samedi 17 novembre 2007

another reason to shed tears at omaha beach and old-timey fun

I just remembered why I was susceptible to tears that day. You will not believe how people my generation are sometimes. The Holden Caulfield in me just wants to scream at them, "Are you an idiot?! Why are you doing this; what is wrong with you?"

I'm going to sound so crazy, and I think I am sometimes, I swear to God. [Note: Kuya sent me a message telling me I'm not crazy. Thanks Kuya!] But how can you smile for a photo op in front of a monument for the dead and fallen? It just seems wrong to me. And then, and then, you lean up against it for some artsy, glamour shot. WHAT FOR?! So you can put it on your MySpace? What is wrong with you? Have some respect. Have some decency. These people died to protect and ensure the freedom of others. What have you done for your country? Other than make an ass out of yourself.

I hope the dead come to haunt you while you sleep. If I had died on that shore and my ghost witnessed the display of crudeness you put on today, your ass would definitely be haunted.

I'm so sorry I went off like that. These are the kind of things that get me angry. I'm really a nice, quiet person. But Taylor noticed it too and was actually the first person to say something about it while I just kept these thoughts in my head.

Okay, went to Le Grand Action, a cinema down the street to watch Buster Keaton's The Cameraman with live piano music. It was SO COOL! Firstly, there were loads of people there, so it was a happening place. Secondly, it's Buster Keaton. Come on! He's my favorite silent comedic actors. He's also so handsome! If I was alive around that era, he'd be one of my actor crushes, definitely. Keisha even agreed.

Went into the cinema, and half the audience were children 5-7 years old. No joke. It was such a surprise. They did this film trivia about the silent film era, and I was floored with these kids who knew all about silent film. The most adorable little boy, maybe 5 or 6, next to me answered correctly, and I was just speechless. When I have children, they're watching silent films too. Start them off right. It was my first time seeing this movie, and it was hilarious. Probably not as great as The General though. There's a scene where Buster is in a crowd of people, and he's pushed up against the leading lady. She doesn't notice him at all since they're in a huge crowd and he's behind her. But he just closes his eyes and smells her and falls instantly in love. I love that. So simple. Those were the days.

Afterwards, got a text from Susie that she, Sarah, Nayommee, Steven, and Kristin were eating dinner at St. Michel. Her boyfriend, Andy, was there too and he just came from the States. We had grec sandwiches, and then braved the cold to sit beside the Seine and drink wine. It started raining, so Kristin and I headed home. Good times.

Normandy: Omaha Beach and the American Cemetary and Memorial

This trip tops the list of one of the most amazing things I did in France: visiting Omaha beach and the Normandy American cemetery and Memorial.

It was a cold but the sun was shining when we arrived at Omaha beach. The beach was simple enough. To my left the shore narrowed and these cliffs, from where the Germans fired, stood so tall and strong. I couldn't get over what the Allied soldiers were thinking moments before reaching the shore. It looked like certain death.

These soldiers put themselves willingly in danger to fight for what they believed in and stood for, and I just find that so beautiful and noble. Not just as an American, but as a human being. To risk your life so that others could live. I just couldn't help but shed some tears. And it's not like I know anyone who died in WWII, but of all the wars in American history there's something about this war that makes me a puddle of tears. I'll get to that later.

After Omaha beach, we went to the cemetery and memorial. We went through the guided tour and then had time on our own to walk through the cemetery and see the exhibit and short film, "Letters". During the movie, I was a puddle of tears, they just wouldn't stop. I have no idea why. The film was simple and not dramatic at all. Just the story of 5 different men who sent letters to their families before D-Day and who died and were buried there. It was well done. And these tears just kept streaming down my face, and I couldn't stop it. Later, I had to ask Steven to get me some toilet paper in the men's bathroom because the woman's was closed.

[Note: Here's where I'm going to sound totally crazy, be prepared. You can also stop reading here if you're not prepared for this.]
I've always felt that there was something strange about me because I get feelings for things that I don't understand and I don't know where they're coming from, like what I felt today. Or I have an affinity of things that are no longer the norm, like fountain pens and handwritten letters. When I was young and extremely imaginative, I came to believe that I have lived some past lives. That my soul has experienced things before that have left a mark or scar. And without even trying, I get these connections, like I'm communicating with or learning about my past life.

