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


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 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.