Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I promise, I'm still alive and okay!

I am still alive.

I am not avoiding you by choice, but when your internet access is about 2 hours a week and you have no phone, communication is tough.

France is hot. REALLY hot.

I left Arles and went to Paris in a weekend.

Here are a few of the highlights:

²being woken up at 5:55 am by my friend for our 6;05 am train
²running to the train SOMEHOW in time
²almost getting kicked off train
²not checking into hotel and instead immediately going to lourve
²all toursity things: lourve, notre dame, sacre coeur, musee d'orsay, eiffel tower, les invalides, moulin rouge,

;;;finish this later...tough keyboards, too... But I want you all to know I am alive and that I miss you all a lot.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Now broadcasting from the south of France...

Just to explain a little better where I am: Arles is a small city in the southwest of France, where cultures of France, Italy, Spain and others combine. Arles is in Provence (called Provence because, literally, it was a province of Rome), which is gorgeous countryside where the land is dry at the foothills of the Alps and where flamingos, bulls and small horses wander freely or under the watch of the Camargue (the name of the Provence countryside) cowboys. The skies are extremely blue and it is hot hot hot here. Wild lavender flanks the sides of the tiny roads that connect one small provencal town to another.

There are no suburbs here. Each town is contained by the original batiments, fortresses and walls that protected it. To get to another town usually takes about a half hour or more. Arles is separated in two by the Rhone River. On the side where I am staying, it is older with the original city walls and Roman ruins (an arena, a theatre and a forum). On the other side there is newer housing and one particularly good patisserie that sells pastries (read: culinary works of art). Outside my hotel room I can see both the Rhone and the old Roman bridge that was at some point destroyed. All that remains of it are the large lions on either side of the Rhone, greeting travelers of the Roman roads to Arles since the lion is Arles's symbol.

For those of you who traveled to France with me before, the closest city to Arles is Nimes, where I will be going soon enough for a music festival. The quickest city to get to by train is Avignon, which only takes 20 mins to get to. We visited Avignon yesterday and toured the Papal Palace and then suffered in the heat, drinking lots of water and wilting under the tarped street cafes. Those of you who were in Avignon with me before would be glad to know that the Hotel Bristol is still there and in fine condition, as is Le Forum where we had dinner and the carousel.

Arles is beautiful. I'm sure the people who live here are used to hearing that and don't think much of it when people say that, but it's truly gorgeous. The streets all lead to the old section of town, where there is le Place du Forum and le Place du Republique. Even today, the Place du Republique is the center of governmental things in Arles. There is a large fountain and obelisk there as well. Le Place du Forum is the tourist and social center, and has quickly become where we all eat. In the middle of the forum, something like a dozen cafes have their tables, all covered by huge yellow, orange and green tarps. I discovered an ice cream place there, which is bound to be the end of me
In other news, I only have class Tuesday and Thursday from 9-12. Everything is ridiculously hot here, so after class and eating at a restaurant, I either escape to my air conditioned room or bear the heat to wander the streets some. I was thinking today how funny it is that there's just these incredible Roman ruins hanging out here; no Arlesians think much of them, but they're amazing. The school I take classes in is a coll├Ęge, or middle school, that is a converted 16th century church. The kids are still in school. When we walk by, they all whisper in French about us. There is a constant hushed whisper that follows us around the school.

Neither of my professors know English, so that can make for interesting times. More at lunch than in the classroom. We eat in restaurants around the city with the entire group, including the professors... So if you think conversations at High Table at Willard or with professors in general can be awkward at times, try adding a massive language barrier. It is pretty fun though, and really informative, eating with the professors. Today I learned about French newspapers and which ones are socialist, communist, etc. from a professor.

