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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

thoughts via gchat

rd.eisenhart: hahaha
youre such a charismatic figure maria i think you should try dictator out
it might look good on you
your dance moves would be enough to get any democratic government to eliminate at least one of "check" out of their "balances"

but you cld be like the next Michele Bachelet or Evita

Sunday, March 28, 2010

just take off your shoes, there's nothing left to lose

So, last semester, I used to freak out often about school work at Sciences Po. I had a lot of free time to get stuff done last semester, and I felt like I needed weeks to finish assignments. I've been a little more ambitious with my time management this semester, which is to say, I have less time to do homework now because I work around 24 hours a week, yet I still think I can go out. I've realized I only have a couple of months here, and if getting work done means pulling an all-nighter, so I can go out, I'm willing to do that because if some sacrifice means I'll get to do everything I want, then I'm doing it.

I still decide not to go out to things because I have work to do, but if the activity is big enough, I'll go. This Thursday, we all went to Social Club around Sentier for TIGA!!
Now, if you don't know who he you go! He's actually not in the video, but he made this songgggggg. It was an early Paris classic from like back in September when Martin showed it to us.

So, first up, it was drinks at Nastasja's. I was having such a hot mess day, it was really humid out and I just wasn't feeling the night. But, Nastasja put on some red lipstick on my lips and the night got better! The power of some make-up. I'm telling you, I only discovered it at 20 years of age, so it all feels like an experiment.

We got some vodka instead of wine that night, which is unusual for us, and maybe contributed to the night being turned around for me. We also took a lovely group picture with my friend, Sarah Jin's coolest polaroid ever. Sometimes I regret leaving my polaroid(s) back at Penn. They are probably in that box in my friend's basement. Funny thing is that they're the result of my freshman year obsession with Ebay. I bought so many things on it! Cornucopias (I know, wtf), shisha (that then I refused to buy and got suspended from the system haha), countless books, 2 polaroid cameras, plenty of polaroid film, 35 mm film, etc.

I miss it.

But, after drinks at Nastasja's, we went to Saint Michel to catch the metro. Now, of course, it took like a thousand hours for the metro to come. The thing is it doesn't run as often at nighttime, even though it's always extremely crowded on Friday and Saturday nights because everyone is out late. Anyway, we made a video on the metro. Here are some snapshot highlights.

So, how do you feel about your life?"Pretty good actually..."

What are you doing this summer?"I don't know yet, don't interview me!"

"...I might intern in D.C. because a friend in the econ department sent me the forward, and the deadline was extended and like I want to intern in D.C." (you drink away, Nasty aka I'm living my life)

So, seeing Tiga was actually pretty great. I don't think I've had this much fun at Social ever. We danced nonstop for like 2 hours and he played most of the time while we were there. I'm not going to lie, but I was front-row and he kept smiling at me. He also said we could take a picture with him after the concert was done, all this from the stage haha. Tiga and I had a ~connection~. We would've stayed to make this picture a reality, but he still had not finished playing at 3:20 am, so we just left.

Saturday morning, I had a midterm! Good thing I started studying on Thursday. I stayed in all of Friday and studied all day. I stayed up basically all night to study, too, except for random 45 minute naps I kept taking. The exam was not at Sciences Po, but the Maison des Examens, a large building with a bunch of classrooms where students can take exams, on the outskirts of Paris. It takes about 15 minutes to get here by the RER, which is not part of the regular Paris metro system because it usually goes into the suburbs. What I find hilarious about this place it's that it's a large maybe 10-story gray building with large black letters that say "Maison des Examens" and it's so ominous, as in definitely foreshadowing EVIL THINGS TO COME! Everytime I see it or say its name, I think of the building as an establishment shot, in the night, rain, and thunder.

Like this. (This is the Addams Family House, btw haha)

Midterm was not hard at all. I feel like I overstudied, as usual. It was for my Réalités Internationales class, which is just International Relations. I met a gap-toothed Sciences Po cutie on the train. I lent him a pen, and now I really want to run into him at Sciences Po and ask him for my pen, his name...and his love, lol.

