Monday, June 30, 2014

Musée Guimet + Palais de Chaillot + Isumo (Sunday)

I couldn't let myself stay inside all day again, so I went to Musée Guimet, also known as Le musée national des arts asiatiques - Guimet. T recommended it to me, and it's one of the few places I haven't been already.

Before I could get out the door though, R-M and M were cleaning house and started having me try on clothes out of the blue. M especially was steady pulling things out of her closet that she didn't wear anymore (or had never worn) and having me put them on. Meanwhile R-M was giving me one old accessory of hers after another. It was like one of those makeover/shopping spree scenes that you see in movies. I was too grateful and confused to do anything but laugh.  How did I end up staying with such generous people? And how am I going to fit all of this in my suitcase?

Once I put all the clothes in my closet I headed to Musée Guimet, which was only a bus ride and a short walk away. I have to say, this museum is magnificent! It's not very big, but whoever curated this place was very thorough! I started my visit at the "Harunobu, un poète du féminin" exhibit on the third floor and explored my way down from there.  This exhibit showcases ukiyo-e and nishiki-e artist Suzuki Harunobu's woodblock prints of women going about their daily lives, many of which are accompanied by poems.

The thought that kept coming to me as I walked around the rest of the museum was, Buddhabuddhabuddhabuddha rockin' everywhere! (Does anyone remember that song?) Never have I ever seen so many statues, figurines, engravings, weavings, and paintings of Buddha in one place. Never. My first stops after Suzuki Harunobu exhibit were the Japan and Korea sections of the museum, so when I saw Buddha sculptures in both I wasn't surprised. But then I went through the China section, the Tibet/Nepal/India section, the Afghanistan section, the Cambodia/Thailand/Vietnam section... and there were Budda-related pieces in each and every one of them! Buddha was literally everwhere, and I was delighted! They have a lot of works with other themes as well, but if you're interested in Buddhism, Buddha, or anything having to do with the two, then Musée Guimet is a must!

I spent about three hours there and then walked down the street to Palais de Chaillot. Don't ask me when and why it was built, what's in it, or why it's important, because I don't know. All I knew was that you can get a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower and the skyline from there, so I went for the sole purpose of getting a look and snapping pics.

As expected the place was full of tourists, but most of them knew well enough to get the shots they wanted and not be too much in other people's way. What I found most interesting there (other than the Eiffel Tower, of course) was that Falun Dafa was there demonstrating against live forced organ harvesting in China. The protest was peaceful, with music playing, a man  saying something in Mandarin through a bullhorn, and a group of people standing in neat neat rows still as stone, with the exception of a few slow choreographed movements.

I went "home" after seeing all there was to see. I thought I was done for today, but then H asked me to meet for dinner. Our options were limited since it was Sunday, so we decided on a Japanese restaurant called Isumo. It wasn't all that special as far as Japanese restaurants go, but the decor was really interesting! Red and black furniture with black-and-white walls and blue lighting. Sounds like it'd be a mess, but it actually comes together really well. And what's most important, H and I had a nice time eating and catching up  after not having seen each other in about two weeks.

Now that I think about it, I ended up seeing and eating a lot of Asian things this weekend. That totally wasn't planned but I loved it all!

Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY

Vlog Coming Soon? (Saturday)

On Saturday I spent most of the day recording a vlog, watching Japanese dramas, and watching the rain fall outside my window. I went out only once, and that was just to have dinner at Zafran again.

Below is my favorite snapshot from the vlog. It's also the first photo I've taken of myself since being here. I feel pretty good about what I recorded, but editing is going to take me a while. Will it ever see the light of day?*

*(Hint: Yes, it will.)

Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY

La Défense + La Princesse Kaguya (Friday)

Friday night was another movie night for me! As usual I went to a new theater this time as an excuse to visit a new part of the city, and this time my destination was La Défense.

La Défense is a major business district in the Paris Metro area, but it's not actually part of Paris proper. This area was purposely built for business purposes, and here you'll see all the skyscrapers and high rises that aren't allowed in Paris (they would ruin the city's image and take attention away from the Eiffel Tower, apparently). So even though I didn't go very far, technically you could say that I ventured outside the city! Had to get on the freeway to get there and everything!

