samedi 17 mai 2008

la nuit de rien

Tonight is "night of museums" and loads of museums are open until midnight. But I'm still tired from last night, and I just want to stay in with tea like an old lady.

Today, went to Giverny to see Monet's house and garden. His house is so beautiful inside. Couldn't take photos though. Took photos of lots of flowers and trees and birds. Then Lucia, Susie, Melissa, and Lily and I found a small outdoor restaurant by a stream and spent two hours there talking and eating. It was nice. The chef came out and talked to the people at each table, it was cute. Will post photos of gardens later.

I've got tons of homework to do, blurg. 2 tests next week and 4 papers to write. Boo. Like a lot of people here, I'm kind of over school and just can't wait for summer even though this year has been one really lax school year. I don't even feel like it's been a school year, more like a gap year. I just hope all this doesn't transfer into next school year. I have to find a job and work my ass off so I can graduate in time, but I know that even with 12 units a semester, I'll make it. I don't want to worry about the future, but it's so hard not to.

vendredi 16 mai 2008

hey, it's late.

I just got in from my friend's going away get together. She's leaving this Tuesday. It's all winding down pretty fast.

I didn't get into any advanced film production classes. To be honest, this really sucks. So I'll have to crash them when I get back. When stuff happens like this, I get this deep, quiet rage inside of me, but the energy always channels into something good. Good. It happened when I didn't get into my film production class last year, and I was effing persistent and annoying, and she let me in. And I proved to the prof and the TAs that I deserved to be there by working my ass off, and they later told me how happy there were to have me in class.

So this not getting in...can be a good thing. Just another one of those effing film challenges that I must face.

And if doesn't work out, I can always take it out at my backyard shooting range with my air-soft gun.

jeudi 15 mai 2008

eat it like a sandwich

School was blah today. Went to Musee D'Orsay to cheer my spirits/people watch/write. Left when too many people kept walking past me while I was writing. It was a nice hour. Then went to my cafe to get a demi-citron (Stella with lemon syrup). Did some writing there, then my waiter spied on me too to see what I was writing! Boo.

The best thing was, this Australian man in front of me ordered a sandwich. He spoke the basic French phrases like "Merci" and "Bonjour". When his waiter left, he said to me, "Parlez-vous anglais?" I said yes. He asked, "How do I eat this?"

"It's a sandwich. You eat it like a sandwich."

I smiled trying not to laugh, and the waiter came over asking what was wrong, and the Aussie explained what he was asking me, and the waiter and I looked at each other with this collective thought in our heads and just smiled. The whole thing made my day.

Then an amazing dinner with friends, lots of laughing and stories. Good food, beer, wine, dessert. I had a really good time. Thanks everyone.

mercredi 14 mai 2008

european boys

"The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours." -- Ayn Rand.

I was at Breakfast In America, the American restaurant that we love oh-so-much when we're missing good ol' heart attack inducing American food, with Lucia yesterday. She was craving American breakfast. We both got breakfast burritos. We sat at that "inside outside" part of a restaurant that I was telling you about (see the "un jour férié" post). To our left comes the most cutest boy. He wore loose-fitting jeans and a black t-shirt that's seen too many washes and is probably at its peak of softness. He was tan, but not too tan, and tall, but not too tall, and he had short, perfectly tousled brown hair. He said to the waitress, "Hello. Bonjour. (insert soft spoken French here)". He then sat at the table beside us with his back to us. I'm pretty sure Lucia and I gasped collectively at this boy. Two words, and we were in love.

You've probably been reading this blog long enough to know that I have not made many European guy friends during my time here. I've been a hermit, curled up in my cozy shell. After spending time with Adriano, Andrea and meeting other European guys on this trip...I'm just blown over how amazing these guys are. I hate to compare them to my guy friends back home, but, wow--these guys are different. In a really good way. Because of them, I've really raised my standards. They're just more mature, intelligent, and still young at heart. They like to travel and care about learning different languages. They're close to their families. They practice rules of chivalry (some!). They know how to dress (all!). And I know that dressing part is so superficial but I think it shows that they take pride in their appearance and that they have confidence and creativity. Fashion is for everyone, not just girls.

Anyway, Lucia, Keisha, and I were talking about this on one of our long lunches in Italy, and we all agree--the guys are just better here. Sorry, American boys. Of course, there are downsides that I have not yet seen, but there will always be downsides.

Andrea said something during dinner when we were talking about boys again. I won't say what prompted him to say this or to whom but what he said was, "That's because you've only dated American boys."

That's because you've only dated American boys.

God, the whole world has never felt so big, so full of possibility before. Italian boys, French boys, Serbian boys (my Vatican tour guide!). All this time I thought I had it perfectly set, that I'd meet boys back in CA, maybe at school, just like most of the girls I knew, and if that didn't work, then there'd be boys at work maybe. I just always thought that it'd be simple, somehow something would work out, that I'd probably settle because, God, I'd be lucky to find someone who could stand me. That's what I believed. That I'd probably settle. Even when Mom specifically told me one day when we were talking about boys: "Don't settle."

