samedi 10 novembre 2007

metro stories #1: beads

Lots of stuff goes down in the Metro. I should really make a collection of metro stories. Let's not forget the first, real metro story: the suicide day. But no, I'll start with a nice, uplifing one.

Line 13 direction St. Denis. I was on my way to school. The car was crowded, and I was standing up. When the car started moving, I heard a strange sound like uncooked rice spilling. In a seat at the end of the car, 1.5 meters away from me, a lady was bending down on the ground. Her bracelet had broke, and all the beads had spilled onto the ground, moving every which way as the car swayed.

The beads reached us, the standing passengers, and this small, mousy lady next to me stooped down and started picking up the beads while the car was still moving. Then this guy, this teenager next to her starts picking them up too. It was such a nice picture, it could bring tears to your eyes. Just these strangers picking up these beads. I helped too, who couldn't, it was contagious. And we didn't even speak while we did it, we just did it because it was a nice thing to do. Once we picked up what we could, we handed it to the lady who started it all, who then handed it to the lady whose bracelet had broken and who simply said, "Merci."

How lovely, how wonderfully universal. You didn't even have to know French to see how beautiful this was. It was, like most experiences, told in the language of beauty which, I think, everyone understands but on different levels. Kind of like math. If anything is improving, it's my proficiency in the language of the cinematic and the beautiful.

The French have a reputation for being cold, reserved, rude. It's not that at all. I mean, there have been instances when it seems that way, but it's not like that. At least, I've stopped thinking like that. They're just timid and don't take things superficially. It's easier to make friends with an American than it is with a French person. With the French, it takes time to get to know a person. You can't just bond over "we have the same purse!" kind of way or judge them face value. In this way, the French and I sort of share a lot in common. I remember, in high school, I had this friend who once confided in me that before she even knew me she thought I was mean and reserved just because I didn't say much. It took a while for her to get to know me, but she was glad she did and she was glad that I wasn't what she judged me to be. I think it's that way with most of my friends. And that's how it is with the French.

vendredi 9 novembre 2007

clothes and a casting call

It's getting kind of cold. I thought I'd be able to handle it with my warm, cozy Carhartt jacket, but even then that's not enough! My wool jacket that I already have is falling apart from being worn every day too. Back in SF, I only wore it at night. I've given up hope on my clothes that were sent here. It's been more than a month, and I haven't been contacted about it. What the heck. I went to the post office about it, and they said they would contact me, but they haven't. It really pisses me off that my parents went through all that trouble to pay for that package, and all those great winter clothes I bought, and it's all just gone. My Michael Kors wool coat, my North Face jacket, even this awesome button down shirt that my Mom had worn back in the day. And in true Tyler Durden anti-consumerist fashion as well as the Buddhist teaching of detachment from all things, it's gone. It sucks, but at the same time, it's sort of a blessing.

1. Not having these clothes means less stuff to take home
2. I'm a different size now than what I used to be when I wore those clothes
3. I'm learning to be more minimalist with my lack of clothes which are pretty basic as best.

I don't underestimate the power of a closet full of basic clothes. Like a short or long wool coat. Or a pair of dark jeans. Or a regular black hoodie. Basics are good because they go with everything and don't go out of style. But man, these Parisienne girls seem to have all the basics down. I'm kind of sick of seeing the same basic clothes over and over again. I mean, they dress well, but they all look the same. Add something different girls! Show some color. I kind of miss the eccentricity and originality of clothes that I often see in SF.

What every Parisien girl seems to have:
1. Tights: Black, patterned, colored. Worn with ballet flats or boots.
2. Boots: Tall, short, with heel, or flat. Definitely leather or leather looking.
3. Trench coat: Khaki or black. This kind of goes without saying.
4. Longchamps purse: Seriously.
5. Tight jeans. Tight pants in general: Worn tucked under the boots.
6. Leather bomber jacket: This, even though I see it a lot, I kind of actually like. It goes with everything. Dress it up, dress it down.
7. Converses: I love Cons, and so do the Parisiens. Everyone wears them from guys in their mid-forties to little toddlers.
8. Wool coat: Either pea coat or trench, wool coats keep these people warm.

