Wednesday, June 11, 2008


In 12 hours, I will be waiting outside my apartment for a shuttle to pick me up at take me to Charles de Gaulle for the last time in the foreseeable future. This morning I packed up the kitty and we took the RER and then a bus to some remote freight area at CDG. When I walked up to the office, the agent poked his head out the window to welcome me. After the days I spent on the phone with this guy, I'm sure the only little girl holding a baby blue pet carrier would be me. After swiping my credit card (and holding my breath until it cleared) and filling out some paperwork, his assistant drove Puck and I over to a warehouse to pass him off. Something went wrong with his paperwork. I didn't even bother to ask what was happening, mostly because I was too busy trying not to vomit everywhere. My some miracle, they let him through and the assistant dropped me back at the RER station. I will be freaking out until I pick him up in San Francisco. Or I get the text message that he's been put in quarantine and hence held hostage in the UK. Fucking England and their ridiculous laws.

I came back today to my quiet, messy apartment and tried with all my might to take a nap. The hum of nerves has kicked in and I was only able sleep about 20 minutes. So instead I've been packing up all afternoon, and soon I will be cleaning. All of my stuff seems to fit in my bags, so that's a good sign. At 7:30 tomorrow, cross your fingers, the shuttle will pick me up and I'll be gone.

I don't even know what to expect, or how it's going to feel. The way I deal with things is to throw myself into the present and push out any longing for the past. So I've basically, totally forgotten what my life in San Francisco was like and totally thrown myself into this life in Paris. I know that 9 months is a drop in the bucket and that I'm no where near calling Paris my "home," but I'm so entrenched here that the thought of starting over -- again -- is terrifying. That's what I do, I make a life. I go to school, I work, I find a gym, I pin-point which supermarkets sell which stuff and the best place to buy beauty products (it's the Champion at the Italie 2 mall, so you know). I've triangulated which newsstands are open on Sundays so I can always picked up an Elle or Glamour on the way to the gym. I have my favorite restaurants, favorite crepe stand, favorite boutiques. I'm comfortable here.

I haven't romanticized Paris in the least. Before this year, I'd already spent two weeks doing the "ooh, ahh" touristy thing, and this time it was just about making a life here. I don't have endless pictures of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame and all the other places. In fact I don't have many pictures of it at all. The past couple days, I thought about going to buy souvenirs and take pictures and visit my favorite places again. But instead of doing all of that right now, while I'm a nervous wreck, I'll save it for when I come back.

So this blog is more or less dunzo. I'll post about my re-indoctrination into American life, and I will definitely post the completely tales of Lauren and I's adventures in Greece. Until then. . .à plus.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


So the calm and comfort I was beginning to feel on Tuesday was unceremoniously smashed upon calling up British Airways to reserve a spot for Puck. Before booking I had checked to make sure they accept animals, but apparently even though he is accompanied, Puck cannot fly in the baggage hold during my flights. He has to fly unaccompanied as cargo, a whole mess of rules and regulations that I was not prepared for. Least of all was I prepared for the price -- about 500 euros. To get him here was supposed to cost $175 but by some miracle ended up being $70. Anyway, this 500 euro price includes two flights and an overnight stay in London, because the only plane going from Paris to London the day I leave isn't leaving until 5 pm.

Even so, this was way more than the about 300 euro I'd conserved to get him home and perhaps buy myself a new cell phone. So I called around to pretty much every airline with cargo. Air Canada told me to fuck off and use an American airline. The cunt at United said I'd have to call the Paris cargo office, but suggested I look up the number online or in the phone book. The dimwit at American Airlines gave me two numbers that don't exist. There was a brief glimmer of hope from Air France, who in fact had a direct flight from Paris to San Francisco that would be unloading around the time I got into SFO myself. Unforunately, they wanted about 700 euros. How could it be so expensive for the direct flight? Anyway, I gave up and I am waiting for the all-clear from British Airways. I'll put it on my credit card, I'll pay it off -- that is life and motherhood. I can't very well leave him in Paris. In fact this whole thing reminded me that he needed another health certificate. I flew Air Canada to get here in August, where he was baggage. But I did all the EU animal immigration footwork and got him: a health certificate (in French), a 15-digit European microchip, and a rabies vaccination. Naturally, no one asked a shred of evidence when I was leaving LAX or arriving at CDG. Although now since I won't be there, I'm sure it will be. So yesterday in my frenzy, I looked up English-speaking vets in the 6th arrondisement. The woman I thought I was calling apparently handed her practice over to someone who doesn't really speak English, but as per usual, it wasn't even necessary. Same thing happened when I opened my bank account at an English-speaking branch, or tried to speak English on the phone with the Air France people. One day, I will realize that I speak French.