I was heading to UGC Ciné Cité La Défense to see Le Conte de la Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語 / The Tale of Princess Kaguya), which is a Studio Ghibli adaptation of what is thought to be Japan's oldest folktale. Kaguya comes to Earth from the moon, and a bamboo cutter finds her in the form of a small infant in a bamboo shoot. She is raised by said bamboo cutter and his wife, who recognize that she's a divine gift and thus groom her to be a princess. The film portrays her life from infancy to princess-hood to her return to the moon.

I'd originally planned to go to the 7pm showing, but it took two buses to get over there and I missed it. So I had almost 3 hours to spend until the next and last showing at 9:45pm.

The bus stop I got off at is in the middle of this huge plaza that holds a mall called Les Quatre Temps and the not-as-famous-as-it-could-be Grande Arche de la Défense. I climbed the steps to stand directly under the arch and get a view of the scenery on both sides.

 After taking in all I could, I descended the steps and walked around the mall for a bit. Out of the many food options available I settled on a stand called Bretzel Love, which is like Auntie Annie's in the States but with a greater variety of options and slightly larger pretzels. I passed by one when I went to the movies at Forum Les Halles a while ago and have wanted to try it since. Now was my chance! I had their Las Vegas bagel (turkey, avocado, tomato, and mustard) and a cinnamon "bretzel". Mall food that did not disappoint!

I then headed to the theater (which is attached to the mall), and waited another hour and a half until La Conte de la Princesse Kaguya started. It. was. amazing! Such a beautiful film! The story was rich, the animation was clean and uncomplicated, and there were so many life lessons you could take away from it. My favorite lesson was that we have to be mindful of how we raise girls, what we mold them into, and the ways in which we tell them what they can and can't do. This was my first time seeing a Studio Ghibli film that isn't Miyazaki Hayao's work, and I have to say that they've really outdone themselves with this one! I would recommend this film to everyone, especially children, and extra-especially little girls!

I rode the metro "home" after getting one last look at la Grande Arche in the dark.

Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fools Who Can't Keep their Hands to Themselves

A man grabbed my wrist while I was at La Défense yesterday. A stranger. Some fool sitting on the steps with his fool friends as I passed by. "Hey! Excuse me, Madame!" and grabbed by right wrist. Just like that.

How dare you. If I was a man you wouldn't have done that, now would you? No, you wouldn't. 

I'm angry. I'm angry because apparently women's bodies are not their own, especially not in public. The fact that that fool actually believed he had the right to touch me and demand my attention just because I was there and I happen to be a girl disgusts me.

I don't care if it's a French thing, a male thing, a fool thing, or a boredom thing. If I don't know you, don't touch me. If I didn't ask you to or give you permission, do. not. touch. me.

Keep your hands to yourself! You're a "grown man". No one should have to tell you that.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Caveau des Oubliettes (Wednesday)

Last night Ria and I met up to check out the "Soul Connexion" jam session at  le Caveau des Oubliettes. We didn't go last week because I was sick, so I was super excited to go last night!

The club is divided in two: bar on the ground floor, music in the basement. And this basement used to be a medieval prison, believe it or not! It's really small and a little stuffy, but the perfect intimate setting to allow everyone to feel like they're part of the experience. Entry is free but you have to buy a drink, so Ria and I just ordered guava juice and a coke respectively. From what I've gathered from my research about the place, the night starts with the band setting the tone and warming up the room; then a musician or singer performs a pre-arranged concert; then there's the jam session.

The music started at around 11pm, with the house band for the night jamming for a couple tunes. The concert featured a young singer named Michelle-something (sorry didn't hear her name clearly) who sang the following songs: "Locked Out of Heaven" (Bruno Mars), "If I Ain't Got You" (Alicia Keys), "Love on Top" (Beyonce), "L.O.V.E.", "Soulman" (Ben l'Oncle Soul), and "Treasure" (Bruno Mars). You could tell she was nervous, but she did an excellent job! I couldn't believe it when they said it was her first time on stage!

The concert didn't end until around 12:15, and both Ria and I had to leave before our transporation options became too limited (the metro stops running at 1am, and only certain busses and other trains run after a certain time). So we didn't get to experience the jam session, unfortunately. :( And what a shame, too! Toward the end of the concert the place started filling up with artists who were ready to get in on the action, and I wanted to be a part of it! Or at least watch. Eh well. Maybe I'll get to sing there at least once before I leave?

Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY

Another Recital + Jardin du Mail de Bièvre + Indian Food (Sunday)

On Sunday I went back to Centre d'Animation Daviel to watch T sing. She sang a solo in Spanish, and then sang a number of songs in French and English as part of a chorus. I didn't think she'd feel comfortable with me posting the video of her solo here, so below I've posted a video of the chorus instead. They're singing "La Romance de Paris". If you're really curious to hear T's solo as well, follow the link to my YouTube channel on the "LINKS" list (see the left side of this page).


Also, I forgot to mention this yesterday, but on the way to Saturday's recital I passed by a really cool-looking park! Or at least the entrance was cool-looking; I didn't actually go in. It's called Jardin du Mail de Bièvre and its entrance features a Japanese-inspired garden with a miniature pond, footbridge, and toori. It also has a bunch of tropical flowers that aren't exactly Japanese, but hey. The  theme might not be consistent, but it catches the eye.

 I returned "home" after the recital and just wasted time on the Internet for a couple hours because I couldn't think of anything to do (read: didn't feel like doing anything). Then I got hungry and since I didn't have any food I went down the street to an Indian restaurant called Zafran. I was kinda nervous because I wasn't sure what to order and I didn't want to be disappointed. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the place! And not just the food; the decor makes the place feel very homey. With beige textured walls and black leather seats, I felt like I was eating at a neighbor's house or something.

I ordered vegetable samosas, nan fromage, poulet punjabi, and halwa. Halwa! How come nobody told me about halwa before? It's cake made with semolina, but it's not just any cake. It's warm, moist, almost gelatinous, and oh-so-sweet, with coconut sprinkled on top. It was fantastic! And I don't even like coconut! The poulet punjabi was really good too, but funny story about that dish. Before it came out, one of the waiters asked me if I wanted it to be spicy. At first I said no, but then I thought, Come on now, you're at an Indian restaurant. So then I asked for it to be a little spicy but not too much. He nodded like he'd understood, and went downstairs to tell the folks in the kitchen. But let me tell you, that thing came out and the spice level was at a -4! Haha. I must've given the impression that I couldn't handle spice at all. Next time I'll just say yes to spicy and take my chances.

I must admit, though... it was definitely way too much food. And no, it wasn't an eyes-bigger-than-your-stomach thing. I'd gotten used to the smaller portions that are served at most restaurants here, and I underestimated how much food I would be getting. But! I pushed through and ate it all anyway, and it was one of the best meals I've had in my life! I mean yeah, everything tastes 100x better when you're starving, but for real. I pass by this restaurant weekly and I can't believe I've been missing out on its goodness all this time!

Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY

First Day of Summer + Fête de la Musique (Saturday)

Saturday was such a great day! I was out for about 12 hours and I came back in such a good mood!

My host mom's daughter (let's call her T) takes singing lessons, and all the people in her class were participating in a recital this past weekend. She sang Sunday, but she was going on Saturday to support her friends and invited me to come along!

The recital was at Centre d'Animation Daviel, which is in the 13th arrondissement (the south eastern edge of Paris, not too far from Chinatown). It ended up being a lot longer than I expected (about 3 hours), and every solo, duet, and trio performed classical songs that I wasn't familiar with. But it'd been a while since I'd gone to listen to people sing, so I enjoyed the recital nonetheless.

Once the recital ended there were some refreshments and mingling, and then from the recital T, T's friend Clem, and I went to go meet four other friends of Clem's. So when we set out for the evening there were seven of us in total. Our first stop was a restaurant called Le Temps des Cerises. I ordered l'assiette vegetarienne, which included a bunch of stuff I don't know the name of and a salad. Not everyone at our table seemed to be too impressed with what they ordered, but I enjoyed my food. It was filling, it had plenty of vegetables (finally!), and it was something different. T and Clem also talked me into trying Sangria, which wasn't terrible (still don't like alcohol though). The only potentially negative things I noticed about this restaurant are that it's not very chic and the menu is a little difficult to understand. (But really that's typical of French restaurants. You'll find that they often dress menu items up with fancy names and descriptions, rather than just calling a thing a thing). But I found it to be very cozy, and they have a pretty interesting workers/Communist movement theme going on that I hadn't seen in a restaurant before.

