Life is full of simplicities that we tend to either complicate or take for granted.
Saturday, the 21st, was a very random day. Another girl in the program and I went to a few of the last places we hadn’t seen yet that were “required” (as if we’d pass up seeing a lot of these places anyway…) to see. We found Les Deux Magots which is a café famous for being a Modernist poet haunt,
rue de St. Antoine where the French Revolution kind of started, the Bastille which is at the end of St. Antoine and famous for the same reason,
the Salon de la Princesse which is just a room where a Princess lived—so it’s ridiculous. It had an ante-chamber, a card playing room, a room where she slept, a room where she just had her friends over to hang out and all of these rooms could fit half of my entire house in it. Like I said, RIDICULOUS. I couldn’t take pictures there though, as it was one of those places that don’t allow cameras.
We stopped for lunch at Le Bonaparte Café, which I didn’t get any pictures of, of course. My apologies. We went back to Musee Rodin (the picture above) and La Conciergarie because she hadn’t been to those places yet. But, as fun as all that walking and sightseeing was, which that was surprisingly not a sarcastic comment because I did enjoy it quite a bit, the highlight of my September 21, 2012 was meeting up with Sebastien Auget!
He stayed with my family years ago as an exchange student and had come back two years afterwards. It was the first time I was alone walking around in Paris yet I didn’t feel unsafe or anything of the sort. Besides, who’d mess with this? Let’s be real–I’d win in a fight. Anyway, we met up at the Jardin du Luxombourg and walked around, stopping at a cute little bar he likes, a restaurant for dinner, and a bookstore along the way.
We caught up on life, what we’ve been up to, future plans, just the usual. His English has kept up very well—he’s been reading a lot of books in English as to make sure he doesn’t get too rusty. His vocabulary is fantastic! His accent was a little thick at first but once we got going, it mellowed out, even though I could understand him for the most part anyway. And there he was, all worried about it. Sebastien, if you’re reading this, your English is superb. Keep up the good work! And if anything I say in the next few paragraphs doesn’t seem right to you, let me know so I can correct it. J
The bookstore we went to was SO COOL! It was just like Shakespeare and Company but smaller and had just as many books. It was run by a guy from Canada and so the majority of the books were in English. Except a copy of the Hobbit that was in Latin. It was tempting…but I didn’t buy it. The owner isreally kind and knows a LOT about books. I’ve been actually looking for a particular book for a few years now that I haven’t been able to locate and when I asked him about it, he said he’s never even seen a copy of it before. I felt really cool because I stumped him. Don’t tell him that though, he was kind of intimidating.
As we ate dinner (penne al salmon avec tomates, avec une coca et pour desserte, yaourt avec fruits—that was as intense as my French gets, and I’m not even sure if that’s right. Good luck with Google translate) we discussed ethical issues brought up in literature, the confinement of a personality by its language, general human behavior, and compared American vs. French education, just to name a few topics. Did I feel super cool eating outside at this fancy restaurant with a French man discussing all these philosophical ideas?
It was interesting talking about language with him, as he’s been to the United States a couple times now and this has been my first time out of the country and in an environment where English is not the dominant language. The idea of languages has been talked about within the group of students I’m with throughout the past week we’ve been here. Just that we basically are just giving noises and sounds meaning, making marks and giving them meanings to match up with the sounds we make verbally. Sebastien and I talked about the idea that we can only express ourselves within the spectrum given to us by our language—our ability to illustrate our emotions and thoughts is restricted, or opened up, by our language. He was saying that if you were to learn a language, say, of Tibet, your personality would be directly affected by your vocabulary. If you were to follow a stereotype in this example, you would have a tendency to be more peaceful and feel more ‘one of the whole’. I just thought that was worth sharing.
Hey look, random side of a building.
