Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Beginning of the End

So sorry I've been a little lax about updating, I was in the glorious french countryside with a glorious man who I am totally crazy about. So basically: doom. No, he's wonderful and attentive and funny and down to earth and sexy and sincere. And 32 and lives in a tiny town in France where he's building his own house overlooking an enormous valley peppered with tiny brick villages and farms. The sun rises over the hills of the valley in the mornings and the scent of the apricot trees floats in the window and onto your skin. It seeps into your clothes and your eyes and your mind and you feel like every step you take leaves glowing footprints.

I'm going back down to see him on monday and we're taking off into the mountains for the whole week. What has my life become, someone please tell me.

But for now I am back in Paris. I did so much shopping yesterday, I do not even want to tell you how much I spent. When my mom sees my credit card bill she is going to blow an ovary. Well she would anyway, theoretically, if she still had them. But I bought some really nice things and I am almost completely done with my shopping.

Today is unbearably beautiful, I'm gonna stroll the city and take photos like a maniac tourist. I love this city. I love this life. Hooray!

Oh and I'm flying back to NYC on the 24th and move-in is set for the 25th!! I cannot wait to see you all, I miss you just terribly. Terribly terribly. Gros gros bisous from your little french girl!

à vos amours,

Friday, July 21, 2006

d'être l'étrangère

This week marks a month since I moved out of Paris. It feels like much longer. Traveling is an adventure but I feel more and more like a foreigner without anything to tie me down.

Last night upon my return to Avignon, I walked up early to the Palais des Papes to sit in the twilight and enjoy the view and I happened upon Carolina, one of my good friends from Paris and her boyfriend François. I could hardly believe it. We planned to meet for coffee this morning. Then I saw Les Barbares, which is Gorki, the same writer who wrote Platanov, which I loved. I had some problems with the mise en scène (read: directing) but I can't blame the director entirely, it is just not written with a central thread but the director did very little to magnify whatever there was. There were interesting scenes, but I found myself emotionally exhausted at the end from trying to attach myself to the characters. I went back to my hotel and crashed big time.

Met Carolina for coffee this morning. She's here tagging along with her boyfriend and his troupe, who are putting on a few shows at the Festival. I'm gonna catch one tomorrow before I leave town. Carolina is really incredible. She's disastrously beautiful, full of mysterious power and intensity, but carries herself with such breathless grace and ease that it almost hurts to watch her. She's one of those creatures that floats through life on a cool air and the rest of us can do nothing but chase after her for a glimpse. How I wish I had her luck. She's Italian but she's lived in Paris for 7 years, we talked about her current amours, and the possibility (which tears me up inside) of moving to Paris after I finish school.

I think about doing it every day and yet there is so much against it and so much for it and so much of me that would like to escape forever but knows there are chains that forever bind...j'en sais rien. I don't know how I feel, I feel mixed up inside, dizzy, like that game where you put your head on a baseball bat and spin around 7 times. Then someone pushes you and you wander stumbling forward while your eyes search for a clear horizen.

Tomorrow Hervé comes to pick me up and we'll spend 4 blissful days at his house in the country.

I miss you all terrible, but mark your calenders! I come home on August the 13th!


Monday, July 17, 2006

Ciao Bella

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm my skin is burning and it feels so good.

Well I'm still in the Cinque Terre, I've been here since the 14th and its The 17th. The weather has been perfect if a little hot, I've met some really awesome people, I've spent way too much time in the sun, and I've eaten a lot of gelato.

My italian is terrible.

Yesterday I met a guy on the beach and then I felt obliged to hang out with him all day. Why do I do things like this. I really just wanted to be alone and I could tell he wanted to hook up and I was just not feeling it but I felt like I had to be nice until he actually tried anything. WHY?! Why do I have to be nice. If I don't want to spend any time with someone, shouldn't I be able to say to them, "look, I don't want to spend time with you, I'd really rather be alone". I'd feel horrible afterwards.

I also finished Bérénice, by Racine, which was so heartbreakingly beautiful I almost cried about 40 times. It has been a little while since I read something that struck me so entirely. Just the language and the sentiments are so perfectly beautiful and sad, I thought I would burst. I had to keep reading this one part over and over again, I just couldn't get enough of it. Could also have had something to do with the limoncello I was drinking but really, its just a beautiful passage.

