Windows

Angers, France. 02-16-2014

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Eyes. They say they’re the way to the soul, right? Looking or really seeing – which is it?

Oh wait, it’s that they’re the windows to the soul.

Looking in & looking out. Seeing and being seen. Hence, the fear of eye contact – the fear of connection and its possibilities.

But what if the window is cloudy? What if it’s only translucent?

What if it’s dirty, smudged & grimy so that one can’t properly see.

What if it’s so old that with each passing year, the glass has slid, ever so slowly down the pane – because of its composition and the dictates of gravity.

Improper sight through warped windows stirring this fear of connection. But sometimes, the lack of clarity is beautiful. To put on the rose-colored glasses, to accept the old pane of glass in all its blurriness, allows one to see in a light which can alter all other lights.

Glasses, windows, eyes. Eyes which see through glasses and windows.

Eyes as the opening & closing of sole persons. Sole worlds. Whole, complete, individual worlds wrapped up and containing what we term souls.

Open your eyes to me.

See beyond looking.

See me, see you, see one another.

Let seeing be enough.

Let it be everything.

Nostalgia

Angers, France. 02-05-2014

It’s funny how some things are better after we’ve left them. Many times, it’s only through distance in time and space that we realize how good something was. Does this mean that the goodness lies only in retrospection and not in the present? What does this say about value and about how we value? I wonder if there’s a way to consciously feel introspective nostalgia, in a present time; a way of looking outside of a moment to really appreciate that moment.

It’s odd…and makes me feel like we’re all slaves to time. But perhaps the greatness of places, moments, people, and events is too great to be truly & completely felt and understood in the way that nostalgia yields illumination.

Perhaps it’s too hard to grasp how grand and big parts of life, places of nature & man, are because our worlds are too small. Our own private worlds are so all-consuming that they don’t allow us to feel such splendid grandiosity.

Perhaps it’s a means of perception: a way of looking. Perspective opens up the freedom to experience greatness.

Light or heavy: which would you pick? Such an impossible question. It seems reasonable and completely illogical all at the same time.

American football

Angers, France. 02-04-2014IMG_1536

This past weekend was so good. Saturday ended up being BEAUTIFUL even though it was supposed to rain all day. The city of Angers has a program where you can rent a bike for free if you’re a student. So naturally, when in France, do as the stereotypical french. I went for my first bike ride here with a group of friends to the Parc Balzac. Because it’s apparently the rainy season, the park is flooded in parts. It’s strangely beautiful and it made for quite the adventurous ride. I was kind of nervous since I hadn’t ridden a bike in lots of years, and have no leg strength, but it ended up being great. I loved flying down the street with the wind in my face on such a beautiful, blue-sky, sunny day. The way back was a little rough with the consistent slight up-hill, but I made it.

I felt awesome the day after from the exercise. A few of us went back to the club K9 Saturday night and it ended up being a lot of fun. No surprise 80’s night this time. There’s something so deliciously sacrilegious about being in a club that used to be a church. The vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows make for quite the backdrop.

Sunday, a bunch of the internationals went to the Chateau d’Angers. It was spectacular to the see the city from the heights of the castle’s turrets.

Last night was the Super Bowl. I wasn’t too excited about going but decided to go along anyways… and I’m so glad that I did. It was hilarious to see all these French guys so pumped about American football! Turns out most of the guys were on the Angers American football team. At 2am, it got kinda weird. Because bars aren’t really supposed to be open on Sundays, it was technically illegal for them be open past 2. Bartender Sinead allowed us to stay, but we had to be real quiet. No yelling or cheering or anything. Quite the bizarre Super Bowl experience but definitely one that I won’t soon forget

Today was complete shit. Since we got back to the residences at 4am, I only got a few hours sleep before my 10am class, then ended up sleeping the rest of the day. I hate not being productive. I hate losing days here when I know my time is limited. I guess I’ve just got to accept a day wasted and be more proactive about making the most out of my days.

New week, new things, new days. And going to Bordeaux this weekend! Very excited to go on my first adventure outside of Angers. It’s funny…I’m very much a creature of habit and I like the comfort of routine, but sometimes, I feel like it can be too comfortable, making me complacent or lazy. I want to try to see each day as an opportunity for something new, as a chance to do something different, to learn something different – to grow.

