Despite the weather, yesterday we drove to Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery. 1000 soldiers died on the beach that day, coloring the water red with their blood.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Despite the weather, yesterday we drove to Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery. 1000 soldiers died on the beach that day, coloring the water red with their blood.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
So far it has been rainy and cold, as I thought it might be. But despite my first day here and the rude morning I awoke to, I am having a wonderful time. Marie and Pascal are exhausting themselves by speaking with me in English, and I am exhausting myself by trying to grasp the conversations in French. So we are all tired!!
I am progressing, though, because yesterday we took a tour of l'Abbaye aux Hommes, and I was able to follow a fair amount of what the tour guide said. Of course it was all in French. Oh, and of course I did not bring my camera, either but I promised you links not photos, so you will just have to deal.
Before the tour we drove to Honfleur and had the best Scallops aux Gratin ever. We were going to see the famous cliffs, but it only stopped raining for about thirty minutes so we opted to drive home.
On Monday night we saw the Kills in concert and I thought about throwing my panties at them because I am totally in love. I think they're with each other, but maybe I can be a groupie or something?
Today, I am solving the problem of "how to get a haircut in France when you don't speak French" by going to my host Frenchie's salon (and going with her of course). I think a new haircut and maybe a colorful new something or other will be just the ticket to make me feel all shiny and new after that thing with that one guy.
More links tomorrow.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Last night, over drinks, it came out that the one who will no longer be refered to with affection (but was once called The Frenchman) had called to announce he would be coming over today.
"And, euuuh," P said, "I'm not really sure but I think he may becoming with his new girlfriend. I'm not sure, I don't know, but he kept saying we."
"Uh...oh." I replied.
He was coming over on my vacation? He knew that I was here because he had broken the don't contact me rule I instigated and showed up on messenger to chat with me for two hours on Thursday. But why would he think that I wanted to see him? And furthermore with his new girlfriend???
Later it was revealed that his new girlfriend was, in fact, a relationship for two months. It took me awhile to do the math in my head, to quantify all of the times we had chatted on messenger that he had simply failed to mention this key information, but when I did I was furious. He is not a stupid man. He was well aware of my deep feelings for him, and so how cruel is it to keep intruding on my life when he had long since moved on? I've been here for two months. Any of those times dozens of times we talked would have been fine times to mention he was seeing someone new.
"Do you want him to come here?" M asked, "I can call him to tell him not to come."
"If he is coming with his girlfriend I don't want to see him, no."
This morning I woke with extreme anxiety, rolling a vicious dialogue over in my head of the choice words I could share with him, if he came. I dressed myself, shaving my legs just to be sure I felt beautiful and confident all over.
The message was sent out "Don't f@&!ing bring a girl here", but at 11 he arrived. As it turns out the "we" he meant was his sister and her husband, but he had not recieved the message either. He had no idea I didn't want to see him.
He tried briefly to talk with me but I was not interested in conversation. What did I have to say to him now? Besides, of course "Are you planning on bringing her on the long weekend we all have planned? Because if you are you can go F@^K yourself all the way back to Paris, you daft asshole."
My cold shoulder was aided by the fact that virtually everyone was speaking French. I didn't understand a lick of the conversation and so it was very easy for me to pretend that he had evaporated and write peacefully in my journal on the couch, away from every one.
At some point M filled him in: "She doesn't want you here." And, finally, it seems that he understood. We cannot be friends. Stop pretending like you don't understand.
When he left I politely accepted the bisous with clenched teeth. "You cannot leave fast enough." My body language screamed. "Leave me the hell alone."
I deflated when he was gone, angry and sad that it had degraded to such an exchange. But I had won, in my opinion. Because I was still standing and he was the one who had to leave, uncomfortable and unwelcome.
And now I know. I fully understand what our relationship meant to him and how long he's casually been stringing me along (Nearly our whole relationship). Knowing he knew all along how much I cared for him and how little he did for me, I can finally break free.
Right after I'm done seething with anger.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
- I should be cleaning my bathroom and vacuuming before I leave for a week, but instead I am blogging. I may be addicted.
- I have not shaved my legs in over two weeks and I'm seriously considering just leaving them hairy. Who will know, people? Who will know?
- Today I am going to spend something close to 5 Euro for a can of refried beans so that I can make an authentic Mexican meal for my lovely hosts in Caen.
- I am am also going to get plenty of stuff for Margaritas. What is Mexican without a Margarita?
- Does anyone know what goes in a Mexican Martini?
- Last night I took a Velib for the first time ever and I think I have just found the thing that will liberate me in Paris. Farewell Metro! (As soon as I can figure how to get from Meudon to Montparnasse.)
- And buy the Velib pass.
- I wish that I would have discovered it before I climbed the hundred some odd stairs at the Abbesses stop in Montmartre. I don't need to do any more exercise for the rest of the week.
