Friday, October 17, 2008

I Am So Ridiculously Excited

Tomorrow morning, the Oregon group is leaving to visit Les Châteaux de la Loire! I can't wait. Here is our itinerary:


8:45-Leave Poitiers
10:30-Visit the estate of Marc Brédif (It's a Vouvray cellar! My favorite!)
12:30-Arrive at Amboise. Eat lunch in town.
15:15-Visit le château d'Amboise.
16:30-Vist Clos-Lucé, the house where Leonardo Da Vinci lived and died.
Night-Eat and sleep at Château Ouen les Vignes


10:00-Visit the Château de Chenonceau
12:30-Arrive at Loches. Eat lunch in town.
14:00-Visit donjon. I'm not sure what this is.
15:30-Visit the royal lodgings.
16:00-Return to Poitiers

Awesome. So I'll get back on Sunday, and then, on either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday...


Without Internets :(

I am currently without internets until Thursday. So I'm back at the cyber cafés. I made three trips to the internet/phone store called Orange yesterday, only to return home to find my internet no longer working. Sigh. So typical.


Here are the translations of those beautiful passages from Marcel Pagnol's Le Château de ma Mère. Thank you to Grand-père, Grand-mère, and Daddy for these.

My dear Lili did not come with me to the little cemetery of La Treille, because for years he had waited there, under a patch of Everlasting: in 1917, in a black forest in the North, a bullet in the head had cut his young life, and he fell in the rain, on tufts of cold plants the names of which he did not know…

Such is the life of men. A few joyful moments, quickly erased by unforgettable sorrows.

It is not necessary to tell it to children.

And the second:

But in the arms of a sweet-briar, under bunches of white roses and on the other side of time, there was for years a very young dark woman who always held tightly to her fragile heart the colonel’s red roses. She heard the guard’s calls, and the dog’s hoarse breath. Wan, trembling, and forever inconsolable, she didn’t know that she was at her son’s home.

So very sad and beautiful.

Oh Holy Mother of God!

I had a long island iced tea the other night. Dear Jesus. It was the strongest drink I have ever experienced. When I asked Kelsey and Sam what was in it they told me everything was in it, but I didn't really think everything. I was wrong. Luckily, Kelsey and I were sharing. I think drinking one of these myself would have killed me.

Here are some other scenes from our nights out. This is Lindsey (Oregon), James (England), Aerika (Oregon), and Liz (Oregon)oustside Est-Ouest.

Here I am with Nico (France), Kelsey (Oregon), and Kerstin (Germany) at L'Havanita:

And Sam, me, and Kelsey:


I Have Never Seen Such A Thing In My Life

Purple and orange cauliflower. I saw these the other day at Les Halles du Centre, the produce store where I buy my avocadoes, clementines, and pears every day. Awed by this amazing sight, I asked the nice woman who works there if they were natural. She said yes, they're not genetically engineered, they just have different vitamins that change their color. I love this country.

T-shirt Party

Last weekend, my French friend Nico had a party at his apartment. We all wore white t-shirts, and Nico had markers ready for us. It was great. Here is a group shot, but this was still fairly early in the night. I think more arrived later.

Here is a picture of Tobias and me showing off our artwork. Since I feel that I excel at animal pictures, I drew Tobias a little pig that is saying "hi Tobias!" On my collar is Tobias' second favorite word in German: Schockschwerenot. This is apparently an explanation of surprise.

I don't think any of my readers speak German, but if you'd like to give it a shot, or look at more France pictures, check out Tobias' France blog here.

Here is a picture of the octopus someone (Christa maybe?) drew on Kelsey:

And the manatee Kelsey drew on me. It turned out looking rather suggestive, which Kelsey explained had not been her intention:

Here I am with Christa at the end of the night. What can I say? I just really like Vouvray, okay?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Fine Day for Hazing

Last Thursday, my engineer friend Patrick invited me to have a drink at a café with some of the other engineers. It turned out to be more than just a drink with friends. Every year, the engineering school (ÉSIP) hazes the first year engineering students. The first years roam the streets of Poitiers in groups, stopping at each station where they must bend to the will of the upperclassmen. I had the honor at sitting at one of these stations to watch the events. Here are Julien and Patrick spreading nutella and sprinkling almond slivers on the face of one poor soul:

I couldn't get a photo of exactly what this victim was trying to do (he was moving a lot), but please note the egg on his shirt, and writing on his forehead. He was trying to put a condom on his head, but when he was unsuccessful, he was told to put it over his shoe where it promptly ripped, much to everyone's chagrin.

At one point, one first year was forced to play a penis while two other boys crouched beside him to replicate the testicles. White yogurt was put into the mouth of the penis boy (I'm sure you can see where this is going), and two girls massaged his back until ejaculation ensued. I did not get a picture of this. Sorry everyone.

