Sunday, April 27, 2008

April Update

Hello blog readers.

I've been out of the internet loop lately because it's spring break and I'm trying to enjoy the time off as much as I can...admittedly a lot of it has been spent watching Heroes. Damn TV shows and their power over me.

Well, I just got rid of Marcus (the bro) after a whirlwind week-tour of france and already I'm revving up for another adventure. Pictures from Marcus' visit will be posted soon, but don't expect any updates (unless I'm incredibly bored) until after Friday because I will be in Switzerland.

I decided to take a "soul searching" journey that can unfortunately only last 4 days. I will be traveling to a couple spots in Switzerland by myself to discover its beauty with nothing to keep me company except my ipod, James Joyce, and Emily Dickinson.

Let the self-actualizing begin.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Paris Marathon

I begrudgingly dragged myself out of bed at a sickening 7 am a couple sundays ago to go see the start of the paris marathon. I'm not all that great at action photos, but here are some shots that I got. It was freezing cold and there were about 10,000 people just running...imagine how many people were running, spectating, volunteering, etc. Wow!

These pictures were taken on the Champs-Elysees and around the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I went to Provence with my program the other weekend and it was amazingly gorgeous. Here are a few pics from the trip, I'll try to include captions.

a stadium in Arles where they still do bullfights. Horrible.

The town of Arles from the top of the stade. In the distance you can see electric windmills! Yay alternative energy!

A garden in a former insane asylum in Arles where Van Gogh used to hang out and paint. It now sells Van Gogh post cards...a little sickening.

Us in the garden...what a gorgeous day!

We don't see much sun in Paris...

Me with Van Gogh

Me on a giant stump

A roman pont we visited. It was huggeee!!!

A tunnel we found. on the other side you couldn't hear anything but nature. So peaceful.

Into the woods

Shadows of the pont

Molly on the pont

The secluded Abbey where we spent the night. Yes, there were nuns and monks there. It was so surreal...and in the mountains.

sunset in the mountains <3

Ugh this isn't a good picture, but we went to a town called Les Baux which used to be a fortress during the middle ages, but was torn down when some king was trying to unify france. We walked around the castle ruins and climbed to the top of them to see the views.

Me on the top of the ruined castle

the town below

You can see how high up I was...and how dangerous I was being...

The Pope's palace in Avignon

Me on the Avignon Pont...which only goes halfway across the river.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My favorite moment ever.

Last night my host dad was helping me with my paper on Albert Camus' La Peste by checking it for grammar errors. Since I'm horrible at french, I'd have to stop and explain what I was trying to say sometimes. I was, unfortunately, very tired last night, so didn't make any sense. This was the most I've laughed since coming here, because I finally participated in french "sarcasm," which I didn't know existed.

Host dad: Je n'ai pas compris ce phrase. (I don't understand what you're trying to say here)

Me: *stare at page* Une malade est un gen qui a un maladie. (A sick person is someone who has a sickness) *trail off*

Host dad: *sarcastically* Merci, je ne l'ai pas su, je dois le dire a Lawrence. *uncontrollable fits of laughter* (Oh thanks, I didn't know that. I'll have to tell Lawrence [his wife])

Me: *incredulous look* *pause* *uncontrollable fits of laughter*

Sunday, April 6, 2008

write what only you know

As deadlines for papers hover dangerously close to me, I find myself thinking about and turning to genuine creative writing. Yes, I am reading fantastic pieces of french literature like Tristan et Yseut and Le Vice-Consul, but when it comes to writing about these works of art, French professors expect anything from you but creativity.

And this is where I struggle...and reach for my book of Emily Dickinson poetry.

With french essays, the professors expect you to take a text and basically vomit out anything that could be analyzed about it. Except, it's not encouraged to look through a certain perspective or to come up with your own ideas about the literature (Maybe this is why I didn't major in English in the first place). I find myself shying away from phrases like "impending doom" opting for "destiny" instead.

So again, I find myself turning to my own work, which has admittedly been gathering dust this semester. I find myself doing this because I avoid the daunting task of writing about the vaguest topics like "destiny" and I am reminded that good writers write what they know. I do not know anything about destiny. Why am I writing about it?

But still, the task of "writing what you know" has a vague attachment to it. Write what you know, write what you know...because how can you possibly write what you don't know? I'd think anything you write would have to be something you knew. And unfortunately, dull work comes out of "writing what you know."

Write what you know: The city of Detroit used to be a major trafficking area for alcohol during the Prohibition years. (vague, general, basic history lesson)

Write what you know: I know that it is cold outside in Paris, France at this very moment. (still, more specific, but a lot of people also know that)

These facts just seem to be spat out from general knowledge and observation and will not inspire great writing. Then I remember a particularly interesting writing workshop I went to a few years back with Professor Anita Skeen where she attempted to tackle this difficult roadblock on the way to good writing. She emphasized that you have to narrow the "write what you know" mantra down to spark a discovery of self experience: "write what only you know." Now that sounds like something worth writing, and maybe, someday, reading.

Write what only you know:

. . .