- I don't think I will be purchasing a new computer to replace my iBook. But I may still look for used ones.
- So if any one knows where I can get a decent machine for 400 Euros or less (for less!!) please let me know.
- And I have decided I really want to freelance graphic design, so if anyone needs me, let me know.
- As long as you have a computer for me to work from.
- What, I have to put it out there, don't I?
- Since I will be on vacation, I will not be posting as much content for the week, but I promise links to show where I've been and what I am doing.
- Now, I am late so I am totally not cleaning my bathroom, vacuuming or shaving.
- I knew I should have done it yesterday.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
"Well, I could not fix it!!"
HD walked into the kitchen and through up his hands. The iBook was officially dead.
"I know, its okay. But you tried really hard. Thank you," I replied smiling, cutting out flashcards.
"You will not get another Mac, you said?"
"No," I said, "I just don't think it make any sense for me."
"Well," he said, stacking mandarines in a pyramid, "We usually give our Au Pairs a Christmas bonus, and if you would like we can offer this to you to help you replace your computer."
All appropriate responses escaped me then. Whatever expression I made was surely inadequate for the gesture.
"Wow, I - I don't know what to say! That is so generous!"
"Generous, I don't know," he said. "We are glad to have you here."
So my computer will be replaced. I have to come up with the remainder of the cost of the computer, and so after my break I will advertise to teach more English lessons, to save up the rest of the money.
I teach my first one this Saturday, before I leave for Normandy. I am cramming simple English songs into my head so that I can communicate with twin six year olds who don't speak a single word of English.
Even in my French class I am well aware that instruction a language to someone who does not understand it requires a lot of acrobatics and a boat load of patience. My teacher at Alliance Française spent equal energy trying to get us to understand the instructions in the book (without saying it in English) as she did try to get us to remember the gender of the word "French". "J'etudie LE francais." (I study french.) And yet I still have a note that at the top of my page that says - France est Feminin. DE, EN. Which, of course, if referring to the country but why wouldn't the word French and France have the same gender? Why I ask you!!!
To screw with our heads, that's why.
So, yes, I am well aware that eventually with these little girls I will have to figure out how to dumb down past tense and future tense of "to go" (went? Why went?) and "to do" etc, because the English language has just as many exceptions as French. But we will start with the alphabet song, because you can't make English words very well with the French alphabet.
Any tips from you English teachers out there? I am have to admit to being a bit nervous.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
AND THEN my computer required a hard restart.
Monday, October 20, 2008
What the F*@! are you doing here again? Oh, right, you are here every single morning. I'm pretty sure I didn't invite you though, so perhaps you should go the F*&# away now? Remember, we stopped taking the meds because we were happy and the meds weren't working anymore? Remember that? And sure, he left us and we still think of him every single day, and sure we miss home and seriously wish we had that home (or any home!) to go back to, but remember why I put us on the plane in the first place? It was because I wanted a chance to experience this and be wildly happy in spite of the minor miseries. I wanted to give us something we've always wanted. Well, you never wanted it. You want me to off myself.
Goddamnit, I'm in PARIS. Can't you see that I want to enjoy this? Can't you see that this place is amazing and because of you I barely even recognize the loveliness here? I can't smell the sweet smells. I can't capture the beautiful light. It slips past my eyes and goes gray all because of you.
I know, when I leave the house you will eventually get lost in the crowds and I am left alone smiling. But sometimes I want to be home! Sometimes I need to rest, and sometimes I have work to do. I know it's not Austin, I know the cats aren't here (and never will be again) and the records are boxed up and everything I worked hard for like my friends and the paintings of the wall and that lovely sunshine yellow comforter - I know I sold them all to be here and so it doesn't feel like home. But it can, you know? It could if you would just let me be happy.
Just one whole day where I don't feel like crying in the shower. One day where I don't have to force myself to go out just to end the day smiling. I'm not happy to see you at all. I don't need your tricks and deception and terrible mean thoughts. I want to feel pretty again. I want to feel like I have control and can make things happen for myself. I want to see you gone for good.
So, I'm pretty serious here, you need to take my hint and get gone. I'll poison you with drugs again, if I have to. I'm not going to spend my life like this. Do you understand? Do you?
With lots of love and kisses,
Your best friend
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Enter a bar with alone. It's been confirmed, there is cheap beer in Paris!! I buy a pint and go to the back of the bar where I told everyone to meet. I adjust my blue scarf - the token I told people to look for - and get out my moleskin to jot somethings down. I am happy to be here.
Of course there is a huge T.V. here and I am distracted by it. An ad for "I can't believe it's not butter" comes on and I laugh. The four men sitting across from me are definitely American and one comments to me.
"That's a bit of overkill, isn't it?"
