dimanche 7 décembre 2008


Hey all, it's been a while.

I went private for a while--if you've been trying to visit and found that you couldn't view the site--but I'm back to being public for the sake of posterity. I want people who are interested in my study abroad experience to be able to read my ups and downs on my year in Paris.

As for an update, I am on my way towards a film degree. French is on the back burner since my school has been facing some budget cuts, and I won't be able to complete both degrees at the same time. I've decided to go with film since it is more of my passion than French is. It was not an easy decision to make, but I think it's for the best.

Thanks again to all those who've supported me and my blog in the past. See you in another life.


mercredi 10 septembre 2008


Bonjour tout le monde!

Everything is going swell these days. I'm adjusting to life back in SF which is quite peachy. Kuya's wedding went really well and was a lot of fun. Have been running into Paris people or just finding out through the grapevine that a lot of my classmates from Paris have French boyfriends. It made me really happy to hear that.

If you're trying to read "this cozy skull", sorry, but that blog is now private and all readers must be approved by me.

lundi 25 août 2008

a year ago

Yesterday, while on the way to Ikea with Lucia, I realized that a year ago we arrived in Paris.

When I look back on that girl I think, "OH YOU ARE SO NAIVE!!!" haha...But seriously, a year has changed A LOT, and I wouldn't trade my year in Paris for anything else. I am so happy that it has brought me to a place where I am now, mentally. Physically, not so much--I'm back in SF. But if I can get through a year in Paris, I can get through a year in SF. Believe me.

I don't ever want to be the girl I was back then, and moving back here feels like a step backwards, a road towards that other girl. It's not like moving back to LA, which will always be home. But SF has always felt temporary, never my home, just a vacation from family. Maybe it'll change this year, but I really wouldn't care if it did since I can't wait to go back to LA. At least, I'm making our place (Lucia is my roommate!) a real sanctuary.

mardi 12 août 2008

prepare for re-entry

Finally, finally, finally, had my money transferred from Paris to here. Took them long enough. Already had forgotten how incredibly slow the French system can be.

SFSU is offering a re-entry workshop for all study abroad students to "prepare" us for "life after study abroad". Unfortunately, I can't make it. I think we're all dealing in our own ways to adjust to life back here. Me, I'm just so swamped with stuff to do that I forget to miss the things I'm missing. I miss my tiny studio and what little I had. Everything was so simple. I just just what I needed, and that was enough. Here I have too much, but that's because I keep everything.

As for changes, I dress better than I used to. I think I'm less afraid to be dressy. I take better care of myself too, healthwise. My childhood friend who used to live across the street is getting married. She's only a year older than me. Right now, we're the same age, but she'll be a year older in November. I used to have a crush on her older brother, who is an Air Force hottie. My cousin also has a crush on him, haha. He'll be at my brother's wedding.

dimanche 3 août 2008


Hello again.

I've been missing Paris of late...Not too badly, but just the little things. Like taking the metro or the 28 bus and getting off at Notre Dame. Getting a noisette at the Saint Medard and watching all the world pass me by. Or sitting with friends in the back of a bar with a demi-citron. Eating a grec or falafel standing up in a public place. Walking everywhere, being surrounded by complete strangers, lovely boys, and pretty girls.

I've been driving everywhere, spending lots of time in traffic. Having coffee in cafes. Walking in public, but commercial, places.

It's not the same.

Of course not, and it'll never be the same. But I made a vow a while back to live every year like "Year Paris". Yeah, I gave it a name, Year Paris. Something like "kilometer zero". Year Paris was the most interesting, exciting year of my life, and while I might not top Year Paris just yet, I can make a promise to live as close to it as possible.

Right now, not doing so well.

mardi 22 juillet 2008

i could punch something someone right now

BLURG! Finally got a hold of my bank. I got the numbers. But ARGH! the lady was so freaking difficult. What is it with French people that they delight in making people who maybe don't speak their language so well feel like idiot children. I called and all I got was a drawn out, "oui?" and then I thought, "Oh God, here I go"...I explained everything and after each point I got another drawn out, "Oui?"

I wish there was a way to punch someone in the face over the phone.

I thought "who the f*** is this" so I asked if this was the same lady and if she remembered who I was at all, and I got another "oui". So I said, "Give me my money, pute!" No. I didn't. I wish I did though.

So she gave me the numbers and then repeated them in effing English for chrissakes. I've been saying "chrissakes" a lot after I heard Mom saying it. I'm going to fax them the order later when a faxing store is open. Blurg.

Glad that's over and done with. Damn, those frogs still can manage to piss me off thousands of miles away. I am thankful for one lovely Italian frog, Adriano, my hook-up at the bank who, after checking my mail after the call, sent me the numbers by email. So, talking to that asshole lady could have been avoided, but whatever.

lundi 21 juillet 2008

new news

Had my Tommy's burger fix yesterday at the original in LA, so I'm good for like another year when it comes to burgers. Yum.

I'm starting up another blog and will begin posting there soon since my posts here are sort of starting to be less Paris themed. The most mention you get from Paris are people's reactions to my coming back and all that. Will still try to post about my Spain and south of France adventures, but stuff keeps piling up for me to do so we'll see what happens.

I'll post the link to the new blog up here once it's ready. What's exciting about this, for me at least, is that this'll be the first time that I'll be connecting two personal blogs together. What I usually do is that I start one and end it and start new again. My old readers are usually referred to the new blog, but never new readers to the old ones. So there could still be people reading this from three blogs back. I've been writing online since middle school. So this is history!

Ever since my last One to One at Apple, I've been kind of hesitant to going back there despite the cute boys. I had to cancel mine today to take Grandma to the doctor's which I'm glad for because I was so sure I'd get the same, serious guy who was interested looking at my photos on iPhoto. Creepy, right? I forgot to mention that. Luckily, I had my production photos from a film I worked on on the laptoppy, so I showed him that.

School is around the corner, so I must bring out my inner geek and go shopping. I need a new external hard drive to store all my Paris photos and such. Also need Final Draft for the laptoppy which I will now refer to as the Big Mac unless I find a cooler name. Hopefully someone at school can beer me a copy along with Final Cut--I'm horrible I know, but I'm a poor film student. My film TAs even support the sharing of expensive softwares. I will pay for software once I get a steady job, I promise.

People have been buggin' me (most notably old classmates who know I'm majoring in film) about The Dark Knight which I will see but I wanted it to be in a setting where I won't be bothered. So will see it Imax-style this week hopefully.

You might have noticed in my Dopplr that I'm planning a trip to Las Vegas in a few weeks. Will try my hand at the slots again to see if I'm still lucky. And maybe some outlet shopping for school clothes, yay! I also love love love people watching in Vegas. It's probably one of my more favorite places to people watch.

dimanche 20 juillet 2008

memory lane

Last night was a really fun night. This guy David I grew up and went to school with from kindergarten to 8th grade graduated from UCSD with a chemical engineering degree. His grad party/birthday party was last night. I went along with Cher.

It was really cool to catch up with him especially since we haven't seen each other in a long time. We talked about our old classmates and reminisced over funny school stories. His parents are the sweetest people in the world and his Dad kept telling David's friends really embarrassing stuff about me which was not cool, but hilarious still. Everyone kept asking me about Paris which is natural, but I find it so hard to talk about or to sum up so I just say, "I had a good time. I learned a lot." which seems so broad to me and does no justice to what actually happened.

Learned that David was hoping to work in alternative fuels and just got turned down from a job about creating a universal blood. It made me so happy that David wanted and was actively pursuing careers that would hopefully make the world a better place. Universal blood. Alternative fuels. I joked, "You're a superhero, David. You're going to save us." "Not yet," he answered.

There were questions of my future, but broad ones that didn't pain me to answer with a hint of uncertainty. Just what was in store for me for the next year. No one questioned what would happen after graduation, and I was glad for it. All I got was suggestions that I "should come home".

I thought long and hard, after the party, about how I wanted to do something noble with my degree like David set out with his. I wanted to be a hero too and save the world even if it only meant abstractly and in minuscule maybe innumerable figures.

I thought a long time, while brushing my teeth, changing into my pjs, and in the dark and found it hard to fall asleep.

vendredi 18 juillet 2008

more nights on bikes

It's almost 3 am. Just got back from night biking in PJs with the Midnight Ridazz of West Hollywood (or Weho) and then tacos at King Taco on Olympic and Downey. Fun then yum.

I'm sore and my knees are shredded from running red lights, constant braking from near misses, and, oh yeah, biking for 10+ miles. Yet I feel awesome. There were dozens of us taking the lanes, yelling and ringing our bells for passersby, drivers, and clubbers. We owned the road. People would yell at us, "What's going on?!" or "Yeah! Bike for a cause!" or, my personal favorite from a homeless man hanging with a Jack Sparrow impersonator near Hollywood and Vine: "BIKER GANG! BIKER GANG!"

I wore my PJs. Lots of cute boys wore their boxer shorts or even briefs. How daring. One cute boy lost a nut in his brake when we stopped to see if he was okay, and he asked me for one. Lovely. Unfortunately, I had no nuts.

