Icebreakers and I have a tempestuous relationship.
Despite being something of a hot seat devotee and a major fan of random and revealing questions, my first memory of icebreakers is on the traumatic side.
It was the first day of 3rd or 4th grade. Our teacher (Probably Ms. Ellis in fourth grade, this seems like just her brand of sadism) told us we would be going on an impromptu camping trip, passed around a roll of toilet paper, and told us to take what we thought we would need for an overnight stay.
I was pretty sure something was up. I may have been eight years old but I was no fool. They needed my parents’ signatures to bus me to the Science Museum for a few hours. But still part of me was completely appalled at the threat of being spirited away for a night. And having to reveal my toilet paper needs? It was the height of humiliation.
You may have played this game before- you have to share a fact about yourself for every sheet that you take. I don’t remember what I did- probably something middle of the road like 5. Someone took one sheet and another boy (I think it was Pedro) took about half the roll.
So while I have no problem with sharing some level of personal information and even less of a problem listening to other people’s stories (when it doesn’t border on the TMI) I hate the enforced ‘getting-to-know-you’ of icebreakers, which are really only good for uniting a group against the irritating and condescending authority demanding how many bones you’ve broken.
Which is a long way of saying I found 25 fun icebreaker questions and I’m going tonsure some of them.
Please do not be inspired to use these for their purported purpose of ‘team building at work’.
- What was your first job?
My first paid job was as a barista at a Barnes & Noble Starbucks.
- Have you ever met anyone famous?
The most starstruck I have ever been was when I met one of the horses who played Shadowfax in Lord of the Rings.
- If you could pick up a new skill in an instant what would it be?
So many I can’t choose: a language, hunting with falcons, parkour, an instrument…
- Seen any good movies lately you’d recommend?
Good Time wasn’t my kind of movie but it is being criminally overlooked. It came out in 2017.
- Been pleasantly surprised by anything lately?
The only things coming directly to mind are both today: Clinique’s eyeliner is in fact easy and liquid, and it sounds like Black Panther is super intersectional and has strong female characters.
- Favorite band ten years ago?
I was twelve, which was about the time I got my iPod and started listening to music for the first time. Honestly it was probably Aly and AJ or Avril Lavigne. Embarrassing.
- What’s your earliest memory?
I remember sitting on the rug at preschool and thinking to myself, “I’m three”.
- Been anywhere recently for the first time?
Grasse and Nice!
- What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
The first big ticket item I bought with my own money was one of those felted cardboard cat condos. It was two floors. We still have it. It was $80 and I had saved for forever. I think I was in Elementary school. I was a high roller.
- Any phobias you’d like to break?
Nope, spiders and I are good with where our animosity is, thanks very much.
- What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?
I’m such an old person, I like raisin bran. But I remember being young and loving the Cap’n Crunch I had at my cousins’ beach house. When I came home and asked my parents if we could buy it they told me it wasn’t sold in our state. Ah, the lies our parents tell us.
Happy Friday! I have the day off, which is many kinds of wonderful (not least because I get to go out and buy a pastry and check some travel guide out from the library and maybe find a waterproof pair of boots.)
(You know, the real problem is that I just want these ten year old riding boots to be new again, or to find a pair of Chelsea boots that are pretty similar. But the Vogue right now seems to be for combat boots or boots that are combat-adjacent so I’m having some trouble).
- Collider (one of my favorite youtube channels on the film industry, frequently mentioned on the blog) doesn’t usually discuss anime, but Emma’s here to decode some common visual tropes and gags.
- More things I’ve learned from my amazing and diverse ISIPCA classmates? Dan from Australia taught me about ‘Firehawk’ raptors, which spread bushfires to flush out their prey.
- There’s a Star Wars-themed Creperie in Paris. The dishes are named after the planets by which they were inspired. Not at all vegan-friendly, but I’m so amused.
- I know I hate on GP’s goop, but this is actually a pretty good article about how our negativity is in many ways an adaptive strategy, a self-defense mechanism to protect us from past threats- and so a lot of negativity may no longer really be necessary (and may actually be counterproductive) to leading happy lives. I know I sound super woo woo so I’ll stop, but it does resonate with a lot of what I’ve observed and thought re: my own negativity and cynicism.
