It's Friday again. Every Friday I wake up thinking "It's cleaning day, I should get an early start," and every Friday I find millions of other things to do besides go to the Big House and start cleaning. This leaves me finishing the ironing at 6p.m., cranky and exhausted.
I can't help it though. Cleaning other peoples houses can be a thankless job, especially when you live with the person. I fully understand it - I would never be satisfied with the job someone else performed cleaning my own house - but when you are on the receiving end of the tiny notes left in reference to your lack of folding or missed-a-spot deficiencies it's like having someone pull off a hangnail.
I get paid for it, I shouldn't complain. (Even though I got paid twice as much for half the space in the U.S., AHEM.) And, honestly, I am sincerely happy to help out Host Mom in whatever way I can. She literally has no time for things like cleaning and ironing shirts. The truth is, dear folks, I have gotten quite accustomed to being on "working" vacation. I have absolutely no idea what I will do when I go back to "the real world". I have a suspicion I will go into shock and need brief hospitalization.
For the moment - as you can see - I am putting off cleaning very well indeed. The day is another perfectly clear blue one, although the ground is blanketed with a layer of cloudy frost. I am drinking a lovely cup of organic Mexican roast and revisiting one of my favorite Ani DiFranco albums. I listened to it for about a month straight when I lived in Texas, blaring the angsty chick tunes as loud as I could handle them in my little Betty Ford Focus. This, of course, spirals me into a whirl of memories laced with a little longing. It passes quickly.
I let a neighbor cat wander around my apartment for a few minutes before shooing it out. "I have a fancy microchip", it says, and I secretly think of these things as blinking red homing devices attached to the owners watch, blipping away to warn that I am stealing their cat.
Have I mentioned lately that I am obsessed with getting a kitten? I am kicking myself for not taking Crystal up on her adorable tortie (though it has a wonderful home anyway), and hoping that Spring will surprise me with some random stray cats litter of kittens.
Which means that for the next fifteen minutes or so I will be trying to find animal shelters in Paris, and then I'll straighten my apartment, oh and maybe I'll make another cup of coffee and okay, okay, I'll get to work already. I should be done ironing by six.
Friday, January 30, 2009
It's Friday again. Every Friday I wake up thinking "It's cleaning day, I should get an early start," and every Friday I find millions of other things to do besides go to the Big House and start cleaning. This leaves me finishing the ironing at 6p.m., cranky and exhausted.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
In what is actually the fifth book in the series by Finish author Tove Jansson, the young Moomintroll is met with something no other Moomin has ever encountered: Winter.
While the rest of his family hibernates peacefully in his home, Moomintroll is forced to embark into the dark, frightening world of winter all alone. The Moomin's are Summer creatures, and the nature of this beast called Winter are all but unknown. How can he get back to Spring? Is he all alone now?
It is not long, though, before he finds that the Winter has a world of creatures all it's own. He makes careful aquaintances with Too-ticky and Little My who wait with him for the re-emergence of the sun and the spring. Winter wears on with blizzards, deaths and unexpected visitors, and through it all Moomintroll discovers life without his lovely Moominmamma and the world according to the mysteries of Winter.
Moominland Midwinter is delicate sweet tale about discovering the scary world outside one's safe home. It's fanciful characters are so human, envocing recognition of past for any adult and guiding children magnificently to the idea of bravery. Jansson's light philosophy is laced into the character's simple stories, not overly preachy but as a prominent theme to any astute reader.
There are eleven books in the Moomin Series (as well a recently released compliation of Moomin Comics) but it is possible to start at any point for your introduction into Moominland. I highly reccomed Moominland Midwinter, but find Tove Jansson so enchanting that I think I'll be elbow deep in her gentle texts for years to come. A fabulous read for any age.
Even though this morning was 28 °F and I am still wearing tights under my jeans every day, I am beginning to sense the signs of spring. The days are gradually growing longer again. Where in December it was dark by four-thirty, these days we have a full hour more of "sunlight". Of course I use the term sunlight in jest, because we've not seen the sun proper-like in weeks. My body is pale, transparent like all the other no-sun-dwellers 'round here. But no matter because in a few short months I will be more than pleased to put the wool coat away for hibernation.
