Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back in NYC, Paris peeves :)

Now everything is quickly coming back to where it was. I'm back home in NYC, and within short 3 days my children and I got haircuts (husband? hmmm...), attended a Gala Fashion show (me?!) organized by the Vilcek Foundation with whom I will be collaborating on a project this year, went to Juilliard convocation and shook hands, both kids went back to school (and here is my poor little boy crying separating from me, and who came back home so happy declaring "What an AWESOME day!!") and I made lunch boxes at 7AM. I switched my Parisian "carnet" (subway ticket) to Metrocard, and I think now my re-assimilation as a New Yorker is complete :)

I am at the final editing phrase of my upcoming solo CD "The World Below G and Beyond" (Mutable Music label) booklet before it goes to print, reading and re-reading the program notes, finding little things here and there every time. There should be an end to this! :) This is the culmination of all my works using Subharmonics, as well as some interactive computer works. I'm very nervous about casting any of my work in stone!

Now that my life in Paris is over, and those of you who have been reading my posts know how much I loved my time there. What I haven't done however, is to list the 'peeves', the reason why Paris will probably remain a place where I would LOVE to VISIT, but not to settle or to live in a long term.

Peeve No.1: SMOKE.
This is perhaps the biggest one, which might seem silly to some people. Although my mother-in-law assures me it was because of the summer and people are more outside, I just cannot, can NOT get used to smoking one cigarette a day by just second-hand smoking on the street. Wouldn't it be so nice if I could just sit outside and enjoy a cup of coffee and delicious croissant in a picturesque Parisian café looking at the beautiful architecture... and when I do it, BANG! the whole experience gets ruined by the first-thing-in-the-morning cigarette-breathing experience. I went out very little for breakfast (I think only once) and ate at home. France is a country of tolerance, I understand. Then I really cannot belong to a place where non-smokers aren't tolerated but smokers are. Although there are now laws to prohibit smoking in public places, they still smoke in public places and they ARE tolerated. My husband told me to "Just get used to it". I can't, and I won't. Now I'm breathing easier here in Manhattan.

Peeve No.2: Subway :)
After getting squashed several times in those strange but powerful rubber-encased glass doors that open and shut at the most mysterious timing after you insert your 'carnet', I learned to time myself 'musically' (it seems it's a dotted-quarter note in q=86 tempo LOL!) not to get squashed. This might be speaking volumes for French culture of "control". In NYC subway, after you swipe your Metrocard, the turnstile is activated and you are free to go WHEN YOU CHOOSE to go through. You are in control. In Paris, after you insert and collect your carnet, it is the DOOR THAT DECIDES the timing when you are allowed to pass through. IT has the control, not you. UPDATE: just come to think of it, Tokyo metro works the same as Paris.

Peeve No.3: More Subway :)
There are now the newest subway cars that have automatic doors, which open after the subway comes to a complete stop. But the most of them have either a button or a little lever handle that the passengers open on their own, when the subway comes to a NEAR stop. The result is that the subway is usually still moving when someone opens the door. I'm surprised there aren't many accidents especially involving children. Then I didn't see that many children on the subway as we do here in NYC. My husband said small kids don't really get out of the areas where they live, and they really don't have much need to get on subways. It scares me a lot, and glad I didn't have to bring up my kids there. Now, contrary to the Peeve no.2, this seems to giving too much 'control' to the user. What gives?!

Peeve No.4: La Poste
I understand, it is a governmental post office/bank combined, very protective of people and has good rates. But I really would like my husband to close that account, since he cannot get a credit card to his own account (since he doesn't live there) and I, his wife but non-French citizen, have no right to the account. However I could deposit my IRCAM salary as much as I wanted there. What a business model :) So we had to go around them for me to use my own money, using husband's debit card. UPDATE: Husband says it's the same in all French banks.

Peeve No. 5: Division of Labor
This is quite general, and there must be exceptions. But my impression is that France is a country where things are done by people who are only 'qualified' to do so. You aren't allowed to touch, change, modify, even think about things that don't belong to your expertise, or what they call your 'métier'. Of course, the upside is the superb quality control; just anyone's sister-in-law can't be selling bread in France, you have to be 'qualified' to do so. Things are controlled. The downside, which makes me feel stifling, is the lack of freedom to move 'horizontally' in society. A mathematician cannot be bakers. Probably a bright neuroscientist aren't that encouraged to becoming a violinist (see David Soldier/Dave Sultzer). Even at IRCAM, engineers don't 'do art', and composers don't program; they have 'assistants' who help them. In NYC I do everything, mostly by necessity. I do everything from composing, programming, producing, and performing. By doing so I learn a lot about all aspect of music I make, and I like it that way for myself. Although I do hope that things are slowly changing, I cannot belong to a place where I have to do only one thing that I'm 'supposed to do'. Life is short. My friend Martha sent me this interesting article about French education system.

Peeve No. 6: Cobble stones
This is what the charm of Paris, France is, I'm sure. The cobble stones on the streets. It's HELL for my feet and my heels. I just don't understand how French women walk on those things with those beautiful shoes. I guess I'm not trained right.

UPDATE: And now my husband is saying I have become FRENCH, as I complain like this LOL!!!

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