Thursday, July 30, 2009


Today marked the end of my month of EAMA. Finishing summer music programs has always been bitter sweet for me, but this time seems particularly so, maybe because it was a much longer program. Perhaps it was because I'm older and didn't spend my evenings playing the skittles game like I did back in the day. But I think it is because we had so many chances to make good friends. Being a musician I often feel like I can't connect to other people. The further I get into music, the less connected I feel with non musicians. Not saying I don't have non musician friends, but there is a special bond that comes only through music. Coming to a program like this allowed me to be surrounded by people who are just like me and who each love music the way that I do. I love how intense these programs are, it's like drinking from a fire hose, but I love every moment and look forward to the programs I'll attend in future.
In my time here in France I've made friends with students I would have never come into contact with anywhere else. I've met amazing performers and composers. The amount of talent I've seen this month is incredible, particularly from so many of the composers. Some day when they are all world famous I'll be able to say I saw them fall asleep in a counterpoint lecture. Bahaha.
Parts of the program have been hard and exhausting but I've loved it. Every moment, even when I was having my soul sapped by third species. Fourth species would have really killed me, good thing I chickened out on that one... although, nerdy as it sounds, I plan on messing with more counterpoint on the airplane. I don't quite understand it, but the ideas that were presented fascinated me, and I'd love to figure it out more. It brings a whole new meaning to music and helps it all make so much more sense.
Tomorrow I get to go visit the last few sites I can cram in, who knows what they will be. I'm mostly excited to spend another day with a few other students and enjoy Paris. I don't plan on ever making it back to France, there are too many other places in the world to see and too many cultures to experience, but in my month here I've come to appreciate this country. Although I can't say I would ever want to live here, being here for a month has been great.
This month has been incredible. It has gone so fast. It feels like yesterday that I was worrying about my keyboard harmony entrance exam and wondering what in the world first species counterpoint is. Now I have performed in two concerts, finished three voice third species counterpoint assignments, and survived my keyboard class. I consider that quite the victory. I've visited museums and historical monuments, ranted about cool kings and queens, and been awestruck by beautiful houses of worship. I've sung hymns in french for three Sundays, run into missionaries in metro stations, and watched as seeds of the gospel have been planted in many hearts. I've vaulted metro exits (sometimes cards don't work), eaten copious amounts of gelato, and made Stella incredibly dubious on occasion. I've seen the truly beautiful sections of one of the oldest cities in Europe and visited sections I wish I'd never seen. If I were to try and tell half of all that I've done in this month or introduce a few of the wonderful people I've met I'd run out of room. So, I'll just tell you it's been amazing and so much fun. And as I leave I'll have a quote from one of my favorite movies running through my head "We'll always have Paris." Au revior.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


There is a cartoon that I see on occasion in which a father is counseling his son telling him that someday the woman he loves will leave him for a man and that man will be a musician.

Clearly the maker of this shirt was never hit on by a real musician and never looked at a musicians salary.

Just Sayin'

It's all about perspective...

Most of my life, I've considered myself a morning person. I've come to this conclusion mostly by association. In high school I always had morning Seminary, so, by the time 8am advanced algebra came around I was pretty perky while my friends were still trying to down enough coffee to construct complete sentences. Looking at them with dark circles under their eyes, sniffing coffee like the smell could pull them from their stupor, I knew I must be a morning person.
In my first semester of college my opinion was only strengthened. Most of the time I was the very first person who left my apartment and on my way out the door I saw nary a soul before my first classes. Again, I assumed that because I was out the door at 7:45 and able to walk and eat while frantically reading my english assignment, I knew must be a morning person.
Second semester I moved in with Denise, who would get up around the same time as me and suddenly I realized I may not be quite the chipper morning person I thought I was. I began to realize that I function in the morning, but I really have nothing to say to anyone before about 10am. We worked though though, because Denise wasn't much of a morning person either and we lovingly glared at each other as I slammed doors and she hissed at me while straightened her hair. Eventually after living together long enough we could do accurate morning impressions of each other much to the amusement of our other roommates.
Sophomore year I effectively lived alone so dealing with people in the morning was out. This summer, being unemployed, I stayed up far too late and considered it a major victory if I was out of bed at one in the afternoon. So, that makes this summer up until July moot as far as morning person-ness goes.
Enter Amber Packard my summer roomie in Paris. Amber is perky, very very perky and a decided morning person. I knew this going in and in the first week I didn't think there was much of a problem. Amber got out of bed about forty five minutes before me, got ready and, about half an hour before needing to leave I jumped in the shower and we eventually left. No morning conversation, no singing, no noise. Little did I know, Amber was merely suffering from severe jet lag. About a week and a half into the trip my alarm went off and Amber bounded from bed singing as birds careened through the room and flowers sprung from her every step. In thirty seconds I realized that I was no morning person, not even close. In the morning I wake up and stumble towards the shower after having beat my alarm clock into submission. I don't actually remember much about my mornings until I am rinsing the shampoo out of my hair. Amber sings Disney, dances and giggles reminding me somewhat of a little chipmunk scampering around the room thoroughly excited to see the world.
So, I am now decidedly a night person. Forever more, I relinquish my right to tell people I am a morning person. I function in the morning nothing more and sometimes less. Amber thrives on some mysterious energy that seems to envelope her in the mornings. If someone could figure out how to bottle that stuff and sell it Starbucks would be out of business in three days flat.
Revenge is sweet though, I get my energy burst at night right before she is ready to go to bed. The disgust I feel in the morning is returned in kind at night as I march through our dorm singing General Hathai's March.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Quotes and other ramblings