She's right. I deserve what I want. We all do. Now the easy way, the set way that I had in my head doesn't interest me. The world is bigger than my life back home. That was evident when I came here. I don't have to settle. We don't have to settle. What we want is possible if we're willing to take chances, to be open. What does it matter if English is his second language, what does it matter if French is mine. What does it matter if he lives a continent away. It doesn't. But how should I know...I don't. But it's good to know that this is where I stand.

mardi 13 mai 2008

Roma: Day 10. Our last day.

Roma: Day 10

Sunday. Our last day in Roma. The Vatican is free on the last Sunday of the month too. We were really lucky. We got there pretty early, but found the line to be really long. We couldn't even see where the entrance was. We were stopped by another tour guide guy. He wanted each of us to pay 20 euros for a guided tour, and we'd get to go to the front of the line. The bargaining went down something like this:

Vendor for Vatican tour: 60 euros for the tour. That's 20 each.
Lucia. 50 euros.
Vendor: 40 euros. I'll be right back. (He goes to talk to a couple who is interested in the tour.)
Lucia: Did he just say 40?
Me: I think I heard 15. Maybe he thought 15 each?
Lucia: LET'S TAKE THIS! (Vendor comes back.)
Vendor: 40 euros and she's (pointing to me) free.
Me: YES!

So I got in "free" again, but of course I reimbursed Keisha and Lucia. I love how I get the "free". I think it's because I'm like a child, very short.

Got to the front of our line. Our guide was an archaeological student from Serbia. I thought he was Italian because he spoke Italian well when he was trying to persuade the guards to let us pass through the short cut to the Sistine chapel (I semi-understand Italian with my French and Spanish background. Woot!). He was really, super cute and smart. He was very funny as well. He wasn't like those other tour guides that drone on and on. He'd ask us questions about stuff, and what we thought about a certain tapestry or sculpture. He was amazing. Me and Lucia shadowed him closely, haha. At one point, he grabbed my arm and pulled me towards him to let a group of Germans pass by in a crowded hallway. It was lovely.We finally arrived at the Sistine chapel. It was super crowded, but we got hear a lot about parts of the fresco. When he ended the tour, he said we could ask him any questions, so Lucia asked him for his recommendations about Florence, our next city. He used my fountain pen and wrote down what we should see in Lucia's notebook. He said lastly, "In Florence, don't be afraid to get lost."After the Vatican, we went to St. Peter's Basilica, and then the Pantheon which was pretty cool. Then after that Bocca della Verita, or the Mouth of Truth. I really wanted to go there because of Roman Holiday. There, Andrea picked us up. He took us to this orange grove that had an amazing view of the city, and then, he parked in this empty lot, and said, pointing to a wooden door across the street, "Look in that keyhole. There is a little surprise!"

We had no idea what he meant, so we got out of the car and looked into the keyhole of the massive door. Framed perfectly through that keyhole was a tree lined path and the dome of St. Peter's right in the middle. It was magical. After we all got a peek, we looked at each other, speechless. We then turned towards the car, and Andrea was standing there, smiling. He's so full of little surprises.He then took us to the train station to get our tickets to Pisa the next day. I love how they have this schedule of trains always running to cities and that we didn't have to plan too much ahead. A ticket to Pisa was 17 euros. Afterwards, we got dinner.

He took us to this amazing meat place. We got fillets, sausages, a hunk of grilled meat, potatoes, bread, and this plate of hot cheese to share. All of it was really good. Then we got gelato down the street. We went home to rest up early since our train leaves 7 in the morning the next day, but it was a perfect end to our Roman holiday.I don't think I can thank Keisha enough for making all this possible. Without her and her connections, Sicilia would probably be too crazy and Rome too expensive. We really saved by staying with her friends. And our hosts were awesome. Adriano and his family treated us like, well, family, and Andrea was so fun and spontaneous. He'd lead us around the city at night and we'd end up at Fontana di Trevi or the Spanish Steps. And he wouldn't even tell us that we were going there. And he didn't coddle us. He didn't tell us how the metro worked or how to get to his house. I think he wanted us to be independent, for us to figure stuff out for ourselves. And it's nice, you know? He's definitely not like any other guy I've ever met. He wouldn't rave about how amazing something was or bring our hopes up. He'd say something was "good", and we'd find that it was actually amazing.

He's very...European. I like that. Anyway, more on this later, I have a post coming up dedicated to, you guessed it, European boys.

lundi 12 mai 2008

my adventures in wonderland

Here are some photos I promised from Chantilly and Senlis. Also, I'm going to continue to stretch out the posts for Italy. As I wrote before, they'll be interspersed between my regular Paris posts.