"Yeah," I laugh.
They are looking for a jazz club and I happen to know which one they are talking about and so I give them directions, or I try to anyway. By now they've invited themselves to my table, and I think "Oh why the hell not".
Slowly, people in my party arrive. One, then two, then two more, then four. By eleven we are fourteen jammed around tiny tables competing vocally with the rowdy french group next to us. Texas, Canada, New York, Georgia, Pennsylvania, California and Turkey are all represented. Apparently my ad had been forwarded on to a couple people.
The bartender comes around with a flight of fruity shots, gratuis, and then when we comment how weak they are he brings another flight, this time of tequila. Meanwhile, these businessmen who've joined us are really having a good time and they've begun buying the rounds of drinks.
One of them decides that we should migrate.
"We should go to the Executive Lounge at our hotel. No one will be there, it will be great."
No one seems to have a problem with this idea, especially since they've just purchased a hundred Euro of alcohol to take with us. We pile twelve people into four cabs (the couple from Austin leaves to make another party) and head across town.
For a little while we are left to drink and party but soon the concierge comes up to tell us to leave. He explains that the clean on Sunday mornings and we need to go. Most of the party leaves to catch their respective trains but a few of us go upstairs to one of the guys rooms.
Well, you can imagine that's where I got to feeling a bit weird. We were two girls in a room of men who began to look a little lonely and after I had a giggling fit (randomly, for no reason) and someone tried to rub my shoulders I decided we should probably go. It is evident that everyone had had too much to drink at this point.
When I got home, I discovered that my keys had let themselves out of my purse and I could not get into my apartment. Briefly, I thought that I would have to walk around Paris until it was late enough to wake my host family (or else break the door) but I was able to get in the side door. Thank God. I thought quickly to call the bar and found that they were, indeed left there, and passed out.
And that is how I sewed up my weekend. Two hangovers later, I could stand a good nights sleep. I go in search of hangover food.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
It's official that I will stop smoking. I've been cutting down, actually and since I've been in France have not bought a pack. I'm down to about two or three a week at parties, and I feel my lungs getting stronger, unless I'm tired and then the millions of stairs on the Metro will wind me anyway.
Last night I went to a great party. Sarah's friends (or maybe French kids in general) love theme parties and though I get all worked up trying to come up with clever ideas for them usually I have a great time. The theme for this party was "Traditional Costume of A Country". Not your country, though, or else half the party would have come as French people. I went as a French person. It was a cash issue, of course, but I also thought it would be hilarious. I still can't form a proper sentence in French, so I why wouldn't I go as France? I borrowed Sarah's beret and a striped boat shirt and drew on a little pointy moustache. Oh, and a skirt. I was a cross dresser as well.
To complete the outfit I needed a cigarette right? I didn't feel like smoking right away, so I drank a bit which solved that problem with a quickness. Mmmm, rhum* and coke. Yes, I'll have another. At french parties almost everyone brings something to drink and because wine is like water here it's very nice if you brink hard liquor. Then there are a dozen stacks of these teeny little plastic cups that are probably the volume of a rocks tumbler but somehow make you feel like you're not drinking anything. This can be very dangerous.
Round about midnight (we're gonna say that, but I truly have no idea) I had smoked a couple of cigarettes and felt like I needed another one. The girl next to me was rolling a fresh one and I though, "Oh good, I don't have to go across the room to find one." And when she was done rolling I asked for a drag.
Now, anyone reading this might think "Why, she was rolling a joint, wasn't she?" Oh, but I was fairly soused at this point and in watching her roll it I did not see any weed go in. I've smoked on purpose before, so I'm not totally niave. I know what it looks like and must have looked away when she added it or something. Yeah, just go with that.
In my past experiences smoking never does anything that special for me. I usually get really depressed the following day and I don't know, considering my delicate mental state in general, I would say that's not something I should tinker with. On a couple of occasions, I've actually had allergic reactions. Like last night.
Immediately I realized what I had smoked (and how much because I had dragged it like a cigarette) and I turned to Sarah who had been there for one of my allergic reactions and said, "I don't think that was a cigarette."
I went pale and nearly blacked out as she helped me to the bedroom to lie down. Poor thing spent the next hour holding a bag for me while I heaved. Now that's a good friend. And then they drove me home and put me in bed.
Needless to say, today I feel like someone ran over me with a car and I've been more depressed I guess, but I am entertaining myself by googling the Frenchman which is just plain masochism, isn't it? I am wishing the little fridge wasn't empty, but I guess Pot Noodles will have to do for sustinence for now.
Tonight I have managed to scrounge up something like five or six Americans (three of them from Austin!) to meet me at a bar for some bitching on the french (sorry Frenchies!) and chat in english. Right now I can't actually conceive of drinking, but surely after some salty noodles and another gallon of water I will be rarin' to meet some new people.
