Thursday, February 19, 2009

Music Lover

As a loud and proud Austinite, it's hard for me to admit that I've never really gotten into the live music scene. Besides a few shows to support friends' bands and some free gigs on campus, I've never really gone out of my way to buy tickets for a concert. I can probably count how many concerts I've gone to on one hand - most of them being big music events that I went to for free or that coincided with a road trip. I guess I never really saw the point in forking over 50 bucks to hear someone perform for an hour when I could listen to their music quite happily in my car or at home for as long as I liked. Which is why it's strange that recently, I've been getting the urge to see and hear live music. I guess lately I've been feeling like something is missing from my routine, and I think it has to do with the way I move around town. I'd always been exposed to music on a daily basis - singing in my car during my commute, streaming music at work, being spoiled with an unfathomable variety of daily live music - but, not having a car, an office job, or a city full of free live music venues has really limited my exposure. I'm learning how to change it up a bit, though - how to adapt to my current environment and find ways to integrate what's available to make me feel more musically alive.

Don't get me wrong, Paris is a magnificent place to hear music - it attracts so many musicians and artists to its historical venues year-round. It's just a different scene than I'm used to, and a bit more costly, too, which means I have to plan ahead and choose carefully the shows I see. I know that there's a really great jazz scene in Paris, but I haven't made much effort to discover it (mostly because Gui doesn't like jazz music). I recently saw that one of my favorite musicians is coming to town and snagged a seat to see her next week. I missed her when she came through Austin a couple of years back, so I'm glad I'll get to catch her while she tours through Europe.

For Valentine's Day, Gui bought us tickets to see John Legend perform in Paris on March 7th. This will likely be a much less intimate show than Rachael Yamagata's, but the place that he's playing is supposed to be really spectacular. I'm stoked! I was really surprised that he was able to get us tickets so close to the date, but then I discovered that not many people here know who John Legend is (well none of Gui's cousins or friends our age), which kind of hits home to my point about music being a bit of a different scene here than I'm used to. I'm sure there are loads of bands and artists that I just haven't heard of because they haven't gotten around to these parts yet.

So, I've been trying to find out what people have been listening to back home so I can keep up with what I might be missing out on being away from the Live Music Capital of the World. I'm still hoping that the summer will bring more opportunities to discover live music in Paris. When the weather's warmer and people are more cheery, I could see the City of Lights turning into a veritable music capital of its own. In the meantime, let me know what you've got in rotation in your car right now so I can catch up on the latest tunes while riding the metro.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gettin' busy

So, I cut my hair. FINALLY. I'd been talking about getting my hair cut since I got to France nearly a year ago, but finding someone willing and able to work with my thick mane hasn't been an easy task. After a bad experience with an inexperienced stylist last summer, I was a little worried that I'd be unsatisfied once again with the hair salons of France. But, I got a good recommendation from a trusted source, and found myself feeling a few pounds lighter and a bit more stylish after a relatively short visit with a very talented stylist in 5eme arrondissement.




I really love it! It's still pretty long, too, but it seriously feels like over half of my hair is missing - which, for me, is a really good thing. It's a really practical cut for wearing bulky winter scarves and chunky knit hats, which is a must for all the trekking around Paris I've been doing recently. I haven't been doing anything too exciting, but I've managed to get out and about and check out a few shops and landmarks that I've been setting aside for later.

I've also been trying to regain my sense of domesticity lately. For a while there, I hadn't been in any sort of mood to cook, blog or create anything really. I even came down with a sort of "knitter's block" after finishing up my first cable project. Now, I'm slowly recovering and reacquiring my appetite for creativity - I'm catching up on the hoard of backlogged new items in my reader, searching for yummy things to bake and cook for dinner this week, and knitting more projects that I've been queuing up on Ravelry. This week, I've been invited to check out a choir to see if joining the group will be the right opportunity to focus on another long-lost "hobby" of mine - singing. I'm no Mariah Carey, but I've inherited my mom's love of singing to every song, every jingle that comes to my mind. I was in choir up until high school, and I remember being a relatively strong singer - even having the opportunity to sing backups at a SXSW show - but I never kept up with it. Hopefully, this will be a chance to rediscover my love of singing and share it with others who feel the same way about music.

