Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Too bizarre

What the hell? This picture was just pushed under my door:
Hopefully it's from one of the kids, but they should be in bed by now...

Or maybe it's a neighbor, trying to send me some kind of cryptic message. Like "Stop making so much noise or this is how you're going to end up!!" LOL

Oof. Yesterday I had one of those hang-overs that just kept getting worse as the day went on. "Rhum-rhum revenge", to quote Doc.

I went out yesterday around noon, and only had one thing on my mind - going back to bed! But on the way back, I discovered that the Gay Pride parade was taking place on my frickin' street, so no buses were running. Looking at the masses of people moving toward me, I felt defeated, like "No way am I going to have the energy to fight through this crowd and get home". But I eventually sucked it up and pushed my way through the endless sea of people, even getting caught up in the energy a bit along the way: Until I realized "Wait a minute, how the hell am I going to nap with all this noise??"
By the time it was time to go to The Abbey Bookshop for Ian's book party, I was feeling pretty shitty (and I don't think I was the only one, lol). "Hair of the dog" was mentioned, so I took a glass of red that was offered to me. Probably wasn't the best idea. Looking at all the rustic cheeses & meats Ian had brought wasn't helping either. So needless to say, I made it home at a fairly decent hour, sober as a judge. But at least I had a new book to read.

The aftermath of the Gay Pride parade - good luck street sweepers!
And now I'm returning to bed.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

I had an absolutely fabulous day-after-my-birthday-night last night - this is hands down the best birthday I've had in years. Once again, I'm so grateful to have met such wonderful people here. I met up with K&K and crew last night again after work and can I just say that they rock??? I also finally met Doc & her hubby - they joined us at the bar after their Moulin Rouge outing. Ironically enough, the bar we went to is the only bar I've been to since moving to Paris - I ended up there one night with Yuri & Kendra and had no clue where it was - but it just happened to be the one Katia suggested!

And, they bought me presents. PRESENTS, people! I wasn't expecting any, it was already enough that they were willing to go out and celebrate with me. But they're really cool presents at that: a couple of Paris-related books, some mint m&m's (which really do taste like thin mint girl scout cookies), my very own set of magic pens (!!!) and an awesome birthday card:

I also got a crown. A CROWN!! Which, according to the attention it brought from the Frenchies, I am considering wearing every night I go out. And I actually met a cute Frenchie who had studied abroad in Cottage Grove, MN off all places. He was a university professor, but he unfortunately did not live in Paris, so he got crossed of this list - I don't need any complicated long-distances things right now. I also met a really nice guy while walking home and *briefly* considered either going home with him or inviting him up to chez moi, but eventually decided against it since I'm not a one-night stand kinda girl.
And just to prove all you negative Nellies wrong - I got a text from Fab late last night while we were at the bar. You guys gotta to give me some credit here - after seven years, I do know the man pretty well, and I was sure he would write a day or two later, saying "Oops, sorry". He wrote (spelling mistakes and all) "Happy birthday, sorry for beeing late. Hope u're good, where r u at?". I haven't felt the need to reply back yet - I don't necessarily want him to know I'm still in Paris, and I definitely don't want him to know that things are going good. After what he did, he deserves to feel guilty for as long as possible, lol.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Soooooo, the answer is...........Wait a minute. First of all, I would like to say only 73 people voted. So what's the excuse of the other 250 of you out there who read that post? Come on people, I'm trying to make it interactive here, lol.

Okay, getting back on topic - looks like 60.3% of you were right. I didn't get a text from Fab, but there's no surprise there, the man never knows what day it is and would lose his head if it wasn't attached. Considering that he's been texting me on a fairly regularly basis, I'm sure I'll get one eventually saying "Oops, sorry, I missed your b-day (again)." I would also like to shake my finger at the 13.7% of you who chose the third option - y'all are such poor sports!!

In other news, I have been happily fighting the crowds to check out the summer soldes. Most of you know that Fab worked for BIC for a long time. Well, every Christmas, they give their employees a gift card, usually for around 120€. I was really excited this year because I'd been planning on using them to buy furniture for our new house. But come Feb/March, I couldn't find them anywhere. I practically turned the gîte upside down looking for them, and no luck! I was really bummed (though it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because that way I didn't end up spending them).

