Monday, December 17, 2012

December in a Flash

Hello all. Yes, December has been tugging a bit at us, so the writing's been sparse. Time, though, to bring you an update before we head back to the states for the holidays.

Ok, where to begin?!

The amazing bejeweled christmas tree looming over the mall's make-up department
With visa worries out of the way, it has been time to start thinking of christmas. To add some holiday cheer, two girlfriends and I battled our way through the crowds to ooh and awe at the amazing decorations at Galleries LaFayette. This photo is a shot of the central dome of the mall.

In addition, to add to the madness, I recently started my own meet up in Paris designed around urban sketching. We just had our second session last night, and so far, I think it's been a success. The group consists of a huge range of experience with quite an array of people from all over the world. It's been really cool meeting such diverse people and hopefully motivating them to really capture Paris on paper. Check out So Sketch to see what we've been up to!

First So Sketch group, warming up in a cafe after a cold day outside.

This past friday, Adam and I were invited as reviewers to Catholic University's final presentations. We had met the director, Stanley, of this Paris-based program the previous year at UofI's own reviews, and were happily invited back to witness some really fun work based on fashion design. Stanley loves to invited a huge gamut of professionals for reviews, so we had a great mix of comments coming from architects, engineers, fashion designers, history profs, etc. etc. I think a rep from Vogue was there that night as well, and rumor has it that there's an article in the works for Vogue Magazine about the student's work. Ooh la la.

 Closing statements after a night of presenting, reviewing, wine, and cheese

This program really stress sketching as well. Here is an 
example of their history projects. Amazing work!

The following day, the activities continued. Weeks ago, I had signed up to meet a group of expats down at the Saint Michel fountain to sing Christmas Carols. I volunteered Adam as well...of course ; ) I thought, hell, why not, tis the season, right? and I can't even remember the last time I went caroling, let alone sang in public. So we both met the group, and as we were getting settled, a news team came up to interview us on the tragedy in Connecticut. Fortunately (or rather very unfortunately) we had discovered the news through Facebook late late late the night before, so we at least knew what had actually happened. The French news crew were doing a story on the situation how us Americans abroad had found out, and what we thought. I think it was more or less a discussion on gun control.

I had the chance to be personally interviewed, (thankfully in English), and emphasized that this was so so horrible, it's just unthinkable that someone could even ponder doing such a thing! The lady then asked me if these situations become less shocking for Americans each time they happen, and I said no. Definitely not! These tragic things don't feel less horrible because we're used to them, they feel worse because they keep happening. "So, do you think this will start a debate on gun control?", she asked. I said, "oh man, there's already such a huge debate on that one back at home." So she continued to ask, "so isn't this proof that people should not be able to carry guns, that this should just not be allowed at all?" I looked at her, assuming she'd hate my answer, and truthfully told her that laws or no laws on guns, crazy people like this who want to kill children will find a way to get a gun. Putting a ban on weapons will stop a few, but it will most likely negatively affect those people who actually use guns responsibly or for sport. If anything, I said, there needs to be stricter regulation on who can get a gun and what kind of gun that can be, so if the weapon is used irresponsibly, then these people can be severely punished. Getting rid of guns altogether isn't going to solve the problem. Getting rid of the crazy people might. Ok, I didn't tell her that last sentence, but she looked at me as if I was out of my mind, or just an idiot. Or maybe she was just that type of french person who permanently wears a scowl. I thought, well, there goes my chances for making the news.

Turns out, I DID in fact make the cut. They only had about 3 seconds of my entire interview, so god knows how they twisted it (the french was so fast on the news I couldn't pick out how they translated my stuff). But hopefully it got the point across that yes, we as a nation truly do care about what happened, but that we're all not crazy liberals thinking that banning guns completely will solve the issue. (I tried to find the clip, but unfortunately, they didn't post that segment on line)

The film crew also took some other footage of us singing for the children and those families in mourning back home. As we all gathered and sang Silent Night, I almost lost it thinking of all the sadness. It makes my teary just writing about it again. Unfortunately, they only got about a 2 second clip of our actual singing. (hopefully the link works!)

After some intense singing, and a mix of both crazy looks and smiles from the passerby's, we headed home to get ready for our first dinner at a french friend's home. Yes, we had finally broke though a bit of the French barrier! French or not french, though, it still felt nice to be able to have friends to share some of the holiday fun with. It really is amazing how fast a 5 hour dinner can go and how great it was to be introduced to some new foods and wines that were so traditional to someone else's customs. Cecile, if you're reading this, thank you so much!

Today is Monday. Adam and I are thankfully able to fit a little Christmas in of our own before our mad dash of packing up shop here. I have some wine mulling, our one string of christmas lights blinking, some good-ole internet christmas radio playing, and plans for a fun night out. Watch out Hobbit, here we come.

Hope everyone is also surviving their own Christmas madness. More to come....

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