samedi 13 octobre 2007

my first missed connection!

It's 1:12 am. I just got back from watching the France vs. England rugby game at the Champs de Mars, right in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was pure insanity. England won. Anyway, besides that being the setting, I just had my first missed connection tonight. And it wasn't even with a French boy. It was with an adorable British guy with a broken arm who was in Paris to watch the game with his friends.

I'll quickly describe what a "missed connection" is. It's when you have a moment with a complete stranger that sort of sticks in your mind, and you never really meet the person, you sort of either just lose them forever or you make the effort to find them. Hence the "missed connections" section in Craigslist where I first saw it. I'd read the "missed connections" section at work back in SF. They ranged from people who make eye contact and then lose each other on the metro (he gets off or she gets off or whatever) to people whining about who keyed their car.

So, I went to watch the rugby game with Kristin, Morgan, and Kathy. We fought through throngs upon throngs of people (it was a huge mosh pit to get there), and finally we settled next to a group of hot, young British fellows. We got to talking with them, and, when they won, we celebrated with them.We didn't take our shirts off of course, but this was very amusing to us. As the crowds parted, and the sad Parisiens went on their way, the British boys and us hung around. They were all just so happy to have won. Among them all, one boy stuck out to me.

He was only a couple of inches taller than me, and the shortest among his mates. He wore a rugby shirt and jeans and his left arm was in a blue cast! He was adorable. We talked for a little bit after the game. He asked if we were going out tonight, and I said probably. He asked if he should change his shirt, and I said yes, he should, if he didn't want to get beaten up by an angry mob. Then he went away. And that was it. That was the last time we talked, but it wasn't then that we had our moment.

Before actually leaving, since we didn't feel like going out, I was standing between Morgan and Kathy. Then I see the boy, he's walking away from his friend, and then, a couple of feet to my right, he stops and we sort of look at each other. It only lasted a couple of seconds, but it felt like the longest look I ever held with any stranger before. And everything became quiet, and all I can hear in my head was, "Talk to me. Talk to me one last time because I know I'll never see you again." He seems like he's contemplating it. I smile, just a little bit, to acknowledge him. I'm too shy to make a move to go talk to him. He makes his decision and turns away to go to another group of his friends. Oh well.

It's so typical that this happen. Only yesterday did I change my status from "It's Complicated" to "Single". That's right, I'm single, folks, and just in time for school! No, but seriously, I'm not looking for a relationship, I just want to make friends. It just wouldn't make sense to date someone here, I'll only be here for a year. But I'll keep an open mind, especially if it's a cute British boy with a broken arm.

And if you're wondering about the boy in SF...well, he knows how I feel. I still like him, and, last time I checked, he said he liked me. But so much can happen in a year. So much.

A lesson to all guys: Don't be so shy!

vendredi 12 octobre 2007

breakdown of mes cours and the week

Oh. Dear. What a week. I'm feeling better now. I can handle this. I can handle anything.

Went to the Catacombs, which would explain the new banner. It was amazing. I'd go there again in a heartbeat. I don't think there's any other place in the world that'll get me thinking about my mortality and the fragility of life other than the Catacombs. I touched someone's skull and someone's leg bone. You're not allowed to take pics with flash, but the security guard was pretty cool and took a picture of me and Liz. In the beginning, he'd talk to me in English, and I'd only answer him in French. He freaking knew that I was from California. I need to blend in more!

Yesterday, Kristin called me up, and we went to The Mayflower to get a beer. We hung out there until Kathy and Morgan came too. It was such great fun, and this time it was crowded and full of French people and some students. Sitting in a bar, among friends, laughing with the bartender (his name's David, and he's tres cool! Reminds me of Ed from that NBC show "Ed"), I felt like I'd aged YEARS! And it felt good and not sad or anything. The bartender told us that he learned all his English just from working behind the bar. Dang, that makes me want to be a bartender here. I drank, and I didn't get buzzed or anything. I don't even get Asian glow. That's just such a feat for me. Yay! I'm slowly building my alcohol tolerance.

