vendredi 25 janvier 2008

a long post to tide you over for the weekend: rule of 3, coen and burton, and hints of england

I never thought I'd have to use that "3 times" rule in France but, man, did I use it yesterday. I used it to get my museum card for D'Orsay. The rule is that if you ask a question and the answer is a loud, resounding NO when you need it to be a YES, you just got to keep on asking until the person says yes. That's how you get things in France. You keep on asking until you have it your way.

The D'Orsay lady is in this cramped little room that has no windows only the glass door that's around the corner so she can't even see outside. It went down like this. And in French.

Me: Hi. I'd like the museum card please. (ONE!)
Her: Okay. Are you a student?
Me: Yes.
Her: Well, you know it's free on Monday nights for you.
Me: Yeah I know (lying). [Either I heard wrong or she was lying, because this is not TRUE. I just checked it out.]
Her: It's free EVERY Monday night.
Me: Yeah, I know. I'd like to buy the card please. (TWO!)
Her: Are you an art student?
Me: No, just a student in Paris. (I show her my student id.)
Her: Why do you want the card?
Me: I'm gonna be here for a year (lying). So, do I pay here for the card? (THREE!)
Her: Yes. (She gets the form.)

I wanted to explain that I didn't want to come here just on Monday nights. That my visits to the museum with friends who are visiting (so far 5 are coming at 4 different times) would cost more if I didn't get the card. But I didn't get into it. I filled out the form, got an interim card for now since the real card is going to be mailed to me, and left.

See how stupefyingly painful easy tasks can be? Why was that so freaking difficult?! I'm contributing to your museum, lady! I freaking LOVE the arts. I am gaga over Impressionist paintings! Is it so hard to give me a form, print out a card and take my money?

When I left, I was mad. Then I felt sorry for her to work alone in a windowless room. Then I went straight to the Impressionist floor and looked at Degas's pastels and works from Monet, Van Gogh, and Whistler, and I felt better. This really weird occurrence also happened.

I was in the Van Gogh room, and they have chairs in the middle so you can sit and stare or whatever. Or draw. Anyway, there was an old Asian couple, and they were asleep on the chairs. And their son was with them and their daughter or maybe the son's wife sitting next to them sort of waiting for them to wake up. And I thought it was slightly funny, I might have smirked, but I didn't do what this douchebag did. This douchebag of a guy, rotund and disgusting, definitely a tourist, wearing SHORTS in an effing museum which is so wrong to me, this living breathing incarnation of the comic book store guy from "The Simpsons" takes a picture of the old, Asian sleeping couple. Fat bastard.

The son gets up and confronts him while the wife or sister looks on. This could have gone badly. Like from a tiff to an altercation involving museum security. But being in the presence of Van Gogh, his self portrait looking on disapprovingly, their voices didn't reach higher than normal speaking volume. Museums, art museums especially, are sort of quiet so normal talking sounds pretty loud to me. Young Asian man asks him what he thinks he's doing, Fatty says that he's just taking a picture.

It went on. And I wanted to watch, I really did, but the other polite half of me just turned around and walked away. I just couldn't bear to watch what could happen. The wife's face. The young guy's face. That fat guy's chubby fingers holding an expensive SLR. I wanted to be there, really. I wanted to know what would happen so that I can pass the story on, as I'm doing right now, but I had to walk away. It was just too much to watch. I'd be just as bad as comic book store guy taking a picture of sleeping Asians if I just stood there and watched. It's funny how I can watch gory scenes in films, I mean I did sit through Sweeney Todd, but I couldn't do this. That's a movie with fake blood. This is real life. Man, I can't get the sad look on the wife's face as she's watching her husband confront the guy, as she's sitting there next to her quiet, sleeping in-laws. That beautiful porcelain face tinted with sadness next to the reposed will forever haunt me.

So I walked into the other room, Monet. And I stared at a painting I can't even remember because I was thinking about what was happening in the other room. And I did it, I just had to do it, I turned around. The husband was gone, maybe to get some sort of weapon, and the lady was standing in front of Fat Beard. She was dressed in an immaculately clean and crisp white dress shirt tucked into a blacker than black skirt with black tights and lovely black pumps.

From about 10 feet away I heard her say, loudly, without hesitation, and in the sternest face I've ever seen, "I want you to erase that photo." The fat guy didn't say anything. He moved to walk around her, but she took step to the side and got in his way. She repeated herself, "I want you to erase that photo." The guy flipped his SLR on and did it. Flup yeah. Score one for the Asians. I continued on.

I also got some sweet postcards too from stuff I liked. The cashier pegged me as an American, which used to get me mad, but now I am impressed by their American pegging skills. Saw No Country For Old Men and Sweeney Todd.

