jeudi 7 février 2008

packing process

Packing process has begun. Just mailed the first of many envelopes addressed to myself. They are to arrive at my parents' house in LA. These envelopes contain business cards, museum stubs, pamphlets, receipts--stuff I kept over the year and would like to use for a scrapbook of some sort later. I love keeping this stuff. I love my memories. The good and the bad. And I don't want to be bogged down by all of it when I leave.

How wonderful it would be if when I came home, I had all these envelopes, these tiny packages sent from France holding all my memories. I'd open one envelope each day and just go over each item and try to remember all I could about it. God, that's going to be amazing. I wonder what piece will make me laugh or make me cry or make me wish I was back in Paris.

I wish you could see my planner. An absolute bordel. Wait here's a pic:I love how chaotic it looks. Makes it look like I'm busy. That I'm actually doing something, thank God. Some stuff I didn't even get to do like see The Searchers on Wednesday. Or see the Buster Keaton shorts with live piano this Sunday. I'm kind of sad that I'm missing that, but Amsterdam is a good reason to miss it. Also, found that they're showing To Kill A Mockingbird at Amsterdam's Filmmuseum, so that'll be cool! The museum is down the street from our hotel. I'd like to do one "film" thing in every city I visit, if it's possible. BFI in London, and now the Netherlands's largest film museum and archive.

I finished packing last night. For the first time since I got here I'll be using my backpack, the big one. I used a regular school backpack for London which ended up being almost unbearable to pack since I got so many books at the BFI. I'm excited to use it for the first time. Also it only looks big because my wool jacket is in there, and it's thick. I found out the hard way that traveling makes me sweat like a mother. I love learning what works and what doesn't. So no heavy, hampering clothing while traveling but keep it close (I packed it at the top) just in case weather gets nasty.

As always, I will hash out (get it? 'cuz I'm going to Amsterdam?) a day by day record of what went on in Amsterdam. Every. Dirty. Detail. Maybe not every dirty detail, but close. In the meantime, check out the photo albums, I put some up from Zizi and D'Orsay. I hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend.

Much love and bisous from your American girl abroad,

the pinnacle

Woke up early. I was too excited to go back to sleep. This has been happening for the past three nights. I'm not even leaving until tomorrow. Lately, I've been too excited that I can't even sleep at night. So I read The Watchmen until I got tired. Reading it is exhausting too. You have to look at each shot or storyboard square or whatever for at least 3 minutes to take it all in.

Worked out for 30 minutes (Kuya!), and then made the most delicious breakfast ever. I wish my plates weren't yellow, because this all just looks like a yellow blob. A delicious yellow blob:Made a omelet with mushrooms and stuffed with diced tomato and topped with emmenthal. And then homemade country potatoes that I freaking diced myself. Not store bought. I felt so proud.

I got the inspiration last night at Keisha's when she made dinner. She made the most delicious pasta sauce just from a carton of plain tomato sauce and the stuff she had in her pantry and fridge--olive tapenade, salt, pepper, oregano. It was delicious, and I was inspired to create.

Great night last night. Went over to Keisha's to plan what to do in Amsterdam. Turns out that her plan to take a friend's extra plane ticket didn't work out. So she had to get a train ticket that leaves a day later than ours. So we'll meet in Amsterdam, and Lucia and I will be there a day earlier. She also bought a ticket for the same train back to Paris.

We found our seat numbers in the trains, and then realized that Keisha might not be sitting with us since she bought her ticket a day later than us. We figured maybe we could ask someone to switch with her. We found her seat number for the train back and by some MIRACLE, Keisha is sitting with us in the same train car and row. The seat right after ours. CRAZY. I dont know how that happened. She had no idea where we were sitting, and there she is, right next to us in the same train car and everything.

We were stunned and sat in silence for two seconds before exclaiming, "Whoooaaa!"

“This trip was meant to be!” I said excitedly. “Of all the train cars, of all the seats on a're sitting with us!” We all just smiled and laughed at this freak occurrence. It was destiny. We planned what we'd do in Amsterdam, how we'd get around, how much we figured to spend. When it was all pretty much planned, Keisha said, "What if we went somewhere...every month."

It wasn't a question. I mean, look at the quote, I ended it with a period. The words, the phrasing, the “what if” at the beginning—all that makes it a question. Even if you say it out loud, it's sounds like a question, no doubt about that. But it wasn't a question. Not the way Keisha had said it. Not the way I had heard it, and maybe I'm going crazy or still shaking from the freak train seat moment, but I didn't hear a question. It wasn't something to be thought over, then dismissed and put it away. It was like...a dare. It was something that was going to happen, all because we were crazy enough to go for it. GO big or go home. Lucia and I looked at each other and smiled. We knew without having to say anything.

Where are we going after Amsterdam?

