Archive for the ‘Paris’Category

10 Years of Thankfulness

Today is Thanksgiving, and tomorrow is our ten-year reunion. And while I’m not usually the sappy type to list things for which I am thankful, I have to say that over the last ten years, I have a lot to be thankful for. When added up, the past decade has been an immense time for me — learning, seeing, growing, doing — and it has made me the man I am today. So in spite of my less-than-brilliant life situation (eg, broke, single, unemployed), I still have to give thanks.

In the last ten years, I:

  • Moved to Philadelphia
  • Survived my first term at college
  • Made the Dean’s List
  • Learned to play rugby
  • Became good at video games
  • Mastered basic Calculus
  • Visited London
  • Learned to Salsa dance
  • Moved back to Maplewood
  • Got my first [indoor, professional] job
  • Voted in my first Presidential election
  • Became a disgruntled working stiff
  • Got fired
  • Joined a Shakespeare troupe
  • Built websites
  • Attempted Modern Dance
  • Learned to Swing Dance
  • Attempted Ballet
  • Visited Minneapolis
  • Joined a Fraternity
  • Forgot how to Salsa dance
  • Mastered the finer points of Shakespeare
  • Mastered the finer points of Christopher Marlowe
  • Visited London
  • Worked as a graphic designer
  • Read all the Harry Potter books
  • Visited New Orleans
  • Performed modern dance and ballet
  • Finished a degree in Mechanical Engineering
  • Moved back to Maplewood
  • Worked an unpaid internship
  • Moved to England
  • Visited London frequently
  • Learned the basics of British culture
  • Voted absentee ballot in a Presidential Election
  • Visited Paris
  • Learned to use Chopsticks
  • Mastered the finer points of British culture
  • Picked up a British accent
  • Waited on line for the midnight release of a Harry Potter book
  • Earned a Master’s Degree in Graphic Communication
  • Moved back to Maplewood
  • Freelanced as a graphic designer
  • Lost a British accent
  • Started a design blog
  • Started a podcast
  • Got a full-time job
  • Moved to Brooklyn
  • Became a disgruntled working stiff
  • Quit a full-time job
  • Returned to Freelancing
  • Trained for a marathon
  • Waited on line for the midnight release of a Harry Potter book
  • Ran a marathon
  • Returned to playing rugby
  • Moved to Jersey City
  • Started a blog about business cards
  • And the rest is just details.

    Thanks to everyone who made the last 10 years necessary.

    Year in review 2004

    It’s been a while, I know. I have been lazy in adding entries, photos and the like, and my I can picture the look of perplexity on the faces of my readers as to why. And so although it is a few weeks late, allow me to summarise what I have been up to, and if you’ll have patience, the year in review, 2004.

    I was glad to see 2004 end. Not that I ever enjoy getting older or tumbling forward through time while memories and opportunities slip away forever, but it was just such a crap year, one of the toughest I have had to endure.

    On NYE2003, I had planned to stay in and do nothing, but Jay dragged me out to watch fireworks with the girl he was courting called Debbie. While it was nice to chat with people over age 18 for a change, I probably should have stayed home. The early winter was marked by me feeling disappointed in the fact that I was no longer performing in with the Underground Shakespeare Company (because I felt shafted out of roles for too many consecutive seasons) and because my Fraternity had all but died with the news that we would officially not have a line in the Spring 04. Winter Term at Drexel wore on with little consequence, and Spring came in vainglorious Philadelphia fashion.

    The only good point of Winter was being accepted to grad school in England. It gave me something to keep in mind when I was ready to break things … and people.

    There were, in fact, two clear highlights to the Spring Term. One, I won Research Day for my project on Vampires and was awarded $500 and a certain amount of prestige. Of course the money took 10 weeks to clear and I never did see my name in the paper, but that’s not the point. And, Spring Term 04, my final term at Uni, was the first time I managed to get straight As. I had come close several times, earning a lone B, but this was the first and only time I hit the 4.0

    Dance seemed to be the only thing in my life that hadn’t fallen apart. In fact, dance got better and by the end, it was a lifestyle I didn’t want to give up. The performances were great and the memories weren’t bad either. History will smile upon my time dancing at Drexel.

    And then I graduated. This was the most inflated and overrated event of my life to date – even more-so than the Senior Prom five years earlier. The whole event was over in two hours or so and aside from the cap and gown and other ridiculous rituals, it was just like any other day. Our parents came down, but we all cleared off quickly to evade the traffic and just to get on with our lives. No one seemed to care what I had gone through, no one even said “good luck” or “I know you’ll do well” or any of the banal lip service-esque phrases you usually hear at graduations. It made me seriously wonder “Why the Hell did I put myself through it all?”.

    Summer was miserable. It began on a low note, having to move out and sublet my flat to what turned out to be a complete wanker of a frantic Pocono-based Temple student, and steadily got worse. I took me nearly two weeks to fully move out of Philly so for a while there, I was practically commuting. I will spare the comments about rising fuel prices and the fact that my car had shit air conditioning, but it was not a fun series of events. I was ‘working’ at Ron Ridgeway, Inc. which wasn’t bad except for the small detail of not being paid. It actually cost me money to go in and work. Seriously.