Another thing that was brought up, that seems redundant to say, but I found interesting anyway, was brought up through the topic of marriage. I was asking about the whole ‘five levels of marriage’ thing that Tour Guide Sam told us about (if I didn’t mention that before, he was saying that there are 5 levels of marriage in France, basically depending on the level of commitment and legality of the union) and that kind of blurred over into religion. He was saying that the majority of French people, obviously this being a generalization, don’t really believe in much of anything religious-wise, which is fairly inclusive of marriage. He said that if you don’t believe in something, it’s not going to mean anything to you. So then, for a French person who doesn't believe in it, why get married? (Fun Fact from Tour Guide Sam: Paris, the city of love or whatever, is 80% single/unmarried and the city with the highest rate of infidelity…followed by good old NYC). I just thought that was interesting to think about. That seems like such an obvious statement but I really liked it. Anyway.
Today, the 23rd of September, we had stake conference. Those reading who are not of the LDS religion, I’ll try and break it down for you. Members in the same area are put into a ward, which is a term we use for a congregation, and wards in the same area are a stake. It’s more organized than that, but hopefully you get the idea. Stake conference happens every so often and today was one of those times. Instead of meeting at the building we were at last week, we were to meet in Versailles. I hope your face was like, “Whaaa?” because that was my initial reaction. “Oh yeah, I’m just on my way to church in Versailles today. No big deal”. I’m the one that’s doing all this and I still want to slap myself across the face.
So a group of us followed a guy in the program who said he knew where he was going…well. He had gone to the Versailles ward last week and was just following those directions. That got us on the side of Versailles opposite of where we wanted to be. It was quite the adventure and I really enjoyed it actually. We were about forty five minutes late but I wasn’t too concerned. The walking around was lovely, the leaves are falling and it smells like autumn, my favorite, and the whole area is just gorgeous anyway.
So we caught about the last half of conference, which was in French so we didn’t get it too much anyway but still could definitely feel the Spirit, and then went to the palace to see a few of the places we had left on our list of things to see for classes. Like the Hall of Mirrors?
As a whole, the entire place was just like the other places we’ve been to—awesome.
This evening, a few people went to Notre Dame to attend Mass. Listening to the singing of the choir reverberating throughout the cathedral was so calming yet at the same time had an exciting invigoration about it all. I even sang along at some of the congregational parts (is it called a congregation? That was just me assuming—pardon my ignorance). I can say I’ve sung in the Notre Dame! Yeah, I can’t get over how beautiful Notre Dame is though. I hope you’re not sick of the pictures of her.
I’m obviously NOT.
AND THEN!! I got to Skype with my mommy, daddy, almost-but-not-quite 3-year-old niece, and sister-in-law. Except that my mom couldn’t figure out her video, so I really just ended up talking to them while my niece flicked my face on the screen. She loves me so much.
So, seeing as it is Sunday I thought it would be fitting to share a little thought. So yesterday as we walked all over Paris, my friend and I were getting to know each other a little better. She was telling me a story about how until about a year ago, she was going to be a professional ballerina. She had done ballet for years, was an exceptional dancer, and had already declared that as her major. As it would happen, Heavenly Father had other plans for her. Now she is no longer taking that route but feels good about the way she is going—better, even, than she did before with the ballerina thing.
That made me think of an experience I had earlier this year. Stick with me on this one. So a little background information; a common tendency for members of the church is to marry at a younger age. Somewhat unrelated until that trend, I have always planned on serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when I become old enough, at age twenty-one. Basically I would avoid the dating scene until after I got back. Well, earlier this year I ended up dating, what felt somewhat seriously, an RM (Returned Missionary, the guys you should look out for so you don’t get hitched freshman year) and I kind of got freaked out. I wasn’t thinking “Oh, I’m going to marry this kid” but it was just the possibility that life could get very serious very quickly. And at first, that scared me. But soon after that anxiety set in, I was reading in my scriptures and came across a verse that of course I can’t remember now, but basically I took it as Heavenly Father has a plan for me. And it’s better than anything that I could come up with and it will make me the happiest. It was the way that I needed to learn that, shoot, maybe I won’t serve a mission, but whatever happens is what will make me the most happy in my life and that, with Heavenly Father's help, I can do it all. So no, I don’t think I will be getting married terribly soon, and I certainly haven’t ruled out serving a mission, but I know that I am open to alternatives. We’ll just have to see what the next few years have coming for me. Bring it.
There ya go.