But yeah, no, I only skimmed the article.
- What do I really want? Continuing to love Mari Andrew’s illustrations.
- Also Poorly Drawn Lines’s send up of this classic Lion King scene.
- Screen Junkies (another favorite youtube channel on the film industry) presents their annual Screens awards for the best and worst in movies and television.
- Unforgettable movie style moments. Some (Keira Knightley’s green Atonement dress) would definitely be on my own list (which, hey, will maybe happen someday).
- I hope you made it through Blue Monday (the most depressing day of the year, apparently) okay. If you’re still feeling a bit of residual down-ness, here are some lovely feel-good movie dance scenes. I still always listen to Dancing Queen when I need a boost. I have to say I think Moses Supposes from Singin’ in the Rain is actually more feel good than the title song, but whatever. Again, maybe this is a moment when a personal list is needed.
- You’ve heard of the KonMari Method. Maybe you’ve even partaken in some Swedish death cleaning (I’m only 22 and I know I have. One needs to be prepared)- now t’s time for the hot decluttering trend of 2018: American Apocalypse Purging.
- Another anticipated 2018 film (see earlier post): Love, Simon.
- I watched I, Tonya and thought it was pretty good (Blades of Glory is still the best figure skating film), but you know what I’d love to see? A film about figure skating legend Surya Bonaly. Because a backflip is almost as difficult as the Iron Lotus.
- The mindset of men and women re: sex and during sex itself, and how this influences the way women write about sex. A really interesting read.
- A very cogently written account of the issues with Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. It’s always brilliant when you find an article that explains your gut feelings. Beautiful film, serious problems.
- There’s a Colette film coming! Keira Knightley’s going to star! I’m not sure those two go together! But I love both separately!
- On Aziz Ansari and sexual assault vs sexual coercion: I don’t believe sexual coercion is sexual assault. But it’s not exactly enthusiastic consent either. I don’t think it’s too much to ask men to interpret mixed signals, particularly when sexual violence against women is so common and fear of the consequences of refusal is so real.
- If becoming a perfumer doesn’t work out, maybe I can go into gourmet ice cream.
Apologies for the punny title (which translates as ‘The World of Mondegreens’)- you know I can’t resist a punny title, especially when it gives me a chance to show off my remedial French.
So for those who don’t know, a mondegreen is essentially a misheard lyric. Here are some I’ve got going on recently.
Havana by Camila Cabello: In which the word ‘Havana’ is replaced by ‘Banana’.
Original: Havana, ooh na-na (ay)
Half of my heart is in Havana, ooh-na-na (ay, ay)
He took me back to East Atlanta, na-na-na
Oh, but my heart is in Havana (ay)
There’s somethin’ ’bout his manners (uh huh)
Havana, ooh na-na (uh)
(Thanks for the lyrics, google).
Translation: Banana, ooh na-na (ay)
Half of my heart is in Banana, ooh-na-na (ay, ay)
He took me back to East Banana, na-na-na
Oh, but my heart is in Banana (ay)
There’s somethin’ ’bout Bananas (uh huh)
Banana, ooh na-na (uh)
Les Etoiles by Melody Gardot: Being already a pretty big MG fan (Shout out to the soignee yet depressive ‘Burying My Troubles’) I was primed. And then I got to Paris.
That’s right, Les Etoiles became Les Epaules, or ‘the shoulders’. But not in a sexy way, but in a ‘the French eat shoulders’ kind of way.
Cocaine by Eric Clapton: PLANTAINS!
Someone get me a lobotomy…
I am indeed more sane today! It’s amazing what a Chipotle burrito can do to pull back together the resolute American spirit.
And as goes my stress- I had my favorite pastry and a beautiful pear for breakfast today, went to the pastel exhibit at Petit Palais that I was looking forward to, bought a few things that I’ve been searching for (for years), and have a classic financier tucked in my desk for breakfast tomorrow (with a persimmon and maybe some chocolate (?).
So what is a classic financier I hear you ask? The almond one. My bakery had a pistachio-chocolate one (half and half), the almond, and a cherry one. How does one choose?