In the meantime I sleep with two blankets on my bed and still fight ferociously against the cold morning hours. It helps to hear the sound of birds returning to their roosts. At first I thought that it was my alarm clock malfunctioning, but no, it's real live birds singing to the rising sun.
Then, on my way back from my grocery shopping yesterday I spotted this:
I couldn't begin to tell you what type of bulb is budding from it's little box on the window, but I was so happy to see it that I ran to get my camera just to make sure I didn't lose the moment. I thought about putting a bag over them in the middle of the night to ensure their survival against the still-frozen nights, but I recognize that I my green thumb is a bit...er, shall we say...yellow and decided to let the resident botanist take care of her own plants. I feel sure Host Mom knows exactly what is happening in all her flower boxes.
I thought too, quoting my absolute favorite book discovery of the year Moominland Midwinter* "Let's let it fight it out. I believe it's going to do still better if things aren't so easy." These little green things have a way of surviving, I think.
Today the sun came out. I stayed in most of the day, writing blogs and emails and making plans to completely fill this coming weekend. I knew, though, that I needed to see the sun. It might not be here tomorrow and oh how I've missed it.
My head was light, even after eating and two cups of coffee. I was well rested but just the thought of walking up to the Observatory winded me. It's the lingering effects of whatever sickness I've been carrying around, and it has been keeping me indoors. Then a ray of light shone through my window and I realized that the sun had come to me!
I threw open the shutters at the back of the house (which normally stay closed) and the sun flooded in. The Petite Maison is settled exactly West, it turns out, and as the spring is coming on I can catch some of the setting sun in my windows.
I settled in with a cup of hot chocolate and my Picasso et le Maîtres book and flipped through the whole thing. Curled up in a blanket I copied one of Picasso's sketches and sighed. Yes, the spring is very near.
*Check out my review of the Moomin books here!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Today while walking to the Franprix I shoved passed a little old man who was walking about as fast as a snail. I felt bad because he was breathing very hard and I thought that perhaps my shoving him out of the way might give him some kind of heart attack, but I was cold and really wanted to get back home in time to bake a cake. So I get my items and go to stand in line behind the woman who has bought every item in Franprix, and who should stroll up behind me but the little old man with a breathing problem. I try to ignore him, because now I am even more ashamed of nearly knocking him over, but the line is so long. After the woman who bought everything is perhaps the second oldest woman in the world. She is about 4 feet tall and moves nearly as slowly as the old man now in line behind me, breathing quite loudly. I shuffle my items around as the old woman finishes and turn slightly to see what he has purchased. He has in his hand only one bottle of very very bad white table wine. The bottle is dusty because clearly no one else wanted it but him.
"You can go before me," I say to him. I feel like its the least I can do after trying to give him a heart attack.
"What?" He says.
"You can go..." I try again, thinking my french was that bad.
"You can go in from of her if you would like," the cashier says.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I have very bad ears," he said. "Thank you."
Even though it's not the right thing to say I reply "Of course," out of habit. He can't hear me anyway, so its okay.
"I have bad ears because I am old," he says to me. He is very hard to understand, even though he speaks slower than I do.
"It's normal," I reply, smiling with a shrug.
"What?" he says.
"It's normal," I say again, louder.
"It's normal?" he repeats.
He then proceeds to try to say more to me, but between my lack of comprehension and his speech, I can't make it out, and so simply smile and nod until he has left the store. I pause, trying to decide if he said something about me getting old or if he was hitting on me. I decide it is the former, pay for my goods and leave.