They were still on my mind when I moved out, even though I still couldn't find them. Luckily though while unpacking my stuff in MN, I found them stuck in the hidden pocket of one of my purses. So I when I found out the soldes started a day before my birthday, I decided that 120€ was going to be my birthday present to myself. But in an attempt to continue with my wish of not buying things just because they are cheap, I've tried to restrain myself to buying things that would be really useful. So instead of just going crazy because I had money to burn, I've tried to be thoughtful about my purchases. I've bought two scarves, two pairs of shoes (check out my new ballerines!!), a dress and a light sweater. And on the housing end, I finally found the damn shower shelf I've been looking for for almost a month now, plus the supplies I needed to finally organize my jewelry again. I've still got 40€ left to use up before June 30, and I'm actually having trouble spending it because I don't want to just buy crap. Maybe a trip to Sephora is in order, to replace some of the stuff I threw out when I thought I was moving back to the US....
PS. For those of you wondering, I had a great birthday yesterday, and I would like to give a special shout-out to Kyliemac for coming over at the last minute to share a bottle of birthday rosé with me. It was the perfect ending to a great day (and yay for sparkly Eiffel Towers!)


Thursday, June 26, 2008

So, one of the things I've been wondering while drinking my morning tea is if Fab will send me a "Happy Birthday" text message today or not. I'm leaning towards no, because 1) he's forgotten my birthday ever year for the past seven years and 2) he's really cheap and never has any credit on his phone.

A friend of mine though is leaning towards yes though, saying he'll remember this year out of guilt. And because I don't have time to write a decent post today, I'm putting up a poll (in the side bar). So vote away, and I'll let you know the answer tomorrow!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A very merry birthday to me

Once again, I have to say that I am so grateful for the friends I've made here in Paris. Yesterday, I went to the very beautiful Parc de Sceaux with Leesa & Co, and after lunch, Leesa pulled a birthday cake out of her purse! I was really touched that she remembered my birthday was this week, especially since I've never been able to celebrate my birthday in France. Fab is terrible with dates and always forgot (so did his fam), and none of my friends were ever around in the summer. So it was always just another day of same old, same old - no presents, no cake, no nothing. But not this year thanks to all of my blogging friends!

Here are the two birthday girls, and the cake, with candles and everything! :And a couple photos of the park:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One of the really cool things in France is how much they encourage cultural outings. A lot of places even have special entrance prices for those who are unemployed - I love that they think that you should deprive yourself of seeing a movie, going to a museum, etc just because you don't have a job.

The French cultural minister is running an experiment at 14 several monuments/museums across the country, trying to see if more people will attend if they don't have to pay. The experiment ends on June 30, so I've been trying to hit up the ones here in Paris. I'm most excited about going to the Cluny museum later on this week - it's official name is the "Museum of the Middle Ages", and it's about a ten minute walk from where I live. It's such a cool looking place - just this big old castle plopped down in a busy tourist district.

At various times of the year, cinema prices are also reduced - for example, the "Fête du cinéma" will be running from June 29-July 1. During those three days, movie ticket prices across the country are a lot lower, often around 2€ each. And there's also the Paris Festival of International Cinema from July 1-12 (speaking of which, one of the special guests is the famous Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki) or all of the outdoor cinema projections they do in the summer. For someone who loves going to the movies as much as I do, it's like heaven.

In case anyone is interested, I also wanted to mention quick the film pass I got (thanks Kyliemac!). For a little over 19€ per month, I can see unlimited films at any Gaumont cinema. UCG has the same offer. Considering that a movie can easily cost 9 or 10€ here in Paris, that's a pretty good deal. I'm hoping to be able to see at least one a week this summer. If nothing else, the air-conditioned salles will provide some respite from the summer heat!! (Assuming it actually gets hot here, lol). Reminds me of how I used to go to the dollar theater in Roseville two or three times a week just to be able to sit in a cool place for a few hours.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Doesn't give a girl much hope

I was talking to my mother last night, and she told me about how after church yesterday, the head of the Church Council asked everyone to stick around for a meeting. At which, they announced that one of the pastors had resigned. We've had two pastors, a husband and a wife team, for probably seven or eight years now. I never liked them very much personally (which I always felt guilty about - how can you not like a pastor??), but it never really mattered much since I only went there once or twice a year.

