Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fevers and galas, oh my.

Saturday 'morning' - a steaming cup of coffee, and the lovely Cecilia Bartoli's operatic genius helping me start the weekend. The sun has decided to make a rare cameo, and I'll soon head out for a bike ride and some exploring. I still cannot believe February is almost over...scary to think of how quickly time is starting to pass me by.

Uf! This week! Well, I managed to somehow come down with a feverish flu in the middle of Sunday night, and carried on the fever and general feeling crappiness for most of the week. Despite it, I went to a conference all day Tuesday, in celebration of Mother Language Day. Met a pretty interesting prof from Victoria! Spent the afternoon shmoozing, which I'm fairly certain is my niche. Was invited to a gala on Thursday celebrating the Dominican Republic's day of independence - going WITH a Dominican girl made it that much cooler.

Work and the city in general continue to impress and inspire me. I'm really starting to get a feel for how life would be here. Most importantly, I feel myself going through growing pains of sorts - letting go of old ways of thinking and doing. Dreaming hot frenetic dreams, as if my brain is trying to help illuminate the process. Intrigued as to what lies ahead for me...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday scheming...

So, I know. I've once again been a bad blogger. But I it's because I've been too busy working hard and having a fabulous time, which are pretty great reasons! :)

The week at work was great, lots of new projects, helping out with a conference tomorrow and Tuesday, getting pretty tight with my boss. Would you believe, she's actually hired another intern to do the boring grunt work so that I can continue doing research and writing reports? Crazy!

I went out with a girl from work on Wednesday night, for a some wine and ended up spending hours chatting, drinking and eating, joined later on the in the evening by her lovely partner (ANOTHER philosophy professor, but who now works as a high end art dealer) The couples here are so interesting - the ones I've met are all power couples; both super successful, fascinating lives, lots of education between them. Or is that typically normal and I'm just meeting young professional couples for the first time? Hmm.

Spent Friday night in Belleville, which is fast becoming one of my favourite spots. It is honestly SUCH a different version of Paris than where I live and work. So incredibly diverse, a little grungy, still bohemian, still affordable, lots of charm but also not some place I'd feel completely comfortable roaming the streets alone at night. It's great!

Today I'm heading to the 13th, where there is a festival happening in China Town. Then, Marion and I are hopping on bikes, cruising around the Seine, checking out some of the old cemeteries, and finishing up with mint tea at the Mosque. Lovely!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

small waves, big city

it's hard to gauge when exactly you find a city's rhythm. when you stop needing a map to get around your own neighbourhood, or to know what direction you're travelling in; to know which bus stops are where; to know how the metro stations work and where they connect; to know which boulangier is the best for the cheapest. all these things accumulate over time, i guess. some faster than others. you live and learn, you explore and experience, and eventually things - no matter how huge and intimidating they first appeared - become...natural. it's slowly been happening to me and the process is just fascinating. how can we adapt so well? humans are just so intriguing, wouldn't you say? take me. i'm from a small town in Quebec - i didn't grow up in the hustle and bustle of a big city, but somehow i keep throwing myself into oncoming traffic and managing to keep up. i can work in a remote village of 50 people, but i can also keep up to this Paris pace, and in fact, i thrive in it. humans. so strange.

i'm continuing to make small waves at work...more potential consultant work lined up once the internship wraps up. and oh yes: i wrote a letter of recommendations to this task force at work about new ideas for partnerships and funding (i thought, what the heck. might as well try to get my voice heard while i'm here!); now i've been invited to join the task force and met with them this afternoon to go over our proposal....which we're going to present to the director-general next week. yes, i...lowly going to meet and greet with the D-G. my boss said that's usually unheard i'm stoked. and so is she. :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Philosopher parties and Feist sightings

It's Sunday...and the sun is shining. I'm just finishing breakfast before I head out into the city, so unfamiliar in this bright light. This weekend has been fantastic. Saturday was a bit of a write off spent in bed, drinking coffee, eating food all day and watching a Woody Allen movie marathon. Pas mal!

Friday night's party with Parisian philosophers proved to be quite amusing, ridiculous, hilarious and generally just fun. Picture this: tearing through the evening streets on the back of a motorbike until we reach an apartment in the 13th. Enter the room, and there are stylish, interesting looking people milling around, books everywhere, an older man in a wheelchair (who was a pretty well known writer/philospher before suffering some kind of stroke and now cannot speak a word), champagne, wine, food everywhere, people smoking, laughing. It's someone's birthday, my roommate's niece, but I'm being grilled by his other niece. Within 3 minutes she knew my whole life, I don't even know her name. She eventually warms up to me, and keeps her eye on my champagne glass, making sure it was filled, mixing me drinks, offering me food, etc., the rest of the night. Great hostess.