Today marks the beginning of my last week in Paris. How the time has flown. There are things I wont miss, like looooooooooong metro rides and getting lung cancer from all the second hand smoke, but there are other parts of this I will miss. I loooove the bread here, it's about all I've eaten... in varying forms that is. Gelato is AMAZING!!! The architecture and streets here are pretty, and I get such a kick out of visiting historical monuments.
In the next week I have to visit a few more famous places and do my last trip to the Louvre to soak in a little more museum goodness. I want to go eat a really good crepe, and more Gelato, and I've heard there is a falaffel place here that is to die for. I want to go sit on the banks of the Seine and watch the city go by. I want to find a painting and buy it, preferably for not too much money. I want to go visit more gardens and enjoy the what little living scenery there is here. We'll see if I get it all in. It's gonna get crowded.

I thought instead of observations for you I'd start posting some of my favorite quotes from this month. Remember, we're a lot of really really nerdy musicians... so these jokes get rather... nerdy musicianish. Don't feel bad if you are lost.

~"I'm just so, so insanely popular" Dr. Clayton
~"In the test we didn't mark off for sharps, 'cause they're natural" Teddy
~"I don't use movable 'do' I use movable 'la' see: la la la la la la la la (sings scale)" Big Lee
~ "Okay pancakes, 1, 2, 3, CHEESE" Amber talking to her food
~"I've dated three Ben's, Ben the First, Ben the Second, and Ben the Conquer" Danielle
~"Direct fifths are like jay walking... but if you don't get caught, what's the harm?" Teddy
~"Call me Stella" Dr. Clayton
~"That's just one more reason not to friend you on Facebook" Dr. Clayton
~"Hey guys, hey guys, ACHOOOO!" Amber
~"Your purse talked to me." Amber
~"You be the Jedi Master & I'll be your Padiwan" Danielle, cheesy pick up lines gone Star Wars
~"Playing Bach is like in the Odyssey when Odysseus must go through the sea with the sirens. You flutes, you're the sirens, and piano you are both Odysseus and the sailors. You must put wax in your ears and continue forward, but you also must be Odysseus who listens and wants to be drawn in" Narcis Bonet
~"Here is the difference between staccato and speccato. Staccato is Bach. Speccato, Offenbach." Narcis Bonet
~"Sometimes you look around and realize there are some really attractive Frenchmen here" Stella
~"There are four types of chords: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the forgotten." Joseph
~"The problem is, I'm not sure we'd notice if Amber were drunk..." Danielle
~"There's a lot of crime here, that's really something" Shapiro
~"Basses, lets at least pretend we all want to sing the same pitch" Shapiro
~"TUNE, Alto's I can't hear you, Basses, all in the same octave, Tenors, find your pitch!" Shapiro
~"I'm gonna get tagged so much tonight my mom is gonna feel it" Big Lee
~"Come for Revolution, Stay for Cake" Big Lee
~"We're turning these gardens into an executive golf course" David on Versailles
~"A Nymph dressed in... oh my!" Dr. L translating a french song cycle on the spot.
~"Hey Jude" Stella
~"And that, Amber, is how you pull a prank" Myself
~"I need a drink. I wonder if I could find something STIFF" Stella
~"Was it Gobs or Horsey?"
~"This sonata is Brahms in a tavern after a few beers" R. Howait

And then there are those conversations you come in on at the wrong moment:
"I'm glad I waited to start using (illicit drugs) it was nice to see the world some before the third eye was opened and I saw things as they were" a certain composer

"All I have going for me is that I can look dumb even though I'm smart" Amber... there's a story behind this somewhere...