In addition to being the first day of summer, this day (June 21) was La Fête de la Musique in Paris. As T and Clem explained it to me, this annual festival was started to "démocratiser la musique", or make music accessible to everyone. You have to pay a fee or get some sort of licence to do gigs here (especially in public places), and many artists can't pay or don't feel like they should have to pay to share their music. La Fête de la Musique is a chance for artists to peform with much fewer restrictions, primarily on street corners, in parks, in plazas, and in or in front of restaurants/cafes. Meanwhile everyone else has a plethora of options to spend a night on the town listening, grooving, dancing, or singing along to various genres of music. From Le Temps des Cerises we passed through Place d'Italie, where an Italian band called Medea got the crowd and passersby moving with some reggae-influenced rock. Then we passed by Le Comptoir des Arts (restaurant/cafe) were a jazz band was playing out front. We were actually on our way to enjoy some flamenco music and dancing... but we got to the location and there was nothing there. One of Clem's friends even joked, "Out of the three options we had, we chose the one that didn't exist!" So we settled for Le Village Monge (restaurant/cafe) where flamenco dancer Aurelia Bottero was doing her thing
accompanied by a two-man band.

We sat there for a couple of hours drinking (hot milk with vanilla for yours truly) and talking . Something I've noticed that Parisians like to do is spend hours at a cafe or a restaurant conversing, people-watching, and taking in the atmosphere around them. That always seemed like a boring and inefficient use of time to me, someone who always has to being doing something. But after sitting there with the girls on Saturday, I think I'm starting to understand the appeal.

After it got dark we left and headed back to catch the metro at Place d'Italie. Along the way we passed by CASA France Espagne (restaurant) where El Hacha y Machete was playing salsa music and people were clapping and dancing... and all this was happening on the sidewalk! The place was on fire and we could feel it just by watching from across the street. I think that's the kind of setting we'd originally been looking for and didn't find. But hey, at least we got a glimpse of it before calling it a night.

To sum things up Saturday was a pretty chill day, with lots of walking and head-bobbing and laughing and getting to know new people. I might not ever see Clem and her friends again, but that's okay. During the few hours that we shared each other's company, we all got along and had a pleasant time. And besides, a valuable lesson I've learned recently is that you don't have to file everyone you meet away in your list of contacts or FB friends. Much thanks to T for inviting me!

Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY

Saturday, June 21, 2014

T-Shirt + Pizza (Friday)

After work  I went to another C&A store on Boulevard Haussmann to see what I could find, and my coworker Louisa accompanied me. We got there 45 minutes before closing so I wasn't able to look around that much. But I did try something on, and I actually bought it! Yes, as much as she hates shopping, yours truly bought a new garment all by herself, without Ma's nagging, and has no regrets.

It's nothing fancy, but it's comfortable, it's not plain, and it didn't cost me too much (15 euros). And it doesn't look too bad, right? So I'm satisfied.

Louisa and I parted ways and then I went to Tablapizza by myself for a second time, and this time I tried their salmon pizza. Cheese pizza topped with slices of smoked salmon, sour cream, and lemon. May sound a little weird but I actually loved it!

Then I returned "home" and watched France whoop Switzerland's behind in their World Cup game with R-M and R. One of my friends back in the States told me that I wouldn't be able to avoid becoming a soccer football fan while I'm here, since it's such a big thing in Europe and it's World Cup season. I'd have to disagree (I still couldn't care less about sports, football included). However, it's fun to see how uncharacteristically loud and excited French people around me get when Les Bleus are winning. Whether it's my host fam, neighbors in our building or across the street, or people in bars and restaurants, someone will be making noise about it. And it's a thrill to be around that kind of energy.

And that was my Friday evening/night. Nothing too new or exciting, but it was a good enough start to the weekend for me!
Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Because you're miiiiiiiiine!

The boss sent me "home" early today because of my sickness and I was kinda bummed about it. So I looked up this old video for some laughs. In case you'd like to know, I first came across this video four years ago while working on an AP Euro project about witch-hunts.

You're welcome.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Guess who's sick thousands of miles from home? Yep, you guessed it, this girl is! I'll take this as a good luck sign, though. The same thing happened to me around this time last year in Japan, and things turned out pretty awesome after that.

