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in⋅vo⋅ca⋅tion: (n) the magic formula used to conjure up a spirit; incantation.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I have nothing pretentious to say today. I have no elevated language or sophisticated vocabulary to share with you today. All I have to say is that cold weather makes me sad.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

the truth is...

that being back at school is terribly uninspiring...I've developed the nasty habit of ruminating over things (should I buy milk tomorrow? Do I have work today? Did I check my email? Is my blackberry blinking because I got an email or is that the reflection? I should probably drink more water...I should also probably buy a lightbulb and stop using candles in the bathroom) that I have not done and should do, or things that I am about to do. I try to go to bed early, seeing as I have early classes, but I spend hours just tossing and turning, trying to fall asleep, and no success. Finally, I succumb and get online or write on this blog. It all started in October...anxiety doesn't let me sleep, thinking of all the things I have to do at some point.

Knowing I have to wake up at 7 AM, walk for 5 blocks to the metro in the freezing darkness for an 8 AM philosophical soliloquy takes the fun out of sleeping.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

la rentrée in the city of dimming lights

Technical note: I changed the layout of this blog. I am aware that it looks messy and that the header I put at the top isn't large enough and it just looks a bit awkward. The reason why I changed the previous really minimalistic and clean layout was because it only took maybe 20% of the display, with info about me and followers taking the other 20% and leaving 60% of the page blank. It was starting to make things look weird and driving me insane. It makes it impossible for pictures to be embedded in the text and for you to post actually long things. Enough about this. On the picture, it is Louise Brooks, an American silent film actress who actually pioneered the bob haircut. She was in a Pabst film I really liked, Pandora's Box (1929).

In other news, this week was awful. School has officially started again. Last semester I had classes in the afternoon and for some reason, I decided to give more 8 AM classes a try. Bad idea. Try listening to a philosophical conversation on what is sacred at 8:10 AM. I also got a pretty bad cold/flu that has developed into a nasty cough, as usual, so actually, try listening to a philosophical conversation of any kind at 8 AM with sinus pressure exploding, a headache, a runny nose, etc. Impossible.

I'm also working a couple of hours a week. I really hope I can actually handle working and studying full time. I wish there was a bus I could take directly from St Germain des Pres (where Sciences Po is) to Censier Daubenton, where I work.

Thursday night, we had drinks at Nastasja's. When I say drinks, I really just mean cheap wine. The night ended with a stop by St Michel to get some greasy food. You can get these huge cones of fries for 2 euros. It's horribly unhealthy and probably the worst thing you could eat, but I was really in the mood and hey, the product has a really good price to value ratio. On Friday night, I went out for drinks with KMH and her friend at Frog and the Rosbif, an apparently extremely popular pub by Etienne Marcel. I accompanied them to sushi and learned that my favorite sushi dish, salmon on top of rice, is called Chirashi. Then I was off to Pause Café in the Bastille-Charonne area. We got carded there. We got carded for the first time since I've been in Paris. I didn't even remember what it felt like. Nastasja and I were in utter shock. It was a really awkward moment for us. Do we look 16,17? When we reached in for our IDs - which I'm pretty sure I wasn't even carrying with me - the waiter was like "no, it's fine, if you have it, it's good." Excuse me? As in, excusez-moi?!?! After that, we headed to Le Motel to celebrate a friend's birthday which was really fun but it closed at like 1:40 am.

BlackBook (the french equivalent of Time Out) describes Le Motel as,
"at the moment the indie place to be in Paris. Packed nightly with super-cute, razor cut, local hoodie hipsters who come to hear their DJ friends and the occasional live band. But by the time you read this, the scene may have migrated somewhere, leaving you and a bunch of other confused Americans in its wake. Or maybe not..."

On whether it is a hipster hotspot, I guess it is? But the place is pretty gross-looking. It's very grunge-y, I guess, which is fine. The music is great though. I stole this picture from their myspace.

N & I felt really adventurous and economical so we waited for the night bus. It took like 15 minutes to come, but it was only a 10 minute ride to Chatelet. Chatelet is kind of like the center of public transport. Most lines pass by that metro station and it's known by its hoodness. You wouldn't want to be there by yourself at 12 AM. It's not too safe. We had a very surreal experience on the bus. This couple got on at one stop, then this guy who seemed to be a hobo. All of a sudden, they burst into song and dance. The woman produces a flute out of nowhere and she starts playing a song. I didn't know the song and I'm pretty sure they were all singing in arabic, including the hobo who started dancing. He was so drunk, I don't know how he managed to keep on going. Next thing you know, the whole back of the bus, including us, was clapping and chanting along. All of this at around 2:30 AM. I took a really dark and blurry picture of it with my blackberry.