The French love the Coen Brothers, no joke. It could be because they're modern auteurs, having final cut in their films. They don't have real gimmicks or moves to me, they just to me make the best possible film for a script. They really can't go wrong in my opinion. There's a quote that I can't remember correctly but will just butcher anyway. That there's a million places to put the camera, but only one right place. It's written in one of my film notebooks at home. Anyway, the Coen Brothers always put the camera in the right place to me. They're amazing. They have an amazing body of work and have worked with a lot of amazing actors that I have come to admire like John Turturro, John Goodman, Peter Stormare. And I am convinced that Javier Bardem is the Spanish Clive Owen. First a breakthrough role in an American film that'll get him noticed (for Owen it's The Bourne Identity), next he's advertising cologne or BMWs and fighting the ladies off with a stick. Good luck to the Coens this year at the Oscars.

Sweeney Todd was alright. I'm just not into musicals. Unless it's Newsies. Who can say no to a dancing, singing Christian Bale. No one can. I can't remember who said it among the crew before I saw it, but someone said this looked like Scissorhands 2. And that Corpse Bride was Nightmare Before Christmas 2. That was hilarious. Kudos.

Lately, I've been getting these weird hints of England. Yesterday on the way to the cinema, there was a British family on the bus. A mom, a little boy, and a girl. Too cute. And I passed some well dressed British men in St. Michel. I just can't wait to cross that channel, the barrier between complete and slight comprehension.

Lucky you, you get three or so days off from my blog. As always, I will record in my journal what I did to give you all the whole scoop. Pip pip cheerio!

jeudi 24 janvier 2008

bisoued and bars

It's 1:30 am. Nayo, Nick and Morgan are still at the Mayflower drinking it up. Me, I'm a lightweight and just wanted to hang out, but came home since I was dang tired.

Like Kuya had described it, the Mayflower is the bar in "Cheers" or the coffee shop in "Friends". All familiar faces, nothing is awkward. David concocted a drink called "pink hair" because of Morgan's pink hair. I heard it was tasty. He bisoued us girls. It was nice. Then he made me re-bisou on the left cheek since it wasn't "good enough". Haha. Later, he made me his waitress, and I helped him serve a table.

It's nice to have reached this point of comfort. Goodnight.

untimely deaths

It's always sad to hear about untimely deaths, especially the deaths of young people who you knew would make it really far in this world, who had something good to contribute to this world. Fortunately I'm not talking about anyone I know, I'm just still hung up on the death of Heath Ledger.

I have had my share of moments when I'm reminded of my own mortality. I guess his death was one of those moments. 9/11 was one of those moments too. And I'll never forget what I was doing, where I was, who I was with when these moments happened. This time, I was online at my studio alone. Kathleen (a friend from high school) had written on her Facebook status update that she was sad about Heath Ledger. I thought, "Oh no, he must've got hurt on the set of some film."

His death is just the reminder of my own mortality, of all our mortalities. Life is fragile, beautiful, a gift, not to be wasted. He was 28, only seven years older than me. My brother's age.

If I had 6 more months to live, if the end of living in Paris meant the end of me, what would I do?

1. Finally get museum cards at the Louvre and D'Orsay. Will do today and spend the day at D'Orsay probably.
2. Walk the length of the Seine.
3. Visit all the places I longed to visit while staying here, even if it's for just a two days.: Amsterdam. Prague. Rome.
4. Buy the red Converses. I've always wanted a pair. They're just so bold and colorful, but I never went for it. I guess 'cuz they weren't "safe". These have some sort of sentimental value to me too as there was this boy I really liked but only told a few people about who wore Red converses. He was a freshman like me in college. Have you seen Citizen Kane? Bernstein says to one of the news reporters,

A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl.

That's who the boy with red cons to me. I never talked to him. I never saw him after freshmen year. Probably transferred. Not a month goes by when I don't think of him.

Okay. Enough. Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'.

mercredi 23 janvier 2008

Heath Ledger

I couldn't sleep last night. I read about what happened to Heath Ledger. This world effing sucks. I don't believe that he'd kill himself. I'll wait until what the autopsy reports say. I just don't think the role of the Joker would let that get to him. Yes, it was a dark role and he inhabited it like any dedicated actor would. Yes, he lived alone in a hotel room for a month to research the role and suffered insomnia as a result, but it was a role and nothing more. He put on the mask and went to work then washed it off when he went home. He is an actor. This is his job.

He had a massage appointment. He was going to act in a Terry Giliam film next. He had a two year old daughter. This just doesn't make any sense. This world rarely does.

You and Brad Renfro will be missed. You're the type of talent I hope to work with someday whether you're playing a character that I created or I'm just getting your coffee. Both of these would have been an honor.

mardi 22 janvier 2008

reasons to carry a camera at all times

Was on my way to take my exam. I should have carried my camera with me. Here's why:

1. On Port Royal, the street I take to the MICEFA office, there was a parade/march going on by the EDF, France's electricity company. Pretty cool. There was a bunch of guys on top of an EDF van. And this guy was mooning everyone while his friends cheered him on. Hilarious.
2. There was an old lady bundled up in a blonde colored fur coat talking on her cell phone while zooming past me on a motorized wheelchair. Priceless. Lesson learned.

So, I'm done with classes. I start Micefa classes in two weeks and will have to sign up for classes for St. Denis too. Insert sarcastic "yay" here.

