samedi 29 décembre 2007

this cozy home

Woke up curled up in a ball this morning. Probably because I was freezing. Figured that it was time I bought a comforter. Yes, I've been sleeping in one of those polar fleece blankets that I thought was pretty warm, but apparently not. And I don't like leaving the heater on and wasting that electricity. Fortunately, Nayo had to go to Ikea to buy some things today so I joined her.

Took the bus to the RER, and the sidewalks, the train stations, they were all full of people from all over the world. And all I could think was, "You tourists, get out of my way!" It's such a horrible feeling. I've never felt that way living in California, but that's because I never lived at the center of a compact city, and there are barely any compact cities in CA to begin with.

Had lunch at Ikea, bought a comforter, and I swear, when I got home I tore that plastic wrapping off, and I re-made my bed all nice, and it's so silly how something little like a comforter can make me happy, but I've been noticing these small, little things that make me happy every day like the little spoon that comes with my crème or the smells of fruits and vegetables outside my window, and I just hope to God that all this transfers over when I go home. And just having this cozy home at the end of the day fills me with absolute joy.

Had Indian food with Susie, her bf who's visiting Andy, Nayo, and Taylor, and it was good and cheap. Then hung out at my place afterwards. A nice day.

vendredi 28 décembre 2007

pulp fiction and the cinema

Saw Pulp Fiction at my movie theater tonight with Kristin, her bf Shawn, and Morgan. First we met up at the Mayflower, had a pint, and walked 7-8 minutes down to the theater. Heaven.

Sometimes people ask me why I'd go see a movie that I can just rent myself. Why see "old" films projected in a movie theater? Why pay the same (or slightly less) for a film when you can see a brand spankin' new one? It's because nothing beats that big tall screen, that darkness, the tiny black flecks that dirty the screen telling you that this is film and not digital. Because, when Pulp Fiction was in theaters, I was in second grade and was into whatever Disney was putting out at the time. Because I am a cinema major, a lower level of film geek, and I like sitting in that darkness with friends and strangers.

If I become rich with whatever it is that I will do in the future, I'm opening my own independent film theater that looks like the ones they tore down when towns got too big, and they put up those god awful monstrosities boasting 16 screens. Two screens. Only two screens, and we'll mostly show old stuff, silent films for the kids to watch, the classics, horrors around Halloween, romantic comedies with Cary Grant around Valentine's day. We'll serve the typical fare of movie theaters, all that candy. But only one size of popcorn and soda because, seriously, you don't really need to eat that much popcorn or drink that much soda. And at the beginning of the very first showing of a film's first run, I'll be there to welcome my patrons, introduce the film, and sit with the audience, just like the lady who runs Le Grand Action. One of my dreams since high school. It's funny because, while I was thinking of my dream to own a film theater, I learned that Shawn works in a two screen movie theater. Pretty cool coincidence.

In other news, I'm getting out of here! For a weekend only to lovely London where I will be staying with my cousin, his wife, and their baby who I haven't met yet. I am EXCITED!!! I've been to London twice before, but I'm gonna look up stuff I haven't done, and get some fish and chips. Ever since I bought my ticket I've been craving fish and chips. Yum. And then feeling like total crap afterward from all the friedness. Am going to try and not be a total tourist.

jeudi 27 décembre 2007

dyslexia and my semi-healthy addiction

Ever since I got here, I've become slightly dyslexic. I've never had this problem before. But lately, I've been inverting my pin number, writing and typing things wrong, and even jumbling my speech. It definitely has something to do with the French language. There are a lot of words that are spelled similarly and sound the same. It's just so weird that my mind is mixing the two languages causing me to feel more stupid than I already am.

Met with Nayo today to find some more really good hot chocolate again. She said "hot cocoa", but I don't even want to call it "cocoa" anymore. "Hot cocoa" brings up these images of a ski lodge and Ugg boots and tiny marshmallows and Swiss Miss packets. But chocolat chaud ou chocolat à l'ancienne is nothing like that. It's rich, melted chocolat that comes with a spoon. A freaking spoon!

