backtracking

Allright. I’m back from the hordes at Versailles that jammed into a four-foot wide door. I’m back from the acres of gardens that stretch farther than their horizon line. I’m rested up from many naps and dreams interrupted and started right back up again (one including shopping with my mom and being interrogated by Bill Murray) before waking to get to breakfast at Porte Didot. It’s been an exhaustion that I wish I was more grateful to have. All in all, getting poured on in the rain with TK twice in the past two days (once on our way to a Moroccan restaurant and once waiting just outside the Versailles gates) is a nice kind of letting go that I need.

Let me back up to last Wednesday to share another sweet moment of losing myself at the Musée de l’Orangerie.

Monet’s Water Lilies overwhelmed me with peace and wholeness in their unique presentation in the oval rooms of the Orangerie. Up close, messy and loose brush strokes don’t make sense, but I still love them. Far away, the whole picture comes into a vision of nature that I can understand. Yet in it sublimity, in Monet’s unique gestures, the paintings are far more about creation than representation. Far more about the infinite than the particular. Losing myself in them helps me lose my little perspective of things as they are according to me. Far away, things hold up together in a brilliant balance that I do not know with my eyes but with my heart.

cheesy, yes… but the colors! I couldn’t resist.

stretched canvas

sitting like floating.

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cool runnings

Q: Did you have a good time in Switzerland?

A: I had a grand ole time.

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Viva la Suisse!

Hey look! It’s me paragliding!

Naw, just jokin, yah.

(But I wish! Next time!)

Took a four-day weekend trip to Annecy, France, and then Geneva and Interlaken in Switzerland. What a phenomenal, fresh, and polar opposite experience than Paris. Well, in most ways. We did run into a “cybernight” concert at Annecy that had the pretense of being for an animation film festival. But that’s a random side note.

There is so much to be said about these wonderful places and experiences! But I’ve got an art history test tomorrow and a lot of sleep to catch up on, so the elaborate post will have to wait a while.

Tschüs!

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feeling the walls

Every time I leave my apartment, I enter into total blackness for about a yard and a half. Short though it is, I am generally a clutz about walking a few steps in front of me when I can see the ground, and when one hand is stretched out in front, waving, to get the attention of the light sensor, the other awkwardly skims the wall, trying not to knock on my neighbor’s doors. As efficient as the system may be for electric bills… I wish that the French could think of efficiency in time or general pulmonary health rather than this.

Anyway, I wouldn’t have mentioned this daily episode had we not, as a group, followed in single lines into a dark hallway in the Madeleine for the Glee Club concert. We were supposed to have mass in the crypt. The crypt wasn’t open, but stairs to a dark, stoney, and arched passageway were. So we took that route.

When we emerged into the main room, we were met with the Notre Dame Glee Club warming up for the concert that night. I’ve somewhat underestimated the magnitude of Notre Dame kids enjoying the reaches of our university. After a few kids spoke wonderful French to introduce their songs to a church full of French fans, and after their director (or was it the traveling priest?) spoke about the university and its Catholic history (with Father Badin and all), I realized what a big deal Notre Dame is. And how the Catholic church makes so many worldwide connections.

Honored as I was to be a student participating in the abroad program, I was more honored to get to know the Glee Club kids. They seemed super-tight and even gave my friends and I a few impromptu concerts in Russian and Italian underneath the Eiffel Tower last night. Lounging on the lawn underneath the Tower – as cheesey and touristy as it can be – is absolutely wonderful. Proud to be an American, proud to revel in the sparkling Eiffel Tower show.

Second underestimation: the explosively soft joy of a macaron in my mouth. This time, the hype of the famous brand name Ladurée, one of the big names in the Parisian macaron biz, did not disappoint (*cough* Pierre Hermé *cough*). The flavor! Just… wow. New culinary mission: discover the best flavor. There’s tons. Petit delights, ouai.

