Israel! Assassins! Sarkozy! Complice!

well, clocking in at 18h52 here and the manif is still going on. People have been marching down Boulevard Haussman for about 4 hours now, waving signs, chanting, sporting keffiyehs, and carrying Palestinian flags. I went outside to see what all the noise was about (I live about 2 minutes from Haussman), and watched for a while, took some shots, and then had to dash across the street because I was trying to get to Opéra, to the Japanese quartier, to buy some 梅酒 (ume saké) to bring to the ACBB Potluck #2 chez Haruya tonight.

,kjlj

"Jews and Arabs together for justice"

I stood on the sidelines for a while and kind of gawked at what was going on. The general theme was “solidarity with Palestine” and Sarkozy, America, and the EU were cited as aggressors and accomplices of the ‘genocide’ in Gaza. The marchers were of all ages, mostly wearing keffiyeh and chanting along to what the man or woman on the slow-rolling truck was chanting through the loudspeaker.

pict2944

"we're all with you, Gaza"

"we're all with you, Gaza"

After a while the whole thing started to piss me off so I moved on. But it was interesting, to say the least. The best part was when an elderly lady approached me and wanted to know if this was where the taxi line was.

pict2921

pict2938 pict2936 pict2942

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polar bears in paris & other décembre recap happenings

(for lack of a better title)

December was a month of dinners and old friends. It all began with Liddy’s birthday dinner in the 8th, followed by an obligatory stop at Ladurée. Then I enjoyed a day on the Champs with Nicole (including Le Transporteur 3) (drool), and then Aude’s birthday dinner at Zen (excellent Japanese restaurant). Highlights also included my last race, in which our yolette rocked to first place despite a slightly hairy turn and freezing weather.

yea, that's a detachable rudder.

yea, that's a detachable rudder.

Kristin took us on a whirlwind tour of Musée d'Orsay, where I insisted on a photoshoot with the po bear.

Kristin took us on a whirlwind tour of Musée d'Orsay, where I insisted on a photoshoot with the po bear.

This also brings me to the exiciting point that Chris O and Jamey came to visit !! Chris came first and was nice enough to accompany me to my race, snap some photos, meet my rowers, and soak in the whole ACBB experience. Jamey followed soon after for a weekend in Paris where he and Chris somehow managed to enjoy all the Romantic sites as a platonic friends mancouple. It was Chris’s 21st on the 13th, so natually I took him to Ladurée and then the whole group celebrated with fondue (for 2) at HD (I hate trying to spell that thing) on the Champs.

The 13th also happened to be TCF take 2, which went really well, all things considered. I wasn’t late to either this time, and my interviewer for the oral was increedibly sweet. She did her best to put me at ease and even let me rummage in my bag for what seemed like an eternity while I served (in vain) for my kleenex. “Go ahead,” she said gently, “I wouldn’t want you to be sniffling throughout the exam because would just distract you and make you nervous.” Instead of the intense Q and A session I was expecting, the oral was more like a pleasant convo where she asked me all about crew and about my life in the States. Even questions 5 and 6 (the highest levels) were fairly managable: is the advent of technology a pro or con sélon vous and many people are really attached to their cars… what do you think we can do to lower emissions in the future ? I chatted a lot about the societal mores across the pond in my home land, and she chimmed in with supplementary questions and “hmmm”s. After it was all done I stood up to go and she urged me to cover up while doing crew… it’s cold out there!

Thanks, Mom…

Another fun thing about December was the various spectacles I got to see. I enjoyed La flûte enchantée, Hommage à Maurice Béjart (ballet), Raymonda (ballet), and several films (007 in VO, Madagascar 2 in VF, The Duchess in VO, and Le Transporteur in VO). Aside from some seriously cracked-out mise en scène, La flûte was spectacular (musically) as usual. The bummer was that I shelled out more money than I usually do for that seat, it being my absolute favorite opéra and all, and I found myself obstructed by a huge [ugly] overhang and almost too far away to read the French subtitles.

so that's what 'visibilité réduite' means.

so that's what 'visibilité réduite' means.

example of totally cracked-out mise en scène... this is supposed to be the Temple. I'm also blatantly not allowed to have taken this photograph.

example of totally cracked-out mise en scène... this is supposed to be the Temple. I'm also blatantly not allowed to have taken this photograph.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who loves The Magic Flute, and thus my other-seat-sniping oppurtunities were zero to none. I spent most of the show glued to my binoculars and leaning precariously forward.