In the time that it takes to register, bag and pay for my goods the little old man has made it no more than 100 feet down the side walk. Across the street, but at nearly the same distance, is the little old woman. It's as if they are in some kind of race to be the slowest only neither of them can hear the other breathing behind them because of their very bad ears. I tuck my head into my coat and rush down the street between them, silently hoping neither dies before they make it to their destination.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
But instead I intend to bore you with a dream I had. Okay, not the whole thing, that would be too confusing. All I know is that in my dream I inherited a house that was haunted with ghosts of children. It was a cross between Barbara Kingsolvers 'Prodigal Summer', Under the Tuscan Sun, and side of that weird Spanish move the Orhpanage. If you haven't yet, read the book, but don't watch the second movie if you're not into stories about dead kids.
Anyway, they say that when you dream about houses, it's a representation of your personal emotional state in life. If you see the house as falling apart, there are a probably a lot of things you should see a therapist about. Etcetera. So, this house wasn't in total disrepair but it needed to be remodeled. It had really bad shag carpet and an unfinished upstairs apartment that I was living in because I was too scared of the beautiful downstairs. What?! The ghost children lived there! Hmmm, What Would Freud Say?
In other news, on Thursday there is a National strike day in France. That means everyone who can go on strike will. I don't really get it, honestly, but from what I hear it is meant to screw up the trains really bad like. As in - it could take you five hours to get to where you're going. No exaggeration. So! Which lazy student will not be attempting to go to school that day?! Yes, darn skippy, it's me.
Can I blame the strike on my tardiness today???
Friday, January 23, 2009
On Wednesday the young one and I did an assignment for his English class. He was supposed to write an article regarding the mysterious disappearance of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. Together we got everything all grammatically spiffy and then I helped him format it in the artistic way he envisioned it in his head.
"Then we're gonna burn the edges!" He said.
"Why..." I said, not really seeing his vision. "...Is it because you really like setting things on fire, maybe?"
"Yeah!" He nodded vigorously, grinning.
"Okay, but your other homework first," I said. "No setting things on fire until you finish your other stuff."
After the obligatory homework and then dinner, he pulled out a box of matches. From my apartment I could see him bent over his paper and not too keen on letting a kid randomly set things aflame I went out to help him.
He needed a second printing but he got his desired burnt effect, which I had to agree was pretty cool. He then wanted to "age" the newspaper, and so we got some of my coffee grounds out and he started meticulously rubbing them over the page.
It took awhile and made quite a mess of my kitchen, but as a fellow artist I totally understood the process.
Here is the finished product.
I think it turned out pretty cool (I was quite proud). And to think this kid wants to be a physicist. I, personally, think the art world will be at a loss.
I pulled you out of my mom's closet when I was sixteen after I watched the video for Dido's "Here With Me". I sewed buttons on you and pretended that you were her sweater but really you were ugly as sin from the start. No, no, it's okay! For some reason I totally loved you anyway! I defended you when you were called "an old man sweater" and wore you until you stunk. So, like, somehow you've lasted ten years, 'cause God knows how old you were when I stole you. And yes, sometimes you smell like garlic meat or body odor or moth balls or wet dog or camp fire or cigarette or sometimes you smell like cake but mostly you seem to retain the smells of the funky things, so what's that about? But I totally love you anyway.
The last time I put you through the wash was a bit hard on you, and so I'm sorry for that. You deserve delicate wash at your ripe old age of seven hundred. I know I should be using yarn to patch in your various holes but let's be honest - we both know how lazy I am. And so those three holes I just haphazardly sewed up with thread that didn't even match, I promise I'll make them last by never putting you in the washing machine again. Nope, hand washing only, I swear! But please don't stretch anymore, okay? You're going to start looking funny. Like, funnier than you already do.
I love you ugly old sweater. Let's be together forever.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
In an effort to be nicer to myself I am not going to beat myself up for being in a foul mood all week. It happens, right? We all get tired of the winter, or tired of being sick, or a little homesick. It's only human to feel less than perfect some of the time. So, I'm human.
Today was miserable and rainy. The wind was biting cold and I was in a terrible, ugly mood. I made myself leave the house but on the train to school, while squeezed next to a man who smelled like bacon and kept putting his elbow in my face, I decided it was the perfect day to play hooky. Once at Alliance Francaise, confronted by two non-working elevators and six flights of stairs, I confirmed the decision. I grabbed my more than willing friend S and we escaped into the rain of the morning.