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brushfire fairytales

“it seems to me that maybe, it pretty much always means no,

and no one, no one, no one likes to be let down.” –Flake, Jack Johnson

How can such an upbeat song have a cliche-melancholic meaning? I swear it’s been all about the reggae-folk-high from the sweet first twenty seconds of this song that have been incessantly playing in my head the past few days that is one expression of me loving life.

running in paris is fun, because absolutely everyone looks ridiculous. one girl ahead of me jogged around the poles that so inconveniently line the very trajectory of sidewalk traffic (and that i have twice malled straight into) – dancing and fun and with long pants. no one really wears shorts. i guess nadal doesn’t seem so ridiculous. and then i saw a woman wearing a scarf that could’ve been one of the 80 euro scarves that i saw yesterday at les galleries lafayette. and then there’s cute old couples going at the slowest cutest pace together. and then there’s me with my fighting irish t shirt and nike shorts. sometimes it’s nice embracing being a true american.

so i’ve been feeling super-creative and spontaneous lately. the drawing is from the last class day (which was actually quite a hilarious class, despite not going to any museums) – i was in another world though.

and jack johnson seems to be part of that.

i’m returning what is pure in the only way i can. as the notre dame priest at the crypt of la madeleine told us in the gospel- it’s my way of being present in the midst of absence. and i truly do feel present in new ways. i’m definitely a flake about some things, like travel plans and daily agendas, but not about who i love. God, family, friends… so much joy that’s whole no matter how ‘far.’

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Paris is a jungle

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le matin

Sorry for not posting for a while… Exhaustion and dilly dallying and lots of bread have piled up to a state of “fatigué” but I hope that it’s “passé.” (Lame French misusage as usual).

Rolland Garros, touristy sight seeing like Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, eating out and eating in, and…

Montmartre streets in the morning

Mornings in Paris.

Mornings are beautiful. Mornings are new. Fresh eyes and feet moving along the cobblestones and up the fire escape ladders, the balconies… windows with tapestries fluttering through open doors. They really do exist- the romantic apartment escapes into a world unknown. I have a loop playing in  my head of a brief clip framed by a metro window – the curtain was red, violet, waving at the top floor. That was on the way to Rolland Garros.

Rolland Garros- chic and fun and riotous. During the mixed doubles match, the fun came from the four rows of bleachers. We were so close to the courts, we were a little scared of getting hit by a stray ball. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to us, but it did happen to some! One of the coaches kept yelling, “ALLEZ KATARENA! et Nadeya!” every time they switched sides or had a brief pause between games. The other mixed doubles team kept in good spirits, but Katarena’s partner jokingly interjected the proper pronunciation of his name. The coach would also clap in a beat that the rest of the crowd eventually picked up, especially with the excitement of his girl’s winning towards the end of the match.

This little girl caught my eye before the match. Well, most French children catch my eye before anything else. Like this little boy walking down the slopes of Montmartre this morning:

Which brings me to Montmartre.

the cafe in Amelie!

Montmartre is twisted and beautiful.

Maybe it was the morning, maybe it was my art history professor’s casual and absolute knowledge of everything we saw- the cabarnets like the Moulin Rouge and Le Lapin Agile; the site of artistic genius like Van Gogh’s apartment and Picasso’s studio during his blue and red period (Les Demoiselles D’Avignon- which I saw at MoMA- brilliant in person); but mostly the organic streets of Montmartre.

Just as the leaves spill over the iron bars, the streets and apartments seem to spill over. Every turn is a different angle, every angle is a different incline, every vanishing point has a greater one: one that ends in the entire horizon of Paris.

At Sacre Coeur – the holiest church in the world (to me).

My heart was filled tenfold at this sight. Though I miss my family – (How I wish my mother were here to taste the fine fine food!) and Peter very, very much (to be in the most romantic city in the world without him is a bit disheartening), I am filled by the light of God these mornings.

Grace and beauty in the history and anachronistic placement of myself among all.

Just outside Picasso’s studio, a little spirit from Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke film points me back to Picasso. I love being surrounded by the anachronistic amalgamation of art permeating the streets of Paris.

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