Where to go in Chantilly

A wooded path

On the bus ride to Senlis

Postcard Convention

So goth.

Exciting, no?

A tasty treat: a Saint Honoré, complete with crème de Chantilly

Forgot to tell you that there was a carnival going on at Senlis as well.

Carnival food stands are much cooler here

If that doesn't move you, or inspire you, or make you imagine of simpler times, then you are a robot.

dimanche 11 mai 2008

back from Wonderland

I have fallen through the looking-glass. Barbara B. invited me to go to Chantilly and Senlis for the day with her and Theresa. It's so nice when people invite me to things. It's really thoughtful. I don't plan a lot, so I usually have nothing to invite people to other than a spontaneous roast chicken dinner party that I sometimes have. But I'm always so astounded when people invite me to something or call me up to hang out. It means they want me around, that they like me or at least they can tolerate my presence.

Met up with them early in the morning. I'd love to post pics, but maybe later since the whole photo problem thingy. Took a train to Chantilly and it was such a lovely ride, all green pastures. And this group of bikers came on with their tight shorts, and they were so cute discussing their biking plans at the forest Coye.

We arrived in Chantilly and got tickets for the bus to Senlis. The original plan was just to hang out in Senlis, a well-preserved medieval city. But our bus wouldn't be here for an hour so we got time to kill in Chantilly. Chantilly is the horse capital of France. I like horses. Maybe because I think of knights in shining armor and girls in period dresses riding them.

We walked around the forest, and I suddenly remembered why I love the color green so much. It just reminds me of spring and nature and growth, and there were so many shades of it as we walked under all these tree-lines paths and reached the horse racing track. I saw a chateau in the distance and I asked Barbara, who's been here many times before, if that was the chateau of Chantilly. She said, "Yes. That's the one for the horses. The one next to it is for humans." I replied, "It's much smaller!" The Duke Orlean really liked horses.

Went to the tourism office and got some info. I found that you can rent bikes there! I might come back to rent a bike for a day. Then we took the bus to Senlis. We ate lunch at the park (tuna baguette--yum!). There was a family in the park (2 boys and 1 girl) and the dad was playing ball with them while the mom was sunning. The little girl fell and started to cry, running towards mom. When mom kissed her boo-boo, she returned to the ball game. The dad started cheering for her that she was coming back to play, and then her older brothers clapped their hands too. It was lovely. We then wandered the small city. Today there was a small "convention" for postcards at a church, so we went to that for 1 euro.

Oh. My. Gosh. Amazing. I'm a sucker for flea markets and yard sales, so this was right up my alley. Tables of vintage postcards, old letters, stamps, and trinkets. At one corner of the room was a long table where people where eating and drinking wine. We went from table to table. Mostly old guys were collectors, but they were really nice, asking if I was looking for a theme or a certain country or part of France for a postcard. I looked for cinema themes (not that great) and postcards about places I've visited. I also got a bunch of postcards for Cannes because the Cannes film festival is coming up. I've never been there but hope to someday, and not as a tourist. I can wait until then. I also chose some for their photo and the letter written on the back. Most of them had letters written on the back. My oldest one is from 1938.

I was reading some postcards, and it's funny that some of them have just one line on them or nothing at all. The one liners say "un bon souvenir" and who it's from. Sometimes, and here's what fascinated me, it said something totally weird. One of them said, "It's John Toole" or something like that, just an answer to a question. Today's equivalent would be a MySpace or Facebook wall post. Back then we had postcards. Life was simpler and slower.

So I got a bunch of old postcards with their stamps on the back, and also some really cool pins for 10 centimes each! That's like 25 cents each! They were really, really cool too. Can't wait to show you photos.

Walked around the city and some parks and just took in the sun and amazing weather. I really felt like I was in another world. Sometimes, we'd walk down these cobblestone streets, and there would be no sign of cars, nothing that could relate to this time and era, and it's like you're back in the 13th century. We walked along a path and found a creek, and it was so picturesque, it was just so hard to believe that this was really real. It was like something out of my imagination. And I felt that, if this was real, what else can be real for me? What else can be possible? And I thought about all my dreams, all that I ever wanted, and it all felt attainable. It was wonderful.

We went back to Chantilly and got off in the middle of the city instead of at the train station. Went to Barbara's fave boulangerie and got something to munch on for dinner. I got a quiche. We ate it in front of the chateau for horses. Then, because the horse racing fields were open, we walked through them barefoot since the grass was nice and cool and the sun still shining. We played with this really energetic dog while its owners were picnicking. It was hilarious, this dog picked up the biggest stick ever, it was practically a branch the length of my arm span, and he wanted to play fetch with it. So funny.

Arrived at the station, and went home. A lovely day in the countryside.