Report on that night with tomorrows hangover.
I haven't posted for three days? What is going on here? Sorry Sister L! I've been putting off posting, it seems, for all kinds of reasons. In fact, my writing has slowed in general, and this makes me sad.
Now, I have made myself busy, in my defense. Meeting people, going to my french class, work (if you can call it work). Instead of posting I make phone calls home or make lists of things to do. I think about posting something but I feel like it has to be something about Paris, or I think maybe I need to have photos and then don't post because the process of uploading is so tedious on my computer.
I worry that my content has to be interesting or funny. I get overwhelmed by responding to comments (Which, er, is why I don't. Sorry people, I love your comments!) I don't post too much when I am depressed (which you all know has been often lately) because I'm pretty sure people will stop reading if they stay like that for too long. Also, I am trying to drive readership because currently my Blogher checks - as small and sporadic as they are - are going to my mom. I would like to send her home money but don't have any to send and so this is what I give her for taking care of my cats and to help her make ends meet.
Of course because I am driving readership (and not all that well, anyhow) I think a lot about what I can and cannot post. Certain things that I would have posted a year ago might not be relevant to my audience. That is, I'm not sure I want certain things to be known to all the internets. I used to be very liberal about discussing my sex life, but knowing my mom reads this sometimes stops that right there. Not to mention, some things should be kept sacred, right?
That being said, if I was really such a private person I would never have started a blog in the first place. The truth is I have no problem telling any and everyone my life story if they ask (sometimes if they don't!) and I'd like to keep my friends and family informed so back to posting with me! (A whip cracks!)
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I'm guest posting on Short-Breaks.com today, about the Ethical Fashion show (for which I did the modeling gig). I was just a bystander for this one, but given the amount of dancing they did, that's a good thing.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I came home early from school today. For a whole week I put off this cold but yesterday morning I woke stuffed up, and today it was worse. I tried to focus on French, and honestly I have no idea how I got myself out of bed, but I didn't last long. At the 10:30 break I asked for the homework and headed home.
I stopped at the pharmacy to get some nasal spray because it turns out that French people don't believe in antihistamines and decongestants. My french teacher advised me that I need to ask for the spray du naz at the pharmacy.
"There's no Nyquil or something? Decongestant?" I asked.
"Euuuh...non..." She looked at me like I had asked for crack.
In my state the last thing I wanted to do was talk to a French pharmacist, but I needed to feel better. I tried to speak french to the girl, but degraded as soon as I got to the phrase "head cold" I have no idea how to describe sinus pressure in French.
She forked over two bottles of spray ("THIS one first." She said, "Very important.") and I waited till I got all the way to the RER before doing the totally gross spraying in public thing. I was too tired to care.
As a treat I had purchased myself a bagel with cream cheese from a shop that I happened on across from the pharmacy. "The Philadelphia" on a Tomate en Herbe bagel sounded just like comfort food to me, even though it was 3,60 euros. That I refused to eat at the station, somehow much more disgusted by the thought of eating there than draining my nose into a tissue.
I slept for the rest of the afternoon, quite gladly, and I hope to do it again tomorrow. I don't have to be up early and I fully intend to take advantage of it. My Wednesday bake might end up being something more like mac and cheese or whatever comfort food I can conjure up from my host family's pantry.
What I really want is to be on my couch at home in Austin, curled up with my cats. Cat, singular, since my pretty little Simon never came back. So - curled up with my fat orange Fitch, watching movies and eating ramen noodles. Instead I am watching some kind of political round table (on American Politics) in French. Which is, like, almost as good.
Tangent: I wonder if I could get a cat here. Or maybe a little dog. People take their dogs everywhere here, even the grocery store. You're not really supposed to, but people do it anyway. I have adopted a neighbor cat and named it Edith (even though it might be a boy), but it's only an outdoor cat and that doesn't help me when I want something to cuddle with (like right now). I atually considered, last night, the idea of buying a stuffed animal. Maybe I should just have my mom send then body pillow instead...
End Tangent. Such randomness implies I need to give in and go to bed. I don't really know why I am awake, anyhow.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Overnight, it seems, fall has come upon Paris. Where the trees were hanging onto their green they have become red and gold, highlighted by the shifting sunlight. Eager to find a way to make Paris feel more like home, I decided I wouldn't wait for companions to explore the city with and took myself out on the town.
The best part of dating yourself is that you don't have to answer to anyone. I didn't have to feel embarrassed for standing in the crowd of tourists at the Notre Dame and craning my neck to take a photo. Nor did I have to have the conversation about whether or not I wanted to go in.
"Have you seen it yet?" They would say.
"No, I haven't," I would reply.
"Oh, you should it's incredible!"
"Yeah, but the line is too long."