Went to Gibert Jeune to look at the Paris Chocolat book, then found a good place close by. Went to L'Heure Gourmande that is located on Passage Dauphine. Completely off the beaten path. You walk through the metal gates and there's this small, inconspicuous tea house amidst art galleries. We both ordered hot chocolate. The lady comes out with what looks like a porcelain butter churner, and starts "churning". Then she pours out the thick chocolate. This one was really good, different from Angelina's. It was a little bittersweet, but I liked it. Nayo said that this place would be great to take the married man you're having an affair with since there's not a lot people that walk by, and it's one of those hidden treasures. Haha...Chocolat chaud here is so addicting, I just want to go to every good hot chocolate place here. But only as a special treat and afterwards I should make myself walk home to burn it off.

As for my other addiction: books. God, I love the bookstores here. There's a bookstore on every street, it seems. There's even one just downstairs, not even a minute away! All I have to do is turn a corner, and it's there. Finished Around the World in 80 Days. I really should read more classics. You're pretty much forced to read the classics in high school, but after that you're on your own. Went to WH Smith, which is an English bookseller, across from Tuileries. I had the hugest urge to read Fight Club just because the film made a big impact on me. Also went to another librairie up my street and got a children's book, Le Lion, La Sorcière Blanche et L'Armoire Magique. Also known as C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Children's books in French are fun (and easier) to read. And I just love children's books in general.

mercredi 26 décembre 2007

Christmas wish list

Okay, okay, I know I said I didn't want anything for Christmas other than handwritten letters, but after browsing the interwebs of lists of the Best Gifts of 2007 and Techie's wish lists etc..., I don't think it hurts to make a list of things that would be nice if money were no option, you know, just in case I win the lottery when I get back to the States.

1. An HD camcorder: The Sony HDR-HR7 or Canon XH A1. Because HD is crisp and clean as heck. I admit that at heart I'm an analog player in a digital world (my super 8 still works last time I checked, and you can't beat the saturation from my Russian Smena), but as long as I'm living in a digital world I might as well go hi-def. For the sake of my film, of course.

2. A Macbook with Final Cut Pro studio: Because, as my cousin had advised me--and he's a CEO or something huge for a creative agency in New York--I have to make the switch. Final Cut is becoming industry standard. The Coen brothers used Final Cut's Color to make O Brother Where Art Thou look what it looks like. Come on! Plus, I really like working with Macs. I'm not one of those diehard Mac people or anything, in fact, I love both PCs an Macs equally, but my next computer would definitely be a Mac.

3. A 500GB external hard drive: Because my 120GB back home is almost full. Man, I just remembered that I got my 120GB for Christmas for myself last year. Such a nerd.

4. Bicycle parts, wheels, for my Bike project: Oh yeah. Before I left, I was building a fixed-gear bicycle from an old bike I bought at an antique store in the Mission district in SF. I was halfway through stripping all the paint off myself by hand ('cuz it felt so down and dirty and amazing!), when Paris approached, and I had to abandon the project. Hopefully Dad didn't throw away the frame I left sitting in the garage. If he did, it wouldn't be that great of a loss anyway. Don't think I'll have the money to build the bike when I get back.

5. And, lastly, a crapload of books whose titles I'm too lazy to write here. In summation: the Chronicles of Narnia (in French), numerous books on film (on Buster Keaton and other directors), some Taschen books, and some Tintin books that Aaron had recommended.

How nerdy is this list? This list pretty much establishes me as a nerd and bike dork. I'm kind of embarrassed. Okay, okay, I think I've thought of something less nerdy and more girly...

6. Burberry trench coat: 'Cuz it was always my dream ever since I first visited London to have one. When I option or sell my first script, this is the first thing I'm getting for myself.

Anyway, I'm really content with what I have right now, and I really don't need these things. My laptoppy is in great condition, and I have Adobe Premiere Pro. My wool coat is falling apart, but by spring I probably won't need it anyway. Like Tyler Durden said, "The things you own end up owning you." It's so true.

Another lazy day. Did some post-party cleaning and am almost done with Around the World In 80 Days. Don't know what I'll do tomorrow.

mardi 25 décembre 2007

Christmas eve and day re-cap

Ahh..Time to blog. Lucia just left, helping me get rid of our amazing leftovers from last night. So good...This Christmas was not too shabby. I'll start with last night...