An awesome group of people, I would do this again. I am tired though, must sleeps now.

jeudi 17 juillet 2008

mo' money, mo' problems

I feel like I've used this post title before, but I don't care.

Finally tried to call my bank in Paris to finalize this money bullcrap, but no dice. Phone card wouldn't work. Didn't want to talk to the lady who was such a b-word to me. Kuya came in after playing pool, and I asked him to call for me and he exclaimed, "I don't speak French!" Fine, fine.

Tomorrow might go biking at night in Hollywood with this group that does themed biking. Tomorrow's theme is "Pajamas" I think. I might do a whole Darjeeling thing and wear my Brooks Brothers pajama pants and a gray tank top or the top and shorts. I also have those sleeping masks that I'll wear around my hair like a hairband. Beige loafers will complete the ensemble. My blue Schwinn named Blue is ready to go. Kuya joked that maybe the Erics from Apple will be there. I nicknamed them Eric Oneapple and Eric Twoapple, Eric Twoapple being my favorite.

Pre-production is underway for the wedding film. This is probably my favorite part. All the planning and scheduling. I hope that I can get a hold of Final Cut Pro from someone at school so that I can skip the whole iMovie thing. Don't get me wrong, I love the simpliciy of iMovie, but why use that when I know and need to learn more about Final Cut. We'll see.

Thinking about the future again. Blurg. More and more people are telling me to cherish school and all that. Kuya offered to let me stay at his awesome condo in Northridge, close to all those movie studios after I graduate. He will rent me the master bedroom in the 4 bedroom mini-house for $800. That house is beautiful and a dream. There's a pool down the street, it's a bike ride away from the stores, and great surround sound system. Everything is contingent on me finding a job though in LA.

I kind of want to sell a lot of my stuff or just get rid of all this clutter in my room. Sometimes I see the stuff that I bought a while ago and go, "What was I thinking?" I no longer feel the need to buy, buy, buy. It all just complicates my life. I also come across stuff that I've saved and go, "Why did I keep this? Why was this important to me?" as I toss it in the trash. I think the best way to keep my memories is to just have a few of them, the few that will mean something to me later.

Wait, I kind of have an idea...

Are you interested in my memories? In my little keepsakes that I saved all throughout my year in Paris? I've gathered too much as you've noted. As a thank you for being my blog supporter throughout my year in Paris, I'd like to send you something. It might be a postcard I picked out, a museum stub, maybe a map of Paris I used to carry around. I've got brand tags from clothing I bought, metro stubs, receipts. I will mail you two or three things that I've chosen along with a written description of how I've come across them or a story about them.

If you're interested, email me your address (I will be extremely confidential, no worries) at thiscozyskull (at) gmail dot com. And if you don't like what I sent you, then at least you'd have a nice handwritten letter in fountain pen by me!

mercredi 16 juillet 2008


Crossed the border into Spain, no problem. Drove by some lovely beach towns, but headed straight for Madrid. Checked into the Holiday Inn just outside the city.

The next day we drove into the city and found a parking spot, but it was far from El Prado. We took a taxi, and it wasn't that expensive. Dad was really excited to see the paintings of El Bosco. They're really dark and creepy, but very fascinating. I can probably stare at "The Garden of Earthly Delights" for hours looking at each figure. Saw some Goya too and Velázquez. I love "Las Meninas". It's just so cinematic. I kind of like breaking the third wall sometimes in films, it's so powerful.Had late lunch in Madrid's huge park, Parque del Retiro. Bocadillos with serrano ham--yum. It was really hot. There were loads of people on paddleboats out on the lake though. Looked like fun. Walked to the car, which wasn't that far and drove back to the hotel to rest.

Next stop, Toledo!

mardi 15 juillet 2008

pink's and beans

Went to the bank this morning where Mom made me co-owner for her safety deposit box. It feels so cool and old-timey to have a safety deposit box. She gave me a jade bracelet from her trip to China since I accidentally dropped mine on my Parisian studio brick floor.

Hung out with more of the fam-bam. Cousin Eric and his fam came from Texas and we all went to window-shop on Melrose Ave. Traffic was hellish. Didn't find anything that cool except for some flats that were $225, handmade and awesome with a freaking quote etched into the sole of the shoe. My kind of shoe. Took down the name of the designer just in case I win the lotto or something.

Had late lunch at Pink's--yeah, I know, very touristy, but they came all the way from Texas! Why not?! I remember my film friend, Phill who works up the street at Mole-Richardson, a lighting company, and how he stood in line next to Cuba Gooding Jr. No celebs by us though. I kind of don't care for LA sometimes. Like today, there were a lot of phony people out and people that you could tell just cared about their looks and the looks of the people they were with. Just hipster phonies. But I better get used to them sooner or later.

Late dinner back at the house. Steak, green beans from the house farm (SO YUM!), rice, fruit salad. Tasty as always. Had to drive back to LA around 11pm--that's my favorite time to drive around. No traffic, usually. It was such a lovely drive. All the lights aglow in the misty haze of smog. It's times like these that I love LA, when I'm cut off behind glass staring at it all as if it was in a snow globe.

Got mixed notes from the fam and cousins. Cousin Eric said I was "bolder". I guess because when they make fun and joke at my expense, I used to take it and not say anything back, and now I do say stuff back, so now I'm "bolder". But then Dad said today that I was "too shy" and need to "show off" more. Very interesting...

lundi 14 juillet 2008

apple and pizza

I am awesome. I just figured it all out. Not "all" out, but I finally figured it all while getting my schedule ready for school.

I picked up a lot of lecture classes when it comes to cinema and two screenwriting classes. I figure since I don't have the money to produce my own films for school, I figure I'll use this last year to really hone in my writing skills and work on story structure and all that. And THEN I'll work on other people's films therefore not spending my own hard cash. That way I can still get experience on set and be part of a crew, which I LOVE, and still get to write although I won't be filming anything. I just happen to find that better than trying to get money to make a film. Especially at this point I should be well into pre-production, but I have NOTHING to film.

I think it's a good plan. That way I don't overload and get a serious breakdown. I mean, I just came back from Paris I should maybe take it a little easy for the next semester.

Awesome. That was the plan from the get go anyway, and I'm glad my schedule worked out.

One to One at the Apple store today. There's still a line out there for the phone, but I got in like I was on some sort of guest list at a club. Felt pretty nice. The guy was okay. I dunno, it just didn't seem like the guy was enthused. He was kind of scary, like scary serious. Homeboy would not smile, even when I'd make a joke. Whatever. I still learned a lot from him, but it's nice to have a teacher who is easy to be with and energetic. Maybe it's just me and I have particular tastes now. Scheduled another one to one for next week. Just hope it's not with Oscar the Grouch. I did see the two cute Erics working so that made my day.

Met with my good friend from high school, Andrea today for pizza. She asked me why I haven't called up anyone else. Honestly, I wondered that myself. I guess I've been so used to being in my own little world in Paris. I also don't like to be the person who initiates things even if it's with my good friends. It's so bizarre. Sometimes I wonder how I have as many friends as I do. I guess I'm just lucky to be friends with people more outgoing than I am.

Asked me if I missed Paris, and I said of course. How long will it take for me to get over Paris? It's hard. I've been comparing things to Paris and France a lot. Cousin Ellen called me out on it: "France this! Paris that! You're in California now!" It was funny; I hadn't noticed this behavior at all.

Also, lastly, I want to thank Elaine and Jenna for their support. You girls rock.

dimanche 13 juillet 2008

horoscope of hope

Here's my horoscope for today in the LA Times: "Without faith that your efforts will lead to a better life, there is no motivation to work. It's most beneficial to spend today bolstering your faith, imagining what next week will bring."

I really needed that.

I've been getting really uninspiring advice from family and whoever telling me to be a "professional student" and to just stay in school and never enter the real world. Wow, is it really that bad? And these people, they're not even trying to get in the film business or anything.

I was going to relish this one last year at school, and now, I'm not sure I want it to end as quickly as I had hoped. It's going to be difficutl; and it can all be broken down so easily. The first two were already said to me by one of my cousin's. The last two are my own:

1. I'm a girl.
2. I'm not white.
3. I'm not rich.
4. I'm not good at schmoozing or making friends.

Recipe for disaster. It's been really hard to have faith in my path despite little instances and signs. Just because the more I think about who I am and what I write and care about the more differences I see in me and the rest of my generation. I went to the mall today and stood on the second floor looking down at the center where a lot of people were congregated and said to myself, "This is the audience." And I knew, I effing knew, that without a doubt, a good percentage of these people would not care about a film that I would make. But why should I care right? I mean, it's my film, I should just be happy to make a film let alone have an audience willing to watch it. I dunno...Sorry, I'm just babbling, I can't wrap my head around any of it. God, give me strength to keep my faith.

In other things, I can't stop listening to Wax Tailor's "Que Sera".Here it is set to Fritz Lang's Metropolis---AMAZING! .