"Heels are my protection, they scare off the guys who are just a little to short" Nicole
"Not me, they're like jumping in honey and rolling around if you don't like bees" Amber

"What interval is that?"
"That's right, it's a diminished nasty" (if you must know, it was a diminished fourth and I had to attempt to sing my way through it... utterly disgusting...)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oh the Metro... Part 2

Riding the subways here in Paris have been nothing short of a trip. (I'm so punny. *chortle*) However, for your reading pleasure I'd like to give you some of the more memorable moments from my time deep underneath Paris. So, here's my guide to the METRO!

Selecting Your Train
Upon entering the Metro you will be confronted with what should be a map, but it is covered in odd shaped squiggles of colors that should look slightly different, but most likely look exactly the same. For the colors that do look the same, you must navigate to the end of the string (much like doing a coloring book maze as a little kid) and search for a little tiny number. Stops will be labeled by little circles with names by them that are also completely unreadable. Navigate through this mess and figure out which stops you need. Figuring out multiple routs is probably a good idea as odds are good that 92% of the time your train will be absurdly late or just not coming.
Find the platform for your train by following signs bearing the number of the train you wish to ride on. Remember the trains go both ways, so make sure to pick the one headed where you want to go. Also, for all intensive purposes, just because the train is on your track, doesn't mean it is ending up where you want as most single lines are actually five lines that simply converge for six stops in the middle of Paris.

Boarding Your Train
Picking cars on the train is a lot like Russian Roulet meets Murphy's Laws. If you are exhausted you will end up packed in like sardines. If you only need one stop, there will be plenty of chairs open. If you happen to be packed in like sardines, I reccomend a nose plug.
Once you have selected your stake out place in the platform simply wait for your train to arrive. Upon arrival simply lift your feet from the ground and allow the thronging crowd to carry you onto the train like a small boat in a turbulent ocean. Mind the Gap. You never know when the thronging ocean of people will stop and leave you to fall to your doom. Remember, Russian Roulet meets Murphy's Laws. Ride at your own risk.

Good Times vs Bad Times
Good times, never. Bad times, always.
Rush hour is always fun. I've never felt more like a sardine in all my life. People just keep cramming in even after the car looks full at least three or four more people will mash their bodies in some awkward contortion just to avoid waiting six more minutes. Of course, if it is the RER it's worth mashing yourself in because who knows when the next one is coming...
These awkward contortions become more... pungent... on warmer days as suddenly you find yourself next to a Parisian man who looks like he just ran a marathon and is sweating enough to fill the Great Lakes. If you find yourself next to this man, MOVE because he has no idea that he smells worse than a pack of fourteen year old boys who've just finished mud wrestling. In fact, odds are good he will probably was a little more pit ventilation, and raise his arm to grab onto a higher part of the railing. Prepare to be asphyxiated. Gas masks aren't enough. Nothing is enough.

1. If you can still breathe, there is room for three more people next to you.
2. If you can't breathe, four more people will cram in next to you.
3. There are no personal boundaries on the metro. Just hope that man next to you... well... just know that there are no personal boundaries.
4. The amount of available seats varies indirectly with how tired you are.
5. The amount of breathe able air never varies. It will always be zero.
6. The RER hates you. Accept this and your life will be easier.
7. To be tall is better, to be short is armpit heaven.
8. Prepare to be asked out by the short man standing next to you. After refusing him, prepare to have him stare awkwardly at you.
9. If you ride with someone who is loudish, prepare to be stared at. But keep the loud person around, they do funny things on the Metro and will provide many moments of great amusement.
10. When in doubt if you'll get out, shove and yell PARDON!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Little Things

All you get tonight is observations. Such is life.

~ I find it ironic that in a art exhibit trying to fight for woman's rights and equality they showed lots of naked women. And only their bodies. Not even their faces. To me that objectifies women and I found it both offensive and counter productive.
~ Paris smells like urine, music camp smells like cigarette smoke.
~ You'd be surprised how many singers and wind players smoke... gag.
~ Getting a migraine is like being pregnant. By the time everyone can see it, you don't feel nearly as awful. Not that I've got anyway to compare... but moral of the story is once I look awful the worst of the migraine is over. But I still appreciate the sympathy.
~ I <3 migraine pills. In a non druggie way.
~ It's really easy to vault the exit barrier in the metro. Especially if you are motivated by the fact that your stupid card wouldn't work.
~ Sometimes the metro machines are just a pain.
~ Amber has a lot of energy
~ In addition to the amount of energy, she is also loud.
~ Loudness and energy are directly related to the number of people around her.
~ Puppies are sooooo cute. But some older dogs chillaxin' aren't... particularly over here...
~ Street mimes are cool.
~ Whenever we bring Big Lee with us I never worry about anyone messing with us.
~ When Big Lee isn't around... creepers sometimes show up...
~ When shopping in a foreign country sometimes the seemingly easiest things are the hardest to find. Tonight we spent half an hour looking for sugar. Silly us, we didn't look between the milk and the Coke.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Come for Revolution, Stay for Cake