The Queen of the Night’s arias were magnificent as they should be, despite a little glitch in the first, and my being distracted by her costume… which, let’s just say, had lights on her breasts and other areas and also included a silver body suit.

Speaking of singing, another December event was the Holiday Jazz Concert at the mairie de 3ieme. I sang Black Coffee for a small crowd and had a fun time with the rest of the choir. I was also one whopping hour late to my last film class with Prof. Chion … which no one seemed to care about (which startled me).

The last week of class before break was a crunch and Middlebury kindly fed us pizza to celebrate being done with our French class. Then I did some last minute prep for Suisse and borded a train from Gare de l’Est at noon on Sunday the 21st.

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TA GEULE.

At about 8.13am this morning [by which I actually mean December the 18th, editor’s apologies, veuillez m’excuser], the high schoolers next door (8 rue du Havre) decided to start Manif-ing.
This involved getting cars to honk at them and then screaming. And then chanting.
Fortunately, I had an appt with my bank at 9.15am so it wasn’t THAT bad but oh c’mon… aren’t you a little young to be manif-ing already ??

The guy in the elevator told me that they manif all the time and rolled his eyes.

manif-lcr

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thanksgiving, cartes de fildelité, and Porte Dauphine strikes back

* warning * this post was due to …be posted… about a month ago. My bad, guys.

And remember what I was taught this spring in France: the french don’t hate tourists or americans who come into their shops. They hate anybody who comes into their shops, but if you say bonjour to them, they love you.  All true. – jon, the wise.

I discovered something GREAT in Monoprix (the liar of all liars… things are not ‘well-priced,’ you bastards)… a WALL E advent calender. It was just so darn cute, but also so darn 5 dollars so I nearly bought it twice but kept abandoning it somewhere discreet near the checkout aisle.

//parisapartment.wordpress.com/2007/09/

the curious baskets at Monoprix, which make running over people's toes a veritable sport. With thanks to Claudia at http://parisapartment.wordpress.com/2007/09/

The last time of which, I was buying wine for a Thanksgiving dinner at Adrian’s parent’s out in Sevres. He invited me for the Saturday night Franco-American Tgiving celebrations, and I realized I should bring some sort of beverage so I googled “wine+turkey+thanksgiving” and found myself some options along the lines of Pinot Noir. Armed with a list, I descended to Monoprix and promptly got lost in the wine aisle for a good 20 minutes. Who comes UP with these wine labels? Why not make things easier by just saying WHAT ON EARTH it is?!

Red. Bourgoune. 2007.

That would be so much better than doodle-drawing, funny name, and nothing else! >_<

In any event, Thanksgiving turned out to be great, and full of alkeehal. Apparently I wasn’t the only person to think to bring a red-colored beverage, so we were well-stocked. The party included Adrian, Sasha, Adrian’s parents, and three friends of Adrian’s father: Laurent x2 and Laurent 1’s girlfriend/wife/je ne sais kwa. We started out with a punch apéritif that Adrian concocted, accompanied by pretzels and nuts that I nommed like I was never going to eat again. Once we’d all gathered at the table (and let me just say that the Bradley Apartment is very cute and homey with wooden beam ceilings and fat cats that purr a lot), the meal proper began. Salad, wine, turkey, wine, stuffing, wine, green beans, wine, mango chutney, wine, cheese, wine, and pie. And then wine. And some absinthe. All in all, I have to admit that the turkey was probably to best Thanksgiving Turkey I’ve ever had (with all due respect to those whose Tday Turkeys I’ve eaten before)… it had been cooked in saranwrap to keep the juices/flavor in and the damn thing was succulent (yes, I think this is one time in my life it is appropriate to use that word) and downright awesome. After the usual meal came the cheese course, slipped in on the sly by Adrian’s [french] mom. The brie was “so well done” (and also bio), that it kept slowing sliding and oozing off the cheese plate, as if in an attempt to escape doom on a baguette slice. More wine was had by all and then the pies came out. Laurent 1’s girlfriend had baked an American homestyle apple pie, and there was also a pecan on offer. Ice cream on the side, and we were happy campers. After dinner the ‘adults’ talked about Western versus Oriental medicine, and Sasha, Adrian and I chatted amongst ourselves and then left to play cards.