Breakdown of mes cours:
LUNDI: Roman, Cinema, et la Societe.
Literature, Cinema and Society. Wow. The level for this class is advanced, and that it is. I got a crapload of reading to do. The prof is nice though. It was originally supposed to be just a Cinema and Society class, but he changed his mind about what he wanted the class to be about.

MARDI: Expression Ecrite et Orale.
A pretty cool class, lots of Erasmus (european student exchange program) students, which is pretty cool. Some Spanish and Italian kids. Prof is pretty cool. She kind of doesn't give a crap. While going over an exercise, she was packing her stuff, getting ready to go. Our class will end before Christmas, which is super awesome.

MERCREDI: Communiquer a l'orale.
A sweet class. Our prof is young, energetic, and hilarious. And I can understand her. We have group projects though. Bleh. But this class is really going to help me with my speaking abilities, I can already tell.

JEUDI: La Chanson Francaise.
The beauty of French songs. Also with group presentations, but in a 2 person group which is better. Cute old lady professor. She was so HILARIOUS. This one guy was falling asleep, and she was all, "Am I boring you?" And she did an impression of him falling asleep. I love this class already.

VENDREDI: La Societe Francaise a travers le cinema.
Another cinema class with the focus on French society. I love the prof, she's energetic, interesting, and funny. She's already playing favorites though, she really likes the Italian kids. She also gave us (gasp!) a syllabus! Very rare. The rest of my profs play it by ear.

So, it looks like a busy semester for me, despite the fact that I don't have a job like au pair-ing (like Kathy and Romina), and I'm not being a TA (like Taylor, Sarah, and Nayomee). But, I'm going to study a lot (and fight my internet urges), try and make some friends, and just get inspired by the city. I really want to live here like Hemingway did in A Moveable Feast. I bet in my other life I was part of his "Lost Generation". But it's 2007, and this is my "moveable feast". He just wrote and visited friends and went to cafes and ate oysters and drank wine. At least, that's what I read. I didn't even finish the book. Wow, if I can have that lifestyle, if only for a year, that would be heaven. I'll just replace the oysters with actual studying.

Sorry for being such a whiner and pathetic loser in the last post. I'm going through some phases, as you can see. It's all a part of the experience. At least I'm not hiding anything from you.

jeudi 11 octobre 2007

in a funk

While others (I'm not going to say who, it's rude) are having a hard time in their own ways, so am I, so am I. It's not all wine and roses and baguettes, folks. This is the hard truth. And I didn't think I was having such a hard time until I realized that I don't feel like studying hardcore or putting myself out there and taking risks. I know it's only the first week of school, but I'm already slacking. I'm writing in my blog; reading everything in English; I'm watching episodes of The Office on the interwebs; I'm, at the very least, just doing my homework and not going the extra mile to learn this amazing language. I want to go back to English. I want to understand and be understood and not look like a total idiot anymore just because I can't translate what I really want to say into French. I want to be back at San Francisco doing film. God, what was I thinking?

I shouldn't complain, really. The reason I'm here is because I have such awesome, amazing parents who are housing me, feeding me, paying for my education and yet they are thousands of miles away from home. They believe in me, they want this experience for me. God, I want to cry every time I spend money or when I see that Mom has deposited her hard earned money into my bank account. I am the reason she's working part-time. I swear, I'm not a spoiled brat, I'm not. I'm going to pay it back. Why else would I make spreadsheet of my spending? It might take me while, but I want to, God knows I want to. All these things are weighing on me, and for the life of me, I want to give up.

I don't understand how people can learn languages so easily. My parents speak English, Tagalog, and the dialects from their provinces. Jose Rizal spoke 22 languages, one of them French. Damn, if Jose Rizal can speak and write French and study in Paris, why can't I? Just this one language, just this one. I also want to learn Tagalog too. But this little thought in the back of my head doesn't want to focus on French anymore. It doesn't want to earn a degree in French. What is wrong with me? My parents are paying for this, and I'm throwing it away. My study abroad year has become my "live and find yourself changing your mind about things" year. God, they shouldn't have to pay for that.