So this morning, Puck and I took the bus about 10 minutes down to Saint-Placide and had a short, sweet (read: 20 minutes) appointment with Dr. Rodriguez. He didn't weigh him or take his temperature, but I now have a new international health certificate for Puck, all for 50 euros. In San Francisco I usually take him to the SPCA, where they charged me $45 for the appointment and another $50 for the USDA certificate. Sometimes France is actually civilized.

So this drama all got kicked-off a couple hours before I left for Nanterre to take a final. Luckily it was my BS American Civilization class and an essay on Common Sense, which was my summer book report for AP US history (remember those good times?). If it didn't go well, I'll tell MICEFA to burn the grade sheet and pretend I never took the class.

Anyway, while on the train to the final I decided I'm going to get "Breathe" tattooed on me, probably on my rib cage (though I've heard it hurts like a bitch). I emailed my mom about it and she offered to pay for it. What has the world come to? When I was little, my mom used to see tattooed and pierced people and snicker while I chided her for being judgmental. When I was 12, after years of begging, my mom FINALLY let me get my ears pierced for my Bat Mitzvah. Then it was "nothing else until you're out of the house." A couple years later I got my step dad to take me to get second holes when my mom was out of town, which she didn't like but didn't freak out about. Then when I was sixteen there were the third holes in my ears, followed two days later by the belly button ring piercing that she drove me to (but I used my own 65 bucks). Flash to last summer and the woman is getting an ohm tattooed on her back at Sole Patch on Haight while I take pictures for my photojournalism class. My, how things change. I've also decided that I want "Débrouillarde" tattooed on my hairline, just behind my ear. I think I've earned it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ratée, crevée, embêtée

Save for a couple moments, I've spent the last couple of days just hibernating. The fog and fatigue of moving and disorientation is finally starting to wear off, though I'm not sure if that's because I'm comfortable or I'm just freaking out about finals and a paper so I'm forcing myself to deal.

On Sunday morning I got up at a normal time to hit up Champion. I'd already mapped out the grocery stores in my new neighborhood, but then I realized that I wouldn't be up for shopping on Saturday and that the chances of finding a grocery store on Sunday are slim. Luckily, this particular Champion is open until 1 pm on Sunday. Unluckily, the entire world was in on the secret and the place was totally packed. After I fought my way through and got back home, I ate lunch and went to the gym like a normal Sunday afternoon. Lauren got in that evening and we went out to the 11th to meet up with Mike, eat some kebabs, and wait for their friend Zac to show up. On the way to meet Mike we drank some canned prosecco that Lauren had bought on a plane from Prague, then followed it up with some limoncello in their hotel room and some South African wine on the Pont des Arts. I decided we should be very cheesy and drink wine on the Pont des Arts and watch the 1 am Eiffel Tower light show. Unfortunately Zac left the wine at my place so Lauren and I went to get it, and when we came back they had been cornered by two drunk/stoned jackasses. It was all well and good until Mike and Zac were really ready to leave. I ended up getting in a little French spat with one of them because he wouldn't give my wine glass back (and had already broken another of them). I finally realized I should give it up because the last thing I needed was to get stabbed by some banlieusard-mahgrebain in the middle of the night. So we moved our selves to the statue at Odeon and ended the night there.

On Monday morning, Lauren and I woke up after about 6 hours of sleep and hit up Starbucks before seeing the 10:25 am showing of Sex and the City at UGC Danton. It was a very American experience. And after we met up with the guys to get some crepes and so they could help Lauren get her to stuff to the bus station.

After they left, I listened to a voice message from my ex-property manager, telling me that the studio wasn't clean enough the way I left it. Of course I nearly vomited because the last thing I want to do is give up part of my security deposit for cleaning. When I moved out of the Villas they had a professional cleaning crew come in before they could turn the apartment over, and I feel like an hour or two with one person cleaning after a 9 month stay isn't totally ridiculous. But unfortunately I think I'm going to have to pay for it. The property manager said that she'd explain to the cleaning lady that (in French) "the current generation of young people has a different understanding of house-cleaning." How fucking insulting. I know she's trying to help me out but I don't think my age has anything to do with it. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that even though I asked her to, the property manager never came before I moved out to tell me what needed to be done in the apartment. My lease is according to California law, therefore I am entitled to a scheduled inspection. Oh well. I'll probably end up paying for it because my landlady hates me and jumps at the chance to get hysterical over any perceived mistake.

