Monthly Archives: November 2009

Something To Do With My Hands

How did you spend your Thanksgiving?
I spent mine infiltrating the Conservatoire Royal de Mons.

Thursday morning I made the commute to Mons with JJ. We stopped at his office first for coffee and introductions. It reminded me of when I used to go to work with my dad when he worked at Moravian, except it’s in Europe and there’s better coffee. Now, I had originally planned to simply waltz right through the conservatory doors and demand to speak with someone about admissions. Then the possibility arose of the front gate being locked and me needing a appointment. JJ then called the secretary and got a list of professors and secretaries I should speak to. The first on the list was the secretary of the students (or something).
After I left JJ’s office I headed for the Grand Place to pick up my apparently not lost coat, and then continued to the conservatory.

It went like this.
First Line of Defense: French Speaking People and Floor levels

The secretary at the front desk was kind enough to inform me that the office I was looking for was located one the “deuxième étage”. Second floor right? I go up one flight of stairs and there it is right? wrong. What I had forgotten was our second floor is their first floor. minor setback.

Second Line of Defense: Office full of Middle-Aged Women/Disgruntled Admissions Man

Once I found myself in the right place and figured out how to open the most difficult wooden door ever, I entered the admissions office (or something). All the women stopped working, stared, and apparently my reputation precedes me, “oh, you’re the American”. Well…yes. They told me to wait outside the office for the Admissions Man, and then whispered amongst themselves. After a while, I entered the office and showed him the letter JJ had sent to the director. I explained how he had said that maybe we could find a solution for my late entrance. “No”. It’s not possible, it’s too late. He scrawled out the contact info of one of the composition professors and sent me on my way.

Third Line of Defense: The I’ve-been-smoking-for-47-years-this-job-is-ridiculous-curse-these-annoying-artsy-kids Secretary

It wasn’t ending like this.
I stopped at the Mons Tourism office, picked up a map, and made my way across town to the other building of the conservatory. There I met the above mentioned secretary who actually made some phone calls for me. Turns out, though, that neither of the composition professors were there today. She told me I should just call them sometime. yeah, thanks.

Time of Reflection/Excellent Eggplant Sandwich

…that’s it.

Savior in the Form of  a Bald Conductor

I tried calling one of the composition teachers. no dice. “fuck this, I’m going back”
I entered the red gate for the last time that day. This time the front desk secretary was a man. I asked him if any of the professors were in today and free. He said none of the composition teachers were available, but he looked at the rest of my list and, “oh but behind you, that’s Mr. Gazon”. I started to chat with the professor of orchestration (or something) and I explained my sitution.

Me: “I live in Chimay”
Him: “What’s going on in Chimay?”
Us: “…nothing!”

He told me he had a concert in the auditorium in a few minutes. He told me to come watch and then afterwards he would personally take me to speak with the director.
And that is how I ended my day listening to some free Mozart Piano Concertos and Scheduling a meeting with the director of the Conservatoire Royal de Mons. It was also the first time in months I heard someone utter the words “Steve Reich”, “John Adams”, “minimalism”. I wanted to kiss this man. but I didn’t.

In other news, I’m currently living over one of three gay bars in Mons. More on that later…much more.

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Ready, Able

This happened

and it was spiritual to say the least.
It was the best music I’ve seen in Belgium so far and they’re from Brooklyn. Does that mean something?

One of the more noticeable cultural differences for me, here, has been the alcohol. and not in the way that you’re thinking.
Saturday night I helped man a 50 foot bar with the rest of my senior class as part of a class fundraiser. excuse me? There were kids rolling in and tapping kegs, kids mixing drinks, kids pouring beer.
On the contrary, my school went all 1919 about the open bar at our annual gala and confined us all to our own “kids’ room”.
I blows my mind, it absolutely does, how differently we view a drink. It’s been pretty evident since a boy, who looked to be about 8, served me a beer on my first night here. I’d like to know when and why we became so divided on this. If it weren’t almost midnight I’d do some research (for now I’m going to guess…religion). These are the things that remind me how far away I am from home. This also includes my host mom being in awe of the science behind microwave popcorn.

The answer is yes, I will be moved to Mons.
But I don’t really have a school to go to #communicationfailure.
On the plus side, I’m going to experience living in the midst of a real live lesbian relationship. This could either be wonderful, or terrifying…I haven’t decided yet. I do know that it will be plenty interesting and I plan to analyze the hell out of this couple. It’s been a hobby of mine lately. Being an exchange student is essentially a people-watcher’s ultimate dream. I’ve had such a wonderful three months just observing and processing…if nothing else.

and psst…people are the same. people are people.

Did you know the Smurfs are from Belgium?

alcohol, religion, homosexuality, evolution, and Donnie Darko
quelle controverse.