Here's what I did for Bastille Day:

We got a group together and headed out to Versailles and then Chartres Cathedral. Generally, tour guide books tell you that it takes a day to do each, but, thanks to my mother's traveling training, the group got through both in one day. However, by the end they looked a little like this:

We saw soooooooooo much, it's no wonder everyone was exhausted. So, here are some highlights of the day.
We got on the train to head out to Versailles, but unbeknown to us, the train we got on started the trip to Versailles, but actually was headed to north Paris... We got to do a little back tracking. When we got to Versailles we headed to buy tickets and found out there were some performances going on and they were about to turn on all the fountains in the gardens. Go look at that first picture again. That's how all the fountains looked. AMAZING!
After eating lunch in the gardens and listening to string quartets we set off to the Trianon and the Marie Antoinette Estate. The Trianon is the "little house" behind Versailles. If I ever own a house that big, I will have made it very very far in life. Cool things I learned about the Trianon were that when Marie Antoinette showed up she practically renovated the place, going as far as to have her predecessors initials removed from the banisters and her own placed in. *cough* narcissist *cough*

The Trianon was also interested because it showed a much more private life of the King. Every thing at Versailles was on display to the public, and the king only had a little space to himself. In the king's bedroom there was only a third the room courtiers couldn't access and they all were in there watching him get dressed in the morning. At the Trianon there were no barricades, suggesting to me, that this was where the King didn't need to worry about the lack of space at court. Compared to Versailles this really is a little cottage, full of rooms for the king to enjoy life.... not that there wasn't plenty of that at Versailles, but you get the picture.
After being in the Trianon we went behind into more secluded gardens. They were lovely, and less "groomed" than the regular gardens. Again, seeming to fit the cottage idea. At the back of the gardens we were met with this:

This is the Marie Antoinette Estate. Gorgeous. I would never ever return to Paris if I could come here instead.
This estate is where Marie and the ladies of the court would dress up as shepherdesses and traipse around wondering why the commoners were so upset with their clearly idyllic lifestyle of simplicity and poverty. Yeah, they were rather sheltered/ignorant. But hey, if you thought that commoners lived in circumstances like that estate, you'd be hard pressed to pay attention to complaints of the masses.

Versailles itself was stunning. The crowning jewel of the French court at it's height, and a triage hospital at it's lowest. When Louis XIV moved to Versailles it was a "mere hunting lodge" and by the time it was stormed by the masses under the reign of Louis XVI it was a gilded court of wealth and pleasure. Under Napoleon it was turned into a museum, and during the siege of Paris in late 1800 the hall of mirrors was used as an operating room. Today it functions as a museum showing what life would have been like for the royal court. The audio guide was good, but rather lacking in that I couldn't ask it questions and only in some rooms would they get into any of the cool history. Some things, obviously, would never have been written by historians of the time, but we have plenty of clues as to what life was like for the King and I was disgruntled that the guide didn't give more. Alas. However, it did point out all the art work, for which I was extremely grateful, because otherwise I would have had absolutely no idea what I was looking at.
So, here are the highlights from Versailles. The royal chapel was beautiful:

And there was a really good statue of Louis XIV at the age 26:

My favorite room was this one:

This is the room that the kings would have met with their cabinet to take care of the affairs of the kingdom. Obviously they didn't do such a hot job, but it is a cool room none the less. From this room Louis XIV and XV would have made decisions about the wars that they entered in with neighbors and these wars actually were what lead to the revolution, because they are what helped bankrupt the country more than anything else. Ironic since the second leader after the end of the monarchy would be more war hungry than any king of France ever was...
And here is the Hall of Mirrors for all of you:

At the back of the palace they had a gallery of paintings representing all the major french victories that the French had prior to 1680 (ish, I don't have the exact date). And yes, there were French victories. Otherwise, here in France I'd be able to communicate much better than I can. It's just in the last three hundred years or so that the French have really done poorly, and really, if you look at their history, I can't blame them for not wanting to fight.
After finishing Versailles we headed to the train station and bought tickets to go to Chartres Cathedral. This cathedral is arguably one of the best examples of High Gothic architecture in all of France. It was beautiful, and actually the main architect for the SLC temple studied it before starting his sketches, so you can see a strong resemblance. Particularly in the second picture of the front.

The inside had some incredible stained glass windows, see:

And here are flying buttresses:

We stopped in a cafe for dinner and then caught a late train home, getting us back around midnight. Yeah, it was a long day. But it was so much fun.

