Posts Tagged ‘Puppets’

So, break has started. I know, because I have been sleeping a lot, eating well, reading much and watching a lot of “Monk” on my computer. All of these are good things, but they will not last forever — meaning today and tomorrow and beyond I must start doing more homework and other such things.

And know this, dear readers, I HAVE finished my narrowly defined reading work today, meaning that all I have left is the more tenuous and vague essay research and feature story writing, which is difficult. But that’s for the rest of the week.

Friday saw me getting break started off right, with a journey to the famous Opèra Comique, the building where Bizet’s “Carmen” first premiered more than a century ago. Along with a random assortment of American/Canadian/Egyptian friends, I went to see Hector Berlioz’s “Béatrice et Bénédict,” an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”

It was a really lovely production, albeit a little strange and too fixated on the staging decision to use a “puppet show” theme for everything. Basically, there was this little English tramp man  — who also apparently wrote this adaptation, who knew? — who read things out loud in English form the original Shakespeare script, and who would then hit his cane on the stage and move about the singers, making them carry out the parts of the story that he could not. It worked, on the whole, but the decision to use the puppet theme resulted in some rather unfortunate — read, heavy thick and ugly — makeup decisions.

But the singers were superb, the story was cute — just the story of the embittered and embattled lovers and their subplot, not the complicated shaming of Hero bit — and I could understand the vast majority of the spoken French dialogue and sung French text, which was nice.

We followed up our opèra adventure with some late night café conversation, which was lovely.

Saturday was more winning all around, starting off with some reading, running and “Monk” watching and ending with some random wanderings around the Jardin des Tuileries and Montmarte and a french-toast and egg and madeleine and butterscotch dinner party, complete with much delicious wine and intelligent conversation. By the end of the night, the apartment we had chosen to dine in was full of people, and we all felt very adult and very French and very full.

Sunday was a lazy day, with me exhausting my food supplies once and for all, watching more “Monk,” meeting a friend for drinks and catching up with the Amero-Canadian bunch at a funky bar in the 5th to watch the final Olympic hockey match between the US and Canada.

The bar was overwhelmingly pro-Canada, which wasn’t surprising, but it was fun to watch the game and cheer awkwardly and proudly when the US scored. There were several large groups of slightly inebriated French people who eyed us suspiciously when we started chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” towards the end of regulation game time when Team America pulled out one final goal to force the game into overtime. That same group was quick to tell us, in French, “Tough shit!” when Canada won a couple of minutes in overtime.

But no matter. It was a winning weekend, and I spent very little money on food and entertainment, and still managed to have a lovely and all-around great time.

On the metro home last night, I discussed my feelings on the month of February with a friend. We both agreed that this past February was perhaps the fastest and least awful February we could remember, which was surprising.

Does this mean I’m actually, without question, becoming happy here? Just when things get frustrating and too too much — I owe money, the bank calls me to try but not actually succeed at explaining why they haven’t given me my account yet, I spend too much money on weekend food outings, I miss my family, etc — I realize that February was a good month, and I can only imagine that March, April and May are going to be even better, considering that SPRING is coming! And is here! And friends are coming to visit! And my parents will be here in less than a month!

Joy, joy, infinite joy.

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Nothing really significant happened to me since that party on Friday night. I mean, really, I slept for 24 of the past 48 hours. It was much needed sleep and I definitely will be full of life tomorrow, but right now I just feel like I had a most unproductive weekend.

I did manage to go for a run everyday, and finally buy more groceries — most shops are closed on Sundays here in la belle France — which in itself was a major victory. I also did a lot of reading and cooking and relaxing, so I guess while lacking sheer productive output, this weekend was a much-needed rest after a busy week.

I’m now plotting out several lazy — and inexpensive — day trips in the city for my week of nothing, the kind of day trips where I won’t have to spend any money and I can see interesting things without wasting the whole day. If the weather stays grey rather than rainy, I might head over to Père la Chaise, the big cemetery in Eastern Paris where many famous people are famously buried — Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, etc. — and maybe go to the Musée d’Orsay later on in the week, because I think it is free for students with a carte d’etudiant — of which I now proudly an owner, 200 euros later.

If anything, I might just go the cafés in this quartier, order a cup of coffee, and read and write and watch people as they walk by. There’s a great little café called the Liszt close to my apartment, and the Gare de l’Est area nearby has a lot of big cafés that are perfect for people watching. I have 4 or 5 days to kill. Why not do something interesting? And cheap?

I also might try and find Parc aux Buttes Charmantes tomorrow morning on my run. I tried today, but I just couldn’t find it and got lost. Fortunately, when you use a canal as your landmark, it’s hard to get really lost. I’ve found that if I use significant landmarks on my runs here, I’ll always find my way home. Things like La Bastille, la Place de la Republique and the Canal St. Martin are all large, noticeable things that both I and other random pedestrians know, so I am ever lost, I will just ask where these things are and head that way.

I do feel sorry for that woman who stopped me earlier this evening for directions in my friend’s neighborhood. While I might look like I know where I’m going, I really have no clue.

I think that’s the key to Paris. Pretend like you know what’s going on, and even if you don’t, no one does, so you can all pretend together.

It’s like one big game — there was even an elaborately staged puppet show on the metro this evening, complete with keyboards and music and speakers and everything — of imaginary fantasy. Sometimes I don’t believe I’m in a real place.

But I have 4 days this week, and 5 months after that, to really figure things out. Then maybe I won’t have to pretend anymore.

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