Fashion Stalker

I really didn’t sleep well last night. I woke up some time around 3:45 in the morning, and I couldn’t get back to sleep to save myself… That didn’t stop me from going to class. I got out of bed when my alarm went off, and got ready as usual. Madame came out and ate breakfast with me and Sheila, and mentioned that she was going to her doctor tomorrow while I had my theatre class, so she asked me to give her one of my empty prescription bottles with the correct dosage and supply that I needed for a month to take with her to see if her doctor could fill it. That may still require me actually going in to see her, but at least she’ll know ahead of time. I ran and grabbed an empty bottle right away so I wouldn’t forget. I mentioned to Sheila that I wanted to meet up for lunch after my class and go back to BHV over by Hôtel de Ville to take pictures of the mannequins all dressed up for my costume project, to buy some tracing paper, and a little baby present for Christmas since my boyfriend’s eldest sister just welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world. She agreed to meet me there. I was definitely sleepy when I got to class, and Ruxandra (the Romanian student) asked me why I was sleepy. I thought she’d asked if I slept like a cat so I gave her a funny look since I thought it was an odd idiomatic expression. She’d actually asked me if I had a cat that kept me awake last night. I laughed and said I didn’t. Good to know I’m not the only one that gets a little hung up in the language barrier from time to time…

We did our usual réchauffement, but we did a little yoga this time. I was pretty pleased, I needed a good stretch to wake up, plus I’ve been meaning to do yoga all week. I was moderately surprised that some of the students in the class were having trouble with some of the positions (to the tune of falling flat on their faces while trying to hold plank or cobra). I was able to resist laughing, but some of the other students weren’t. One random rant: You’d think some of the girls in the class would have figured out that wearing dresses with see-through tights to this class would be a bad idea by this point, but no. We only do floor work for every warm up, no big deal, ladies. One of the girls next to me committed this faux-pas, but she had the sense to turn away from the rest of the class when Professor Clavier told us to start doing bicycles while we were on our backs. Thankfully, I’m the only one who knows exactly what her underwear looked like today… not because I wanted to, it was just right in my face. Professor Clavier pulled out his little excerpts for what he wanted us to do in our groups. I knew there was one for Trois Soeurs coming up, so I kept my mouth shut until I heard it. It looked like people were volunteering themselves for groups based on the pieces they wanted as opposed to the people they wanted to work with, so it looked like I wasn’t going to have any terrible middle-school-dodgeball flashbacks. Trois Soeurs (a portion of the second act) was the third piece mentioned, and it was paired with one of Ostrovsky’s pieces: Act II, scenes 3-8 of L’Indotée (Without a Dowry). We needed eight people in the group, and I managed to get into it, along with Ruxandra, Mathilde, Jeremy, Cécile, Maud, and Roxane. We might have to add one other person who was absent today later on, but no real matter for now. Ruxandra is acting as our metteur en scene (director) for both pieces, but she’s open to ideas from her actors. We didn’t have copies of Trois Soeurs, so we started on L’Indotée which none of us were really familiar with. I somehow got roped into reading one of the parts. I got hung up on some of the language, but Maud helped me with the harder words. After a while, it came time to determine parts for that piece, and since there were seven of us, and only five parts, I thought I could get away with not having one at all, namely because I’d butchered the language so much. Maud piped up otherwise… “Ilya is a comic relief part in our scenes, and he only appears for one scene. That’s not to say that it’s a useless part, but because he’s a music teacher, it would make sense that he could be a foreigner… Claire, please don’t take this the wrong way, but I really love how your accent sounds, and I know you’re a comedic actor since you’d mentioned it before, Ruxandra, you should have Claire play Ilya.” I protested immediately because I didn’t want ANY part. Mathilde smiled and agreed with Maud. “She’s right! You’d make a great Ilya! You shouldn’t be so worried about your accent, I’ve encountered so many more people that speak French much worse than you do.” I tentatively accepted. We had one copy of Trois Soeurs, so we pulled it out and attempted to share it between five of us (Cécile and Roxane had to leave a little early for class by that point). Once we’d finished, we talked about the scene amongst ourselves, and Ruxandra asked who wanted what part. I kept my mouth shut, again, I’m trying to get tiny parts. Mathilde and Maud immediately said I should take a large part. They both wanted one of the two female roles (which I’m fine with, I’m used to playing men, ironically enough), and Jeremy will obviously get the two most important male roles in each piece, but everyone in the group wants me to take big parts. As soon as I made a face and said “J’ai peur” (I’m scared) they all smiled and me, and Mathilde spoke for the group. “Afraid of what? Remember what Professor Clavier said last week? You shouldn’t be embarrassed. We all make little mistakes, and we all understand that this isn’t your first language. You’re here to work, and we want to put you to work. If you don’t work, you won’t improve. So why are you scared?” “My accent… the big words in the script… the whole thing.” Maud spoke this time. “I helped you when you got stuck reading L’Indotée. We’ll all help you get everything right before we perform. None of us want to see you fail, and we won’t let you. Besides, your accent is cute.” I gave in and told Ruxandra to cast me in whatever role she wants me to play. Mathilde and Maud said they were ready to help me out whenever I needed it, and they couldn’t wait to get our performance on the road. I’m really glad I’m a theatre person. I’ve already heard some horror stories about how… bitchy French girls can be. These girls (at least the ones in my group) aren’t. I haven’t felt this welcome in a long time. I left the class and headed out into the freezing cold warmer than my gloves, scarf, and countless layers could keep me. It’s really amazing what friendship and courtesy can do… especially in a place as cold and heartless as Paris.

