March, 2015

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A tale of 2€

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Traveling among 45 people, you’ve got to go with the flow.  Period.

I had, though, one thing in mind–if opportunity was to knock–right from the get go, …getting to “The Bathtub”, Amserdam’s Stedelijk contemporary art gallery.

I’ve been to Montreal’s numerous times, to Manhattan’s Guggenheim twice, and to the Hirshhorn in DC, all of them highlights of each trip. Our first night I looked up in Google Maps the location and getting inside seemed suddenly possible.  It was within the same block of an already scheduled stop: the Vincent Van Gogh gallery.  Our Amsterdam city day gets underway and opportunity indeed knocks loudly.  There is no way the whole group will get into Van Gogh.  Van gogh and Stedelijk are both free.  Stedelijk is close by.  Not only will I be going, but I will get to share the experience with a big portion of the group.

We enter The Bathtub after taking in its arcitecture and it’s Tino Sehgal who gets me this time.  (At Hirshhorn it was Ai Weiwei.)

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My colleague and I, like in this story (told better than I could), at the above pieces, are approached with an offer.  “This Is Exchange, a work by Tino Sehgal from 2002,” he begins.  We both share our thoughts on the Market Economy and he interjects with questions.  As we are told from the onset we are offered 2€ each for our thoughts: the exchange.  Unlike the linked story we take our 2€; had I read it first, I may not have.  We get our 2€ by telling a codeword to the gallery’s main ticketdesk.  Password told.  2€ collected.  I ask the cashier more about the work, and she answers.

The rest of our time at the museum amazing, too.  Steve McQueen. Warhol. Picasso.  Lichtenstein.  Performance pieces.  Students taking it all in wildly differently.

I keep my 2€ in a separate pocket quite tempted to keep it as a souvenir of the (quite unique) experience.

I’m thrilled about the whole endeavour.

Fast forward a few days to Paris.  And this, on the Champs-Élysées, the Citroen Showroom, a giant slide (only a portion shown here).

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I hesitate.  Is it free?  No, it’s 2€.  Do I have time?  Not really.  We’re meeting, albeit right in front of the showroom, in 10 minutes.

Hmmm… I’m there.  I have 2€ (which I feel for in my pocket).  I have just enough time.  And a few students see me calculating and make the same calculation.  We go.

 

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And just like that.  The 2€ from the free museum is upcycled into a slide and now a story.  An exchange.  And a fun one at that.

I got to The Bathtub.  I got down the slide–and dizzy from it.  And now reflect on Sehgal and exchanges and experiences and making it happen.  And not for 2€, for nothing at all.  Which is pretty hard to believe.  Full circle, Amsterdam connects to Paris and now to home.

Not a bad subplot to the whole experience.  At all.

[sidenote: I got into The Centre Pampidou after not getting to last trip to Paris in a neat free-time-coincidence, too.]

Returning

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

I know there are certain places I like better than most people.

I’m driving to one of those places now: Paris. In fact I’m 108 km away. Auspicious, non?

“Rolling in the River” on the radio, rain on the windshield, magic tricks and laughter on the seats in front of me.

I can’t quite put my finger on how I’m feeling right now. Excited, yes–which translates differently than we assume to French–but more just really content. This week has been such a recharge. Nights spent learning poker (and some decent hands!) and days thinking about history and places and cultures and language in new ways. Strange dreams and new food. Amazing espresso. More sugar than usual. A Warhol even. I’ve also been able to capture aspects of all this on a blog for families, and their feedback is heartwarming.

This is only the second day ever in my life I’ve arrived in Paris. And it’s like arriving in Montreal or Radium Hot Springs or Space Mountain, haha or Red Robin: places where you smile and sigh with eyes that take it all in and say, good. to. be. back. Universe willing, I will be again, I hope.

Awesome colleagues to laugh and explore with. My absolute favourite conversations with strangers possible: them in French, me in English, both with our hands. And already a new work shirt packed away to remember the time here better.

Returning. Or Re-diving-in to somewhere strangely familiar. 🙂

For good

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

March is an interesting one.

  1. I’m in need of a departure and have one coming up very soon.  In less than two weeks I head to Paris again and Amsterdam for the first time.  Like many opportunities this one came together in a delightful and perfect storm.  And I’m pumped.  It’s a student trip and I’m one of four teacher supervisors.  While I’m excited for the adventure myself, I’m also really excited to–well, to use a yoga phrase–hold space for students to take on the world (many for the first time) and discover Europe.  I think it all promises to be pretty full on. I almost made it to March but needed some plane-time sooner, so Vancouver last month got me through.
  2. English 30-1 (university prerequesite).  It’s my first time teaching the course and I’m loving it.  It’s so crazy because some of the literature and films we’re looking at are truly my favourites.  It’s actually pretty crazy to think that as I watched Big Fish in South Edmonton Common over ten years ago that I’d be teaching it years later, teaching Southern Gothic subgenre storytelling and looking at existentialism.  Returning to these novels, too, is really interesting because I read them so differently now.  It’s fun to notice what others notice, too.  I’m into what we’re doing so it’s easy to communicate that enthusiasm and the group–like my other groups–is awesome.  I look forward to it each day.
  3. Staff is currently meeting one-on-one with administration for future planning, which essentially happens in every building each spring.  My date is a week from Monday.   Yet again, I’m at a total crossroads (an interesting post hoc ergo propter hoc moment to chew on since my name means crossroads, and I’m essentially always at one in every facet of my life).  I couldn’t be more content and yet I couldn’t be more restless.  As usual.  If I’ve learned one thing from the FIVE principals I’ve had in the previous six years (so crazy!) is that if these sorts of conversations are authentic and prepared for, they can be really valuable in unforseeable ways.  If I’m being honest, I see (and obsessing over and have already raised) three very distinct possibilities right now and now for the next little while, and have a week to really sit with which leap I’m gearing up for.  Although, to be especially honest, I already know.