Monthly Archives: March 2010

Top Ten Basics

The other day I was greatly inspired by the gorgeous Ms. Garance Doré’s blog post about her top ten clothing/make-up/accessories basics.

Because I cannot be brought to decide ten basics in general, I’d like to separate it into two categories: five for Fall/Winter and five for Spring/Summer.

Here goes:

Fall/Winter:
1) Boots (high heels/flats – preferably black)
2) Thick tights to wear with knee-length skirts (in black, grey, and brown)
3) Knee high socks (in all colors)
4) Moisturizer (Daily Moisturizing Lotion is the best for winter)
5) Perfume (Dolce and Gabbana The One L’eau)

Spring/Summer:
1) A chic pair of leather flats/kitten heels (in brown)
2) Flowy skirt with a great design
3) Colorful and bright bikini
4) Sunblock
5) Sunglasses

And necessary for forever: blacker than black mascara and a dusting of blush to make my cheeks rosy and take away the deathly pale color that is currently my skin. Yuck. I need some sunshine!

Now it’s your turn! What are your five basics for fall/winter and spring/summer? I might just have to adopt one of your picks as mine! And don’t just think this is limited to the ladies…I want to hear the guy’s picks too!!!

* Here is a link to her post in English and in French.

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My university is beautiful!

Being abroad has really made me appreciate how gorgeous my university is. We’ve got amazing, historic gardens with serpentine walls, dogwood trees and magnolia trees bursting into bloom across grounds, and soft lawns to stretch out on in the sunshine.

How I long to sit in one of the rear gardens and pretend that I am totally invisible to everyone.

Images courtesy of the UVa magazine. And here’s a link to 15 reasons to love Charlottesville in the spring.
PS – boy am I incredibly envious of all the alumni who are posting comments about how amazing Easters was. Damnit, bring Easters BACKKK!!!
PSS – to anyone who is curious to know what Easters is, it was a week long party at my school in the spring, incredibly famous throughout the entire east coast, where thousands of people would come to party, get muddy in Madison (Mud) Bowl, and have a good time. It got canceled in the 60s, I believe, because there were just too many people and the whole town was chaos.

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What would you have done?

Sometimes I am shocked by people, in both a good and a bad way.

Two Tuesday afternoons ago, I met a group of international friends to go together to class, Sociétés et Réligions Aujourd’hui, which was that day being held at the mosque. When the 8 or 10 of us were gathered, we all took the metro, and got off at the station closest to the mosque. As we walked up the escalator and onto the street, my friends stopped in horror.

There, weaving between my friends, was a bulky bully, surrounded his five friends (which comprised of three cheering tracksuited boys, the classic skinny, a hyper commentator bouncing around all over the place, and a fake-bake bottle blond with some skin issues), ruthlessly beating on a gawky boy, who was desperately clutching his schoolbag, with blood pouring out of his mouth. It couldn’t have been any more stereotypical.

At first, I didn’t immediately see what was going on but, when I did, I swiftly pulled my friend Saori out of the way of the bully. We all just stood there for a moment, totally repulsed and in awe of what we were witnessing. Then, suddenly, as if we all had the same idea at the same moment, we started to plan how we could save the boy.

Although I wanted to help the boy so badly, I knew that a group of international students was not likely to stop a big French bully. I looked around, trying to find someone to ask for help, and saw a man lounging by the metro smoking his cigarette. “Monsieur, est-ce que…” “Non.” I hadn’t even finished my sentence and he was already shaking his head and taking another puff of his cigarette. Jerk. I looked around again. No one. I knew that no one passing by would do anything. Maybe if we all linked arms and surrounded the poor boy in a circle (yes, this is my fantasy of a 3rd grade anti-bully strategy)? But this looked impossible too. Each time the boy wiggled out of the grip of the bully and tried to run, the gang would run after him and re-corner him.

Just as I was about to give up, my friend Basia diligently walked up to the group and told the bully he had to stop. I felt so honored to have such a friend who was brave enough to stand up to a bully. The kid just laughed, made fun of her (adorable) accent, and her to her “Fuck off bitch, this is not your problem.” (The kid said it in French but I’m not going to write what he really said here… it’s too terrible.)

I gave up. There was nothing to do. I walked away.

At my high school, lunch wasn’t lunch without a fight. I’ve seen so many altercations, so many people get the shit get kicked out of them. I’ve seen a kid get their ribs broken, another kid get smashed on the head with a chair, a girl get hit by her boyfriend, I could go on but I’m sure you get the idea. It’s sad to say, but sometimes I’m not even phased when I see teenagers fighting. Of course, I am upset, angry, frustrated, confused, stupefied, but sometimes you just cannot do anything and it’s best to let them work things out. Basia didn’t feel that way; I am amazed by her courage and bravery.