On the bus to Opera we laughed loudly, provoking "looks" from the other passengers, and decided on a dime to stop at La Duree for an overpriced morning warm up.
It was cozy inside - a real Parisian treat, nestled between Ralph Lauren and Kenzo and handily across the street from Gucci (in case one needed a quick 5,000 Euro purse). There, all of the absurdly affluent of Paris came to take their morning Chocolat Chaud, check their emails on their blackberry, read LaMonde and have morning Mommy Dates. I took great pleasure in making direct eye contact with anyone who felt so compelled to stare at the two apparently out of place women laughing in the corner. Then I stole a spoon.
When we left the joy was immediately sucked from my body by the cold wind and rain that had not stopped. I tried to put up my umbrella, but was defeated as it was continually blown inside out by the heavy gusts. I decided to give up and go home.
I pouted for a few hours over not getting to see my new boyfriend because it's a weeknight, and then tried to put my energy into something productive, making a yummy soup to fill up my empty spirit.
It worked, mostly. By the time I went back to my apartment I almost had enough energy to continue being productive, or at least to encourage myself that tomorrow I can be. I've already seen the worst and this ain't it. Just a case of the mid winter grumps and a little PMS.
I just heard this new song by my favorite Peter, Bjorn and John (as opposed to that other Peter, Bjorn, and John??), and I think it sums everything up pretty well. Please excuse the ill fit of the Youtube embed on my page. Blogger Sucks.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
This morning I am having a wonderful time reading my friends takes on the Inauguration. From Peru, to L.A. and San Francisco, Austin, Switzerland and Australia - not to mention the gajillion status updates on Facebook - everyone felt the same pride over our new President. It's So. Damn. Cool.
This web surfing is keeping me from getting ready for my day. Okay, so this post isn't exactly getting me in the shower and off to the grocery store, either. But I've started taking photos again and I wanted to share them with you! I know, I know, you can thank me later.
So, I disappeared for a whole weekend and these are the only two pictures I took. The first is from the window of the Toad's* apartment. I found the view quite quaint and provincial. Though we both agreed the place is too far from Paris to really live (he lives there because his office is there), it was perfect for a weekend hideaway.
Second is a detail view of his robe.
I had to get the proof, but it was, in fact a men's robe. This is how I know I am Europe, and that's all I will say about that.
The warm light of a nearly empty Metro station.
This little lady rode with me up the escalator.
On Monday after French class I went to make my last extravagant purchase from les Soldes. My trusty old coat had lost yet another button and yes I could have sewn it back on but the fact is that I have had this coat since I was 16. It's been good and stayed decently in fashion but well, what better place to retire an old coat than Paris, the shopping capitol of World?
I love it. It's classy and a bit chic but will definitely stay in fashion and last me another ten years. All this for a mere 100 Euros! (Ouch!)
After I left the mall I accidentally walked in the exact wrong direction of my therapists office. This landed me near the trés cool rues of Opera, drooling on the window of Designer shoe stores and bumping into women whose outfits cost more than all of cars I've ever owned put together. There, sandwiched between the classic architecture of Paris was this building.
It's just one of the reasons I am coming to love Paris. They unabashedly drop a building designed tastefully and artistically unlike any other building in the midst of all their history and culture. The effect was quite stunning.
Finally I couldn't take one more minute of salivating over the beautiful windows of Gucci and Prada and Mui Mui, and headed back towards Ile St. Louis where my therapist has his office.
It's one of Toad's favorite places in Paris. I promised him I wouldn't go in until we were together, but the Church of Ile St. Louis has me quite intrigued. My pictures are better than Wikipedias.
And now I am one hundred percent behind in my day. But my oh my how I love Show and Tell...