Well, I like fruit in pastry, but I usually have fresh fruit with my breakfast (I stole an excellent pear from my landlords today) and didn’t want to be outfruitied. And then I was considering pistachio, but when I got there realized I wasn’t feeling chocolate. It’s always best to start with the classic anyway.
So life is good.
Here are my links
It occurred to me that today is a links day but guess what? I don’t have many links and I’m feeling stressed and over-stimulated, and I felt like writing a links post would be not an excellent thing for my brain.
So I want to do what I often do when I’m stressed and make a list of what’s bothering me. It kind of helps. Especially because when it comes down to it I’m kind of living my best life. There’s nothing seriously wrong in any way whatsoever.
There are a few too many focuses and that’s a hard thing for me to handle because of who I am as a person.
So in the order in which they occur to me:
- We have three tests coming up in the next two weeks. For one I have to memorize approximately 100 synthetic molecules, their names, and the families they’re classified in. And recognize them by scent. And review the 130 natural materials that will be trickily sprinkled in… For another I need to recognize something like 50 or 60 fine fragrances, with names and brands, and scent families. I don’t even know what the other one is at this point. Maybe chemistry?
- There’s a French one coming up. Do I even have to take the French test? (My French is good enough that I’ve been told I don’t have to come to class).
- I finished my green beans but didn’t eat the broccoli I bought this week and I’m worried it will go bad.
- I need to go grocery shopping on Sunday and I’m slightly stressed about what recipes to shop for.
- In three weeks we have a field trip to Grasse for a few days to study the mimosa harvest. And most people (including me) are staying the extra weekend days. But that means I have some trip planning to do, and my last trip planning experience didn’t give me a huge amount of faith in my abilities.
- Speaking of trip planning, a week later is the start of our two week February break. I have no idea what is happening there.
- It’s hard to go back to working all day. I hate sitting so much and feeling so exhausted after. Smelling for 8 hours is actually really exhausting. I need more physical activity and stretching.
- I want to try a financier pastry but I don’t know what kind to buy. It looks like they come in almond, pistachio, and chocolate varieties.
- Speaking of which, what kind of bread should I get this week?
- Lol I need to find a summer internship.
- I discovered that Chipotles exist in Paris and I REALLY miss Mexican food so I’ve asked some friends to go with me tomorrow, which is kind of a worry for me. Just the planning and timing.
- Speaking of my plans tomorrow, there’s an exhibit at the Petit Palais that I have to get to (it closes Sunday) on the pastel art of Degas and Redon. Must make that happen.
- I left my favorite necklace and my iPod at home. I miss them.
- My grocery shopping? I need to get a jam but I’m torn between four types. (Figs or mirabelle or Reines Claudes or fruits rouges?)
I think that’s it! Stay posted for links (and hopefully sanity) tomorrow!
When you think of a country you haven’t visited or spent much time in, your view is kind of one-dimensional, featuring mostly the big sights, tourist destinations, and maybe the big food exports. Or at least this is what I’ve noticed for myself.
When I thought of France, I thought of Paris. And I thought of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, maybe macaroons. And if I had a spare minute, maybe music and the fragrance industry in Grasse. And Vincent Van Gogh’s mental deterioration in the south of the country.
But when you get beyond that, like when you live somewhere (or even when you make an effort to go off the beaten path on holiday) you get a much deeper idea of a place.
Here are a few fun sightings that always make me smile:
- Kids on scooters, usually going to or from school. Especially if said kids seem to be trying to run you down. (I’m convinced at this point that this is how I’m going to go).
- People carrying baguettes on the street. People carrying baguettes anywhere. One baguette, two baguette, more baguette. Sometimes you’ll see the very disheartening sight of a baguette that has accidentally been dropped and left to languish.
- People carrying straw market bags. So many people carry them, even in the winter. You can even see elderly men carrying around baskets that remind me of nothing so much as Easter Egg hunts. Sometimes they have baguettes in said baskets.
- Huge lines in front of boulangeries and patisseries.
- The general populace pulling market hampers/carriages/trollies. Especially on market Sundays.
- Advertisements for books. Like you know how you see subway ads and street ads for films and perfume? Same here, but you also see them for tea and books.
I’m not going to go into the details of why I’ve been referring to my long weekend in Milan as a #SeriesofUnfortunateEvents, but instead focus on the positive.