Anyways, they announced that the husband was resigning because he had had an affair, and that they were also getting a divorce. WTF? If even married pastors can't keep it in their pants, what hope do we have for the rest of the men out there? I mean, I know they are only human as well, but still, they are held to a higher standard. And with all the preaching they do, I think they should be. This guy has early-onset Parkinson's though, and my mom thinks he probably met someone at one of the support groups or something. They say it's not someone from our church, nor our town, but who knows. It's not like they're going to say "The adulteress is among us". One thing I learned though is that for as progressive as our church as, they have a zero-tolerance level for cheating - if a clergyman cheats, he is essentially ex-communicated and can no longer work as a pastor anywhere in the world. That really kind of surprised me, because they're normally so accepting of people from all religions, all walks of life, all orientations. But again, higher standard for the pastors.

I wonder what he's going to do now. I come from a really small town, where everyone knows everyone. He has two children, but I can't see him really being able to stick around, given everything that's happened. The funny thing is though, I can see his side of it too. Which was also my problem with Fab, and why I was never able to go around calling him a bastard. A coward who took the easy way out, yes, but a bastard, no. Here you've got these two guys who are under so much pressure and there are so many things changing at once, and all of the sudden you meet this girl who doesn't know you or your story. She's just separate from everything else and with her, you can forget all your worries for a while. I can see why would that would be attractive. But like someone wrote to me in an email recently, "just because a girl offers herself up, your man isn't obligated to take it". True dat, sistah.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fête de la Musique

Did everyone else have fun at the fête de la musique? I've gone the past few years in V-town, but it was always on such a small scale - nothing even remotely like what I saw in Paris last night. It was absolutely insane, but in a really good way.

My evening started out with me taking the two kids around the neighborhood so they could hear a bit of the music. I should've brought my camera with, because our quartier was filled with little bourgeois kids trying to rock it out on the street corners. They were so funny, trying so hard to be bad in their (expensive) punk rocker clothes.

It was pretty late by the time the parents got back, so I just changed quick and headed out to find my friends. I had to laugh at the group of lycée kids from my building who were playing in front of the door. There was a huge crowd of kids around them - they all looked about 16 years old and yet there they were, swigging from bottles of wine, right in front of their parents. You'd never see that in America!

I made my way over to the Canal St Martin, where I found quite possibly one of the biggest crowds of people I've ever seen in my life. It was fantastic though - such a great ambiance. People were either dancing in the streets or sitting at the edge of the canal just hanging out and talking. People were drinking, but no one was falling-down drunk and puking in the streets like their Breton counterparts were doing. And there was a great mix of music - from African to Fanfare to House. We spent the night dancing our way between all three. I'm discovering that I really do like to dance - how about that? Though apparently I was wearing a sign that said "If you are from Africa, please hit on me". I had men from Senegal, the Congo, Nigeria, etc after me all night, but they were harmless enough - just a little bit too touchy-feely for my liking.

We stayed until around 3:30am - I could've stayed a lot longer, but everyone else was pooped so I headed home. Unfortunately, I didn't read the signage very well before going out - I thought I'd read "LES metros, RER et Bus circulent toute la nuit", but it really said "DES metros, RER et Bus circulent toute la nuit". For non-French speakers, the difference being "The subway, RER trains & Busses will run all night" vs "SOME subway lines, RER trains & Busses will run all night". So the line I'd been planning on going home on was closed. Luckily one of the lines at the Gare de l'Est was open, and it stops about a ten minute walk from my place. I hopped on it, only to realize that it was only stopping at about 1 out of every 4 stops. Would it have been that hard for them to put up signs saying that? Or for the driver to at least announce it? But whatever. I ended up getting off at Montparnasse train station, hoping to catch a night bus from there. Once I got out of the metro, there were about a million people there, milling about in general chaos, and it was clear that I was not the only confused about which lines were running and which weren't. I waited at the bus stop for a while, but after talking to some people, I realized the night buses weren't running either. I finally decided to just walk the rest of the way home since it was such a nice night and there were so many people in the streets.

