Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My preferred multi-media as of late.

So it is now officially almost 2:30 a.m., I have a paper to finish, I have yet to blog about either my fall break in Barcelona or my fam being here, AND Jenny's coming tomorrow!! So much to do, so little blog motivation. Ahh well, the next couple of days should slow down somewhat.

In the meantime, here's three entertainment updates on my favorite film course viewings and my latest soundtrack-of-life addition...
I'm now off to sleep-write in French.


#1: Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps parfum commercial ca. 1995 based on Flemish painter Jerome Bosch's "Triptyque du Jardin des Delices." I'm in love with surrealism lately, hence the reason I planned what became a facebook coveted excursion to the Salvadore Dali museum in Montmartre tomorrow afternoon. (I gloat.) ;]



#2: An adorable excerpt with Jean-Paul Belmondo and American actress Jean Seberg from a Jean-Luc Godard 60s film we watched called À Bout de Souffle: Breathless...her bad French accent made all of us feel better ;]

#3: My new favorite band, The Helio Sequence. I was watching Inside the Actor's Studio with Steven Spielberg, and instead of finding the meaning to the term he kept using, I found this song. I hate to admit every part of that sentence for fear of its nerddom, but it's the truth.

"Cut the Camera"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"I'm Leuven' it." --the Belgian gang.

So three weekends ago (my poor, neglected blog) I decided last minute to go to Leuven, Belgium for the weekend to visit a friend from Chicago named Jenny...and then I almost missed my bus. hah. Let's just say it was a late evening at the Eiffel Tower, I turned off my alarm on accident, and by God's grace (literally), the surprisingly sweet taxi driver got to the bus station within 18 minutes. I was 1 euro short on his tab, didn't have time to brush my teeth before I left, and found myself running to check-in on an empty stomach.

But let me just say, the hassle was never more appreciated for its outcome.

I slept on and off throughout the four hour bus ride which was a relief, and after venting to Jen on the phone about my difficult morning/E.T.A. the elderly gentleman next to me turned and said, "J'ai rien compris.." (I didn't understand anything.) So after translating my ventilation into French, he kindly offered me a small, chocolatey muffin to tide me over til dinner. I decided he redeems the rest of the French population for his thoughtfulness.

I didn't get into Brussels until around 5:30 in the evening, but when Jenny came to pick me up we gave each other a looong hug. It's funny how refreshing a familiar face can be after just a couple of months. We waited for two of her girlfriends at a nearby chain restaurant, and in the meantime she caught me up on all the Leuven drama. (We decided her program is a lot more Real World than mine.) Unfortunately I still had to register for my UIC classes when we got back to her apartment (long story, and part of the reason why I ended up getting into Brussels so late; I keep forgetting I live 7 hours ahead of everyone else). But we still had time to have a leisurely dinner at Notre Dame Quasimodo, a quaint bi-level restaurant nearby. Even better, Jen's friend Maggie decided we should go to a hole in the wall Belgian hot chocolate diner for dessert. I couldn't have been more pleased when we walked up to an outdoor seating café with heat lamps and blankets and were brought mugs of steamed milk with actual chunks of chocolate to dump in for melting. Cookies too. It was the perfect ending to a much-needed, relaxing evening.


Happy reunion.

The platter.

The next day we got a leisurely start to a very full day in Brussels. Jenny, her friend Maggie, and myself first headed to one of Belgium's most prominent national monuments, the Atomium. I was just as confused at first, but it's exactly how it sounds: a giant, metal atom with eight spheres. (It was refreshing to enjoy some modern architecture for once instead of filling my day with cathedrals and museums.) We paid to go all the way to the top sphere which offered an amazing view of downtown Brussels and a the biggest atom shaped shadow I've ever seen. Afterwards we wandered around the bottom three spheres that contained two exhibits on the making of the Atomium in the 50s as well as a seasonal exhibit on Africa. Interesting enough, but I think my favorite part was the intimidatingly steep escalator.

So strong.

The shadow.


Cool view out the escalator porthole.

We then took a train into the heart of Brussels where my two sweetheart tour guides played Mother Geese and offered me the staples of Belgian tourism: shopping for Belgian beer, chocolate, and biscuit cookies, the most amazing chocolate strawberry Belgian waffle I've ever eaten, pictures around La Grande Place, a cameo appearance with the Mannekin Pis aka "Petit Julian" aka "le môme qui pisse" (you'll see), and Karel Buls' famed golden statue that stays polished due to millions of visitors who rub her body for good luck. I don't ask questions, I just do.

AND this was all under an hour, props to them.

Just look at all those enticing carbs..

The selection.

The winner.

**Quick anecdote: We stopped mid-binge to appreciate our surroundings: downtown Brussels on a Saturday night with Belgian waffle in hand and chocolate all over our faces...and a Yani-style flutist playing Celine Dion somewhere in the distance...perfect**

La Grande Place.

Jen has my same camera and fortuitously introduced its wide setting.

Petit Julian..and yes, he's peeing. [??]

Making my lucky wish.

We ate mussels in Brussels (another staple) on La Grande Place at a cute, cheap, and surprisingly NONtouristy restaurant called T Kelderke. I'd never had mussels before, but this meal definitely rivaled Café Sara in Oslo for best meal abroad. We would've never found its cozy, wine-cellar ambiance had we not been looking for it (they'd both done intense research on the city's best mussels), and once again I'm reassured that having one's own personal tour guides is the way to go.

T Kelderke and Jen!

Mussels in Brussels.

