Trip to Paris in Parts

I. Paris

Paris was interesting. I can’t quite figure out what I think of it. I didn’t realize how much I’ve gotten used to Reims. In Paris everything seemed bigger, weirder, and more touristed. I stayed with the Y’s down in the 15th and the concert was up in the Parc de la Villette, pretty much the other end of town, so the metro ride was about an hour total. I got on the wrong train at one point, making me a little late to meet up with American J*’s friend who was meeting me for the concert. So I didn’t see much of Paris but I spent plenty of time on the metro.

I was taking the 4 all the way to the end to get back to the Y’s, and was in a super good mood after the concert, when this guy sat down in front of me and said something to me in French. I was pretty sure he was asking how long we’d been sitting there in that station (2 or 3 minutes) but I couldn’t understand exactly and didn’t want to give him the wrong answer so I said “comment?” and he repeated. Still couldn’t understand. So he smiled and said “Vous n’?™tes pas fran?ßaise” and asked the guy next to him, whose answer confirmed that I had understood correctly. So anyway this first guy, who’s young and friendly-seeming, asked me where I was from and I told him the U.S. He asked me how long I’d been in France, and we must have been speaking in English, because I remember answering 2 years in English. To which he said (still trying to be friendly) that I really should try to learn some French! Two years is a long time! At which point I got really annoyed because I DO speak French, very well, and he just assumed that I didn’t based on one misunderstanding. I think my irritation showed because he asked if it bothered me if he talked to me. It didn’t really, it just bothered me that he had been so dense, so we kept talking, a mix of French and English. The thing is, French people can be so dense about what it means to speak another language that even though we’d said a lot in French, by the end of the conversation he still probably thought I didn’t speak a lick. And it continued to bother me all night. It’s an impossible thing to explain to a stranger on a train that missing one word doesn’t mean you don’t know any of their language.

Anyway, back to Paris. Possibly it was because all I did was go to a rock concert where the audience was half anglophone, but the city didn’t seem as French to me as it used to. Probably it’s just that my idea of what French is has changed to conform to, uh, the East. Everywhere else feels foreign.

* female, American J, not ex J

II. Tegan & Sara

Short note about the opening act: I didn’t know anything about Northern State, but they were fun and cute.

Can you see her at all? My camera doesn’t take good pictures in the dark. Or in the red. Or else I wouldn’t have cut Tegan out of this.

My obsession with Tegan & Sara started, yes, when I heard them on the Gray’s Anatomy soundtrack in 2005. I listened to Walking with a Ghost for a few weeks and then listened to So Jealous compulsively all summer long. Consequently I associated all those songs (Take Me Anywhere, I Know, I Know, I Know) with the events of that summer for a long time. But I’ve listened to them enough now that all those connotations are pretty much gone. Oh, I also saw them at the Minnesota Zoo that summer.

So I downloaded most of The Con (it wasn’t released in Europe, but I DID get it for Christmas) last September when it was really appropriate because things with JS were not going well and T&S seem to hit the nail on the head with the complexities of relationships. It’s kind of a dark album, I think, but I think it’s better than So Jealous (which don’t get me wrong, I adore).

Point is, I haven’t been listening to The Con in a while because I try generally to use music to keep me in a good mood, and The Con + breakup doesn’t really do that. But it’s an awesome, awesome album, one of my favorites, and it was so much fun to hear it last night. Listening to the album and hearing it live are not at all the same experience. They even sang one of their earlier (pre-So Jealous) songs that I normally don’t care much for, and it was great live. I think I would go listen to these girls every month if I could.

I changed into my “Evening looks I want be free” t-shirt before going to Paris, where I met up with N, a friend of a friend who had just arrived in Paris, in the metro station by the park. We followed the trail of hipsters to Le Trabendo, somewhere in the middle. It was a nice place. N and I had a pretty good view, on the upper level, right behind some short French girls who had all the songs memorized. I mean, I have all the songs memorized, but I know it bothers people if I sing along, so I don’t. These girls didn’t really care. I shouldn’t complain too much though because as far as concert crowds go they were a good lot to be stuck behind.

III. Conclusion

I love love love Tegan & Sara. Paris still has to win me over.

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