Monday, February 29, 2016

go away février

Happy Leap Day everyone! I'm currently staring out the window at the 3rd really sunny day we've had all month. G has his two weeks of school holiday right now, and since the family went skiing all last week, I had a glorious week to myself. This week, I have G all day erryday. Tomorrow we'll probably head to the cinema or perhaps Jardin d'Acclimatation, weather permitting.

Overall, this month has been so boring and I'm ready for it to be over. I can name the things I've done on one hand. Is that my fault? Yeah, probably. But the weather has been so cold, gray, rainy, and windy, that finding the motivation to go somewhere and have to walk in that mess has been hard. I'll just stay home and watch Netflix, thanks. All of that has contributed to my homesickness this month. I can't stand feeling like a caged animal, but that has little to do with my location, and more to do with the cold. I need to be outside. I need to feel heat and sun on my skin. I need nature, and I need it to be green and beautiful. So it's just counting down to warmer days.

I was talking to a friend of mine about how much it has sucked arriving in Paris as the colder months were starting. By the time I leave, I will have had approximately 6 months of cold weather and about 4 of nice weather. It's been a challenge mentally to stay positive and not long to return to America. But then again, America isn't much warmer, so unless someone is willing to pay for me to spend a week in the Bahamas, it's just a matter of waiting for spring. People have asked me what I have enjoyed most about my time here. To be honest, I feel like my best days are ahead of me. When the weather is nicer and I can actually spend my days enjoying the parts of Paris that everyone dreams about...the flowers, the gardens, the parks, walks and picnics along the Seine...those are the days that I long to live through. When I can do my day trips that I have planned, and perhaps visit the South of France or some other part of the country or neighboring country during my next break in April, I feel like those will be my best days. I can't wait to throw on a dress and shoes other than my boots and walk around the city taking pictures. I can't wait for the last day I take off my parka and scarf, and not have to wear leggings under my jeans to keep from freezing to death. Those days are coming, and I'm ready.

Sidebar: Here is a mini French lesson for you all in case you haven't figured it out from the blog title. February is février in French. All their months are used with lower case letters, and this month is pronounced like "fave-ree-ay." A particularly difficult month for me to say due to the French "r" smack dab in the middle. Still haven't quite mastered it. Hearing me pronounce the "r" here is about as funny as hearing the French try to pronounce the English "r" or "th" sounds. Here, the "th" takes on a "t" sound. For example, "tea" in French is thé and sounds like "tay." And whenever G tries to say something like "sorry" in English, it sounds like "sowwy." My language learning has taken a bit of a hiatus. Sometimes it's just really hard to get motivated when I can get by with the little vocabulary I already have. But my private lessons start in a few weeks, so at least that will be the pressure I need to throw myself into it again.

Since my last post, I did have a really fun visit from an old friend here in Paris. Growing up, I went to the same private school from K to 12th grade. Only about 5 of us remained from our original Kindergarten class, and one of those 5 was Jenny K (we had a few other Jennys over the years, so yes, the "K" is an important distinction). Jenny K was always the brains of our class and all of us knew it. If we ever were aiming for academic success, it was always for 2nd place in the class because she was just an unstoppable force that couldn't be beat. After we graduated, we parted ways and never saw each other again, even though she went to another local college in Lynchburg where I also went to school and was about a 15 minute drive away for 4 years.

Thanks to the wonder of Facebook, eventually we reconnected and as it turns out, she has been doing a fellowship in Rome and doing research for her PhD in Archaeology. Pretty sweet place to work on an archaeology degree. I asked her what she got her Master's in, and she very humbly said she didn't have one. I asked if it was because she was published (she is). If you are published and can get accepted into a PhD program, you can skip the Master's level. Told ya. She's wicked smart. Anyway, she planned a visit to Paris, and messaged me a few weeks back seeing if we could meet up. She was only here for a few days, but it was so cool to see someone who I spent all those years with growing up. We chatted about how strange it is to know someone for basically your entire childhood, but live your entire adult life without seeing them around. I took her around Paris to some of my favorite spots, and we had fun trying to collectively name all the people in our graduating class. There were only 20, but it took both of us to remember them all (don't worry, we did). I feel like this would be a great place to put some old yearbook photo of our class, but I don't have any with me. So instead, here is our selfie from Shakespeare and Company where we enjoyed some coffee and the view of Notre Dame.

Later during her visit, we had a beautiful (albeit cold) sunny day, so I had her meet me and my friend Amanda near Jardin du Luxembourg. Amanda hadn't set foot in the garden yet, so it was fun showing her the Medici Fountain (one of my fave spots) and Jenny met up with us later at a really fantastic crêperie. While we were waiting for Jenny to finish up at a museum, Amanda and I visited the beautiful Panthéon building. Once a cathedral, it is now the final resting place of many of France's most famous individuals, including Rousseau, Voltaire, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, and Marie Curie. The building was so beautiful both inside and out, and had a great view of the garden and the Eiffel Tower from the front steps.

The Foucault Pendulum. This pendulum was amazing. It looks like it rotates 11° every hour, but in reality it is the earth rotating around it. It sways in the same place the entire time.

Tomb of Rousseau

Tomb of Voltaire

Last week I was on vacation, and since the weather wasn't the greatest, I spent most of the week relaxing, sleeping in, and catching up on my shows. On Thursday, the first part of the day was sunny so I went out to the Palace of Versailles. I had already been to the gardens and the Trianons, but hadn't been inside the main building yet. I got there about an hour after it opened, and only had to stand in line for about 10 minutes or so. It wasn't super crowded yet, so it was great to be able to take my time and take lots of pictures. Here are a few, but I just posted the full album on Facebook.

The Marble Courtyard

Royal Chapel

Marie Antoinette and her oldest two children, Marie Thérèse and Louis XVII.

Hall of Mirrors

The King's Bedchamber

Incredible ceiling in the Gallery of Battles

I may not have done much this month, but I did really enjoy the things I was able to get out and do. Tomorrow is March 1st and I couldn't be more thrilled since it's the month when winter becomes spring. I don't know if it'll be instantly warmer, but this should be a fun month with Easter around the corner, re-starting my French lessons, and hopefully witnessing the first blooms of spring by the end of the month. I've always heard that April in Paris is the most beautiful time of the year, so I'm anxious to see it for myself since it has been on my bucket list forever. It'll be fun to spend more time with some of my friends during the week as well. A couple of them will have some free time opening up, so that'll be great motivation to get out while I'm waiting for G to finish school. As soon as it's warm, I'm sure the weeks are going to slip by so quickly and I'm going to wish they would slow down. I guess I'll have roughly 3 months to cram in as many things as possible, but at least I'll be outside and will hopefully get to explore a lot of areas outside the city. I'm excited! So go away février, and make room for March!