I don't get so emotional over movies about Vietnam or WWI. There's just something about WWII that really really connects with me. Only my really close friends and my Mom know this story, but one of the main driving reasons I started French was because I believed that in one of my past lives I was a French nurse during World War II. I know that sounds so insane, but there are just so many things that back up this story, and I can't help but believe. Below is the story that made me believe:

It was during my sophomore or junior year of high school. I was reading a Tolkien book, probably Fellowship of the Ring under a bright, halogen light on my brother's bed. Then for some reason, I stared up at the halogen light and was just totally hypnotized by it. Next thing, I'm in someone else's body in a field hospital. I'm a nurse. Light is pouring in through everywhere, everything is really bright. And there's this young man sleeping on a cot, and I'm standing beside him. He's an American. I think I just finished bandaging him. Another nurse comes up to me, and she's speaking French, and I speak back to her in French. I don't remember what it was about. I'm pretty sure it was about the soldier. Then I turn back to the soldier. And everything gets whiter and brighter.

I awoke. I found myself on my knees with my face on the bed and my arms at my sides. 15 to 20 minutes had passed since I was awake. What had happened? I wondered if I had daydreamed and then fell asleep or just fell asleep and dreamed it.

I wrote about it in my journal, and never told anyone. A couple of days later, a friend comes up to me saying I was in her dream last night. She said we were dressed in old-fashioned clothing, probably the 40s, and speaking French. I was lighting her cigarette for her right before we ducked into a bistro. And that was it. Weird dream, huh? Yeah, weird dream.

There are other stories to back up my belief, and I took French hoping to get more in touch with that past life, but so far, no major results other than being extremely moved by the cemetery at Normandy. Maybe I know someone there. What I want more than anything is to have my soul free from this human prison so I don't have to keep being a human all the time. But if I knew what I did/didn't do in my past lives, I can make this life count, I can finally be free.

vendredi 16 novembre 2007


Another free day due to uni strike. Students will vote on Monday whether or not to continue the strike. Us exchange students aren't supposed to get involved because our visas could get taken away and we could be sent home. Anyway, it's not our fight.

Lucia came over and we went to Keisha's to hang out. Then got a texto (slang for "text message") from Susie. She, Taylor, Nayommee, Steven, and Sarah were all going to Breakfast In America. We met up there also with Kathy too. Keisha had a babysitting job to get to and couldn't join us. I got a tasty chocolate milkshake and shared nachos and fries with Susie. A true American meal. I really don't eat that badly, only when I'm in America, haha. Plus it was cheaper.

Then we all hoofed it to Chatelet to see if line 14 was working so that we can head to H&M. That's the computerized line that works normally during strikes. Unfortunately, we were met by this:It was crazy to say the least. No one knew what was going on. Some British girl overheard us speaking English and even asked what the deal was. We all looked at the TV screens set up that showed the status of certain lines. Sometimes the intercom would come on stating the statuses too:"Ligne 7, quasi nul; Ligne 4, quasi nul.." Which means "almost null". It was pretty insane. Like the end of the world. Later on, Sarah was explaining it to her sister on the phone, and I mentioned that it was like Children of Men. Just crowds of confused people wanting the same thing, trying to fend for themselves.

Some of us just went home from there, but Sarah, Susie, Kathy, and I hoofed it to St. Lazare which is 4 long stops away. We got to the H&M and got some cheap tights to wear under our pants because it's getting way cold. I found a cute beanie to wear for the trip to Normandy. And my huge freakish head gets pretty cold too.

Hung out at Sarah's place then took the 14, which wasn't so bad anymore, back to Chatelet then hoofed it home from there. About 30 minutes. Walking home, all I could think about was if this was the end of the world, if I had to fend for myself, right now, what would happen? I didn't have my knife that I usually carry. My phone has a euro left on it. I had my wallet, map, pen, Moleskine, Navigo metro card. I was wearing jeans, tights under that since it was so cold, shirt, long sleeve over that, Carhartt hoodie, beanie, and loafers. It's kind of hard to run in loafers. I would be screwed! But I think I'd be better off than most of the Parisien ladies here. They're all wearing fancy stuff and nice shoes.

