me, God. This isn't cool. I didn't hang around though, cuz they were all French, and they were totally business. It also had rained at Montmartre, and I was soaking wet. So I watched from my window and could hear them yell "Action!...Coupee!" Pretty sweet.

lundi 24 septembre 2007

forgetting english and other stupid things I did

I am torn between the language I love and the language I want to learn. With each day that passes, I find it harder and harder to speak good English. French is pushing the English out. It's like a rugby match between France and England. Or America. Are there pro rugby teams in America? Anyway, like today, I was talking to a friend in English, and another friend passed by me, saying stuff in French, and I replied in French, and then I returned to my English friend and spoke in French. Argh. I also confuse the two, adding (and subtracting) unneeded prepositions to my English phrases, forgetting common English vocabulary. I have saved texts on the internet that'll remind me what good English is (I've posted them in the post below). Walden, Self-Reliance, unpublished Salinger stories. They also serve to keep me on the path of growth and self-discovery.

I am still, however, shy with my French, which'll make it harder for me to make friends, I'm sure. No one's friend's with a mute. But I can get around okay. Barbara had mentioned that people can still live in France without learning the language. I feel that that is me, right now. I don't want to underestimate myself, but maybe I am on par with a French child. Maybe lower. And I'm going to attend a French university.
How does that happen?

It's a sheer miracle that my camera isn't broken. I dropped it twice already. Once on my hard brick floor in my studio and another on a cobblestone street in front of this bookstore, Shakesspeare and Co. Which is an amazing store, just go inside it, and you'll know why. They have a lot of books in English. I think the clerk saw me and thought I was some stupid tourist.So if you're looking for a hearty camera with great features and that still has the simplicity of a point and shoot, go for the Canon Powershot A640. I swear, they're not paying me.

Also, today I was able to register for classes at St. Denis, but NO ONE TOLD ME. Which is seriously messed up. I came to class all happy 'cuz I just bought the bestest grammar book in the world that I know is going to save my life as well as Le Parfum by Patrick Suskind, which I've been wanting to read for a while. Both are in French. I come to class and find that half of my class went to St. Denis to register for classes. No one even told me! MICEFA didn't even tell me. What the heck? That's so not cool. Anyway, I'm going tomorrow after class. It'll be okay. I hope. Here are some tasty things that I've recently eaten or drank:This yummy nutella crepe I bought nearby my place where I sometimes buy paninis. And the owner is pretty cool, and he recognizes me and gave me a card that he'll stamp whenever I buy a panini, and my 10th panini is free! I can taste it already.Made this espresso at home, and I have cute little sugars that the student before me left!UPDATE: I changed one of my albums to "paris - cool", which'll feature things that I think are cool. They'll mostly be stores or something modern or old, but definitely not famous enough to be in "monuments". Also added the album "mes choses", which'll feature recent things that I purchased for my survival (or because I wanted them. ;)

dimanche 23 septembre 2007

day of rest

I'm pretty sure that there's a mosquito living in my flat, and he's a sneaky bastard biting me when I'm asleep. Not cool.

It's Sunday, and I didn't do anything cool today. I can't be living it up all the time, you guys, jeez. Some days I have to clean the floor and the kitchen and the bathroom and take out the recycling. Like today. I did do some shopping for foods since the market closes at 1 on Sundays and isn't open on Mondays. And this nice French guy who was in line ahead of me and putting his groceries in his bag--we have to bag our own groceries here--gave me my milk since it was pushed next to his groceries. It was nice. I said "merci". Walking back to my place was kind of cool 'cuz I have to navigate through all these tourists, and I sometimes here the occasional English, which was nice. There were a lot of cute 20 somethings with their girlfriends wearing cargo shorts and Ray Ban sunglasses and sporting those beards that you sometimes see at a hipster-ish bar or party. It's nice.

Weekend was pretty chill though. Participated in a scavenger hunt with the IP crew that had us go from le Jardin du Luxembourg to Place St. Sulpice to Les Invalides to St. Paul and ending at Berthillon, the famous ice cream palace on Ile St. Louis. I got a scoop of green apple and caramel, and it was DELICIOUS! The scoops were tiny compared to American size scoops, but what it lacked in size it totally made up in quality. Yum. They don't use preservatives, and it's all made in-house. I didn't take a pic though since it was melting so quickly! Then the whole crew sat beside the Seine to chill and enjoy the ice cream.

Everyone got up to leave after 10 minutes or so and get some real food to eat, but I didn't feel like eating and my friend Lou said, "You're going to sit along the Seine like a loser?" And I gave him a very "Jim Halpert" [from "The Office"--if you're a huge fan, you'd know what this looks like] kind of look and said sarcastically, "Yup. 'Cuz I'm a loser." I just enjoy little things like sitting along the Seine by myself. But we laughed about it, and we're gullies. I also brought my copy of Franny and Zooey to read. It's my favorite of all of J.D. Salinger's works, and I re-read it every year. I can't live anywhere without that book. Mom and Kuya called Saturday night, which was really nice. Thanks guys! It's funny but, I'm at a place right now where I'm not missing anyone badly, and I know that sounds mean, but it's the truth. I'm okay now. I'm pretty sure that I told them that I missed them though (did I, guys?). It's just this instant thing I say without knowing if I mean it or not. I'm sure the story'll be different come Christmas time or even as early as Thanksgiving, but we'll see. It's just that I've created a life here, a routine, and I'm occupied as hell, but that's a good thing. I'm not moping around, shutting myself in. I do though miss the English language so here are some things I come to that cheer me up:

1. Thoreau's "Walden"
2. J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey
3. Jake and Amir: Amir is hilarious!!! And he is seriously my dorky crush of the moment.
4. Trailers on
5. "The Office" on I love this show.

Here's a list of things I have to do, in no order:
1. gather the names of all the hotel in my area to send to Mom
2. take pic of the scooter store by my place to post for kuya
3. sign up for classes (boo)

I'm going to go back to studying mes relatifs: dont, que, qui, ce qui, ce dont, etc..