So, things should be getting a little more interesting around here. Besides cooking, knitting, blogging and singing, I'll be working pretty soon, too. Next week, I'll start my first job in Paris at L'Oisive Thé, the tea salon owned by my friend Aimee. I'll only be working about 20-25 hours a week, but I'm really stoked about having a "day-job." The coolest thing about my new employment is that I'll be able to spend some of my days hanging out with Aimee - there's no doubt there will be lots of knit-talk and baking during the day, but I'm also banking on improving my French a bit. It couldn't come at a better time, either. I'm ready to have a regularly-scheduled gig to keep me occupied during the week, and spending it at a tea salon in the lovely Buttes aux Cailles just doesn't get any better, if you ask me.

My latest finished project - a striped beanie for Gui.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Renewing my outlook

Sometime between my last post and yesterday morning, Spring gave Paris a sneak preview. And, it was pretty sweet. It didn't last long, and we got a really great snowfall Saturday morning, as if to remind us of our cold reality. It was a welcome break nonetheless, and a sufficient reminder of how marvelous Paris is under blue skies and mild temps. I took the long way home when I could for those couple of days, and lingered about outside a little longer than usual, getting things done that had long been waiting to be checked off from my to-do list.

The foretelling weather and an encounter with a lovely Texas couple renewed the motivation that I had been recently lacking. Matt and Jen are living in Paris for one year, and hearing them talk about all the things they've done and seen since they arrived less than two months ago rekindled a sense of exploration that I realize had abandoned me far too soon. Plans to move to Texas are still in the works, and the reality that my current life in Paris has an undefined, yet still very real expiration date, is starting to hit me. How little I've done! Although Gui and I have every intention to someday return to settle in the city of lights, I don't want to leave this place before getting to know it better. And, I don't want to go back to Texas without first taking full and real advantage of living here.

So, this next week, I've booked myself some dates with the city. I plan to gallivant around with my fully-charged Navigo card, take in some art, music and shopping, with brief but many coffee and patisserie breaks and a few errands thrown in. And, with whatever free time I find from now on, my plan is to make the effort to use it productively. I even bought my very first portable music player to keep me company during the commute (no, I've never owned a walkman or Ipod of my own before), and all my favorites have been queued-up for the ride.

I'm realistic in my newfound goals to explore Paris, and I know that there will be days when leaving my apartment will be more effort than I'll be willing to make. But, I'm ready to reignite the energy and curiosity that I once felt from the possibilities of being in a new place, and I'm pretty determinted not to let a couple of off days diminish that.

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's still winter in Paris

I'm starting to think that this blog would be better served as a seasonal project. Let's face it, taking my hands out of the warmth of my coat pockets to grab my camera for a photo-op is just not going to happen right now. And going outdoors for anything but a quick trip to the grocery store is kind of out of the question, which hopefully explains my lack interesting posts of late. I never knew the consequences of changing seasons, having lived in Texas or Southern California for all of my life, where flip-flops are always an acceptable shoe to wear no matter the time of year. But, that's not how it flies here. How crazy to think that something as simple as a drop in temperature can make the difference between having a social life and not having one. I suppose it doesn't help that right now the core of my responsibilities are hinged on the stock levels of our kitchen and the tidiness of our apartment. (We'll have to see what happens once I start working.)

The weekend is usually more promising in the social department, though, and Gui and I typically spend the two days with family or old friends. This past Sunday, we made it out to Marcq again and spent the afternoon drinking champagne by a roaring fire before devouring a tajine for lunch. It's so nice to be out of Paris, if only for a few hours. The residence there is still up for sale, and there have been a few interested buyers coming 'round, but I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that Gui and I hit the lottery so we can buy it. It was bitingly cold on Sunday and before leaving Marcq, we talked about Monday's forecast for snow and ice. No doubt, Monday turned into a day of finishing up knitting projects at home.

A snowy Monday morning in Paris.

The thing is that once I'm outside, I'm good to go, so I just need something to kickstart me into motivating myself to leave the apartment. Something like a job or my craving for nachos, which is what's motivating me to get my butt out of the apartment and head for The Great Canadian Pub for dinner tonight. There really isn't anything better than the promise of a good meal to get me going.

Some pictures from Marcq
Don't let the sky fool you, it was an unbearably cold day.

Gui gathering some firewood.

Gui thinking he's a rough and rugged man for collecting such a big piece of wood.

I love this place.