scared thrilled scared thrill scared thrilled

I find most things in life both scary and thrilling. I suppose I should hope it's always this way, but sometimes it feels like an awful lot of work.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Encore... Allez!

This is the image to accompany last night's blog. That's Mathieu, the son of the family where I'm staying, celebrating the big win in the streets. As his friend Armand said, "They have to win. If they lose he won't be able to sleep".

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Allez Les Bleues!!!!

It’s nearing 2 am now, and I’ve just returned home from a number of hours, and a lot of ice cream, at a little shop where I was writing a paper. Crazy how the scenery can change so much, but the activity can remain the same. I’m sitting in my favourite place of course, the rooftop, watching the searchlight from the top of the Eiffel tower swing its slow gazeacross the gabled rooftops and Mary Poppins chimneys of Paris. If I wait a few minutes I’ll get to see the light show: the whole of the tower, top to bottom all covered in a billion blinking points of light. It hours now since I was at a bar with Armand and Mathieu, jumping around as France wrapped up its convincing 3-1 victory over Spain in the World Cup. The street below me is still mad with honking and flag-waving. It was as I was riding my bicycle home, with the refrain of the Marsailles ringing in my ears and a blizzard of feathers from some street-scene pillow fight gone horribly right floating around my head and marking my path with their swirling and diving, that I realized I’ve fallen in love with this city. But some loves you eventually have to leave. I leave in three days for Amsterdam. There’s so much I still want to taste of Paris. But unlike a lover, a city will always stick around for a return visit. That said, as people change, so do cities. There will never be another visit to Paris that will feel like this one has. The city will lose and gain and so will I. This has been a special month and the only place it can really live the life it deserves is in my memory. Pictures and stories are blinks of an eye. A faulty noggin is the only place where the real experience will live, and change, and get fuzzy in spots and eventually be gone. It’s sad, but it’s life. Thank you Paris. I’ll hold this summer in my memory until it fades from view. At that point all I’ll be able to cherish is the knowledge of a memory. It won’t be enough, but it’ll be all I have and I’ll be glad of it. C’est la vie. And there go the lights. Such timing! Bon nuit, à la Ville des Lumières.

Procrastination in the Nation.

I'm sitting in a gorgeous little park on a bench, surrounded by leafy trees and lots of elderly Parisians. I'm supposed to be writing hte paper we're handing in tomorrow, but blogging is too easy to justify. Here's a couple of photos. The first is from the fête de la musique, an amazing city-wide music festival which happened last week. I got to see Césaria Evora, which I never though would happen in my lifetime. This photo, however, is artist David Walters, as seen through the rain. It was such a wonderful festival, but quite crazy. This event was held in the beautiful courtyard/garden of a very old building complex called Hotel de Sully. The act following Walters was a reggae band. They were absolutely fantastic, and the crowd was right there with them despite the rain. But apparently the courtyard had become so packed with people that they had swung the ancient old wooden doors shut, locking out all those who had been waiting in the street for an entrance. Some time after this they turned off the speakers, the band stumbled to a stop like a wind-up toy running out of juice, and somebody announced that they were rioting in the streets, and the concert was over. I later found a video online that someone had shot of what was happening. People were yelling and shoving. They had made a battering ram out of something and were trying to break down this beautiful old door. There were cries of "La Bastille" and something about rich people. It was fully frightening. When we eventually made our way out of the concert the mood in the street was expectant and sharp, like the first sight of blood. And almost every single person had a bottle of wine in their hand. Revolution is in the ancient paving stones in this city. Sitting just under the surface. But that night I could've held it in my hand.
The other picture is from my roof, again. For you poor devils dstined to be subjected to a slide show on my return, you'll probably find that a good 65% of the pictures will be from my roof. Ahhh. Again, I'm the boss.
That's all, lovelies. Keep up the good work! Now I'm out of batteries, so more excuses to procrastinate! Yesssss

no no no... I decided to try the beard!

