Category Archives: Uncategorized

Conducting the train to Geneva

That’s right, I got to fly in the cockpit all the way there.

My friends Sylvain and Simon invited me to go home with them for the weekend, to an area called Haut Savoie, right on the French-Swiss border.  Coincidentally, Sylvains dad is a train conductor and was working on the day we went.  Ch-ching!  Not only did we get to ride up front, but I got to honk the horn!

This gate really makes no sense.

Neither does this –

Or this –

(who really needs four turntables?)

Not to mention this.  Train tracks in grass at four in the morning in Switzerland!

We hopped the border into the land of the Swiss to see Jeff Milligan, a minimal-electro artist.  I had never even heard of someone using four decks at the same time, it’s crazy.  This is what it looks and sounds like:

Sunday morning was Mother’s Day, so we had lunch with Sylvains grandmother.  She is one of the most awesome old ladies I have ever met.  Get this, she started smoking on occasion after having abstained for 50 years.  She told me she’s so old that it can’t really hurt her!

Morgan finds a Pokemon

Did you know hedgehogs are real animals that live in real nature?  I always thought they were magical creatures that we domesticated for teachers and people on tv.  Does this mean that hamsters and gerbils exist in the wild too?  Hard to believe.

Anyways, I’ve come across one of these guys three times over the past eight months, always late at night and always near my house.  I have no idea how they’ve survived, they are the slowest things I’ve ever seen on four* feet.

*a guess – I’ve never actually seen their feet.

Nuits Sonores – The End

(see previous post for context)

Wow. Four days seem to have gone by in two hours. I’ve never been so fooled by the passage of time. It could have something to do with only seeing the sun rise and set (virtually no day), and the rest of the time being surrounded by flashing lights.

I worked for three to five hours most days, then I would go home and sleep for three or four more. The rest of the time was spent rendez-vous-ing with friends, rocking out, and dancing. At the beginning I thought I would be eventually burn out on lights and music, but by the end I only wanted more.

The result of a four-day danceathon is a week long slump where no part of my body works properly.  Today I discovered I might have broken a toe, along with the flu and being sore in more places than I ever knew about.  Was it worth it? You bet it was.

Most evenings we would gather on the steps by the skatepark, overlooking the Rhône river.  I used my sunglasses as a lens for this photo and the next.

This is at the Piscine de Rhône, a public pool which hasn’t opened for summer yet.  Nuits Sonores organized parties and mini-concerts here during the days and evenings before the main events began.

This is what it looked like:

On Thursday, there were free events all over the city.  This one was right outside my friend Simon’s house (pictured below), which was convenient.

Later Thursday night, we went to the Patinoire, the city’s giant ice skating stadium. They put down a carpet over all the ice, so we didn’t go sliding around like penguins.  It was free for everyone, and thousands of people showed up. This was only one of the events happening in Lyon that night, there were similar soirées going down all over the city.

My favorite part was when DatA played.  He’s a parisian DJ who does my favorite kind of dance music.  To get a feel of what we were listening to, go here and play “Aerius Light”.

I never even realized we were on ice until the carpet underneath us started slipping around.  I thought it was strange, but never put two-and-two together until part of the carpet separated from the wall and exposed part of the ice.  You can imagine what happened after that…

The rest of the nights played out in the old factory I wrote about in the last post.  I saw so many incredible bands and DJs, I don’t even know where to begin.  Of course, none of this would be nearly as fun without all the great friends I had with me.

Jon, Mike, Ruby, and Jane

Ruby and Alex

Me, Fanny, and Charlotte

I can’t believe how many awesome friends I’ve made in just nine months.  I am really going to miss them a lot.

Wondering what all of this did to my shoes?  Of course you were. Here they are riding the metro home after Thursday night…

…and these are them after Saturday night.  Notice a difference?

I will never forget those four days, they all blended together into a giant blob of awesome.  Hooray for music!

Nuits Sonores – The Begining

I was lucky enough to get hooked up with the company that organizes Nuits Sonores, a four-night Electronic and Indie festival.  I’m volunteering, which means I put in about twenty hours over the course of this week, and in return I get free entry, VIP access, free food and drinks. The work is pretty easy, I’ll be doing everything from setting up, taking down and working bars.  Oh yeah, and dancing until I can’t.