H&M stuffs I bought:
1. 2 pair set of black knee highs to wear under pants
2. 2 pairs of black tights
3. 1 pair of thick, gray tights
4. 1 pair of polka-dotted knee highs
5. 1 green beanie
TOTAL: 35 euros. INSANITY! But totally necessary due to the coldness. Plus, H&M is probably as good a deal as I can get right now.

jeudi 15 novembre 2007

the beaujolais nouveau

One of the most loveliest Parisien nights ever. Just got back from the Le Saint-Médard across the street to welcome the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau, a nice, simple red wine from the Beaujolais region. My lovely landlord invited me and played live music too! He's so great. I think he knows how shy and hermit-like I am. But he really insisted that I come. We were talking on the stairwell and he was all, "Please, if you can, join us! It's just across the street! But if not, that's okay..." He's so sweet!!

Invited bunches of people, but it's kind of hard when there's a metro strike going on. Luckily, Kristin and Keisha made it since they don't live far. Walked in, and Landlord Chris was playing his accordion and singing in the corner. We couldn't find a place to sit so we went upstairs. Keisha got frites, Kristin got a café-crème, and I got a café noisette and a nutella crèpe. We also got a small bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau to share later.

This place is absolutely gorgeous. Dark wood tables and chairs, and pinkish wallpaper. Very warm and cozy. We talked about how amazing Paris is, how lucky we are, how fast everything is going. Our convo ranged from fashion to French dogs. It felt so good to be young and in Paris. Keisha was saying how amazing this experience was, how no one will ever understand what this year will mean to us except ourselves. It was lovely, just talking and taking our time in between bites of crèpe and sips of wine. It was great and so un-American. Back home, we're used to gulping our food, never really savoring it. The wine was also great: simple and light. This older woman behind us heard us talking, and she spoke English and asked us what we were studying. She was really sweet and even took our picture for us. She told us how her daughter studied abroad just for 6 months but that the experience changed her like no other. We asked her what she did, and she's a film scholar! She said she does research. She told us about her kids who are also in the film industry in New York. What a world. God never ceases to remind me about film. He even sits a Canadian film scholar behind me at my local bistro.

When it died down, we went downstairs. I said hi to my landlord as he was playing a song. We sat down to listen to the music, and this lady handed out sheets so we could sing along. Old-school karaoke. We stayed for 6 songs, then parted ways. I waved goodbye to my landlord before I left. God I love my quartier. I think I should go to that bistro at least once a week for coffee until they know me.

mercredi 14 novembre 2007

good grève!

I don't want to be a jerk or anything, but this post title is referencing to Charlie Brown's quote "good grief!". Yeah, sorry, I don't know why I felt like explaining that.

In addition to the metro strike, there's also a school strike at my school that'll last probably for the week. I don't mind the school strike, that means I get sent homework through email to get done whenever. That's fine, especially when it means more time to do whatever I want! Yay! There's just no way I can be the good student that I was in SF here in Paris. There's no possible way. I'm living in Paris for gosh sakes.

It was a lovely day to be walking outside. Cold, crisp, very autumnal. I was walking up my street, the sun at my back, when suddenly everything in front of me was illuminated. Everything brightened at the same time, the intensity of light was twice as much as it was before. Beautiful. I turned around and the sun had just been covered by a cloud and was now shining in all its glory. Great start to my walk.

I was heading over to St. Germain des Près where Susie, Sally, and a whole mess of other people were meeting for a class. Since there was no way to get to my class, I decided to crash their class, Paris à la découvert. Susie, Sally, and Theresa gave a presentation today on St. Germain and Le Jardin du Luxembourg. I also felt like getting out on such a lovely day. The presentation was really cool, and I took pics of a lot of great stuff like leaves:Afterwards, me, Susie, Sarah, and Nayommee went back to my place. Kristin met up with us too. We ate dinner there and watched episodes of "Ready Or Not" this 90s Canadian kids show. Susie got me hooked on this show, it's ridiculous. Good times.

Everyone left to walk home, and I went up the street to watch my landlord play music at this cafe. It was really crowded, and there were a lot of old people. I stayed for one song then left. All in all, a really nice, chill day.

Also updated many photo albums in my Photobucket. Check it!

show your support for the writers

I'm posting this in every corner of the interweb I own. Please read and show your support in every way possible.

I'm far from Hollywood, but not far from strikes. I am living in a land where striking is a national sport. While the writers are striking in LA, here in Paris the metro and our university is on strike. Anyway, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the writers' strike being a hopeful writer for film myself.

