Monday, December 1, 2008

Just about a week left!

After our Thanksgiving feast on Thursday, I got to spend Friday evening with the German stagiaires to celebrate Stefan's birthday, and here's an awkwardly staged picture of everyone. Starting to the left, there's Claudia, Olivia (who's actually French, and has taught in Germany), Stefan, Peter, Bettina, Johannes, and Franziska. It was another multilingual evening, as Peter, who was visiting, doesn't really speak French, so we alternated between French, English, and German all evening, which was really cool.

Saturday morning was cool--I got to teach a bit in Sophie's French class. The material was nothing new to me (intro to theatre of the absurd, and a close reading of the beginning of Godot), but I had no idea how the lesson would go from a linguistic point of view. I actually had a really nice time chatting with the students. They picked up on a lot of Beckett's humor and general philosophy just from reading the very start of the play. As always, I find their thoughts and interpretations so interesting. I found myself quite grateful for this opportunity; I really enjoyed it.

On Saturday night, Vanessa and I met up with Lindsey and Josh again for some adventures in Paris. We went to a fondue restaurant in Montmartre where they serve wine in baby bottles. The place was really busy, and there were a lot of other Americans there, so we chatted a little with the people on both sides of us. One girl told me she goes to Skidmore, and I said a lot of my people from my high school went there, so she asked who I knew--so I mentioned my brother's good friend Anthony, and it turns out she knows him! I thought that was just the funniest thing. I think the context of the baby bottles contributed to that...

I have really wanted to go to the Opera Garnier here, but tickets for operas and ballets were a little out of my price on Sunday night I went to see a little chamber music concert with performances by the some of the Opera's orchestra members (percussion, flute, clarinet, piano). The building is just stunning, from the outside and from the inside. It's actually the building that inspired the novel The Phantom of the Opera. Here's the outside at night.

Here's the main staircase. It's so impressive!

And, of course, the performance room was magnificent. I had an impossible time taking a picture that could do it justice. It's all red and gold, and incredibly ornate. Coincidentally, the music of the evening was largely 20th century American pieces for percussion, so it was really modern and experimental. It was really interesting, and there was a pretty thorough description provided of each piece before its start, so it was cool to have a point of view from which to interpret it.

Tomorrow will be another performance adventure--Vanessa and I are going to see a French production of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew at the Comedie Francaise. I'm really looking forward to it!

Today was a rather festive day, as Christmas markets are springing up around Paris, so Marta and I spent the morning at la Defense, walking through a huge variety of little stands selling all kinds of things. Definitely started getting us into the holiday spirit.