Was freaking out that the boucheries would be closed by the time I got back from Lucia's so I went ahead and went home. Bought a lovely roast chicken. Got home, made some pasta for Sally, who I know is vegetarian, and set up my place. Lucia came and brought another chicken, dessert, and some decorations like candles and a string of Christmas lights.Sally came and surprised us with a GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE! I was so astonished, so happy, it almost brought tears to my eyes. I know that sounds silly, but the thought of her asking her family to send her the ingredients necessary for green bean casserole (the soup, the fried onions) that are unavailable (at a reasonable price) here just makes me...well, I'm filled with gratitude. After Sally had uncovered the dish from the paper bag it was in, Lucia and I just looked at each other like we both received the best Christmas present ever.Barbara made mulled wine on my stove and bread, olives, and cheese. Teresa brought cider, the yummiest, crispiest palmiers (cookies that were literally all sugar and butter). We had a feast. It was nice to have a small Christmas, nothing too hectic and crazy. I didn't want to get drunk or worry about getting home at a weird hour. I just wanted to sit down to dinner, talk to people I haven't seen in a long time, and eat some really great food. Thanks everyone for pitching in.

Afterwards, we headed to Notre Dame for midnight Mass. We got in, thank God. I even had a "seat" at a base of one of the pillars. The Mass was beautiful. They had a whole choir and everything. We stayed until the very end until they finally kicked us out. I didn't get communion. Sometimes I don't get it when I don't feel worthy enough to have God in my tummy. I just don't feel like I haven't been my best lately. Instead, I just stood there, taking it all in, being surrounded by people from all over the world who wanted to be here, who all felt compelled to witness something truly spiritual and enlightening, and you didn't have to be Catholic to feel that every word, every action meant something, you just had to be human.Around 2am, Lucia and I walked back to my place. I told her she could sleep over, it would just be too crazy to go home. We were silent for most of the walk.

Christmas day
Woke up at 11. Lucia and I had big, heaping plates of leftovers for lunch. Lovely. Got a call from Nayo asking if we wanted to go ice skating at Hotel de Ville. Politely declined. I seriously just wanted to veg out all day. I know "it's Christmas" and all, and that was her repeated excuse for trying to make me and Lucia go out (first ice skating, then Indian food, then a bar after that). But neither of us wanted to do those things even though it was Christmas. Also Lucia had said, "I don't think I can handle smelling Indian food right now." I agreed. I just didn't want to go out and spend money. I also didn't want to change out of my pj's. So Lucia and I had a lovely Christmas, in my opinion, eating leftovers, talking, and watching movies. It was most excellent.

We talked about how much we changed in just the past few months here. Like just having roasted chicken at our table was a real blessing, an absolute treat. And green bean casserole is the best gift ever. My own home, which is probably half the size of the master bedroom in my parents' home, is deemed as "huge" in the eyes of my friends and I. We make due with no microwaves or no ovens, bad plumbing, 5 minute showers, or yogurt for dinner. We all have found our own ways to survive. Even if we've felt that we haven't learned anything in our classes, I think we all learned the value of things, to appreciate things more, and that's not something we could have got back home or in a classroom.

Talked to the fam, and they're having Christmas without neither me nor my brother! It just sounds so wrong. I have a legitimate excuse for not being there, but my brother? He's working Christmas day! 6am to midnight! Not cool. I guess next year things will be back to normal.

lundi 24 décembre 2007

bah humbug or: happy Christmas! it can go either way actually...

Woke up with total purpose. Lucia's texto woke me up. She asked me if I had plans for Christmas eve. Since no one proposed to throw a party (a Facebook group proved that wrong as I would later find out), I sent textos to people who I rarely see but did get to talk to over the break. I told Lucia, Sally, Teresa, and Barbara (via Teresa) that they should all come over for dinner tonight. That settled, I figured that Santa would give me a present (something not material) instead of coal this year for my good deed. No one deserves to be alone on Christmas eve, especially when you know people here. That's just not right.