I stand around as slowly but surely all the guests take their turns introducing, kissing cheeks, oh where's your accent from? Fast forward to late night, where a group of guests, honestly caricatures from some French film, each more hilarious and quirky than the next, surround me, having realized that I look remarkably like...Feist. Ohhh sing us a song! We have a celebrity in our midst! Etc etc. The drinks were flowing, the conversation was flowing, and eventually I had to call it a night...or early morning, and head home.

I have a souvenir from the night, or actually two: one, a book written by one the philosophers I met at the party titled "Dispositifs/Dislocations"; it's apparently impossible to understand - a mixture of poetry, the analysis famous works of art, literature, and music (the guy is apparently a complete genius)...but I'm going to take a stab at it. The other souvenir is the incessant phone calls I'm receiving from a French professor (also a hybrid shark/wolf, dangerous and sleazy) that I naively gave my number to earlier in the night, while trying to be nice. Sigh. Ah well, he'll get the picture.

Friday, February 12, 2010

auto vs moto

siiiigh. What a week!

I'm sitting at my desk, in my gorgeous Parisian room...Billie Holiday crooning me into a state of relaxation, aided and abetted by the glass of Côte du Rhône by my side, along with a platter of fresh baguette, two different types of extra stinky cheese, a few dolmades, hummus, and smoked almonds. A lovely little snack, if I do say so myself.

Funny commentary: auto vs. moto (to be said in a French accent, for optimal rhyming pleasure)
You know how in Canada, when people have road rage, it's typically tense, heated, irritated, occasionally violent, and brings with it a general sense of malaise? Well, here...and I'm saying this as a pedestrian, the way roadsters express rage is honestly...comical. They yell at each other alright, but with exaggerated bravado, complete with ridiculous gestures and pulls of the face. They follow each other tauntingly, but harmlessly, provoking each other slightly, and always with a sense of humour about it. I watched a fella on a moto argue with the drive of an auto well into the light change, both adament about their right of way, the other person's insolence, etc. They swirve, somehow not colliding, somehow not running people over as they rush thru red lights. Pedestrians yell, they yell back, drivers not even involved yell back. Needless to say, I'm just glad I stick to the sidewalks and metros; though these both come with their own complexities and nuances, which perhaps I've delve into some other day, some other post.

So, it's Friday. Another week gone, somehow. I've started a report on linguistic and biological diversity, which is extremely difficult to navigate given the direction it needs to go in - but I'm feeling pretty confident that it's going to be convincing, useful, and will hopefully rock the socks off the conference it's going to be presented at. *Fingers criss-crossed*.

Off to a party tonight, and hoping to weather cooperates (no snow today, and the SUN actually came out!) Planning a pretty low-key weekend. Hoping to go on a picture taking mission, so that I can start visually documenting some of my life here. For all you guys know, I could be in Paris, Texas working on a ranch!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm a Pisces magnet's official. Now, those of you who don't believe in astrology, ya'll can skip ahead to the following paragraph. But I need to pay homage to the Piscean forces at hand in my world. Let's briefly trace the it has been quite recent: FIRST! My tortured artist Toronto flame; really my initiation into the dreamy pool of the Piscean existence. THEN! Adam and Kim, the Kwakwaka'wakw couple that I work closely with, and who have adopted me into their family - BOTH Pisceans. THEN! Two of my fellow graduate students (my cohort was only comprised of 5 students) that I incidentally got along super well with - both Pisceans. My wonderful island friends Tina and her dreamy partner Ian - both Pisceans. Then I get to Paris, meet the dashing Dr. Rewilder, he's a Pisces (shut....up). I meet up with this amazing girl who my island friend got me in touch with, and who is fast becoming my Paris partner-in-crime - she's a Pisces. Today I was talking to the fella I initially stayed with when I arrived, and asked him if he was a Leo (he was being a little high maintenance) and no....he's a Pisces.

So. I don't know. Maybe I just investigate more than the average person, but what the what? It should be noted that Pisces, a fellow water sign, is basically my most compatible friend/mate/what have I guess it's a good sign (ha!) that they're entering my world at a rapid rate.

Anyways. I digress.

