I’m still way behind on my actual life (as exemplified by the fact that I’m writing about Paris museums while sitting in my grandparents’ breakfast nook in Spain…). I have yet to write post about what I did during my class trip to Grasse, but I truly and sincerely believe that it will someday be written and public.
In the meantime, I’ve really enjoyed my ‘new tradition’ of checking out the lesser known Paris museums on the weekends- and finding some real hidden gems.
Here’s what happened this most recent weekend- because my flight to Spain was only yesterday.
- Musee Marmottan Monet: Absolutely adored this museum. It’s a bit out of the way but chock full of beautiful pieces by Monet and Morisot. I’m a bit biased because I’m already a huge impressionism fan, but standing and absorbing some of the basement rooms with the hugest Monet waterlily paintings actually gave me tingles.
- Maison de Balzac: I visited Balzac’s house too! It’s out of the way in the same out of the way that Marmottan Monet is, so they made the perfect joint Saturday excursion. I haven’t read a ton of Balzac (Eugenie Grandet, Pere Goriot, and Cousin Bette) but what I have read I really enjoyed. The garden is lovely and has a great view of the Eiffel tower. Inside there are some busts of Balzac done by Rodin, but my favorite room would have to be the one with all of the character sketches. There are tons of etchings done that were used to print illustrations and I looked at them for maybe an hour. It was fun to recognize characters I had read about (Vautrin was a standout), but even the unknowns were so full of character and individuality. Bonus: the museum is free.
- On Sunday I went to the Catacombs. Dad and I had tried to go when we visited Paris two summers ago and bailed out because of the long line. Thankfully Sunday was pretty blue-skied and sunny, so I went with the intention and understanding that I would have a long line wait to reflect and meditate on my life. I even packed some study materials. That worked for about an hour and a half of queued up equanimity and then I started getting cold and lost feeling in my feet. The last hour was a bit of a doozy (for a total of about 2.5 hours in line). The upside: the catacombs are pretty cool and the report I did on the Paris underground junior year of college gave me some fun insight. I wouldn’t go again because there are only so many bones you can look at, and I’m not sure if it was worth the long wait, even i hindsight. But I do think satisfying my curiosity and checking it off my list was worthwhile. It’s a very French thing, there are stone placards with meaningful and poetic bits of Latin and French text which I had fun reading and translating to myself. There are a whole lot of femurs and skulls take second place. Frequently they’re artfully arranged (there was a heart and a cross and a pillar in there, I remember). Still, with the exception of a few sacra, I do wonder where the other bones went. Also, has it ever occurred to anyone that old femurs look rather like cinnamon bark?
So that was my weekend, briefly summarized as art, literature, and bones.
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.
A links post with a one day delay. I’ve officially started on a two week break (but can’t get too excited because we have two exams the week we get back) and I’m debating whether I should go to The Catacombs today or take a joint trip to Maison de Balzac and the Monet Marmottan Museum. It’s a rough life full of hard choices.
- Yara Shahidi was on Stephen Colbert, is turning 18, having a voting party, and is an amazingly well-spoken individual. I know it’s a cliche to say this, but we need more people like her in the world.
- In spite of my issues with The Shape of Water, I do think it’s a bit unfair to sum it up as ‘the film where the woman has sex with a fish’. That being said, someone designed a dildo inspired by Fish God. You can find anything on the internet and this is why we don’t deserve nice things.
- The inspiring knitwear of Prabal Gurung’s Fall 2018 collection.
- The Obamas’ official portraits have been unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. They’re both pretty amazing, both from an historical and artistic standpoint.
Buuuut: here’s a counterpoint and a deeper reading.
- Wisecrack on how Monty Python shaped modern comedy (via postmodernism, the comedy of the absurd, and political satire).
- A thought-provoking personal essay about an ‘accidental wedding dress’ and accepting that life rarely/never comes with the closure of a settled and final happy ending.
- Similarly, this comic on the numerous ways to fill your heart and live a meaningful and love-filled life.
- A surreal video of a very fluffy doggo swimming underwater.
- The Louvre has created a Valentine’s-inspired Pinterest board. I’m particularly in love (no pun intended) the Antonio Canova’s sculpture of Cupid and Psyche.
- I’m not planing on watching the newly reimagined/animated Peter Rabbit film ever, but there’s been a bit of a kerfuffle about a scene involving food allergies. I don’t think there’s much to be upset about but part of the reason I am steering clear of the film is that even from the trailer it struck me as being crass and mean-spirited. And I wasn’t even a Beatrix Potter kid.
- And… a Disneyland social club is being sued for using ‘mafia-like’ intimidation tactics. What even is this world and what are people? Watch out for the White Rabbits or you’ll be swimming with the… flounder?
- Reaffirming my goal to spend less time on my phone and computer.
- I didn’t cry at this animated short, but I won’t lie- it did give me the feels.
My posts are slowly catching up to my actual life, and two weekends ago I hit four (!) museums in Paris.
Bonus tip: A bunch of museums in Paris are free the first Sunday of every month.
Where did I go?
- Musee Cernuschi: A small museum of Asian art, actually free and replete with Tang dynasty horses.
- Cinematheque Francaise: A museum of cinema history, focused on the early days of film technology, featuring a lot of very old projecting equipment. I was hoping for something a little more on the art than the tech side, but it was pretty cool.