Ultimately, 1am rolled around and I had to choose home or sleepover. But when all Adrian could offer for contact solution was saline NASAL SPRAY, the choice became clear. With many mercis I said goodnight and was kinda bundled into Laurent 2’s car. It was snowing outside at this point- huge globs of wet snow that clung desperately to the cars and streets for a short life à la Kerouac’s roman candle. Four of us in the tiny car and Laurent 2 revved the engine, and lit an incense stick, which he stuck unceremoniously in the heating vent. Two seconds later, without even turning to look as he backed up and turned into the street, he pushed a button somewhere on the stereo and please just guess what soundtrack accompanied one of the craziest car rides ever:

Afroman.

For those of you who are not aware, Afroman was a one hit wonder band from, like, freshman year. Or something. I had no idea they even made a CD, let alone that people still listened to it. Not only was Laurent driving at something I judged to be a mildly inappropriate speeed for snow/rain covered roads in downtown Paris, with incense burning in the heating vent, while holding an animated conversation with the backseat, but Afroman, the LP, was blasting. At one point, Laurent 2 started singing along to words I really hope he didn’t know the meaning to.

I’ll let your imagination run wild on that one.

In any event, I got door to door service and a hug from Laurent 2, so all’s well that ends well.

random image interlude

random image interlude

The next week saw a nuit blanche for my CC for poetry class (le oops), and then the INALCO soirée (nuit blanche numero 2). Kicking with a total of 5 hours sleep in two days, I managed to make it to French class (God bless bus 95 that runs straight from Aude’s to literally across the street from chez moi), where everyone was “angry” for various reasons so Patrick made us go around the room saying what was pissing us off and when he got to me he was like “Kate, you look like hell what is wrong.” and I go “I am extremely content. And exhausted. That’s all.”

The INALCO soirée was for all students there, tickets 13euro, all night party on a boat on the Seine, perfect view of the Tour Eiffel. It was pretty effin’ sweet, if you ask me. Aside from the fact that it was freezing outside, I had a great time. We met at Aude’s for dinner and drinks with Adrian’s leftover violette liquer (which smelled creepily like the Ladurée parfum I’ve been coveting), and then headed out to métro Passy to get on the boat. Black dress + tights + flats = not warm, by the way. In any event, there were two DJs and two dance floors, a bar, “free snacks,” and an upper level for conversations without shouting and coat check. Because the métro closes at 1am on Thursdays, the party was slotted for 10pm to 6am, which I guess is the norm for parties that are not house parties… with an aim to keep people in a warm place until they can catch the first train home. By 2am I was fading fast and ending up falling asleep on a bench next to the dance floor, covered in friend’s coats and somehow ignoring the blaring music. Aude rescued me around 2.45am, and we were lucky enough to grab a Noctilien home by way of Montparnasse (totally off our route but whatever).

Contrary to popular croyance, Noc's are not that sketchy.

Contrary to popular croyance, Noc's are not that sketchy.

On a completely unrelated note, all the grand magasins have themed window displays for Christmas and my personal favorite (meaning new obsession) are the Nabaztag Bunnies at Galaries Lafayette.

bunnies! say something!

bunnies! say something!

Because I had meant to post this BEFORE Christmas, you could have linked from my blog to the website and typed in something for the bunnies to say. You see, the bunnies (who are not clothed like the one pictured below, but whose tummies like up rather in Teletubby fashion), are somehow magically linked to an online server, who, when  you type in a message at the website, will transmit it to the bunnies, who in turn voice it outloud over a speaker mounted outside the window. They even do British accents for messages written in English. Thus, if you stand outside the window for long enough, you’ll be sure to catch a “Joyeuse fêtes!” or “Mark and Sally are the cutest kids in the whole wide world.”

I was a fan of entering phrases such as: “Nice hat,” and “You smell good.”

you can actually buy these bunnies, they are like a mini computer and will announce things like wheather and stock exchanges on command.

you can actually buy these bunnies, they are like a mini computer and will announce things like wheather and stock exchanges on command.

Porte Dauphine, hell. In the glorious turning of November into Decemeber, not only was I late AGAIN for Japanese class, but I got lost AGAIN and then spent an afternoon on a mad hunt for the secretariat (people who deal with signing up for classes). When I finally found the secretariat (to complete the final steps of signing up for the Japanese class I’ve been taking since, oh, the first week of October), I found that it was closed except for 9h30 to noon. May I just note that this is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the Paris III secretariat, so I was thoroughly confused… having thought that, by arriving in the afternoon, I would have finally beat the system.

