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2016

Kerouac Followed Me from San Francisco to Paris

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Original On The Road Manuscript The overarching (somewhat extracurricular) theme of my Europe trip was flirting with modern art; looking for meaning in the deconstructed chaos that is the abstract. Upon arriving in Paris, I saw a poster in the subway for a “Beat Generation” exhibit at the Pompidou. I was bewildered to see the names of my beatnik heroes (Ginsburg, Burroughs, Cassady, and Kerouac) in Paris. I felt the sensation of an “Oh! What a small world!” chance run-in with a good friend in a foreign city. I had spent the better part of the previous six months learning…

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We Are The Grateful Living, pt. 2

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In my previous blog entry I wrote on how I experienced two very difficult day trips, one to Mauthausen, the other to Vimy Ridge. It has been about three months since we came back from the trip, and these moments (and other moments learning about the World Wars) still affect me. The effects are not as strong as they were, but when something comes up reminding me of those visits, I still feel both sad and angry. In the last entry I purposely left out that, while we visited these locations, it felt like I could hear everything happening in…

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One dream for many

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Whether it is the dream of a continent, a nation, or a community, people are drawn together in order to work towards a greater goal which will give their life meaning. The construction of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was the dream of the deceased Catalan man, Antoni Gaudi. It is now well over a century since the construction of the Sagrada Familia began and I questioned its very existence. Why are we chasing the dream of a deceased man? Why are we building a church of such grandeur when there are people begging for food just down the road?…

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Finding Love at the D’Orsay

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Today I fell in love, not with a person or even a place but a painting. As soon as I walked into the room I was in love. I still can’t quite pinpoint what it was about this piece that attracted me to it but I couldn’t take my eyes off it the whole time I was in that room. “The Floor Scrapers” was the name of the piece. It is by Gustave Caillebotte. When you walk in the room it is the centerpiece and is just so beautiful and powerful but it is also simple. I think this is…

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Holding On

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While in London the girls and I were walking through the city and stumbled upon this graveyard. At first glance it was just locks entangled in ribbons linked onto a fence, we had no idea what we were looking at really. Then this lady showed up and I tried to ask her what it was all about, she told me to follow her, so we did. We ended up getting an exclusive tour around this graveyard that seldom gives tours. This graveyard ended up being a place of burial for those who would not have had any other place to…

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Cultural Cafés

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We could not contain excitement during our first night in Paris. The city of love beckoned us to explore Parisian culture and nightlife. Our first thoughts: wine, cheese, and the Eiffel tower. After realizing that we had forgotten a corkscrew, we postponed our venture and instead wandered the streets for a café. The Europe trip is full of the café lifestyle. Of course it is inevitable to encounter multiple cafés while on the trip as they are a prominent feature of European culture. However, visiting cafés is even more desirable when travelling due to the busy nature of the Europe itinerary. Cafés helped us embrace moments of intrapersonal reflection, and of relaxation. Our waiter contradicted the French stereotypes of rudeness and of pretending not…

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Flowers and Weeds, Cities and Trees

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Every morning at 5 am my alarm goes off and I get to watch the sunrise as I water our vegetables on the farm. Every morning I think back to that morning in Barcelona where I watched the sunrise over the water. It felt like a breath of fresh air; I was grounded in a place where the ground was constantly changing, week by week. I thought that coming home to work on a farm, one of my all time dreams would have felt like that morning in Barcelona. It turns out that feeling grounded in where I am at…

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August in New Brunswick

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This week I’m remembering being in Paris. It had such symmetry to it that I wouldn’t usually be attracted to but found very appealing. At Le Jardin des Tuileries the trees and shrubs were pruned to perfection and aligned so meticulously around the grass. This order was contrasted by the stark wildness of the flowers in the gardens that seemed chaotically scattered and whose intricate beauty was accentuated by the relative emptiness that surrounded them. Paris was romantic and I found myself infatuated by its calculated aesthetic. But now I am home surrounded by the reckless abundance of August in…

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NEVER

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Not once could my feet fall flat on the uneven stones. Not once could I ease the tension in my knees and legs. Not once could I lose focus to make the next step. Never will I be able to imagine what it was like. The ‘Stairs of Death’ at Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria are appropriately titled for their history, as well as the sense of demise that comes to those who visit. Most prisoners of Mauthausen Concentration Camp were forced to work as slave labour in the quarry. Prisoners, who weighed an average of about 110lbs, went up and…

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How Many Others have Written of Their Time at the Belvedere?

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How many of our homes will eventually become museums to the passage of style, culture and time? I have no idea. I would try to organise bets of some form, but I can think of no ways to formulate odds based on general populations, sizes of structures, how often people move, or how well a structure will weather the passage of time and the ravages therein. The Belvedere Summer Palace is certainly a good place for the displaying of art though, and no, that was not a weird way to get an essay-like document started. That is the way of…

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