If I had the book with me I would type it up here right now.

Now I am reading 'La Guerre de Troie N'aura pas Lieu' or The Trojan War won't Happen, by Jean Giraudoux. Its really challenging my french, I kind of wish I had a good dictionary with me. But its really interesting. It starts before the trojan war, when the first greek emissary comes to try and get Helen back from Paris. And in this play, the two don't even love each other anymore, and it plays with the idea of fate etc. Anyway that was a really poor explanation, BUT the point is its really interesting. Has a lot of things about the inevitability of war, which is kind of creepy to read Lebanon is swallowed by war between Israel and Palestine. Well oversimplification, but yeah.

Well I think its time for a gelato, don't you?

I go back to France early on the morning of the 20th, and Hervé comes to get me on the 22nd. So excited! I haven't heard from Akilles since he wrote me from Cambodia. Not thrilled about that. Maybe I'll drop him a little note.

bisous à tous!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Quick Note

I made it to the Cinque Terre safe and exhausted.

On my way to the beach!

I'll write more later I promise. SO much to tell, this place is ridiculously beautiful.

ciao bei,

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bliss à la Provencale

Decided at the last minute (before I went to bed) that I would take a day trip to Arles, another town in Provence, yesterday.

Got on the train at about 10:30 and was there until about 6 that evening. I took a stroll through the market, watching the Arlesians catching each other up. I wonder what my life would have been like if I had grown up in a small town like this. How different it must be than the American suburbs. Or New York City.

Arles has a huge roman ampitheatre that is still mostly intact, where they still have bullfights and all sorts of events. Parts of the Ampitheatre have been renewed: sandblasted, and the limestone is peachy and clean, the color of a baby's skin, and smooth. But other parts are graying and speckled with age-spots that climb up the wall in patterns like ivy. When the hot provencale sun beats down in the afternoon, these shadowy parts of the ampitheatre stay cool and wilting tourists gather and chatter in their different languages, making a busy little symphony which rises into the air and floats over the souvenir shops surrounding the the great circle of stone.

Across the street is the Van Gogh museum, which (as it boasts in proud letters) is air conditionned! The current exhibit is a collection of Spanish engravings of bullfights and works by Picasso, who was perhaps the sport's most famous fan. I take a peek but I'm not much for depictions of the goring of animals, and although I do like Picasso, I decide to search out other amusements.

Down the Rue de la Clôture is an ancient Roman theatre, built in the first century. I pay my petit prix (admission) and the man at the counter asks me if I speak a little english. "I only have the pamphlets left in english, is that ok?" I smiled.
I climb the steps and enter through a vomitory and stare out at the seats before me. I imagine them full of people, imagine the voices of the actors booming out over the theatre like rumbling low bell-tones. I walk to the stage (where they are setting up for what I assume must have been a concert) and hurry back to what was at one time the backstage, now littered with bits of broken history: stones from corinthian columns, their ancient engravings giving them a wavy appearance. I sit on one of them and stay for some time.

Wandering through the medieval lanes of old Arles, I come upon la Place de Forum, where I find un petit restaurant which suits my taste and has a nice wine list. I sit and enjoy une salade paysanne and a glass or two of cold white wine, light and sweet, making the sun beat softer down upon the streets, and the breeze play tricks with the leaves above the terrace where I sit. I read Molière and laugh to myself.

After lunch, I wander around the bits of Arles that Van Gogh immortalized in his paintings. I find an ice-cream shop which claims to make all their own ingredients. I choose peach, almond, and ginger, and I wander past the golden café, the hospital gardens, and finish my petit séjour with a walk along the Rhône river, back towards the train station, to the spot where Van Gogh painted the Starry Night over Arles.

A blissful afternoon.

To follow it up, I went to La Tour de la Défense that night, by Copi, which was like Oscar Wilde meets Martin McDonough who then revel in the sex and drugs of the 1960's; it left me with plenty to ponder until I went back to my hotel, took my long-awaited COLD shower, and went to bed.

Even though this morning I awoke hot and already sweating (at 8:30am)I was happy.
I got into town and bought myself a little breakfast of nectarines, pastry, and orange juice. Then I went to a play called Le Paradis Modeste, where a little clown goes in search of his companion who has died, through many different versions of the afterlife.