I know, for sure, that I'm going to work in the film industry in some way when I'm done with school. That's what I want. But am I going to be speaking, writing, reading French? In California? I really don't know. I once contemplated being a translator or doing subtitles, but now thinking about it, I really just want to be on set. I don't want to be in front of a computer typing stuff.

It's been one of my freaking dreams to learn this language, and I can't help but let go of English. God, what's wrong with me?

mardi 9 octobre 2007

je suis souple

Je suis souple. I am flexible. Not in a bodily way, although I can touch my toes. But in the last two weeks, I've been hanging out with three groups of people. And, I think they like me, at least, I have a feeling that they enjoy my company, but it's really cool to know that I can get along with different people. I think it's a good trait to have, especially in the film industry when you have to be in contact with so many people. And you have to be likable and flexible.

Last Sunday, for the second time I hung out with Liz who is a super cool art student who's also going to St. Denis. We went to Musee D'Orsay (free on first Sunday of the month!). We saw a lot of Impressionist paintings, the art of Monet, Manet, Cezanne, and Van Gogh. It was incredible. I went home though cuz my contacts were bothering. I didn't let them soak enough since I came home late for Nuit Blanche.

Today, I hung out with Suzie and Taylor (SFSU students) for the first time. Suzie was in my class today, and we met up with Taylor after. We ate at a really great Greek sandwich place at St. Michel, got drinks at Franprix (I didn't though, I brought my own water), and then had the BEST ICE CREAM EVER, thanks to Suzie, who knew the place. Oh gosh: Caramel with salted butter and Chocolate Nutella. 2 huge scoops for 3euros. Best deal in town. The caramel wasn't even salty, as you might think. It just wasn't really sweet. Lovely. Then we met up with Sarah and Nayomee (also SFSU students). This was my first time hanging out with all these guys, and they were so much fun.

All these different groups I hang out with, Keisha, Lucia, and Meghann; Romina,Liz, Sarah and Lily; Kathy, Kristen and Morgan; and now Suzie, Taylor, Sarah and Nayomee--they're such great people, and I can't imagine anyone else to share my Paris experience with. I am so blessed. Not to say that I'm totally done with my friends back home, not at all, but I am just so glad to make more friends outside my circle of friends. It's nice.

We all walked back to St. Michel to get more school supplies. I had to get some notebooks and a highlighter. After that, we headed into a McDonald's (called Macdo, pronounced "mac-dough") so that Suzie can get free wi-fi. We talked for a while, then headed our separate ways.

Don't know why I had to write about that, but yeah. Will post an huge blog about my classes a la fin de la semaine.

lundi 8 octobre 2007

La Nuit Blanche: PARTIE DEUX

We headed back towards Metro stop Madeleine on line 14. We all decided, since there were no more lines to l'eglise de la Madeleine, we'd all check out what art exhibit was going on in there. We walked through the gates, and the guards made a joke saying, "Bonsoir...Bonjour" since it was almost 5 in the morning, but still dark out.We opened the door to l'eglise and darkness swallowed us. Instant reaction that came to mind: haunted house. Or haunted church. Anyway, we turned, and saw...I hope this description can do itself floating tubes the size of 2-in. PVC pipes suspended above the floor of the church. At the end of one of the tubes was a person, guiding the blue tube through the space, tilting it up and down, left and right. These people were standing at least 10 feet above the ground, perched on these sort of lifeguard towers. There were at least 10 of these people throughout the church. They were playing this strange ambient music and lights would move slowly over these "fishermen", as Morgan called them.The audience, or participants--us, basically--would randomly get chosen by the fisherman when the tube comes to you. You put the ear to the tube, and the fishermen were whispering things through the tube. It was surreal. I sat back and watched for a bit, taking it all in. It was really trippy. I tried to keep my laughter in when people would raise their hands, wanting to be picked, and not get picked. Just let it come to you, guy.

Morgan came to us, saying how cool it was. She got picked. The fisherman spoke to her in French and Spanish. I decided to try it out for myself. I stood below the fishermen, waiting to be picked. One guy picked me, and he whispered something about "la bruit" (noise). And that was it. Wasn't that amazing. I moved on, into the thick of this blue light saber sea.