Other highlights:
~We jumped from a moving tour bus at Versailles, don't worry it wasn't moving fast, but it was comical. We got to a speed bump, threw open the door and started jumping out... all the while Amber was yelling "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"
~Just because something looks like a walkway, doesn't mean it is. And should you misjudge, they'll go all crazy French on you. Good times.
~The things you remember as a kid, don't always line up with reality... tragic.
~Just because cupid looks decent from one side... doesn't mean he really is.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Celebrating Anarchy Early...

Because who can tell the French to do anything?
Apparently having one day to celebrate the destruction of a governing system isn't enough, the celebrations must start early and must continue late into the night. So, I'm awake.
Tomorrow is Bastille day here in France, and I'm quite excited, however, in honor of all the royalty who made stupid decisions leading up to the storming of the Bastille and the decapitation of Louis XVI we are headed to Versailles, the root of the problems leading to the storming of the Bastille. Basically, it can be argued, and quite well, that if the royalty had not moved to Versailles and become separated from the common people in Paris (more than they already were that is) the Revolution would not have taken on the same level or had the same results. Louis XVI was not the problem, he just happened to be the unlucky inheritor of his ancestors poor decisions. Poor Louis. Although, to the people's credit, he was sort of a wimpy ruler, and had he tried to exert more ruling power and actually do something as opposed to whine that everyone was picking on him things might have turned out slightly differently. But that's just my opinion. None the less, I am ecstatic to visit Versailles and pick up cool historical trivia and perhaps piece some answers together.

Here are my most recent observations in Pareeee:
1. French men are beautiful. To look at. But only to look at. Because they stink. A lot.
2. I want a pet bunny. I held bunnies in the Sunday pet market and am now wishing I could have one. If I named it fish do you think the apartment complex would get cranky with me?
3. Bunnies and French men probably have a lot in common. They are fun to look at, but when you get close and spend time around them they stink. I don't think I want a bunny.
4. Amber's blond moments get better and better. Upon hearing Dr. C and I discussing a falaffel restaurant here in Paris she piped in, "What's falaffel, is it like a Waffle?" Oh Amber. Have no fear, I am going to educate her as to the beauties of falaffel, which in fact, is nothing like a waffle.
5. The only way to stay awake in a Lasser lecture is to do your homework during the lecture, and even then, it's tricky.
6. This program is made up mostly of composers. Composers are interesting people. They can be divided into four groups. The quirky, the quirkier, the quirkiest, and the stoned. And at least half of them, no matter what time of the day it is, look like they just got out of bed. I blame Beethoven.
7. When you get too many musicians together really really shameless and awful music jokes abound. And everyone finds them funny.
8. Palestrina wrote and augmented second. Shame on you, Palestrina.
9. Getting distracted in the Subway can take you on adventures you never even dreamed of.
10. Boiled eggs in sandwiches are amazing.
11. Counterpoint is entertaining, until you realize you wrote all parallel fifths and outlined a tritone. Then you just want to cry.
12. Stella C-Money is the Bomb.

Favorite quote of the day:
"There are four types of chords: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the forgotten"
~ Joseph S.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dear Dad,

Today we went to the Louvre, it was AMAZING!!! But I missed having you there, because I had no one who wanted to read all the signs with me. I saw a ton of cool stuff but no one wanted to go quite slow enough. However, I did take some cool pictures and I read all about each exhibit, so here's what I saw:

We started in the ancient statue exhibit, there were statues of all the greco-roman gods and statues of many of the emperors. I took pictures with Aphrodite, Diocletian, and Marc Antony. After going through the statues (they also had some really cool sarcophoguses, sarcophogi? However you say it... they had cool caskets that were covered in beautiful high relief carvings). We went upstairs and started in the early renaissance art and then went through French artists of the 18th century. It was amazing. I saw so many paintings I'd only ever read about. However, I did not get a picture of the Mona Lisa. I walked by it, looked at it from a distance and promptly took a picture of the masses of people trying to get a picture of the Mona Lisa. I was satisfied. There were beautiful paintings by David and Delacroix in the French section. In the Italian section they had a little write up about how the artist Titan was the first painter to use really perfect the technique of piling lots and lots of layers onto a single canvas to build up a color. I thought that was cool. Then we visited early Byzantine art with lots of beautiful religious paintings. It was great.
In between the European art and the next gallery there was a beautiful room that was completely decked out. The walls were covered in gold relief and tons and tons of paintings. Most of the paintings were of architects (potentially those who contributed to the building of the Louvre maybe?) but there were also two French kings pictured in there. Louis XIV and Henry IV had their portraits up on the wall. Henry was cool, but Louis seemed like an ironic choice since he was the monarch who ditched the Louvre for Versailles, but who am I to judge?
After going through much or European art we ended up back in the Roman section and we visited a room that had tons of really really old blown glass. Did you know that the Romans were the ones who developed the method that we use today for blowing glass. Cool! The method used today for glass blowing is almost exactly the same one that the Romans would have used. They would shape some dishes themselves and other ones were blown into a mold and then allowed to cool. There were also a lot of later roman pots that were soooooo cool to look at. Poor Amber and Danielle didn't know quite what they were in for when they took me to a museum.
Finally we ended today's expedition in the Egypt section, which was sooooooo cool. They had mummies and sarcophagi and statues and I was grinning from ear to ear. Amber has a whole lot of pictures of me looking like a kid at Christmas or reading through all sorts of cool information.
Tomorrow we have a big masterclass and I will be playing in my trio for Narcis Bonet, who is a really cool famous old French musician. He speaks little to no English, but he speaks Spanish, so we can communicate. I keep running into him on the subway coming home from classes and I'm in another class that he teaches. All those years of Spanish are being put to some good use here.
I'll upload some pictures later. My internet is being really really slow.
Love ya,