Let's be honest. Writers don't get a lot of credit. It's usually the actors or directors. But, for me at least, the glory, the happiness comes from seeing your project realized no matter what size, seeing it translated from words on a paper to sets, costumes, props, dedicated crews, talented actors, and finally your work on the screen. There it is. Just as you wanted it, maybe a few changes, but it's there. It's done. You're getting it out there for people to see, because you want that, you want people to see your work because you're proud, you worked so hard, and, of course, you want to live.

Writers need money to live. They have families. Mortgages. Bills. Obviously, everyone needs money to live, but writers need to get compensated for their work just as authors are paid for every book sold and musicians every song played. Writers need to get paid too. Especially if their work is on the interwebs, being seen by millions of people. Especially if their work is interrupted by ads, also being seen by millions of people. You corporate bad guys. How long did you think that this would go on? Who do you think you're dealing with?

We are the writers. (I am using the collective "we" because in spirit, I feel that I am part of the new generation of film writers, and I can do whatever I want this is my blog.) We create the shows, we write the films, we bring you your money. We are backed by a long, rich history. Face it. We've got Shakespeare on our side, we love Shakespeare, he inspires us. Don't mess with the Bard. And we're backed by our actors and our crews. I hope you have someone on call to light the next reality crap show you're gonna spew out.

And to the scab writers fresh out of college looking to make your next big break: what the hell are you thinking? You think this'll bring you to Hollywood? When the corporates are done with you, you'll be back to the mail room. And, if anyone finds out, and I'm sure someone will, come on, it's Hollywood, you will not be liked. No one likes a scavenger like you looking for a quick buck and the next break in times like these. Have some morals. Some decency. If you were out there, picketing next to the writers of "The Office" and "LOST", you wouldn't like scabs like yourself either.

To learn more, please watch this video:

Also, here's some funny pro-WGA videos:

To learn more, please read: United Hollywood and sign the petition. If you love your films and tv, please show your support.

mardi 13 novembre 2007

comfort food and grèves

In addition to the grève for the metro, there's also a strike at school. Yay (sarcasm). Arrived at school today, and all the entrances to the main buildings where classes are held are blocked off. Saw Sally who's supposed to pick up her dossiers at the photocopy place, but there's no way to get into the building. Tried the back way which is this staircase and bridge that crosses the street and goes straight to the building, but the entrance was blocked off by tables and chairs taken from the classrooms. It's so "guerilla" as Suzie put it later on. I wish I brought my camera to take pictures, it was nuts. A guy on a megaphone at the front of school was saying that there are no classes, all entrances are blocked. Freaking Armageddon.

It sucks that this has to happen while we're here, but Taylor told me that this happens all the time. How do people learn? I don't mind since it gives me time to work on other things like writing my script and writing in general, but it really sucks that I'm not in class like I should be.

While waiting for Suzie, I mentioned Breakfast in America, and Sally thought I literally wanted breakfast in America, but I explained that it was an American diner in the 5eme nearby me. What I really wanted was just an ice cold root beer. Then Sally got all hungry wanting a veggie burger. Then I got all hungry just waiting for Suzie. When Suzie came Sally and I were all, "We're going to go eat at Breakfast In America." Called up Kristin and Morgan, and we met up there.

Oh my gawd, as soon as I got there I was starving. Ever since I got to Paris I can go longer without food (around 5 hours) since my classes are so long and it takes a while to get from school to home to eat, but I was starving when I got there. We sat down and seriously, it was almost like being back at home. American music was playing. There was Heinz ketchup and yellow mustard on the table. Our waitress was an American girl (probably) who spoke to us in English. I ordered a root beer (A&W), and it was the most amazing thing ever. You know how when you really miss something, and then the moment you have it after that whole time of missing it, it's just better than any other time you have ever had it? Yeah. That was my experience. There's something about root beer that makes my taste buds burst with absolute joy.

Some of us had burgers, and they were pretty good. The portions were pretty big, like American big. I think. I'm kind of forgetting what American portions look like. I was really full at the end of it. There was this picture facing me from a scene in the diner that those people rob in Pulp Fiction, and that for some reason made me very happy. The owner of BIA went to USC film school and has all these people in film who invested in the diner, which is pretty cool.

Afterwards, we went to a store called "Thanksgiving" that sells American products. They even had root beer there! Score. I bought a jar of marshmallow spread so I can make fluffer nutter. I didn't get peanut butter though since it was too expensive. I'm sure I can find it somewhere else. The fluff was pretty cheap, and I like the jar it came in. I'm weird like that.