I waited and waited in between several fisherman. Finally this lady chooses me, but this guy tries to get in on it. She waves her finger no to the guy, and she points to me. The guy lets the tube go and hands it to me. She puts her mouth on one end, and I put my ear to the other. We lock eyes in the darkness, I can sense it.

In a soothing whisper she asks, "Vous parlez francais, anglais, ou espagnole?" [Do you speak French, English or Spanish?]
Me: Je parle anglais et un peu de francais. [I speak English and a little French.]
Fisher (continuing in soothing whisper): Very good. Very good.

And, I swear to you, I stood there for five minutes with that glowing tube to my ear while she recited beautiful poetry just for me. She spoke in English and translated it in French. This is what I remember:

All days are nights for us to see...Yet sight I lacked, yet sight I lacked...
I can't remember all of it, and maybe I'm not supposed to, but I remember how I felt at that moment and what it meant to me. I don't know, that line "yet sight I lacked" just got to me for some reason. I even wrote it down on my arm after the whole experience so that I wouldn't forget it.

Just this idea about sight really got to me. I'm a film major, and to be a competent filmmaker, you have to have sight. You have to be able to tell a story through sight and in a way so that hopefully your viewer will see your vision, see what you're trying to get across. And that's difficult. It got to me. What can I show? What can I show people that makes me different than all the other filmmakers in the world? What do I have to give?

These poetic whispers from a stranger and a recent message from a friend helped me bring things to perspective. I don't know if I want to make films here. I thought I did, but I realized that I don't want to create something haphazardly just for a place. I feel like I would be exploiting it for its beauty. Maybe I had it right all along: this year isn't about film. It's about French. Maybe the signs that I've been getting (all the filming around me) is God's way of saying that film will always be around me, no matter what. That a break can be okay, even good for me. It definitely rules my life in San Francisco, and I don't want to let it rule my life here. I want to live, grow, enjoy. Gain a sight I lack. Focus on what I want to show as a writer and/or filmmaker and bring that to light and not make films for the sake of making films, for the sake of having a camera and a setting. This could change, these feelings. But if I do make a film, it'll be because I was truly inspired, because I wasn't out to exploit and defile.

On the lonely ride home, all I could think about was the reasons I had all-nighters back at home. They were all film related. Staying up to finish editing, filming or burning a movie to dvd. And those are all great reasons to do all-nighters, but it was nice to know that there are other reasons to stay up late. I really love film, and I love that it's a part of my life and that I want it to be my profession and career, but I just want it like that, to be a part. I don't want to be ruled by it. I want to make friends outside of it, have a life outside of it. There's just too much beauty in the world to shut non-film things out. If I want to be the best filmmaker I can be, I can't just be a filmmaker. If I want to be the best writer I can be, I can't just focus on my writing. I feel very strongly about this. This might not work for a lot of people, but I think it works for me. I have to let other things in. "Yet sight I lacked...yet sight I lacked..."

UPDATE: Will blog at the end of the week about my classes. Until then, be well!

dimanche 7 octobre 2007

La Nuit Blanche: Paris's all-nighter PARTIE UNE

I'm splitting this into a two-part post series since it was very eventful, and I want to put pics and video up too.

I wish I can be more poetic than ever because this post deserves it, but I got home at 7 in the morning today. Why? It was because of La Nuit Blanche ("white night" literally, or "all-nighter"). From 7pm to 7am, museums (some) and monuments (a bunch) are open (and totally free!) to people during this all-nighter showcasing cultural events and works of art.

I met up with Lucia and Liz in the 1eme last night( whenever I write a number and "eme", I mean that arrondisement), cuz they were shopping for a bit. We then headed to Liz's place in 7eme. She cooked us a lovely pasta dinner, and Lucia and I provided wine, salad, and bread. Romina came by too for dinner. It was absolutely scrumptious, despite the electricity going out, so us girls had a candlelight dinner. Liz's place is amazing (even though it is 9 flights of crazy tiny stairs), it's worth it for the view of the Eiffel tower. You just have to poke your head out a bit. We talked a lot and really took our time; it was amazing. I hate how rushed things are in the states. It was really fun to have some girl talk too. I have girl friends at home, but I really don't feel that we do that a lot. Like I do that with some girls, and it's more like a one on one kind of talk. But a bunch of girls talking? About boys and school and gossip? It was really nice. We left Liz's place around 11:30 pm. That's usually so late for me! But we figured that a lot of cafes would be open for La Nuit Blanche so that we can get our caffeine.