"Oh, come on, you have to! I'll pay."
Instead I reserved that for an internal dialogue and kept walking. Someday I will go in, but on days like this one, it seems such a shame to be inside.
The weather was perfect. It's been cool enough for a sweater in the shade, but warmed by the sun I could barely stand to keep my black rain coat on.
For today I didn't mind being by myself. Though I've been craving companionship, I am coming to realize that no one here can really satisfy my emptiness. It's not that they don't try, and certainly not that they are wonderful people, but apart from those who have just arrived like myself, it's impossible for another to relate.
All expatriates have been here at some point. Alone in their world of English and lost for the ability to express themselves. They've all experienced their voice dissolving into a stumbling toddler talk, barely being able to ask for what they need.
Eventually, though, you move past that stage, you get your carte de sejour, you acclimate and, for survival, you put behind you what it was like to feel so completely helpless in a massive city as an alien. You learn how to navigate the Metro and know what time you have lo leave parties and you don't feel like you need to travel home with someone in order to make it safely. You make a joke in French. You find some balance.
For a long time we're not really ourselves. Maybe never, constantly straddling the two versions of our personality - French and English. In English we are eloquent and intelligent and funny, but in French we are perhaps a twleve year old, able to say what we think but not with our true feelings or fullest expressions of our being.
Me, I am not even there yet and it is tiresome to be a bystander. I listen to my new friends complain about their inabilities to be fluent and then watch them fall effortlessly into this other version of themselves that they think does not exist. I realize that I have a long way to go before I will be able to do this.
The point is that everyone here is struggling with their own demon in this. I am not special. I'm not unique in my angst and silence, and though they have been where I am before, each of these people has some new thing to fight. They are not in that space with me to celebrate my victories or assuage my pains. They have their own to carry on with. As it is in life, I've got to take care of myself.
At the end of my afternoon I thought about going for a coffee but opted to fall asleep on the train home instead. I wasn't obligated to take Paris out for a drink, even though our date went very well. I wasn't ready for that sweet kiss goodnight because I haven't decided if it's serious yet. I'm not sure I want to take it to the next stage in our relationship, but I can certainly enjoy a nice afternoon in the park; we'll definitely see each other again.
We're taking it slowly. She's trying to go easy on me.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I may or may not be on the verge of some kind of head cold, but today I feel quite solid and, I would almost venture to say, cheerful.
It was a stunning day in Paris. After a week solid of rainy days the sun broke through and sucked up each and every cloud in the sky. When I was done with class I just knew I could not go straight home and wastes such an afternoon. I chose to tag along with the lovely British gentleman (the one man) from the group to his neighborhood, Le Marais. Even though we could have taken the metro we walked there, detouring through the Jardin Luxumbourg. He showed me the beehives and the fruit trees that I had missed on my previous visit, and then we continued on through the Odeon past lovely little galleries and posh design stores.
I find that, on my own, I am not capable of seeing Paris in the spectacular light that it should exist. That is to say, I feel underwhelmed. The very first time I every went to New York City I stepped off the train and was awash in crazy energy- the only thing I could think was "Oh my God, I can't believe I am here!" Each time I returned I had a similar sense of excitement, but I have not had those moments in Paris. Perhaps it's because I tumbled off the plane and stayed in complete exhaustion for four weeks straight. Perhaps.
Luckily, I am not always alone, and when I wander with other people I can step back and see the city with the eyes they all seem to have.
"Oh, look at that little street!"
"God, Notre Dame is really incredible."
"The Eiffel Tower is sparkling again!"
We stopped at a corner cafe and squeezed into a table so we could have mid-afternoon Cote de Rhone and a cheese plate, talking for a long time about class and acclimating and Paris in general. The sun shifted in its seat to the afternoon light and of course that meant I had to go home. I felt myself shifting gears, took a little nap on the train and decidedly did not allow myself to think the things I normally fall into thinking on the train.
At home I had minor sucess in getting the young one to understand the importance of repetition and the lameness of mediocrity.
"Yes, but just because seventy-five percent of the class didn't read their book doesn't mean its okay that you didn't. And no fifty percent is not an okay grade!"
After dinner we cooked little pre-made creme brulee in the oven and I showed him some of my collage work. I decided that I may have achieved my goal of being both liked and respected by a twelve year old boy, and gave myself a pat on the back.
As we cleaned up dinner, my Host Dad and I talked about philosophy (which, really, is just me absorbing his point of view and stumbling around his accent), about where I could get art supplies in Paris, and the new Picasso exhibition I will have to see.
I am well aware of my shift emotionally, and given the past month I don't take it for granted as it could escape me at any moment. Even though I don't want to admit it, I think the fact that I had ten hours of sleep last night has something to do with it. The sad truth is I'm no spring chicken and this transition has been hard on my body.
