Faits Divers 1

  • My building has its own personal Ratatouille. Surprised myself by not getting freaked by it hardly at all. He ran when I stomped my foot and said, "Va t'en!" (Get out!) To be clear, he was downstairs in the entryway which is really kind of a glorified alley, and we have another door inside which closes the entryway from the stairwell. Crazy that that is my first ever Paris rat. Or even my first France one. He was relatively small, nothing like the gargantuan we saw one time on our way to the universidad in Madrid in 1983.
  • Dragonheart is on TV as I work - they got a GREAT voice for the dragon - Sean Connery did it originally I recall, but this sounds almost exactly like a French James Earl Jones, which works to great effect also.
  • Lots of student friend social time lately. Natalie, one of the Paris group, came thru early on her way to another program and then she'll be back for ours just after orientation. Anyway she stayed with me two nights. Now Allison, of Une Grande Recherche fame (see sidebar, one of my followees) is up here for a few days, too, from Aix. She was one of my students in Aub*rn. It's wonderful to see her. Today Justin arrived, one of my advanced FR friends who joined our Paris group more recently and has already been here once (with Chris in 2007, for those who know him from AU) and so has proven to be a great resource on numerous occasions. I have to say it is tremendous having someone in the group who is already baptized in and duly attached to Life in France as well as finally being able to see all the stuff we've been excitedly reminiscing about for weeks. Anyway Allison will stay with me two more nights and then it will almost be time for the arrival of the rest of our crew.
  • Of course baguettes taste exactly the same and yet simultaneously hugely better than one remembers.
  • My French is perking up admirably. Even the most gifted of us linguists tho get the occasional Parisian who jumps into English at the smallest provocation. It happened the other day at the phone place. We were getting Natalie's phone I think and when he was explaining some stuff for me to translate to her (she wasn't quite up to catching all the minutiae) at one point he said something that confused me - from a technological angle, not a linguistic one - but as soon as he saw me frown slightly he automatically restated the thing in his best English. Surprise! That didn't help at all! I was still confused and asked him about what I was confused about in French, then he continued in French. So there.
  • I've only gone crazy in the Gibert Jeune papeterie once so far. A few gifties will be on their way to Kate and Jessica and Katie and Aunt Charlette. I'm sure I'll see more stuff for some of the rest of you... :)
  • Cannot seem to remember to go to the post office when it's open. Gah! So my promised postcards will be a bit delayed...
  • LOL Tasha spent the first week or so with Sammers miraculously NOT waking her up at 5am, and she was thinkin' she was all special, but he eventually reverted to his feline breakfast-time alarm clock mode. She was amazed she really could NOT sleep through it (that Sammers is nothing if not persistent!) so now gets up to feed them and goes back to bed. I feel a little bad, but she's young and resilient, so I think she'll recover. :)
  • Only bought two dictionaries so far this time. (My big addiction.) One of them is a fun little 1956 hardback Larousse Petit Dictionnaire Français that I got at Gibert Joseph for 0,80€. And yes, I always buy French-French dictionaries these days :) You'll have to go elsewhere to borrow a dual language one! Anyway if you average that with the truly fun Larousse Maxipoche I bought in, of all places, the Louvre bookstore then really they only each cost 6,35€. Controlling myself quite admirably, I'd say.
  • Four million phone calls still to do; got 3 big ones done today. One could go no further because the office I needed to consult wasn't open (l'Ascension - of course the French still take advantage of every possible religious holiday! Who was supposed to find me a French husband so Sam & Lucy & I can move here and benefit from hyper holidays?!). The others were productive tho, plus I got some more stuff done online and tonight will keep organizing everything so tomorrow when places are open again I can hit the ground running.
  • The calendar is all but set... just waiting to confirm a few things with various musées, etc., and (mostly) waiting for the students to find out their Sorbonne class schedules so we can finalize things.
  • Incredibly bright out - I had forgot how late it stays light. Those pix I took out the window the other day, for example, were at about 9:20pm!
  • Can't decide what to do for supper. I had kind of a lot for lunch... maybe I should just eat some fruit. I have one luscious French pear still in the kitchen. Oh and I have a cup of fromage blanc left... heh heh heh. I had forgotten that particular food miracle. Oh là là là là.
