Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm still fighting it...by writing it

Sometimes essays and homework give me the skeevies. This is one of those times.

Someday I'll look back on this moment in my life and think, "Huh. 35,000 characters x 2 = 70,000. 70,000 characters. I mean, what is that really, in the big scheme of things?"

And then I'll pause for a moment.

And then I'll heave a big sigh and realize these 2 essays were meaningless ventures. They didn't matter. I'm no better or worse because of them.

And then I remember that it's not the future yet, and I still have to write them.

And I cry.

So there's only one thing left to do: a battle to the death. Two essays enter, two essays and a severely sleep-deprived college student leave.

Amitiés :(

. . . or whatever you say when you want to spear someone with a trident.

UPDATE: This just in: It's 25,000-30,000 characters, y'all. Go Speed Racer, Go!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Party on, Garth.

PHRASE OF THE DAY
Je ne veux que danser: I only want to dance.

Birthday week strikes again!

Two days ago my mom celebrated a birthday back home, Adrien celebrated a birthday in Nice, and the spring season is now one year older and all the wiser. (Spring chose to forgo presents this year and instead funneled all efforts into making the riviera weather intoxicatingly beautiful. And my god has it worked.)

Since I couldn't be home to spend the day with my mom, I joined up with some friends to congratulate Adrien on having thwarted death for exactly 21 years. We ordered pizza and lounged about for about 6 hours, and it was really just a fantastic evening.

HIGHLIGHT REEL:

1. So I've decided to shoulder the daunting task of trying to make America sound really awesome in the international sphere by introducing my peers to a magical plethora of freedom fry topics. This, friends, is called "cultural integration." As an ambassador for America, I feel it's my civic duty to enlighten the international community to our most important achievements. So far we've thoroughly discussed the Grand Ole Opry, Oprah, and the One-Eyed-One-Horned-Flying-Purple-People-Eater. I'm well on my way to repairing our image, y'all.

2. Unfortunately the topic of the Westboro Baptist Church kept coming up. Like 4 times. This was unintentional and frankly way too homophobic for my taste. But we all agreed to recognize that this church is in the minority. The super-minority. The most minoritiest interest group in existence. I think more people have been attacked by lawn flamingos.

3. "YOU get to be a saint! YOU get to be a saint! YOU get to be a saint! EVERYBODY GETS TO BE A SAAAAINT!!" --Poprah

4. For me, nights in with friends beat nights out with friends a million to one without question. No, a googolplex to one. As Andy Samberg as Nicolas Cage would say, "That's high praise."


-------------------

Then last night we all went out in celebration of our friend Jhordan's birthday. The evening was kind of short for me, as I wanted to catch the last bus home. But it was a good time.
-------------------

I'll have to come back later and tell you about my theatre class yesterday. It was entertaining.

But for now, I need to grocery. And then I need to essay. And then I need to beach.

So it may be a while . . .

Amitiés :)

UPDATE: Yesterday I read on blogger that someone had searched for my blog using the keyword "pull the blanket over my head and make it go away." I'm confused that this happened. But I'm even more confused that it worked.

Monday, March 19, 2012

♬Oh aye-dee-di-dee-di-dee-di-dee-di-dee-di-dee-di♬

"In Dublin's fair city
Where girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheel'd her wheel barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels alive, alive-o!"

Happy belated Saint Patrick's Day, y'all!

Though I didn't make it to Dublin, as so many others did, Nice had no shortage of leprechaunical festivities. And you know what? There were Irish people there! Loads of them! So, yeah, I didn't go to Ireland. IRELAND CAME TO ME!

Now I didn't actually end up getting to town until 9ish, and unbeknownst to me, and a little to my chagrin, others had been "celebrating" since well before 2 o'clock. But the first bit was really fun. Just hanging out and chatting with friends. That's more my thing.

As the night wore on, one universal truth became very apparent. Namely, looking at photos and recounting stories always make nights out look so glamourous. But the reality of the situation is always quite the opposite.