But I am beginning to feel almost creative again. There are tiny fibers of inspiration sewing into my fingers, and my eyes are beginning to look for tools to create. All of these little things are signs of settling, little by little, and for that I can smile.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Well, it seems as though my body has finally broken down from all the running around and I am getting sick with something. Between emotional stress and changing weather that I am not properly clothed for (and the dashing from metro to metro without a meal) this should come as no surprise. All I want to do is go back to sleep.
I'm so tired I'm not sure I'm even going to bake today, though I had a wonderful chocolate cake planned. If I weren't working I would be lying around my apartment, that is for sure. Instead I am trying to decipher today's note so I can plan dinner.
My host mom leaves notes each day as to what I should cook, which considerably dumbs down the dinner portion of my job, but since the second week she has left them in French. I would be able to translate this, that would be simple enough, but half the time I cannot read what they say. Today's note reads:
Filet mignon de pore a faire ceeere soil au four soil a la poele.
Just in case you don't know, that doesn't translate into anything I can follow. I read:
Filet mignon of pore has to make cook soil with for soil has the stove.
Okayyyyyy. Cook the filet mignon on the stove. With dirt. Got it.
Obviously I am reading certain words incorrectly, and perhaps I should just take what I can and go from there but some of them (like this one) seems to have specific desired results. I don't want to turn her filet mignon what she has been marinating for days into a wacky stir fry.
Anyway, this is how I spend half of Wednesday. And I'm dizzy. What does dizzy have to do with a sore throat? I have laundry to do and I have to work on a budget. I have to write a flier so that I can make some extra cash (anyone need their papers checked for gramatical errors?), I have to write some emails, empty the dishwasher and study some french.
If only I could focus on just one thing...
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I need a second job. This is depressing me, I have to admit. I don't want to be living in Paris working three jobs. I didn't want to do it in Austin, but it's more depressing here, knowing that I have all my basic needs paid for. I thought I would be able to put aside money, actually, but I really didn't understand just how expensive Paris can be. It's not just the cost of things, but the inflation of your desire for them. I am in Paris. I want to buy a pair of beautiful boots and the long leather gloves I have actually been coveting for several years. Even if I don't get said beautiful boots and long gloves I actually need winter clothes because I came from Texas, remember? And I want to travel. I don't want to be stuck in Paris all year. There is so much of this country, continent, etc. that I want to see but simply cannot on 400 Euro a month.
So, for now I have taken a pair of boots that were left in the basement by the previous nanny (that are a size too big) to save from walking around with wet feet and I have been using my evenings to look for applicable part time work.
For fun, I responded to a modeling ad. I've done a little of this work (unpaid) before but have never been motivated enough to go all the way with making a career of it. Not to mention in America I am past my prime as far as the industry is concerned and was told I my hips are too big. Whatever. Despite the bizarre, sort of sick culture behind it I really enjoy getting in front of a camera. I fall naturally into whining about how bloated I look after eating.
Fast forward to the part where I have taken an (unpaid) job modeling a new designer's "ethical fashion" (read:organic) outside the Palais de Toyko. Everything was fairly typical about the shoot - everyone was late and we weren't even close to done by the time I left. I got made up with more makeup than I will every feel comfortable in (but sometimes saw women in Texas sporting to go to the supermarket). I celo-taped my breasts together because I refused to buy a wonderbra for an unpaid job, and my fitting room was the museum's bathroom.
I'm not sure exactly why, but the designer had all of the outifts at the coat check, so each time I changed I had to give him the piece I was wearing and wait while he got the next one. As he did this I hung around the bathroom in my underwear. The first couple of changes left me relatively alone, but as the day wore on the restroom became a useful stop for more than a model trying to squeeze into the next dress without ripping it. Here I was waiting for a change in nothing but my little black panties and a white shirt when a group of five women entered.
"Pardon!" They said, checking out my skivvies and quickly averting their eyes.
To make things less awkward I tied my Members Only jacket around my waist and leaned against the counter as if this happened to be the fashion.
"Don't mind me," I replied in English to their French shock.
But don't the French love nudity? So interesting to shock the anti-prude.
At four-fifteen we were no where near finished and I insisted that I had to go.
"Euuuh, just one more change I think?" the designer insisted.
I did the quick change and walked with the photographer outside the museum. On the street La Poste workers had begun a protest march. There was music and angry calls from loudspeakers for high wages and what appeared to be massive quantities of beer. As we passed the jolly parade we drew a little crowd of drunk men interested in what must have been a famous model.
On the long stairs I posed to the chorus of cat calls and the little flicker of the ameteur photographers who thought they were capturing something truly special. We rounded the corner to go back to the museum - the grand length of the Eiffel Tower mirrored on the Seine - and a group of protesters caught up with us insisting on getting in the photo. I simply could not maintain the "serious" look I was supposed to be sporting.