I also have an Apple one to one appointment tomorrow. Yay!

vendredi 11 juillet 2008

settling in

I am finally getting back into that groove. That So Cal groove that I usually adopt whenever I'm back at home during summers or breaks. Reading the LA Times before my parents can get to it (if I'm lucky and wake early). Making tea in my skivvies. Eating my Mom's multivitamins...I am back...for the most part.

Hung out with my cousin Ellen who is here from nor cal. I've got a lot of family in nor cal. Dorked out on the laptoppies all morning with my brother watching You Tube videos and when he left for work, Ellen and I got some sushi for lunch.

Ellen's staying at my Grandma's while she's here. Grandma is...an interesting character. Definitely this matriarch figure that has played an important role in all her grandchildren's lives. She's sharp, derisive, and hilarious. Always at our house parties, she'll be sitting in a really comfortable chair while my Mom or someone goes to fix her plate of food and everyone who enters the party goes to greet her first before doing anything else. And, according to Kuya, she shit-talks when she plays mah-jong.

Ellen and I hung out at G-ma's and rented some movies our theme being "school" since Ellen's a grade-school teacher and so was G-ma. Got Charlie Bartlett and Rocket Science. Around 1 am, Kuya arriving from his shift came by and we all went to Norm's for late-night grub. That just feels so So Cal to me. I remember going to Denny's or some other late night diner after prom and going to shows.

I'm starting to feel normal again, and maybe less special and unique. When in Paris, I labeled myself as "American in Paris" or maybe "study abroad student". And that was cool, you know, people found that interesting, especially when meeting American tourists. There's always this sense of superiority when walking amongst American tourists or any tourists in Paris. I've never been one to feel superior to anyone until Paris. I especially felt super cool and snob when I'd walk past them with great purpose while they stare at their maps trying to figure out the metro system. Ordering food at St. Michel and asking for sauce samurai while they just pointed at the white stuff. That felt good, I must confess. Being an American, and yet having that "in" in a crazy, sometimes harsh city. But maybe any local gets that feeling when surrounded with tourists.

I'm really going to miss that.

And now I'm just a regular student, a 5th year senior at SFSU. That window in which I can say "I just got back from Paris for a year" is shrinking. At least some people here in so cal find me being a student up north a little exotic, case in point the boys at Apple. But I need to start feeling good about myself again, without that superiority of living abroad.

mercredi 9 juillet 2008


Finally! I've decided to write a post on each major city visited on the Franco-Spanish road trip my parents and I embarked on.

Packed my backpack and met the parentals at their hotel where we caught a cab to Charles de Gaulle airport. We picked up a Citroen Picasso C4 at Avis. Dad was mad since they had specified for a Mercedes since he's not familiar with French cars, but they were all out. I asked Dad to stick it out--that it would be cool to learn something "new". He got familiar with the controls, then we got out of there.

Dad set up his GPS Garmin thingy, and we were soon on our way to Bordeaux. I got to drive, which was nice. Arrived at Holiday Inn Express only to find out that Mom made a reservation for the next night. The sweet girl working found us a suite at a Mercure down the road since they were fully booked. That was when I realized that I forgot my passport.

Ate a delicious, expensive dinner at Mercure. Looked like hell in my jeans and hoodie while surrounded by suits finishing up deals. Service was great though. I love how I can look like crap at a fancy place and still get treated nicely. It's a rare occasion though. Server was funny to Dad, "Can I suggest a wine?...A Bordeaux perhaps?" We all laughed, and Dad got a glass of wine.

Found same day round trip tix to Paris the next day. While I get my ass back to Paris, Mom and Dad would enjoy Bordeaux. When I got back we went back to the Holiday Inn that we were originally going to stay at.

mardi 8 juillet 2008

land of the free rebate, home of the 2 for 1

Went to my first One to One training session at Apple. Lanky Eric said hi while he was with a customer and was extremely nice and apologetic about yesterday's mix-up. My session was with Jay Jay, a cool, laidback guy. Funny, he went to SFSU too! I think he saw the folder on my desktop titled "SFSU cinema" and decided to ask. He's a BECA (Broadcasting Communications) major. He was really cool and patient, especially when trying to transfer files from my PC to the new laptoppy. Ended up not finishing though. He was super happy to have someone "young" to teach. I saw him minutes before our session and he was with an old lady.

Went shopping with my parents today, and it is so weird seeing people trying to rope you into buying stuff. Even Jay Jay was trying to get me to get a new ipod when I recycle my dead one. Today, in front of Costco this guy was trying to get my parents to get a new credit card. Buy, buy, buy. Why can't we just buy to replace? Not buy to fill our homes with more and more stuff.

Bought a frozen yogurt. Thing was huge in comparison to the little gelatos I've been eating. It was maybe the size of an American small soda. I couldn't finish it though, so gave the rest to my parents. Portions are huger here than I realized.

lundi 7 juillet 2008


I am officially part of the Mac family.

Kuya, being the caring, rich older brother that he is, bought me a new laptoppy today, a Macbook Pro. He's really banking on this future of mine as a film writer/director. A lot of people are which puts a lot of pressure on me. He says this counts for the next Christmas and birthday. I say it counts for the next 20.

Dad was pushing me to get the laptop now before it's too late (ie Kuya removes the offer from the table) and I finally brought it up today. I got a laptop with the ipod touch which is part of the student rebate and a printer, also a part of the rebate. Kuya gets the ipod touch.

Can I just write about how absolutely adorable the boys at Apple are? I was first helped by Eric, a New Yorker who's moved to So Cal. Tall, lanky, glasses, mentioned he misses his family, plays guitar, has dogs, and majored in Radio/Film/Television. Oh my gawd, eHarmony could not have done a better job. He gave me his card. Then went home with the WRONG computer! I was too excited to check if it was glossy or matte and found out that the screen was matte.

Took it back, and was helped by another Eric. Short black hair, stubble (love it), also adorable in madras shorts and black Converse high tops. He reminded me of this camera operator I was working with and who trained me. Looked just like him so it brought back some fond memories. He was really nice even though my order was pain. Turns out they don't make the model I want in glossy. So I got the one right below it. He sort of talked me out of 2.6GHz, the original buy, saying he and his film major friend were having this discussion before how the upgrade from 2.4 to 2.6 didn't really matter. I got 2.5. I doubt the whole discussion really happened, but whatever. He was cute and helpful and getting to talk to two cute nerdy boys named Eric in one day is more than a shy girl like me can ask for. That's probably as close to a "date" as I'm going to get this summer. Although I do have a one-on-one session tomorrow with a Genius who is going to transfer my files for me. Let's cross our fingers, folks.

Have been getting used to driving which is nice because it has AC and the metro and bus AC has been nonexistest in Paris. But with gas prices being so high, I just feel so horrible driving. I might as well throw money out the window. Was flipping channels and Sabrina was on and I came in on the part where Linus asked Sabrina, "Do you miss Paris?" My response was, "Is this really happening?"

When it comes to the Spain posts...Honestly, I don't see it happening any time soon if at all. Maybe a few posts highlighting the few high points of the trip. I'll try my best.

Friends have been asking me if I'm going to end this blog. The answer is a loud and resounding yes. It's Paris for a Year, and I'm no longer in Paris. However I will continue blogging somewhere on the interwebs. I will continue to update in a sense like organize as I mean to have this blog helpful for others planning to study abroad in Paris or in general.

dimanche 6 juillet 2008

things to do

I have so much crap to do.

Came home to find my room a vrai bordel (literally a "real brothel" but it translates to mess or chaos) since Dad put hardwood in and then just set all my stuff on top of the furniture. I really need to get rid of a lot of stuff, because I keep everything. And if living in that Parisian studio the size of my now bedroom taught me anything, it's that my possessions should be kept to a minimal because it makes my life clutter-free. It's kind of weird adjusting to hardwood because everytime I get out of bed, I go "huh!" when my feet touch the cold, hard floor.

Met with Catherine, and she's going to find a place to live along with Morgan, my old roommate, somewhere in SF, probably the Sunset or in Daly City. I won't be too much help since I'll be down here. My only parameters are that it's biking distance to school. I'd prefer Daly City since the market's closer too, but it'd be nice to have a chance to live in the city. I don't know, I never got to really know SF, as well as I've known Paris. It'd be nice to be with unique people again though. Walked around the OC yesterday and every girl just looked like the other. Paris can be like that sometimes, but at least some people have their own individual style. Here every girl looks almost the same. I just want to go up to one of them and shake them and say, "Wake up! You can wear what you want!

Finally weighed myself for the first time, and holy crap I'm back to my senior high school weight which is the same weight I came to Paris with. CRAP. I definitely lost weight in Paris, even my parents noticed it when they visited. But I gained in Spain during our trip. I blame the late night paella eating and all the driving. I'm confident I'm going to lose it though--more confident than any of my past weight lost efforts--because even in this heat I have all this unexplainable ADD like energy. I've been cleaning my room non-stop because I just hate having disorder, and I've been working out. I just want to go to my Paris weight.

samedi 5 juillet 2008

Oh America

Got a great big dose of America yesterday, and it was very hard to swallow.