You can see a blurry hand on the left, that's the hobo's hand. I'll call him sir, because I feel bad what if he's not a hobo? Right at the center is the woman with the flute. On the side, some guy who I think was playing some sort of makeshift musical instrument? So surreal and random. One of those paris memories I'll cherish.

The night ended with a dash through the rain up to Nastasja's where I decided to stay because I was too far from home.

Saturday was for grocery shopping and an attempt at cleaning and lots of America's Next Top Model. Saturday night got started a bit late, included drinks at N's with KHM and her friend, a brief cameo by Dave and his friend, and a night out on the Oberkampf/Parmentier area. We had all been wanting to go to this club/bar called Alimentation générale. We got there at around 1 am - late - and there was a huge line outside. We were told we would have to wait 30 minutes. We tried, UFO, another bar, and we were told we couldn't go in anymore. We tried Le P'tit Garage, we got in, got a table for four, and stood up to order drinks. We stood in line waiting to get some wine for almost 10 minutes and right when we make it up front, the bartender, who had previously winked at me, just screamed that "C'EST FINI" and turned off the music. Frustration. We walked to L'Orange Mécanique (which is A Clockwork Orange, a place that's nowhere as cool as the movie or as the Molokko bar that you'd think they'd try to imitate but they're not as inventive - take a look at the pictures comparison) and it was closed. We continued onto the next street, went into a random bar: closed. Walked into another place and it was still open. We got some wine, thought about the implications of ordering mojitos but ended up not doing so, and the bar was closed 2 minutes after.


The night was over at 2 AM. A Paris night out was done at 2 AM. What is wrong with this city? If you don't go to a club, you have to assume you'll be going home at 2 AM. The worst part is that the metro closes around 1:30 AM on weekends. You can take a night bus, but you'll probably have to wait up to an hour at 3 AM for it to pick you up - that is if you find one around you that will take you around where you live. You can also take a cab, but after the metro closes, all of them are taken. Your best bet is to call one, and pay extra because you're asking them to pick you up.

There was an article about this on the NYTimes recently, "Revelers See a Dimming in a Capital's Nightlife" and it explains why the city dies early: "densely packed, mixed-zoned neighborhoods; a lack of late-night transportation (the last metro leaves at 2 a.m. on the weekends, 1 a.m. during the week); and an unwieldy tangle of rules and regulations on bars and nightclubs, applied with uncommon zeal by a “repressive” police force."

Another reason why a Paris night is done at 2 AM, "The police have lately, for instance, begun enforcing a long-overlooked law requiring establishments to hold a “night authorization” permit in order to stay open past 2 a.m., an annual license that club owners say is difficult to obtain."

Paris night out fail.

So, instead of dancing/drinking the night away, my friends and I ate the night away outside a popular crepe and panini spot on Rue St Maur, 11th arrondissement. I got a cheese + mushrooms crepe that was amazing. I also ravaged part of a nutella + banana crepe. I never get sweet crepes, but it was amazing.

“Paris, it’s not the City of Lights anymore,” Mr. Dechambre said. “It goes to sleep at 11.”

Monday, February 1, 2010

the week I got to be a tourist/girl

I discovered make-up at 20. I got a blackberry four years after everyone got it, and I also discovered Paris a good 4 months after getting here.

I finally got to be a tourist this week. With school a week away, I took some time off to actually enjoy the city and see things that I hadn't seen before or do things that I usually claim to be too busy to do.

First, I went to the Pere Lachaise cemetery, located kind of near my house. As in, maybe four metro stations away on the same line. I took an afternoon off to pay a tribute to Jim Morrison and the rest of Paris's creme de la creme.

Interesting fun fact is that Paris's cemetery used to be located in central Paris, but new laws in the 1800's dictated that that wasn't that clean, so they opened one "outside" Paris. As Paris grew, the cemetery became enveloped in the town. It's still east of central Paris, but definitely within the city's bounds.

I had a moment with Jim Morrison's grave. I really hated how people kept hogging his grave. I think the only reason why they go is to see his grave and they've probably heard "Light My Fire" and "Riders of the Storm". Sometimes I feel so cliche liking him this much, because everyone else likes him too, and they know who he is even if they're not big fans. He's not an obscure idol to like. He's just really fascinating. The summer before I went to college, I spent a long time (the electricity was getting cut for 7 hours a day) reading books about The Doors (like My Life with the Doors by Ray Manzarek) and watching everything I could about The Doors. Yes, I watched the movie with Val Kilmer. Yes, I was in love with Val Kilmer in that movie. He makes you love Jim but hate him at the same time. Anyway, I then went on to listening to "An American Prayer" which was an album they released posthumously, well for Jim, that is. It's bit of his poetry, still not sure what I think of it, but as lyrics, they're great, so it's his poetry with music from The Doors. It was finished after Jim's death and it's supposed to be poetry he recorded before he died with a jam session by the other musicians. It's quite glorious, it's exciting to hear. It's like 60 minutes or so of pure entertainment. You don't want to skip any of it. "Ghost Song" and "An American Prayer" are my favorites. It's deep and you just want to lie down and listen to it on repeat.