Went on Facebook to find out that Steven was throwing a party/sleepover tonight, and a lot of people were going. Ah! If only I had known about this thing earlier, I would totally have gone. Nayo told me to just go to Steven's party and tell everyone to go there instead of here, but I already bought apple cider and other food stuffs. And I'd hate to send a texto saying, "party's cancelled we're all going to Steven's". That's just not right. Who cancels a party the day of Christmas eve? Not me.

Had McDonald's for lunch which is the epitome of depressing. Met Lucia at Chateau de Vincennes and went for a walk at the park which is HUGE and lovely even in winter. Loads of kids on playgrounds. Nayo called me while I was at the park, and I was following Lucia to the playground area.

Even while Nayo was mad at me and telling me to cancel my party and go to Steven's over the cellphone, I could not muster up any anger towards her as, I was having the effing TIME OF MY LIFE on a see-saw with Lucia at the playground. She had no idea that while she was questioning my plans, I was smiling my ass off jumping up and down, sending myself three feet into the air. The end of the convo on my end sounded like this: "Okay, okay, I don't think I'll go, sorry, have fun, but I'll think about it, but I don't think I'll go. (click) Weeeeeeee!! HAHAHAH!!" I can't remember the last time I've been on a seesaw. God, it was fun.

Saw my landlord this morning and he stuttered, "Uh..euh..uh..Happy Christmas!" Guess he forgot how to say it in English 'cuz it took him a couple of seconds. Anyway, Happy Christmas everyone! Be well, be safe. Thanks for your love and support over this past year in Paris.

dimanche 23 décembre 2007

we will never have it this good again

Another take it easy day with no set plans. Outside this morning a brass band was playing Christmas songs. I took pics and video. Got some groceries. After lunch, decided to go to the Marché Noël at Nation on the Right Bank. Went with Nayo. It wasn't that great, just loads of artisan crafts. Nayo then remembered that I wrote down the best place to get hot chocolate in Paris in my Moleskine--I had copied it from Melissa's chocolate book. Unfortunately, I only wrote the street it was on: Rue de Rivoli. But it's called Angelina.

We walked from Chatelet down Rue de Rivoli towards the Louvre looking for this place. It was fun. Not too many people out, less than I expected since it's the holidays. Since the Louvre was on one side of the street, it made our job easier finding this place. We finally found it--it's across from Les Tuileries. There was a line outside the door.

We waited for 10 minutes, not that long. There was a patisserie to the left inside, and beyond the foyer loads of people sitting in this beautiful salon. If it had been more ornately decorated it could have looked like some buffet dining hall in Vegas, but no, it was stately without being pretentious. The staff was dressed in black slacks and white shirts, the girls being in black skirts and white aprons.We got what we came for: hot chocolate. Nayo and I both chose white chocolate, for a change. I also got a millefeuille, and Nayo got a Mont Blanc. The millefeuille was SO GOOD. Thin layers of buttery, flaky, crispy goodness between rich cream. Yum.
I told Nayo that I didn't think I could ever drink hot chocolate ever again if it wasn't like this: smooth, rich melted chocolate. My mouth waters just thinking about it. So decadent. Now that I know what amazing tastes like, why would I ever go back? I wouldn't. I asked her, "Do you think there's anything like this in the States other than that watery stuff mixed with powder?" She said no.

After, we sat in the Tuileries in front of the fountain where I took one of my first "Paris For A Year" blog banners. It was frozen, and there were ducks slipping on the ice. It was cute.We walked through the Tuileries towards the Louvre, then made a right and crossed Pont Royal. We walked towards St. Michel and browsed the many book vendors who sell used books along the sidewalk. Nayo bought a Henry Miller book, and I got a Tintin book. I like the drawings and Taylor's boyfriend suggested them to me.

We talked about what life was going to be like after Paris, and compared San Francisco to Paris. I agree with what Nayo said to me, San Francisco has beautiful parts, yes, but they're all spread out. Paris is one beautiful thing after another. It must be the history, the layout of this city, the buildings, the art, the food, I could go on...It must be all these things that make me fall in love every time I step outside. And I can't help but feel that I will be comparing everything else, when I leave, to Paris, and that nothing will ever measure up.

I will never forget that, despite the language barrier, the cold, the being away from family and friends...I will never forget that, despite all these things that could make a person absolutely miserable, I had it really good for one year. I had heaven.