On the flip side, I went to Galaries Lafayette to buy some gloves I’d been coveting, and the lady at the caisse went far and beyond out of her way to give me an excellent retail experience. No, seriously. I went to buy the mittens/hand warmer combo and she asked if I had their carte de fidelité and then explained that I’d get 50% off with it (because of the pre-Christmas sale), and other benefits too… all for a year and for the measly sum of 10euro. She even waited while I did the calculations and made decisions… ultimately it came down that buying the card and the gloves and the handwarmers was less than buying the gloves and handwarmers at full price, so I went for the card. She even helped me with the paperwork and escorted me personally downstairs to the info desk where a cute guy signed me up. I then marched right back upstairs and was greeted by the same lady who rung me up and cooed at me for making the right choice and explained three more times how the card worked (she knew I was foriegn but never once did she switch to English or do that slow voice that says “I     know     you    are     re    tard    ed.”

joy

joy

The most amusing bit is that now I have upwards of 9 fildelity cards…

…one of which is my OFFICIAL COXSWAIN LISCENE FROM THE ROWING FEDERATION OF FRANCE. No, I’m not even joking… I guess I’ve been coxing as an illegal coxie before I recieved this lovely piece of plastic in the mail. A veritable barreuse sans papier…

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yea, oops.

soooo it’s been a while kiddies!

So that I actually have an entry in December, here is today’s news, all juice, not from concentrate, word on the streets of … Lausanne, Suisse/Schweiz/Switzerland. This’ll be less snazzy than usual… seeing as i’m on the good will of Francesca’s little mac lappy and not my own. But the plan is a return trip to Paris via train and then to opéra to see the ballet for New Year’s and then I’ll post some photos!

Well, the fire is blazing (I had to dig deep into those Alldredge skills), and France is on the phone with her pa. She lives with her cousin in and amongst the vineyards on the hillsides of lovely Lausanne. It’s the “French”- speaking part of Suisse (thank jebus), and right on a gorgeous lake cradled by mountains.

Today we rose late (balancing out staying up late to watch The Perfect Man (judge all you want but we were thoroughly entertained… the writing is great and Hilary Duff actually looks like a normal teenager) and nommed cereal over music videos and train times.

Francesca showed me a video she was a big fan of, and I’m totally smitten. It’s Gnarls Barkley, and that guy from “Jizz in my pants” (SNL, duhhh), and some pretty girl and some graphic well, graphics. Just make sure you’re not eating.

gnarlswhosgonnadsjfskljrewlkjrwelrjweljwelkrhewkhssddd

Once in Lausanne (we’re actually in St. Prex when we’re chez Francesca), we took the dinky (I’m sorry) métro to the cathedral with intentions to climb the belfry tower and get our view on. Our goal was sadly squashed (almost literally) by a cute little nun with glasses who announced that the tower tour was closed due to “falling rocks.”

“That’s a pretty legit reason, if you ask me,” I said. We then bought two postcards to compensate for no tower-fun and wrote Megan and Anne. We then checked out MUDAC and had a great time with the Hérmes workshop, the Scottish Designers in Switzerland, and the permanent glass collection on the top floor. There was a room in the Scottish show where you were given clay, a large screw, a small wooden platform, a cardboard box, and a sticker and were to make your own art either to display or to take home. We spent an hour and a half mesmerized, frustrated, and pleased by our efforts. Francesca made a bowl with ice cream (with a nod to our Mövenpick noms-to-come), and I made a standing polar bear. She left hers to join the ranks of other impressive clay-works from hands around the globe, while I packaged mine up (a procedure for which I had to preform surgery … cutting off his legs and compressing his head… nasty business) to take him home.

some of the other clay works

some of the other clay works

Dinky (I’m sorry, it’s true) métro was taken to OUCHY (cue giggling), where delicious ice cream was had by all parties involved. I had the BLACK FOREST sundae… which involved two scoops of swiss chocolate, one scappeican’tpronounceit, black cherries, whip cream, chocolate shavings, and kirsch. Well, the menu said “a splash of kirsch” and so I ordered it but then when the darn thing came it was floating in alkee, which made my taste buds sad.

Black Forest Mövenpick

Black Forest Mövenpick

Halfway through our dinner, a couple showed up with a bulldog in toe and the boyfriend (??) proceeded to throw around a clown nose red ball for the pooch to fetch and teeth on IN THE RESTAURANT. I mean, I love that Europe allows you to bring your best friends in just about anywhere, but … c’mon… this is not your living room. He also noticed my penchant for pooches and proceeded (yea, alliteration points) to toss the ball in our direction with a wink. Don’t flirt with us when you’re out to drinks with your girl, buddy!