Things are slowly coming together for traveling plans. Looks like for the winter break at the beginning of March, we’ll go to Paris and Amsterdam. For the longer break beginning of May, traveling along the South of France. The extent of my travel goals before arriving in France consisted of seeing as much of France as I could, since this is where I’m living, and to go to Greece. And it’s looking like Greece may actually happen at the start of the summer!!!!!

Good things. Good things indeed 🙂

Circles

Angers, France. 01-28-2014

Circles puzzle me. And I can’t help but think about a certain ex-someone every time circles come to mind. Because they believed in circles, or rather that life moved, progressed, according to circles. And I thought at the time that this was crap, because it seemed to me like circles never really progressed but just moved as an endless cycle of the same. But the more I visit the idea, or the mention of circles visits me, I start to see that maybe circles are a more accurate representation of time than are lines.

We talk about circles of friends, circles of people, not lines of people, because circles imply a connectedness that a line lacks. Perhaps an intersection of lines? But this still lacks a wholeness that the interconnectedness of people portrayed through or by the circle more accurately represents.

The circle is a journey in which you move only to return to the same point…but to return to this point comes after the passing of time – after things have happened. So perhaps, contrary to my earlier opinion, the circle can build and progress, and in a way more accurately and truly than the line.

I want lines. Because lines are clear and clean and have a clear progression of time which leaves past in the past. I like the safety of distance in time – of time as natural fixer and healer. But it’s hard to ignore that even with miles of time, things that you hope would be gone, would be over, or would have changed…are still there. Still here. Oh but for a way to harness and control perspective, to understand its ways and to seize it. Space can do much, but sometimes it’s not enough.

To step back or step in to now: I’ve been in France for a week and five days. It already feels like so much has happened, perhaps because of the comfort I feel with new friends and international students. Outside of that though, I’ve felt myself an alien and am aware of a desire to fit in, or blend in, to my surroundings. I’m so shy to speak the language because I feel like I don’t know enough or will say something dumb. I do feel this going away a bit, though slowly. I just need to be myself and be comfortable being myself, and not so caught up with trying to blend in culturally. But god, French people like to stare! Either that, or they ignore you entirely.

It’s just the beginning and yet, each day is important and new and exciting. Because I only have my classes once a week, I feel like I should be getting all this stuff done – a compulsion resultant of my work and school schedules back home. However, with less of my time segmented and put into blocks, the openness allows me to enjoy and feel each day more: each day counts and is full of opportunity.

The beginning

Angers, France. 01-20-2014

I’m here. I’m finally here. And wow! I couldn’t be more grateful or more giddy or more happy. Can’t believe it’s only been four days. Everything feels so right and so good. I’m so full of emotion. Finally unpacked my suitcase! And got kitchen things and a towel(!) and a much needed adapter from the French Walmart equivalent, Carrefour. Yesterday’s tour of both campuses and the city center was exhausting but so wonderful. This city is so beautiful! It’s perfect, and much bigger than I imagined. I can’t believe that this is my home for the next five months! And there’s so much culture. So much music and art happening during my time here.

The getting down was rough. Everyone speaking French to me and myself too exhausted and brain-dead to understand or respond. But, I did it. I made it from plane to train to bus to international office, to my room. Made my bed and then collapsed and had an overwhelmed and exhausted cry. And god, it was so wonderful to see the guys from UNCG. Stepped out of my door and there they were at the end of the hall. They helped me find the administrative office and the supermarket. We had a celebratory drink and then I passed OUT. It’s probably the first time I’ve gone to bed before 9pm in a while. Each night gets easier to sleep through without waking up randomly.

I’ve met so many other international students already. My favorites are already the Greeks 🙂 I can see Costas and I being good friends. He’s wonderful, and seems to be a very kind and genuine human. And it amazes me that this is the first time he’s spoken English at length! He’s such a good speaker of both French and English.

Today’s highlight? Everything is closed on Sundays, so we went ice skating! Very different from American rinks in that they played actually good music – like club music with good beats. The coolest part was when everybody gathered in the center of the rink to watch these guys breakdance and do tricks on the ice. IT WAS SO COOL!!! It was Costas’ first time ever ice skating but he was able to do a few laps by himself before we left.

I’m so excited about my life right now 😀 Can’t wait to start sitting in on classes and I’d like to explore the city by myself in the next few days. Also excited to explore the surrounding cities. Lots to do tomorrow.