No matter how the evening starts, happy or sad, grouchy or glad, it always devolves into a mind-numbing wander-fest, in which no one can make a single solitary decision on where to go or what to do because no one has a clue what they're doing anyway.

And everywhere you wander is either too full,

"That is a terrible line."

Too expensive,

"I've just remembered how cheap I am."

Or too sketchy.

"This place looks sketched."

And you soon realize all you really want is club soda and your bed.

So you resolve to continue wandering. Partially in hopes of finding the holy grail of hangouts, partially out of sheer boredom, and partially in search of the friends you keep misplacing because your life is a horror movie and someone is definitely out to get you.

And that's fine. Sure. If you like walking. Lucky for me, I do. So the hour-long trek back to my room was not wholly unsatisfying.

So that was the evening out. And all the evenings out.

Does this sound familiar to you?

My guess is "good lord, yes."

Amitiés :)

UPDATED:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Oh Canadaaa

PHRASE OF THE DAY
claquer les doigts: snap your fingers

These past few weeks I've found myself in a strange new quarter of my Niçois experience. If my calculations are correct, I seem to have stumbled into an alternate universe inhabited almost exclusively by Canadians. And you know what? It's not half bad. (Before you get your panties in a bunch, yes, I still speak French a lot. Zheesh.)

They've taken me under their proverbial wing of maple syrup and good sportsmanship, and I feel like I can just be myself. Whatever that is. And I'm pretty sure they think I'm super weird since I name my plants and can reference archipelagos in everyday conversation. But I think it's a good kind of weird.

I've also been a wee bit sick these past few days with a cold and then a bout of dehydration and now some everlasting allergy-induced sniffles. But I'm getting better I think.

So here's a brief exposé of all the things I've done these past few days. They are few and far between, but they are varied.

--------------------------
#1: Trivia Night

Last Thursday, I went out with Emily to an Irish pub by the port for the weekly trivia night. We met up with some friends there, and, though we arrived late and unfortunately missed round 1, our little team still came out #15 out of 45.
That'll do, pig. That'll do.

I beasted the movie round. But like Seinfeld I usually "break even," and this time was no different. But, honestly, I didn't expect the music round to play music I listen to anyway. I'm just not mainstream enough. Eh, you win some, you lose some.

--------------------------
#2: Marché en plein air

On Saturday, I invited Steph and Nikita to the outdoor food and flower market in the morning since neither of them had ever been, even after living in Nice for nearly 7 months! It was a B-E-A-utiful day outside, so we grabbed some fresh fruit, and headed to the beach for a picnic (pique-nique) with their friend Chas. It was truly a glorious day. We ate and basked in the sun like lizards for a few hours, tanning our faces and arms, as we were still wearing people clothes. (I made another pass at peeling a grapefruit, but tired halfway through eating it.)

I'd venture to guess this is not how Nikita expected to wake up.

--------------------------
#3: SKIIIII

If you know me even a little bit, you'll know I adore the mountains. Not really the beach. Why I'm in Nice I have no idea. But much to my pleasant surprise, the mountains are literally RIGHT next door!

And what you also probably know about me is that I'm really not a sporty person. But, friends, I can ski. Unfortunately, apparently I'm a little afraid of heights, so I'll chalk up my refusal to attend the trip down the black diamond to this phobia and nothing else.

I've only actually ever been skiing once before in my life, almost 4 years ago exactly. But it was as if I'd never left. Apparently skiing is a lot like riding a bike, but down an icy cold frictionless surface with no brakes and also no bike.

"We should bundle up. Surely it will be cold."

Psych! It's not cold at all.
And don't call me Shirley. . .


About halfway through the day, we had a costume change, a few of us shedding most of our outer "ski" clothes, as the strange combination of the powdery white snow and riviera sunshine manifested itself in a way that significantly confused me.






Like the skiiers that fly . . .


This looks a lot more serene than it was. I was actually flying
down the hill uncontrollably, arms flailing, poles flapping,
finally coming to a stop near the bottom using the power of
gravity, friction, and my butt. (cred: Elizabeth)


I took this video post-wipe out. I truly am a force to be reckoned with.

video

Did you hear that part about me jumping through a hoop? 'Cause that totally happened. Pinky swear.