For future reference, if you're ever in Paris and get sick, look for the establishments with green neon crosses hanging up out front. Those are pharmacies and they're almost as ubiquitous as ATMs, so you should be able to find one anywhere. Also note that you can't just walk in and get what you need yourself, even if it's not prescription medication. In French pharmacies you walk in and tell the pharmacist what's ailing you (unless you know exactly what you want, then you can just ask for it). Then they tell you what your options are and hand you the items that you've chosen from a wall behind the counter. The pharmacist I talked to this morning gave me Fervex powder packets for my cold and runny nose, and Strepsils lozenges for my sore throat.

When I get sick I generally prefer lozenges, powders, and (hot) liquids to pills and syrups. So this is what I've taken so far today:

-Orange juice
-Room temperature water with Fervex
-Strepsils lozenges
-Hot orange tea + Fervex
-Hot chocolate (with milk, not water) + honey
-Tiger balm (courtesy of my boss)

We'll see how I feel in the morning. Please pray for my health! :)

 Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
 Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY

Looking around in Le Quartier Latin (Sunday)

Lately I've been feeling the itch to sing again (I haven't done so since the Grammys), so I did some research and found this club in le Quartier Latin that has jam sessions three days a week. The place is called Le Caveau des Oubliettes and its open mic/jam sessions are as follows: Sunday is blues, Wednesday is soul, and Thursday is funk. I'm thinking about going on Wednesday. After church I headed to that neighborhood so I'd know the way to get there later this week. It wasn't hard to find at all, and funny enough when I arrived there was actually a photo shoot going on out front.

Before leaving I ate lunch at a quaint little crêperie across the street, and then went to check out Shakespeare and Company which was nearby. Sheakespeare & Co. is a famous independent English-language bookstore, with a renown and character similar to that of its sister shop, City Lights in San Francisco. I got lost looking for it at first, so I was really excited when I finally found it. But I was shocked to see how many people were there! You had to wait in line just to get in. A lot of people were just there to look around and take pictures (even though cameras are prohibited), rather than to buy written treasures. And it was obvious that quite a few of them hadn't mastered the art of being aware of their surroundings and getting the heck out of other people's way. Suffice it to say that it was too crowded to be enjoyable, so I just paid my 6 euros for the first interesting-looking book I could find (a used copy of Jack Kerouac's On the Road) and left. It's a shame, because I was looking forward to spending at least an hour there looking through everything they had. I guess that's what happens when a bookstore becomes a tourist attraction; it's not so much of a refuge anymore.

 But I have to admit I should've known better than to go to that area on a Sunday anyway. The weekend is when tourists really come out to play!

 Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
 Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Père-Lachaise, C&A, and Aki (Saturday)

I spent my Saturday in a cemetery.

It would've been a waste to stay in all day, but I didn't want to be bothered by a bunch of people. So I figured le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise would do. I went there with a list of graves that I wanted to see, and let me tell you. Looking for specific graves in this cemetary is the scavenger hunt to rival all scavenger hunts. Being the largest cemetary in the city, I'd assumed that it would have maps available for its visitors. Nope. At each of its five entrances there are  large maps marked with the locations of the most-visted graves, but that's about it. It looked to me that if you want your own map to carry around with you, you have to get it yourself before you come. So that was a little inconvenient. I got lost and went in a circle a couple of times looking for the graves on my list. But on the bright side it was a beatiful day, and getting lost gave me plenty of opportunities  to admire the greenery and stumble upon some really creative tombstones.

Rather than to find every famous person's grave, my strategy was to locate the graves of people I had a connection with in some way. My list was as follows, in order that I found them:
  • Eugène Delacroix (The man who painted La Liberté guidant le peuple, which I not only saw at the Louvre but was also the inspiration for one of my favorite songs in high school, Coldplay's "Viva La Vida")
  • Honoré de Balzac (Haven't yet had the pleasure of reading his work. But some years ago I was greatly moved by Dai Sijie's novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, in which two teenagers  in China rebel against Communist re-education by reading banned literature by authors including Balzac.)
  •  Frédéric Chopin (In junior year in high school I played Chopin's Nocturne as an alto sax solo and got top marks at the district and state levels of the Michigan solo and ensemble festival.)
  • James Morrison (Don't really know who he is or why he's so famous. But apparently you can't go to Père-Lachaise and not visit his grave, so I did.)
  • Édith Piaf (She was one of the first French singers whose music I was introduced to in high school.)
  • Oscar Wilde (I read The Picture of Dorian Gray for AP English during senior year, and it was one of the most exhilarating literary works I've ever read. Plus, I felt a strange connection to the main character since our initials are the same.)
  • Jean de Brunhoff (The man who wrote Babar, a favorite book/TV show of mine when I was a kid.)
I was able to find all of these graves within a span of 4-ish hours of wandering. At first the idea of spending my afternoon in a cemetery seemed kinda creepy. And it did feel weird and solemn when I first got there, walking along columns and columns of graves and wondering who all these people were and what they meant to the folks they left behind. But I got over that after the first hour. Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise is green, enormous, quiet, and not overrun with tourists. And paying respects to all those people who've had indirect effects on my life was an honor. I left the cemetery feeling strangely inspired and refreshed.