So I tried to take a nap yesterday but it just wasn't happening. Instead I tried to soothe my nerves with sedentary eating and Queer as Folk. It sort of worked. However today I have a final that I need to at least brush up on before I take it. Although I also slept 11 1/2 hours last night, so I think I can handle it. And then on Thursday I'm making up the final I missed last week. I'm resenting this whole week a bit because it's just making me want to leave Paris, but I know that I don't actually want to get out of here. When I get back will be a whole new set of drama with apartment-finding and moving and summer school and work. It's just never-ending no matter what you do.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Movin' on up

Today was the culmination of about three days of nerves and paralysis. Whenever I get overwhelmed, I turn into a sort of vegetable. In this guess, I blew off some schoolwork because I was too numbed to think about anything but packing and cleaning. This morning I called a cab to take me to my new apartment (at 23 rue Dauphine in the 6th, for those interested), dropped off my magnanimous bags and the kitty, then took the metro straight back to Mouffetard. Before heading back to the studio for the daunting task of cleaning, I got an egg, cheese, and chicken crepe and it was fucking incredible. I've only eaten a handful of crepes in the last 9 months and while that seems strange, I actually don't regret it.
Anyway, I returned to my almost-not-anymore home to eat my crepe and fire up the laptop for a Queer as Folk/heavy-duty cleaning marathon. After about 4 hours of scrubbing, sweeping, and lint-rolling, I was all done. At one point I sat in my foyer with my doormat and a roll of packing tape, practically waxing the thing to get all of the cat hair off of it. I had to do the same thing to the desk chair and the bedroll. Ironically, you wouldn't even know I had a cat right now, because he hid himself under the sink in the new studio this morning and I haven't seen him since. The only reason I know he's still down there is because I reached down and accidentally pulled his ear when I was looking for him. This is his way of punishing me for jostling him so much. Oh and making him ride in the car.
Anyway, I called myself cab #2 of the day around 4:30 and took the rest of my shit to my new place, stopping at my property manager's office on the way to shove my keys in the mail slot. She called me earlier and I just flat out refused to speak French in my frazzled state. I also called the English-speaking cab company. Sometimes you have to punk out. I did speak to the cab drivers in French though, so there.
Anyway, here I am in an even smaller apartment in a much chicer neighborhood. As much as I hate moving, I'm almost glad that I ended up having to sublet my last two weeks here. It would've been impossible to thoroughly clean my apartment with my stuff still in it, and I am determined to get all of my deposit back. This is feasible as long as the property manager doesn't notice the corner of the bed that my cat destroyed (whoops!). Also, moving is such an exorcism of any affection you once had for a place. Once you've spent days packing up all of your belongings, and then worked your ass off scrubbing and sweeping the place, you are just done with it. It's like being in a relationship and inciting a fight so that everyone will be angry instead of sad when you decide to break up. It's easier to let go of somewhere when the last feeling you had there was frustration and exhaustion.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Roma, pt. 3

So I may or may not be doing this because I'm avoiding writing a résumé for my History of the French class. Actually I don't mind the résumé, it's the fact that I signed up to present it in front of the class tomorrow. Melissa peer pressured me. Gah.