Then walked to St. Michel so that Suzie can buy an umbrella at the parapluie store. Then just walked some more and more, then got some Starbucks, then headed our separate ways.

Since class is canceled tomorrow because of the strike, I'm walking to Odeon through St. Germain to hear Sally, Susie, and Theresa's presentation on the St. Germain des Près for one of their classes that isn't canceled. It'll be cool.

lundi 12 novembre 2007

learning, language amnesia, and American food

Talked to Dad the other day, and he asked me a question that was just totally hilarious to me that it has to be in a movie. I actually wrote it down on paper while we were still talking just so I won't forget it. He asked, "Are you learning anything?"

And I guess it was the tone of his voice that made me laugh because it sounded like he already knew the answer but he wanted to hear it from me. Smiling, I answered, "Yeah, I'm learning loads." Of course, that "loads" can mean anything from "French" to "how to live alone" or "the ritual of tequila shots". But it's true, I am learning a lot. This is "study" abroad after all.

It's so weird how you can speak another language and after the whole experience you ask yourself, "Did that just happen? Did I really converse with this person in another language?" After it happens, I'm just so amazed with myself that it happened. I am in disbelief. Like today, I went to go find out about my stupid package that's been missing forever. Turns out there's a hotline just for these packages. So I call. And it's not like America where you can speak to a Spanish speaking person. Time to test my oral French skills! And on the PHONE, which is the worst thing ever. Anyway, I'm talking to a nice French lady for a couple of minutes explaining myself, giving her tracking numbers and all, and she explains to me what happened which I reiterate back to her so that I can get it straight through my stupid head: the package got sent back to you guys. Great.

Idiot. It's my stupid fault for not checking my mail at Micefa and thus getting my notice to pick up my package late. As a result, I will freeze this winter. No, I won't freeze. I'll just wear all the clothing I currently own which is fine. I'm really sorry guys that this happened. I should've just packed my winter clothes. I'm a jerk.

Argh...In other news, Kristin, Morgan, and I were talking about Thanksgiving. There was some gossip that it might happen at Stephen's place. As of yet I don't really miss any American food. Actually, I kind of miss root beer. But, when I do have the craving of something American, Morgan, Kristin, and Kathy know a place called Breakfast in America, and they apparently serve American food. I looked it up in the interwebs, and it's owned by this filmmaker! Pretty cool. It's nice to know that there is a place in Paris where I can get chili cheese fries, a breakfast burrito, or even good ol' chips and salsa. 'Cuz the salsa here tastes like curry. So I've heard.

dimanche 11 novembre 2007

karaoke at Pigalle

You've never really lived in a city until you visited some of its seedy parts. Back in LA, Dad would take Kuya and I to "bad" (really just poor) parts of town to get really good Mexican food or soul food. Yum. Oh man can you believe I haven't had any Mexican food for over 2 months? Anyway, Pigalle, in the 18eme, is pretty seedy (yet touristy) with its sex shops and cinemas, but what we girls came for was the karaoke.

Met up with Kristin, Lucia, Kathy, Suzie, Romina, Nayommee, Morgan, and Sarah at a karaoke bar. We all got our own drinks in addition to a meter long row of tequila shots. Had one shot myself. Learned to do that thing, that thing that D.B. Sweeney and that other girl did in the film Cutting Edge. First you lick your hand, put some salt on it, lick off the salt, take the shot, then suck a lemon slice. It was my first time doing that, and it was fun.

We didn't get to sing our songs cuz we left early. Kristin and I were going to sing "Love Fool" by the Cardigans. But we had some fun, there were some fellow English speakers who picked some English songs, "YMCA" and "It's Raining Men", so we sang along with them. The French people who were there picked these really sad, slow French songs. It was depressing. When you're doing karaoke, you can't do that stuff! Anyway, it was good times, and I'm glad we got to continue celebrating Lucia's 21st birthday.

It never really occurred to me until now how weird it is to spend a birthday, especially a 21st birthday, abroad and away from close family and friends. I hope Lucia had a great time with us. I'm glad we all have each other to look after. I'm going to be spending my birthday abroad as well, and I can't think of a better group of people to spend it with.

Called Dad to wish him a happy birthday this weekend. It's nice talking on the phone but it's no substitute to talking in real person. It's weird how we can carry on a conversation even if we're not physically together. You would think, being so far away, there'd be some sort of gap of silence because the sounds of the words we speak have to travel so far. Technology is amazing, but some things are better the old-fashioned way.