29.11.10

Genève (nov. 19-22)

Welcome to Geneva, where everything is lovely and active but you will not eat a semi-decent meal for less than 15 francs. and mind you, swiss francs are the same value as dollars.

i’m going to write this entry in a more thematic, rather than chronological way, because it seems to be a little more interesting that way. besides, why do you care that I did something on Saturday instead of Monday, or vice versa? exactly, it doesn’t matter… that much. (ps: click on the pictures to see them bigger... though some don't work right, sorry. i didn't make that feature.)

museums: I visited five museums during my stay.

1. le musée d’art et d’histoire (museum of art and history). this was a typical sculpture, paintings, and archeology museum, much like le musée des beaux-arts in lyon.

2. le musée ariana d’art en verre et céramique (glass, china, and pottery museum). so much kitcheware. i especially enjoyed learning about how this stuff is made to get different colors and such when the product is fired. also, there was an interesting back-and-forth trade in styles between china/asia and europe.

3. le musée de la Reformation. biggest thing i learned: always get the audio guide. well, not really. this museum was really cool because it was down to earth and had the most interesting exhibits i’ve seen in a museum. there were little treasures (easter eggs, i guess) that you could find during the visit. they brought jean calvin and martin luther to life by having voice actors saying stuff on recordings to tell their stories. the basement was interesting too as it had a whole thing about the protestant movements since the 19th century!

4. la maison tavel, musée d’histoire de genève et la vie quotidienne genevoise. this museum (if you want to call it that) had a bunch of exhibits of salvaged architectural pieces from geneva. there were big wooden doors that were intricately carved, furniture pieces, and wallpaper (for which geneva was famous at one point). the very coolest thing was a miniature model of the whole city that was up in the attic. this thing was huge and lovely, and so intricate. one man worked for hours on this thing. unfortunately i don’t have a picture because they were extremely persistent about no photos.

5. le musée d’histoire de sciences (history of science). this is the place for steampunk hipsters as well as science nerds. all these gadgets designed and created by great minds in the 18th and 19th centuries are super cool. there was also a large section dedicated to explaining how dams make most of the electricity for geneva. i, unlike steampunk hipsters, actually appreciate these scientific developments beyond “brass is the coolest metal” and “i like gears, they’re awesome”. it was impressive how many gadgets they had for measuring the weather and its effects.

other sights:

the UN complex is basically a “sculpture” of a broken chair in front of the avenue of nations which is lined with flags. there were so many asian tourists that it was hard to get decent pictures, but i eventually succeeded!

the cathédrale st. pierre was lovely. i believe it was first built around 1400 something (hence the medieval ambiance it’s got going). it was a seedbed for the Reformation.

swiss stuff: clocks are a big deal in switzerland, but did you know that Huguenots that fled from France brought some of the know-how with them? they have a cool attraction which is a garden and a working clock at the same time. they change what flowers it has by the season (so it seems) because i saw pictures of it when it had numbers and not just a cool design.

i had to get some chocolate, of course. i would go back to geneva and buy a kg of the lavender chocolate i had, and it would last me at least a year (ideally). it was so good. i ate a piece and was good. i didn’t feel like i need some more or anything. plus it was pretty.

well it's not swiss, but it's christmas-y... we grabbed starbucks so i could have an egg nog latte :)

up next: paris with natalie!!

homesickness means you miss the small things you took for granted, like peanut butter.

17.11.10

vent.

i'm just... i'm just... just.... AGH. le français m'échappe! madame keeps bugging me about practicing. i'm over it right now. i'm trying. i really am. i know you don't believe me, but i am. also, even if i was speaking french all day every day, it wouldn't necessarily mean i'd be fluent by now. if it takes 10,000 hours of practice to do something amazingly, it would take 800 days at 12 hours a day. i want to shrug it off, but i just can't. how to go easier on myself? i feel like i AM taking it too easy. i can't estrange the few american friends i've made. and i can't just insert myself as "bestie" in my french acquaintances' lives. i saw some girls in my linguistics class that i'd like to talk to someday. i would have today if it hadn't been an exam. which kicked my butt. i had a dictionary and the concepts weren't hard, but there are those little things i didn't think to look up (yes, we corrected it directly after). i didn't even THINK about the rule that the "s" is only voiced between vowels (and whenever they feel like it). enthusiasm, enthousiasme. it's [-zm] or even [-zəm] in english -- not [sm]. i almost can't even produce it. i'm just hoping he'll be merciful on my grading... i'm hoping for 12/20 (which is, well, passing). i know i got at least 8 points. so we'll see how it all goes.

also, i just want to say that i'm, well, hormonal as f*ck, so this may just be stress multiplied by that. (please excuse my strong language, it releases endorphins).