*M's pseudonym has been changed so he is better described as a cute Frenchman who drives a small funny looking car. Not to be confused with any fairytale where he might be construed as someone who wouldn't be considered totally hot.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I am watching Live coverage of the American Presidential Inauguration on France Television. Just so my readers in America can understand, this is not normal. France, through the years, could basically give a flying flip about America's quaint celebrations regarding our political leaders. Sure, they had opinions, but have they ever filled up their airwaves with it? Hardly. The fact that France - and I imagine a large amount of countries all over the world - are tuned into this bright American moment sheds some light on how important it is.
I will admit that I did not wake up this morning thinking about "Obama Day". Actually, I woke up thinking about my mother. It's her birthday and I wish that I could be there with her. I want to take her to dinner and make her a cake. On the train to school I was sullen. Throughout the day I was cranky, perturbed by impoliteness and pushy Parisians.
But it was everywhere. The headline of the papers, each person on the Metro reading the same story in each of their respective papers. Today is the day America swears in our new President, President Barack Obama.
When they swore him in he stuttered nervously, needing to have the official repeat the words to his oath. "...and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
There, with a few short words, He is our new President.
I have no delusions that he is some kind of miracle maker. He is human, after all. But what I know is that I am hopeful just like the rest of the World. Hopeful not because I think he is going to change my country into some great Utopian society in the tiny span of four years, but because he has proven that our country can still vote for change. That we can take our future in our hands and vote for a leader who can be respected and inspires us to keep going, in the face difficult times.
'Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time," he said in his speech.
He knows as well as anyone that change takes time. I can only imagine how nervous he must be, how heavily the weight of our nation must rest on his shoulder. But what he does is hardly as important as what he has already done. He has proven that Americans can still choose change. Fifty years ago a black man couldn't even use the same toilet as a white man and now he is President. This is an example to the whole world that we, as a country, will not give up. We, as a country, want to advance and not just in war. We have hope. I have hope.
The World is Proud.
Friday, January 16, 2009
After having a few not so pleasant experiences blogging about my relationships, I vowed I would never do it again. It was amended, really, to say something like "I will never blog about my relationships...until they are seriously relationships." Because when you blog about dating (as seen in Exhibit A, above) you risk of running over someone with an emotional steamroller. While I personally have no qualms about letting my life be read by six people each day, not everyone is so comfortable with that. I aimed to be a little more tactful.
But then you have Facebook. Like Myspace, it's a creepy social network that allows everyone you know in on all the tiniest facts of your life. For instance "Juliet is no longer listed as single." And suddenly everyone knows you have a boyfriend, even though you haven't talked about it on your blog.
I didn't mean for it to happen. Of course I wanted to meet someone. It's Paris after all. Even my new therapist was highly advocating that I have a nice relationship here. There is hardly a more romantic city in the world, right? It can be sort of miserable some days, to walk alone while everyone else seems to be hand in hand. But I had decided - the day I met him, actually - that I would do as my brilliant sister advised and just stop looking. This is the year I am going to become a world famous children's book author, and then make it to the top of the New York Times Best Seller List (or at least Oprah's Book Club) with my memoir, and damn, these things require TIME. I wrote all of this in my journal with a great big heart of good intention, and then went to a party.
Like all my good stories of December, this one was fueled by too much champagne. On my part at least, because he was designated the driver for the evening and so hadn't had a drop. And yet, there happened a connection. If there had been a full moon I would have blamed it. Four weeks later we are like two teenagers stealing away each others time, having little moments in the midst of a crowd and talking for hours on the telephone.
What can I say except that I am most definitely smitten. And the best part? He is too! After a relationship of such imbalance with the Frenchman, I hardly know what to do with someone who is on the same emotional level with me. I won't say that it's completely uncomplicated because it isn't at all. He's French, after all (we won't hold it against him, though) and there is the whole "Going back to America" thing. But happiness ensues.
And now everybody knows.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Each time I sit down in front of a computer lately it seems as though I cannot get anything done. Lots of email, yes. A fair amount of dinking around on Facecrack. But the ol' blog here has been laid to waste and revising my newly "finished" book has disappeared mysteriously from my agenda. It's my own fault, I
could should be making time for these things. Instead I am filling my new little black book with a gajillion dates and lists. None of these lists include furthering my professional career as a writer. Hmmm.
