Saturday, May 24, 2014

An American (Almost) in Paris

I have precisely four days until the next unexpected adventure. Recently I told my dad that I feel as if I'm being whisked away by the wind from Rome, to Indiana, to Michigan - just blown about wherever it appears is my duty to go. Personally, I believe a hot air balloon would be the ideal way to travel, but I don't know what happens when it rains.

Back to the subject at hand, however. I've spent shy of two weeks total at home so what on earth am I talking about? Well...

This time it's Paris.

Yes, the one in France. I have an internship at an architecture firm in Paris. It's crazy. I'm crazy. I know. I don't believe it either.

I wish I could rent a closet because I'll be barely making enough money for food. I am beginning to excitedly budget how much Parisian cuisine I will not be eating. (Ok, confit de canard is delicious and I haven't really had escargot...but seriously, I will be cooking for myself A LOT.) Disorganized mental lists are being composed of all the things I want to do or see on weekends. Roundtrip train tickets to Lisieux have already been looked into. I've been metaphorically dusting off my French "skills" (riight.) and literally dusting off my French books. (High school was eons ago.) Also, my friend working at the same firm asked me if I wanted to attend the Chartres pilgrimage. That shouldn't even be a question. We're going and I am more than pumped after hearing about it from family friends for years. That's three days of walking from Notre Dame de Paris to Chartres with hundreds from dioceses all over the world. 

Now it's time to pack up the wagon (no more than 62 linear inches and 50 lb., of course) and ditch the unnecessary. (Packing sort of feels like Oregon Trail when you got stuck in the quicksand and had to lighten the load. Who brings grandfather clocks with them anyway?) I've also been watching my email inbox obsessively waiting to hear any word back about housing. Please say a prayer it works out. I'm getting more nervous about that as the days go by and few responses are received. Maybe I'll write my own counter-book to Hemingway's A Moveable Feast entitled A Moveable Bed. Let's hope it doesn't come to that for everyone's sake.

After all of this I haven't even gotten to the adventure wedged within the span of this one. I'll probably fill you in shortly after it happens. I'm not anticipating having an internet connection during that odyssey. The truth is I feel immensely guilty even mentioning that I'm interning in Paris, but I suppose it's almost a duty to tell my friends why I won't be in the country until late July. There's a fine line between bragging and sharing excitement and I can be rubbish at determining when I've crossed it.

Slight humourous digression. Last week my family was talking about a professor's whereabouts and - ever the anglophile - I misheard "New England" as "England". I asked "Ooh, where in England?" and my mom retorted "New England. Not everyone is as cosmopolitan as you." This phrase quickly became the perfect joke whenever I unsuccessfully tried not to bring up culture shock. So, I'd like to formally apologize if I'm being obnoxious. I don't feel "above" anyone for travelling, in fact, it's pretty humbling. Seeing the world makes one feel much smaller.

More to follow soon.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We're Finished but Still Here.

We have almost exactly one week left in Rome. Nothing proclaimed finality like picking up my last bus pass this morning. No, not even being finished with the project reviews and all my classes communicated this as clearly as that tangible paper card with the words "Vale 7 giorni".

For the longest time the opening verse of a song called "Nothing Short of Thankful" by The Avett Brothers summed up my experience in Rome better than anything else:

Hey, man - yes?
Do you think we'll ever get back home?
Well I guess
We choose our battles one by one
How I need rest
One more day of travel on the road
How we've been blessed
Some times it don't feel that way

For better or worse our time here is almost over. Around 3:30 pm on Monday I essentially was finished with everything. I still had some watercolors to catch up on, a quick history project, and a vague theology final looming somewhere in the future but now watercoloring is completely out of the way and history won't take long. I've been waking up each morning (beautifully late) with the question "what am I going to do with myself today?" confronting me for the first time in a long time. 

Yesterday my solution was to do absolutely nothing. I sat in studio all day using my laptop and watching episodes on Netflix. It was disgustingly unproductive but I shut down after the canonization, project, and entire year.  

Today we had a pinup for watercoloring in the morning that murdered all my desire to go out in the city and watercolor for fun (my initial plan). So, instead I once again collapsed indoors while trying to figure my life out. The most relaxing part of the day was sitting alone on the roof terrace in the sun reading Cardinal Ratzinger and drinking pomegranate juice for the latter half of the afternoon. We're still trying to figure out what is happening with our theology final but, regardless, now is the time to read what we didn't have time to read before. 

I was hoping to squeeze in another trip within Italy in this last week since we truly have nothing happening but the prospects of that are looking more and more slim. 

I never talked about what the experience of the canonization was like but I will post more soon, I promise. I went with four guys from my studio and we attempted doing vlog segments to commemorate the night but there's a large chunk of time from 3:30 am until after Mass when I barely touched my camera. I honestly don't even recall what happened between 5:30 am and the beginning of Mass. I remember pulling the hood of my jacket over my head when we finally sat down on the cobblestone in the square by the obelisk. At some point I woke up, slumped over myself, to hear prayers before Mass over the loudspeakers. I've pulled many an all-nighter in my college experience but there's something about thousands of people and cobblestone that pushes your exhaustion over the edge. I took a nap in the albergo on Sunday afternoon and woke up in throbbing pain from my back and legs being cramped the entire night prior. It was definitely a sort of pilgrimage even if we didn't have far to travel. 

We are using this last week more or less to complete our Roman bucket lists. We're going to favorite restaurants for the last time, taking full advantage of gelato, and visiting or revisiting specific places. Eventually there will be packing to deal with but I'll put that off for a least another few days...