Festival Chorus

27 03 2009

If you haven’t had a chance to check out this festival, well then get your ass there because there’s only a few days left, since it ends on March 28th. I was lucky enough to get the chance to check out the talented franco-malienne singer Rokia Traoré on Tuesday. I was introduced to both by a new friend (well at least no one can accuse me of not keeping busy! lol), since I’d never heard of her, or the festival for that matter. Rokia’s performance blended a mixture of folk, jazz and African music. The vibe and performance of the show felt really new to me because other than listening to Antibalas (does this even count?!), Femi and Fela Kuti, I haven’t really listened to much African music, but I really liked her energy and voice.

Rokia Live

Rokia Live again

I was also impressed by the venue. The show took place at the Magic Mirror in La Défense. A very intimate venue which reminded of being at an old school circus, complete with a red velvet domed top ceiling. I always think of the circus as being something that’s typically French, which makes me reminisce about my childhood in Montreal. Maybe because of the Cirque du Soleil?

I’m continually blown away by the amount of festivals, shows and concerts happening in this city. The concert was about 10E, which was well worth it. However, for those of you on a tight budget, there are free shows happening at noon. I also meant to go see Peter Von Poehl because I’m loving the song “Forgotten Garden” at the moment (thank you Radio Nova!), but am ashamed to admit that I didn’t want to get out of bed because it looked like it was going to rain.

I’m also happy to say that I hope that I’ll be able to check out more this festival next year, since I didn’t hear about it until a week+ into it. I would have loved to have seen Abd Al Malik, Tahiti 80, Laurent Garnier, Dub Inc., and Yaël Naïm who all also performed. Particularly Abd Al Malik. I’m dying to see him live!

Anyone else know of any other festivals or shows happening in Paris (or even nearby) in the next couple of months that they want to recommend? I’m all ears :).

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Parlez-vous anglais?

23 02 2009

tressduncecap

I know that I promised to post pictures of my apartment, but I lied. I just absolutely had to get this off my chest.

I’ve been in Paris for exactly a month, and as much as I love living here, there’s one thing that’s been bothering me for the past month. I find myself speaking English way too often. If anything my experience in Paris so far, has been the exact opposite of Lyon –language wise.

Most people that know me know that I’ve lived in France before as a language assistant. When I was initially applied as a language assistant, on the application you were given the choice of three regions. I remember choosing the Academy of Lyon only because I knew that Lyon was the second largest city in France — no matter how much I travel, I can’t seem to adapt to small towns. I figured that as a smaller city it would probably be less international than Paris. After my language experience in Tokyo, where I lived for 2 and a half years without picking up much of the language — other than the basics — I figured that I would have the chance to speak French more often in Lyon than if I were living in Paris.

In the end I got placed in St. Etienne, a podunk town without any redeeming qualities, located an hour train ride outside of Lyon. And although I resented being placed there during those initial first 9 months in France, in retrospect I am extremely thankful that I had the full immersion in French culture that I would have never had in Paris and am still not getting.

And as much as I know that people mean well, it drives mean absolutely crazy when I meet a French person and as soon as they find out that English is my first language, well then we absolutely should speaking it. It doesn’t matter than we’re in France. Obviously I want to spend every moment of my time in France speaking English! Gahh! See I feel better now.

With that in mind, my language skills have plateau-ed. Although I speak French fluently and without any difficulty on a day to day basis, I still don’t feel like I’m quite where I want to be. Particularly after the feedback that I received from an interview that I recently had (which is another story altogether — best saved for another post). So with the recommendation of a new friend that I’ve made here in Paris, I’m going to take language classes at the Sorbonne — schedule and finances permitting, with the hopes of passing the DALF C1 exam.

I’ve reached as far as I possibly can on my own — and because I never took a single language class the entire time I was previously living in France. I seriously need my ass kicked by the grammar police. Especially when it comes to writing.

p.s. I do hope that you like the cosmetic changes that I made to the blog. The other look was just too boring for words. And that picture of the streetcar — lame!