Now I think I'll have a little snack, and head up to the Park to grab a precious city view. Maybe I'll find a bookstore along the way. Tonight, La Poursuite du Vent, and tomorrow morning at 6:30am I leave for Italy.

I better work on my Italian!


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Hot Hot Hot!

I woke up this morning at 9:30am. It was already 32°C. And this is oppressive heat.
Yesterday I walked around all day long, and I was sweating so much I just couldn't get any wetter. I took a shower when I finally got back to my hotel at like 11 and I was standing there with the stream of water running down my back and I couldn't help but think, "i have been this wet all day long". God I hope it gets better. Either that or I will be spendingt all of my time in this internet café which is air conditioned. Mmmmmmm.

Last night I saw a group from Atlanta do a very famous contemporary french play by a very famous contemporary french author. Combat de Nègres et de Chiens, be Bérnard-Marie Koltès, or in english, Black Battles with Dogs. I had a few minor issues with the translation but it was incredibly interesting. It was hot inside the theatre and everyone was fanning themselves with their programs, I looked out over the audience, their faces transfixed but their hands fanning in unison. The actor who played Horn was fantastic, Leone was solid, Albery was ok, and the youngest guy was gorgeous but sadly not so great. I don't blame him because this is a really particular style that is incredibly unfamiliar to american audiences, just the cadence of the phrases, the sonority of the words. Some passages or songlike. Anyway, he was just not equipped and whether that was his doing or the directors, I don't know. Still, the show was great and the french audience gave them 5 bows.

Tonight I'm supposed to see some show with horses in it, cicus style. I have no idea what it will be like, more on that tomorrow.

Today is tuesday, I leave for Italy on thursday. So excited.

bisous à tous

Monday, July 10, 2006

As promised: an absurdly long post

Ok I had just typed pages and pages and then the power went out and I lost everything I had typed. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Ok, I will start over but that had better NOT happen again.

SO I can finally post! For those keeping track, today I am in Avignon, France. I will be here for several days, exploring and seeing plays at the Festival de theatre.
My hotel is really far away behind a mall in the suburbs, but hey, it was cheap. I can't complain.

I guess I will start at the very beginning. I hear its a very good place to start.

I left Paris. I'm still a bit in shock that its over, its seems almost impossible. I keep thinking I'm going to walk out of this cafe and back to my apartment on Avenue du Roule in Paris, but I won't. I said goodbye to my boyfriend, to my friends, to my host family, and I have no idea if I will ever see them again. I woulf like to think yes. Some of them have promised to visit. When I return to Paris, I will always have friends here, but its not the same. The last night Akilles and I spent together I started to cry only once, and only after he had left on the night we said our final goodbye. After the shows, which went extremely well, I was with my castmates until 3am. When they finally put me in a taxi, I was crying and kissing them all. When the taxi pulled away, they chased it down the street, aving and blowing kisses. I have emails and phone numbers and I hope very much they will come to New York.
This week they are out in the country, living in commune, preparing a show round-the-clock. What youth and spirit cannot do must be impossible. I love them and miss them.

Clement made me a CD which I haven't listened to yet. French songs that he labeled with instructions about when to listen to each: "for rainy days", "for feeling sad", "for driving in the car", "for i don't know what". I love him so much, i can't wait to see him again. Why do the great ones like boys?

So that was June 25th. That was leaving Paris.
Après ça, i have done the following (i'll try to be as organised as possible):

1) Leipzig: Spent most of the day in the train station, but did manage to take a long walk that evening. Leipzig is in eastern Germany, which still carries marked differences from ots Western counterparts; remnants of its time behind the iron curtain. In Leipzig lives Corrina, the german student (now in med school) who lived with my family for - months when I was 13 years old. She has lived in Leipzig for - years now, and was telling me about the lingering tensions in the relationship between eastern and western germany. She grew up in the West but she claims that she likes Leipzig better, with 5 eras of history on every block (although admittedly poorly mantained in some areas). She is leaving Leipzig soon to spend a few months in Hungary doing her internship: Leipzig is too full of students and too short on jobs. It was nice to see her and talk to her, but I was still in a daze from leaving Paris, and exhausted from lack of sleep. Plus we were leaving early in the morning for our train to...