Saturday, I recovered from the midterm, ate, and slept. Saturday night was Laura's birthday, so we were off to her cute apartment in the Quartier Latin for a birthday shindig. They all live in a very cute and well-decorated apartment. My favorite quote of the night came from Robert D. Eisenhart III who said to me, "I'm crazier than you, but you get all the credit."

LOL maybe.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

the crazy woman from the library

I know I have written extensively about how the Sciences Po library doesn't have any resources, how there are countless books you cannot check out or that you have to wait up to two days to receive, or how it's hot, smelly, or how there are not enough places for students to study, or maybe how its staff refuses to acknowledge their own mistakes and blame them on you (a French trend, actually) etc, etc, but today, I write about something the library does not have many of and that is crazy people.

By this, I mean actually crazy people, or even hobos.

Back in 2007, Penn's library was frequented by a hobo who took the 4th floor movie rooms as his private quarters. I remember walking into one of the rooms to watch a movie for my film studies class and there was a man, with a number of plastic bags all over the floor, sleeping on the floor. I left the room and asked the student who worked there if I could have another room because someone seemed to be sleeping in there.

"He's still here?," she asked me, with a terrified look in her face. I said yes. She then said he had been coming over lately, so I asked her why they don't get him to leave. She said the library staff had tried but that the man had been violent and that there had been many incidents with him.

It's not that I want to be mean to hobos, but are you kidding me? I couldn't use a library facility because a hobo had taken it up as his private residence! I don't know if the university ever dealt with that. The university has to ask him to leave and if they do not ask him to because they are concerned with him, then they should set up a help center or something of the like.

ANYWAY, there are not many of those cases here at Sciences Po, from my experience. However, there is a rcazy woman who comes here almost everyday.

I've spotted her various times. She's of African descent, she wears like a towel wrapped around her head. She is always wearing a long coat, no matter how hot it is inside, or how warm the weather is outside. She is always wearing it. Then, she is always carrying a big shopping bag with herself. A purse and that shopping bag. On various occasions, I've seen her place that bag in the most inconvenient place, like in a corner where it obviously crosses the border into a student's working area. I figured that because she can get on the computers - which is all she does - that she must have a Sciences Po ID, but it is bizarre because this lady does not look like a student, she must be like 35-40, and she does not look like a teacher. I've never seen her check out books or anything. All she does is go online. She always looks like she rolled out of bed and came to check her email. She also stays here for hours on end!

But, the most bizarre part of it all is the fact that this lady is always carrying an empty plastic bag around her hand. When she finds a computer, she sits down, wraps the plastic bag around her hand, and types with it. What I don't understand is that she doesn't use two plastic bags for each of her hands...she only uses one for her right hand. She makes so much noise when she's typing because of that plastic bag! Is it fear of getting an infection or touching something that everyone else has touched that has led her to do this?!

If so, why would she only cover one of her hands and not both? Also, why the hell would she come to a library where there are a million students, all who could be carrying life-threatening diseases that could be spread with a single cough?!

To be honest, it also pisses me off, if she's not a student or a teacher, because she's using up our resources. The library barely even has seats for the people who go here, I don't know if computer access should be given to people who should be using it at home. There are cyber cafes everywhere, you know.

In any case, can she get her plastic bag away from here so that I can focus?!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Paris, pourquoi?

I complain about a lot of things all the time, and I complain about Paris and how things don't make sense here all the time. But, I don't want to go! I just looked at one of my friends' pictures from September and how beautiful the city looked back then: sunny, quaint, and warm. This reminds me of the fact that it's going to start to get like that once again soon. It's already much warmer and sunnier, with the occasional shower. It's so nice to be out these days, and I realize that I don't know if I'll ever have the chance to live in this city ever again. I'm truly lucky for this opportunity.

But, then I go back to reality and look at the clock and see it's 1:20 AM and that I have an essay due in a couple of hours, and that I have class at 8 AM. Class from 8 AM - 10 AM, then work from 10:30 AM - 6 PM and then class from 7:15 PM - 9:15 PM, so I'm probably not going to get much sleep and I'm only going to get back home at around 10 PM.