There are three large differences here in Arles as compared with either Evanston or Lebanon.
1. Everyone gets up really early. Maybe I am only missing this back home because I have a slight tendency to sleep in, but... EVERYONE here is up by 8, seemingly, out at the patisseries or running errands. It is literally too hot to do those things later in the day. Lots of stores close from 2-4 pm, in fact.
2. Men are forward. I already knew that, but I forgot how forward they are...Not just Will You Have a Drink?, but Will You Have a Drink and if Not I Will Follow You Around in Case You Change Your Mind. I have not been out once, literally not once, where someone hasn't approached me. Fortunately, I haven't had the problems some girls have (like men waiting outside doors for them for many hours).
3; There are dogs everywhere.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Little girls get bigger everyday

Two years ago I went to France with my fellow recently graduated friends and my teacher and/or best adult friend Linn King. We were there not long, but the experience changed me.

I came back, feeling bogged down by everything in Ohio. I was just where I was before I had left--a graduate of LHS, a girl with a boyfriend, an geographical-emotional nomad without a home base, a soon-to-be Wildcat (and what did that mean at the time? Nothing.), just a somebody who felt stuck.

France had opened up my eyes in a short amount of time. I realized how capable I was on my own--without my mom, my dad, my boyfriend, even my friends. Suddenly I was back where I had been before, and everybody expected me to rely on them again...and I couldn't.

For that reason, partially, Northwestern was an amazing escape and new discovery.

I was immediately swooned into the green campus, the gorgeous lakefill, Evanston in its north shore glory, my friends and their amazing talents, my professors who blew me away, and of course, Chicago. Here I was, this individual. Totally on my own. Nobody to rely on, even if I wanted to rely on somebody.

Coming back to Ohio was hell.

I say this with some hesitation, as I have some great friends here...and some particularly wonderful ones who have been nothing short of perfect in the last year or two. ...I think they know who they are.

But, let's set the rest of the bullshit aside. There are some people here in Lebanon who fucking suck. I'm pretty sure Lebanon must be a epicenter for lame-ass, back-stabbing, fair-weather, and generally mediocre and relatively uninteresting individuals. ...I think they know who they are too.

If that's just how it is here, there's nothing I want more than to just get back to this life I have started for myself. Where things were new, just starting, with all sorts of hopes for an amazing future for both me and one shared with my incredible friends. There was, and it goes without saying that there still is, so so SO much to look forward to.

Thus, when I got back to school for my sophomore year and was given one final reason to forget about home, I was more excited than ever to immerse myself in everything Northwestern, Evanston and Chicago. I'm pretty sure judging by this journal, and even moreso the personal changes I see within myself over the last year, I did just that.

I spent more time in the city, more time with new people, more time trying new things, and more time just discovering anything and everything in this past year than I ever have before. Not at any particular moment this year, but somewhere along the way, the realization seeped into me that... I am, in fact, done with home.

And no longer is this idea one that is just 'Home isn't home anymore,' or 'I feel out of place at home;' but rather, it is a full sentence; a complete idea: I am done with home.

It seems appropriate, then, that I should come full circle, leaving for France only days after returning 'home.'

To me, this trip is not just another study abroad, or chance to drink wine at age 20, or opportunity to see another half of the globe. This trip is, in part, an exercise of my newly-found individuality. I'm getting to stretch my limbs and say, 'Here I am,' to nobody but myself and whatever part of France is listening...and understands English.

I'm growing up, and that's kind of weird. But it's these steps along the way, and taking them slowly, that makes the growing all worthwhile.

PS. I'm going to miss you guys. A lot. (And most of you I already do miss a lot and am just itching for September already.)


Monday, June 13, 2005

Baby's First All-Nighter(s)

This is going to take a while, but it's worth noting. Keep in mind, also, some of these are approximations, as my concept of time was greatly skewed.

9:30 am: I wake, shower, screw around the room.
11 am: I go to Unicorn to read.
Noon: I eat lunch with Jess.
1:30 pm: I go to Art Store to buy supplies for my Storytelling children's book project.
2:30 pm: I draw in the Common Room.
5:00 pm: I watch Burnt by the Sun with Jason and Oscar.
7:00 pm: Our Cozy Noodles by delivery arrives.
7:05 pm: I bitch out people who set shit on fire and almost catch a tree on fire, too.
7:10 pm: Hen run for drinks.
7:30 pm: Restart movie.
10:00 pm: Movie ends. Feel hella depressed try to get cheered up.
11:30 pm: Move down to Rat Trap to draw more. End up talking to Jeff for an hour instead.

