Alright, I'm almost at the finish line. Major day tomorrow for grad school and of course, instead of studying, I'm updating my blog. Brilliant! Anyway, I need a break. Spent all afternoon and early evening in my favorite library in Paris, which I've written about before, studying the different methods of resuming texts. I'm so thrilled that the university I've applied to has decided to give me this test that is usually reserved for les grandes écoles and naval academies. Thanks! I basically have to read 2-3 documents, around 1500 words a piece, and weave them all together into a summary, around 400 words. FUN! It's harder than it sounds, though, because it's in French. Although I might speak good French, it's not my native language. I don't always know shorter, more succinct (and less used) verbs, and sometimes tiny nuances in the language go over my head because, well, I didn't grow up listening to the language all my life. There books upon books about this type of test, all equally boring and "aww MANNNNNN"-evoking. So, tomorrow, at 9am, I'll be highlighting passages, racking my brain for shorter synonyms, and trying to pretend I know what I'm talking about.
I'll probably get some topic I know no vocabulary for I'm trying to be optimistic.
As if that weren't enough! I have an interview! In three languages! Just as soon as the French version of American Idol, Nouvelle Star, is over (it's the finale!), it's back to work. So much for sleeping well before the big day!
I have photos coming out of my ears. I am horrible about taking them and then leaving them on my memory card for weeks or months. I recently finally went through a lot of them and sort of clumped them into different folders, but there's still lots of organizing to be done. And you all know how well I do that!
So let's go back to a month ago, when my buddy, Brittany came to visit. I started to write about it on my last post, but I got a little carried away with my Swiss trip. Brittany and I decided to take an Amélie-themed tour, from the famous 2000 French film. This canal, Canal St. Martin, is in quite a few scenes. The area, in the 10th arrondissement, used to be kind of ghetto, but it's really gentrified in the last decade or two. Still has a lot of immigrants, which gives it a cool sort of hippie feel, but it's also old Paris and has cool buildings. And a giant canal, where old men meet up and play chess or pétanque.
We went to the Galéries Lafayette, which is the department store in Paris. It's all ridiculously bourgeois, of course, but the ornate dome and the Prada bags make you feel all classy like for a few minutes..'til you remember that your whole monthly salary won't even buy a dress with less fabric than a washcloth. Ah, well. I'm cool with H&M.
Onward to the flea markets north of Paris!
Stylin' cat eye glasses
And onward to continue our Amélie tour at Sacre-Coeur. I never get sick of this view. However, climbing up the hills to get there, not so much. But it's worth it. In front of the carousel is where Amélie calls Nino from a payphone. I may or may not have seen the movie multiple times.
And then we went to the café where Amélie works and had some delicious caffeine treats..
This little display was in the bathroom
Later on that evening, we stole my friend Hannah's awesome rooftop for a few minutes to take in all of Paris' beauty. The little chimneys on top are probably over 100 years old. I love the hearts cut into them. Whenever I go up there, I wonder if the maids that used to occupy the top floor would ever come up to the top and bitch about their jobs while looking over Paris. Probably.
Brittany and I had a good time for the three days she was here. I had just seen her a few weeks before, in Bern, but we both had a long weekend and all my money was tied up in expensive translations, so I offered for her to come up to Paris. I mean, c'mon, Paris for a weekend? Not bad. It was super nice out and we got lucky because there was a free museum festival on Saturday, too. We had originally intended to do a museum crawl--we had wine in plastic bottles to complete the image--but I hadn't thought about the amounts of people that would want to cash in on free museums. Soooo after seeing lines upon lines of people at Musée d'Orsay, we hopped over to the Louvre, which is pretty good at handling masses of tourists, and got in to see some artwork. I have now seen the Mona Lisa three or four times. (It's small.)
I'm not a huge museum go-er. Call me culturally insensitive, but I would prefer to see the city the artwork is in rather than the museum. I like street art, concerts, little cafes tucked in forgotten corners. I have been in Paris for nine months and have seen a handful of expos, but it's just not my thing. If I'm in Paris this summer, I'm going to try to see more, since I will hopefully have a little more time on my hands. I love living here, but man, having two jobs and applying for grad school is really good at sucking my free time up. The city is beautiful at this time of the year. Long days and pretty sunsets after 10pm. Summer always washes away memories of frozen feet and cold winter mornings while waiting for the train. I forgive you, Paris. You're worth it.