I got kind of hungry along the way, so I stopped for a crêpe au nutella. I started talking to the two guys running the stand, and as I was about to pay, one of them said something to the other one in their native language, and they ended up giving it to me for free since I was so "charmante". So then I continued my walk home eating my delicious warm, chocolately, FREE crêpe, thinking "Man, I love this city!!"


Saturday, June 21, 2008


One of the weirdest things about being single again is having to start checking out guys again. This might seem strange to some of you, but when I'm in a relationship, I pretty much stop looking at other men. At least in that way. If I'm with someone, I'm with them 100%. Maybe that explains why I never saw any attractive men in Bretagne.......or maybe it's just Bretagne, LOL.

But so it's really strange now to have to start thinking about both attracting and being attracted to someone else. Certain people *ahem, you know who you are* have been trying to set me up on blind dates, and I'm just not feeling it. While I'm enjoying looking at all the yummy Parisian men, I've never done the whole dating thing - I've always just met a guy and then gone out with him for the next (fill in the blank) number of years. So the idea of meeting people and then maybe or maybe not going on a second (or third or fourth) date is a new concept for me, and it's kind of scary, all the what-ifs. What if I don't like him? I don't know how to do casual dating. Or even worse, what if he doesn't like me? I can't take any more rejection. What if I suck at flirting? I'm really out of practice and feeling rusty. What if I meet someone and it gets to that point? I can't let anyone see me naked with all these extra kilos. Or even worse, what if I give my heart to someone and just get it broken all over again? Do I really want to take that risk?

I think the moral of this story is I'm just not read for this whole dating thing yet. (Even if it would be nice to have someone in my bed at night.)


Friday, June 20, 2008

Yesterday, Leesa invited me to tag along with some of her friends to see the Swatch World Beach Volleyball tour. Her camera is way fancier than mine, so check out her blog for better pictures, but here's a few action shots I took (click to zoom in):

Two américaines playing against two chinoises:We watched them for a while, and then I turned around and saw this:How about that! I had no clue where we were. I am constantly getting mixed-up in this city, and turning around and being like "Holy crap, that's the Eiffel Tower!" or "Wait, when did the Opera building get there??". But still, not a bad setting for a match, huh? I think they are in town until Sunday, so check it out if you've got time!


Thursday, June 19, 2008

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but The Company has asked me to keep working for them. I think they got scared when I quit and finally realized how much of an asset I am to them (=France is one of their biggest markets and as the only French speaker, they'd be screwed if I left). I agreed to, as long as I could continue on as I am now, just part-time, and not start full-time like I was supposed to on May 1. This gives me a flexible schedule for the summer & enough money to live decently off of since I have no rent to pay.

I have to say that they've been great about this whole thing, even offering to let me keep working from the US if I wanted (my dear mother was over the moon about that one). But thanks but no thanks - living in small town MN and having to live on French time would not a happy Samantha make. The last technician that was here hinted that they're working on a whole new proposal for me that would allow me to work full-time from Paris. I imagine they'll send it to me soon, but I really want to take things slow and make sure I like living here before I commit. Though I guess I'd really appreciate that full-time salary come September, when I'm going to need to start looking for a new place to live!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Surreal moment # 131

Today was definitely one of those days where I felt like I'd been plopped right down in the middle of "The Nanny Diaries". I went to pick up the little boy after school today, and had to laugh to myself. There we were, a motley crew of nounous from all over the world, waiting outside a fancy school to pick up our little bourgeois charges. As the kids came out the door, you could here a million different languages all at once. And then we all filed off down the street to the park, in the hopes of tiring them out as much as possible before bed time.

The rest of the nounous split off in their various groups, but since it was my first time, I just sat on a bench alone, reading Newsweek and eavesdropping on the bourge mamans sitting behind me. They were talking about a new purse that was about to come out, that was so cool that they didn't even put a logo on it. One of the mothers had gotten one through her connections, and they were all fawning over it, and raving about the price - "only" 5,000€ since the créateur liked to sell straight to his clients instead of going through a middleman. Apparently she was able to procure one before anyone else because she was not chiante, unlike most of his other clients, namely Americans (said in a hushed voice).

