Sunday, November 20, 2011

PARIS--The Leftovers (1ere partie)

Hello again my faithful (HA!) blog frequenters (HAH!)
You know, I don't really know who you are, all of you that are checking in on this sad excuse of a blog. Maybe we should do an icebreaker. Get to know one another. Team building exercise? Audience participation? How about you send me a message or comment below with a request of a stupid thing for me to do in a video?

Well all I can say my friends is that what makes this blog so great is, in fact, it's inconsistency. You never know what I'll say. Me neither! Even right now! 
....and right now, and even now, and..........even still now! you know?

That's why I constantly underwhelm my expectations, and meanwhile continually forget to post things that I actually observe! Gosh, you should see the blog of my mind. It's got hyperlinks, funny video clips, inside jokes, t-shirts with stupid sayings on them, interactive web-design, and maybe, maybe even a little content too. 
But anyway, I apologize. I actually am having a really enriching experience here on exchange. I observe all these hilarious and interesting things every day that are so particular to the world of youth exchange, it's impossible to remember them all. It is usually possible to write them down, but who does that? (Well, me actually..I've gotten a whole lot of funny looks when I whip out my spiral and pen) But sometimes it's just not the moment for that. I would love to take videos of every great cultural moment like I'm living in a reality TV show, but it would probably turn out more like Andy Milonakis, with racist jokes and freestyles filling in the time between when anything actually happened. Which would still be cool I suppose. 

Anyway, back to Paris! Because its already more than a month since I went there, I should really finish my story. Good thing I put my life on hold since I got back, so I don't need to make up for all of the things I've done since!
But this is just something called the Will's Blog Time Sensitivity Theorem which states that in order to properly convey events that have happened, I need to wait at least a few weeks for it to settle into vagueness and philosophical platitudes. In other ways, it's also kind of like Mark Twain's autobiography (which I'd have brought with me but it weighs a ton), which he deliberately withheld from publication for a century just so that all the people he criticized in it would be dead. Okay, so we're not in exactly the same situation, but quand même. In reality I just needed time to write all of these excuse entries, which is exhausting. It's so much easier to blog about not blogging than to actually blog. Blog blog blog. What a funny word. 

GET TO PARIS ALREADY

Alright, alright! I mean, I already did! A month ago!
So for now I will talk about the first day in Paris and part one of THE UNIVERSE IS FREAKY, the first of my three very strange coincidences that happened to me during my trip


The first day in the outskirts of Paris was spent-- you guessed right! Sleeping!
To recap, my host brother and I were staying just outside of Paris, 160 m to be exact, in Vanves, at the host aunt and uncle's house. Which looks like this:
(There's Max on the steps.) It was special. Full of very strange and conflicting interior decorating styles. I really couldn't quite grasp what the marriage of art nouveau and Wii consoles was doing for the energy of the space and all that jazz, but I can tell you it was an interesting clash. 
When I first entered the house I immediately had a very strong sense memory of the scary barbershop in town where I used to get my hair cut by an elderly alcoholic when I was little. It hit me like when Harry's scar starts to burn and images of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named flash in his mind. It was intense. The smell of years and years of smoking cigarettes and pipe tobacco inside, the random bottles of whiskey and rum sitting on a chest on the floor, the unusual furnishings and clutter untouched for decades--and of course the tubby cat.

All of this immediately brought me back to that squeaky leather seat, and my perfect bowl-cut being made into zig-zags by an unsteady hand. 
Anyway, I was instantly disgusted and at the same time catapulted into nostalgic bliss. Here's some of the odd items I found on a very art nouveau bureau: 
Yeah. I don't know if you guys understand the atmosphere I'm trying to describe here, but it was special. I think it was the stark contrast that did it for me, between there and my host family's house, which is absurdly clean and proper, almost to the point of uninhabitability--you have to cover any surface just to use it.... 

Anyway, Lillian and Jean-Michel were really, really nice people, and it was very, very generous of them to take us in. I was definitely lucky to get to go to Paris just like that and have a place to stay, eat, and watch grown people play Wii. 
Also, what I found out after the first impressions, is that Lillian is a true museum buff and knows the museums of Paris very well, mostly from having shown countless people like me around. (She's done the Louvre like 12 times. So that means she's probably seen, what, a quarter of it? No, I kid, I kid. It's not really that outrageous. Just a little.)

