Friday, July 17, 2009

I'm too sexy for this haircut

Almost unbelievably, today was the last day of my internship! It was a really good experience; in fact it was pretty much a perfect continuation of my coursework this past year. I had really nice colleagues and a lot of variety in my work responsibilities, and the drudgery of doing some boring administrative work was offset by the opportunities I had to exercise the kind of initiative authorized by my unique position as a French-speaking American staff member (actually a not-entirely-unique position: I shared it, funny enough, with another Jessica from Southeastern Vermont.

I'm ready to move on, though, and have a lot of fun plans for the next few weeks. First stop is tomorrow's drive to Lucerne to see some old friends and hopefully enjoy some Alpine scenery. Nate's never been to Switzerland so I'm hoping to put together an impressive itinerary of Swiss experiences.

My hair was getting a little shaggy so I decided to have a pre-vacation cut. The salon next door had two signs in the window, one saying "student discount" and the other saying "models wanted for haircuts: male and female." I was a little unsure what they meant by "models" and I didn't want to risk the embarassment of being rejected, so I went in to ask about the student discount, and offhandedly asked what the sign meant. As it turns out, it's common in France for aspiring hair stylists to get apprenticeships in salons where they gain experience between their school training and independent work. To help these apprentices get experience, they help at the shop and offer free haircuts. Free! and with no photography or actual modeling needed. So I quickly volunteered and I'm now sporting a brand new free haircut. It was well cut, but I'm still unsure how I like it. It's pretty short. I'm sure I'll have photos soon, and hopefully by then I'll be used to it. Anyway, the point is, I'm officially a model!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Le jour de gloire est arrivé

Happy Bastille Day! It was pretty uneventful here today: the fireworks tonight were canceled because of thunderstorms. Nate and I are having a great time, though. Yesterday we borrowed bikes from two of my colleagues and took off for a 25 mile trek through the wine fields of Burgundy to Beaune, where we would catch the train back to Dijon. I'm not sure who thought that was a good idea (it was me) but about a quarter of the way there someone (me) started to think it wasn't such a brilliant plan. But it was a great day, the vineyards and tiny villages were beautiful, and best of all, just when the fun was really wearing off, we arrived at the cute little town of Nuits-Saint-Georges, and found out it has a train station! After three hours and about 20 km, we were very humbled by the 7-minute train ride home, not to mention the TV coverage of 200 km stages of the Tour de France.

Last night we checked out a French tradition neither of us had ever experienced before: Le Bal des Pompiers. On the eve of Bastille Day, French firefighters open up their stations and host a huge party that's open to the public. One of my colleagues' description led me to believe we'd be the youngest participants by far and were in for a night of favorite French oldies, and we got kind of dressed up for the occasion. When we got there it turned out to be a sort of all-ages dance party, with favorite French pop classics, and of course random American things like "Summer Loving" from Grease, which always seems to pop up at European dances. It was a blast! Everybody was having fun, teenagers and young parents with kids on their shoulders, all dancing the night away. At 1 AM we got a special treat, when a small contingent of firemen (who, in France, are known for their good looks and physical fitness) put on a little strip-show on the roof of one the garages!

More photos (including half-naked firemen).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday Night

Today I moved out of the nunnery and into a student's apartment that I'm subletting for the week, in time for Nate's arrival tomorrow. It's great to have a real living space instead of a tiny little room. Also, I have my own private internet now, instead of waiting for a spot at one of six hookups to share with 30 other women in the computer room. This means I have spent the last couple of hours catching up on useless things like YouTube and Facebook. I think I may have lost a few brain cells. But on the other hand, I got to watch the trailer for the new Ricky Gervais movie!

I have just 20 pages left to read in Infinite Jest! However, with sentences like the one below (yes, one sentence) those 20 pages might take a while.

Gately now simply blows through Inman, heading for B&C over on the upscale northwest side nearer to Harvard, every light suddenly green and kind, the Aventura's ten-cylinder backwash raising an odd little tornado of discarded ad-leaflets and glassine bags and corporate-snack bags and a syringe's husk and filterless gasper-butts and general crud and a flattened Millennial Fizzy cup, like from a stand, which whirls in his exhaust, the tornado of waste does, moving behind him as the last pearly curve of the sun through baggy clouds is eaten by the countless Sancta Something and then whitewashed WASP church roofs' finials farther west, nearer Harvard, at 60k but sustained in its whirl by the strong west breeze as the last of the sun goes and a blue-black shadow quietly fills the canyon of Prospect, whose streetlights don't work for the same municipal reasons the street is in such crummy repair; and one piece of the debris Gately's raised and set spinning behind him, a thick flattened M.F. cup, caught by a sudden gust as it falls, twirling, is caught at some aerodyne's angle and blown spinning all the way to the storefront of one 'Antitoi Entertainment' on the street's east side, and hits, its waxed bottom making a clunk, hits the glass pane in the locked front shop door with a sound for all the world like the rap of a knuckly, so that in a minute a burly bearded thoroughly Canadian figure in one of those Canadianly inevitable checked-flannel shirts appears out of the dim light in the shop's back room and wipes its mouth on first one sleeve then the other and opens up the front door with a loud hinge-squeak and looks around a bit, viz. for who knocked, looking not overly pleased at being interrupted at what his sleeves betray as a foreign supper, and also, below that harried expression, looking edgy and emotionally pale, which might explain the X of small-arms ammo-belts across his checked chest and the rather absurdly large .44 revolver tucked and straining in the waistband of his jeans.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Avian Childcare

My little studio at the student residence is located just off a small courtyard, and across from my door is a little nook in which a bird had built a nest. A few weeks ago I realized there were three tiny baby birds in there and a mama bird who flies back and forth bringing morsels of food for the little squawking babies. The hatchlings are very excitable, and can actually make a very high-pitched racket when clamoring for a meal.

When I lived in Amsterdam in 2001, a pigeon built a nest on my balcony and laid an egg in it, hatching a little baby bird; I thought it was cute so I stepped out on the balcony to take pictures, and shortly thereafter I discovered the baby abandoned, splayed pitifully across the nest, having starved to death. Since that event (and the accompanying trauma of having to dispose of the dead bird and nest by myself) I've been cautious about getting too close to live baby animals. So I didn't try to get a close look at these little ones.

Today I stepped out of my room and noticed that the nest was empty and the regular twittering was a little further away, out in the courtyard. The babies had learned to fly! (They grow up so fast, don't they?) I walked past the courtyard where the little cuties were fluttering around, bumping into walls and windows, still getting used to using their wings. The mama bird was nearby, and squawking loudly at me to move along.

Well, apparently by the time I came back for lunch, the mama was quite tired of humans walking past her baby and had gone on the defensive to protect them. As I tried to cross the courtyard she came at me, landing briefly two times on my head as I retreated back into the main building. I tried to go through a side hallway and come out another door, but there she was, hovering. Mind you this is a very small bird, but still! It was hilarious and a little scary at the same time.

I managed to leave out the back doorway undetected after lunch, and I'm already planning my defense for this evening. Let's just say that the umbrella I'm carrying is only partly because of the gray skies.

Speaking of weather, I'm pretty happy about the forecast for the next few days:

That might be too small to read, but basically it indicates very reasonable, balmy temperatures with little fluffy clouds for the next few days. I'm also excited because this four-day forecast finally includes this Sunday (dim for dimanche) which is when Nate gets here! Yay! And it's a four-day weekend, since the school "makes the bridge" between the weekend and Bastille Day on Tuesday. I'm very excited to show him around Dijon and to have a partner for exploration of undiscovered parts of the city.