Kid in a candy store or, rather, architecture student unleashed in Paris.
But this past Monday was a rare treat in terms of the work day. Work can be slow. I mean the type of slow that makes you get up to get a glass of water, not because you're thirsty, but because it's something to consume two minutes. Lunch becomes the halfway peak of the day and, in turn, the 4 o'clock café glacé is the halfway peak of the afternoon. Time is broken down by these parameters which are fixed, not by the hands of the clock, but by a dull progression of increasing boredom; a sequence of sometimes now, sometimes then, varying daily. There is no strict adherence to the hour. This leaves room for both the hope that action will come early and the fear that it will be delayed. I cling to every duty I am given and nothing strikes more grief and terror than hearing that my superior will be out of the office for a day (ok, a bit dramatic, the Reign of Terror ended in 1794).
When work ends at 6:30 it's too close to dinner time and I am too exhausted to explore. Ultimately I do exactly what I would do for comfort's sake no matter where I am - curl up with a cup of tea and read a book or watch Doctor Who. (It has taken a full year but I'm almost up-to-date.)
A coworker of mine has been impressed recently that I've managed to speak only in French to him. I, however, am not impressed because those conversations don't even deserve to be called conversations. It's the mundane equivalent of "Hi, how are you? I'm kind of sick today unfortunately." I'm more comfortable speaking French with him than anyone else (including the Americans) because his English is good and he doesn't judge.
The awkward thing is when everyone assumes I understand all of their statements and questions. I don't. I really do not. My french comprehension is pretty darn good by now for someone so immensely out of practice, but that doesn't mean I catch all the jokes at the lunch table or understand entirely what changes need to be made to a project. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't, it depends largely on how fast it is spoken.
Overall I have fallen very much into the routine of things. Work is great until there is absolutely nothing to do (a period that occurs almost daily, sometimes hourly) and even if I don't have much time to actually see Paris I am at least absorbing what I can. In fact, absorbing is what I do all day long. I feel like a giant sponge at the lunch table just sitting there in awkward silence trying to pick up on the fast French chatter. Flipping through the books in the office I try to absorb the language of the architecture too, especially to make the switch from Italian to French. Working at a desk I overhear and absorb the phrases people say all the time on the phone or in dialogue with each other. It really exercises a lot of mental power to hone in on language while drawing or designing architecturally. That's what makes this so exciting though.
For those who I have not told yet, Friday night I will leave for a short summer program in Romania. It's sponsored by Notre Dame and INTBAU/The Prince's Foundation and it promises to be oodles of fun. Apparently Prince Charles fell in love with Romania when he first visited and now he has foundations working to restore the historic architecture. We will be sketching, watercolouring, learning about masonry from a British expert, and taking part in restoring a medieval church. I couldn't ask for a better break from the office or halfway mark for my work time abroad. I've already received more requests for even more pictures so I will not disappoint.
|St. Etienne doesn't really have to do with anything, but I loooove this church.|