I'm here now, though, so I thought that I would try to annoy my sister by laying down my new years resolutions. I made them before New Years, so they count, really.
1. Eat more. I typically skip breakfast in favor of coffee. I usually have an apple turnover around nine a.m. and tell myself that this will be enough food to hold me over until I get home around one. Then I don't go straight home, favoring hanging around Paris for the quiet of Meudon. I take a coffee with a friend or window shop. Around three, maybe four, I go home and instead of making food (even though I'm starving) I head for bed and take a little bit of a nap. Once I wake up I think about making food but decide dinner is soon enough and voila! by the end of the day I've only eaten one meal. This year I will try really hard to eat each meal, even if I am not feeling terribly hungry or don't have cash on me. Even if it means I gain back each of the fifteen pounds I accidently lost moving here. (That I did not need to lose in the first place.) I think I have room in my clothes for it.
2. Drink less. All of my stories in December start with "...And I had already drank too much." They are really good stories but it's embarrassing. I'm sounding a bit alchy if you ask me. Paris certainly brings out the lush in people, I'll admit, but I am an adult and I can moderate. I've even done it before. So I can do it again. Really.
3. Get a Velib Pass. And use it. It is the closest thing I can do to committing to excercise. I'd like to do some yoga again - my body needs stretching like something really old that no longer stretches - but I don't know that this will happen. So in the spring (Really!) I will get a Velib Pass and discover Paris by bike.
4. Try to publish my children's book. With enough poking an prodding I may even finish a panel drawing to sumbit with said book as a commitment to illustrate the thing as well. I can't say that it will actually get published, but well. That is the world of writing.
5. Figure out where to go from here. I have eight and a half months here in Paris. That is more than enough time to set up a game plan. Having more than one plan would be sweet, because I can already see there are going to be some issues around leaving. Having money to fulfill said plans would rock my socks off.
So, they're not impossible goals. I figure if I set the bar low enough I can achieve them. Today I did well at eating more than one meal, excepting I may have eaten my weight in French pastries and called it lunch. Maybe. I never said anything about eating good food...
You've all had a couple weeks to think about it. What are your New Years resolutions.?
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Things chez moi have been crazy busy. So much that I had to buy a little black day planner. I have never in my life needed to actually utilize something of this nature, but I found myself double booking things and trying to remember which invitations I had to turn down and which I could accept. I feel like a crazy socialite, like I should be wearing a strand of fake pearls and giant sunglasses. Do socialites wear fake pearls??
Add into this that I am still sick (It's the plague, I'm sure of it now. But it's getting better!) and a personal loss for my host family leaving me in charge of the kids for a few days and I haven't taken much time to blog. I assure you that random bits of unnecessary information will reconvene to be posted on this page quite soon. In the meantime, I leave you with this:
I dare you not to laugh.
Friday, January 9, 2009
I guess it has something to do with being the first week back from vacation. Or perhaps it's the waiting impatiently for the plans of this weekend. Maybe it's because I'm still sick. Anyway you slice it, I haven't been so happy to say "Thank Goodness It's Friday!" in quite a long time.
I thought yesterday would never ever end. I started off the day by nearly forgetting my Sansa and I thought I had averted the potential crisis by going back to retrieve it but found that it had not charged fully during the night. Halfway to school, while standing on a packed Metro, the song I was listening to cut out. It was dead.
In class, I nearly fell asleep and could comprehend nothing of the days lesson. Imparfait? When did we learn that?? I left class grumpy, in search of some retail therapy. The sales had begun on Wednesday and I had purchased nothing actually on sale.