My city is one of the last few where it is legal to buy and set off fireworks. In the morning, Dad drove me around in the newest addition to our family of automobiles, this one a real eye-turner. I don't even know if I'm still supposed to talk about it. Let's just say that Dad pretends he's Steve McQueen when he's driving it and it's named after a snake. Yup. Drove around and saw lots of my redneck citizens buying stuff to blow up.

Oh America.

Went to the supermarket too to buy steaks, and got a big dose of America there too. Dad squeezed his giant tractor of a truck into the cramped parking lot. Short, chubby ladies with tattoos eyeing the steaks. Sunburned men in graying goatees and Corona beer tank tops piling ice into the back of the SUV gas guzzlers. Some guy on his cell phone almost sideswiped my cart and said to the person on the end, "I'm already ready to kill someone in this store." Oh America.

Dinner was amazing: steaks, rice, salad, corn. The basics of a July 4th dinner. It was a really cool day, and too huge of an eye opener to being back. I see the way things are done, and...I just wish it was like France. Like when we were in line at the cashier at the supermarket, I just could see all these plastic bags being used, and I'm not a huge preachy environmentalist, but I still care about the Earth. I brought my Franprix reusable bag to use.

Didn't watch my neighbors blow up their money away, but went straight to bed around 9. Still jetlagged. Today, I meet my best friend from college and we try to figure out where we're going to live in SF for this semester.

vendredi 4 juillet 2008

2 am again

2 am in sleeping so cal, but the laptoppy clock computer says otherwise: 11:15am.

Woke up around 1am and it was a bit trippy getting out of my bed now that the carpet in my room is gone and it's all hardwood. It's also kind of weird coming back to my room in my parents' house. First thing I thought was, "Oh my God, I have to get rid of a lot of crap." So lots of cleaning and organizing to look forward to.

Kuya picked us up from the airport. First me then my parents. Took us out to dinner at Lawry's which was DELICIOUS. Had the California cut, why not I'm back. Also was starving since I didn't eat on my 15 hours flight. Rather what I did eat did not stay long in my system (I puked twice, yuck). Our server was a British lady named Mrs. Fetherston (pronoucned "feather-stone"), what a lovely lady she was too. When I heard her name I could only think of Mrs. Featherbottom on Arrested Development.

More details to come on my trip back at a decent hour when I don't feel like a zombie.

mercredi 2 juillet 2008


I can't sleep for obvious reasons. While packing I watched Kung Fu Panda and The Big Lebowski. I wrote letters to leave for the next resident and for my landlord. Keisha is so kind and offered to help me take my baggages to the taxi stand. What a sweet girl.

To help me calm the flip down from the bank incident, I re-read the dog-eared pages of Franny and Zooey, pages 201 to 202. I'll probably need to read them again later. It's packed with my carry-on.

I didn't think I'd leave like this. I thought I'd be...less mad. Susie and Melissa came over to hang out, and I even had dinner with Keisha, and I was just totally distracted. I didn't want it to be this way. Mais c'est la vie.

God, I wanted to write something nice. Something good about leaving. Maybe something will come later when this is all done. Will try to sleep at least one hour.

Paris weeps for me

Definitely one of those semi-crappy Parisian days designed to make me long for America and going home.

It's hot and rainy instead of hot and sunny. The morning was fine--had coffee with my landlord which was lovely. He bonjoured just about every other person that walked by and he knew. He talked about his time as a student and the day he left New York on his study abroad. It was nice.

I guess the only really crappy thing was closing my bank account. I guess my French was shit today, shit enough that the lady, maybe after a few seconds of me trying to comprehend what she was explaining, just got fed up and said she'll explain in English. Which was fine, whatever. All I could hear in my head was the Dude's concise resignation, "Fuck it".

Anyway, I used my card today which I shouldn't have and so it was I guess a big deal since she made it out that I can't get my money from my account until all transactions are verified, and she'll wire it. Fine. Then she went through all these hoops of fire and made calls and then said I could have some of it and wire the rest. She made it like it was some huge undertaking, that I had created a pile of work for her to overcome and do, and then when she finally found a solution, she said, "Do you agree to this? This would be better for me." Fuck lady, yeah whatever suits you, just make sure the fucking money gets here. Then the old bag at the counter kept counting the money she was going to give me as if she was parting with the money from her own wallet.

And the crappy, crappy part was me walking home (please dear reader, just let me whine just a little longer) and feeling like pre-Paris me. Naive, timid (still), never-speaking-up-for-myself, pre-Paris me. I thought I was done with all this confusing, living in Paris stuff, but Paris wins again.

This whole bank thing probably didn't go down as exaggerated as I put it probably--I'm just in a crappy mood on my last day in Paris. But that was enjoyable for me to write and for you to read, I hope. I apologize for the cursing, you usually don't read me like this. Next time I write it will be about happier things, I pray and hope to God.

mardi 1 juillet 2008

I'm melting

Back in sweltering Paris after stopping off at Nevers to see the preserved body of St. Bernadette. Got into Caulfield mode or the "Caulfield Effect" as I'd like to call it. Sometimes I refer to it as that when something vulgar happens in front of kids and I want to protect them or when something is desecrated. Today, this group of tourists that came in on a bus from somewhere walked into the church where her body was held and one guy, and there was a HUGE sign saying not to, started filming and taking photos. I've never felt so violently ill or moved in a sacred place. Honestly, that deep, dark side of me that I never speak or write of publicly usually wanted to take that camera far from that place and all those people and smash it to the ground. You just don't do that type of stuff at a church.

Anyway, drove back into Paris, and it's so hot here! Thought I left the heat in Spain. Bid farewell to Mom and Dad--I will see them back in the States. Bought some wine and brought it over to Micefa, my favorite one that's sweet a bit and good chilled. Then made an appointment to close my account. Felt so disgusting because I was sweating from running all over and the heat, and the guy that helped me was really cute but a bit of a douchebag.

Met Melissa and Susie and Mel's bf Cedric came home and we had dinner together: salad and pizza. Yum! Then we saw In Bruges at my cinema--my last film there! It was not bad. Made me want to see Bruges. Then got drinks to cool ourselves off since the cinema is under construction and there was no air conditioning. Got home pretty late.

I really can't wrap my head around leaving and packing. I almost just want it to happen already so I don't have to think about what I'm missing. But it was a good run, and after visiting so many different cities and countries, I know that there's still more I have to discover and experience. I've always got tired of routines. They were safe and comfortable for a while, but it's good to explore and constantly challenge yourself. I hope that I can accomplish that next year like I did this one.

dimanche 29 juin 2008


I'm in Lourdes, France where Saint Bernadette had her visions of the Virgin Mary. Mom decided it would be a better trip from Barcelona instead of going to Toulouse, and I totally agree.

It was quite a beautiful experience, something I've never done before in my life, I mean I've never done all this pilgrimage stuff my parents do, so this was pretty cool and interesting just seeing all these believers people in wheelchairs, walking with canes, lots of old people and the disabled coming here to be healed.

I won't go into too much detail--I'll get to it on the day posts--but I will share that this day was probably the best day of this trip or at least my favorite.

jeudi 26 juin 2008


Mother and Father are on a bus tour of Valencia and will probably get some tasty paella tonight, whilst I opted out and am here in the hotel room posting here. WHY?

That's a damn good question.

I was asking myself why I was having an "okay" time in Spain. I wasn't enjoying it as much as I should be, I felt, and I couldn't understand why exactly for the life of me. I mean, the only thing I loved about it was that it was a cool road trip with the fam, but I didn't have time to really research the places we were visiting, plus I think the stuff just went sour on my part when I left my stupid passport in Paris.

Anyway, I opted out of the bus tour and dinner because I wanted the parentals to have some time alone without my stupid, sad face and hoped that I would be in better spirits when they come back.

I think the reason I'm not enjoying Spain as much as I should be is because I can't stop thinking of Paris. I leave in a week, and I only get one day back in Paris after we get back from Spain, and it doesn't feel like enough. I have too much to do, and it's all going to go by so fast. I had that week or so after school to really enjoy the Mouffetard and everything, but it wasn't enough. I thought it was, but it really wasn't. I'm on the beach along the Mediterrean or walking by the Alhambra, and I can't get packing, dealing with rent, buying some Paris souvenirs for friends off my stupid, effing brain. And I can't effing help it, seriously. And it's horrible. I can't complain. I've had close to a year in Paris, and I'm in freakin' beautiful Spain? I should not be complaining. Not about more time in Paris, not about Spain. Ugh...I really don't like where I am right now. Not literally of course. Just...my head is a mess.


I'm in Valencia, home of paella and oranges. Can't write much since I've got more important stuffs to do on the interwebs like cancel hotel bookings and find new hotels--ah traveling! Things are going well. It's been really hot, and I've got a nice tan. We've stayed in a variety of places, from regular Holiday Inns to swanky, modern digs to beachside hotels...so pretty cool.