Now that's a question. Two days before leaving for Amsterdam, we were planning Italy week to coincide with our winter breaks and Keisha's mom will be with us too. Fly to Rome for two days, then train to Florence for two days, and then another train to Venice for two days, then fly back to Paris from there. It was beautiful. Simple. And for the month after that, a long weekend to Morocco.

We glowed. I could tell in each of us that we were mentally packing our bags. Thinking of places to see. Foods to eat. I know I was definitely thinking about food. Neither of us expected this to happen. We just got together to plan Amsterdam. Lucia said how that in two days time, we'll be in there. I mentioned that I was still reeling from being asked to go to Amsterdam with them two days before.

Lucia and I left together. Without really thinking, as we descended the staircase I said, "This is the happiest I've ever been." And it truly was, this was the pinnacle of my time here. Was it going to get better than this? It might, it might not. But it really was the happiest. The kind of happiness where you're so excited you're shaking, you can't even think straight. The kind where you can't sleep at night, and it makes you wake up early in the morning to do push-ups and cook omelets.

Something was planned. We were all sure. We were dedicated to this plan taking flight. We were positive, excited. And this trip, it was something we shared, and we all brought goodness to it, great ideas, answers to questions we each brought up. There was a solution, or we resolved to find it. I felt like something was actually happening because we were doing something and not just waiting for it to happen. It's the same exact feeling I get when working with a dedicated film crew who believes in the project, who wants to see this film made by us because it was meant for us and nobody else. This was supposed to happen.

mercredi 6 février 2008

what the heck is happening?

I'm in the twilight zone. This has been a cool Parisian day.

I feel like I'm doing things better now, better than last year. I just have a feeling like this part of my year here is going to be the better part. I was in a rut last year, last semester, for a bit, and I was sad a bit, but I'm going to do my best to have more happy days, and less sad days while I'm still here. I'm glad I experienced that rut though.

Met up with Lucia at St. Joseph's Catholic Church near the Champs Élysées this morning. I wanted to go to an English mass for Ash Wednesday. Unfortunately, I was late and missed getting ashes. The RER was packed, and I had to wait for another train. Lucia got hers. She was glad I suggested an English mass. I don't know, I just felt like English mass for this time. The readings were really good, especially the second reading which was Corinthians. I decided to hang out here until the next Mass at noon.

We went to Starbucks for a drink. It was in the middle of this small shopping center and not busy which was nice. We sat on big comfy chairs and talked about plans for Amsterdam. Somehow we got to talking about perfume, and she said something that made me laugh so hard:

I don't want to smell like fruit, and I don't want to smell like food. I don't like it flowery, but more flowerish.
Hilarious. It went down in the Moleskine. Funny how I understand the distinct difference between flowery and flowerish. How I love the English language.

I suggested we burn some time at Sephora just a few paces down the street looking for her non-food, non-fruit, flowerish perfume. We tried some scents. She liked one called "Elle" although I can't remember the maker. We then looked at lipstick since I was looking for a classic red to wear if we go out--Lucia and Keisha dress nicely and wear make-up so I didn't want to be a dud when I'm around these two gorgeous looking gals. Plus, it's the only thing I know how to apply. A petite lady that looked Filipino to me came up to us and asked if we wanted to try anything. I was still looking, so she put some lipstick on Lucia.

While doing Lucia's make-up, we made small talk in French. She asked us our origins. Lucia said Mexico, and I said Philippines. She got really excited and said, "Moi aussi!" (Me too!). She asked if I spoke Tagalog, and I said no. She seemed kind of disappointed, like she really wanted to talk in Tagalog.

Meeting Arleeda, the Sephora lady, gave me hope. Arleeda came here, at my age (21), speaking no French at all. She spoke English--in the Philippines it's taught in schools--and was an au pair for an English speaking family. But wow, her French is amazing. I mean, she works at Sephora and speaking French is a must to have a job here. She's helping French ladies find perfume and giving make-up tips to young French women.

She was really cool and did my makeup which was fun because I don't wear makeup and am absolutely clueless. She did a red lipstick and silverish eye shadow, and it was fun, like being pampered, and I've never done this before. I ended up getting the lipstick and eyeshadow to wear on special occasions. We said goodbye to Arleeda, and she told us to come back soon. Lucia went off while I went back to church to get ashes.

Do you remember my stylish French lawyer neighbor? If not, refresh yourself here. She knocked on my door and gave me 2 euros for using my cell phone and for letting her stay over while the locksmith was on his way, and I told her not to worry, but she insisted that I take her 2 euros. Then, talking really fast like most French, she said something about wine and motioned to her door and some time (was it 2pm?), and having me come over. All I could muster up was "d'accord" (Okay). Then she said goodbye and left, descending the staircase.

Oh shit, did I understand what she just said? Did she say what I think she said? She said something about having wine together and 2 o' clock. Did she mean today? It was 1:30 when she came by. Today or some other day? Was this an invitation for today?


