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