Apparently I wasn't clear in my last posting; I AM trying to grow a beard. I hit the point of no return and decided to proceed along the straight and narrow path of beardhood. I guess Toby is growing one too... once again outdone by older brother. Well shoot.
They're nutty about soccer over here. One of the many important things I've learned is how to hold the ball on your foot, like in this photo. I was pretty stoked when I figured it out. Everytime there's a world cup game the streets of Paris fill with the fans of the winning team, driving around tooting on horns, wearing the country flag and painting themselves up a bit. I get a bit nervous on the ole bicycle when I hear the beep beep beeps and hoots and hollers coming up behind. Like the hounds of hell nipping at my heels. So i put the pedal to the sickle and take the bus lane. Much safer.
The second bit of photographic proof documents the base of what will soon become the greatest beard I have ever worn. The last legitimate effort occurred over my 16-year old summer in Alaska. I came back all wooly and whispy with huge hair and the patchiest neck beard on earth. That's when Andrea broke up with me. I'm banking on the hope that returning with a far more manly beard will ensure we don't have a repeat performance! What do you say Andrea?
Also, if you look carefully, you can see a red spot on my nose. Lesson learned: sometimes when you're trying to get that last tip of the cigarette and your judgement may be slightly impaired, you get a burnt nose. Let it go marty, let it go. TTFN.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The point of no return

Somewhere, somehow, I'd lost this spirit of this blog and its commitment to documenting the growth of my beard. Maybe it was the money, the fine wine and the glory of fame. Or maybe beard's are just itchy and I lacked the willpower. At any rate, I decided recently that I was fast approaching the point of no return, and that if I was going to actually grow a beard I had to commit, dammit, and just let it ride. So, such is the case at this point. I think I'm four days in. I'll let you know how it goes.
And the photo is Iver, Alicia, Linnea and myself dancing in hell.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

the view from my rooftop where I sit with my guitar and possibly un peu de vin. Not bad.
a night shot on my bicycle.

The charming vistas of les banlieues.
Tatevik and Agnès, who could be speaking no language other than French
I forget.


Finally! Here's a few pics. First is some great Danish sausage design framed nicely by Incomparable Alice. The sausage was tasty. Zach ate three. Also, Callum cheering his heart out for B.O. -French rugby champs. And the last may be my bicycle... unless I've remembered that wrong.

More to come!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

so sorry, or sairry as you yankees like to say.

Sorry for the no-postage in a while. I had all my fingers stolen while I was sleeping on the Metro. I had to buy these ones from a pawner at the marché aux puces (flea market).
Paris is lovely of course. Had a great day yesterday. Went to a flea market, more of a crap market actually, then had an amazing dinner with intern-Michael from Berkely. Seriously nice food, the best meal I've had in Paris. After dinner Michael and I walked about 9 miles to a nightclub to meet a bunch of the kids. The poor girls kept getting harrased by this drunk guy who would sneak up behind them and roar in their ears. Like a lion. Not sure what his deal was. I ducked out of there a bit early and rode, just a touch tipsy, through the night streets to the Moosehead, a Canadian expat bar which was showing the oilers game, starting at 2 am. So I sat with some very nice Candians and drank La Fin du Monde and watched Edmonton kick the crap out of Carolina. Ahhh, it was a wonderful night. The sun was coming up when I rode home at 5:30 to collapse into my bed. And then this morning I wiped out coming down the spiral stairs/death trap of my chambre de bonne. My little morrocan slippers have slick leather soles, and my bruised and bleeding elbow is paying the price. Ah well.
Tried to put some pictures up, but no go with the sketchy signal here. I'll have to do that later.

The program has been varied and of a very high quality. They warned us from the beginning about the amount of information we would be exposed to, and they weren't kidding. I think my favourite trip so far has been the visit to the appeals court for those who have been denied refugee status. Noble noble work. We listened to a father plead the case for his family not to be sent back to Croatia, where they were in constant threat of violence. His wife too sick to sit up. His little girl, who had spent two years in the custody of kidnappers, looked around the room with a big smile and bright eyes, unaware of the gravity of what was going on. It was intense.