2) Prague: Prague is great, especially if you like Art Nouveau. Loved the Mucha museum. It is remarkably well preserved as well, most of the old city sights survived the communist era without too much damage. We took a walking tour with one of Prague's old actors, he even took us to lunch at the National Theatre's cafeteria. The National theatre is where they filmed certain parts of Amadeus, and Mozart worked and lived in this city for 6 of the 'best years of his life'. Prague is also the traditional home of Black Light Theatre, which is across between puppetry, mime, and a lazer light show. Clearly a product of the 60's.
Just in front of the statue on Wenceslaus square, there is a monument to two students, 21 and 19 years old, who set themselves on fire in protest against the communist regime. Clearly, apathy is not a political epidemic in Prague. Not that anyone should make a habit of setting themselves on fire, but it certqinly made an impression on me. Have I ever been so devoted to a cause that I would sacrifice myself, much less set myself on fire? Could I ever be?

3) Salzbourg: The best thing about Salzbourg was the France-Brazil match. Beautiful town, a few interesting mozart sights, but mostly lots of tourists and not much to do. The highlight for me, was the hilarious 'Sound of Music' tour, which took us into the countryside. There are miles and miles of unbelievable countryside, wide clear lakes, charming villages, and plenty of strudel stands. In the van, the guide turned on the Sound of Music soundtrack and everyone on the bus started to sing along, which I thought was sweet. A testament to the universality of, if nothing else, Julie Andrews. The hills were indeed alive, and I wasn't even annoyed. Oh, and we went to a luge course and rode down the mountain in the silver metal tracks.

4) The next day we took a boat ride through the Wachau, a beautiful valley full of terraced vineyards and cute-as-a-button villages, skirting a 15km bend of the Danube. It was nice to relax. That evening we arrived in...

5) Vienna: I loved Vienna, and we were only there for barely two days, which is not nearly enough. It is a beautiful city, benefitting from the incredible wealth of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire, and nearly completely rescued from the perils of WWI and II (which is more than we can say about the empire itself). I fell in love with the legends of the familial turmoils of the monarchy, especially the mysterious, depressed, and beautiful empress Sissy. Internationnaly misunderstood and yet unabashedly admired, she wrote poetry and travelled the world. Then she was assasinated by an italian anarchist. They devoted an entire museum to her legacy. I think I will pick up a book about her when I get back to the states.
Vienna made me want to learn German, and for those of you who do know it, if you want to live abroad and work on it, I would strongly endorse spending time in Vienna.

6) Budapest: It takes time for Budapest to surrender her mysteries to those who are willing to seek them out. I had one full day and one morning, which of course, was insufficient. Hungarian is also an IMPOSSIBLE language. The city is fascinating, and still recovering from the communist era, which hit Hungary particularly hard. My favorite sights were the Museum of Terror and the Public baths. It was also hot hot hot, and I got sunburnt, but France beat Portugal so I didn't care. I watched the game on an enormous screen, sitting on the ground in the middle of a square. People were everywhere, cheering, yelling. It was truly exhilerating, honestly, I sat there and looked around me and I just smiled. I think I would have been satisfied even if we had not won the game. But we did. Hehe.

7) Miskolc: just barely emerging from the veil of Communism. A small city in the hills, where my mom's cousin and her husband have been doing missionary work for the last 16 years. The countryside if lovely, and the town is a work in progress. Hungarian food is yummy, if you like heartburn.

8) Krakow: We visited Auchwitz-Birkenau first thing, which was a bit unorthodox perhaps but incredibly moving. It was so enormous and the sun bore down on us so hot, my heart was heavy with sadness. The atrocities that occurred here stand in stark contrast to the grass that now grows green and fragrant over the fields where crumbling chimneys of hundreds of prisoner barracks once stood. Really a moving spot, I would recommend a visit if you ever get the opportunity.
Krakow was nice, we basically just walked around a lot. It was beautiful, with a church on every corner, usually with a picture of pope John Paul II on it. He was born near here and Archbishop here as well. He's sort of a cult figure in Poland. The polish are ardently catholic afterall. Krakow is also full of tourists, but still worth it for a day or two I think.

And that's all. Now I'm here, and staring at this screen is giving me a headache. I'll try and update again before I leave avignon.