Saturday, December 12, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
- FOODS. While I miss food at home LOTS AND LOTS (my parents have been informed of what drive-thru to take me to IMMEDIATELY when I arrive at DFW), there really isn't a sufficient American replacement for the crèpe. I mean, one could argue that your basic pancake fits the description pretty closely...but if one argued that, I would refute that point by bringing up the fact that one does not put egg, cheese, and mushroom in a pancake, fold it up, and stuff one's face with it on the metro while people stare. Other French food I will miss as well, but I can't think of specifics because now I'm just thinking about a crèpe.
- Style. People are WAY too done up, and the style is generally exactly the same everywhere you look, where I come from, so it's nice to see really diverse ways of dressing and expressing yourself, with a different kind of "European" feel. Plus, in Texas you don't really see winter chic in the same way as you do here. When we get cold in Dallas for our week of winter, we wear sweatshirts and ugg boots. In Paris, people have great coats and layers, scarves and different style boots, cute hats and rosy cheeks. In the winter, I look like a hobo.
- Culture. I love French language, and I'm going to miss hearing it and using it everyday. I hate the thought that I'm leaving so many museums and cultural sites behind. There's so much to see and learn and appreciate here--the history of the city can be kind of overwhelming at times, when you find yourself in a grand old cathedral or surrounded by ancient castle walls or simply walking on cobblestones. I'll miss that personal feel of greeting shopkeepers and/or employees when entering businesses, and wishing them a good day when I leave. I'll miss seeing street demonstrations, and the rhythm of urban life...of walking down the street and thinking, "holy shit I'm in PARIS." I'll miss people wishing me "bon apetit" before I stuff my face with an aforementioned crèpe.
- My host family. THEY'RE LITERALLY THE BEST. They're seriously SO COOL.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
- The mosquitoes. Listen, I don't really know if everyone in Paris has a problem with these insect monsters, or if I'm just extremely delicious or something (that's probably the case, let's be real here). But I live in TEXAS and I feel like we have a pretty decent strain of mosquito genetics - I mean, c'mon, it's mothereffing TEXAS. But no. These blood-thirsty demons in Paris are INSANE. The night before last, I was bitten THIRTY-ONE TIMES in the span of a few hours, IN MY BEDROOM. I have a kind of weird reaction to mosquito bites (IDK why, it's happened since I was little), and the bites always swell up gigantically (think a one inch diameter, on average) and are very hard to the touch. So, imagine 31 of those, all over my body. Including a few on my face. Several on my hands. Why would they be on these weird places? Oh, because I was wearing PANTS AND A SWEATSHIRT. So the 31 mosquito bites are in the places they could get to in that outfit. And get this, there were only TWO MOSQUITOS in my room. The next night I plugged in two repellants and the psycho bugs were still showing up for dinner. I basically lost my shit and went on a really insane rampage wherein I was hitting walls, slapping my hands together, standing on the bathroom sink, and prowling around my room for a few hours to kill every. single. one.
- The smell. This city is big. It's home to over eleven million people. And boy are they packed tight. Needless to say, some neighborhoods get a little rank. I'd bet that the scent of a public restroom in this town is enough to render babies unconscious from a couple blocks away. Think of the amount of waste created by eleven million people. Just think about it. And try not to gag.
- The metro. I know, I know, the metro is SO SUPER COOL AND URBAN. And it is. I get it. But I feel like everyone complains about their morning commute, and I don't see why I can't be one of them. The metro, when you take it every SINGLE day, MULTIPLE times, you're just over it after a while. Think of the weird physical sensation you have when you're riding in an airplane. The air is stuffy, there's this unsettling pressure feeling in your head, your stomach isn't *exactly* agreeing with the situation, and you're battling for the arm rest with some fatass who got the aisle seat. Okay, so the metro is like that, but add MILLIONS OF PEOPLE you're smashed up against (who DON'T WEAR DEODORANT), it smells like butthole (refer back to my second bullet if you've forgotten what that's like), you're underground and sweating, you gotta stand up because there aren't any seats, the driver (conductor? whatever) is a maniac slamming on the breaks at every stop so you're trying NOT to fall on the 3 year old (or 80 year old) in front of you, someone has decided that bringing their ladder and bags of cement on board was a good idea, you get crushed in the doors as they slam shut, annnnnnd there are 9482094829 BILLION BACTERIA EVERYWHERE WAITING TO ATTACK AND KILL YOU.
- The cost. Everything in this city - I mean everything - is more expensive. Some things are the same price as things at home would be, like say, a generally cheap clothing store like H&M. A pair of jeans is like $40 there. Okay, so it's the same price...but it's in EUROS. So it's 40 euros which means those jeans of pretty shitty quality at the least expensive store around actually cost $60 USD. Sweet. Other shit, they don't even play around with acting like it's low price. Basic drugstore cosmetics? Pshhh, totally out of my budget. I refuse to spend 20 euros (that's THIRTY DOLLARS) on some powder foundation I buy at home from Walgreen's for less than ten bucks. Read my lips, L'Oreal Paris, you "generic brand", you...AIN'T. GONNA. DO IT. It doesn't even stay on after I sweat my ass off riding in your goddamn metro. Don't even get me started on the cost of food, school supplies, hygiene products, etc.
- Xenophobia. Unfortunately, Paris isn't void of this fantastic human tendency. There is a major problem with racism here, and arguably in all of Europe, that most Americans know little about or don't realize. Western Europe has experienced skyrocketing levels of immigration in recent years from Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. And I guess that means some people have gotten defensive - and in turn, offensive. Questions of identity, citizenship, birthright, access to opportunity, and extension of rights across races carry with them a lot of tension and heated opinion in this country. I was asked today while in a restaurant with friends for lunch where I was from originally. I replied that I was American, and was born in Texas. "No, originally," was the response I got from the restaurant employee. Oh, okay, since my skin is like, half a shade darker than most people here, and because my hair is - *gasp* - curly, I can't just pass off as a regular old American. When presenting my student ID card for tickets to museums, movies, etc., I am often asked where I'm from when people read my (sorta) ethnic last name (OMG ITS NOT SMITH SO OBVI YOU'RE A DIFFERENT). I usually get a less than positive response (silence, curt nod, one of those stares like a person is inspecting you) when they hear that yes, one of my parents was born in a country where they don't speak a Romance/Germanic language and the people aren't Caucasian. Quelle horreur!
Next up, this is "Homecoming" by Kanye West, featuring Chris Martin (the lead singer of Coldplay). This is one of my favorite Kanye songs, and I LOVE what Martin's input on piano/vocals gives to the whole thing:
Annnd here is Mariah Carey, performing "We Belong Together" live. I love Mariah, I love this song. Say what you want about her, the woman is a DIVA who can SING. I respect the fact that she does whatever the fuck she wants every single day and doesn't give a shit what anyone says. She is, if you will recall, the most successful female artist in history, with more #1 singles than any artist ever, except the Beatles. Even if you don't like the song, watch her break it DOWN around 3:03.
And just for funzies, in case you thought she was a huge joke, here is THE queen, Aretha Franklin, singing "Touch My Body" by Mariah. HA! HATERS TO THE LEFT.
Everything about that was WIN.
Peace, love, and Paris,