And then on Sunday-
- Cluny Museum: The Cluny is the Medieval History Museum on the left bank of Paris. This was probably my favorite of the weekend. Lots of cool/amazing artifacts and architecture. Reliquaries, sundials, pope rings, etc.
- Musee Picasso Paris: Probably my second favorite of the weekend, even though it was super crowded due to the free day. On the other hand, it’s a small museum and I’m not generally the biggest Picasso fan, so it was the right choice for me. There was also a great exhibition going on on 1932: The Erotic Year.
Let’s just roll right in…
It’s been a weird weekend. And it’s only Saturday. Hopefully grocery shopping is uneventful tomorrow. One minute you’re sitting on the train and the next you’re disembarking and for some reason your right hip isn’t letting you walk?
Pretty sure I’m too young for hip replacement.
SO I was talking to some friends yesterday and said I would send along a list of recommended French films. And SO I figured I would post it since it’s a list.
That said, full disclosure: I haven’t seen every French film ever so this is a superbly and spectacularly incomplete list.
Let’s Start with animated:
- Ernest and Celestine: Bears and mice and based on a lovely children’s book series that I want to buy for my potential offspring.
- Nocturna: Amazing world building. So much imagination. Cats.
- The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart: I walked in on dad playing music from this. He’s never seen it.
- A Monster in Paris: There’s a giant bug and it’s a beautiful heartwarming story. Also beautiful music.
Also kid-focused but not animated:
- Le Petit Nicolas: This is what being a child is like. But kind of more so.
I’ struggling with categorizing all the rest so I’m just going to throw them at you in one big lump:
- Belle de Jour: Catherine Deneuve is bored and fantasizes about BDSM so she decides to be a prostitute. Also her name is Severine, which is an excellent name.
- La Vie en Rose: Marion Cotillard is Edith Piaf and it’s as amazing as it sounds.
- Les Trois Couleurs: Three movies which you can kind of trace from the Nouvelle Vague style. Loosely connected, all individually perfect as stand-alones. I think Blue was my favorite.
- La Double Vie de Veronique: For some reason this hangs out with Les Trois Couleurs in my mind. Some lovely music.
- Huit Femmes: A Christmas musical murder mystery with a who’s who cast of great French actresses.
- Les Choristes: A teacher positively affects students lives through music. But it’s actually a good film.
- Bonjour, Tristesse: The book is better but this is nice and light and summery. Still not a huge Jean Seberg fan.
- The Intouchables: I always confuse this with The Untouchables, a film about taking down Al Capone. This is great too.
- Elle: Isabelle Huppert is bae and this Oscar nominee (did it win? I don’t remember) from last year is fantastic.
- Tous Les Matins du Monde: Music again. But also period drama stuff and sex.
- La Pianiste: Isabelle Huppert being sexy again. But this time even more mentally off-kilter.
- La Piscine: Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin and Alain Delon are all fabulously attractive people. And the film is suitably sexy.
- Les Enfants du Paradis: A long film that flew by. It’s actually a work of art and quite possibly one of the best films I watched last year. It is inspiring me to fall in love with a mime.
- Eyes Without a Face: French New Wave does Hitchcock. I am obviously a fan.
- Diabolique: More Hitchcockian stuff. A wife and mistress conspire to kill the guy. Then come strange events.
Weird stuff that I’m not sure I can recommend:
- Last Year at Marienbad: I will never forget the word ‘couloir’.
- Triplets of Belleville: What…?
I turned 22.5 yesterday and today I have an exam that threatens to destroy all that I hold most dear. I’ve been studying since I woke up at 5:30 am. (Approximately five hours ago). There are about three hours left. It’s panic time.
Here’s what’s happening online:
- Kate DiCamillo (author of Because of Winn-Dixie, and others) on why children’s books should be a little sad.
- You can smell when someone is sick. Here’s a case where a woman was able to identify Parkinson’s patients by body odor, some even before they were clinically diagnosed.
- NBA = ballet? Check out these beautiful unplanned synchronized moments.
- Hedi Slimane takes over at Celine, replacing Phoebe Philo. Not a fan of this development.
- An ode to the pre-teen bedroom, complete with bead curtain.
- Ann Curry may have a baby crush on Stephen Colbert but I have a baby crush on Ann Curry.
- First there was athleisure. Now there is bath-leisure.
- Screen Junkies casts the It sequel– the prestige, the popcorn, and the provocative versions (the latter featuring Jared Kushner).
- Full cast and vague plot details have been announced for The Incredibles II and I am salivating.
- This webcomic is my current (as of yesterday) obsession and I’m narrowly avoiding bingeing it instead of studying. It’s sold out but if you buy it in book form it comes with a plush. Here’s the author/illustrators tumblr for more info.
- Phantom Thread is the last big Oscar nominee that I haven’t seen. Here are some of the films from which director Paul Thomas Anderson drew inspiration (including Rebecca!) and an amazing short film featuring under-the-radar lead actress Vicky Krieps.
- One thing I really like about this capsule wardrobe article in particular (among the seeming billions out there, which get
a bit very repetitive) is the recognition that, because everyone’s style is different, so will everyone’s capsule wardrobe be.
- What is Scandinavian style and why is it gaining so much traction globally?
- Living for Colbert’s imitation of French President Emmanuel Macron. It starts around 2 minutes in.
- In case you’re wondering what I’m doing here in France, here’s a video featuring some of my classmates.
- And to round out this rather fashion-focused week, Kate Spade succulent sandals.