Keisha forwarded me an ad for a casting call in Paris. She told me about it at the party and thought I should do it. They need native English speakers for some small roles for a film called "Espion" ("spy"). They don't even ask for people with experience. I told her that I'm not into acting, and she said, "So? This is Paris. And you're always on the other side of the camera. Try being in front of it. Get some perspective." A true lady of wisdom. I signed up for an acting class at SFSU once. I figured that it would help me with directing films to know what the actors have to go through. But most of the people were very theatrical, I couldn't handle it. And it didn't work with my schedule. The thing with the camera is that you don't have to go big with a camera. You can be subtle, and the camera will catch it. With theatre, you gotta go big so that the people in the back can see you.

It'd be nice to be on set again, but I don't know.

jeudi 8 novembre 2007

lucia's birthday

Just got back from Lucia's 21st birthday party. A lovely affair at Keisha's place which is literally a 3 minute walk away. Lots of great people were there: Keisha, Lucia, Sarah, Suzie, Sally, Lily, Kristin, Taylor, Lou, Romina, and also Romina's French friends came by, Miriam, Edwige, and I forgot the other one. It was great. Lots of laughs, alcohol, finger foods. Found out that Suzie also has a crush on David the bartender! So funny. She told me that she found out last night, after I had left, that he rides a motorcycle to and from work. We were both so "ohmygosh!!! so hot!" as if we just saw the cover of Tiger Beat or something. Taylor was a total riot speaking Spanish like a Mexican from LA. He'd interject "berly" (barely) or "guardless" (regardless) in between random Spanish phrases. So funny. You just had to be there, I can't even explain it. If you weren't there, then there's no way you could find this even remotely funny. I'm just writing about it here for my sake because it makes me laugh so hard. Oh God, what would I do without these people in my life?

Walked home, and it wasn't raining like it was during the party. The sky was clear and the air was fresh and cold. The streets were shining. It was like a movie set, so beautiful. And I didn't know if it was the wine or the vodka or the mixture of both in my system or just the effect that the evening had on me, but I was filled with absolute happiness. And at 15 minutes past midnight, I felt like these empty streets, this fountain, this church, these locked up bikes chained to the playground fence, I felt like all these things were mine, that they belonged to me and would always be a part of me because I had them, at this moment, and no one else was around. It was wonderful.

God, even if I never fully learn this language, being in Paris has been the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.

bars, I'm popular!, and 21 in Paris

I love my neighborhood bar. I really do. I love our bartender, David. Pronounced "dah-veed". He's funny, speaks English with a lovely French accent ('cuz he's French of course!), and he's nice. He's not a jerk at all. Even when we're being loud and "American" with our English speaking. It's nice. He was holding this big phone, and Morgan goes, "I like your phone. It's big." And he just shot her this come-hither look while he held his phone and said, "Thank you." And everyone just cracked up! Oh, euphemisms. Any language would be less funny without you.

Anyway, he's CUTE for a Frenchman! Even though he's probably like 30. I can say a 30 year old is cute, it's my blog, I can write whatever I want! He's tall and lanky, but doesn't have a classical looking face. I think I wrote this before, but he kind of looks like Ed from the tv show "Ed". If Ed was French, that is.

I was sitting with my friends at the bar, and I'm right in front of where he fills the glasses, and at one point he was looking at me while he was filling the glasses, and I just looked at him, and then Morgan goes, "Ah! He's in love with you Elaine!!" or something like that. It was so embarrassing!! I was just, "What?!" He was mostly talking to Morgan, Kathy, Kristin, Suzie, and Nayommee for most of the night, so I wasn't sure what was going on. But it was one of those embarrassing moments that aren't that really embarrassing, you just want to look embarrassed, but you really secretly liked it. Yeah, one of those moments.

I was talking to Sarah, and she said she and Steven were talking about my blog the other night! I was most surprised. Thanks for reading guys! She was talking about getting back into writing to record what she's been up to and just go from there. Totally go for it! Just write what you did and see where it takes you! Man, that was so cheesy, that last sentence right there, I apologize. But, yeah, writing's fun.

Anyway, the fame is nice. People seem to really like my posts. From my aunt in Toronto to my brother back at home. My counter has been on the rise lately!!! I like to analyze the hits too. I get visitors from all over the world! Mostly U.S. and France. Just got some recently from New Zealand and Singapore! It's super cool! I just want to thank you guys for reading, and I hope you're enjoying my blog!