On Pere Lachaise, some graves were truly beautiful, but there was something strange about being by myself at a cemetery. There was no one there and I'm pretty sure if I had stayed longer I would've gotten frostbite. I saw a real burial taking place there, too. People were crying and saying "merci d'etre venu." My mom says you always have to shower after going to a wake. I wondered for a while if I should shower after visiting it. I didn't, but it crossed my mind that I should have. I think it has something to do with karma? I'm not sure.

That same day, I met up with Katherine at this bar/cafe called L'imprevu. It's the unexpected, kind of. Actually, unforeseen. Katherine Mary Hayes had said they had really good chai there and she was right. I feel like going there often, but the chai goes for 4 euros and I am poverty-town. We had a cup and then I sat and read. Dave popped in later. I went home and made rice and beans.

Notice that I'm now reading. This is The Wild Things by Dave Eggers. Someone said it's on the bestseller list of the NYT. It's so good so far. I think it's based on Where the Wild Things are. I miss reading for fun. I miss reading that I actually want to do and have no deadlines for.

This weekend was also ladies weekend. Martin and Dave were gone, so the girls took over. This doesn't happen often and I usually find myself the only girl among a sea of guys. Not this weekend though.

We watched the State of the Union on Thursday, I believe. Friday was pre-game at Nasty's and party at Sydney's. Sydney described her party as "debauchery" and she said baby jesus wept. What else could you want? The party she had was in honor of her new roommate, Lily. We miss Nathan.

Saturday was ladies night. Pre-game at Nasty's and then La Cantoche and Social club. All in the Sentier area.

I hadn't been to Social in ages, but it wasn't as trashy as I remember it to be. Just a tad. We met two girls, one french and one spanish. The spanish one met this nicaraguan girl at a summer camp! I guess Exeter's small. We danced for a good kind of sweaty time.

This was the lineup:


DJ DEEP (Deeply Roated House Records / FR)

23h / 15 euros

We didn't pay to get in though! Thank you, N.

asia 2010: singapore and phuket

This trip was a much welcomed break from the cold weather. I am truly lucky. I've been blessed, je pense.

the holidays

Paris for Christmas (with the family and an adorable apartment on 21 rue de Malte, near Republique), New Year's in London (family + fireworks), and Venice with dad and co.

Venice is above. I will say something...first time in Italy and it was really nice, but the food did not impress me. I had one good eggplant parmigiana there and that was the extent of it. I don't know if I'm more picky of an eater than I previously thought, but I wasn't impressed. Venice was rainy and really cold all the time. I think I didn't get the best impression of it. The last day we were there, it was the only sunny day. Beautiful day, but everything's really touristy and you get the feeling no one real lives there. It's like a tourist town. No one speaks italian except for your waiters and your boat drivers.

I had fried mozzarella one day. That was great. Orange juice there was awesome and caffe lattes. It was great to be with my family, though.

I got back to Paris on January 4th and proceeded to study for finals, or attempt to. Had them on the week of Jan 12th, then on Jan 13th. One was hard, one was easy. I still don't know what grades I got and something tells me I won't find out, maybe ever.

Then, January 15th, my big asian extravaganza.

you forgot

For someone who claims to love writing, I really sure forget this thing exists. I swore that I would keep it going back in November, but I just don't put in the effort and I'm not sure why. I suddenly have internet, which isn't really true, I'm semi-stealing the signal, but it has changed my life.

I just want to do a photo review of the second part of 2009 (the best part). Just to get this out of the way and start fresh with some mo' material.

Pictured on the side: Euro Disney trip at the beginning of the year with Martin, Dave, Nasty, and Ignacio...

life at the cite universitaire - picnic at the cite - the view from my building and my family in paris in december.

This doesn't come close to describe the time I have spent here so far, and it doesn't describe the fun I've had and the people I've met and my love/hate relationship with all things french.

I've realized french cuisine isn't as great as we all thought it would be. I have discovered a newfound love for fries and mayonnaise. I also really like sole with butter sauce. I love paves de saumon with whatever they give me, herb butter sauce. I also really like tarte tatins. I love croissants and pains au chocolat. I love crepes with cheese and mushrooms. I really like crepes with anything. I've also discovered that salmon is the best thing that happened to food.

Here's to a new year and hopefully, a continuously updated blog.