So, it's officially still winter in Paris. This morning I walked to work in the snow! I didn't mind it too much, but I was getting pretty excited about the whole heat rising, springtime flirtations that seemed to be transforming the city. But alas. I'm not complaining (I'm never allowed to complain while living in Paris); it was kinda neat to look out over the snow-swept city from the bathroom at work, which if you recall has the best view.

Worked on the French edits on the atlas again, then scurried off to a meeting on "Education for all", which was short but pretty interesting. The remainder of the afternoon was spent editing and brainstorming with my boss (who is just so damn awesome). It's really something to be working somewhere that welcomes the big ideas I'm prone to have! We have half a dozen projects cooking, and meet fairly regularly to prioritize. It's fun - it keeps things exciting and inspiring. :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday synopsis

Yes, I know. I'm not the best blogger. As one of my self-proclaimed "fans" pointed out, I've been slacking. Alas, this happens in Paris!

The rest of the week wrapped up nicely. Lots of great projects, finished up a briefing for a biological diversity indicator report - it was pretty great to have been assigned something so, well, non-interny! It was tricky see, we're trying to provide support for linguistic diversity having a positive influence, enhancing even, biological diversity; which is easy to argue for, but difficult to provide tangible proof for. Needless to say, the ethnoecological restoration/language revitalization project that I've been working on is a relatively successful example of this, so we'll see what the big kahunas at UNEP think.

Friday night was phenomenal. I met up with Marion, a lovely Parisian girly that knows plenty of my island family, and we went to an experiemental, fusion dance class in a restored church just off of Quai d'Orsay. Well...let's just say that I managed to find the hippies of Paris (obviously). When we first arrived, I admit, I was pretty hesitant. A bunch of people flailing around to music, no structure, etc. Marion and I couldn't even make eye contact, we were laughing so hard on the inside (and occasionally the outside) It ended up being loads of fun, once I just let go and got into it; kind of a mixture between yoga, intentional dancing, and well...rumpus room! The funniest thing was that after the class was over, all these free-spirited hippie dippies slipped back into their uber chic Paris threads! Hippies in disguise.

We then hopped on the metro and went to a great little bar in Belleville - I hadn't been out there yet, so I was pretty stoked. Immediately noticed that Belleville is rougher than my area - I think the heavy stench of urine in the metro station gave it away - but it was also kinda nice to get away from the posh 15th and 7th arrondissements. We got to a bumping bar just off a main drag, squeezed into a table with our elbows literally rubbing those of the neighbouring tables, and cozied up for some girl talk, people watching, and hot mulled wine. Sigh. It was lovely. Wrapped up the evening with late night Chinese food, then literally ran to catch the last metro. Thankfully they run till 2am on the weekends!

Yesterday, I slept in. Mmmmm....I will never take this beautiful act for granted again. Spent the day watching movies and relaxing, as it was raining and I was just spent from my week and the night before. Wandered over to the bakery for a delicious almond croissant, climbed into bed with steaming hot coffee, and .

Today I'm thinking of hitting a museum (maybe the Museum of Natural History), or perhaps just strolling around the Seine. Meeting up with Marion later to go to the cinema (finally going to see French!), then it's back to the grindstone tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mid-week musings

Mid-way through my 3rd week, and I can barely comprehend how quickly time is passing!

Last weekend's lovely adventures are still providing steam, and I'm ingesting this week voraciously (with breaks for café crèmes and "occasional" correspondences with my partner-in-crime turned pen-pal). Being in such a stimulating place in my life - professionally, culturally, personally - as given me an unprecedented momentum, which I'm now focusing towards that neglected manuscript sitting, gathering dust and glaring at me from my shelf (i.e. my thesis).

My motivation has been greatly inspired by my brilliant and really pretty awesome sister's completion of her dissertation! If she can finish that monster while teaching a class, writing articles and chapters, and doing everything else she somehow manages to do, then dammit! I can finish mine! I figure I have about 2 weeks of work left on it, but that in relative terms to living and working in Paris...well, I'm going to hammer away, bit by bit, and hopefully hand in my final draft before I leave.

It's starting to get mild...spring is slowly starting to court the city. The cafés are starting to spill onto the street - the skirts are getting shorter, the evenings longer. Wow. Springtime in Paris! Bring it. I've never been this excited about life. Everything is falling into place. Work is amazing. Paris is surreal. I'm meeting fascinating people daily...What is this life? How did I get here? Do I have to leave? Sigh.