At first we thought the waitress was asking him to leash the dog when she came over and quietly exchanged some words, but then it seemed as tho Fido was a valued and frequent customer as he soon recieved a big, red plastic bowl full of… water? peanuts? Kirsch ? which he took to with fervor before wandering around the back of the bar to say ‘hello’ to his favorite hostess.

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happy camper.

To Suisse! To Suisse! Plans have been finalized: I’m headed east to play in the snow, eat chocolate, and enjoy neutrality for Noël break. Francesca was kind enough to invite me to come stay in Lausanne as well, so I made my way back to Gare St. Lazare to see if I could change my tickets… and once again was greeted with a smiling employee who was very helpful. She completely reimbursed my original return ticket, and when I lingered a beat after receiving the new ticket, she asked if she could help me with anything else and I stumbled: “…you can’t get me tickets for swiss trains, can you?” (I was under the impression I had to buy those online) “Well, yea I can!” She beamed. It was thus with my magical 12-25ans card (remember I got reimbursed for it? Yea well it arrived in the mail two weeks later and apparently works so I guess it was free… sshhhh don’t tell!), that I bought a 28euro ticket to travel between Zurich and Lausanne. Freakin’ awesome if you ask me. Because of the card, the ticket is valid for up to two months on any train between Zurich and Lausanne, any seat.

glor-oooor-oooor-ria!

glor-oooor-oooor-ria!

Speaking of Suisse, there is a yummy treat I like to enjoy at CROUS (yea I forget what it stands for but it means the student cafeteria for Paris Universities) at Censier (meaning Paris III… you can call them by their physical locations too) called ‘chocosuisse’ …a spiral cream, chocolate, pastry affair that totally curbs my hunger in the desperate hours between class and the oh-so-far-away 20h dinner. Recently, there has been a new addition to the employee pool at Censier CROUS… an older man with an accent (…Marseille?), who likes to crack jokes and be a general amusement to all us stressed-out cinéma/litt-studying bohos.

For example, I approached the caisse one desperate Monday evening, just before my cinéma class, and said, “Bonjour chocosuisse.” Note that I did not place a comma in that phrase. Well, it’s because in actuality I just sort of spat the phrase out so quickly (I was so in need of nourishment), that it really did sound like I skipped the comma. Consequently, M. New Mec replied, “Bonjour, chocosuisse? Bonjour Monsieur Chocosuisse! My name is Guillame, not chocosuisse. Hey! [to other employee] This chick just called me Mr. Chocosuisse!” I turned a bit pink but smiled, apologized, and rephrased as he chuckled his way to the display case. “Sorry,” he looked up from the trenchs of pastry, “we’re all out. How about a raisin thingy?” “That sounds great,” I replied. He brought me my sugar, wrapped it carefully in a napkin and then said, “Hey, I like your wallet. It’s all pink and stuff.” I fished for change and replied, “Yea, it has poppys on it,” mostly because I couldn’t think of anything else to say. He made a face something along the lines of well, evidently, and I scooted off to class.

Last week, I was in line again (this time for actual lunch), when I heard him teasing a boy who was paying for his salad: “Hey, man, I gotta hand it to ya. Look out here, it’s nothing but chicks! Be strong, man.”

In other news à la fac, I *finally* was accepted into the inner circle of INALCO students. After waiting one month for my application to be returned (with a verdict), I got my news via mail and then had to run it all by Midd Staff to complete the process. I then returned to the INALCO Headquarters (no, seriously), to the mysteriously STILFLING hot room near staircase 1A (just don’t ask).

institut national des langues et civilisations orientales

institut national des langues et civilisations orientales

There, I was greeted by a friendly dude who didn’t seem to notice that it was somewhere upwards of 80 degrees in his office. He read my dossier, scanned my copies of passport, visa, insurance, and blood sample (no, just kidding), and then had to ask a superior about social security, since I insisted I wasn’t gonna pay for that shit. It must be noted that this “office” looks more like a back storage room and has no fewer than five desks, all at various angles, and a gigantic stuffed rabbit in a back corner. Friendly dude went to another desk to see another dude who was equally unperturbed by the 80 degree air temp norm, who then reffered him to another dude who wasn’t even sweating who then murmured something in his ear (probably, “it’s hot as balls in here”), and then I was granted a pass on my secu. Stamped and ready to go, I was passed on to dude #2, more specifically Litte Asian Man, who, letter by letter, typed all my info in a computer circa 1993, and then told me to hand him the sheet the printer coughed up. This he attached my photo too and stamped five times. Whew, I thought, dunzo!