Another reason I love Paris? Things like this:
Making Les Champs-Elysées a garden for three days!
It was a festival called "Nature Capitale" and it was at the end of May, for yet another long weekend. Something about man reuniting himself to nature and not forgetting his roots, etc. There was also a lot of information for to-be gardeners or nature-enthusiasts. I saw posters in buses, but I didn't really know what it was. While watching the news, I saw the clips of the world's most famous street covered in green! So I moseyed on over there the last day with a few friends.
Mulch on one of Paris' busiest streets! Bus stops served as places to sit for a breather, lights went through their cycles with no cars. Definitely a cool idea! This is its first year, so maybe next year it'll come back. I love that in a city as busy as Paris, the officials still allow an event that perturbs traffic for three days around the famous Etoile.
Since it was the last day, people just started taking plants. At first, I was like..what are they doing?! But then everyone was doing it, so..I caved in to peer pressure! I grabbed a lavender plant, nothing like the giant trees I saw some people trying to get away with. At the exits, some police officers were making people put the plants back, but for the most part, what were they going to do? There were thousands of us, only a few of them...
Moving through my memory card..I went to a spectacle two weekends ago, to see the CPs (cours préporatoires--preporatory classes--equivalent to 1st grade) act their hearts out after taking theatre classes all semester.
I eat lunch with the two theatre guys that come once a week, and even though I don't have any of these kids this year, I wanted to see what my lunch buddies had been up to since January. The kids were adorable, and in classic French fashion, the sketches were kind of vague and strange, but cute nonetheless. I think it's great for kids to have the chance to have these little workshops, especially for the shy ones. The neighborhood I work in is kind of a rough area, so if it weren't for the school, the kids probably wouldn't have the chance to do this.
I think they are wolves here..couldn't help but smile :) Some of the CPs have older brothers and sisters, so I got to see some of my students, too. Most of the teachers there were surprised that I got up early on a Saturday morning and made the trek out to the suburbs to see a performance from kids I don't even have in class. But as the end of the year is quickly approaching, I'm trying to make the most of it. I really enjoy my schools, despite the fact that it's a bit far from the city and especially from where I live. I've been kind of kicking myself recently for having requested to be put in a different school district. Not because I don't love mine--I get along well with all my teachers and students--but because the city where I work is in a dead zone for public transport. I have to take a bus to get just to the train station, where I then take a commuter train to the city, and where I then transfer to a metro to go to my house. It's a solid hour and a half each way, and if I go to school next year, being this far away will really limit my options of classes and/or a part-time job. But despite all that, I can't help but think if it isn't broken, don't fix it...
Case in point, I got asked by one of my school's principals to come to her house after the spectacle to pick cherries from her cherry tree. It's the season, and while I originally thought I'd just take a little bag, I quickly realized that her tree had so many that she needed to give some away before they went bad! I think my principal really likes me. I helped her son out a while back in writing a resume in English and sending it off to the States to a few contacts. Although nothing has come back job-wise, I think she remembers that I helped out when I didn't necessarily have to. Being nice pays off, kids! We chatted a while, had lunch, I met her son, neighbors stopped by, and she offered me a place to stay for the summer if I wanted! I'll definitely take her up on the offer if I'm here. More on that in the near future...
And of course, we picked cherries! So many cherries. In the hot sun, for over an hour. We talked while standing on ladders, and she told me about her sons and her students over the years, and in the end, it was a lovely little afternoon. I left with a giant sack of ripe cherries with the implicit instructions to SHARE THE CHERRIES! And I did, with everyone but the family I work for, because, well. They're not getting the fruits (literally) of my toils and labor. I get enough work from them, thank you.
I promise to write soon! After tomorrow, I'll be freeeee as a bird. It'll just be a waiting game, which unfortunately, in France, is pretty common. I'm pretty stressed at the moment with applying for school, finishing classes, going on outings, saying goodbyes to friends, watching devil children, waiting waiting waiting on getting renewed, e-mailing French people here and in the States, deciding on whether to go home or stay here this summer, getting a new visa..it's all a lot of balls in the air and I only have two hands! But I'm determined to stay here next year. I made my decision and I'm sticking to it. If only France would make theirs!
Ps. My favorite candidate on Nouvelle Star won! Back to studying..