Tuesday, July 31, 2012

the gift she gave me

"Be yourself. Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. Just be."
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

the gift she gave me
      maddie rhondeau

Different things. 
Grateful first. 
Regretful second.
Never fully take it in.
Scared lastly. 
Pending responsibilities at home. 

Selfishly hoping.
To see a change. 
More worldly? 
More interesting?
Maybe just happier.
I don't know. 

Nowadays how am I? 
Too judgmental about the wrong things. 
Give the right people a chance.
The ill-advised.
I don't have time for anymore.
My resolution.
About being alone. 
Forgot what it was like. 
I missed it. 
I need it. 

Train was delayed. 
Group of Americans.
A month ago. 
Ready for a change. 
The girls are gone. 
Back in the states. 
So I sat alone. 
Watched the Parisians.
Curse loudly.
Gaze blankly. 

I liked it that way.
Strangely enough. 

Sitting alone. 
Staring out the train window. 
Sophia Coppola sketch.

I found what you gave me. 
It had that quote on it. 
My nineteenth birthday.
I cried. 
Applicable to the moment. 

What I've learned here. 
This sentiment. 
To live alone. 
To create alone. 
To learn alone. 

To experience and enjoy alone. 
And to be satisfied. 

That is not a failure.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

course incroyable

Paris édition

Smith said find them all. 
It was a work-out but I'll
always remember.

Tasked with the job of completing an unforgiving scavenger hunt, we ambitiously set out to differentiate our photography from the other teams. Thus was born Hipster Haiku - Paris édition. Tragically, the haikus I wrote on the metro were not posted with the pictures that Katie and Lauren took, so I am taking the opportunity to post them now.

Fanny Packs
That is so retro. 
Normally I would say yes, 
But that is heinous. 

American Cars in Paris
A sea of smart cars. 
No hummers for Parisians. 
Says you have small feet. 

Public Displays of Affection
Yes I grabbed your butt.  
I am Bonnie to your Clyde. 
Go ahead and judge. 

Translation Fails
I don't understand
"Tonight I made a party."
French boys talk pretty. 

Labels aren't Vintage
Consumer culture. 
Pretentious with her fendi. 
My Ray Bans don't count. 

At the market
No corn syrup please
I only eat organic
And drink tall Starbucks. 

3 euro Vintage
Spent almost nothing. 
Parisians dress "up-tight" chic
Look like I don't care. 


Saturday, July 21, 2012

danseur à chambord

trois en rose

ew la la

FACT: In 1985, sewer cleaners discovered an escaped zoo crocodile happily cruising through the Parisian sewer system. 
He felt the Seine was too dirty.

palais lachaise


In July of 2012, one
Historic Preservation student 
disappeared unexpectedly in the 
Palais Lachaise cemetery, 
while studying Urban Planning.

A week later she blogged about it.*

I prefer gloomy days. For one, overcast days are the best natural glamor lighting. In the right situations, cloud-cover can enhance the drama of any environment. So with cloud cover, light rain, the cawing of crows on crosses, a crisp breeze, and the date being Friday the 13th, I entered the famous Palais Lachaise cemetery. 

Built in 1804, the Palais Lachaise cemetery influenced the future designs of American cemeteries. Unique to France is the utilization of the "stacked" grave. With a stacked grave, more than one coffin can be placed in a burial plot. This is highly different than burial practices in the United States, where one coffin equates to one burial plot. In addition, headstones are not the marker of choice for burials in France. Small buildings and stone slabs built over the graves populate the Palais Lachaise cemetery. Each have unique architectural design and ornamental motifs. Upside down torches, skeletons, time turners, and broken columns all chronicle the passage of time and indicate loss of life.

A friend with bright green eyes peered up at me from behind the headstone. Her black fur bristled with anxiety, and her ears lay flat against her skull. The irony. 

* As an aside, I actually did get separated from the group in the cemetery. I'm smarter than those "A level media students". I just stayed put and ate Kinder Bueno.


"He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is detestable. And it has a fascination, too, which goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination--you know. Imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate."
- Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Part 1

I know as an American tourist I'm supposed to "oh la la" at the skulls and bones in the Catacombs. But my initial impression left me comparing and contrasting the ethical practices of preservationists in France and the United States.

I don't believe as a preservation major you could walk through the Catacombs and not instantly think of NAGPRA. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act prevents the displacement and looting of Native American burial remains within the United States. A government-sanctioned law, there is a very powerful stress on the professional obligations of archaeologists to treat human remains with respect. In the United States, the interpretive narrative of the deceased is largely focused on the individual, or the culture of the individual. So strong is the emphasis on the tactful handling of burial remains in the United States, that the Catacombs are both startling, and fascinating to the American preservationist. 

Originally a stone quarry, the Catacombs were constructed as a storage alternative for the dead when the city's communal pit ceased to be an effective method. For all intents and purposes, the Catacombs is a tourist attraction. The bones and skulls of thousands of deceased Parisians have been haphazardly arranged into ornate wall decor. 
I cite NAGPRA for the difference in cultural attitudes about grave repatriation, and the ethical handling of human remains. The Catacombs have effectively objectified the bones of the deceased through their arrangement as art. Does the lack of a narrative story and human identification for the millions of bones in the Catacombs justify their dehumanization? Opinions on the presence of the Catacombs are fairly split. 

Traversing down to the depths of the quarry, you'll find Americans, Parisians, and Marilyn Manson enthusiasts under the streets of Denfer-Rouchereau. To me, the Catacombs are too detached from the humanity that was once supported by this bizarre form of ornamentation. It is hard to not walk through its winding passages and not think of all the beautiful people.