high-minded drivel

high-minded (adjective) - refined; cultured; particularly civilized. drivel (noun) - senseless talk; nonsense.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Vacation Part II: Sculpture Viewing In Paris (or, With All This Nice Art To Look At, How Could Anyone Be Les Miserable?)

As I alluded to in my last post, the trip to France and the UK this summer was not going to just be fun and games, as there was strenuous bog snorkeling to be done.  But more than that, I was visiting Jen in the midst of her work for the summer.  In other words, I was on vacation, but she was not.  This worked out splendidly for me because I got to see Paris in a rather unique way.  Rather than going to touristy destinations each day, we'd hunt down various sculptures of some relevance to Jen's work, seeing neighborhoods that otherwise would have gone unseen, and seeing the touristy things as a matter of happenstance if they were on the way.  With this arrangement, I like to think that I was able to assist Jen in her work, and by extension, be a contributor to original research!  Not only did I consistently get out of the way when she was taking pictures of the sculptures, but I also offered insightful observations, such as "I like this sculpture, because.....because...........well, I just do."

Allow me to pause here and say a few words about the monumental difference between me and all the tourists in Paris.  I've already touched on the fact that we did not set out each day with the aim of going to a tourist destination, but rather of going to work, like regular residents of Paris.  In addition, after only 2-5 days of clinging to Jen like a scared child while traversing about the city, I felt more than comfortable navigating the Metro system, shouldering past all the tourists standing around with their maps, and occasionally displaying a disgusted sneer or disdainful sideways glance.  Furthermore, I went running in the city a few times, like a real Paris resident, loping along confidently on streets that began to feel as familiar to me as my own neighborhood, overshooting the turns on my selected route only about 75% of the time.  Finally, and most importantly, I wasn't one of those tourists (even saying the word is distasteful to me) going around speaking English and expecting the French to speak it back to me.  In fact, I didn't speak at all, letting Jen handle all communication with her ability to ask questions and order things in French.  You will note that I used the word "monumental" at the beginning of this paragraph, and that term was not chosen randomly.  As the French clearly erect public works of art for almost anything, it is only fitting that a new sculpture be commissioned to honor my non-tourist, good will-heralding visit to Paris.  I just can't be expected to deliver an acceptance speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Vacation Part I: Adventures In Flight (or, The Best Way To Get A Good Rest While Flying Is To Exhaust Yourself Ahead Of Time)

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my plans for this summer involved a trip to select countries in Europe to see Jen and engage in some eagerly anticipated R&R (Self-impRovement & GRowth as an individual).  I am now returned from the trip and, as you might expect, have many thoughts swirling in my mind about the experience and what to share here (that is, how to best take a fantastic trip and reduce it to some meaningless banter that will serve as cheap entertainment in keeping with the nature of this blog).  It seemed best to write about the experience in manageable chunks rather than trying to cram it all into one ungainly Voltron post, so this post will be the first in a series over the next few weeks, with each part of the series having its own theme, subject to the usual tangents and side notes.

But before we get too far, let me outline the basis for this trip, both so that you have some background and so that I can get focused.  First, the trip was a two-week venture that took me to Paris, London, some towns in Wales, back to London, and finally back to Paris.  For some time now I've had the desire to do some international traveling, but also a desire to not just be a tourist.  Rather, if I was going to travel, I wanted it to be in one of two contexts: 1) for the purpose of participating in some event or purposeful activity, or 2) to live in another country for an extended period of time so that I could truly become familiar with the way of life in the country.  Clearly, this trip fit into the first category, and it actually involved both an "event" and a "purposeful activity."  A "purposeful activity" could be something like a service trip, or it could mean visiting someone, which was the case in my scenario, as I was visiting Jen.  The "event" for my trip was a Bog Snorkeling Triathlon in Wales.  Just because.