We started a few days ago getting the site ready for the festival, which is being held in an old abandoned factory that used to make light bulbs. It’s been closed for about two years now, and after the festival, they’re going to DEMOLISH the whole thing. You know what this means? We get to do whatever we want with the place. There is a team of artists, and they were putting stuff up while we were moving everything around.

Sylvan working on couch logistics.  We had a ton of old furniture from local thrift stores to furnish rooms we set up for the artists to hang out in

The complex is ginormous.  The other day we went through the different buildings shutting off entire hallways with boards so people wouldn’t get lost. In just a few days we saw an expansive, desolate factory get turned into a dance-party machine. There are three different main rooms (and by rooms, we’re talking airplane hanger-sized), as well as smaller rooms with bars and lounges. Over these four days, we’re expecting to see 50,000 people in total.

(before)

This shipping crate got painted gold, then they put a DJ inside.  Voila, you can listen and dance while you wait outside to meet up with your friends.  Having outdoor spaces is really nice, because it gets pretty hot inside.

(after)

For more info on the festival, click here.

For more photos, click here.

Dordogne

Easter Weekend, my group of American students from Oregon and St. Louis traveled five hours west to the Dordogne region, famous of Fois Gras, castles (over 1000) and ancient cave paintings.

We were supposed to go on this boat, but it rained so much over the weekend that the river was too high to navigate. We weren’t disappointed, because it was freezing and the last thing we wanted to go was sit on a boat in the rain.

The cliffs in Dordogne are full of caves that they are constantly finding artifacts in. The thing I found most interesting about the region is how well it was preserved after the ice age. Archaeologists have found tons of fossils from Woolly Mammoths, Saber toothed Tigers, Neanderthals and early humans.

Foie gras (literately “fat liver”) is a delicacy made from the overgrown organ of a goose. How does it get overgrown? By an old lady cramming grain into it’s mouth via a funnel.

Long-time alcoholics tend to have the same thing happen, only their grain comes in liquid form.

Considered to be the “Sistine Chapel of prehistory,” the Lascaux cave is covered with amazing paintings of antelopes, horses, big buffalo-looking animals. They are estimated have been painted around 15,000 B.C. The cave itself is closed off for preservation, but we went underground to see an exact replica. The crazy part is that the site was discovered by children playing around in 1940.

The paintings were done by someone who looked like this guy:

Brenden at the museum.

We were walking down the street in this little village, looking for something to eat. It looks like someone likes to skip English class.

I think the “Seefruit” is supposed to be seafood.

One of the castles we visited.  That’s me and a trebuchet, unfortunately we couldn’t play with them.

This is where we stayed. The hotel was really old, and the roof was made of slate. Everyone had a great time, and Molly even found a pot of gold in her room!

Dordogne.

Into The Wild

wild.jpg

Into The Wild is one of the best films I have seen in a long time. Just this week, I’ve gone to see it twice in the theater. Remember that I am living in France, so we get American movies much later.

I don’t know where to start, all I can say is that this movie opened a part of me that has been closed for over seven months. I had forgotten the power of real, wild nature. Living in the city, I’ve missed out on the simple beauty of a sunset with glowing-orange mountains, a chaotic-yet-focus rushing river, or just being somewhere with complete silence, only to be broken by the wind or birds.

Into The Wild is a story about a guy that graduates from college, has a very bright future, and decides to leave it all. He gives all his savings to charity, cuts up his identification cards, and ditches his car. He burns the rest of the money in his pocket, and sets out on the road.

His two main goals are spiritual and physical. The first is “to kill the false being within,” and the second is to live off the land in Alaska. He accomplishes both, but not before having tons of adventures and meeting some amazing people.

I felt very inspired after watching this, both times around. The two main messages that I got out of the story is this: (1) happiness doesn’t come principally from human relationships, but (2) it is only fully realized when shared. That’s either a paradox or a complimentary pair, I’m not quite sure which yet.

P.S.  Part of it was filmed in the tiny town of Sisters, Oregon.  That’s where I come from!

What Wednesday looks like…

9:45 – Translation French-English

11:30 – Translation English-French

1:15 – Interpretation

3:00 – Translation Spanish-French (this is where my head gets messy)

4:45 – History of American Feminism

6:15 – My brain is completely fried.

I don’t know why all my translation classes happen on the same day, but it’s a mind-marathon.