    Somewhere along the way I sold everything I could including clothing, futons, my home theatre system and lots of other randomness. In spite of it, I had no money, no friends, no job, and really no direction. Summer, for all its natural glory, was the most depressed I have ever been in my life and I only made it through by playing music by Josh Rouse, MeShell Ndegeocello, Norah Jones and The Beatles and by watching re-runs of the West Wing.

    Come September, and I was on that plane and my life had taken a serious turn, whether it was for better or worse remained to be seen.

    Having arrived at The Surrey Institute of Art & Design, more trouble began, mainly concerning money. In fact, I have had every monetary problem imaginable in the nearly 6 months I have been here including funds sent to the wrong address, wrong account and in the wrong currency. I have been the victim of the dollar and its ever-plummeting nature. (Thanks George) and not to mention being brushed off by many, many, would-be part-time employers. But it was definitely an experience, meeting loads of new people, starting a new school, new rugby team(s) and all that.

    October was Hell weatherwise. Even for England.

    November began badly, what with the election and all. Plus I dislocated my finger and will likely bear a lifetime reminder in the form of reduced mobility and possible altered shape of my right little finger. I gotta say, the election depressed me quite a bit. I think at one point I actually said “I want my country back”. And so the future assumed a sense of urgency, I must remain in England, can’t get sent home for fear of living in Bush’s America.

    I missed Thanksgiving, and soon it was time for Christmas. Mischa and Johanna showed up for some European escapades on what turned out to be the coldest week of the Winter. And so we three took a brief tour of the capitals of Europe, and their mass transit systems. An adventure, that’s certain.

    2004 marked a lot of understated changes in my life. My friends, the ever-constants in my turbulent life, all seemed to be getting on with life and moving on at the same time, so when I turned up fresh from Uni, they weren’t there. Needless to say, this was no fun. Additionally, I took new looks at my career and where it seemed to be going, if anywhere. There is no shortage of depressing articles about how the job market sucks and how designers, of all varieties, are unemployed. Jolly. And while material possessions are only one portion of overall well-being, in my case they helped make me feel like shit quite a bit. Next time you sit in a comfortable chair and drink some Tropicana OJ, think about it. Or, when you want to print out directions to where you are about to drive by car, think about not having a printer at your disposal, let alone a car! And let me tell you, it is plain sick not to have steady internet access.

    Adieu 2004. Get thee gone.

    The Metro

    And then that long train home…

    The Metro is bizarre, they put the ads in a frame, and no where else. Man, that’s brilliant. London needs to take a leaf from that French book of Transit.

    02

    01 2005

    Notre Dame, and Paris by foot

    We didn’t go instide because the queue was massive. The sun was setting and it was cold, but dammit, I wanted to see Notre Dame Cathedral, and so we did.

    Who put that damn scaffolding there – ruined all my shots.

    Talk about elaborate. The Catholic Church knows how to build a monument to itself, that’s certain.

    01

    01 2005

    Bonne Année!

    Paris for New Year’s Eve. At the Avenue des Chance-Elysees, along with the rest of Paris, watching Fireworks. The funny bit is that there was no countdown, it just became midnight and the fireworks started. So the fact that I can’t count backwards in French didn’t come into play.

    Afterwards, to some dodgy pub called House of Live. It would have been better if there were actually a live band. Instead, it was just a loud party with drunken French people dancing to 70s pop hits. Needless to say, I was unamused.

    01

    01 2005

    To the Louvre

    There is much to be said about Paris, and especially about the Louvre. Napoleon’s ideals about conquering Europe may fall under debate, but the impressive feat that is the Louvre will not. I have been to many cities and seen many museums, but none like this.

    Aside from the fact that you can stand in front of world-famous pieces like the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace and of course the Mona Lisa, you have to realise that the Louvre itself is a work of art, an architectural wonder in ever sense with intricacies and embelishments that depict the true nature of its contents. You’ll find no traces of modernism here, everything is ornate, everything is artistic no expense is spared in making the experience a humbling one.

    I could spend years in this place.

    31

    12 2004

    London, Dover, Calais, Paris, and a few stops in between

    A word of advice for all your low-budget travellers, don’t take the local trains across two countries. Spend the extra cash and take either the Eurostar or an EasyJet flight. Trust me on this one.

    We went from Paddington to Charing Cross with little pains, aside from the normal tube-ridding experience. Then we missed the first departing train to Dover, so we were off schedule the whole day, causing us hour-long layovers in Dover, Calais, Bulogne-Ville, and Amiens before finally reaching Paris-Nord.

    Once arrived in Paris, and after accepting the fact that we are useless at French, we went a-walking to the Tour Eiffel. Cmon, we had to.

    30

    12 2004