From there I went shopping, reluctantly. Two of the tops I brought with me are no longer wearable, so I went to see if I could find some new ones. But truth is, I hate shopping. Not only does it take up too much time, but it frustrates me and makes me sad. I don't know how some women do it every week. I only buy clothes about twice a year, and usually it's because Ma makes me. But I digress. Having looked up online where to find grande tailles in advance, I made my way from Cimetière du Père-Lachaise to a C&A store on Rue de Rivoli. I found one shirt that fit and wasn't too plain looking, but I didn't end up buying it. I just really didn't feel like spending money on clothes, and I didn't want to settle for something just because it fit.

Before going "home' I returned to Rue Sainte-Anne to try the other Japanese restaurant I'd been interesting in going to, Aki. I ordered katsu curry and karaage. The karaage wasn't so great (absolutely nothing compared to the one at Johnny's Ramen on Bell Road in Hikone). But the katsu curry was excellent. The only real downside to Aki is that the staff isn't all that friendly. It's not that they're mean or rude, but it seems like the staff is just really focused on their work and getting everyone in and out as quickly as possible. No time to talk or be cordial, I guess.

Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
 Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY

Barbecue, Black Coal, and Montparnasse (Friday)

Today was the last day at La Métisse for three of my co-workers, so we had a barbecue during the lunch break to celebrate! At least I think that was the reason. It could also be that my boss was just in the mood to have a barbecue on the newly-cleaned patio, and the send-off thing was just a bonus. I didn't feel the need to ask, so I'm not sure. Either way, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves while eating and taking, and our one-hour lunch break lasted for two hours. And my boss bought everything; we just had to cook it and set the table. Free food and an extended lunch break? Absolutely no complaints from this chick!

After work I headed to Gaumont Parnasse to see the Chinese crime thriller/drama, Black Coal (or Black Coal, Thin Ice). I first saw a trailer for it when I went to see L'île de Giovanni a few weeks ago, and I heard that it'd won best film and best actor at the Berlin Film Festival. So I'd been eagerly waiting for it to come out since. But I got to the theater an hour early, so I walked around to see what the surrounding restaurants had to offer.

You ever have those times when you're really hungry, but don't feel like eating? That was me this evening. I was walking around like I know I need to eat, and I am starving, but I just don't feel like it. Maybe that doesn't make sense, but eh well. I kept walking to keep my mind off my hunger, but that didn't work so well since there were restaurants everywhere. If you're in the mood to eat out but can't decide what you want, go to Montparnasse. Never have I seen so many restaurants in one area! And never have I seen so many crêperies in one place! Granted I only went down three streets (Rue du Départ, Rue d'Odessa, Rue du Montparnasse), but Lord have mercy they were everywhere. Too bad I wasn't in the mood for crêpes.

Eventually enough time passed for me to go back to the theater to see Black Coal. Set in 2004, it's about a troubled ex-cop who helps solve a case of multiple murders and disembodiment that he'd started investigating back in 1999. A mysterious woman is connected to all three murders, and while pursuing the case said cop becomes infatuated with her.