*sigh*

tomorrow, i have my thursday classes for the first time in like a month or so. i'm terrified yet relieved at the same time. if it had been 2 classes missed, whatever. but we've missed three + a vacation one. i don't know what's due or even what i'm supposed to know. so this will be interesting. i'll be glad to be going to school twice a week again. also, i think i need to go to the library and just sit and read books on my off days. that's a good habit to make. i noted in one of my classes that the website (which i still can't access) has two bibliographies on it... i need to be reading whatever is on that list. but i need to see the list first.

god help me. i'm all sorts of frustrated.

9.11.10

rant & rave

narnia?

rave: it's fall and i love it. the smells, the adventures, and that overwhelming sense of transition. i've taken the time to get all up in the spirit of autumn -- on saturday (last weekend now...) i hung out in the park, and on sunday night i went wandering around the presqu'ile and fourviere with valerie and juan. we went up to the hill to look at the lights at night. and we found this super old book that i adore! 1909! it smells super nice.

i've started feeling the holidays in the air... the christmas season is sure to be pleasant. the christmas markets start in almost 2 weeks! (also, i'm going to GEVEVA this weekend!!)


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now for a rant: i don't like how when i tell people i've got my man back home they respond "oh that's hard," "oh la la.. c'est dur, c'est chaud ça". yes, it's hard for me. but i chose it, people. it's also what i think is best for me right now.
because, even though we don't get to talk for days at a time sometimes, i know he loves me.
because i can see what it will be like when we're together again.
because, now more than ever, and as much as i can picture myself without him, i don't want to. i want him in my life, by my side.
yes, it's sappy and ridiculous and silly. but it's the truth, and i'm serious. this time is good for us. we're both growing individually -- and i'm delighting in every little development he makes. it's so beautiful what we have. call me crazy (not to my face please) but we are perfectly simple, simply perfect right now, and i wouldn't change it, not for the world. i'm living my dream and he's chasing his.
falling in love is not falling. it's a choice you make, but you keep it a secret from yourself. maybe because saying "i've decided i'm going to love you" sounds pretty damn selfish and... deliberate. what's wrong with that? walking is a series of falls, so when you take a step it might feel like you're falling -- that's why you have to take another step. if you don't risk the fall, you go nowhere. so in that light, please consider the fact that loving cuong is my choice. being his girl is also my choice. i chose to face the separation, even though it hurts like hell sometimes. but it won't kill me; it won't break me. i would rather feel the pain of longing than nothing at all. so yes, it's hard, but in a good way. it hurts good.

next update should pertain to geneva. or the ridiculous rain/cold we're suddenly getting.

5.11.10

rest in peace, grandma

my grandma passed away a week ago. i woke up saturday morning to the message from grampa saying she had gone peacefully, and he was right there with her.

i want to share a few thoughts in her memory:

grandma wasn’t the grandma that would spoil us to no end, nor did she knit us sweaters and socks for Christmas. she didn’t fit any stereotype for a grandma, but she was definitely the perfect grandma for me. as for my fondest memories, i’d have to say Christmas was one of them – my favorites were the partitioned three-flavor popcorn cans that we had to ration out slowly so it wouldn’t be gone in 5 minutes between the four of us kids; and the fruitcake because no one else ever made it for us; driving through the decked-out neighborhood all excited after a 4 hour drive; and watching cool tv like the travel channel (because we didn't have tv). i remember the toys in the spare room ; they were probably dad’s when he was little, and yet i was able to draw so much entertainment from them. i especially loved the pop-up camper toy. and one time we sat down and looked at old pictures of my great grampa and lots of other people in our family. I only barely remember the house you had when you had a cat, but I’m sure I had fun there. something about a pool table maybe? it was always cool to hang out in the RV whenever you came to visit, too!

when you’re little you take grandparents for granted. you visit them, they visit you. they send you birthday cards every year without fail. that makes me wonder why i never sent you any birthday cards. as i’ve gotten a little older, i’ve gotten to know those things about you that showed you are a true fighter, right up until the end. maybe it’s the irish in you, but maybe it’s just you. you’re spirited. and I admire you for that. you lived a good and full life and left your mark. you sure raised my dad well! i love you dearly, and i'll see you on the other side.

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i've never really faced grief like this before. though i wouldn't call it grief because the word just doesn't resonate with me. at any rate, i'm somewhere between denial, social withdrawal, and depression. i'm trying to keep myself busy and occupied with things i enjoy, but as soon as i'm alone i feel empty and fall apart. it's hard being so far from my family and those friends i can cry all over... and i've not been getting many hugs because this is france. when i decide to have a crying session, nothing comes out. and then there's the needing to talk to someone but not knowing what to say. i just want to be held so can let it out on someone's empathy. the slightest bit of stress bewilders me, too. we'll get through this with time.

to my family, i love you guys a bunch. aunt connie and uncle kevin and your families too!

grampa, i wish i could be there. i'm really proud of you, being so faithful and true to your love, right up till the end.

love,

danielle