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Oh the Metro...

*warning, this post is... um... yeah... read at your own risk*

Soooooooo today we are on the subway in rush hour. Which is always really memorable, to say the least, because we are all crammed in like sardines and you just have to deal with the claustrophobia and the stench. It's also fun because Amber is usually really food deprived so she gets a little loopy and quotes Disney and starts hearing voices. However, today's events took unique/awkward to a whole new level.

We crammed onto the train to take us to our next stop and after having been on they for a few minutes the guy behind Danielle leans forward and says "your bag is a bit too heavy for my balls." Apparently he was slightly squished.

I did warn you.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I've been thinking...

With all this hype about Michael Jackson's funeral today, I've been wondering, what will he look like in the resurrection? Black, White, Male or Female???

Sunday, July 5, 2009

An American in Paris

Yesterday was the Fourth. And I was in Paris. It was all I could do to keep from running into the streets and yelling "GENERAL LAFAYETTE!!!" But, I refrained. Be proud.

We had a lovely fourth. It started, as hinted in my previous post, with castleing. Which was amazing, and I am awesome (see previous post again). Following the castle visit we walked through a Gothic cathedral and Danielle and I explored some of the town. We then visited a certain composer's house. You'll have to guess who, because legally I can't tell you who. But he looked like this as a kid:

His house was beautiful. He was somewhat of a recluse and chose the village because it was small and quiet. He was also an insomniac and needed somewhere to try and get some sleep. The view from his house was beautiful and the house itself was really lovely. He was apparently quite the handyman and did much of the work on the house himself. For example, his living room appeared to be perfectly symmetrical, but actually he had moved the wall forward to create the illusion that the room was even. The space left he used to store copies of his scores. Also, this particular composer, apart from being a reclusive insomniac, was extremely child like and his house was full of many practical joke objects. He had a tea cup with a hole drilled in the bottom that he liked to give guests, our director said his teacher remembers meeting this composer and having this prank pulled. He also had a beautiful little bell that guests would try to ring, never knowing that he had put ceramic inside of the bell to muffle it. He also had a pretty substantial toy chest. He had a beautiful library with many old books (something else he colected, bought mostly for beauty, not for reading.) Finally there was his composition room. It was quite beautiful, but very very dark, with drapes over the windows and door. Our guide said this was to help him focus and to reach a different level. Perhaps by dimming the visual stimulation one could be a better auditory artist. This composer wrote many of his most famous works from this room, including the piece that has made more money than any other piece in the history of music. Pretty amazing. The piece, which features a recurring melody that never stops, was inspired by his childhood experience of watching the machines at the car factory where his father worked not by a dance as many assume. The largest painting in the room was one of his mother, who often sang to this composer and inspired the melodies for many of his great works. Down stairs was the bedroom and bathroom, which both showed how he was slightly OCD. He wasn't a show off with his appearance because he dressed up regardless, he just liked to look good. The garden outside was beautiful and was modeled after a Japanese Zen garden. All put together by this composer.

In the evening a group of about twelve of us went out for a night on the town. American Style. We hit up a pancake joint and then walked from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower where a few of the group sang a beautiful rendition of the national anthem. Not sure the French appreciated that one. Oh well. The walk was beautiful and I would recommend it to anyone. It was fun for us because we were able to talk and get to know each other. For those who were interested I ranted about cool historical goodness as we walked down the Seine, thus earning a place as the person to be asked questions when ever anything looked cool. Reading that French history book has paid off. It was nice for me because as I was talking through everything I was able to solidify placement of rulers and events, and those who listened seemed to like learning a little more.