Also, if you didn't read my birthday post, sorry, but I deleted it. I was not in a happy place when I wrote it, and I don't want it up here, so yeah. Count on regular Spain travel posts later on, maybe even after I've left Paris.

I leave Europe forever in a week. I can't believe it! I kind of wished I had more time in Paris, I've only got one day after we get back from Spain, and I have to pack, clean up the studio, and fix up loose ends. Scary. Okay, hasta luego for now!

jeudi 19 juin 2008


So, the Holiday Inn in Bordeaux is pretty sweet. Free wi-fi.

Anyway, felt like a freaking businesswoman traveling round trip from Bordeaux to Paris Charles de Gaulle to get my stupid, freaking passport. Blurg. Dad called me a "jet-setter". He also said, "You fucked up. HAHAHAHAH!!!" yesterday. It sounds like an upsetting thing to hear, but when it comes from him I'm more prone to laugh than to feel guilty. The guilt comes later.

Took Air France for the first time which was really cool--never took it before. Pretty nice. Felt really sick though (nerves and stress, I guess) and threw up but was very low key about it. Yeah, me, a self-proclaimed world traveler threw up on an hour flight from Bordeaux to Paris. That's like SF to LAX which I did at least three times a year my freshman and sophomore year of school. Weird. I think it was more stress sick though.

Had a really, really good dinner just now with the parentals and we finished a bottle of wine. Lovely. I like seeing them enjoy this, like enjoying their retirement. They ordered dessert too. Seeing my parents laughing and telling stories and enjoying themselves makes me so freaking happy. They like talking about the Lakers, it's hilarious. Too bad they didn't make it. Dad taped all the games on DVR while they're away.

Got to drive our Citroen C4 Picasso for 2 hours yesterday which was pretty cool. Sped throughout the countryside. Beautiful. I've got my driving sense back. Funny thing though. I took over at a gas station, and I couldn't find the exit onto the highway and a truck driver on his break was making big gestures and pointed me to it and then I waved to him. It was cool. I love non-verbal communication.

Tomorrow, onto Madrid. Adios!

mercredi 18 juin 2008


NOTE! CAUTION!: I will curse repeatedly throughout this effing post starting right, effing, NOW:

No...I won't curse. But I just did the most effing amazing thing in my life, in front of my parents...I FORGOT MY PASSPORT IN PARIS. Yup. Yeah. Daughter of the year.

And I just remembered it in effing Bordeaux. So close to the Spanish border. I'm flying back to get it tomorrow and then flying back to Bordeaux same day while Mother and Father sip Bordeaux and the famed cognac from the region over and discuss how wonderful their daughter is. They would rather I fly back than risk not being able to cross the border into Spain.

Thank GOD they got a really good laugh at it. They weren't majorly upset, or at least they didn't show signs of it. They were disappointed, yeah, for sure, but Dad laughed his ass off and will probably bring this up for years to come.

mardi 17 juin 2008

lunch at d'orsay and another adventure

Today, took my parents to my favorite Musée D'Orsay. First they came to my place to use the interwebs and read up on the Lakers. Both Mom and Dad are die-hard Lakers fans. "I've got all the games programmed to record on DVR while we're gone," Dad said.

When we got there, we started at the top, at Impressionism. It was crowded, but still nice to see these paintings before I leave. Dad talked about Burt Lancaster in The Train and how his character is supposed to stop a train from transporting French art into Nazi Germany. I love how stuff reminds Dad of movies. I've never seen this film, but I'm making a list of films to watch with Dad when I get home. Yummy, long French lunch there too. My first time. Mom and Dad did a tour last night and their tour guide said that the restaurant on the second floor was good and not too crowded. The ambience was amazing, like dining inside a palace. The service was excellent as well. Showed off my French skills once again for my parents as I ordered for them, and the waiter didn't change into English, and he said, "Très bien, Mademoiselle." And that made me feel very, very good, and it made me look very, very good in front of my parents. The first time I ordered sandwiches for them on the street at Notre Dame, Dad said very loudly and proudly, "THAT'S MY GIRL!" And then I shushed him and smiled. Mom was impressed with the food, but Dad was nonchalant. Dad is simple though: a $2.50 burrito at a hole in the wall that only has 3 tables in LA appeals more to my Dad's palette than filet de poisson et ratatouille. Yay I finally had ratatouille! He said it "wasn't bad" and then qualified it by saying, "You know, the English never say something is 'very good'. They say it's 'not bad'." Okay, Dad.I don't know when it started, probably when I left for college, but Mom and I can have these grown-up conversations and it feel likes an out of body experience of sorts for me because in a lot of ways I feel like a kid, very young at heart, but in these convos, I feel so grown up. During dessert (profiteroles à la D'Orsay!) Mom complained about a few things going on at home while Dad enjoyed his coffee and would butt in occasionally to say something smart-alecky.Mom then told me a very good story (both of my parents are very good storytellers) about something that happened while they were in line to get into the museum, and I was already inside getting their tickets (with my museum carte I can skip the lines). Anyway, Mom told me that a lady who had gotten ice cream was ducking underneath the line dividers to get to her group who was ahead of them. As she got up, both flavors of her ice cream smeared onto another lady's jacket ("Vanilla and a sorbet", Mom said) and then, "SHE DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING!!" Mom laughed. "I almost tapped her," Mom said, referring to smeared jacket lady. "Can you imagine? That lady taking off her jacket and seeing the stain? 'What is this?'!" And then Mom does this thing where she makes a funny face; smiles and laughs; and then claps once right in front of her. A lot of her funny stories end like that. Oh Mom. I can't stop smiling as I write this.

After lunch, more art. I mostly people watched. Lots of Americans. I've never really noticed how big and lazy we are. Seriously. I'm no model, but at least I don't complain walking up three flights of stairs. I guess I'm used to it, but even back in SF, I'd walk 5 flights up the Humanities building to get to class. I watched a group of young girls today staring at the flight of stairs to get to the second floor, and they looked around and said, "Where's the elevator?" The elevator was behind me, but I didn't say anything. Their teacher had to make them walk it. And these were healthy looking girls. I was really perturbed.

Bought myself a museum guide book to take home and then we headed back to my place. I started to pack a little for Spain and home while my parents rested. Lucia gave me her sleeping bag to take back since she didn't have space and I said I could take it back. Only it was way bigger than I imagined. I unrolled it, thinking I can make it smaller, but with no success. Even Mom said, "Don't do it, Elaine. You won't make it better." She was right; it was laughably bigger.

Dad woke from his nap and noticed it and was like, "AAAHH!! WHAT DID YOU DO?!" And he was laughing so hard how I made the sleeping bag bigger than it originally was. He then set out to fix it. We have it so good--Dad can fix almost anything. Our cars, the air conditioner...hell, he is currently installing the wood floors at our house by himself ("I finished your room," he said a couple days ago). So he fixed it.I've packed 2 bags, ready for the Americas, and one backpack for Spain, and my studio still looks the same. It's going to be hectic for the next couple of weeks, I'll definitely update when I get the chance.

lundi 16 juin 2008

reflection time

Mom and Dad went to the Louvre leaving me to do what I gotta do. Packed up one suitcase that they brought with them and will check-in for me. It was weird, my entire school year--all the papers I received, my notebooks, my tests--they all fit in there along with some other books, souvenirs, and winter stuffs. Started packing for Spain too.

Packing, leaving, turning 22 in a week...this is all too much, it kind of all makes me want to throw up. Is this normal?

Walked around the neighborhood to clear my head/get money at the ATM. Mostly everything was closed, boarded up. It's Monday. The cute patisserie that my landlord took me to when I moved in is now a smoothie place. The flower store with the old guy and round glasses retired, there's a pizza place there now. And the grec sandwich place where they had student discount is now a Subway. So much has changed in a year, but a lot of it is the same. I think I'm kind of the same way.

A big shout out to Elaine from Elaine Travels. Elaine contacted me and we have a lot in common other than our prenoms. Check out her blog, it features a lot of cool restaurants that I can't wait to try out when I'm back in LA.

dimanche 15 juin 2008

my last Sunday

Mom and Dad experienced a Mouffetard Sunday today, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. We went to Mass together at the church across the street. Did some translation for Mom and told her what to say when giving peace. One of the priests came down and gave me peace. And we were sitting in the last row! That has never happened before, even in the States. It felt really fitting and special to be there for Mass, my last French mass probably. I was zoning in and out during homily, comme d'hab (as usual), but the priest kept repeating "nation des saints" (nation of saints), and that got to me. My religion teacher once told us girls (I went to a Catholic all-girl's school) that we all can become saints, and I thought saint Elaine had a nice ring to it.

I thanked God for such an amazing year and for all my blessings and for what I've been able to experience. And tears came while in prayer as I thought, how am I going to re-pay this? How am I going to give this all back?