And once again, I sat there thinking "My God, how did I ever end up here??"


Monday, June 16, 2008

A busy weekend = no blogging

Leah came to stay with me for the weekend and to attend the K&K picnic, and we had a blast. I was thinking though after she left how it's funny that I'm seeing all my Breton friends more now that I live in Paris than I did when I was in Bretagne!! I guess that's what happens when you live in the middle of nowhere.

Leah and I went to the Catacombes, which was really cool since it's something I've always wanted to do. I took a bunch of pictures, but sans flash, so they're a bit dark:Afterwards, we went to meet up with Karina at Aimee's café, L'Oisive Thé. It was mega-adorable and cosy, and if you're ever in Paris, I highly recommend that you stop by. Andie also showed up with her two children while we were there, so we got to meet yet another Parisian blogger!

And then it was off to the picnic (pics up on facebook). I unfortunately had to leave in the middle of it to go watch the children for a few hours but I was still able to catch up with everyone else afterwards. The only problem with these kinds of events is that there are so many people there that you never really have a chance to talk properly with everyone (*ahem*, FWaB, this means YOU). But luckily it's not the first nor the last picnic planned for the summer, so there will still be plenty of time to chat with everyone else later!


Friday, June 13, 2008

One of my goals for this summer is to try to be more present in my day to day life. I've pretty much spent the past six months waiting. First in February, waiting for my trip back to The Company to talk about them hiring me full-time, then all of March waiting for the April vacation (and thus the end of my gawd-awful teaching contract). Not to mention waiting for May 1, which was supposed to (finally) be the start of my/our adult life. The culmination of everything we'd worked so hard for. And then I ended up really spending April waiting to go back to the US, only to find out once I was there, I was counting the days until I came back to France. And then I spent the rest of May counting down the days until the 28th, when I was finally to be in Paris.

And now here I am. I have nothing left to count down to. Which is not always an easy thing for a mega-planner like myself. But you know what? I feel okay about it. I have the opportunity of a lifetime - the chance to spend a summer in Paris with no strings attached. I have a place to live, I have money to live off of and I have friends around me. So my goal is to live this summer to the fullest, and to just try to be present - to not be worrying about the future, to not always be thinking ahead. To just enjoy myself and all the cool things I will get to do. After all, stuff always works out in the end, right?


Thursday, June 12, 2008

This morning I got up early (okay, well, earlier than normal) to attend a coffee hour hosted by the Women of the American Church. I felt a bit out of place at times among all those ladies of leisure (ie. the ones who lived in fancy apartments and who were just here for their husband's jobs), but it was still fun and I met some really interesting people (thanks once again to Leesa!).

The best part though was a talk given by a Turkish woman names Sibel Pinto. She talked for a good half an hour about her home country and the various regional cuisines. It was really interesting, and it definitely renewed my desire to go to Istanbul some day. She also made four dishes for us to try, and they were all delicious:Sibel speaks perfect English and has a catering service that she runs here in Paris. She does a lot of catering for office parties, dinners, etc. Here's her website in case anyone's interested:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

June's horoscope

Early June brings in the storm before the calm. The storm is without fury, but the calm begins on the 19th, when Mercury goes out of retrograde. Relationships get better, a potential love shows up (!!), and you feel like you finally belong - because you do!

No need to look for the light at the end of this month - you are the light. Yellow spreads warmth and white brings good fortune. Wear these two colors around the 20th and you will attract luminosity and brillance to every endeavor. You are the star in June, so shine, Cancer, shine!
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I am very excited - my boxes are supposed to be coming today! As a little background, I had six boxes that I'd left at my SIL's house, and I'd been desperately trying to find a way to get them to Paris. None of the shipping or moving companies would touch them with a ten-foot pole because apparently summertime is high moving season and they couldn't be bothered with my piddly six boxes. I finally found a nearby English family who was willing to drop the boxes off at my place on their way to Eurodisney. It's costing me 100€, but that's still way cheaper than any other option I found, plus I'm getting door-to-door service (assuming they can find their way here).

