“Free (adj): able to act or do as one wishes”

While I have to apologize for being on somewhat of a blog-greve recently, my life has been far too fantastic to chain myself to a computer everyday and report on it. I have found this freedom that feels so refreshing, and while I have been doing my schoolwork out of necessity, I have been having far too much fun to hide in the library – even on rainy days – and forcing myself to read and write about things that literally serve no purpose in my everyday or academic life. I am taking three classes on American history, so floating through without worry has not been a problem, and I have just accepted the fact that “study” abroad is a term we use loosely.

What I’ve learned is that life is too short to restrain yourself from doing what you want to do. While I anxiously await my return to St. Mary’s, where a gym, yoga classes, and salad will be at constant disposal, for the moment I am accepting the new padding that comes with cheese and bread. I devour croissants unapologetically, without worrying about the caloric value or cellulitic affect (sorry, Mom). And although I am fully aware of the calorie content of wine and the other alcoholic beverages, why would I let that stop me from enjoying the company of my friends and downing a mojito here and there, or a gin a tonic while sitting around lazily and talking? These are the moments that make the experience worthwhile, the serendipitous ones that somehow become memories embellished forever.

The feeling of freedom washed over me like a wave today, while sitting in a 4 hour long galop d’essai (I’ll explain later): the question was simple enough, but I had no idea how to go about writing the essay. French methodology is an enigma that I don’t think I will ever crack, and as I sat there thinking for well over an hour, it hit me that it didn’t really matter. I knew a good answer in the American style (a straightforward essay), and so without hesitation I began writing. My French was almost perfect, and I just let myself spill out onto paper everything I knew on the subject. I’ve just realized that it’s not worth stressing over, as I am learning more just by being here and experiencing life than by sitting through a 4 hour essay-writing-marathon. And so I let go.

To be honest, I don’t have much to report on culturally. The past 2 weeks have been basically one big party, some classes scattered between, and a whole lot of nothing. Istanbul has done me the great favor of lending me Sara for the week, a friend from St. Mary’s who graduated last year and is now teaching English abroad. She is fantastic: every bit as feisty as me, and with the same proud curves that seem to be magnetic when we go out. She has helped me embrace the freedom that comes with this vacation abroad – her trip to Thailand was every bit as wild and unscholarly as this one has been, and she reminded me that this experience is once in a lifetime, and is not meant to be wasted on homework. So while I won’t spend another three hours going through everything I’ve done in the past two weeks, I’ll just offer some exciting little bits that have put a smile on my face and seem noteworthy.

Highlights:

Confederate flag suspenders

I think St. Mary's followed me here.

Yes, those are Confederate flag suspenders in the window of a shop in le Marias (3eme. arrondisse3ment). How and why Confederate memorabilia ended up in Paris, I am not sure. But it seems as though there is a little bit of St. Mary’s County even on this side of the pond, and for that I am simultaneously slightly irritated and slightly pleased. Come on, Paris, it’s 2010 – catch up!

“I Like It When You Tell Me I Have Curves In All The Right Places”

David Kramer, "Untitled (Because I Am Not Richard Prince...)" exhibition at Galerie Laurent Godin

After our shock and awe at finding Confederate apparel in the Marais, we also stumbled up on the bright, open Galerie Laurent Godin (5, rue du Grenier Saint Lazare 75003 Paris, www.laurentgodin.com). We walked in and were instantly amused by the current exhibition, David Kramer’s “Untitled (Because I Am Not Richard Prince…)”. His work is bright, whimsical commentary on the American dream, and are the kinds of paintings (and drawings and prints) that not only make you think but look fun and inviting on the wall. My favorite was a picture of a naked girl standing with an elephant (if you recall, my favorite animal), with the quote: “I like it when you tell me I have curves in all the right places”. This motto of my existence just put the biggest grin on my face, and if I had had the money I would have purchased it on the spot.

The collection of bottles we accumulated after last night’s incredibly successful cocktail party

No judging allowed.

Feeling homesick for theme parties and true American-style college weekends, Glenn and I decided to throw a cocktail party last night. It got a bit out of control, but nothing us tried-and-true college students can’t handle. This is what we call “The Graveyard” – the remnants left after everyone else has gone. Impressive, right?

The mysterious Beaujolais annual wine

Vino!

Every year, without fail, late November brings the debut of a new “Beaujolais” wine. I have no idea of the significance of this, or why people love it so much (it’s not that great of a wine), but it’s a big deal. Restaurants advertise the debut, “Le nouvel Beajoulais est arrive!”, in the windows, and posters adorn the city. Sara and I split 2 carafs of it at dinner near Rambuteau (Cafe Rambuteau, right across from its namesake, the metro stop Rambuteau, which is lovely and unapologetically Parisian).

The Beginning of Christmas at Galeries Lafayettes

Galeries Lafayettes all decked out for Christmas

Galeries Lafayettes, the famous department store near Opera, has pulled out its Christmas stops: the lights, the window decorations, the overly commercialized Christmas celebration that exists only in oversized department stores. But it is so beautiful. Walking to the movies one night, we came across the store in all its glory, lighting up the Parisian sky and making us all pause to remember that Christmas season is just around the corner.

Mojitos

Delicious.

How good does this look? At Au Rendez-Vous des Amis in Montmartre, I drowned my academic sorrows (just kidding, that just sounds somewhat poetic) in this delicious, sugary, lime-y, mojito. They are a new obsession, and I am in love.

Meeting Teddy Riner…!!!

Hellloooo beautiful.

Teddy Riner, the world judo champion, and one of France’s most notable sexy exports, is a client of my sports law professor. He came to speak to our class about…well…I don’t really know. I was too distracted to try to pay attention to understanding French, but I think it had a lot to do with image and sports. He is a world-renowned judo…person (not really sure of the correct term), and our final project (and only real grade in the class) is to present him with a hypothetical proposition for sponsorship. He was a really cool, down-to-earth, funny guy…and he was also really hot.

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