Ohhhh no. Litte Asian Man then asked how I was going to be paying today. Card? Card. Okay, go see the card people. I raise an eyebrow. He handed me the whole mess of documents and told me to turn tail and go to staircase B and find the people to pay. I exit the room-of-hellish-temperatures and make my way to staircase B, where I discovered a small sign indicating that I should ascend to the 3rd floor to pay. Four flights of stairs later (might I remind you that in France, you start on FLOOR 0), and after having given myself a horrible fright when I came upon a life-size cutout of some Ottoman King propped against the stairwell, I followed a series of ambiguous red arrows thru a set of doors, past a printer and a woman eating lunch, down a hallway, and to the right through a door. I was welcomed by a nice woman who charged my card, handed me a reciept, and thanked me. I did a 180 and went right back to staircase A, where I proved my mettle and recieved another set of papers that I am supposed to take to Porte Dauphine so that I can actually recieve my student ID card and enroll for classes.

Thanks.

Francesca came! Here we are behind Notre Dame.

Francesca came! Here we are behind Notre Dame.

In other news, Francesca and Drew came to visit!! Francesca jetted up from Barrrrrcelona (lisp that r, baby), and hung with me for the weekend. Drew was whisked up from Italia to see his lovely Leah. We managed to all get together for dinner on Sunday night, of course at that place à la butte with my favorite grumpy hostess and 16euro fixed menu: kir, entrée, plat, dessert. I enjoyed veggie salad and pasta, the second of which was totally just the veggie salad minus lettuce, plus alfredo sauce– but was awesome all the same. After ye typical French noms, we headed down to La Concorde to ride La Grande Roue.

pict2344

We sent Leah and Drew off to ride in their own car, and waited in line to ride ours. It was there that three hilarious things happened almost at once:

1. One of the ride operators starting seriously trying to get into our pants (mostly Francesca’s).

2. The group of Russian guys behind us started talking shit until Francesca, polyglot that she is, turned around and chewed them out.

3. Ride operator #234 came over to chat, thus thoroughly distracting original ride operator, who then told me to get in the car when I wasn’t supposed to, which caused a lot of shouting and everyone to look at that silly tourist in the bright blue toggle coat who tried to get on the wheel when she wasn’t supposed to.

When our turn finally came, the Russians tried to get in with us and, to his credit, original ride operator defended our honor but we insisted we didn’t care (for laughs, right?), so Francesca and I enjoyed views of Paris by night with 5 random russian dudes… only two of whom spoke French and barely at all at that.

La grande roue, Place de la Concorde, Eiffel Tower (sparkle, sparkle!)

La grande roue, Place de la Concorde, Eiffel Tower (sparkle, sparkle!)

Later that week, I was back in Monoprix, in the self check out line (“Where You’re the Hero!”), waiting with my basket of THREE items: yogurt, card, and smoothie. Ahead of me was a SDF (sans domicile fixe, homeless), who had a basket full of the cheapest booze one can lay one’s paws on chez Mono’p. Now, the magical thing about the self-service caisses is that they accept *any* form of payment. It’s a haven for all my loose 1 and 2 and 5 centime pieces that just waste away in the bottom of my wallet otherwise.

I love it.

But it must be said that the self-service checkout is supposed to be limited to 10 items only and I suppose there must be some sort of system block in place because I watched a lady take a FULL shopping cart to the register and proceed to do three different checkouts. Dick move, if you ask me. Then, to cap the experience, the SDF proceeded to pay for his booze in small change. Not like small change and bills. *Just* small change. By the time I had made it to a station, bought my items, bagged them, and left, he was still inserting centime after centime… occasionally checking the screen anxiously.

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jello shots à la française

in the (some) two weeks pause, I went to the dentist. You see, my gums had been hurting since the day before I came home from Oxford, and, after an internet search (“gum pain”), I panicked and thought I had gengivitis. So I gave it an extra day, and when frantic long periods of brushing and violent flossing were to no avail, I took out my handy-dandy Midd in Paris guide, grew some balls, and called the dentist listed. Apparently he doesn’t get a lot of calls from us ickle Americans, because the lady on the other line was a little confused (last time I called a doctor listed in the Midd Handbook, she nearly switched to English and took extra pains to make sure I understood). Anyway, I set up an appt. for that afternoon, and prepared myself for horrible news.

