Halley Knigge (Griffin)

Write. Share. Communicate.


I timed myself walking today – it takes me between six and seven minutes to make it from my apartment door to the security checkpoint at the entrance of the grande pyramide du Louvre. The deciding minute hinges on how long I have to wait to cross Rivoli, and whether I’m listening to my work-out mix or my mellow playlist on my iPod as I walk.

This was one of the odd-weeks when my art history class meets at the Louvre, rather than our typical classroom in the ENA building on rue de l’Université, so that was my occasion to time myself. I love being part of one of the art classes that spend hours in the Louvre, far from la Joconde (the Mona Lisa) and the Venus de Milo, analyzing paintings that are visited by those who really care about them, not just by tourists on the Louvre light tour (you know, the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory, Venus de Milo – the celebrities of the museum).

I had a group presentation to prepare for today, and although I was a bit under-prepared, it was fun analyzing Jean-Siméon Chardin works for my class. It was odd though – because it’s an elective taught in English and mostly taken by French students, I had to consciously slow down my speaking and eliminate any colloquialism or particularly long words. It reminded me of speaking to the Ladybugs (preschoolers) at work this summer – you have speak very clearly to get your point across. Actually I find myself doing that a lot here – anytime any non-Anglophone wants to practice their English on me, so it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

Having to prepare a real presentation for the first time was a little shocking – so far I’ve been sliding through this semester doing absolutely nothing. It’s mostly because of the way my exposés and débats are distributed through the semester, but also because I’ve turned into kind of a slacker this year. It’s just – who wants to sit inside and read books about the 5ème Republique when they could be roaming around Montmartre, or relaxing in the jardin des Tuileries?

Although I’m going to have to start cranking out the real work soon (this weekend, in fact), I definitely slid right through my presentation on French genre painters. I’m starting to get the feeling that my professor is a little nuts. Most of my classmates live in fear of her, never knowing when she’ll be in a sadistic mood or a delightful one. She raged at and belittled a girl in the class who’d missed a day because she’d misread the syllabus (and didn’t know where to meet us), but when I told her I was skipping a day of class to go to Barcelona, she said bon voyage and she’d see me the week after.

Today during our presentation, she glared at and shushed a group of Japanese tourists who were discussing the paintings near us “too loudly” while she was trying to listen. Fifteen minutes later the discussion of Jean-Baptiste Greuze was halted while a middle-aged man in a backpack and the loudest sneakers any of us had ever heard squeaked his way through the room, and she just laughed and said something about how much she loves being a teacher.

There are a few (maybe three or four) of us who don’t have to live in fear – for some reason, Professor S.C. tends to give us smiles over evil eyes. I don’t know how I became one of the special few, but she seems to like me and keeps cutting me special breaks. We had papers due the week I was in Barcelona, so I left a copy in her box that she apparently never received. It’s now more than two weeks late, and she said I could turn it in again with no penalty. Another girl who missed class and had a friend turn it in for her (only a few days late), though, got a lecture about responsibility, and her grade on the paper is unsure. It’s unfair and completely nuts – but it plays well into my “I have better things to do in Paris than homework” attitude.

Unfortunately, that attitude’s day has come. Starting with my art presentation today the onslaught of actual work has begun. I have at least two important projects (éxposés, débats, essais, etc.) due each week from now until the vacances de Noël, and these really can’t be coasted through. Actually, I’m kind of looking forward to it – see, I really do come off as a big nerd.

•• I found much cheaper Swan Lake ballet tickets at Fnac, and I think Amelia is going to go with me!

••• I saw the movie Babel last night – it was really really good. It struck me as pretty ironic that I was watching it with all the subtitles (for Japanese, sign language, Spanish, etc.) in French.

Author: Halley (Griffin) Knigge

Storyteller and adventurer with a focus on new and social media. Ten years of award-winning writing and editing experience, eight years working professionally to share compelling stories through brand journalism, three years as an airline spokesperson, two years as a Tacoma Arts Commissioner and 30+ years of learning something new every day.

2 thoughts on “

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  2. Halley, you are so lucky (and deserving) to be a part of those special few. One of my psych teachers decided to select me as a target to direct is neurotic, anal anger towards at the beginning of this quarter. despite this, instead of becoming mute in class out of fear (i initally annoyed him by writing a word on another person’s paper…only doing this because i could not understand his handwriting)… i raise my hand everyday and have come on both snow days and days before holidays and sit in the front now. it appears to be paying off…anyway, I hope you can keep taking mini vacations without any penalty!!!

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