So on Saturday morning, Lauren and I woke up around early afternoon. Clearly, she did not go to Pompeii. After some eggs and toast I felt much better, but still needed a nap to recharge for that night. It was the first day of Passover and Lauren was going with her roommate to a special seder that unfortunately I couldn't get a last-minute invite to. I was a little bummed, but it turned out well because during the seder Nicole and I wandered around the city center and ended up at the Vatican. Not bad. After watching a hockey game, Mike met us at Piazza Navona. Actually, he sort of snuck up on us and I clutched my purse and braced myself for one of the famed Roman attacks Lauren is always talking about. Anyway, we ran around to two restaurants hoping to get in, but sadly 9 pm on a Saturday night is a very popular time for dinner. We ended up at a great place anyway, and I ate some pasta alla heart-attack (okay, maybe it's called pasta alla carbonara, but that's boring), which is apparently very Roman. That and about four glasses of the house wine, one of which I was tricked into drinking by Mike and his slight-of-hand glass-switching abilities. Needless to say, after dinner, I was feeling pretty good (I believe I said I felt like a noodle). We went over to Frigidarium, the favorite gelato place, and I got cinnamon and some crazy chocolate thing. Cinnamon ice cream, so amazing. Anyway, we then trucked over to Trastevere to a bar/eatery called Bir and Fud, which was coincidentally mentioned in the NY Times the next day. Anyway, there some people showed-up post seder but moved on, except for Ethan, who stuck with us and ended up accompanying Mike on a mish to buy hash from the drum circle on the bridge. Oh Rome. Lauren, Nicole and I opted to get some tasty treats from the bakery while we waited. Then we stood in the street and watched the guys drunkenly roll a spliff for a good...40 minutes. The word spliff makes me want to vomit. Anyway, after that it was back to Stairs, where I drank a shitty melon ball that was about 70% orange juice. Oh and I managed to totally shatter Ethan's heart, but apparently I'm better off.
That night ended with a civilized taxi ride back to Lauren's, and another 5 am bed time for whatever reason. Oh there were Italian guys there when we got home! I remember.
Sunday was some major laziness, I have to say. Lauren cooked a fabulous pasta meal of garlicky, peppery chicken and pepper jack cheese. Perhaps, in theory, the weirdest idea ever, but it worked out. Afterward, I took pictures while Lauren completely devoured a cantaloupe. Out of respect, I've only posted one of them above, just to give you an idea of what I witnessed. The afternoon was another nap, and then some drama about where to eat dinner. We ended up at a nearby placed called La Allegra, a rather trendy pasta place full of young gays. And GayTV showing top 40 videos on the TV screens. Hilarious. Anyway, the pasta was AMAZING. We had some gnocchi with meat sauce and some vodka sauce pasta with salmon and bacon (weird idea, but awesome). Then we hit up this tiramisu place, also very popular, to get some tiramisu in fun flavors like strawberry and banana-chocolate. Aaaand because one dessert is never enough, before going home we went to some super clandestine bakery to buy hot, fresh cornetti filled with nutella.
The next day was sadly my last, and I spent the morning on a site visit with one of Lauren's classes. Afterward, she had a few hours before her next class, so I got to see some more of the city center. First we had lunch at a place where I ate the most amazing calzone of my life, filled with cheese and proscuitto. Delicious, fried goodness. And of course back to Frigidarium afterward, followed by a quick trip to the Pantheon and the Trevi fountain. I then somehow found my way back to Lauren's. We picked out a bus and figured out where I would change to the metro, but there were no signals in the bus to tell me which stop was next, and only very fleeting views of the signs above the bus stops as we passed them. So I took a good guess when I thought I was close, and I was right. I ended up having more time before I need to leave than I thought, so I just packed and chilled for a while, then got myself back to Termini. When I got there, some movie or photo shoot or something was taking place right in front of the shuttle office, and I freaked until I realized I could just buy my ticket from the driver. So I did, and it was a quick ride to the airport, an uneventful flight, a looooooong ride from Beauvais to Paris, and then a slightly sketchy RER C trip back home. And of course, the cat meowed about me for a good 3 hours straight as punishment for having left him alone for 5 days.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

In search of Paolo, pt. 2

OK, back to work. I had to take a short break and go to Austria for five days, but now it's Labor Day here in Froggieland and I'm pretty sure there's nothing out there for me to do (although obviously, I haven't left the apartment yet today).