After spending an inapporpriate amount of time deciding which pattern was the best for my new wallet at Pylones (which I’ve sadly discovered is regarded as plutôt touristique, but that won’t stop me from buying a snazzy hand-painted bike bell from there as a Merry Christmas, Self xmas present), I found my way to chez Dentiste.

my coquelicot (poppy) wallet... stop judging !

my coquelicot (poppy) wallet... stop judging !

oooo which one ?

oooo which one ?

I waited for several minutes in the sparse waiting area… and can I just say, what is up with old AIR FRANCE posters? Are they some trendy vintage item? Everyone seems to have at least one totally unPC Air France poster circa 1936, depicting the passage to ‘Darkest Africa’ or ‘Far Asia’ or something equally awkward and racially loaded.

The dentist’s office itself was like the inside of a space ship… all white and chrome and shiny shiny. There was classical music cooing softly in the background as I lay back on the chair and suddenly everything so routine, so ‘I got this’ was nervous and scary and new. What was this white plastic cup presenting itself (already filled with water!) to my left? And this array of sparkling clean silver tools at my side? And that light? Oh God! What is that button for?

His assistant flitted about, attaching a bib and muttering softly. My heart was pounding in my ears as he reached into my mouth with cloud-colored gloves and made small talk. I found it sounds even funnier when you speak French with your mouth wide open than it does when I hear myself speaking English at the dentist’s. “Hmmmm,” he said, “it hurts here, no?” and put a littletoomuch pressure on my bottom right gum. “Yes!” I winced. Silence. More tinkering with a scraper. “What is it?” I managed, jaw slack, tongue lolling uselessly to the left. “It’s a _____,” he replied. I made the ‘I have no idea what you just said’ face. “It’s a _____,” he repeated. Usually, when I make that face twice, it’s time to find a synonym or, at the very least, describe it in other words. Niether of these things happened so I just sat there, fearful. “Is it a hole?” I squeaked, fearing the worst. “Psssh, no,” came the reply, and then he confessed he had no idea how to say what he wanted to in English. Well, that was evident. “It is serious?” I offered. He made a face as if I had just scraped my knee and wanted to know if I’d need surgery. There was an awkward pause afterwhich he called to his assitant to bring the acid. He then said something to me, nothing of which I caught expect the word ‘cauterize’ so I imagined a blowtorch in my mouth.

we interrupt this story to bring you a vintage Air France poster

we interrupt this story to bring you a vintage Air France poster

“And bring the cotton swab,” he added, to the assistant. “We’re going to cauterize it,” he continued, reaching over me to grab the cotton swab and dousing it with ‘acid.’

“This way, it will clear up really quickly. If you left it alone, it would have cleared up in a week or so. These things happen. Not serious at all.” I felt stupid. And then I felt my gums burning. This was a great combination. One piece of burnt gum (it turns white, in case you were wondering), and a bruised ego later, I owed him 35euros and he wrote me a script for Listerine and chuckled at my explanation that I thought I had gengivits. He showed me to the door and I ran away without looking back.

Which brings me to the completely unrelated point of the day, which is that I spent the evening out in Zone 3 (oh no!), in Sevres, watching episodes of House and chatting with [French!] friends. We had homemade pizza for dinner (really freaking good), and jello shots for dessert. I must admit that when this was advertised to me, via texto, come over on wednesday for movies and jello shots!, I imagined the typical american shot glass, inorganic green color, and some heinous amount of nasty alcohol hidden like a little bomb inside.

Not so.

A tray was brought out, with bowls and cups of all colors and shapes, in which glistened (and wiggled) jello. Grape, strawberry, and lemon. Creme de cassis, something I forget, and gin. I had a grape bowl and it tasted nothing like nasty and more like yummy grape jello. I was thoroughly pleased. We nommed our jello in silence as we watched Dr. House tear into another resident, and there were no body shots or crazy stunts involved. I played with the cat, who was nesting in a basket next to the space heater, and we talked about Juno, teen pregnancy, the His Dark Materials trilogy, and classic French music. Next time, we might watch WALL-E, which I’m very excited for.

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