Along line 14, which runs along the center-ish of the city, there were going to be a lot of exhibitions and open museums and stuff. We met up with our other IP friends, Lilli and Sarah, and we headed to the first stop on line 14 that was closest to us. We saw a huge line at the Eglise de la Madeleine, but we walked past it and headed toward le Jardin des Tuileries, where the ferris wheel was. All of Paris was out, taking in the night, celebrating their rugby victory over New Zealand and then mellowing out for some art. It was lovely.We stood by the ferris wheel, debating whether or not to go. The money would be worth it--it's Nuit Blanche, and it's only once a year, but on the other hand some of us were afraid of heights. A lady came by our group and gave us tickets to the ferris wheel, for FREE! That was the clincher. We got in line. And seriously, it wasn't that bad. You could see everything, from Sacre Coeur to L'arc de Triomphe. Wow.

From the top, you can see rows of little controlled fires in les jardins des tuileries. They also had a chandelier kind of thing that they were lighting. We headed to the place of fires after. I smelled the scent of incense before I even felt the heat of the fire. We stood, behind a circle of little potted fires--think potted plants, but instead of plants inside, it's a fire--as they got the chandelier ready. Several men and women, dressed in black, and looking like old-fashioned carnies, were preparing the chandelier. These guys looked like they walked off the set of a Tim Burton film. One guy had graying mutton chops, and later, after taking off his top hat, revealed a shiny, bald head that reflected the hundreds little fires surrounding us. They replaced burned out pots with new ones, filled them with gasoline, then set them on fire. After they lit all the pots, they raised the chandelier. Magnificent. I wish I knew the significance, but they were all out of Nuit Blanche pamphlets at the metro lines.

It was almost 2am. Lily and Sarah decided to leave. Metro shuts down at 1:45am. I got slightly worried, Romina noticed. I didn't want to go home--besides it being kinda scary--I really wanted to make this a true all-nighter. I remember one of us, after L. and S. left, saying, "What are we going to do?" It might have even been me who said it. I don't quite remember. In my head, the answer was perfect: I'm staying with the girls. I'm not going home. I'll crash at someone's if we chicken out, I don't care. But let's make the most of it. I'm all in."

We stood around the fire balls and talked for a bit, since it was very warm there. There was a cafe open at the Jardin des Tuileries, so we headed in to get a 2am caffeine kick. I had a cafe viennois, my drink of choice. It's coffee with whipped cream on top. It costs the same as a hot chocolate, and it's tasty. We talked for an hour or so about boys. I love being a girl!

We left when the cafe closed and hung around the fire balls once more. People even had seats surrounding it, like it was a bonfire. Teenage couples and young lovers were asleep on each others' shoulders. One guy had a guitar out. Everyone was winding down. But I was okay. Cold, but okay.

They started to close down the garden, around 4am. I saw a familiar group of people heading out, Kathy, Morgan, Kristen, and some French boys they met. We headed out with them. Outside the ferris wheel, they were selling churros and warm chocolate sauce to dip them in. Romina bought some and shared them. They were amazing.
It was cold, but utterly beautiful. The once loud and crowded streets that surround Place de la Concorde were almost vacant save for one or two taxis speeding off to their destinations. But we were brave. Poor. No taxis for us. We hoofed it towards the Metro. But the night didn't end there...TO BE CONTINUED!!!

UPDATE: So, I'm going to start school soon (tomorrow), so that might leave little time for posts or updating, but you know me, I love to write, so I'll try my darndest to write, but I could go days without if I'm too busy, but we'll see. Just a heads up. Pics might take longer to upload to photobucket too. But, enjoy your lives (I know I am), I'll still be here!