Learning a language is such a pain sometimes, because you have moments where you're right on, and moments when you're totally off. Like today, the Starbucks guy was giving me my coffee, and Lucia was already at the sugar/napkin station, and she asked me if they had honey, and no problem, like a total switch the French came on, and I asked the guy, "Vous avez du miel?" And he said, "Non." And I wasn't even thinking it, it was just a reaction, albeit a little slower than a usual English speaking reaction.

When I wasn't sure what my neighbor said, I knocked on her door at 2pm (she had come back from wherever it was she went), and I seriously stood there for 3 seconds fumbling with my French. And I knew what I was going to ask her, if she wanted to have wine today or some other day because I didn't really totally understand what she said at the door, but I stood there for at least 3 seconds going, "Um, uh..." By God, that's going to happen a lot. And it's painful, oh God is it ever. But when it's over and done, what a relief. She said not today, maybe next week on Tuesday since she's going to her parents today and she's packing. She said she'd come over again and let me know. Sigh of relief. Glad I understand now. That was painful and slightly embarrassing, but now I understand. Now I understand.

So yeah, a cool and weird day buying makeup from a French speaking Filipina and speaking to my French neighbor.

mardi 5 février 2008

give it up

I used to give up things for Lent: soda, meat, and fast food. I don't know what I'd like to give up this year. I was thinking framboise or alcohol in general since I like it so much and we're supposed to abstain from things we like, but I'm going to Amsterdam this weekend, and what if I want a framboise then? Maybe alcohol on special occasions. Amsterdam is a special occasion. The original Heineken brewery's there! And you get three free beers when you go.

Signed up for classes at St. Denis. So far, I have free Mondays. Yay! I have to wait until the 13th until they post what classes there are for cinema. If they conflict, I might just end up taking French all the way again, which I don't mind. I'm here for French anyway, and my free time is spent with Cinema. I kind of like the arrangement. I'm very happy either way. Centre Pompidou is doing an expo on Alain Resnais. I'm going to see Hiroshima Mon Amour next week. All my friends had to watch this film in Intro to Cinema, but I had another teacher who didn't show it. I'm excited to see a film there!

Susie got a carte ciné passion yesterday, and I watched No Country For Old Men with her. Last time I was always reading the subtitles. I like seeing movies I liked twice though. Once by myself, and another with a person to see their reactions. The card's worth it. We might see Edward Scissorhands next week. The translation is Edward aux mains d'argent, which is like Edward Silverhands, which kind of works, in a way.

After signing up at school, met up with Susie and we voted at the American church. We were the first couple people in line, which was cool, because the line was getting crazy long. All you needed was your passport. Some French lady wanted to interview us on camera, and we said we'll see her when we're done voting. Then we just sort of snuck by and left. Neither me nor Susie wanted to talk to her. Cool that we got to vote though.

Am going to try and eat better and exercise for Lent (and for Kuya who asked if I was working out--his wedding is this fall!). I want to look nice for his wedding. Tonight I'm making couscous--yum! Will also find ways to be happy, to smile and laugh, to make the most of my time here because it's almost over. I think I'm off to a good start already.

lundi 4 février 2008


Got a call from Lucia today asking me if I wanted to go to Amsterdam this weekend. Heck yes! Turns out she's on vacation right before I start school again. She wanted to leave Friday and come back on Monday. Works for me! She took care of the transportation while my job was to find a place to stay.

I was excited--I love spur of the moment things like this. I like planning as well, but London was pretty planned out, and this was spur of the moment. I chose a hotel with a private room with our own bathroom called The Quentin. It had a great location. I typed in all our requirements--three nights, three people. The total came to 60 euros for each of us for the whole stay. Not bad for a private room. And on such short notice. Called Lucia and we discussed it--she gave me the go. So I click on "Book". But the page didn't go through. I figured the page timed out, so I had to re-do the process of finding a reservation. I did it, and then..THE ROOM WAS GONE! I called Lucia.

LUCIA: What?! Try it again!
ME: I did! I did it twice! The room's gone!
ME: Don't worry! I'm gonna make this right! (hang up)

The normal me would have freaked out and just stewed while doing nothing to better the situation. Maybe curse myself, but that didn't happen. I just went back to looking. It was actually kind of fun, thrilling to look at websites searching for hostels and hotels, B&Bs and boathouses--anything that will shelter us three girls on a cold night. There were a buttload of mixed dorms, but not for the nights we needed, and loads of expensive private rooms. I felt like a hacker on the clock, find the password, get into that account, transfer the money. I was clicking Control + T to open windows, Control + C to copy links of hotel websites, and Control + V to copy. Working on Final Cut Pro even translates to real life situations--I love keyboard shortcuts. I was on AIM discussing the options with Lucia.