Somehow I made it out of the dress (without ripping it!) and back to Meudon before the boys got home from school. I must have ran up and down twenty flights of stairs and changed trains six times over the course of the day, and so when I got to my final stop I went straight for the Boulangerie. I ordered two baguettes and immediately ripped off a big, warm hunk realizing it was the first food I had eaten all day.
Unselfconciously I ate half of the loaf before I reached home. Once there I vigorously washed the make-up off my face and switched into nanny mode, peparing the lamb for dinner and shuffling the young one off for his reading.
All modes worked full speed today. Perhaps by tomorrow I'll have manifested a paycheck.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
For posterity, I'd rather do a photo post than write about the mess that's going on in my head right now.
I'm going to break this up into two posts because the content is quite different. I've taken so many photos that I thought I would just post immediately after and it never happened. I've got to get a Flickr or something...
First: The Sights.
(It's a bit impressive.)
(Giant [somewhat phallic] mountains of chocolate.)
(This was all Ames could think do with the Mountain of Chocolate.)
(Creepy bald child manequins in Montmartre.)
(Here we are. This is before my feet got soaked and I could still smile.)
(Beautiful gothic architecture at Cluny.)
(Sundials were great but how did you know what time it was when it was raining? Like so many days in Paris.)
(A rainy city.)
(The Sacre Coeur.)
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I stole this short Meme from Blackbird because it's fairly apt. I am also doing it because I'm currently frustrated with the process of posting photos (which is what I really want to do).
outside my window the sun is shining for now. Maybe we can ride the Velib's today, after all! This would be a treat after yesterday when my socks got soggy from walking in puddles with flare jeans.
daily rhythm I don't currently have a rhythm that feels natural. I skip meals and do a lot of walking and finding train stations and meeting people.
I am thankful for my ability to make new friends in this city. Were it not for that I would be on the next plane home.
In the kitchen there are bananas in an old skillet.
Breakfast is always coffee. Sometimes supplemented with baguette. Weekends have eggs with them.
Lunch if I do it, it tends to be street vendor food. Paninis or a savory crepe or something.
Supper I still usually eat with the family. This is good because it means I eat at least one square meal a day.
I am wearing my pajamas. I am still in bed and hungover from last night. I am listening to the strains of my best friend snoring next to me and my HD playing piccolo over in the big house. (I can here it from here!)
I am creating new ways to fall in love with myself. I don't have a whole lot of love that I save just for me (I tend to give it all away to certain people who do not deserve it and shall remain unnamed) and that seems to be a problem.
Bringing beauty to my home by re arranging the little house and hopefully coming up with some ways to add color and warmth to my new space.
I am reading nothing of note. I wish books weren't so heavy to send internationally.
I am hoping Ames' knee recovers so we can do some more walking today in the sun.
Around the house I find I still need to nest. I seriously miss my apartment in Austin.
Making plans to shower and get Ames out of bed. Hurry! Before it starts to rain again!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I have gotten home just before the rain started, which is good because I went I left the house it was sunny and I felt sure I would not need my umbrella. Which goes to show I have not yet picked up on the way weather works here in Paris. It rains here at least once a day it seems - although last was unseasonable beautiful with 75 degree (F) days and loads of sun.
I don't actually mind that it's pouring right now because I've started my period today (sorry to all you male readers) and I feel so bloated I'm sure I could float away if I wasn't tethered by my lead feet. I don't want to do anything, except exactly this. Eating cheese (I shouldn't!..oh but I do anyway) and writing a blog post.
Today concluded my first whole week of French classes. I only go three days a week, which may or may not be enough depending on how I supplement it. Watching films in German won't help but I still have time to find a real language exchange partner (that is to say someone I actually speak french with). For now, it is safe to say that I definitely belong in the beginners class.
Though it seems like the things I we have learned this week are truly basic, I knew that I would be okay to stay in this class. At the end of the first day my teacher asked me if I needed to change into a more advanced class and I was sure that would be a terrible idea. Yes, I can say where I am from and who I am with a decent accent that allows for comprehension (most of the time) but I cannot claim to be able to form a sentence on my own. Not one that has more than three words and comes with an answer. So I stay in my class with some mild satisfaction that I am not the worst french speaker in the room and do my best to not stutter when called on.
There are only four native English speakers in the group and the rest is smattered with an assortment of Asians, a German, a woman from Bulgaria and a Brasilian transvestite. The German girl actually lives in my town, but she is quite young and that creates a little barrier. So far a natural alliance has been formed in the english speakers (three Americans and a Brit) and the woman from Bulgaria who is also fluent in the language. None of us have much prior experience with French and so we walk to the cafeteria together to get our Chausson au Pomme and cafe creme while whining about our inabilities to make the damn "ou" noise.