So after waking up late, feasting on nutella, croissants, baguette, and tea I spent some time taking pictures of the cat. (What did you think I came to Paris for??) No but really. I miss cats. It was great. This cat was like silly putty. No not that. Oobleck. When you pick him up he literally does not budge, but nonchalantly slides through your fingers all limp and such. And he may rest there...
Then Lillian took Max and I on a quick bus/walking tour of some 
Paris must-sees including: 
Hotel de Ville


Notre Dame 

Some Kid Fishing for Euros
(thought: does that negate the wish of whoever threw it in?)   
The Arc de Triomphe (scary spiral straircase!)













(Playing with fisheye on top of the Arc)

Montmartre and Sacre Coeur 

Some fun things I saw:

>A guitarist on the steps of Montmartre giving a little concert, playing "Hallelujah." Lovely, or cliche? You tell me. He had a nice voice though.
(video could not be uploaded)

> More asian people than at CTY

>Still in Montmartre there was a guy who showed up, set down a boombox and started showing off soccer tricks on the edge of a wall. The ball never fell once. He didn't either, which was fortunate. It was a good 10 meters on the other side.  
(Video could not be uploaded)


> Annie, another exchange student! PART ONE OF THE UNIVERSE IS FREAKY
So I was on line to go up the Arc de Triomphe, and Annie was just coming down. Now, granted, it was during the school vacation. And granted, it's a pretty big tourist site. STILL. It was freaky. I mean, the same exact moment? Who knows who I missed coming down the stairs if I had been an hour earlier, or an hour later?!! Anyway, the best part of this story is that at the time, as usual, I was at a complete loss for what her name was or how I even knew her. But I knew that I knew her, so that was what mattered. We both had a minor mind explosion, got some weird looks after exclaiming in English, grabbed a hug and a picture and then went our separate ways. It was so funny! At the end we were sort of awkwardly holding up the line, trying to explain to our respective hosts what was going on... Anyway, for the whole trip after that, her name and relation to me was right on the tip of my brain and driving me crazy. Then when I posted something stupid on facebook like "I saw some girl I knew" she replied and all was well. After I apologized for my wonderful memory skills. 




NEXT UP:
Eiffel Tower! Louvre! Boats! Trains! Screaming tourists! Expensive Kebabs that give stomach aches! Art! Fashion! Celebrity! Money! Power! None of the above!


Stay tuned! I've got some fun videos coming up too, if my editing software decides to work. Well, and if I decide to work too I guess. 


Until then, 
Ciao! 


Affectionately, 
Will



Sunday, November 13, 2011

PARIS--the departure

So I might have mentioned that I went to Paris! 
It's true. I was there. And I met Earnest Hemingway.
And I walked in the rain. And it was honest and courageous and brave and noble but that's what war does to a man when he doesn't fear death. 

No but in reality, I got to Paris before I got to the the film Midnight in Paris, which I actually just saw last night. And if you haven't seen it I'm sorry for utterly confusing you, or mainly just sounding like an idiot.. Anyway, I loved this latest Woody Allen film, especially because I had just been to Paris; I recognized the landmarks of the city, and I could understand it when Owen Wilson's character talks about the lights in Paris, and so on. It's really a portrait of the historical, cultural, and nostalgic magic of Paris, so it was kind of neat to see it, just after seeing it. 


Well anyway. Good films are good films, but hey I was in Paris! Let's talk about that, Will!


Okay so here's what happened. I took the TGV, which remember is pronounced the tay jay vay, which stands for Train de Grand Vitesse which means "really fast train." They thought long and hard about that name..
So my host dad brought my host brother Max and I to the Toulon  train station (20 mins away) about an hour early because he's parisien and constantly hurrying and rushed and way ahead of time. 
Here's on the way to Toulon:


It was cloudy.
Here's sitting at a cafe having a hot chocolate and looking at the sky:


It was pretty. 
Here's a rhinoceros:
Alright! Now we're getting somewhere!!


So then we found out that the train was a few minutes late. But we had it a whole lot better off then the train to Nice! That one was delayed 4 hours, even though Nice is like an hour away! 
So then we realized that Max had forgotten his ID card, and so my host mom drove over and gave it to him while we waited. Then we got on the train (double decker!) and got in our car (with star wars sliding doors!) and sat down and eventually left. 