Today's Lucia's birthday, and we're gonna go all out to celebrate. Or stay in at her place to celebrate. She's 21!!! Either way, it's gonna be fun! My class tomorrow's in the afternoon, so I can sleep in. Yay!

mercredi 7 novembre 2007

proust questions

We're doing the Proust questions in my conversation class. If you're not familiar with this questionnaire, you can read about it here. It's cool to do them at a certain point in your life, keep the answers safe for a couple of years, then do it again and compare your present and past answers. I actually did them when I was 20, and the answers are in my journal back home. I was planning to do them when I turn 28--my favorite number and the age of that defines everything for me. If I'm not happy or successful by 28, then there's no hope (sarcasm). You should do the Proust questions too!

We wrote down the questions first, and we're supposed to submit our answers next week. While writing down the questions in class, I started answering them. I looked at them after I came home, and I freaking flipped out! My answers kind of scared me.

Favorite hero in fiction: Tyler Durden from Fight Club or Holden Caulfield.
Favorite heroine in fiction: Bridget Jones.

Interesting. Tyler Durden is the BAD GUY! Or at least, he is the anti-hero. He's supposed to symbolize the narrator's "repressed masculinity". I read that on Wiki. I admire his stand against consumerism. I also admire his freaking hot body, as portrayed by Brad Pitt. If I was a guy, I'd like to get into a fight at least once. Just to see how I would do. Ah! Sorry for this stream of consciousness writing! Anyway, that's a weird hero for me to pick, and I only saw the movie. And Holden Caulfield? He was crazy. I guess he's my hero because he sees how ridiculous and sad the world is* but doesn't quite know how to handle his frustration. At least he didn't kill himself. I find that heroic.

Ah..Bridget Jones. That kind of explains itself, and that answer doesn't scare me. She's everywoman. It would have been much cooler if I had a more "educated" answer like Jane Eyre. On second thought...I kind of like my Proust answers. They really say a lot about me and where I am right now.

Also, made an American friend, Elly, in class today. She's cool and with Micefa as well. We talked in the metro, and we kind of have a lot in common when it comes to our thoughts about Paris. It was pretty cool to not feel alone in that aspect.

*Remember the graffitied "Fuck You" at his sister's school? And how he tried to rub it out, but was afraid some teacher would catch him and think that he did it? One of my favorite dilemmas in fiction.

mardi 6 novembre 2007


So, the thing went okay. It was weird talking in front of a lot of people in another language. I have problems talking to a crowd in English! I'm just more comfortable writing or listening. I really should try harder, but it just sucks when you don't feel confident with another language. In my group, I really try to explain things and talk in French, but when people don't understand or don't care about what you have to say, it's really disheartening. Anyway, it's over with, no more group projects for that class!

Afterwards, Suzie, who's in my class, went home with me since she's never seen my place. We got some awesome falafel sandwiches up my street. Kristin joined us, and we went back to my place to chill and watch videos on YouTube. Then we went to the Mayflower to get some framboise. We were lucky; we got there before the crowds came. It was so cool that the bartender remembered my drink! He was all, "Framboise?" Hee hee. He's a short, dorky looking kid with glasses.

Suzie, Kristin, and I talked for a while mostly about school and traveling. Suzie mentioned that there's this barrier when you live here and then you go to travel. If you don't speak the language of the country you're visiting, you're not really experiencing it. You're just another tourist. She likened going to Amsterdam for a weekend when you're studying in Paris to like going to school in CA and then going to Chico for a weekend to party. It was a very good analogy.

We also talked about how fast things are happening. I mean, we're almost a week into November! It's crazy. It's nice when I'm sad and missing things to think, "It's okay, it's going by so fast, I'll be home soon." But when I'm super happy and super loving it here I'm thinking, "Oh my God, I can't believe this is going to be over soon! I'm not doing enough." It's weird being at both ends of the spectrum sometimes. Right now, I love where I am. I don't regret anything I've done. Coming to Paris has made me see what means most to me, what I really care about.