Mom and Dad ate at my place, and we listened and watched from my window my landlord singing and the couples dancing. Dad says I live in some fairy tale, haha. Afterwards, we headed to the Arc de Triomphe and then the Eiffel Tower. Mom went up by herself because Dad didn't want to and she said I could stay with Dad since I've already been up it twice. Dad and I people watched, he told me about the automatic weapons the soldiers were carrying and pointed out the ranking officer for me. He criticized some girl because she threw away the skin of the banana and ate it like that instead of holding the stem with it: "She's eating that banana wrong." And then he kept telling me about the film The Day of the Jackal which I haven't seen and takes place in Paris. That is so Dad.

We got Chinese food and then they headed home since they were tired. Tomorrow, they hit the Louvre, and I'm staying home to get stuffs done like laundry and packing for Spain.

samedi 14 juin 2008

oh, mother

I explained to Mom that it's polite to say "Bonjour" to people when you enter a restaurant/store/whatever. Mom pronounces it "bomb-jew".

Oh. Gawd.

Hilariousness, but I told her that I'll do the talking. It's her accent, sometimes it's hard for her to say certain words the way they should be said. I even did a little French lesson on our boat tour, but no success. Dad's is better.

Notre Dame, Latin quarter, and a sweet little boat tour. Not bad. They want to take it easy. They've been on too many of those travel group tours where they rush to see everything. We let Dad nap in the garden behind Notre Dame while we bought souvenirs. While having coffee, Mom brought up Louis Vuitton and convinced herself that she's been working very hard and how it would be nice to "treat" herself. Oh lovely. Dad rebuked, "Working hard? You work one day a week!" Mom's retired but has a part-time job where she works with her friends in a lab one day a week. How awesome is that? Looking at blood slides with your friends and getting paid for it. That's what I want, to love my job, to be able to work with people I can consider friends.

Packed one suitcase that my parents brought and will use as one of their check-in luggages. This is weird.

vendredi 13 juin 2008

Meet the Parents

My parents have arrived. No gushy ceremony at the airport, it was just like old times. While in the taxi to their hotel, Dad saw a road sign for Nantes and mentioned the Count of Monte Cristo. The driver's ears perked up and then Dad said, "By Alexandre Dumbass."

The driver said nothing.

My father, ladies and gentlemen. Dad's a huge movie quoter, hope you know that one.

Helped them check-in and then we had lunch at my place then took them back to their hotel to rest. Mom loves the area, and we went to the market together to buy cherries and apricots. There's yet another film crew filming again and we got to check that out. Lovely, lovely. Tomorrow: sightseeing.

jeudi 12 juin 2008


The hard reality of leaving hit me last night.Small get together for Lucia and Kathy leaving. Good food, good people, and my small studio. Lots of wine and beer consumed and then...bikes.

I feel safer nightbiking here since there's less cars. Me, Lucia, Kathy, Susie, and Susie's bf Andy, and Melissa got Velibs and biked to St. Michel (then said bye to Melissa), then Notre Dame, then along the Seine ending at the Louvre. Beautiful at night. Stood around taking pics and talking by the main pyramid until the guard told us to leave around 1 am. We split ways there, knowing full well that we might not see each other until we get back to SF. But it felt like any other goodbye but with a little bit of sadness to it. Lucia and I biked up rue Monge then turned to my street. I've always wanted to bike down my street at night.

After returning the bikes, Lucia and I parted ways saying, "See you in LA." It felt so weird to say that. See you in LA. Do I really have to go "home"? Is this really happening?

I've been spending my days writing in cafés and people watching, enjoying my quartier which has been a cinematic dream to live in, everything I have ever wanted and more. I don't think anything will ever top this. And yet I want to believe that I could have it this good again.

Tomorrow morning, I see my parents.

mercredi 11 juin 2008

what I learned on the Italy voyage

I wrote this a while ago in my journal...

I just loved traveling with these girls. As much as we love being American, we certainly didn't fit that American stereotype that foreigners hold against us: loud, obnoxious, and sticking out like a sore thumb. Something that we call, "Ugly American". There's actually a book out with that name.

And, by nature, we're not really loud people. So it was nice just being in silent awe of what we saw and not making a scene.

The really hard thing about traveling is that you want to see the "best of" but, as I have learned, I also want to enjoy the moment and relax and take in this beautiful place. I think that's the difference from being a traveler and being a tourist.

To do to make this all possible and to keep a balance between both:
1. Plan ahead: If we had of known how long the crazy lines were, I would have made reservations for the Uffizzi. Instead we lost almost 3 hours standing in line

2. Make a conscious decision: This might be harder for some people, but I want to see a city more than once. I'm not one of those checklist people. I try to make a conscious decision to come back for another visit. You can't know a city in a weekend. There's just too much. I've been in Paris for almost a year and I still don't truly know some parts of it. I want a reason to come back though and explore more which takes me to my next point.

3. Explore: Traveling is about exploring, making the best out of your time in a beautiful place. Learning comes from experience, and experience comes from trying something new.

Also, I learned other things...

1. Have money: Take care of money problems and letting your bank know you're abroad. It sucks that this had to happen to Keisha.
2. There are amazing boys everywhere. Who cares if English is their second language.
3. I don't have to spend time in a museum to enjoy a city, and it's not the end of the world if I don't see some famous work of art.

Yesterday was pretty sweet. Went to the catacombs again this time with Melissa, Kathy, and M's friend Myra. Then lunch at an Italian restaurant. I got the fish and it was so good. Later decided to go to the Saint Medard to write a bit, and Lucia wanted to join, so we sat there with demi-citrons, our legs getting a tan since we were both wearing dresses. We talked, people watched, I wrote for a while and Lucia drew. It was nice. I saw a girl with a brown bike that I absolutely adored, and it made me miss my bike at home. A nice, laidback day.

lundi 9 juin 2008

the full, cinematic circle

UPDATED!: I added photos.They filmed on my street today. This time 1920s Paris I'm guessing, or at least late 19th-20th century Paris. Men in suits and hats; ladies in dresses, heels and their hair did. An old-timey wine truck was parked in front of my building. They put a facade over the Franprix and old shop signs are hanging in front of other stores. Down below, extras are sitting in the shade and smoking cigarettes. Absolute film loveliness. Went to do laundry and found them setting-up. The production assistant in front of my building was cute, almost stopped me but when I explained that I lived in this building he smiled and was cool.

I get so effing excited on film sets, you would not believe. I haven't been on one in the longest time, so I almost forgot what it felt like to be a part of the magic. Being on part of the set on my street brought me back to all those amazing times I've spent making films and helping my friends make their films. And I love how, in my first days moving in here I got to be a part of a film, and now, at the end of my days, another film is being created nearby. A full, cinematic circle.

Haha, omg, they're scrambling to get this shot with the noon church bells ringing and there's a buttload of people wanting to go up the street. Sorry, I'm writing this as it's happening. I'm going to go down and see what they're up to...


Okay. I found out the name of the film: Julie and Julia. A NORA EPHRON film!!! So cool. Sleepless in Seattle is one of my favorite romcoms. I looked up the cast in imdb--pretty huge. I didn't see Meryl Streep or Amy Adams walking around though. Maybe they're not in these scenes.

I'll post my amazing photos later. Anyway, it was really sweet to be surrounded by all the props and fake store fronts. To see crew waiting around with their walkie talkies and drinking water. It just brings a lot of memories for me. This could not have come at a better time. I haven't written about it much, at least not here, but I've been really struggling with this film path and constantly asking myself if I'm willing to go through this "life of pain and struggle" as my Cinema 202 professor once called it. "And when it's good," he said, "It's brief." He could not have put it in better words.

Life's funny. A couple days ago I was debating to myself, saying to myself, "I need something, I need to know for sure that I'm doing the right thing, that it's all going to be okay", and today God and the universe set up early 20th century Paris right outside my door. A successful female writer/director up the street. If that's not a sign, then I don't know what is. Signs don't get any better than that.

dimanche 8 juin 2008

the mouffe'

I spent most of Saturday in my quartier or in my studio writing at my window seat with the windows wide open. It was really special since there was a brocante, or second-hand stuff/antique sale, going on outside in my quartier. Streets lined with people trying to sell their awesome antiques as well as their un-sellable (I know that's not a word) crap. I saw a lot of cool furniture, but nothing small that was cool. I was looking for something for Kuya's girl Kathy. This little girl wanted a stone sculpture of a rabbit. The kind of sculpture you'd put in your garden, but her Mom said no. The little girl replied, "Mais pourquoi? C'est mignon!" (But why? It's cute!)

Also saw a boy, around my age, admiring a wooden standing valet. Those old-timey free standing suit hangers that holds the pants and the suit jacket as well as a tray for stuffs. Just seeing him inspect it and think about buying it filled me with joy.