~ I like small towns in France much more than Paris. I really just don't care for big cities. It is sooooo crowded and smelly. That said, I am enjoying it here, but I really really loved the little town.
~ Lee, one of the composers here is 6'9. We both sandwiched Amber and it was rather comical, sometime we'll get a picture and I'll post it.
~ Tried another cheese today. Liked it, but wouldn't buy it again. Sooo, total I've tried 13 and liked 11.
~ Placement exams today went well. It's so liberating to do counterpoint when you have no idea how. You just shove down notes. Part writing rules are for sissies.
~ Blonde moments for Amber: 3 in two days. Not bad. According to Amber, San Fransisco is tricky to find, Pancakes need warning before photo ops, and Harrold B. Lee has a thing for brick oven... guess when you're cool enough you can get permission to come back for these things.
~ Pizza in the park is glorious.
~ Dr. Lasser isn't nearly as intimidating as I expected. I had my piano placement exam with him and was really nervous but he was sooooooo nice and I didn't bomb it completely.
~ Notre Dame is still more beautiful at night. Actually Paris is better at night, because it stinks less and everything is all lit up.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

History Child, Hear me ROAR!!!

Today we visited an ancient Roman Caste. This is how I feel
about castles:

Now here are some pictures of the castle:

Now, for anyone who knows castles, does this look Roman to you? Nope. The Romans left Europe long before castles like this were being built. Hence the style for the arrow slits, the size and the style of the walls and layout of the castle. Also note the grooves where the roof would have been held up. Upon wandering the castle I became extremely irked, pronounced it cleeeeeeeearly not Roman and personally dated it at an early 1100. Upon returning home I looked it up. It was built in 996. Basically I feel freaking awesome. Our director may really really know music, but don't mess with me when it comes to castles. Not to mention after wandering around I determined that there must have been an outer wall because the keep was rather small and lacking in defenses. Minimal arrow slits and it seemed that the gate would have been small. I dragged Danielle and Amber with me and not too far from the castle what did we find, but the ruined wall. BASICALLY I AM A FREAKING AWESOME AMAZING CASTLE LOVING FIEND!!!

If you run into me in the next few days I will probably still be gloating.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Amber, where are you going?

This is a phrase I will probably use many many many maaaaaaaaany times over the next month. *grin*

My first week in Paris has been absolutely wonderful. I have seen so much and loved it here. Buuuuuuuuuut, I figure you don't want a play by play of my week lest I keep you here for far too long. So here are the highlights of this first week.

Sightseeing has been the primary focus because once classes start on Monday we really don't have much free time. When I got in I took a short nap and headed with Francois (the lady I was staying with) to Monmatre, a beautiful Byzantine Cathedral on the north end of the city. It is completely white and has beautiful mosaics inside. After walking through we explored around the cathedral through what I have come to learn is the Artists Quarter. Many famous french actors and artists have lived in this section and many of the houses are very old and beautiful. Could I tell you the names of anyone who lives there, heck no! I was incredibly jet lagged, but I did get some cool pictures.

Tuesday I got up and went sightseeing with Claire, the 21 year old daughter of a friend of Francois. She took me to Notre Dame and we wandered through some of the quarters in the near area. I remember visiting Notre Dame when I came to Paris 12 years ago, but this time it was a much different experience. I find visiting Cathedrals to be very sad. The art and architecture is beautiful but these are buildings that were originally very sacred places being trampled through by hundreds of tourists. In the medieval era these Cathedrals were the center of cities, all life revolved around these houses of worship, and they were so well loved. As I have visited the Cathedrals of Paris I often find myself wishing for another time when these buildings were loved and cherished and their symbolism understood.

At Notre Dame we were able to walk through the main portion and then go up onto the roof. It was incredibly hot but completely worth it. The view from Notre Dame was absolutly incredible and we also visited the bell tower that had the biggest bell named Emmanuel. Traditionally bells are christened after they are cast and at their christening they are given a name that often will stick with them for life. This one was given the name ______________ Emmanuel. I don't remember the first name.

Wednesday we visited San Chapelle and wandered through the really really ritzy shopping district. It was cool to look in all the windows there. San Chapelle is absolutely beautiful and the history is quite fun. It was built by King Louis who not long after his death became St. Louis for all he did for Christianity during his reign. He was incredibly pious and went on many pilgrimages and crusades along with sponsoring the construction of many churches. This particular church was built to house the "true" crown of thorns. Oh, relics.