12:30 am: Actually start drawing. Read and other things, too.
3:00 am: Hen run with Schenks.
3:20 am: Discuss all USSR notes with Schenks.
4:30 am: Return to drawing.
6:00 am: Go onto roof to spend some time NOT working.
7:00 am: Discover that I do not have enough white paper to print off everything for my project. Get white paper from Mike, while in 3DP, I notice Trace sitting on the couch, staring at Grant who is sleeping seemingly naked. Thoroughly weirded out.
7:10 am: Run to CVS. Buy binder.
7:20 am: Bind everything. Project done.
7:30 am: Eat the bagel that Jess and Mike picked up for me. Down two energy drinks and one Frappuccino.
7:45 am: Shatter one Lime Perrier and scream.
8:00 am: Take pictures of myself and Jess being crazy.
8:15 am: Shower.
8:40 am: Call Mom, talk too fast for her to understand me.
9:00 am: USSR final.
9:23 am: Finish USSR final?
10:00 am: Go to Unicorn with Jess.
11:00 am: Put things in storage with Jess and parents.
12:00 pm: Go with parents to study abroad office to drop off project. Now officially academically done.
12:45 pm: Go down to 3DP to say goodbye to Mike.
1:15 pm: Mike leaves.
1:30 pm: Go to Buff Joe's with Jess and some of the guys.
2:15 pm: Help Jess move her stuff outside.2:30 pm: Jess leaves.
2:58 pm: Make very sad lj entry.
3:30 pm: Start getting stuff packed.
4:00 pm: Frappuccino bought at Starbucks. Run to Hen.
5:00 pm: Start making dinner plans.
6:00 pm: Run over to Blom to find Eric and company...no success.
6:45 pm: Meet up with some of dinner crew to go to Joy Yee's.
7:30 pm: Sit down finally for some delicious dinner and smoothees.
9:00 pm: Try to pack more.
9:30 pm: Give in and sleep for a bit.
11:30 pm: Awoken by Jason and Jiwon.

Midnight: Up and moving again. Packing. Realize my luggage is missing. Make plans to go to beach.
1:00 am: Plan to beach canceled with JP's goodbye visit.
2:15 am: Schenks stops by, John stops by, many others follow in Jason's wake.
4:00 am: Jeff stops by. Decision to go to White Hen made.
4:30 am: Hen run.
5:00 am: Climb onto roof one last time.
6:30 am: After deciding to really get to packing, I sit with the hybrid, Jaff Schedinger for an hour and a half talking.
8:00 am: Really get packing.
8:30 am: Shower.
9:00 am: Screw around because sleeping at this point is a bad idea, even though I'm done packing.
11:00 am: Parents come, lots and lots and lots of loading of car to bring things to storage begins.
3:00 pm: Best/worst decision ever. I drive someone else's car to take Brett to drop a chair off in storage. Parking a car has never been so difficult.
11:00 am -- 5:00 pm: Lots of goodbyes and surrealness.
5:00 pm: Final checking out of Willard.
5:15 pm: Last moment standing in lobby, staring at mailroom and thinking about the last two years.
5:20 pm: Dinner with parents at Clarke's.
6:15 pm: Hit the road. Asleep before my parents turn west onto Davis. Literally.
9:45 pm (est): Wake up. Drink water. Fall asleep again.

1:45 am: Arrive in Ohio. Ask my mom, tiredly, "Can we move everything out of the car tomorrow?" My mom replies, "Jesus, CC!" and I think she's mad that I suggested it, but instead she thinks I am nuts for even considering moving things that night.
1:55 am: Already in my own bed. Passed out.
2:45 pm: Wake up. Begin living, kinda. Screw around all day, get dinner at Bravo with parents, get ice cream, screw around until...
7:00 pm: I pass out again.
10:00 pm: I wake up and think to myself, Shit. I might have finally slept TOO much. I watch a thunderstorm, talk with friends online, until...

2:23 am: When I realize, yes, I did sleep too much and I should be asleep by now.