About an hour before our bus was to depart, we discovered we were on what we assumed was the wrong side of the mountain. So we were forced to do our best to scale the mountain and traverse the blue paths (2nd level, suckers) as fast as we could. Long story short, I pizza wedged it the entire way down.

Pizza wedge--the skiing equivalent to riding your brakes.

But it was a great time. Skiing, you should be in my life more often because I love you.
--------------------------
#4: Le Slam

On Wednesday, I went with Emily and some new friends to this little hole-in-the-wall café/pub thing where there was supposed to be a poetry slam. It was so much cooler than I was expecting. Basically it was a cozy little room filled with middle-aged and older artsy French men and women who were laughing and drinking and actually being joyful for once. This was the first time I felt like I had found the place where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. It was so chill. Anyone could read poetry, their own or a famous piece, a slam or a ballad, a monologue or a story. It was really open-ended.

2 of my friends actually got up and read something. (I didn't have anything prepared. But it happens once a month, and I really want to go back.)


--------------------------

But it is now the weekend. For me, anyway. Actually all my friends back home are gearing up to start their spring breaks, which is nostalgic to say the least. But, I mean, I guess I am already at the beach. 

Spring Break 2012, here I come.

Amitiés :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

AND IIIIIIIIEEEIIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOOUUUUUUUUU

At approximately 1300 hours on March 13th, 2012, our own Fuzz Lightyear was pronounced dead in his home. He is survived by his caretaker, Molly, and his sister, Eliza Wood.


But we shall remember him as he was. Loved by many, adored by some, watered by one.

Here's to you, Fuzz Lightyear. You will never be forgotten.

Amitiés :(

Sunday, March 11, 2012

No hablo ethpañol

«there and back again, an Iberian tale: part 2»

Day 5

And so the saga continues, as night turns to day, we find our heroes pressing onward, to sights yet unseen (except the Madrid airport . . . we were literally just there).

So our afternoon flight to Madrid went smoothly. Everything in order. Made it to the hostel. A bit sterile for my taste, but better sterile than feral. Went for dinner. Em and I got some AMAZING veggie plates with goat cheese (which we attempted to replicate a few nights ago in her apartment with ferocious success).

Then that night Adrien and I went out "on the town" with a large group from the hostel. We ended up meeting 2 other students from Beijing and South Korea who were very friendly. And, you know, I'm all for meeting new people and chatting it up real nice and stuff, but in the back of my mind, and the front, and also both sides, I couldn't help but remember that part in HOSTEL when the 2 main characters made friends with 2 other Asian students from their hostel, and then they got tortured and their eyeballs sucked out of their heads. (You know, it's probably best if I stop there.) Let's just say, 24 hours was NOT enough time to get over that trauma, and it was pretty much all I could think about.


---------------------
Day 6

Holy Toledo!

After meeting a French guy named Julien from the hostel the day before, we decided to throw caution to the wind, hop a bus, and join him in exploring the old Spanish capital of Toledo! Toledo is old-timey. Toledo is tranquil. Toledo is heavily armed with swords and battle axes.




Such a diva


HARPER, I FOUND ONE.


The Knight Bus!! (cred: Emily)

(cred: Emily)

Then we found a very nice overlook area with a swing set and reposed there for maybe half an hour.



This picture makes me smile. (cred: Adrien)

(cred: Adrien)

(cred: Emily)

(I'm stealing a lot of photos, y'all. Just bear with me.)


They actually were doing pull ups.
My angle is deceiving.

So then that night, after bussing back to Madrid, we decided to attend a private flamenco show organized by our hostel. The guy came by at about 9 and led us to this run-down looking tavern thing. Let me paint a picture for you.

So you walk into this room. I don't think it was very big. I don't even really remember anything about it, what it looked like, what was in it. Probably things. But I couldn't tell you because all of my focus was immediately zeroed in on the large trap door in the middle of the floor.

"Yeah, the flamenco show is just down those steps."

Sure it is, psycho killer. Sure it is.

