Monday, November 16, 2015

CROUS and The Louvre

The past few days, I've experienced a renewed zest for exploring Paris. I think a part of it is my way of dealing with the trauma of the attacks. It's hard for me to sit still on a good day, and while I acknowledge that at some point I'm going to have to take a breath and reflect, right now it feels good to get out and about as much as possible. Perhaps in my own way, I need to make sure everything is still "there" and the way I remember it.

To that end, I left my apartment today (I don't have class on Mondays) with literally nothing on the agenda. Vaguely hungry, I decided to go to one of the CROUS (Centre Régional des Oeuvres Universitaries et Scholaires) cafeterias near my apartment. CROUS restaurants are these magic little places where French students can get a serviceable, rounded meal for only 3.25 euro.  I arrived too late, but was re-directed to a CROUS café near Mabillon. I'd passed the place a thousand times, but didn't realize it was a CROUS restaurant until today. The food wasn't as good, but it's good to know that it's there.

Meal from CROUS on Rue Mazet (the good one). Nom nom.
On the way to the Mabillon CROUS, I stopped at Un Dimanche À Paris to try the hot chocolate I've heard so much about. The store was empty, so I struck up a friendly conversation with Hiroku, a lovely employee and fellow master's student, after asking her if I was bothering the pastry chefs by filming them on my phone through the glass separating the chocolate shop from the commercial kitchen (for video check my Insta: lazeez90). The attacks came up, as well as the usual questions: "where were you when you heard?" and tactfully trying to figure out if anyone they know was injured or killed. The sense of community here in Paris is palpable; it doesn't seem weird at all to have in-depth conversations with strangers anymore. The manager came over and I tried to pretend that I hadn't been chatting with Hiroku for 20 minutes to avoid getting her in trouble, but the manager joined in, telling us about her son that goes to school right across from La République and that he's been suffering from stress after the attacks. She remarked that the one good thing about the attacks has been that the people of Paris have come together, "tout le monde est ensemble", and I agree.

I decided to go to the Louvre, because I haven't been since I've arrived, and I gotta get in all of my museum visits before I turn 26 and they aren't free anymore lol. There was no line, but the security was fairly rigorous. There was a cool art installation in the ancient Egyptian section that provided fun selfie lighting.

Flags at half mast...

Literally no line...unheard of. 

Claude Lévêque light installation.

Looking at the Egyptian artifacts was comforting in that it gave me a sense of human history, and more generally, time. Time doesn't just stop when something tragic happens, it continues to go on.  People have walked the earth long before I have, and God willing, they still will long after I'm gone and the pain of this tragedy has melted away.

I would love to own a dress like this. Beautiful!

On the way home, I noticed that the first of the city's Christmas lights are being turned on, and it made me smile. [Insert allegory about "hope"/"light in the darkness" here]

Christmas is coming?!?

That's cool. Cuz I love it.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Paris: Terrorist Attack Aftermath

For anyone just wandering out of the Sahara desert or returning from Siberian exile, Paris was rocked on Friday night by a horrific series of terror attacks.  I made this video yesterday in an effort to show concerned friends and family what was going on here in Paris, as well as to attempt to come to terms with what has happened myself:

Apologies for the shoddy camera work, but was my first time. I was pleasantly surprised by the resiliency of the Parisians. The relative stability has been a great comfort to me as a non-native. Vive La France.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Autumnal Bliss: Jardin de Luxembourg

I'm in the midst of working on a paper I've been putting on the back burner for a while, and what better way to get going than to...continue procrastinating? Jk. I read a Fast Company article online about ways to increase productivity, and one of the suggestions was to make sure to get enough sunlight. It sounds easy enough, but Paris is pretty far up longitudinally on the earth, so the sunlight we get on even the best of days is somewhat indirect, especially getting close to winter. Then don't forget to factor in the intermittent rainy days. I'm pretty sure I get at least a mild case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately abbreviated SAD) every winter, so I figured getting outside would be a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Speaking of stones, I live a stone's throw away from Jardin de Luxembourg, so I decided to head over to catch some rays.
The potted plants added nice pops of color
 Apart from a brief coffee meet-up on a cold day in September, I hadn't been to J de L since my last stint in Paris. I think subconsciously I'd been avoiding it because I still associate it with cracking open my first LSAT prep book, which a young and eager Zee purchased through Amazon to "get a head start on [her] studying" and brought to the garden with the hopes of marking her LSAT prep with an idyllic day in one of Paris' most famous parks. Today the weather was gorgeous, and it seems like all of Paris had the same idea as me, as the park was packed to the brim with fellow sun-seekers (and people just trying to enjoy the park, I guess).

Sundays in the park in Paris are super nice, because almost everyone has the day off (pretty much by law) so you see an excellent cross-sampling of people. This particular Sunday, the weather was gorgeous, and I think that everyone was looking to profitez from this gift bestowed by the weather gods.

I find french gardens to be very beautiful, but perhaps a bit too perfect at times. Symmetry and uniformity are definitely pleasing to the eye, but sometimes there seems to be an attempt to sanitize the beautiful randomness that is nature. Going to le jardin in the fall, therefore, was a cool experience because the fallen leaves added a bit of texture and color that literally came about by whichever way the wind blew.

Late-afternoon sammich on a Sunday

I had a great time, and I think the combo of sunlight, grass and cherubic kids playing with boats did me a world of good. Here's hoping that the gorgeous weather stays around for as long as possible!