March 22, 2013

A lack of permanence.

While I have been off exploring, and making do with the clothes, shoes, and things I could fit into one checked bag plus carry on, all my other belongings, cherished and not so cherished, have been safely stored at my parents house, the place where I grew up, the place I have called home for the last fifteen years.

My parents have moved. They no longer call that place home. They’ve moved into a smaller house, which meant a review of the objects I had safely stored away in my closet.

Did I really need to save all my board games? Couldn’t we just dissemble all my star wars legos, and put the pieces in the big lego bin for easier storage? How many childhood stuffed animals are really necessary? Couldn’t I do without all the knickknacks?

While I’ve always enjoyed considering myself not all that materialistic, it was easier knowing in the back of my head that my things were there and they were waiting for me to stop wandering.

The move made me wish I had chosen a more “normal” life path; that I had found a job and was where I was going to be for the foreseeable future; that I could unburden my parents of my things and take them on myself.

I would love to decorate my studio in Troyes with my Harry Potter posters. I would love to be able to have my board games on hand for when I have guests.

Alas, such is not my fate. Seeing how this time next year I’ll be who knows where for my internship, I’m going to have to keep on being nomadic.

So to all the things I gave away, I wish you well. And to my parents, thank you for finding the room to keep most of them. One day, things, we'll be together again.

March 14, 2013


When I was an English teaching assistant one thing that I found remarkable was that even the highschoolers used pencil cases.

At the beginning of every lesson, out came the notebooks and a small pouch filled with pencils, pens, scissors, erasers, and tape.

I hadn’t used a pencil case since elementary school. I hadn’t seen a pencil case since elementary school.

I don’t know why I thought it would be any different at graduate school, but nevertheless I was surprised to see all my classmates take out their trousses (pencil cases) at the beginning of the first lecture.

By the end of the semester it became perfectly clear to me why nobody had abandoned the concept of a pencil case as something for little children.

While I had gone ahead and lost almost all my pens and pencils, my French friends still had all of theirs intact.

So for this second semester, I have taken the plunge. I have become a little bit more French.

I bought a pencil case.

My trousse in all its pink, see-through glory.

For now I still have all my writing utensils. Here's hoping I don't loose the entire trousse.

March 8, 2013

Genève : Premières Impressions

My first impressions of Geneva:

Geneva is beautiful.

The gorgeous stone buildings transport one from modern day to ancient times.

Stone buildings complete with a sprinkling of snow.

There are swans floating on the lake, immediately making one feel like the star of a Disney princess movie.

Swans on Lake Geneva.

It’s Protestantism with a bit a flare.

The church that houses Calvin’s chair looks a lot more Catholic than the churches in good ol’ America (probably because it was originally Catholic).

St. Pierre Cathedral.

The wall of statues celebrating the Protestant Reformers is very showy for Protestant principles, but I loved it all the same.

The Reformation Wall.

It’s also full of lovely modern day activities, such as giant chess in the park, or drinks and snacks at a restaurant floating on the lake.

Babies playing chess.

View from the Bains des Paquis.

A great place for a day trip, it left me wanting more.

March 2, 2013

Il Fait Beau

I used to disagree with any French person who ever told me “il fait beau” (it's a beautiful day). Especially in winter.

But despite saying, “mais non, il fait froid!” (but it's cold!) occasionally to my exbellemère, I would keep my mouth shut, as they all seemed pretty convinced about the excellence of their days.

It still irked me though. How could the French find so many days “beautiful?” A day needs to be pretty remarkable for it to get that accolade from me.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in Southern California where the weather is some of the best out there, but I seemed to need more from a beautiful day than the French.

I need sunshine and blue skies (although a cloud or two might be acceptable as long as they are the pretty fluffy white kind), a light breeze (but not windy), and a good temperature (hot but not too hot). I want that day to inspire me.

The beach in my hometown. How I miss beautiful, beach-worthy days.

The French seemed to find really ordinary days beautiful.

Then, after three years of hearing this expression, I finally got it. I’d been looking at it all wrong.

One shouldn't translate “il fait beau” into “it’s a beautiful day,” but instead into “the sun is out today.”

It’s as simple as that. To the French, the sun being out is equivalent to beauty. I think this has to do with the fact that the French use the word beautiful 3600 times more often than Americans do.

For a day to be beautiful it doesn’t need to be exceptional; it just needs some sunshine. The word doesn’t carry the same weight.

Once I accepted this fact, my conversations about the weather weren’t secretly putting me on edge.

Now when someone tells me “il fait beau,” I agree. Why yes, the sun is shinning today!

I no longer secretly resent the French for being able to find so many days beautiful. And after having lived in the northern gray climates for three years, I'm starting to understand why the French are so eager to applaud the sun.
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