Today I spent even more time at the brocante. Yesterday was a run-through while today was a more detailed look. Met Lucia and Keisha by the fountain and we went around to all the vendors. Helped Keisha decide to get two leather belts and a snakeskin portfolio. Yesterday, Lucia bought a set of cups and saucers. I myself was looking for cups and saucers.Keisha found an incredible automatic Mont Blanc watch. Keisha knows her watches since she specialized in them at Louis Vuitton. The face was huge and unscratched since it was double crystal or something like that. All I remember her saying was that nothing would scratch it except for diamond. The guy wanted 150 euros, but we walked away.Then, at another vendor, Lucia found another set of cups and saucers that were made in the south of France. They were really amazing. Man, if I had seen them first, I would have got them, but c'est la vie. She saw them. It's like that unspoken rule of not dating a guy that your friend liked first. I think the vendor could tell that I liked them too because he said I looked "mignonne" (cute) when I saw them. They just really made me smile. I would have bought them if Lucia didn't. And she already bought cups and saucers!!! Dang. Maybe more luck at the Marche Aux Puces.

Went through the whole brocante. Keisha kept debating about the watch. We had a most delicious lunch at Cave La Bourgogne, a restaurant right in the square. My landlord told me it was really good when I moved in, but I've never had the chance to eat there. I am so glad I did though. Got the plat du jour, steak with a bordelaise sauce and vegetables. House wine as usual. It was DELICIOUS and not expensive for the portions (14.80 euros). I was so glad that I brought my appetite since I only had fruit and tea for breakfast. We sat on the terrace, inside-outside. Since the streets are closed off for the brocante, my landlord was playing his music by the fountain. Across the street, we saw a man propose to a girl at the Café Le Saint Médard. We caught the tail end of it, everyone clapping and the couple kissing.Ordered dessert and café. Lucia wanted flan, but the waiter didn't understand so I explained, "C'est comme crème brulée, mais c'est pas brulée." (It's like burnt cream, but not burnt." He laughed, saying to himself in French "That's good! That's good! Not burnt! Haahahah". It made me so happy to make this guy smile just because he seemed like he was in a nasty mood since it was so busy. It put him in good spirits. He said that it was called crème caramel. And I got a crème brulée.An older couple took a photo of us, and the husband correctly guessed that we were Californian students. How funny. He also said that he liked my earrings and did I get them in Santiago? How weird. Keisha was still debating the watch, so we went back again, and she got to negotiate the watch down to 90 euros. I was so happy for her and her big faced masculine automatic Mont Blanc watch. I liked that the back was clear, and you can see the mechanism at work.

During lunch, Keisha had asked me what I was going to miss the most about Paris. I didn't even have to think about it: my quartier. None of my previous living situations would come close to this neighborhood, this experience. And will I ever have it this good again? It's really hard to say. In the quiet words of Toby Flenderson: "I'm gonna chase that feeling." Sorry, obscure "The Office" quote. But it really sums up my sentiments.

samedi 7 juin 2008

Venezia: Day 15. The end of the journey.

Venezia: Day 15

Our last day. We checked out of our lovely hostel and bid farewell to the Ponte di Rialto. Took a metro boat back to the train station to store our luggage. Our flight wasn't until 20H, so we had a lot of time still in Venice. We inquired about how to get to the Marco Polo airport since we had no clue. The only thing about buying cheap tickets like Ryan Air is that they fly to smaller airports that are more complicated to get to. We found that there are buses from Venice that go there so we got tickets to that. Again, nothing was set or planned in advance, we just rolled with it.Walked around aimlessly until we got hungry for lunch. Sat down at an outdoor restaurant in front of the church of Santa Lucia--Lucia got a kick out of that. For 15 euros, we got a pasta, and entree, and either dessert or coffee. I got lasagne, roasted chicken and fries, and coffee. It was pretty tasty, the portions small but filling.

Tried to go inside the church but it was closer. Bummer. In the building adjacent there were old chairs and other furniture set up in front of a door. Keisha said that it looked like a church yard sale, and she was right. We entered a musty room filled with clothes, books, purses, and all the regular stuff you see at yard sales. It was pretty sweet. Both Keisha and I love this stuff. I remember going around to garage sales with my Dad and brother. Sometimes, this is just too hilarious, Dad would just talk to the guy holding the garage sale forever. Just his thoughts concerning some old lawnmower on sale or whatever. Dad loves to talk, it's too funny.

I found a silk-like Paris scarf that I really liked. I'm wearing it right now as I type, actually. It's better made than the ones I've seen in Paris. Also found an old French book for children learning French. I was attracted to the old-timey drawings inside. The book has a stamp from the bookstore it was in. Some bookstore in Milano. There was also an old birthday card inside, probably to the owner of the book. And then, by the kitchenware, I saw the most beautiful cyan-colored dish. It just popped out to me. I weighed the pros and cons of getting said dish, but it was one of those treasures I could not walk away from. The photo features just the top.I took the three items to the sweet old lady sitting by the door with a cashbox. She didn't speak any English, but made gestures with her fingers. "Three euros," she said in Italian, and put 3 fingers up. 1 euro each for everything I bought. I happily paid her, and she wrapped my dish in newspaper. Lucia and Keisha also got scarves, but the wool kind.
What an awesome find. I love doing local stuff. It was just like going to Seamus Ryan's in London or looking through that keyhole in Roma. We walked around some more and finally just stopped at a canal to people watch and write postcards. When we got tired of the scenery, we found another canal to people watch at. Had our last gelatos and then found a post office where we could mail our cards. It was finally time to catch our bus.Boarded the bus, exhausted and happy. We didn't really have much to say to each other. We were deep in our own thoughts about this wonderful Italian journey.

Finally felt at home, or at least in Parisian territory when we were told that our flight would be delayed. And instead of lining up like orderly, civilized people, all the French people just crowded around the gate pushing and shoving to get on the plane once it got here. It was insanity. We lucked out and got good seats in the front of the plane so we got to be the first people out of that bordel.

During the flight, we reminisced and thought about our next great, big adventure. Arrived at Beauvais where Adriano picked us up. Slept the hour drive into Paris. We were home.

vendredi 6 juin 2008

c'est drôle la vie

Last day of class. Pour plaisir, Prof. Poisson-Quinton showed Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amélie. It was a really nice way to end the semester, my school year in Paris. This was the movie that turned me to picking up French and pushed me toward a path in filmmaking. I wouldn't be here today without it. I've seen it countless times with and without subtitles, but it was nice to see it again (and I haven't seen it in a while) and in the context of living here for a year.

Amélie's first deed was for Mr. Bretodeau who apparently lives on my street. I had no idea. I knew that they filmed the bar scene up the street because I've been there, but when I saw the familiar shops and the square in front of the church, when I saw Mr. Bretodeau descend Mouffetard right by the Franprix and my butcher...I knew. The phone booth's not there anymore, and neither is Octave. Here's the whole scene and you can get a taste of what my neighborhood is like if my descriptions and photos aren't enough.
It was really nice surprise to see this. It made me so unbearably happy. God, I've felt so lucky every time I get to walk home and walk down this street and do my shopping on Sunday mornings, and it always felt cinematic to me. Then again, a lot of things are cinematic to me because that's how I view life. Anyway, God, for some reason, meant for me to have cinema and French in my life in one way or another. I mean, one day in SF, I had a French class, then Jean-Pierre Jeunet came to show his 35mm print of City of Lost Children at our theatre, and I also got to meet him and get his autograph. French and Cinema just go together for me like crêpes and nutella. I don't know why exactly, but this combo had to happen because it might mean something for me in the future and it definitely meant something to me in my past lives. God, does that make any sense? It's a little late, that's why I sound so crazy. I just feel like I get signs all the time.

Went to the Louvre since it's free Friday nights for 18 to 26 year olds, and it's probably the last time I'll go there if I don't go with my parents if they even want to go. Kind of makes me sad, but then again, the Louvre is huge and two hours of artifacts is more than enough.

jeudi 5 juin 2008

au revoir les enfants

Last week of school. History of Paris was neat since only Melissa, Lucia, Kathy, me, and another girl we lovingly refer to as "pink pants" (because she often wears pink jeans) showed up. Everyone else has probably already left the country or just didn't care. Prof. Comerre let us choose which quartier we wanted to learn more about and we chose the Bercy area since it's a more modern side of Paris.

I got my dossier back and received an "A+". Yay me! Walked through a lot of cold, modern buildings, very stark and minimalist. From the passerelle (footbridge) she pointed to her apartment building and the spire of her church. Lovely. Crossed the passerelle and into the park nearby the Cinemathèque Française. Walked through a maze with Prof. as well. It's really nice being in a small group with a teacher. I think she lets her guard down more and it's easier to talk to her. In the end, we bid farewell, and she said she's going to go eat a crêpe. Had the usual tasty History lunch and café study time with the girls.

Today I had my last grammar and lit class. Actually lit class didn't even happen so my last lit class was 2 weeks ago since the prof didn't show up last week either. A wonderful school system, right? My grammar prof, who is also my cinema prof, was seeing students individually to go over the test with her. Scary. Walked in and found that I got a 12, which is not bad, like a B. Super relieved. We went over my test and she asked me my reasoning behind certain questions. She didn't grill me or anything, she was really great, and I had nothing to be scared about. I'm getting a 13 (B) in the class. Awesome. Sincerely, Prof. Poisson-Quinton is probably the best French as a foreign language prof at St. Denis.