*EDIT* Hey I forgot to tell you guys a really funny little French moment. So when you get on the TGV and you settle in, they play a little welcome message over the speakers. However, it's nothing like estimated time of arrival, stations stopped at, safety, or plugs for the company. It was of comparable length to the safety talks on airplanes, so rather elongated, and was literally a shpeel dedicated solely to the proper and polite way to conduct yourself on the train (nice pun there, eh?). I wish I had recorded it because it was golden, and I haven't had luck finding it written somewhere on the internet.. But the essence of it just seemed very french, and urged everyone to respect each other, and also to speak softly and not swear. It was great. However, if anything had happened, I wouldn't have had a clue where the safety exits were.... but by golly I would've exited quietly! 




Unfortunately, it was nighttime, so instead of this:
I saw this: 
...
No wait, it was more like this:



But anyway, I got a really nice chance to catch some french air and stretch my legs when the train broke down! Haha, well of course the train broke down! That's what happens when you try to go to Paris Will! And what happens when the train is en panne?? 






Well everyone goes out to smoke, duh....






So once we got moving again all was well, but we were about an hour and 40 minutes late. Thankfully my host uncle in law (?) was patiently waiting there at the Gare de Lyon to pick us up and drive us home at 1:30 in the morning... 
I couldn't help but thinking that from the back seat it looked like I was being driven around by Humphrey Bogart.... Just sayin'.


So in other news, it is midnight, I have school tomorrow (ha, what a joke) and so I will close this blog with just a little video explaining the history of a certain city I went to called Draguignan (pardon, there are a couple light swear words, sorry. It's called improv.)
  
Why was I there? A very interesting Rotary meeting. How was it? More on that later. For now, SLEEEP!


Bonne nuit!






Affectionately,
Will

Sunday, November 6, 2011

PICTURES GALORE!!

Okay, so you might have noticed that I haven't gotten pictures up on this blog yet, but I'm working on it. You can see the tab above just waiting to get filled with pictures! For now, if you have facebook, the first 4 weeks of pictures are up here.


And I've got a bunch of other pictures from my new camera that'll be happening in cyberspace real real soon. 


More soon, I've got loads to tell! And if I don't, I will forget. 
You know me. 

Affectionately, 
Will

Saturday, November 5, 2011

EXPLANATIONS (EXCUSES)

Okay, so as you can all imagine I've fallen into that pit of blog procrastination. But here's the thing:
It isn't my fault. 


Bet you didn't expect that one.


No, in reality it's entirely my fault. It's not like I'm somewhere interesting that doesn't have internet. There haven't been power outages, or wars, or earthquakes (however right now as I type this it seems like you guys should be able to practically hear the intense wind going on. It's been raining for a week now, and the people of the South hate that. It's impeccably beautiful 355 days of the year, but whenever it's not that's all they talk about.) Anyway, nothing too special is going on. And honestly, I find myself on the computer a lot, because my family isn't very active. By that I mean they don't really have hobbies or activities that they do on a routine basis; they don't go out on the weekends, they don't do any sports--sea or mountain--and by golly my host brother doesn't seem to do anything at all! But it's not my job to criticize anybody's lifestyle, just simply to observe. I'm just happy to be here! Heck I bet my life in VT would seem pretty boring to someone from, say,  Brasil (I've heard some stories)...


Anyway, I'm straining a little to try to break out of routine (my host family is definitely okay with me going out, so at least that's available.) And they're really adorable, I get along well with them, so there's no need to conflict on the fact that they live on a beautiful hill overlooking a beautiful sea, and they probably just don't want to take the effort of going down the scary switchbacks all the time to get anywhere


Ensuite, sorry I haven't been living up to my hopes and dreams on the video front. Basically here's what happened: my camera broke... 


Yeah, it was a great camera. Here's what happened. A few years ago I had the same camera, the Casio V7, which apparently has a glitch with the lens system that makes it very susceptible to bump and falls. It fell onto the floor, and stopped working. Well I loved it so much that bought another identical one. What naïvité!
Well the other day I was holding it in one hand and trying to tie up the blinds with the other hand (stupid) and it fell literally just six inches onto a wooden table, in, might I add, not one, but two cases; fleece inside neoprene. 
De toute facon,  I got the "red screen of death." 
Well here's the last picture I took with my belove casio: (at least it was pretty!)


