Sunday, January 31, 2010

3 bottles of wine, a Russian waiter, a Rewilder and a French Canadian walk into a bar...

...Wow. Let's just say this weekend has propelled me into a whole new dimension of Paris. It was a weekend of firsts; first meal at a French restaurant, first time riding the metro (I know, I know), first one-on-one with the Eiffel Tower (sorry LJ, but don't worry, I didn't go up), first museum outing at the Musée d'Orsay, first time experiencing Montmartre and Pigalle...I'm deliciously satiated with how much I've been moving and shaking these last few days. I guess that's what happens when you're the "local" guide for a "gringo" ;)

The biodiversity conference wrapped up on Friday, and we have a few weeks until the launch of the International Year of the Rapproachement of Cultures, as well as International Mother Language day. The new web page on language revitalization that I'm working on should be up and running for the launch, which means I will be a very busy bee this week!!

Have I mentioned lately that I love Paris? Sigh.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

a little Armenian vernissage.. What a day! Long day at work, complete with more edits and proofreading, and some interesting prospects for the future...not going to say anything as I don't want to jinx it, but let's just say things are opening up for me already.

My boss invited me to join her at a gala - the vernissage of a prominent Armenian artist (incidentally, my boss is Armenian), and so unprepared as far as duds went (luckily I had gussied up slightly), we sauntered over to the main building, drank champagne, ate hors d'oeuvres, and mingled with the Armenian elite. On my way home, I stopped into a little cafe a few doors down, had a glass of wine, and watched the daylife quickly melt into night before heading home for the evening.

Week 2 is almost done. Here's hoping the weather cooperates for some weekend adventures. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Catching up...again.

Back home from work, in from the cold snap that's hit the city. Cold, I say in relative terms, of this is nothing compared to the winters I experienced most of my life, but cold compared to the balmy winters of the coast.

This week, let's see...where to begin. Monday was a packed day, with lots of fun, interesting projects at work - I finished some language name edits on the 3rd edition of the Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger that has now been set off to be printed. I still can't believe I've had any part in this project, as their 2nd edition was the first academic book I purchased while in my undergrad. It helped spawn this passion of mine, and to think that I've come to the point of being directly involved still just...amazes me!

After work I rushed off to meet my uni colleague who's been pursuing a fellowship in Luxembourg and was in Paris for a conference. It was really nice to see a familiar face in this unfamiliar city, and we chatted away to wine and coffees on a street-side cafe. I then jumped on a city velo (you pick them up and drop them off in various locations - honestly why doesn't every city offer this service??) and it was pretty lovely to cruise down Paris evening streets. The cobblestones make for a pretty bumpy ride, but who's complaining?!

Yesterday was again a busy day, and a tame night spent guessed and chatting to my roommate about everything from tattoos, the forestry industry in Canada, to philosophy.

Today was pretty great. I was sent off to attend an afternoon of conferences on biodiversity in the main building to take notes and report back. It all felt very official and I admit I felt like kind of a big deal. Ha! More like a tiny minnow in a million seas, but you catch my drift. I was supposed to venture out to experience Montmartre at night, but am completely exhausted (still having trouble with this going to bed early AND waking up early - I'll figure it out eventually). So instead I'm going to eat, chill and get ready for tomorrow. Huge day coming up! End of weeks always seem pretty intense in my sector. :)

Also wanted to express my general stokedness on a few things: one, my Mom has decided to run in the Athens marathon next October, in celebration of the 2500th anniversary of the marathon! Yup, that's my mom. Also, my sister had a great interview with one of the uni's she's applied to, and so my fingers are crossed around a baguette for her! ALSO, my scorpsista should just be landing in Fiji, where she's about to endeavour on an amazing loveadventurefest with her dreamboat. Warms my heart, all of the above.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Mary Poppins neighbour, and other musings

So, I'm sitting here in my room, watching a movie after a strenuous day of...watching movies, and I just had to blog about my very strange downstairs neighbours. The sitch is, from what my roommate has told me and from what I have heard, that the woman (who is apparently not the sharpest tool in the kit) has this notion of raising her child in this strange, as he calls Mary Poppins manner; this basically means they sing...badly...and all the time. Now, I have nothing against singing, but...they sing Christmas songs. All year, and seriously all day. And on Sundays, they wake up at 8am and sing church hymns before going to church. This may not sound weird to you, but it's pretty damn bizarre to be listening to Il est né le divin enfant, while you're eating breakfast...or dinner..or reading. Anywayssss...just a little tidbit.

This weekend was very low key, although I absolutely reveled in being able to sleep in...something I see now that I took for granted just 2 weeks ago. On Saturday, I took my time, had delicious coffee and set off to explore the area around Bastille, and further west into the Marais. It's such an easy route to get there by bus, and the transportation services here are seriously amazing. I arrived in this massive square - to my right, the Opéra national and hundreds of people just milling, running, laughing, smoking, chatting. It's such a vibrant part of town and SO different from what I've grown accustomed to in my area. Lots of trendy shops, Paris teens and goths, which incidentally, are like carbon copies of Canadian teens and goths but with a little ne sais quoi. Ha!

I strolled around a side street I had heard about that specializes in thrift stores and overall interesting fare. Mostly I enjoyed window-shopping, clunking down on old cobblestones and smelling delicious crèpes sizzling from street vendors..the occasional waft of chestnuts crackling over makeshift stoves; succulent and complex aromas tickling my nose with each street corner I would pass.