Here is a picture of Florian, moi, and Patrick:

And Antoine, Julien, and a boy I don't know. Some of the other tormentors:

I even got to experience some of the action when one of the first years made a sneak attack on Antoine, whom I happened to be sitting by. This is me, post egging. I guess you can't really see the egg in my hair, but it's there:

Friday, October 10, 2008

For the French Speakers

I think the last two chapters of Marcel Pagnols' Le Château de ma Mère are some of the saddest and most beautiful lines I have ever read. For the French speakers, here are my favorite excerpts from the last two chapters. I will work on translating them for the English speakers. Or maybe the French speakers want to take a shot at translating these passages? (Wink Wink Hint Hint Grand-mère, Grand-père, and Daddy).

Mon cher Lili ne l‘accompagna pas avec moi au petit cimetière de La Treille, car il l’y attendait depuis des années, sous un carré d’immortelles : en 1917, dans une noire forêt du Nord, une balle en plein front avait tranché sa jeune vie, et il était tombé sous la pluie, sur des touffes de plantes froides dont il ne savait pas les noms…
Telle est la vie des hommes. Quelques joies, très vite effacées par d’inoubliables chagrins.
Il n’est pas nécessaire de le dire aux enfants.

That section just killed me. And the very last paragraph of the book :

Mais dans les bras d’un églantier, sous des grappes de roses blanches et de l’autre côté du temps, il y avait depuis des années une très jeune femme brune qui serrait toujours sur son cœur fragile les roses rouges du colonel. Elle entendait les cris du garde, et le souffle rauque du chien. Blême, tremblante, et pour jamais inconsolable, elle ne savait pas qu’elle était chez son fils.

Very Odd

The same day I visited the cathedral was the weekend of Les Expressifs, the street arts festival I wrote about last week. When I left the cathedral, there was a musical theater group (I guess that's what you could call it) in front of the cathedral singing sections of Carmina Burana. In between the singing, a narrator explained portions of French history while the actors mimed the events. The actors were wearing masks, but by the plenteous amount of white hair, and what I could see around the masks, I don't think anyone in this group was below the age of seventy. And I'm pretty sure none of them were actors or singers. But hey, I'm all for staying active into the elder years. Perhaps the strangest part of the performance was the woman playing the Virgin Mary. She sat perfectly still behind the actors, holding the baby Jesus. I think she was supposed to be one of these living statues, and I'm pretty sure that she had eyes painted on top of her eyelids, so she could keep her eyes closed and avoid blinking throughout the performance. I found the result terrifying. I tried to get a picture but I was rather far away. I'm glad that this picture shows the masked actors as well.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Notre Dame La Grande

Last Saturday, I visited one of Poitiers' cathedrals. Notre Dame la Grande is a Romanesque cathedral. Its construction began in the eleventh century. I have a preference for Gothic cathedrals, but Notre Dame la Grande is beautiful, and different from other cathedrals I've seen. I've never seen a cathedral with painted columns, and I love that each columm has a different pattern:

Here is the view down the nave:

One of the stained glass windows:

Another window:

And another:

Here is the organ:

It had been a while since I'd been in a cathedral. I had forgotten the smell. Inside, it smells damp and moist and oh so very old. It was wonderful.

I Wanted to Kill Myself in the Grocery Store the Other Day

I was shopping at Monoprix. The store was playing perhaps the worst remake ever. It was Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix, with a latin twist. There was even a trumpet solo in the middle of the song. Physically painful.

Pastry of the Day

Chocalate tart. NOM NOM NOM.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Les Expressifs

Les Expressifs is an annual art festival in Poitiers. For four days (this year October 1-4)visitors can see street performances, concerts, and theater and dance spectacles for free. Tonight, Kelsey, Christa, our French friend David, and myself watched a drum group at the Palais de Justice, and a concert in a pavilion at the hotel de ville. The drummers were super cool:

I also enjoyed what we saw of the concert. It was a trio of three men; keyboard, guitar, and tuba. I thought they had a sound similar to Gogol Bordello and some Neutral Milk Hotel. Quite enjoyable.

This festival also seemed to bring out the entire hippie population of Poitiers. Surrounded by an abundance of dreadlocks and flowing, earthy clothing, I felt like I was in Ashland again.

After enjoying the concert for a little while, we went to a restaurant for hot drinks. It is sooo cold here already. I ordered hot wine which is perhaps the best thing to drink on a cold night when you want to warm up.

Eventually our French friend Nico joined us, and some friends of David's as well. Here is a picture of Kelsey, me, Nico (standing), and Pierre (making my delightful rabbit ears):

It was a wonderful evening, and now it is late, and I'm going to go to sleep. More posts to come.

You know you've left America when...

you see condom dispensers on the streets. Oh, Europe. You delight me.

Fire Safety

This was the sign on the back of my door when I lived in student housing before I found my apartment.

Damn, I need to get a extinctor so I can attack the fire in the event of discovered a fire.

Sam's Birthday

Sam, a fellow Oregonian, lives on the floor beneath me. We do neighborly things together such as grocery shopping, laundry, sharing a broom, complaining about French bureaucracy, et cetera.

Last Tuesday was Sam's 22nd birthday. He had a little get-togther at his apartment where hamburgers were made, cake was eaten, and a merry time had by all. I believe seven countries were present to celebrate the day of Sam's birth.

Happy Birthday Sam!