Blame it on the rain

9 02 2009

I’m sure you all have been waiting with bated breath for a new post on how things have been going in Paris, so here’s a new post ;). Keeping this blog really takes writing discipline. Sometimes I find I’ll write something new and then for whatever reason never post it.

I had another job interview today. I’m so sick of job interviews and trying to sell myself to be what the company wants. I feel like Ethan Hawk’s character in the movie Before Sunset, when he’s telling Celine about his book tour and says, “I feel like such a huckster.” Well I feel like a huckster and I’m tired of selling myself. In the past 3 weeks since I’ve been here, I’ve been on  5 interviews. Yikes! Plus at the interview today they made me do a translation from English to French…so hard because my writing in French is not as good as it could be. And this interview was long! I was there for an hour…I don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing. That’s the worst part. I never know. Some places I’ve had the best feeling from the interview and never hear from them again, so I have no idea.

After the interview I spent the afternoon walking around even though it was pouring rain…such a bad idea. I wanted to walk to the American Church from where I interviewed (near Place d’Opéra) because the church has job postings. But I’m still somewhat unfamiliar with everything here and even with my map, I kept walking in circles! In heels! Finally I got to the church hours later, which I didn’t think would take that long, only to find there was nothing good listed and I was cold, wet and tired :(. When I planned it in my head the night before it seemed like a good idea because I knew I’d be walking through some of the prettiest landmarks in Paris and I wanted to take pictures. The only thing was the weather was so bad I didn’t take a single picture! Sadly that means no pictures for this post. oh well. For those of you still needing a photo fix, please feel free to orient yourself to my previous post where I posted pictures of a recent nighttime stroll on rue Georges V.

And lest you think my life has been filled with job hunting boredom, my social life is starting to come together nicely and I went to a house party this weekend. I loved the house, it was so typically French, complete with an empty bottle of Ricards liqueur used as a vase and a room filled with books from floor to ceiling. I had so much fun and there were lots of very attractive French boys there, but sadly I didn’t meet anyone. Most of the people were architects, since the person throwing the party works as an architect, so a very interesting crowd. However I drank way too much and spent all of the next day in bed with the worst hangover I’ve had in a really long time. But it was worth it! 😉

And for those of you that are interested or just curious, for my next post I will give you a more in-depth view of my life here including…drumroll…pictures of my apartment!

p.s. shoutouts to Milli Vanilli!





Une nuit à Georges…

29 01 2009

Eiffel Tower

Resto

out and about

Metro





Travel and Updates

26 01 2009

I’ve arrived safely in Paris and have mostly been sleeping more than I care to admit, and just generally trying to get myself settled in. Flight

Overall my flight was alright. In my mad dash to make my ride, I’d packed my earphones in my suitcase, so no movie for me! (Which ended up being no big deal, since Nights in Rodante looked like the cheesiest movie ever made!). Though I actually had a remotely friendly neighbour, who actually acknowledged my presence with a few small-talk questions as we settled in for the 6-hour flight to London. I fly quite a bit and with most people, I barely even get a hello, much less a smile. (Um hello?! We’re going to be sitting next to each other for the next 8 hours, would it kill you to even make eye-contact?! I don’t need a new BFF, but come on people?!)

However, after the sheer hell that was my check-in, and especially after the demise of Zoom, I think this signals the end of my love affair with charter airlines. Luckily I had gotten to the airport 4 hours early, because I spent nearly the entire time packing and repacking my bags trying to get the contents of my life to fit in with the stingy and very strict 20 kg weight allotment that the check-in Nazi’s were not being even the slightest bit flexible about. They even weighed my carry-on bag and made me take out items because I was 3 kilos over! WTF?! I ended up leaving half of what I intended to bring in luggage storage at the airport…but I can’t be too mad, now I have an excuse to re-stock my wardrobe…in Paris!! 🙂

So lesson learned for me with trying to cut corners and save some desperately needed money (with the strength of the Euro, the Canadian dollars has almost as much value as Monopoly money), but sorry Air Transat, this is the last time I’ll take one of your flights. That experience was so draining and stressful, that as I soon as I got on the flight, I fell fast asleep only to be woken up for dinner.