I’m sad that I’m not phased. I’m sad that I did not have more power to react and intervene. Or maybe I was smart that I didn’t get in the middle and get punched by accident. Maybe, sometimes, it’s best to let people duke it out and find their own solution?

Finally, I saw our professor, who is very tall and authoritative-looking, come out of the metro. I ran back to the scene and all of us asked him to please stop the fight. The professor was slightly effective, although the bully tried to keep beating on the kid while the professor was talking to them. About three minutes later, the police came and things were settled. The bully and his friends ran off and the poor kid, with his mouth bleeding, was trying to convince the police that everything was fine. Ah, life.

What would you have done?

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___ make everything better

Yesterday was a difficult day. I learned that my granny is in the hospital and that my roommate situation has yet again changed for next year. Eck. But at least class was canceled that evening (which means 3 hours next Monday…?!?!) and I got to come home early.

All I wanted all day was a huge hug to make everything feel ok. HUGS FOREVER!

Here’s my list (just a few of many many things that make me feel great):

Hugs make everything better.
Tea makes everything better.
Blue skies and sun make everything better.
The smell of a loved ones perfume makes everything better.
Fluffy pillows and a cozy comforter make everything better.
A beautiful dinner (breakfast/lunch/any meal) makes everything better.
Warm sweaters and big socks make everything better.
A magazine with glossy photos makes everything better.
Your friends and family make everything better.
The beach makes everything better.

I could go on and on. But I’m sure you know exactly how I feel when I say that sometimes all you want is to cozy up, feel good with the things you love, and take a little me-time.

What makes things feel good for you? I’d love to know…maybe you’ll inspire me (please do!).

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Laughing in the face of death

Last night Olivier and I watched a television documentary which described a recent French research project which reconstructed the Milgram experiment. I was so thrilled to watch this documentary, I don’t get much sociological titillation here, and it was fun to revisit an experiment that American sociologists talk about so often.

The research, which was re-framed as a television game show, with the same number of participants as Milgram, chosen in the same manner, and told that they would be participating on a game show pilot test. In each “show” there was a “questioner” and a “subject” that would receive shocks. Of course, the “subject” was an actor, who pretended to be shocked out of his consciousness by the “questioner”. The “subject” was placed in a small chamber, away from the view of the “questioner,” and strapped into an electrical chair. The “subject” was then given a list of words – two words on each line, each set of words associated with one another – which the “subject” had to memorize in a span of 30 seconds (impossible), asked 30 questions to tell the “questioner” the correct pair of words, and, therefore, the “subject” obviously got each question wrong and received a shock – increasing in value with each question.

You can watch a clip of the show here (don’t worry if you don’t speak French, it’s pretty clear).

One result that was very interesting to find is that as the shock intensity increased, the “questioner” would laugh, in an attempt to externalize their nervousness and to reach the “subject” to let him know that the situation was supposed to be all “fun and games.” The laugh most commonly occurred around the “middle” shock amount and subsequently decreased as the shock (and the cries of the actor) became stronger.

This nervous laugh is extremely fascinating. Normally, the laugh is reserved to demonstrate joy, pleasure, amusement, but it has been reappropriated to express nervousness as well. The first logical explanation for this nervous laugh is that expressed in the experiment – an attempt to bring a light-heartedness to the situation. But it is still a quite disturbing image to watch someone laughing (sometimes hysterically, to the point of tears) while they believe they are shocking someone to unconsciousness, even death. Of course this brings a lot of questions to the surface, such as sadism, an innate aggressive nature of human beings, etc…I’m not sure how much I agree with either of those principles (thought I do think that humans are by nature relatively aggressive beings due to the need for survival), but I don’t think that anyone on this show consciously took pleasure in knowing that they were causing potential pain to the “subject.”

I’d love to hear your opinions about this! I’m eager to read what you have to say.

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A Regretful Absence

The end of February was pretty rough, weatherly-speaking. Let’s just say that I’ve got an issue with grey skies. Can’t stand them; I get tired, sleepy, and depressed. I hate winter. Yes, I have seasonal affective disorder, no need to tell me. I blame Los Angeles for conditioning me to appreciate only sun and 75 F weather. And the two last weeks of February were the worst. No sun, lots of rain, a return to -1 C temperatures and freak snow flurries.

But now, it’s mid-March and the sun has peeked his head out of the clouds to say hello. Spring time is coming! And today there’s a high of 17 C! And it’s obvious that spring is in the air…everyone is getting chipper, new relationships are blooming between my friends, and, to top it off, it’s Saint Patrick’s Day today and so I’m sure there will be some new gossip tomorrow, if you catch my drift.

It’s also internship application season and I feel a bit like I’m searching for a needle in a haystack. But I’m sure I will find something – I have to find something. I’m not ready to move back to my life in the USA quite yet. I’m sending off my first batch of cover letters and CVs this weekend.

Wish me luck!

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