I wandered from store to store looking for something I just had to have and nothing caught my eye. I went to the Galleries Lafayette in search of designer goodness at half price but was sorely disappointed. I was not in the mood to shop. I thought about a pair of black boots but didn't see any that struck me as the definitive, perfect pair of flat black boots. I spent nearly an hour in the purse department, touching bags and opening them to examine their pockets and zippers. I nearly chose one but didn't like the color of the style that I wanted. I forfeited them in lieu of my love for Longchamp and forfeited that in lieu of my love for not spending 75 euros on a hang bag. Because even on sale I couldn't justify it.
I left the stores exhausted and hungry thinking of food and my bed. In my fuzzy head I thought, for some reason, that I was heading the wrong direction on the train and so got off to turn myself around. As I got walked through the terminal to the other platform, I heard the din of angry shouts getting louder.
Suddenly I found myself in a swarm of riled up sixteen year olds. Some were heading away from the platform and other back down to it, but I could see as I descended the stairs that they were not being allowed to pass.
When I finally reached my destination I was stuck in the melé. In front of the crowd were three or four plain clothed police officers, fiercely wielding huge cans of pepper spray. A woman cop yelled something to the crowd that I didn't catch, rocking back and forth on her feet. Her face was angry and defensive, her posture threatening.
"What the F@!&?!" I cussed loudly in English, hoping one of the kids would respond to me, tell me what was going on. "I just want to get on my train."
A boy, no older than fifteen, came out of the crowd and approached me.
"You want to pass?" he asked in French. His face was hard and intense.
"Yes! I just want to get on the train!"
"Hey!" he said, calling to the cop, "She is civilian, let her pass!"
The cop met my gaze with urgency and waved at me to come through. The boy ushered me as far as she would let him come.
"Watch out! Be careful!" She barked at me, reposing her stance towards the crowd.
I boarded the train even more exhausted, and sent a text: "I almost got pepper sprayed."
"You have just witnessed the best French sport!" he replied, "Manifestation!"
Later I found out that the Manifest (read: Protest) was against the reformations of the high schools in France. When I found this out I thought the situation was a bit laughable. The police were so intense, so urgent and threatening. Against all those young kids!
I couldn't be angry at them for fighting for something they believed in. I reflected on this for a moment as I tried to compose myself. Only for a moment, though, because then I discovered with great displeasure that earlier I hadn't been going in the wrong direction at all but I was now.
I had to turn around again. This time I avoided the manifest and finally headed home.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
In the beginning I thought they were on the roof. The first night I woke at five a.m. to hear them scuttle along the eaves I was even frightened by it. But since the snow has fallen and the chill has remained along with the light dusting on my little house, I have seen no proof that such a thing existed.
I realize, now, that they must be inside the walls. I can here them dart so fast from my kitchen to just above my bed in a blink. While once I was spooked by their presence, now it is somehow soothing. I have company. There is another living being awake with me in the silent, cold hours of sleeplessness. They are foraging, pacing, eating. Perhaps they are making babies.
I imagine them like characters of a Disney movie, stealing my cheese when I am asleep and setting their tables with little bits of stolen lace. That glove that has gone missing is the new curtain for their Theater and my shopping receipts read like their daily newspapers.
"Stocks are up by un gant for 7 euro 29," one says removing his monocle.
"Tsk, tsk, how absurd!" Says the other, taking a crumb of baguette and passing over it with a bit of butter. "And during a financial crisis!"
"Oh hush now," says a gentle, plump lady shuffling in with a kettle, "Have some more tea and keep your voices down. She's trying to sleep."
With that the two gentlemen light their pipes and sip their tea by the cool of the half moon light.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I still can't cook red meat. I try - and it's funny because once upon a time I didn't butcher a steak (HA, pun intended) - but now my meat comes up dry every time. I blame this on French meat. It's meant to be eaten rare, I think, and I find that just disgusting.
Tonight Host Dad brought home a package of hamburger meat for dinner.
"How would you like it cooked sir?" I asked, joking. Since the roast beef incident neither of us really trust my ability to cook red meat.
"Cooked, but not too cooked," he said.
"So, you want it rare."
"Oh no, I don't think so. Just not so cooked."
"Perhaps I should let you cook yours," I offered, smiling.