I stopped into a cafe and had a sinfully tasty hot chocolate, scribbled in my notebook for a few minutes, observed the people; I had obviously wandered into a tourist...won't say trap, but a cafe heavily frequented by tourists....which isn't bad, except on the wallet. But as I had quickly learned that if you sit at the bar, the cost of a drink is almost half as when seated at a table, I got cozy on a bar stool and enjoyed my drink. I didn't stay long though..oooh no. When you only have weekends off, it really kicks you in gear to make the most of your outings. I must say though, that I'm looking forward to not feeling that sense of urgency to walk fast, see as much as possible, go go go..I haven't really meandered....sat at a cafe for more than 20 mins. Mind you, the weather hasn't really been meander-esque, so I'm thinking that might have something to do with it.

Anyhow, all is well but I've noticed that since writing this blog, people haven't been contacting me as much. Is that how this goes? But I also want to hear about YOUR lives, so keep that in mind and send ME updates too! I also have a cell phone and a land line. And well, it gets a little lonely here all alone, so don't be strangers!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mais oui, jeudi!

I think I've finally shaken the last of the cobwebs in my head and wrapped myself around the notion of waking the mor...ning? Who knew! It's actually quite nice. There, I said it. Today was just...great. We had a conference call with an organization we're working with in the Middle East, and as I sat in the conference room and occasionally and casually glanced through the floor to ceiling walls at Paris and that gorgeous tower, I couldn't hide the massive grin that kept creeping up. My supervisor and I are getting along famously and she's already subtly suggesting me for future work. I had such a focused day today, that all of a sudden it was past 6 and I traipsed on home, passing by my local (read 3 doors down) boulangerie to pick up a fresh baguette and come home to indulge in a nice glass of wine. C'est la vie, et la vie est belle.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Catching up

Right...I guess the point of this blog is not to let too many undocumented days slip by. Let's catch up, shall we? So Monday marked my first day as an intern. The whole experience, the building, finding my way around, not having met my boss yet, drinking 3 espressos...let's just say I was a tad trepidacious, overwhelmed, slightly terrified, but mostly thrilled. Spent much of the day running around, meeting everyone in my sector, learning the ins and outs of our floor, walking to the main building a few blocks away to get my badge. Did I mention there's a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower from the washroom? Did I also mention that from my office I can see la Basilique du Sacré Coeur?

The projects I'm working on are incredible, and perfectly suited to my interests. I couldn't be happier..well, wait. I guess if I was being paid, I'd be a little bit happier...but seriously, this is pretty fantastic.

Yesterday my roommate bought us tickets to the Opéra Comique, where we saw a hilarious rendition of the Fairy Queen, scoured for French celebrities to no avail, then whizzed back to the apartment on his moto as I soaked up the night air, and saw the Louvre for the first time. I would highly recommend seeing it at night; from the outside, at least! Such a long day though...I was out and about from 8:30 until past midnight - but such is life in a city that buzzes such as this. Today was tame - worked alone mostly, did groceries (there's a great shop right around the corner) and relaxed. What will tomorrow bring...I wonder.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Settling in sit down to nice meal, beautiful bottle of Bordeaux, fresh baguette and extra smelly cheese - this is the life. The last few days have been quite mellow; trying to shake the jetlaggy cobwebs from my head, starting the explore Paris, flirting with the Eiffel Tower but not quite going all the way with her yet, drinking copious amounts of espresso, eating fresh everythings, fretting mildly about starting work tomorrow.

Today I moved across the 15th, my new neighbourhood, and into my new apartment. It is absolutely lovely, and I'm definitely pleased with my decision. Living with a fantastic and fascinating philosophy professor in his enormous, stylish, 3rd floor walk-up, in a beautiful bourgeois ancien building. It's within walking distance to Luxembourg gardens, the Latin Quarter, and many other gorgeous little hubs, and it's also a 10 minute walk to work. I think it's safe to say I have scored...big time. I roamed around a little, finally unpacked, and am ready to face tomorrow...the most important day I can think, maybe ever. We'll see.

Friday, January 15, 2010

It begins... I am. In Paris. For 3 months. It's finally sinking in. All of the build up from being offered the internship in August, to putting it off until January, to putting off the completion of my thesis and degree, to shifting my life around and finally...I'm here.

Arriving in a city like Paris is indescribable - it has already been so thoroughly constructed in your mind through countless songs, films, stories, paintings, dreams. To arrive is to blast through the ideals or images you have conjured up in your mind, only to find that not only does it surpass them, the city itself, in real time, in real life, transcends them. It slaps you across the face with its authenticity, its grandeur, its relentless array of cozy cafes and bakeries, its cobbled streets, its feisty and painfully stylish citizens, its buzz. A buzz, like the accentuated and intensified tremors of a normal city's vibrations; the vibrations of a vibration, as if everything is alive and waiting to grab your eyes, your ears, your nose.

Walking around my new neighbourhood, I hit the ground running. Walking fast, walking hard, peeking at my map but of course hiding it, because no one wants to feel like a tourist in Paris. I want to feel like I live here, I know where to go. It's a careful act of deception, because I had no clue where I was or where I was going, and I do admit I got turned around more than a few times. The important thing is that I didn't get lost, I didn't get irritated, I just found myself and kept walking.

Looked at a lovely room in a lovely apartment with a lovely Parisian philosophy professor, got the key, set to move in on Sunday. Returned to the B&B I stayed in last night - got seriously hooked up, owned by a friend of the family, lovely man, amazing place and location, 3 terraces, private shower in my room, fireplace, secure, etc etc etc. Ends up he's willing to harbour me for the duration of my stay...which means I went from having no home yesterday, to having a choice between 2 absolutely fantastic homes that somehow I have to choose between. Sigh. It's a tough life.

I have the weekend to explore and play, then it's to work on Monday. I feel like not only have I started a new chapter in my life, but it's an entirely new book. I haven't felt this exhilarated in...well, ever.