Sheila and I met up inside BHV and started my inspirational quest for my project. There were workers all over the place, so I had to be really stealthy with my picture taking. I’m not sure what all the employees could have done to me if I had been caught taking photos, but I didn’t want to get caught and find out. Some of the styles were a little peculiar, and with the risk of being caught (or looking extremely suspicious) at every corner, I chose to only take pictures of the mannequins that made me think “Hmm. I can see one of my characters wearing this…” BHV is a giant mall-like store. It has a separate building just for men, so the first things I took pictures of were women’s clothes. Here are a few shots of my favorites for that portion…

The next sections we hit had more to do with furnishings, including lighting, décor, furniture, rugs, and even wallpaper. I snapped a few pictures of some wallpaper to give myself ideas of how to paint my wall panels (or one of them for an added touch of pizzaz), but some of the lamps I took pictures of are really bizarre…

Origami Bird Lamps

I’m pretty sure I’d never find a place for one of these bad boys in my set design, but they’re definitely unique… This next piece could be a focal point in my set. If you know anything about Le Malade imaginaire at all, the idea of having something useful and rendering it somewhat useless (or trying to make something useless useful) is a pretty interesting theme to employ… The fact that it’s got a lot of color and I want a relatively neutral set is a great contrast as well…

I dare you to actually figure out what time it is…
We headed up to the arts area so I could buy my tracing paper, and some designer’s sketch paper (glorified white paper) to mount the tracing paper on after I’m done with it, then Sheila helped me find something for the new baby in the family, and we headed over to the BHV Homme building to check out what the men in Paris wear these days. Sheila and I were in awe of the sheer… attractiveness of the male mannequins. Sheila went up to every other one and told me to “take a picture of me and my new boyfriend.” Stepping foot in that store might have forced the average American into a fit of “not sure if gay or European” but Sheila and I were loving every minute of it. 
Bow tie and scarf = Okay in Paris

Sexy mannequins ON A BIKE

Casual Man… without a head…
We had a few more minutes to kill before Sheila had to go to class, so we went to the cologne section to sniff around. My boyfriend wants some cologne for Christmas, so I have to find something I like… which is only half the battle. I have an idea (that’s a lie, I know exactly what I want to get him), but I have to get him to go somewhere back home to find something he likes so I can narrow it down… or figure out if he’ll even where what I want to get him… Sheila headed off to her class, and I went home after that.

We had steak, peas and carrots, and a very French kind of gratin made with potatoes, creme fraiche and cheese. Madame talked to us about movies, and all sorts of cheese. It was pretty nice. I came back to my computer to find a big email between my cohorts from my group. All of them were happy that I officially accepted my part as Ilya in L’Indotée, and that I was leaving my place in Trois Soeurs up to our director. I’d mentioned that I promised I’d stop complaining about my accent, and every single one of them replied “Claire, your accent is so adorable! You really don’t need to worry about it!” Mathilde had an even better reply… “I may tease you a little, but it’s all in good fun, I think everyone knows how hard you have it right now, and I admire you, because I for one am incapable of speaking a foreign language, let alone having the courage to leave my native country like you have! You’re doing very well with your French!”

Up early again tomorrow… Sheila and I have a nice big free weekend to catch up on some in-Paris exploration. I’m thinking we should knock Musée d’Orsay and Centre Pompidou off of our list…

Le feu qui semble éteint souvent dort sous la cendre. Corneille: Rodogune

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