And I think I was a little spoiled by that camera, because I hadn't realized how awesome it was! Since, I've bought, tried, and returned about three cameras just because of little details that weren't apparent like: the camera takes HD VIDEOS (wow) but did we mention only for 34 seconds? Yeah it was annoying. I also bought an underwater video camera and then realized that the season for that was completely over and I wouldn't be scuba diving or windsurfing or anything again until the very end of my exchange. So I returned it. Because I'd rather have the money now than hold onto the camcorder. Because everything here is expensive. Like art supplies!
video(just for reference that =$125)

Anyway, what happened after that? Well my super duper logiciel (that's french for computer solitaire... uh, I mean, computer program) stopped working very well. This may be temporary, I'm trying to figure out how to optimize my computer so that It'll run well. Anways, the long and short and medium and average of it is that I have TONS of material (really, gigabytes worth of random stuff) to piece together, but I haven't yet gotten a chance to do that. So I'm working on it. It takes a lot of time. Like making crepes, which I have to go eat now. That part doesn't take long. Okay I'll be right back. (Dontcha love these real time blogs! It's like live television, but more intelligent and less entertaining!) 
Speaking of which...

OH NON!!!! (Imagine that with a french accent) Okay, so I stand corrected. The power just went out. And I barely have any batter left, so I'm going to finish this post....now! Because it just came back on again! Hooray! I love developed electrical grids mostly dependent on nuclear energy! Woot woot! Oh speaking of electricity, every time I plug my computer into the adapter in the electrical socket I get sparks. And occasionally I bump it and it makes scary hissing noises. So fun. Except that I live in a place that, unlike for the last few days, gets very little rain. Hence the signage:
So I should really pay attention. I've actually already seen a small forest fire here. 


But basically, my message is don't worry. I've got so many interesting (well that's up to you to decide) bits and pieces of tomfoolery to share with you. Hopefully I'll get this up and running with the frequency that I'd prefer. Until then, I'll stick to my habit of promising things and then putting them off to go eat food, and thus I will close this blog/sort of excuse rant. Next up on the list: Paris. And after that: the WORLD MWAHAHAHAHA. 
If the world means school starting again I guess. And believe me, is that a strange world. 




One thing my new cheap camera does well: macro! I call the photo above Mario Macro for obvious reasons. 




Affectionately,
Will

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

HEY EVERYBODY!
Sorry I've been AWOL for a little while. Just sort of stranded in France. You know. 


Basically I'm just as proficient a procrastinator here as in the USofA. Also, I've been oot and aboot (as the Canadians say) and also in and... well in. I've been happy, I've been bored, I've been busy, I've been annoyed, I've been sappy, I've been bad about blogging. 


My mother mentioned that I keep changing tones on this blog. That's because I was bought out and don't have a whole lot of creative control anymore. The blog is actually written by a collective group of writers, so sorry for the inconsistency.  And if there hasn't been an entry in a while, just assume it's because somebody is on strike... 

Okay enough silliness! 
What has been happening over this past month?
Let's get right into it!



  • Got a cold
  • Got better
  • Stayed at a house where people smoke inside
  • Got another cold
  • Got a virus (on my computer)
  • Fixed it
  • My video editing software wont work (sorry! I'm in the process of making a great new video but I think, god forbid, I'll have to use Windows MovieMaker!)
  • Went to a Festival all about Chestnuts!
  • Went to Paris (no big deal)
  • On a really fast train (big deal)
  • Experiences three very freaky coincidental happenings (more on that soon)
  • Started another English class because the teacher was sad I had avoided it. Ended up being a good decision, he has me do the homework and tests in French. 
  • Went over to the English teacher's house for a great get-together/dinner with a total of five English teachers present, as well as two English teaching assistants. It was so fun! We had wonderful conversations in multiple languages and ate beautifully prepared entrées! (Remember, in french an hors d'œvre is actually the first course, whereas the entrées are the appetizers.) Comme d'habitude I spent a good deal of time eating and not a lot of time taking pictures. If you've been following my lame attempt at documenting my year, you will have noticed the theme of Will taking pretty pictures of landscapes and inanimate objects/random people, accompanied by the obvious lack of pertinent, personal photos of events that I would like to later describe to you. 
  • In other news it's 2 A.M (this happens all of a sudden here) so I will post this just as a sort of table-of-contents precursor to a spectacular blog to come tomorrow with pictures and videos and everything! Even though you all know that sounds doubtful. Even more doubtful in the context that tomorrow is the day before we go back to school. Yippee. 
Coming soon:


PICTURES!
PARIS!
PARTIES!
PENGUINS!
PANTHEON!
PROGRESSIVELY LONGER PHRASES!
PANTS OF THE VELVETEEN FAMILY!
PEJORITIVE STATEMENTS IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE!

DONT GO AWAY! COME RIGHT BACK TOMORROW (TODAY) FOR THE STELLAR CONTENT YOU'VE COME TO EXPECT!


Affectionately, 
Will