We descended into the crypt. Like every other horror movie ever. And we soon found ourselves within the jaws of a nicely lit, yet slightly claustrophobic, cavernous cellar. There was a bar and a little stage and mannequin legs hanging from the ceiling.

No, this is definitely normal.

But everyone just grabbed a stool and waited patiently for the show to start, completely unaware that this is exactly how The Exorcist started.

Once I accepted the fact that I wasn't going anywhere, I joined the others in making conversation with my seat-neighbors. Unlike the other 30 or so 20-somethings in the chamber, my seat-neighbor was a 60-something year old grandmother from Vancouver named Martha. She was quite fascinating. She told me about how the Olympics didn't actually have that much of an affect on traffic when they were in Vancouver.

(This has been "Good Story, Marth" with Martha from Vancouver.)

Then the flamenco show started. This is where it's gonna get a little tricky for me to describe. Because the show was so much more amazing than I had anticipated.

For those of you who may not be Spanishly well-versed, flamenco is a traditional Spanish dance, music, and song that originated in theee . . . . eeeighteenth century? We'll go with that. In the eighteenth century.  Basically it's a very energetic spectacle with a LOT of emotion involved--usually performed by one or more dancers, a singer, and some guitar players.

The version we saw was a single female dancer, 2 flamenco guitarists, and a singer. And it was totally improvised; that's what got me. They would feel the music and move so fluidly with one another. I don't really know what I was feeling, but I was definitely feeling something. It was just unreal. And the setting, creepy-factor aside, was very intimate and pleasant once the show started.

Nikita actually managed to snag some photos during the set. I had significantly less forethought. Thanks, facebook.

Though I can't imagine they live like kings doing this for a
living, I guarantee you they wouldn't be doing anything else.

---------------------
Day 7

The next day we set out early-ish for a free guided tour around the Madridian hotspots.

We started in Plaza Mayor.
Or Platha Mayor as the Spaniards so adorably pronounce it.


So this statue has an interesting history. Apparently a few hundred years ago, Plaza Mayor was a foul mess of gut-wrenching odors, and no one could figure out why. They scrubbed the square clean and spotless, but, alas, the smell persisted. Then something history related that went way over my head happened, and some anarchists decided to bomb the middle of the square, ie. the statue. (Maybe in response to the stench?) When they did, hundreds of dead rotting corpsy birds were sprayed all over the plaza.

Basically, every year, when the winter months came around, birds would seek shelter from the cold inside the horse statue's mouth.


They would crawl deep inside and come face to face with hundreds of years worth of friends, family, and distant ancestors all dead and rotting in unison in this Trojan Horse of a grave.


Out of fear, they would try to escape, only to realize their wingspans were too wide to fit through the opening once more. Their fate had been determined the moment they stepped inside.


Fellas, the way to a woman's heart is roof culture.

Ian, our guide, taught Adrien the basics of flamenco.
"You pick the fruit! You taste the fruit! You do not like it!
You throw it away!"


The bear and the tree--Madrid's symbol


Our three "Spanish kings." (cred: Nikita)
Julien, Steph the "loser," and poor poor Adrien the "lame"

Then, we headed back to the hostel, just completely exhausted from our three-hour tour ("a threeeee hour tour"). Once back in the room, we chatted with Nicole from Australia for about 2 and a half hours while some of the girls slept the exhaustion away.

That night, we left to meet up with Emily's cousin from Ireland who works in Madrid for dinner. Our new friends Natsuki from Japan and Stephanie (number 2) from Quebec joined us.

To get to the restaurant, a very crowded metro proved way too complicated, letting our inner tourists shine brightly and awkwardly. Basically there wasn't enough room in one metro car, so Adrien and I ran to another, getting there just in time. Once we finally got to our destination, we clambered out, looking around for the others, slightly overwhelmed and extremely confused. Then we saw them. They were stuck in the metro, sandwiched and unable to get off. 

At first I wasn't sure if maybe we got off at the wrong stop, so my legs and my head were caught in a battle of "get back on the metro!" and "don't do that, are you stupid!" All I remember was Emily's face, wide-eyed and panicked, as the metro slowly crept away toward its next destination.

