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March 22, 2003


Greetings, once again, from Glasgow, Scotland! Our RyanAir flight from Beauvais to Prestwick landed 35 minutes early - an unexpected but perfectly welcome gift of bonus time in Scotland. (I’m just hoping our return flight isn’t 35 minutes early!)

I’ve got a really odd combination of feelings being back here. It’s comfortable — staying at Adelaide’s, eating familiar foods, seeing people I know — but it’s also a bit uncanny — businesses have closed, other have opened, there are new faces. And to top it off, it’s bright, sunny, and rather warm! What happened to the rainy, gray Glasgow I knew and loved? No, honestly, this is a change I can live with!

And something else that’s making life strange today are the anti-war demonstrations. Sure, in France there have been marches and protests. (I even picked up a huge banner after one had cleared our street.) But because their signs have been in French or some other probably insignificant reason I had basically been able to ignore them. Here is Scotland (both in Edinburgh this morning and now in Glasgow) it’s more than a little unsettling to see these demonstrators calling for Bush and Blair to end this war.

I generally consider myself a pacifist and am not at all gung-ho about these recent attacks, but too see first-hand hundreds if not thousands of protestors in the streets waving Iraqi flags, calling out for peace, and voicing their opinions is very bizarre. I arrived in Scotland not long after the September 11th attacks. The US and the UK have been allies for a long time, and for all intents and purposes, still are. But the people, the average citizens, of both countries, in significant numbers, aren’t happy with how their respective governments are handling the situation. Sure, the British support their troops just as we Americans support ours, but that definitely doesn’t mean the masses support the war.

God, give us peace!

March 16, 2003

Le spectacle de ballets

On Friday night a few of us went to see ballet at the Garnier Opera. The first of the two pieces performed was Air with choreography by Saburo Teshigawara and music from John Cage. The performance was very minimalist, accompanied by a grand piano that maybe played two dozen notes throughout the entire 45 minute performance. That left the opera house eerily quiet - quiet enough to hear the dancers breathe.

The second piece, which I think most of us preferred, was entitled Appartement, choreographed by Mats Ek with music written and performed by the Swedish group Fleshquartet. I just found an online review from the debut performance a couple year’s back. I can remember having to sit through hour after hour of my sister’s dance recitals when I was young. They seemed to last days if not years. (Sorry, sis!) But this performance was definitely one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen. It was lively, humorous, required remarkable skill, and had great music. I didn’t want it to end, and neither did the rest of the audience judging by the multiple curtain calls.

So now I’ve learned my lesson, sis. Give ballet a chance!

Au printemps

Spring has sprung in Paris! I took a walk earlier today to buy some items for tonight’s pre-St. Patrick’s Day here at the apartment. The daffodils are in bloom. The sun is shining. The cafes have spilled out onto the sidewalks. Children are riding their bikes. People are reading novels on park benches. The fountains are flowing.

In case anyone’s wondering, here’s a brief run-down of what’s happening in the coming weeks.

My days as an undergraduate are numbered. This Thursday I have a paper due on Parisian housing. I’m then heading to Glasgow for the weekend to meet up with friends since I don’t know when I’ll make it back to Scotland. The following week I have three presentations to give. The next week holds two final exams, and then we’re off on a class trip to Barcelona. In our two-week spring break after that I’m hoping to make it to southern Spain, Portugal, northern Italy, Vienna, and Berlin. I’ll then be back in Paris for a few days to straighten things out, visit any remaining tourist destinations, and pack up before flying home to graduate and continue on with the rest of my life - whatever that may entail!

March 13, 2003

Vous aimez la France?

Ten Reasons to Love France [Idle Words]

Oh so many reasons to love the French [AJC]

‘I love France’ [The Daily Rant]

March 11, 2003

Pommes frites

Things have just gotten silly! George W. Bush is within days of declaring war on Iraq and all Congress can say is they’ve decided to change the name of fast-food item formerly known as French fries to freedom fries.
The French Embassy in Washington had no immediate comment, except to say that french fries actually come from Belgium.

March 09, 2003

À bientôt

We’re having a going away party tonight here at the apartment for my roommate Todd. His National Guard unit has been mobilized so he’s returning to the States to be deployed.

As much as possible I’ve tried not to become too concerned with this impending war. America says yes; the French say no; what’s left for the UN and NATO to say? I’ve heard and read enough stories and conspiracy theories on all sides of this debate. I think it’s starting to make me sick. Being an American, regardless of my opinions, doesn’t make me too popular in most of western Europe. Spending eight months in France won’t make me an instant hit back home either. I sympathize with the French; I sympathize with Americans; I sympathize with the British; I even sympathize with Iraqi citizens.

And now one of my roommates is having to go home with only two weeks of classes left to be directly engaged in this conflict. I don’t want him to go. Maybe I’m losing my patriotism, but I’m about to lose a friend.

March 03, 2003

Je parle southern.

Some of the fine folks in the Department of Linguistics at Harvard University have come up with a Dialect Survey to find out how Americans really talk. I suppose being away from home these past couple years and meeting people from all over the world has really increased my awareness of my own particular dialect.

At first I thought Scottish people had a really odd way of sayings things. They probably thought likewise about me. Then people back home started talking funny and everybody developed a strange accent — at least that’s how things began appearing to me. And let’s not even mention what French has done to my ability to speak and hear English!

But just to let everyone back in the South know, I still speak your language. I’ve done my fair share of convincing the rest of the world to call any sweetened, carbonated beverage a coke and to refer to a group of two or more people as y’all. Little did I know how geographically-oriented the terms rolling a house and cutting the grass could be.

Do you know where something that’s catty-corner is located or what a roly poly is?