Museums, Music, and Monsters
For the first couple of days of vacation, I worked on my homework and college applications and finished everything all that I intended to. I had spent a lot of time doing work at my table so I decided I would go to Toulouse for a day.
Lunch by the Water
I took a bus around noon to Toulouse and brought a little lunch with me. I ate my lunch at Place Saint Pierre. I sat by that water and relaxed for a long time. It was quite beautiful that day. There were many other people there eating lunch and simply enjoying their time too. I spent a good hour or two sitting in the same spot watching people come and go, soaking up the sun, and taking it all in.
After relaxing there for a bit I went to Primark because Cassandre had recommended that I check it out. Primark has clothing and accessories for very reasonable prices.
When I entered the store, it was more than packed with people. I felt like I had walked into a store at 12 am on Black Friday. I didn’t realize that this store had only opened a couple of days ago, and so everyone was making their first visit to see what this store was like. The number of people there was a little overwhelming for me. In order to browse the clothing, one needed to be aggressive and that is something I am not. I didn’t explore all three levels of the store because if I did I would’ve walked out with things that I didn’t need.
The section of the store that I spent the most time in was the makeup section. There was a pretty nice variety and none of it was all that expensive. However, in order to get close to the makeup, one had to first break through the wall of people trying to find the just right shade of lipstick or eyeshadow for themselves.
Once I became part of the wall, I was able to see all of the makeup. I was near the section for eyebrow products. An older lady turned to me and asked me (in French) where the eyebrow products were because with everyone passing through it was difficult to find what was where. I replied in French and gave her my personal opinion as to what kind of eyebrow product I prefer. I was not prepared to engage in conversation with a stranger, and so I had to think extra hard to use ‘vous’ instead of ‘tu’. I accidentally used ‘tu’ a couple of times. I am pretty sure she picked up on it because her facial expression changed to one of surprise. My mind quickly realized what my mouth said. Then I repeated myself, but with the corrections. Finally, we found the product that satisfied what she envisioned. I was left with a feeling of happiness and achievement. It was only a little thing that she asked me, but it gave me the opportunity to talk to someone new and show myself my progress.
After Primark, I walked to Les Abattoirs. The entrance was quite beautiful. There were people resting on the grass and modern art sculptures scattered throughout the garden area.
When I walked into the museum area there were mosaics mounted on the surrounding walls. Something inside me recognized them already; these were mosaics of Fernand Léger’s works! I did a project about him last year in my Modernism, Mass Culture, and the Avant-Garde class, and it is for that reason that he holds a special place in my artistic interests.
The entry level of the museum had a gallery of an artist who made pieces utilizing videos and moving pictures (not to use the old fashioned term, but they were more so pictures that slowly changed within the course of several minutes). I didn’t take any pictures of the works in this exposition because I couldn’t capture the whole work, and frankly I was hesitant to be the kind of person that is bluntly taking pictures of everything while they are at a museum.
The lower level of the museum had rather interesting pieces. At first I wasn’t sure how I should interpret them, nor how I felt about them. But after gaining more knowledge about the artist and the stories behind the paintings, they held more intrigue.
There was one room that when I looked at the paintings, I felt sad, scared, and other uncomfortable emotions. These paintings were prompted by images of the Gulf War, the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the simple fact that these weapons are still used today. I looked at the paintings again with this perspective, and I felt the plight of what humans put other humans through.
A different style of de Jong’s art was also displayed. The ideas behind her Billard series were quite interesting, life as a game and all the little nuances in the language of playing pool.
There were stairs that led up to a floor in the museum as well, but they were blocked off. I don’t think there was another gallery up there, or at least I hope not.
After my little exploration of the museum interior was done, I went outside to go admire the mosaics of Léger’s paintings. These works were really large and brought a new brightness to the original compositions.
On Saturday Cassandre, Maxence, and I went to a Berywam concert with their godmother and her friend. Berywam is a beatbox group based in Toulouse, France. This was the first time I encountered their music. Their performance that night was very impressive! Here is an example of their music.
On Sunday we decorated the house because Halloween was that coming week. I made one of those thing with garland (I’m not quite sure of it’s name), but the garland comes out from where in the center there is the light. The final product looked like a big, upside-down, orange and black spider to me.
Decorating for any holiday or celebration is always very exciting for me. And the decorating for Halloween got me in the ‘Halloween spirit’, if that is considered a thing.
Exploring a Shopping Center
The next day on Monday, Sylvia and I went to a very big shopping center. We ended up spending a long time there and by the end my legs were tired from what I now consider exercise…walking a lot. We walked through almost all of the stores. There were stores selling elaborately made chocolate. Some chocolate was even made to look like saucisson and cheese!
Eating the French Way
On Tuesday we went to have lunch and visit with a friend of theirs, Vivian. This was the first really classic apartment that is common for people that live in larger cities in France that I had the chance to see. I really like how people take care of their living spaces here. The design and placement of things is very thoughtful. In this apartment there were many paintings hanging on the wall, which I was quite in awe of.
The room where we ate also very ‘French’. There was a round table, a desk in the corner, two small bureaus, some paintings, and a door leading out to the terrace which let in the natural light. The arrangement of the room created an environment perfect for an intimate meal and good conversations.
Of course we began with the apéro. I tried a new food during the apéro: the meat roll things in the back of the photo above. We had the main meal and after that the cheese, which was as always, excellent.
Lastly, we ended the meal with some cake: une tropézienne. I enjoyed the whole meal here because the visit was not about coming here to eat, but it was about getting together with a friend and sharing stories and enjoying each others company while enjoying a meal. This relationship and perspective with food is very ingrained in the culture, and I enjoy the rituals and habits of how food and meals are eaten here.
Finally, Halloween arrived! Sylvia spent the day preparing all of the plates for the party. These Halloween-themed meals were very creative and required a fair amount of time to make, but the finished products were worth it.
I spent the better part of the afternoon working on my costume. I wanted to try making a skeleton face on myself. I decided to go with this because it would also be an artistic challenge.
After I finished painting my face, I realized I couldn’t show emotion, eat or drink, nor do anything else that involved moving my face if I wanted to keep the makeup in its place for any amount of time.
We left the house around 8 pm to go trick-or-treating. They said this year there were more houses doing trick-or-treating than in previous years. We didn’t go to as many houses as I thought we would, but at the same time I was quite alright with that because it was really cold outside.
When we got home we started eating the apéro and warmed up with warmed wine.
Then we had a green soup with orange spaghetti on the edges. The soup was a very yummy and healthy soup made with lots of green vegetables.
Then the main dish was a zombie head. It was very creative and looked realistic in its entirety!
Lastly, we ate a graveyard chocolate cake!
Lastly, here are some photos of all the spooky costumes from our Halloween party!