"Yes, I think that's a good idea."
And he did. I was not offended. Though now that I've observed how undercooked (read: mooing) he cooked his I could succeed in doing so for him in the future. I cooked the burgers for the boys and I and I found mine terribly dry, even though it wasn't well done. This has to be the fault of the French cows.
Oh la vache! One might say.
Bad puns aside, I am preparing for my long work day by staying up too late. Again I am avoiding my French homework but now that I have a new professor and a new class I feel significantly less stressed about the process. In fact, my new teacher is so nice and patient that I am not really sure what to do with it. I keep waiting for him to bark at me for speaking in English or for not using the article when I answer. Instead he just cups his hand to the side of his mouth and whispers "Le!". I sense that, in his presence, I might be able to finally grasp passe compose.
I have nothing planned to bake tomorrow, but I think it might be a good idea. I've not baked in so many Wednesdays and the cold makes it undesirable to go for walk to the Monoprix. It makes it undesirable to walk from one house to the other, actually, but these things have to be done. Just like my laundry that is starting to grow legs and knocking on my door to be let out. Baking and laundry, with a little paper correction for the young one? It sounds like a perfect day to me.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Yesterday it snowed all day. I had hoped it would snow all night and I would wake up to several feet of the white stuff but it turns out that the temperature has simply dropped to subzero temperatures. I can say that because I'm reading it in Celsius.
So no snow day for me. But it turns out that Paris is impossibly beautiful under a blanket of snow. I curse the fact that of all the days I chose yesterday to forget my camera.
Monday was about rejoining "real life" - if that is what you can call mine. I was back at class and then back to work after that. The young one and I played his new Wii game and then wrote a book report. I made salmon for dinner and spoke with my host dad about politics after because I suspected it had been a full two weeks since he had the opportunity to do so. I got my first feedback on the Twitter story which is now officially in revision stages. I spent hours on the phone, completely avoiding my homework, and fell into a deep sleep at midnight.
Today I woke up early today on accident, but as you can see I am not doing my homework what I had blown off last night. I am not fully back in routine, it seems. Perhaps today will be the day.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
I did not realize I had forgotten my scarf until I was on the Metro. After several glasses of rhum arrangé (a fruit infused rum specialty from Réunion, for those of you can't read French) and not nearly enough food to absorb that alcohol content I had already taken a spill in the street, skinning my knee.
The streets and stations were filled with wild, ruckus shouts of "Bonne Annee!" that I could hear even over the music I had cranked up on mt Mp3 player. It was one in the morning but the Line 6 was full of people pushing around to other parties to meet other people. In the bright light I pressed against my bleeding knee with my fingers until it stopped. I smiled a dizzy smile and exited the train to a rush of freezing air.
I was greeted in the street with a smile and ushered into the wine bar near Bastille that I would never have found on my own. The table was already littered with bottles of wine and friends. They were laughing at me as I approached.
"Because I fell in the street?" I asked.
"No, because you texted 'J'arrive!'. We didn't know if that meant you were outside or at the Metro or hadn't left the other party yet."
I could only laugh as well. The finer points of French clearly escape me (along with the major points which haven't quite made it here yet.)
The night finished out with an asthma attack in the cold while on a Velib, but I was escorted home safely, nonetheless.
With only a few days left of my vacation I found that I wanted to everything but nothing at all. And so I did I sort of melange of both - sleeping, eating, meeting some friends and then flaking on others because I had a sudden desire to be totally selfish with my time. I felt guilty for not being able to see everyone, but the day was so beautiful and Paris so lively that I felt sure my choice was the right one.
I sat at the Rostand eating an amazing brunch of pastries and cheeses and breads watching people exercise in the Jardin Luxembourg. Owners and their dogs crossed into the park, each bundled in a delightful array of winter garment. The Calico street cat passed from shop to shop searching for attention.
"Would you like another coffee?"
I returned my focus to the table where I sat and grinned, sighing contentedly.
"Yes, I think I would, thank you."
I had completely forgotten my vacation was over.