I really like what I'm wearing today. Today's clothing combination would have never occurred to me. I feel like I dress better here than I ever did back at home. Like more girly. The other night, Sally complimented my wardrobe and that made me feel good. I wore a gray knee length twill skirt that I got for 8 bucks at Crossroads on Irving in SF, teal long sleeve under a black hoodie and my navy wool blazer, and black tights under my boots. I was feeling pretty spiffy too.

Today, I wore my flowy brown jersey dress that I got at H&M to wear for Christmas and a light blue buttoned up oxford shirt over the dress with black tights and the famed engineer boots. See the pic at left. Sorry, didn't feel like talking a pic with my head in it or a whole body pic for that matter. It's the colors that are important in the picture. I like the boots because they're really masculine but when paired with the dress, it tones the whole outfit down. The oxford shirt says I'm ready to learn, and the boots say I'm ready to kick your ass. And in a dress no less. I never thought brown and light blue would go well together, but I really really like it. I think I'll wear this on one of my museum days in London.

It's funny how what we wear can change our whole attitude and outlook. I like the dress because it's super comfy and I wanted to be comfy for the whole of 1.5 hours I took to take my test. And it's nice knowing I can just put on some clothes that I know will make me feel good. I read that Scarlett Johansson puts on red lipstick when she's feeling down.

lundi 21 janvier 2008

walking dead

I just had one of those days where I wasn't in the mood for anything. I just felt like a zombie, not the crazy flesh eating kind, just the slow moving undead. And I kept on smiling and laughing at the appropriate times but it was all just an act. I don't know what it is.

Walked to St. Michel to meet up with people at Subway and kept passing British people talking and that made me happy knowing that my trip to London is coming up pretty soon. I think I just need some change, I guess. Didn't get anything since I wasn't hungry and had tea earlier. I was going to go with them to a poetry reading at Shakespeare and Co. I got to the room where it was being held, and it was pretty cramped, and these older folk that look like they'd shop at Trader Joe's back in SF where coming in, and this young guy with tight pants was walking in, and I just couldn't handle it. There was no way that I could sit through a poetry reading without bursting out into laughter and finally shaking off the zombie me. That would be rude. And no offense to people who go to poetry readings or any sort of reading, but it's not my thing.

So I stood at the doorway and said I had to go home and study which was true, and I felt like a spot of tea even though I had one before I left home. I can't get enough tea. And I don't buy the cheap stuff either, I get Twinings which is 2 euro more. It's probably the only thing I splurge on. Walked home, and it went by so fast because I wasn't really paying attention to anything except the walk and do not walk signs. It felt so weird. I don't know where my head is.

dimanche 20 janvier 2008

wake up

Sometimes, all I have to do is open the window, listen to the accordions playing (my landlord is always outside playing his accordion on Sunday mornings) and just smell the roasted chickens and potatoes, the clementines and all the fruit and vegetables, all these smells collect and rise up to my third story studio, and it's enough to make me not want to eat because it smells so damn good when it all mixes together like that just the same way the table at Thanksgiving dinner smells damn good. But I eat anyway because breakfast is important.

Susie and Andy came over to hang out. I invited them along with Sally to see Buster Keaton's College at my fave cinema with live piano. It was amazing, as always. And I think I have a huge crush on the piano guy because he loves Buster Keaton too, and he has this sort of Buster Keaton way about him, an almost silent actor way about him in that he doesn't speak much but his little actions really resonate. Like he has this slight smile like he's holding in a laugh. And when the owner introduced him to the audience and said that he likes Buster Keaton films, he said, "Yes, I like them a lot." And, I don't know why, but that made me laugh a little. Anyway, the movie was great and Buster won the girl as always.

Afterwards, fondue dinner with everyone mentioned above and Sarah and Nayo on my street which was so good and filling. It's Andy's last night here which is so weird because it almost felt like he was studying abroad with us. I know Susie will be okay. Their relationship reminds me a lot about my brother and his fiancee because yes, they're great together, but they don't have to always be together, you know? They can handle having their own lives and sets of friends. And that's nice. Having someone but not being dependent on him and vice versa.

After dinner, bid farewell to Susie, Andy, and Sally, and Sarah, Nayo, and Nick met up with us and we had a drink at the Mayflower. It was a pretty chill night and we sat at a corner. I noticed on the wall an old black and white photo of what the Mayflower looked like in the 1920s or so, and it looked so cool. Just seeing what something used to look like. And I felt that I was a part of history somehow by making this my local drinking hole.

Had a pint then left, and I walked down my street and all the stores were boarded up and nothing was open except for the tiny cinema, and God it was so beautiful with the blue Christmas lights still on and flowing down the street. And I saw more because my focus was on the buildings rather than on the shops and I kept noticing all this graffiti I've never seen, and I could see into other people's apartments and their overflowing bookshelves and their Tudor ceiling that looks just like mine, and it was nice. And for a moment then I forgot about home and declining the TA position, and all I could think about was that in six months I'll be missing this and how devastating it's going to be.