Already full and satisfied, they hit me with another surprise: Café Delirium Tremens. I'd first tried this tasty pale ale with Alyssa last spring break in Carlsbad where Rach and I instantly fell in love. Never did I think I'd be visiting its authentic brewery in Brussels, Belgium. We were lucky enough to find a seat at the bar where we could watch such delicacies as chocolate beer, cherry beer, and the classic Duvel be poured from early 20th century soda-fountain taps by quirky barmen. All delirium-goers were packed like sardines into this one-level pub where hundreds of vintage mug platters lining the ceiling. Rather original interior decorating by the Belgian-French, I must say.

My favorite.

The ceiling.

The girls.

THE girl in the bathroom...she's everywhere.

After courageously trying some of the menu's more exotic ales we hopped on a train back to Leuven to go out with the rest of the Leuven-crew. My, my those kids know how to have a good time. We danced the night away and woke up late for a lunch at an Irish pub before I had to head back to the train. Such a whirlwind weekend, and literally one of the best I've had yet.

Thanks again girls!!


"Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you."

So today I went to the Chateau de Vincennes and wandered around its rural grounds for an hour or so. And standing in the middle of the beautiful 14th century Medieval fortress as the sun started to set over the outskirts of Paris, barely a person in sight, that song came on...and I cried.

Leave it to Simon and Garfunkel to describe exactly my situation at exactly the right moment.

Once again it felt like God had me to Himself just to say, hey, look around Sarah. I see you, but do you see me in all of this...

Monday, November 9, 2009


Jenny discovered this cover when I was in Leuven, and we're in love.


So ugh. It's been a week, and I haven't blogged. But really quick before I turn on Gosford Park and pass out [we watched Jean Renoir's original 1939 version called La Règle du Jeu (Rule of the Game) in one of my film classes so I'm excited to finally have reason to watch the somewhat re-make], I intend on blogging a little about my appreciation for lovely Paris as of late. Most of my recent blogging has been travel, so it's about time I describe a little more of my every day life.

However, tomorrow's blog will be dedicated to my weekend visiting Jenny in Leuven, Belgium...I can't wait, the whole experience was priceless.

But first, I have two anecdotes from last Wednesday and Thursday that I'd love to share. I got pretty depressed thinking about all the places I have yet to see in Paris, so I got out Ash's "Paris by Foot" cards and chose an area called La Butte aux Cailles. I change trains at that metro stop on my way to school and would never have thought about stopping in that area to explore. But apparently it's one of the more historical areas of Paris and certainly looked the part. Low, village-like buildings, adorable little shops, and kinder people on the whole. I held genial conversation with an elderly man at his natural French honey shop and a fun conversation about the humorous size/strength difference between Nicolas Sarkozy and Michelle Obama when I stopped by a nearby brick-oven pizza place...that's right, my French has improved enough to talk about the conservation of honey and poke fun at our shrimpy versus wo-MAN world leaders. I'm so proud.

Even better, the whole area was peppered with some of the coolest graffitti I've seen yet in Paris, mostly by a local lady artist named Miss.Tic. Such a wonderful little hour and a half outing in my semi-permanent hometown, and I only have Ash to thank ;] Hopefully when my parents, sister, and bro-in law come next weekend (eeeeeep!!!!) we'll have some time to refer to some of the other cards and their suggestions.

Historical Chambers Building.


Me and Fig!

Miss.Tic. "Not enough is better than nothing" wise.

My fave.

On Thursday night some of my friends threw a surprise get together at the Eiffel Tower for a girl's 21st birthday. It was kind of cold, but I am SO glad we went because a) it didn't end up raining at all (phew) and b) it involved fun people, free frozen cake, crazy pictures, and dancing to techno accordion music underneath the Tower's 200th anniversary light show.

The group.

The birthday girl.

Barely-there cake.


Rainbow Eiffel ;]]]

I have such a fun life here--I am so thankful, I'll just never get over it! Aaaand I'm going to Barcelona this week for break. Life is good.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Snooze Day.

So unfortunately Halloween ended up being a little anticlimactic this year. Apparently the French don't get real into the commercialism, copious amounts of candy, and "I'm a mouse, duh" antics of scantily clad teenagers in 'costume.' Regardless, we did as much dressing up as we could despite what little resources we'd brought ourselves and went out on the town.

Me: bun, leotard, skirt with tulle turned inside out= ballerina.
Mary Margaret: all black, drawn on whiskers/nose= cat.
Lauren: bee hive, "Daddy's Girl" tattoo, obnoxious black eyeliner= Amy Winehouse.
Eryne: leopard-print dress, heels, messy red lipstick, blond curly hair= Courtney Love.

We didn't even really look dressed up because people normally look that strange when they go out in Paris (minus the whiskers I suppose). But we still had a good time, hung out with a huge group of young Frenchies in the streets. Always something new and entertaining. Besides, I went to a pretty legit costume party with my friend Claire last weekend called 'Bloody Mary,' so I got my spooky fix for the year.

Alex from Clockwork Orange, Ballerina, Pumpkin ;]

The real highlight of the day was a creepy art expo M.M. and I went to at the Musée D'Orsay: a Belgian artist named James Ensor who is officially one of my new favorites. I guess he's renowned for having been kind of pompous, using lots of masks/skeletons in his work, and, in the words of one historian, "scatalogical." hah, look it up.

He had two periods that were completely different, the first consisting of crucifixion scenes, still lives, and family members/friends. The second consisted of distorted faces, guts, and gore. Weird guy.


Reminded me of Chocolat's opening scene.

Later and weirder.

My favorite: "La Vengeance de Hop Frog"

I guess I actually managed to enjoy a rather sophisticated Halloween des beaux arts: expressionism and ballet.