The church had two levels, a lower chapel where the servants of the king could come to worship, and the upper chapel is where the royal family would go. For many years it was the official church where the royal family would come to from the Louvre to worship. It is absolutely beautiful. Most of the walls are stained glass windows thanks to the very very best use of flying buttresses to be seen anywhere. There are fifteen massive windows with a large rose window in the back. Each window showed a book from the Bible. The first window was Genesis and so on. The three windows of particular note are the fifth window which depicted the crowning of the Kings of Israel, the thirteenth window which depicted the book of Esther, and the rose window. King Louis, and subsequent kings, always sat below the fifth window thereby alluding the their divine right to the throne by drawing the connection to the religiously based Kings of Israel. Queen Mother Blanche sat under the window depicting the book of Esther. It was symbolic because Esther had saved her people from death as Blanche saved her French subjects from the trials of having a child king when her husband died early. The final Rose Window in the back of the Chapel depicted (quite vividly) the apocalypse and the end of the world. It faced west and was to remind the king that he was to guide his people to Christ until He would return. (I told you there was freaking awesome imagery in these cathedrals!!!)

Thursday was my down day, I slept a lot and finally finished making the time change and spent some time figuring out Paris and practicing. So, on the whole, not much for you. Although, in the evening we went out walking and I was able to impress the French with my sweeeeeet knowledge of French History. (It's really not that up to snuff, but on the way over I read through a french history book, so I can sort of hold my own, and at least do better than they expect from Americans. I still feel woefully out of the loop, because often it takes me a few minutes to place rulers and movements and so on, but I am getting there. It's frustrating though, because British history comes so easily... French history, not so much. Too many similar names right next to each other. At least the Brits tend to space their names out and when they don't the son with the same name usually tries to distinguish himself by doing something absurd like marrying six different women and breaking from a main religion.) But, back to my main rant, they pointed out a statue of Henry IV and I was actually able to hold on a conversation about him! He is a real favorite of the people because he really worked for the common man... well more than his predecessors... none of them really cared too much, hence the French Revolution.

Today I came to the dorms and met up with some other students from BYU and a few others and we headed to Museo de Orle (or something like that... that's how the darn thing sounded). There were paintings, and lots of statues. My favorites were some by Monet, and some pastels that we saw. Severine, I found the ultimate painting for you, and will probably send you a picture of it soon. You'll love it. There were also some rooms of black and white pen sketches that were amusing at first but after too many rooms they were slightly disturbing. They all were male figures with animal heads running off with naked women. Awkward. "Hi Mom, Hi Dad, meet my boyfriend, he's a real animal!" yeah, awkward.
Tomorrow we head to Ravel's house, which will be absolutely amazing and I will probably still be freaking out one week from today. Some of the piano majors are going to play his compositions on his piano in his studio... so so so so so so excited.

~I tend to associate smells with places. Home smells like Indian curry, the dorms smell like Ramen, the practice rooms smell like feet (on a good day), China smells like urine, and France smells like B.O. Lots and lots of BO. Particularly on the subways at rush hour. I'm just glad I am tall and don't have hairy men putting their arm over me to reach the hand holds. EEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!
~ To date I have tried 12 cheeses and liked 10 and 1/2. The only one I was adamently opposed to was a very very ransid smelling piece of blue cheese. Goat Cheese gets a half, because I didn't mind it, but I would go out of my way to get more. Some of those cheeses though, I could eat them for ever! The family I stayed with joked that I must have been French in another life because I can eat cheese like the French.
~ The key to eating lots of new cheeses is to not smell them before you taste them. There should be no inhaling before biting, because the smell can be a real turn off. That's what killed the blue cheese for me. It didn't taste too bad, but the smell made me gag.
~Paris truly is the city of love, and boy have I seen a lot of it in just one week. It's like being at BYU near the end of the semester... *gag*
~ Wednesday I heard Qawwali music (pronounce Ka-bali) in the streets and felt two things. First I was excited because I LOVE Qawwali, and then I felt slightly nerdy because I actually knew what it was and recognized it. But it was still really really cool and fun to hear.
~ Notre Dame is beautiful during the day, but stunning at night, go twice if you are here. Once to see inside and once to see it lit up, it is AMAZING!
~ After dealing with Chinese vendors these French vendors seem soooooooo reserved. They don't even yell things like "hey lady, hey lady" or anything! It's great. And if you walk away from their stall they don't follow you.
~ Europeans are much taller than I expected. I fit in here much more than I thought I would, I believe all those articles that I have read that state that Americans on average are getting shorter, because I feel more normal with regards to height than I do in the states.
~ The bread, oh the bread, I am in love. The end.

I will upload pictures later. I'm exhausted. Soooo, good night. I shall dream of Ravel and cheese (but not together...)

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I found this amusing. Hope ya`ll do too. Although I think I fit in a slightly older generation than this kid because I actually remember these and using them on car trips.