And then there were none.

We eventually got them back, and made our way to the Tapas restaurant where we spent a lovely evening sharing appetizer-like portions of Spain's finest delicacies (or so our waiter verily convinced me). It was such a fantastic experience. Instead of the typical "this is my food, don't look at it" restaurant mentality, it was so fun to pass the plates and share both the food and our time together.


---------------------
Day 8

We decided to hit up some of the museums, to add maybe a more cultured and sophisticated experience to our otherwise savage adventures. After trekking through a veritable sea of 70 year old women,


we finally made it to the Prado.

Here's my opinion on the Prado. I'm glad it exists. I appreciate what it is. But I don't want to look at it. There are simply TOO MANY PORTRAITS. I started to get sleepy and cheerless.

Belathketh (cred: Adrien)
the Prado's only saving grace.

We then went to the main park area to play "Where's Julien?" by the lake.

(cred: Emily)

Then it was off to the Reina Sofia (modern art), on the way spotting some guys from our tour and inviting them along.

This museum was a bajillion times more interesting than the Prado. And we saw GUERNICA by Picasso (@McCall, Sam, and Dejong). It was very impressive.

So basically,

Prado : Reina Sofia :: Louvre : Musée d'Orsay :: Uffizi : Bargello

Q.E.D.
Blurry. It probably didn't get switched
off manual . . . Adrien.

That night I couldn't sleep. We had a new roommate. And this roommate was raised by foghorns. It was a real-life orchestra of snoring; at one point I swear 3 people were going at it, creating an uncomfortable chordlike harmony. A snore chord.
I was forced to sleep with my arms stretched over my head to
better squish the blankets into my ears. For several reasons,
this did not help.

Then Natsuki started mumbling Japanese. And I cried little invisible tears til I fell back asleep.
---------------------
Day 9

After Adrien left for his earlier flight, we spent our last day in Madrid wandering around in a groggy half-sleep, collectively prepared to just go home. So we shopped a little, and, if you know me even a little bit, you'll know that shopping is just not my thing. Never has been. I guess I'll just never understand how you can go into a store, try a bunch of things on, not buy anything, and still think you're having fun. But, I guess everybody's got a thing.

And we prevailed. A little worn and weary, but definitely ready to hit the road.

People in Madrid are slightly
unhinged.

However, the adventure was not over. We were running a little behind as we set out on the trek to the stop where we would catch the bus to get to the airport. So Nikita and I, not charged with lugging the communal suitcase, sped ahead a little, somewhat unknowingly. After a bit we realized Emily and Steph were no longer with us. So we waited.

Where were they?

After a few minutes, we saw them power-walking toward us with tense, huffy, exasperated looks on their faces. Apparently while they were walking, a woman had reached her hand in Emily's backpack and snatched her wallet. Thankfully, Steph saw it happen and sounded the "alarm."

Little did this woman know, Em is fierce. She immediately dropped her bags and took off after her, adrenaline pumping, blood boiling. She raced over to the woman who was fumbling with a clasp on the wallet, snatched it back with a powerful "THAT'S MINE," and walked pointedly in the other direction. You go, girl. You go.

We then spent another unseemly night in the Geneva airport. I don't like how comfortable I was walking through the terminal with no shoes and a toothbrush dangling from my mouth. Geneva airport, I need to take two steps back and reevaluate our relationship.
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Day 10

After our upgrade to the homemade red chair beds, the night was slightly less sleepless than 240ish hours prior. We awoke to the sound of a rooster snoring, so we picked ourselves up and crawled to the gate, where I peeled and devoured a grapefruit I'd been carrying with me since I left Nice 10 days ago.

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All in all, this trip was an amazing time with some really great friends. As a relatively first-time group traveler, the experience was so different from any of my more solitary vacations. Although it took us a million years to make any decisions, once we did, I was pretty much guaranteed a good time.

So thanks, you guys. I'm so glad I came with you.

And thank you Lisbians and Madruids. You guys are weird.

Amitiés :)
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