A friendly reminder that things in Paris aren't as great as they seem. School sucks.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A bottle of wine is a lifestyle

I've been working on an assignment for the last week and I can't bring myself to do it. I don't even know why. I have basically most of the research done, and all I need to do is really start thinking and put it together. I also have a midterm this coming Saturday. The problem is that I work too much. I am getting burnt out. No one wants to work for 8 hours and then go to the library and work some more. I feel like I've been doing the bare minimum this semester to get by. I devoted so much time to assignments last semester, because I still didn't know how things had to be done and because to be honest, I had a lot of free time. I didn't want to spend money, and I didn't have internet at home, so I would spend the whole day at the library. Granted, I would procrastinate for at least 40% of the time, but the other 60% would be spent getting some kind of work done.

This isn't happening this semester.

I got through one of my first assignments of the semester without making much of an effort. I still did well. I also got through some other assignments with minimal effort, but didn't study for a french quiz recently, and I basically failed it. Even by Penn standards - extremely generous for study abroad students - I didn't do well. I don't know how much of my grade is determined by this, but it upset me. I just completely forgot I had that quiz. Anyway, so, I'm really not so good at verb tenses in french and you know why? Because I speak spanish. I translate and when I translate, I get the wrong verb. SPANISH, YOU ARE BOTH A BLESSING N A CURSE!

Anyway, now for fun times.

Friday was for drinks at Nastasja's and L'Urgence, a hospital-themed bar around St Michel where you get drinks in baby bottles. Unsanitary? Yes. Fun? A little.

I also recently went on a date to Canal Saint-Martin. The date wasn't the greatest, but the places we went to were amazing! I vowed to return with da gurlz and recreate the date, but without my date. To be honest, can company get any better than KMH and Nasty? Not really. By the way, I spotted my actual date from last week as we strolled around this area. I hid in a store. He probably saw me anyway, but hahah it was childish but I don't really care.

First up, Strasbourg St-Denis and around that random gate that pidgeons hang out at. So many stalls sell fresh fruit around there at really good prices, but I'm not going to lie, it's a bit hood and is probably really dangerous at night. We went to a moderately-priced vintage store around that area, and then went off to Canal Saint-Martin for a nice afternoon stroll with some water bottles and madeleines in hand.

We walked around a really cool, hipster art book store, Artazart.
We browsed fashion and photography books, until we got tired and headed towards Chez Prune for some drinks. They have good sangria pitchers for about 10 euros, and you can get one glass for three people. So, it's really 3.3 euros per person for a glass of sangria, which isn't bad at all at least for Paris. They have really cute lamps and a nice, laid-back crowd, cute service.

(Chez Prune on the side there, with N and KMH. Thank you, Davey for the picture!)

When we left the bar, IT STARTED POURING SO MUCH. I am not talking about a light shower, I'm talking about hardcore rain. I wasn't carrying an umbrella, as always, and I got extremely wet.

Then, indian food at Passage Brady. On that note, Indian food is the biggest rip off in Paris. The smallest portion of palak paneer you've ever seen in your life will cost 8 euros, and you pay for rice separately, which is 3 euros for the smallest portion ever. If you want to get a nan, that is 3-4 euros for a small piece of nan, and your grand total is 15 euros and you are not even that full. Never doing that again. Then it was off to a party we weren't really invited to, but great times ensued. I got home at 5 am. Are you serious?

I went grocery shopping today and made myself a tuna melt. This is my biggest accomplishment thus far. It will probably be the only thing I accomplish today.

to the mediterranean

End of february and beginning of march were for traveling.

First, it was London. Then it was Aix-en-Provence for a lovely time at Martin's house. Then it was Morocco. One day in Casablanca and three days in Marrakesh. We stayed in two really nice hotels in both Casablanca and Marrakesh where I feel like we all got so much more than we paid for. Breakfast was included, beautiful and spacious rooms, great service for very affordable prices. Hotel Central in Casa and Riad Dar Aalsad in Marrakesh. Honestly, a trip I will never forget and a place I'd visit again. I'd even move there!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The more I live, the more I realize that I only do me, and I keep it real.

More updates on Paris, Aix-en-Provence, and my first Moroccan adventure coming soon!

But, first: commentaires and exposes.