I left the movie theater and was originally going to head straight "home" to eat dinner and turn in for the night. I was just about to go down the stairs to the metro, when I stopped. Something told me to keep walking around instead of leaving right way. So I did. I went up Boulevard du Montparnasse one way and passed by Le Coupole, with its live Lousiana-style jazz band parading around the restaurant and its female staff dressed as flappers and dancing. I came back down the other way and passed by Notre-Dame-des-Champs. Then I kept walking, and all of a sudden a bunch of police on motorcyles appeared, blowing their whistles as their blue lights were flashing. Nothing was happening, so I didn't know what all the hullabaloo was about. But then I turned around to look back in the direction I'd come from, and rather than cars I saw a wave of rollerbladers. Hundreds of them! Just rolling down the boulevard, no big deal. They all seemed to be in a jovial mood, waving and smiling at people on the sidewalks who were staring and taking pictures of them. It was such a fun and unexpected sight to see! Staff member shirts identified the group as Pari Roller. Every Friday night you just sign up, pay to participate, show up at the meeting time and place, and you can rollerblade around Paris with hundreds of others. I haven't skated in years and I'm a 21-year-old old lady who doesn't like to stay out too late at night, so I probably wouldn't try this. But it looked like tons of fun, so if you're in Paris on a Friday night I encourage you to try it!

And to think, I would've missed all this if I hadn't followed my intuition.

Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
 Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Lesson from Dinner

"Careers rarely follow a straight path, if ever. What's more, there are no real failures. Set backs, disappointments, interruptions, they don't matter. What's important is that you know where you want to go, you take advantage of opportunity when it comes, you're passionate about what you do, and you're not afraid to take risks."

− R-M, my host mom (translated and paraphrased, of course)

Dinner with my Host Family, again!

Tonight R-M's nephew and great-nephew from Normandie are staying over, so R-M made dinner to welcome them. I was invited to join them, and there's no way I would've turned that down!

I'm surprised how much better I was able to understand what everyone was saying and keep up with the conversation compared to last time. But that might just be due to the fact that R-M talked most of the time, and I've gotten used to listening to her speak everyday. Tomorrow her great-nephew is taking a really important competitive exam to get into Sciences Po (hence why they're here), so she quizzed him a lot with practice questions and tips to prepare him for the interview portion. The kid seems a little soft-spoken, but he's also quite intelligent and thoughtful. I wish him luck!

I also had the privilege of learning what R-M's impressions are about hosting a foreign student. She talked about the agency that arranges everything, the different rules that the host family and the foreign student are supposed to follow, her motivations for doing it and what she gains from it, and so on. She also mentioned that all the students she's hosted have been girls, and they came from all over (Brazil, Korea, China, the US). She couldn't really put her finger on what motivates her to keep hosting, but I gathered that it's cultural exchange and personal enrichment more than anything. It was fascinating to hear her point of view on this, since I've often wondered what the advantages are for French people to do what she's doing (other than the money that supplements their income, of

Oh yeah, and the food was great. I couldn't tell you the exact names of what I ate, but know that I have no complaints, haha! A much more casual spread than last time, but I enjoyed it just as much.

 Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
 Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What I Miss about The States

Hugs. Especially as a greeting.

While I've learned to faire la bise to my co-workers and my boss upon arriving at/leaving work, I still don't like it. I haven't even let Ma kiss me since elementary school, so you can imagine how uncomfortable it is for me to greet people here in France. I'd much rather receive a sincere bear hug than have someone's mouth that close to my face.

Smiling and/or talking to people in public without it being taken the wrong way.

This may seem contradictory to what I wrote the other day, but I actually do really like being able to smile at people I come across when out and about. Smiling at people you don't know is very useful, especially for folks like me who aren't big talkers. It eases tensions and levels the playing field when you're in awkward situations. It's also a wonderful icebreaker. But it's just not something French people (I mean Parisians) seem to do all that often. It's like you're supposed to walk around pretending that no one else is there. No direct eye contact, no facial expressions, and definitely no words. And that makes me feel kinda lonely sometimes.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Day Off at the Canal

Didn't do much today. Today was another public holiday (Pentecost Monday), which meant I didn't have to go to work! Praise God for three-day weekends!

During the afternoon I met up with H again to visit la Place de la République and walk along le canal Saint-Martin. The area around the canal isn't exactly spotless, and the water in the canal is a murky green. But there's so much else there that makes up for that. There's a ton of really tall trees, graffiti and street art on the surrounding buildings, multiple bridges you can climb up to get some great views, and people just sitting along the water hanging out. A boat even passed through while we were there! The canal is a little dirty and run-down, yet peaceful and slightly romantic all at once. We both loved it. So if you'd like to visit a part of Paris that's alive and picturesque but not too well-known, le canal Saint-Martin is it.

Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - JUNE
 Bread and Butter [Paris] photos - MAY