The next leg of my journey was actually way more exciting than I initially thought it would be. The word of this trip was economize (or no budget!!)…so as I landed into London already fatigued with jet-lag, I wasn’t looking forward to the bus ride to Paris. In the end it didn’t turn out to be so bad.

The bus (or coach as the Brits say) was way more comfortable and relaxing than the flight and I chilled out to the mellow sounds of Architecture in Helsinki and The Postal Service on the ride into Central London from Gatwick. And finally I noticed the supposedly British-influenced architecture of Royal York rd. in Toronto, in the English homes on the outskirts of the city.

The coach finally made it’s way into the city after a modicum of lateness due to an accident on the A 23. And while waiting in line for the bus check-in (yes you have to check-in for cross-country travel on the bus too!) I made a new French friend and happily discovered that the bus coach would be taking the ferry and not the chunnel…score! I highly recommend taking the coach to Paris if you want to get the feeling of adventure back into your travels and are sick of no-budget airlines, yet want to save money.

For a measly £12 coach ticket, I got to relax on a ferry and sat down to a nice dinner in the ferry restaurant as I watched the view of English channel on the horizon…highly recommended!

Other than that I’ve been surprisingly too busy and too tired to do much sightseeing. Though last Friday I went to a cozy little dinner party at a friend’s place where I met a very interesting and friendly group of expats and frenchies. After feeling stuck in a rut for so long in Toronto it’s nice to be feeling social again…and after all, I’m finally in Paris (I still can’t say it without smiling) after months of delays!!

And that’s pretty much what’s been going on with me, I have a few things cooking and in progress, but will be sure to update the blog once I have definite answers. In the meantime please do keep reading…I promise to update as soon as I have some exciting news or thoughts to share!





Happy New Year!!

5 01 2009

I’m a bit late with this, but what else is new?! 🙂

Happy New Year!

I have the feeling that 2009 will be filled with lots of happiness, love and success. I’m just feeling optimistic in general about this upcoming year and can’t wait to see what the new year brings. And on that note, my goals for the year are to:

* Learn Spanish

* Write and publish more often

* Travel more

* Work towards getting my Masters

* Blog more often

I’ve never really been a new year’s resolution type person. I don’t like to diet and like exercising even less, so those have never been goals that I’ve set for myself. However I’m all for self improvement and a change in outlook never hurt anyone. Particularly since I’ve been feeling very stuck in a rut the entire time that I’ve been living in Toronto, and soon that will change! Onwards and upwards to bigger and better things…I can’t wait!





Hope.

24 11 2008

As I was walking home from the library this evening, I had a brief flashback to the giddiness that I felt the day after Barack Obama was elected President. I actually wrote this post the night after the American elections. And even though a few weeks have passed, I think it might still be worth posting. obama-hope

I’m feeling hopeful for the future. Even though I’m not American it feels good to see my face reflected in their world leader. In a world where being Black often feels like a burden or a stigma. And after hearing “No you can’t.” for too long to my ambitions and aspirations, as well as being looked down on with pity from those with seemingly good intentions, yet painfully obvious and transparent with how they really feel. It feels good to finally hear, “Yes you can!” That’s what the election felt like to me.

America has surpassed Canada. Daring to meet at the table of race relations, when Canada hasn’t even opened the door to the room, preferring to pretend out of ignorance, discomfort or just plain guilt that race is an issue that no longer exists.

“Yes we can.”

Yes it is an an issue. After listening to a speech that was so hopeful and optimistic for the future, it brought tears to my eyes to see people so excited and full of optimism for what is yet to come. It was also a day for the first time in my lifetime that I got to see a democratic election the way it was meant to be.

People were actually excited about electing a leader, rather than just going through the motions the way us Canadians have with our election. After re-electing Stephen Harper, even after his lacklustre and unimaginative campaigning, it seems like we’re the ones who aren’t ready for change. After 8 years of feeling smug, it looks like the shoe is on the other foot.