Well, I need to go. We have a meeting this afternoon and I don't like being late. Hope you are all well.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


I'm sitting on some steps in a small stree named Rue Clément in Paris, having wandered here in search of some wifi signal. And weak as it may be, I have certainly found some! It's warm in Paris right now; too warm for my Canadian blood. But if that's my biggest complaint about the place, and it is, thtings will be just fine.
Sorry about the double posting of pictures on here, by the way. I never claimed to know how to use one of these computees... Seriously though, Paris has been fantastic so far, but I should say a bit about Copenhagen first.
Copenhagen: actually, we didn't stay in the city, but outside of it in an idyllic village called Krogerup. I know it looks like it would be easy to say, but if there's one thing I learned from Aladin it's not to judge a book by its cover. Basically, if you filled your mouth with gravel, after washing it, then made a gurgly noise that started with K and ended with P you'd probably be far closer than I ever got. I think it was probably good that we were outside the city. The program was very intense and demanding, but the pleasantness of the surroundings, the cool night air, the sea, the green of the grass, the down duvets and amazing food, all contributed to a feeling of holiday and relaxednessitude. It was also an intense time socially. There were approx 100 fellows there, all motivated and smart as whips. As sessions ended we would head out into the warm sun and cool breezes for coffee or cigarettes and the discussion and debate would simply change venue. Never before have I been around so many people with like interests. Issues which bore so many of my regular companions are bread and water for these people. It was an honour to be surrounded by so many of them.
It was also sad to say goodbye. Those heading to Berlin, Warsaw and those staying in Denmark will not be joining us for the final part of the program in Amsterdam, but will be meeting together in Berlin. While I may have far simpler goals for the social aspect of this trip than some of the younger students, it is amazing how an experience like this can connect you to people in the space of a week or so. The last night in Krogerup we danced and drank and talked till the sun came up, which in Denmark this time of year is much earlier than in Seattle, but nevertheless, it was great.

So this is too long already, so I'll simply bullet-point some highlights of the Paris experience so far. If I have time later I'll come back to them, or else I won't. It's up to me. I am the boss.
-my place-amazing location in the 7th arr. my room is on the 8th floor (122 spiral steps). I climb out onto the roof and see the Eiffel Tower in one direction, Notre Dame in the other.
-the people-the fellows here are fantastic.
-dinner at a Basque restaurant-enough fat to float a boat, and soooo good. Common tables. Stumbly French speaking.
-riding home last night at 3:30 on a beautiful old bicycle loaned to me by my friend Iver.

there's so much more. Have to go tho. Love to all of you. Drop me a line if you like!

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Blogspot seems to be letting me down, so this is a test.


Had some trouble adding photos, but I'll give a try from here.


Had some trouble adding photos, but I'll give a try from here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

There's something lovely in the state of Denmark

-c'est une grande fenêtre at the Lousiana art museum. And art as well.
-This is how we spend our days. Tough discussion with very smart people.
-The whole HIA group. 104 fellows from the United States, France, Denmark, Holland, Poland, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Germany... I think that's it.

It's been an amazing day. I'd write more, but i have to dress for dinner. we'll see what I can do afterwards.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Still no beard growth.

-drinking Danish beer on the street with my roomate Iver-Norwegian living in Paris.
-post-dinner chatting and counting glasses of wine and chatting human rights
Well I'm hoping that if anyone's reading this blog they won't be so dissapointed in my growin-beard failures that they stop tuning in. That would be a shame. I've still got time! Hang in there everbody!

Yesterday was the first full day here in Denmark, and it was fantastic. We're staying in what is called a "Folk High School" which is really a beautiful old mansion in a tiny village on the eastern coast of Denmark. We can walk to the water in about five minutes and see Sweden staring back across the blue. It is magnificent here. So cute it's like a caricature of itself. I almost feel bad... like I'm stereotyping or something. It's so absolutely Danish and wonderful.

The subject yesterday was the roled of mass media in democracy. We discussed the topic, both explicitly and implicitly, through the lens of the Muhammed cartoon crisis Denmark. There were media representatives, including a gentleman from the paper which produced the cartoons, a Danish foreign ministry guy and a local muslim leader. It was fascinating and insightful. The group here is made up of a lot of very smart students, and they asked brilliant questions. I was in heaven.

I've got to go now, as the first session is about to begin. I'll be trying to limit my intake of the wonderful Danish coffee today. I learned my lesson yesterday sitting through long sessions with a very full bladder.

cheers all.

Friday, June 02, 2006

off we go!!!!

In the airport in DC just waiting for the flight and I thought I should put in an entry to say goodbye. It's been intense and fantastic here the last few days. We've spent almost all of our time at the Holocaust museum, which has been amazing, but emotionally exhausting. The disconnect of bodies from souls has been hanting me.
Onto the plane.