When she squared away the train tickets (travel by train is so cool!), I asked her to help. She found a website that shows the actual rooms available, and The Quentin was there! Among other hostels and hotels. Out of all of them, it was the cheapest and closer to things. So I booked it. Yay! Some relief. After the whole thing, I felt like I'd lost pounds. I love that feeling.

Later, I read some horrid reviews about it (giving it 2 stars), but whatever I'm kind of excited. And nothing can be worse than a Motel 6 in Porterville, CA. It was really bad. My brother slept with his hoodie on, covering his head, and his shoes on over the covers. He refused to get under the covers. Anyway, it's only three nights, and we'll be out during the day. Exciting!

Also, made this short little thing for fun. Wish I could do a real time-lapse for hours, but this was a minute only into 5 seconds or so. Enjoy!

dimanche 3 février 2008

tips from the 1500s and traveling with my lovely parents!

Found these tips online from Erasmus's De Civilitate. I will try my best to live them out. Found them on theThe Happiness Project blog which is one of my favorite self-helpish blogs. I thought they were interesting just because they're so hard to follow! Especially 6 because I like to ask questions when people tell stories.

According to Erasmus, you should not…
1. gossip
2. tell unkind stories
3. boast
4. indulge in self-display
5. seek to defeat others in argument
6. interrupt people when they tell a story
7. be too inquisitive

You should…
8. be discreet about your own thoughts and actions

Despite occasional bouts of frustration and wanting to stay in my shell, I am happy. I have done more growing and learning (and not the kind you pay for) here than I have ever done in the same amount of time at home. I've become close to people who I admire and whose company I enjoy and who I want to keep in touch with long after this is over. I went to midnight Mass at Notre Dame. I took a train under the English channel. I rode on the back of a Vespa from southwest London to northeast London. So despite the strikes, the sickness and cold, and not quite living up to the "studying" bit in studying abroad...I am happy. I'm really happy! Especially about this next bit too...

Talked to Mom and Pop the other day, and they're coming near the end of the semester to spend a week in Paris and then road tripping it to Spain where Dad will be the tour guide and show all his old haunts to us during the time he was stationed there. I can't wait. At first I didn't think I'd make it, what with classes, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity! A road trip with the parentals in Europe! Sounds like such a cool adventure. I remember going to Thailand with my Mom and riding the back of this old army Jeep in the Philippines with my Dad. Great times.

I've been through that stage where I left home and wanted to be away from my parents and see the world. I mean, I'm living it right now. But now they just seem more dear to me than ever. And they're funnier. I don't know if it's because they're retired and have a lot of free time or if it's just my sense of humor that's changed, but they are funny as heck! And I love spending time with them. Every moment spent with them at home during my vacations is really precious. Even if it's just going to Costco with Mom or doing random errands with Dad. I love this stuff.

So I'm going to let my teachers know that I'm "leaving the country early". I'm sure they won't mind, and I know a couple of students who did this before the first semester ended. I just don't want to miss out on this!

exposition zizi and another ikea day

Saturday was a cool day. Lucia, Susie, and I braved the cold and walked along Canal St. Martin. They ate sandwiches while I had a pastry. We then headed to Cité des sciences et de l'industrie, a science center for kids and adults. Went to the Exposition Zizi Sexuel, which sounds naughty, but it's actually for kids! The exhibit teaches kids about puberty, sex, reproductive organs, and giving birth. You would never see something like this in the States. In the photo, they have this thing where you learn how to French kiss, haha. I watched a kid do a quiz on sex on a touch screen. He was like 7. And he got most of the questions right! It's really cool that they teach kids this stuff at an early age. Afterwards, we went to a section of the building dedicated to math and physics.

Today...euro breakfast at Ikea!! So good. Susie bought some new stuff for her place. She brought 90 euros to spend, but only paid less than 50! I love Ikea. She got everything she needed like bedsheets, pan, pillows, and other things. Lucia and I got pillows too. They're for the people who are going to stay at my place. It was super cheap.

After our Ikea excursion, Lucia and I decided to meet up at Musée d'Orsay in two hours. We walked through Impressionism and post-Impressionism. Since I'm sick and a bit fatigued, I sat in front of some Monets and just people watched. I love how easy it is to people watch in Paris. I mostly looked at guys. I love guys when they wear their winter wear, their coats and scarves. I love guys in wool coats. It's so sophisticated. Especially wool hacking coats, which is more of a British thing, but I LOVE how it looks. I think every guy should own a wool hacking coat. It's the hacking style that's very cool to me. Jason Statham is wearing one--see the bald man at far right. I love the two stacked pockets at the right hand side of the coat.

Lucia and I then shared a club sandwich at our favorite club sandwich place. Total yum. I'm happy I did so much despite my condition. It's better than sitting at home under the covers being a bum.