Apart from my regular homeworks and studying, I'm working on a mockumentary for my brother and his fiancee. I'll be showing it at their wedding, and it's my wedding present for them. So I can't talk much about it here, 'cuz he reads this, but all I'm going to say is that so far, it's, as Suzie would say, "bomb". It's probably one of the most funnest things I've ever had the pleasure writing, and I can't wait to film it. I'm setting up interviews with 10+ people. It's going to be my largest production ever and my first "mockumentary". So, I'm happy.

lundi 5 novembre 2007


I have an exposé, or presentation, tomorrow. I just can't wait to get it over with. I have to memorize my part after I write this post. For some reason, I'm not worried. I usually get really worried about these things, but I'm not anymore. I'm past that. I'm really glad I'm doing it now though because I'd hate to do it later in the semester. I already have a presentation on the 20th of December. Now that's ridiculous. Five days before Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, my friend already started her Christmas list. I didn't even think about that. I seriously don't want anything. Anything material, I mean. I'm pretty happy with what I have. I just want to get through this semester and the next in one piece, get something of worth accomplished (which might be, surprise, film-related), and drop a few pounds for my brother's wedding. That's all. If I can have that, I'll be happy. Of course, if I do get those things, it'll be at the end of my year abroad, near my birthday. So that's my birthday wish list. But Christmas? Hmm, wait. It'd be nice to get some good old fashioned snail mail. I'm still waiting for the cd my Kuya sent me!! Stupid postal service here sucks. I've been sending out postcards, but it'd be nice to get some postcards back! That would be really cool. Or even some handwritten letters. That would be nice. Just an idea! I love sending out handwritten letters. It's just so nice and personal.

My cousin in London invited me over this Friday for his birthday party, but I can't go! I wish I could. I have a class though. Bah! Good old London. Good old English-speaking London. I love British accents! Next time. Also, my best friend from grade school, Cherilin, is coming over this winter for a few days. Yay! This'll be her first trip alone to Europe. I'm really excited that she's taking the plunge and visiting me. There's a difference when people say they'll visit and the ones that actually really mean it. I'm really happy she meant it. That's a Christmas gift in itself.

dimanche 4 novembre 2007


I want to thank my Kuya--he was super sweet and sent me a message asking me if I was okay. He thought I was depressed. I'm really not. I mean, there are these periods where I'm miserable and sad, but I don't mind feeling that way for some reason. If anything it only inspires me to write and it gives me ideas. Like last night, I started re-editing this super 8 film I was working on and had already posted on YouTube, but I wanted to fix some stuff about the first edit. And I was also writing my brother's wedding mockumentary that I'm going to film when I get back, and then like around 12:30 AM, I just started working out and doing push-ups for no apparent reason. Actually, I think it's because of the movie Oldboy...Anyway after periods of being stuck to the laptoppy, I should always try to unstick myself and do something active. Anyway...everything happens for a reason, even bouts of feeling lousy. The only way out of it is to find something that'll make me happy, and that's writing and working on my films.

I'm not feeling so bad about the French degree, whether or not I do go through with it and finish it. All I know is what my inner voice revealed to me the other day: Coming to France was never about learning French. At least not exactly. It was about living in another place totally removed from my familiar world, coming to terms with what I want to do with my life (which happens all the time no matter where I am), and learning how to make it (somewhat) on my own. Of course, I am plagued with guilt since my parents are paying for my year abroad, but I'm going to pay it back. It's the right thing to do. They shouldn't be paying for my year of "writing abroad". They didn't agree to that.

Anyway, I don't think I'll have that crazy after college graduation period where I'll be lost and unfocused because that's already happened here. I know what I want. I know what I want. I've never felt so full of hope for the future. Plus, I can't think of a better time to live abroad: I'm young, single, pretty cute, and bursting with energy to write and explore the world around me. I won't ever be able to do this again after I graduate.

Free museum Sunday today, so I went to the Petit Palais with Kristin. We were going to go to the Courbet exposition at the Grand Palais, but the line was almost 2 hours long. Then walked along the Champs-Elysees, which was pretty cool, towards the Arc de Triomphe. Saw this clock at the Petit Palais.And upon closer inspection, all the figurines are actually monkeys in costume playing in an orchestra, and that was the most coolest, funniest things I have ever seen.