As in any class there is one woman who just has to show everyone one else up, exceling at her pronounciation and grasp of instruction. I have always resented that person in the class; She is actually a very sweet woman but a typical Asian over achiever. I refuse to remember her name in protest of her knowledge of French, and every time she chimes in with the answer I make a snarky remark under my breath in English. It's not nice, I know, but neither is making us all look bad with her good marks. If we were being graded she would screw up the bell curve for everyone.
I am having a problem in the class, I realized, because I just don't understand why we do things. I am one of those people who needs the why before I can apply it. And when I or another of us asks the teacher she responds, in French "After, its difficult." "Apres. C'est difficile."
I think it must be so trying to teach a beginners class because even with my minimal understanding of the language I can see that she is not speaking to us at an adult level. She uses the same few phrases over and over so our poor heads don't explode. We are like preschooler being praised and corrected (or not corrected, because some of us are so bad that she doesn't bother each time) with immense amount of patience. She must feel like a mother who has to "gah gah gah" all day. But overall she managed to keep the class lighthearted and we laugh, supporting eachothers terrible French.
Meanwhile, I went the whole week without books that were clean of answers, so I was essentially cheating. I have been using the previous Au Pair's books which were all written in (in pen of course). I promise this makes it virtually impossible to do the excercise without copying the previous answer. I had no choice, though, because I on Monday I managed to get my bankcard swallowed whole by the ATM machine. Remember how I didn't have my pin yet? Well, I thought I would try it anyway, at my bank, with some other number they called my secret code. This was not funny. I cussed very loudly in English and may have beaten the machine a bit. Irony? When I got home my actual pin had arrived in the mail. Instant gratification does not exist in France.
As you can imagine I had several anxiety attacks over the loss of said card. I had to call the bank. I don't even know how to ask for someone who speaks english! And then I had to go into the branch to pick it up?? (Luckily in France they don't automatically shred your card like in the U.S..) More anxiety.
So yesterday I worked up a little script for myself with a basic approximation of the words that could be combined to get what I want. I took a deep breath and walked into the bank, paused and cleared my throat.
"Pardon," I said apologizing.
" - Vous recherchez votre carte bancaire?" the girl interrupted me. You are looking for your bankcard?
Oh my god I am that girl.
"Oui!" I replied, laughing. "Oui, Merci merci."
Embarrassing, but at least what I needed to get accomplished was done. Then I was able to spend thirty good euro on damn train tickets. I did not buy books.
In other news I saw my soul mate on the train today. He was probably the most handsome man I've seen so far in Paris which is why I decided he was probably American. I stared at him for the full five minutes of our ride together because I thought maybe if I memorized his features I could manifest him again somewhere else. Or some reasonable facsimile. I am surprised to find how I am not attracted to most of the men I see here. It never occured to me that the Europeans I've met have been atypical and that my preference in men leaned so heavily towards a basic, pretty American boy. I cannot imagine myself with any of the men I see, I am far too pretty for them (as is the case with most of their girlfriends) and so I will have to hope I see my Train Soul Mate again if I want to have anykind of romantic relationship while I'm here. Maybe I'll just refuse to go on dates with men unless they are Native English Speakers (with good teeth).
Well, I mean, I have to have goals, right?
...And now the sun has returned. Appropriately random.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I thought about writing a post about the happenings in my first days of school. I was going to pepper it with new photos of Paris. Then I was going to tell you all about this delicious tarte I made. It was a fun task for a chilly, rainy day in Paris.
And then I turned on my new favorite T.V. station, Arte. I fall asleep to it, then wake up at three in the morning with weird dreams about Germans in French Can Can dresses. Usually they have art nouveau movies over dubbed in French. Sometimes they have old French or German movies, or an artsy movie on "The Jet Stream". Tonight it is feature lengths, it seems. Dramas. This one I turned on caught my attention because it was just so far out there.
I was able to find out later that the movie was called Muxmäuschenstill. Good German title. The premise was that this guy, who apparently had some kind of rage disorder, wanted to cure the world of all the wrong doers - drug addicts, theived, rapists, the like - but in order to do so he beat the shit out of them. I think he gets his leg run over by a train at one point, there is some pistol raping and then a fair amount of vomitting. All the while his trusty sidekick, the fat, loveable Gerd, is filming everything in digital.
Near the end of the movie he shoots his girlfriend in the head because he catches her giving a blow job to another guy (I mean, why bother breaking up when she could be dead?) and then goes on a trip to Italy, wherein he is hit by a car.
Yes people, I watched this movie in full. Entirely in German with French subtitles. The WHOLE THING. But I couldn't stop. It was like a train wreck, and I needed to see the bloody dismembered body at the end.
Meanwhile, I could have been doing something productive. I guess there is always tomorrow...