Wednesday had a bit of a rough start. I finally dragged myself out of bed but failed epically at getting Jaclyn up. The girl has been getting very little sleep lately and it caught up with her last night. I finally convinced her to just stay in bed until 9 since she doesn’t have class until 11 and headed to IES alone.

I’ve taken to reading on the Metro so I don’t feel like I’m totally wasting 40 minutes of my life every morning. I think this makes a nice segue to talk about the book I’ve been reading. In our rooms here there are tons of books that have been left behind by other students, about 2 weeks ago I found one titled Three Men in a Boat & Three Men on a Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome (no joke). Naturally I was intrigued by the title so I started reading it and fell in love immediately! Basically it’s two books in one that are the journals of this Jerome fellow and, in my opinion, are written like blogs for the 1800s. In Three Men in a Boat, Jerome tells of his trip up the Thames river as a young many (about my age) with his two best friends just to have a change of pace for the summer. It’s hilarious because each day he tells about what they did but he includes anecdotes and ridiculous stories and doesn’t attempt to hid his opinions at all, he calls his friends idiots and shares how he himself goofs each day. I’m only half-way through Three Men on a Bummel but so far it’s just as good. It’s the same 3 men, only 20 years later going on a bicycle trip through Germany. This time they decided they needed a break from their wives and children so they set out biking through the mountains on a single bike and a tandem bike. I would have like to have known these guys because they sound crazy!

Anyway, back to Wednesday. Contemporary France was interesting again, we finished talking about social security and the various programs France has. Perhaps the most interesting thing our professor told us was that France, while being all for helping her people and giving assistance, doesn’t really believe in disabilities. The more I think about this the more I realize it’s true. I don’t know how anyone in a wheelchair could get around Paris, there are only about 4 Metro stops that have elevators, the rest are all stairs, and none of the restaurants are handicapped-friendly. She also told us that the French don’t really believe in learning disabilities. Students with ADD and ADHD or dyslexia aren’t really taken seriously here and they laugh at Americans that come over expecting different treatment because of such conditions. While I do feel that these conditions are sometimes over-exagerated, I don’t think they should be ignored completely. I guess that’s just another gross cultural difference.

Between classes Katie and Meaghan went to the Gardens of Luxeumbourg for a run and I walked to a nearby neighborhood to go to the outdoor market they have every Wednesday. I found a really great deal on pashmina scarves, 3 for 10 euro, so I was pretty excited about that. Now when it gets cold and rainy again (because I’m sure it will) I’ll have something to wear that’s appropriate for the weather.

The girls came back from their run and the others got out of class so we all headed to grab a quick lunch. After that Harrison and I decided to go to the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation before his class. That was amazing, actually seeing Cartier-Bresson’s first camera in person was just amazing and of course his photos are out of this world. I tried to explain to Harrison the importance of his work to photojournalism and how much we all look up to the man in our degree. I think he got it a little but it’s hard for non-photos to understand I think. The temporary exhibit was a very intersting look at wartorn countires, with an emphasis on unrest in Greece. The portrait series was great because the subjects captioned themselves.

We didn’t  have our regular Art History class, instead we went to a museum but that wasn’t until later in the afternoon. Because we had plenty of time and the others had class/went home to take showers after their run, I decided to go to the Gardens of Tuiliries to sketch. The museum we were visiting was in the gardens so it worked out well. I found a nice spot in the shade (useless because I already have a sunburn just from walking around) and picked a sculpture to sketch. I was working for quite a while and listening to my ipod and was about halfway through when I felt someone watching me. I looked up to see two older ladies watching me sketch over my shoulder. They were nice and told me I was doing a great job and when I said it wasn’t that great they disagreed and kept encouraging me. Finally they left and told me “bon courage” (good luck/you can do it) on their way. It was nice to hear the words of encouragement but a little weird to be watched while I sketch. I’m used to preforming (I’ve done enough acting) but somehow watching while I work is different, there’s more pressure. That sketch was okay, somedays I feel I’m getting better but others I feel like I’m making no progress.

The others arrived so I met up with the group to go into the museum. Katie kindly pointed out that I had weird smudges  all over my face, I guess that’s what I get for sketching in public before a trip. Eventually she  helped me get them all off but I was still paranoid I had green marks everywhere. The museum was amazing! It’s the home to several of Monet’s huge Waterlilies paintings and to an entire collection of Renoir, Matisse, Cezanne and Gaughin too.

Seeing Monet’s lilies like they’re supposed to be seen, in the round with natural light, is just incredible. Those flowers just dance on the water and draw you into a trance. His use of the light to show the reflections of the sky while still having no horizon line just fascinates me. Even when he painted the night he used the light like magic.

We also saw a temporary exhibit by Didier Paquignon, and I would describe him as a modern impressionist. He uses light just like Monet and Degas and others of that time, but in a way that I think is both more challenging and a bit sad. Today there are so many more colors of light than in the 19th century. Paquignon uses all the light that truly exists today, meaning he includes the growing problem of light pollution in the 21st century in his work. This makes them very stunning to look at but also very depressing to me because I think light pollution is one of the saddest results of our time.

After the museum, Katie, Meaghan and I headed towards the Pantheon because that’s where the others were having a trip for their History of Paris class. There we stopped at a cafe and they got some beers and I got a coffee and we just relaxed a little. It was nice to give our bodies a rest and to just enjoy a conversation with each other. Just as I finished my coffee the others finished their trip and came to meet us. Jaclyn and I had dinner with the Chalufours so we headed home while the rest set off in search of their dinner.

Dinner was a blast, as usual. We ate outside again because the weather has finally gotten its act together. Over dinner we discussed M. and Mme. Chalufour’s jobs as editors and how they chose it. They both wanted jobs outside of a regualr office where they could breathe and have a family so it worked out well. I was also teased for having a sunburn just from being outside walking, it sucks to be me sometimes. I felt bad for Colombe though because she just got braces today so she couldn’t really eat anything. Hopefully she’ll be better tomorrow night for dinner.

Tomorrow we leave for London so it’ll probably be Monday before I have anything up again but expect a few posts. I’m so excited for this trip!

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