Anyway. On Friday morning, Lauren and I woke up a little uncomfortably early in order to hit up the covered market. But first we went downstairs with Gilli to Cafe Asti so I could experience the cheap Italian breakfast. You see, in Italy, they have this thing called a "cornetto." The word is very similar to the French word for "cone," and so I assume that's what it means in Italian. So this thing is basically a weak ass croissant (sorry Italy, but it's inferior)...HOWEVER, they do an excellent job of redeeming themselves by filling it with Nutella or vanilla custard. Paired with a cheap ass cappuccino, it's delicious. Anyway, after that we went to the covered market to get some eggs and strawberries and such, then dropped the stuff off at home so that we could go buy some tights for Lauren. I've all but repressed my desire to shop, I think. It comes in waves a few times a year when I'm focused on other money ventures, such as now when I am diligently budgeting and saving money for vacations. Anyway, after a little shopping, we went back to Lauren's to wait for Nicole. We watched Juno and ate some leftover Chinese food, and when Nicole finally made it (after a couple hours of slight panic), we went out again to check out some stores and eat my first Italian gelato. We also got Lauren a bomb ass birthday dress. After all of that excitement, I was in major need of a nap.
After the snooze, we had a big getting-ready-slash-pre-gaming party. 7 girls, bad rap music, a shit-ton of make up and hairspray, plus some cheap sparkling wine with the label glued on upside down. I don't know what time we managed to finally leave, but we took the metro over to the Colosseum to get wasted in front of it. Love it.
With some surprisingly good 7 euro vodka and some blood orange Pellegrino, it was perhaps my best pre-gaming experience ever. After we were good and hammered, we headed over to dinner at a pizza place. We played some Jenga at the table, took some pictures...frankly I don't remember a whole lot vividly, especially my pizza. But I have no doubt that it was good.
After that we braved a few buses to get over to Trastevere, center of young, Roman debauchery. Somewhere along the way, Lauren's roommate stabbed a hole in the lid of a vodka bottle she couldn't get open. We ended up at Stairs, a great bar with a cavern-like downstairs area, and pretty much took it over.
Many cheap shots and delicious mixed drinks were had, including a grasshopper for myself. I made everyone try it and spent a good 10 minutes explaining why I wanted to marry it or something. At around 2:30 they finally kicked everyone out, so we waited in front of the steps and tried to strategize while drunk guys kicked broken glass down the stairs. I think I should've been more worried about this than I was -- thanks hard liquor! A few of the kiddies, including Lauren, had a site visit to Pompeii the next morning and so they called it a night. But Mike, Ethan, Nicole, Gilli and I went in search of I-don't-know-what. I think Gilli got a sandwich. Mike and I got some tasty things at a bakery. Then we braved the buses home again, where poor Lauren was really having a 21st birthday experience. So I sat on the bathroom floor with her and chugged a liter of water in moral support. Oh and I gave her Ethan's jacket to keep warm. At around 5 am, we finally got to sleep.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

La Dolce Vita, pt.1

So I am back and rested after my voyage to Rome. It was certainly a perfect way to launch my spring break, celebrate the end of work, and begin this next month and a half of very little work and mostly play. But let's start at the beginning.

On Thursday morning, I woke up dark and early (5:30 am) in order to get my shit together and leave on time. I organized my stuff, did some dishes, fed the cat. My landlady is selling the studio and I was told that some potential buyers would be coming by on Saturday (they didn't), so I tried to tidy up a bit. Not that I should ever do anything nice for my landlady. I had the intention to stop at the 24 hour internet cafe to print out the bingo cards I made for the kids, but I was too frenzied and so decided to try my luck printing them out at school.

The picture you see to the left is the view from the train as you get into Marly le roi, and it was the last time I'll ever see it. I got to school plenty early and set out to print. The computer worked (hallelujah), but for whatever reason, the printer was being retarded. No matter. I was only teaching one class that morning because Satan's class was going to the Louvre. Talk about a going-away present. So I me débrouilléd through my first class, who threw a little party for me at the end. I got cards, cake, and orange juice. Basically it was super nice and totally unexpected. I ended up getting ride over to St. Exupéry because the new English teacher was following me around all day to get acquainted. She's about 2 months away from retirement, French, and the kids were just not thrilled about her arrival. Anyway, we arrived at school number 2 and I tried to print out my bingo cards. But the fucking computer at the first school fucked up my jump drive. So I basically improvised the whole day. The kids got a piece of candy (I brought 6 bags) for winning bingo or answering a question correctly. Whatevs. Everyone was extra nice to me for my last day and it made me a little sad to leave. But just a little.

After work, I headed straight to the train station. Took the train to La Défense, then the metro to Porte Maillot, and I was on the Beauvais shuttle by 5:30. When I arrived at Beauvais, immediately someone called my name. And what do you know. It was Elvira, a friend from Nanterre, and we were taking the same flight to Rome (she was going home for spring break). Being very take-charge and Italian, she told me she had some cheese and we could go buy some bread and eat it together. But first we checked in, and I ended up shelling out 22 euros to check my bag. Assholes. We sat in the restaurant area and ate our dinner and chatted about whatever. I think that day was my best conversational French day ever. I was just on my game or something. The flight went well, my bag was the second off the carousel at Ciampino, and I quickly hopped on the Terravision shuttle to Termini station. It was too easy. Lauren met me and we got a taxi to her place. After some Nutella on toast and a little bit of Juno, we passed out around 2 am. An excellent start.