  • The French think they're getting fat. (Hey! No comments on the obvious mental segue there! Doh!) I guess there are a few more hefty ones than there used to be but compared to the States everyone still looks veritably svelte! I was watching a game show the first night while I ate and you had to really scrutinize the audience to find anyone even marginally overweight - try that with an audience of The Price is Right or something at home - it would be almost the opposite. Still, there are interesting governmental controls on fatty or high sugar foods now, or not controls but differences in merchandising, etc., that I've noticed in the stores. Also any time there's a commercial for something edible, there is an unassuming little text at the bottom of the TV screen (kind of like the surgeon general's cig warning) expressing any one of a variety of messages: "To stay healthy, one should avoid eating too much fat and sugar. Consult www.mangerbouger.fr." or "To stay healthy, engage in regular exercise. Consult..." I also read somewhere that if you need certain diet foods, you can claim them on your health insurance for full reimbursement. Another thing that is truly frappant (striking) is the increase in commuter cyclists everywhere - it never was that unusual to see Frenchies on bikes but they are almost thick now. This has probably been helped along by the Vélib' program, which was criticized to no end when it came out and I saw lots of references online about how it was never going to take off, but as far as I can tell it is going like gangbusters. There are Vélib' parking/pickup points all over and most have upwards of 20 or so bikes and bikestands. A lot of people just use them as commuter vehicles instead of having their own bikes. I've seen a few tourists on them but the vast majority of riders I've seen were French, obviously going to work or to the market or whatever. So so so cool.
  • Speaking of transport, altho not self-powered... I am SO excited about my metro pass! We had the old time passes back in '82 where you had a little metro system ID card, and had a wacky metro ticket that fit in a little pocket at the bottom and you had to (if I remember correctly) pass that ticket thru the machines each time... or something... there's some part of it I've forgotten. Anyway now instead of having anything you pass thru or stick into anything, there's a crazy plastic holder for your card which has a smart chip in it somewhere and you just rub it on the top of the turnstile machine, and if you have it in a bag or a billfold you can even just rub your bag on top of the machine and it still reads it. (Full disclosure: I've only seen people do this - for me it didn't seem to work so I got my billfold out and it read it thru the billfold but wouldn't read it thru my [not unusually thick] cloth bag for some reason - even tho I'd seen people go thru even with leather briefcases and it seemed to read through the bag - hmph) anyway it is (still) quite cool, and so fun to include that in the program for both me and the students - such a load off one's mind not having to mess with metro tickets.
  • Tomorrow I'm heading back to the Louvre (after my phone calls) to pick up our Louvre passes, which will be equally fun I think - and much cheaper :) even tho one could argue that art is every bit as important as transport, altho perhaps less directly influential on one's practical everyday goings-on...
  • An old man cussed at me yesterday. It was rush hour and a bunch of us sidewalk speeders were trying to get thru kind of a skinny place due to a couple of (of course) tourists who were stopped, gaping at some souvenir stand offering or other... Anyway the critical mass broke down a bit just as I got to the squeeziest spot and someone nudged me into this old pépère who promptly scratched out a wheezy, "Putain!" (somewhere between Shit! and Fuck! in spirit, probably a bit closer to Shit! but satisfaction-wise it's closer to Fuck!) It made me giggle. Not that he really said it at me, more at the situation, but still, probably not the reaction one would expect. But I found it almost endearing.
  • I'm quirky. Newsflash.
  • Cookie commercial just now. This time the little text says "For good health, eat at least five helpings of fruits and vegetables a day. Consult www.bouger..."
  • Oh yeah, that pear...
  • Salut.

4 commentaires:

JD a dit…

you're so fun to read!!

Jessica a dit…

I like this post... despite its lack of pictures. haha. My metro card never goes through my wallet here either, even though I see lots of other people scan their wallets. Maybe our wonderful Auras get in the way. haha.

I'm so excited to hear about the rest of your trip!

Susan a dit…

t'es trop gentil, John! Jess - definitely the Auras - luscious but pesky! :)

Applecart T. a dit…

yes, you describe very well. thank you. don't need pics much, 'cept all my impressions are 1996-old or from movies that are older