Because it was a beautiful city and traveling is hard and once my phone is working again (the bad luck has followed me!) I’ll only (mostly) remember the good and happy parts.
So I set up a Google Map before I went (bluntly titled ‘Milan 2017’) and divided my places into ‘cultural’, ‘walking’, and ‘shopping’ designations/destinations.
Let’s have share time!
Cultural: I was mostly going for a cultural/high-brow/pretentious weekend to myself. The things I loved most are In CoLoR
- The Duomo and the Museum: It’s the one big church that everyone is supposed to go to but honestly (as you can see from my colors) I found some of the smaller ones more worthwhile. It’s a big cathedral, not colorful, not particularly unique. But grand.
- La Scala: The 6,50 euros I spent on la Scala cheap seats (for a philharmonic performance) were some of the best moneys I’ve spent in my life. It’s awe-inspiring. The people watching is as amazing as the performance, which sounds silly but you can very much see that people-watching is what the space was designed for. The boxes are each like a tableau of attendees, all spread out in front of you across the way. like so many paintings or television screens, so many snapshots. Also red velvet.
- La Scala Museum: My phone wasn’t working when I was at La Scala for the performance, so it was very worthwhile for me to go back and take photos. (And check out a box). They also had some Maria Callas costumes on display, which was cool. Reminded me of how much I like ‘Addio del passato’. Which just autocorrected to Addio del pasta. Oh boy.
- Santa Maria delle Grazie: Not the church itself, but The Last Supper in the building adjoining. It’s set up so well, though you do have to reserve your place for entry. They let you in with the painting with a small group of people for a carefully timed fifteen to twenty minutes. It’s actually a pretty excellent way to view it- very few people, lots of space, uninterrupted views. Mind blowing and so striking.
- Pinacoteca di Brera: All of the Madonnas and Childrens to put my own struggles in perspective. Gorgeous Titians, Veroneses, Botticellis, Bellinis, all that good stuff. The area around it is lovely of a nighttime walk.
- Museo Poldi Pezzoli: Another art museum with an immense and majestic staircase with a fountain and goldfish and a room full of watches.
- Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore
- San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore: I’m pretty sure the first thing you’re supposed to say when you walk into a church isn’t “Oh fucking fuck”, and yet. This church is so beautiful. It filled my soul. 100% worth seeing.
- Santa Maria Presso San Celso: this was my other big church favorite. Beautiful ceiling moldings and all that. Honestly pick this and the one above over the Duomo. Go to the Duomo piazza to see the church from the outside and feed the pigeons. And to check out Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, not for the shopping but for the architecture.
If I could add anything that i didn’t get the chance to see, it would be Bagetti Valsecchi, an ornate ducal residence with difficult hours.
- Sforzescu castle: I lived super close to Sforzescu, and while I didn’t go into the museums, walking through the court and the gardens outside it was lovely.
- Navigli: The Navigli are a set of channels in the South of the city, and something I almost ended up skipping. I was lucky to roll in when there was a huge street market of antiques and vintage clothes happening. Beautiful and lots of fun.
- Piazza Mercanti: A cute little corner that’s seen better days. It’s pretty central, but still a bit hidden. By all means roll through.
- Casa degli Omenoni: This is not a walk so much as a neat building facade that one can walk by. But what a cool facade.
I ended up not sticking to my shopping destinations at all, but ended up doing these:
- L’Erbolario: Where I finally succeeded in getting myself a bottle of Meharees, a spicy musk perfume (reminiscent of Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle) that I’ve been wanting forever (and regretted not buying when I was in Milan two years ago).
- Kiko Milano: Turns out Kiko Milano is cheaper in Milano. Especially when they have a buy three get three Black Friday sale. Eyeshadow sticks.
- Granaio: Gelato.
- Farini: A lovely pizza place just by San Lorenzo Maggiore, where they sell different types by the slice. Delicious. I ate three, Two probably would have been better.
- Juice Bar: A cheap eatery in my train station (Milano Cadorna) that had a yummy Vegano sandwich with what was perhaps the most delicious roast pepper I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.
- Centro Botanico: My nearest health food store, because it’s me. I bought hummus and bread and peanut butter and lived on it when I wasn’t going out to eat. And Fuji apples.