After, Susie and I headed to the Samaritaine's 5th floor café. We were the only people there. From there, the city looks so peaceful. I got tea and wrote in my journal, and Susie got a tuna wrap and studied for her Lit final. We got a nice table overlooking Rue de Rivoli and facing the C&A and H&M. I thought about how after Friday, I would be free. Summer.

mercredi 4 juin 2008

phone call

Usually I'm not a huge fan of phone conversation, but it's the only way for me to communicate rapidly with my parents. Back in the States, I try to make phone calls short and sweet or just tell people I'll meet them somewhere to speak in person if possible. Thing is I get so distracted on phone calls that I'm not listening to the person. Instead I'm on the interwebs or looking at a magazine or other things. Not good and not so anymore.

So Mom called last night, and I have my phone set up on this stool and a director's chair by the stool. The phone has a cord, so I answer the phone and sit down in my comfy chair. I'm far from distraction. Also it's nice to hear Mom's lovely voice and her "Huh?"s and "What?"s from across the globe. Suddenly, I'm in love with talking on the phone. Maybe because it's Mom and I'm excited to see her and Dad next week, but I'm also thinking it's this set-up. A corded phone and a comfy chair and nothing else. Wes Anderson had it right. This is how I'm having my house phone set up.Don't know about all the children though.

Talked to Dad who is uber-excited about driving to Spain. He got a Daimler Benz since it's the only automatic available here, and he wants to be able to take turns driving. I can't drive stick. Dad doesn't really care for guided tours and he said he likes "going off the beaten path like Quiller"--Dad's favorite litery spy. Oh, Dad. Dad also said, "I bet you're happy and sad at the same time about leaving. But this is a good experience for you." He knows all too well about being abroad. He was stationed in Spain during his Navy years.

Talked to Mom and she mentioned celebrating my birthday, but I really don't like celebrating my birthday so I turned down the offer. I don't want to be old. I also don't care for surprise birthdays either, and I've had 2 already. That feels like a lot for my age. Also discussed grown-up things like money.

mardi 3 juin 2008

is this the last time?

A wonderful 5th arrondisement day.Had brunch with Lucia right outside at La Salle à Manger. I've passed this place a million times and have never eaten there. We got Le Vitaminé which includes sliced bread, rolls, a croissant and a pain au chocolat, choice of café, chocolat or café au lait, and an orange juice. All the breads come with 5 glass jars containing honey, marmalade, peanut butter, raspberry jam, and vanilla spread. Quite the breakfast. We both got chocolats and it was really good, not as rich as Angelina's, but still tasty. We sipped it in bowls.

When we were done we stood outside at the bottom of the street talking about the weather when I see my landlord coming towards me, all smiles. He greets us and asks if I can write a letter to the next tenant about my impressions of where I lived and what I liked about the quartier. I guess he found someone to stay at my place. I happily said yes.

Afterwards, since Lucia's leaving on next Thursday, we did some souvenir shopping at St. Michel. I got stuff for my neighbors and family too. Walked also to Gibert Jeune so that Lucia can get a Lamy fountain pen for her friend. She told me that her friend like the color "mustard yellow", and I suggested the Lamy Safari since it comes in yellow. She's also bought other Lamys for friends. It's a really great fountain pen. Sleek and modern, and not too heavy that your hand fatigues when you write. I should seriously be sponsored by them. Anyway, headed over to Café Panis and sat in comfy leather chairs. Lucia planned her to-do list for the week, and I made some plans for myself. I want to be "done" with things by next Friday when my parents come so that I can spend time with them when they're here. Added books to read on my summer reading list and souvenirs to buy for family and friends. We stayed there for at least 2 hours just talking, writing and planning, people watching and listening in on tourists' conversations.Walked across the street to Shakespeare and Co. and found a used book that was on my summer reading list for cheap (Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes). Yay! Also bumped into Melissa and Alan. Then Alan bumped into his Dutch friend David and his three friends. Small world. They met up with us later at Shywawa where we were celebrating Kathy having finished an 11 page paper. Susie, Taylor, and Taylor's friend Jeremy came too. We played Melissa's mind games that were sort of frustrating ("In my world, there's beer, but no wine. There's Holland, but no Sweden. What else is in my world?") and just about killed ourselves over Lucia's FBI scenario question. It was nice, this long table of people and beers, different conversations and games going on, having to lean closer to people you just met asking, "What? What'd you say?" It was lovely...

This was a really lovely day despite the overcast weather, the fact that Lucia's leaving in a week, that I'm leaving in a month, and despite that in a small corner of my mind I have the departure and the packing and the last of this and that and everything connected with saying goodbye crouched in that corner waiting to spring and tear me away from what's been my city, my home for a year. Every time I walk into a café or eat a certain French dish I think, "Is this the last time?" And yet I don't feel any regret or a rush to do things. I am at peace. I've seen what I wanted to see. There are more places I'd like to visit, but if I don't get to them, then all the more reason to come back to Paris, my home for a year.

dimanche 1 juin 2008

why I love where I live

There's a small leak above my kitchen sink, and for some reason I thought my landlord Mr. Bassoul would be mad (there's been a lot of bad landlord things going on among Micefa students) even though it wasn't my fault. I've been really lucky. He came over and made an appointment with a plumber for tomorrow, and he wasn't mad just sorry about the inconvenience. I've been catching the water and using it to water plants and do dishes since it's clean, and he's really happy about that. "I like the way you think!" he said. He really cares about recycling and stuff.

He also gave me the address to his website! If you didn't know already, every Sunday morning from 11H to 14H I can hear him play his accordion and sing songs. He plays right in front of my church and people come to sing along and dance. Check out his website.

Other reasons to love where I live...So my opera singing French neighbor--I kid you not, I hear him practicing during the day with piano accompaniment--was probably super drunk last night since he was singing from his window to the people down below. Don't know if you can see him in the photo in the bottom right.It was beautiful. I think the way our buildings are placed allow for great acoustics. Some woman praised his singing from the street, and he proceeded to drague ("hit on") her from 3 stories above! Oh these French men! They exchanged digits for all to hear. He kept singing all night then ending it with, "Jean-Louis! Celibataire!" ("Single!")

Today was an especially lovely Sunday morning. Sun was out, Mr. Bassoul was playing his accordion, and the marketplace was bright with fresh fruits and vegetables. Called Lucia to see if she was up for free museum Sunday (my last one!). She ended up being at Keisha's, only a couple blocks away. She moved out of her studio and away from her horrible, evil landlady. We met and did some grocery shopping together. I love grocery shopping on Sundays. It's the best here. Got some pitas, hummus, and beer at the Franprix, cantaloupe and watermelon from the vendors. Went back to my place and I made lunch. So tasty. Stuffed pitas filled with hummus, tziki (sp?), salad, carrots, and tomatoes with a side of potatoes and grilled aubergine. Yum! Add that and a bottle of Kronenburg. Then we had the melons that we cut up beforehand for fruit salad and put in the fridge to cool. I put the table closer to the window so we could hear the music. I really like this set-up. Might keep it like this for the rest of my time here. For free museum day we went to the Musée National du Moyen-Age Thermes de Cluny which Lucia and I both wanted to see before leaving. Moyen Age means Middle Ages. I was really excited to see the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.

Lucia's leaving in less than two weeks. It's already June. I can't believe how fast this all went by. And I'm going to turn 22 on the 23rd. Weird. I feel grown up, but in a lot of ways, I feel like a child.

Books I want to read when I get back home:

  • The Odyssey by Homer and my old copy of Greek myths: Being in Sicily reminded me to brush up on the classics. Whenever at a famous site I was asked if I knew the stories but I said that I read them a while back and couldn't remember them well.
  • Books on Arthurian legends, Aesop's Complete Fables, and the Brothers Grimm Tales: I need to reconnect with my childhood. They're also just good to read.
  • On Writing by Stephen King: Because I heard it was deece, and "LOST" referenced it (white bunnies with numbers on their backs).
Places to eat at in LA and SF:
  • Home. Dad's steak, Mom's pansit and stir-fry vegetables in oyster sauce, WHITE RICE! from a rice cooker...All this eating and sitting outside in the backyard with the smell of barbeque in the air.
  • Tommy Burger's on Rampart and W. Beverly Blvd. (I'm getting a cheeseburger, chili cheese fries, and a root beer.)
  • In N Out by my house. (Cheeseburger, animal-style fries, and a strawberry lemonade.)
  • Lucille's in Brea. Full rack baby back ribs, fries, and coleslaw. I'm salivating already.
  • That really good ice cream shake place in Eagle Rock that I went to with my brother before leaving but was closed. Why do you close at 10pm on a Friday?!
  • Taco Nazo for fish tacos.
  • That burrito place that Dad took me to in LA for a wet burrito and tortilla chips.
  • Pho Huynh Hiep 3 at Westlake Village in Daly City
  • Mitchell's for ice cream in SF
  • bubble milk tea at Lollicup