I packed those boxes roughly six weeks ago, and I'm not exactly sure what's in them anymore. I know one has my shoes, so I will no longer be limited to the three pairs I've been wearing since late April. Another has my purses - yay! As for the rest, I think there's one with my books, one with teaching materials and one with ????. It's going to be like Christmas all over again! Now I'm just going to have to do some creative arranging in order to find room for it all....


Monday, June 9, 2008

Today was the most gorgeous day yet of my stay so far in Paris, and I had the good fortune of being able to take advantage of it by meeting up with Leesa from News from France. We met up at the Starbucks Montparnasse (where else would two Americans in Paris go?), and then Leesa kindly indulged me in my search for a new scarf and a purse. I had a great time exploring the neighborhood and chatting about tout et rien. Leesa just exudes positive energy and that's exactly the kind of person I need to be around right now. Plus, I think I've found the one person in France who can fit more American food into their suitcase after a trip home than I can. *S* And she brought me muffins! What's not to love?

Seriously though, what would I have done without my blog and all the great people I've met through it? And just think of everyone else there's left to meet (though the extremely wonderful & fabulous K&K picnic this Saturday should take care of a lot them). Come on people, be there or be square!


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fon-do ya?

Last night, I joined the K&K band on their outing to the famous baby bottle/fondue restaurant in Montmartre. I have a photographic evidence, but forgot to ask people if they were okay with being published on my blog, so sorry, no pics of the attendees. It was crazy fun though, or at least what I remember of it. Note to self - 3 glasses of wine plus a kir on an empty stomach does not a sober Samantha make.

Kyliemac, this one's for you:I totally understand now why everyone said I should go for the ambiance, not the food. Check out that layer of butter floating over the goopy cheese:
Our waiter alternated between being cranky (Fondue Nazi, anyone?) and just downright weird. I wasn't really a fan. Also, tip for the ladies- if you go, make sure you pee beforehand, because you'll have a hard time convincing him to let you get up once you've already been seated. And don't wear a dress or a skirt, cuz there's a 50/50 chance you'll have to climb over the table to get to your seat.And here you have the requisite picture of me downing wine out of a baby bottle. (Second note to self - it's probably not a good idea to drink that much if you don't really know where you're going or what time the last metro is - thank God for Kendra!)So thanks for inviting me ladies - it was really nice to finally put names to some of the other people I'd heard on the podcast too. Next time we'll have to sit closer together though so we can chat more (though you do get points for making ingenious use of the magic pen)!


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Okay, things are getting even weirder....not only did my brother get a job at my bank, but now he is moving into my old apartment complex. He's never even been there, nor did I mention it to him - he just randomly ended up applying for a studio there and was accepted. How's that for bizarre?

In other exciting news, I finally have internet!! And I didn't even realize it - I wasn't expecting it to be hooked up for another ten days at the earliest, so I hadn't even bothered hooking the equipment up. I can't believe it - France Telecom hooked up my phone line in less than 24hrs and my internet was turned on in just a few days. Has hell frozen over without me realizing it? I also found an English girl down the street who was selling her TV, so once I get that hooked up to the internet, I will have a multitude of channels to watch too. Living sans TV hasn't been as bad as I thought it would, but it'll be nice to have it back, if only for some background noise since I don't have a radio yet either.

Also, if you haven't checked it out yet, head on over to CNN and take a look at their "Eye on France" series. They don't reveal anything earth-shattering about France, but they do cover most of the major recent news items here (including Tecktonik, though I wouldn't really call that news, LOL).


Friday, June 6, 2008

In my quest in becoming the new! improved! version of me, last night I decided to go to a meeting. I'd been on the fence about going by myself since I'm kind of shy, but finally thought "Suck it up, Samantha. So what if you go alone? That's the whole point of these things - to meet people!". So I went, and I'm really glad I did.

The theme of the night was "Wear a funky t-shirt". I don't really have many shirts that would fall into the category of "funky", so I wore my Finnish shirt that says "Sisukas Soumalainen". It ended up being a pretty good conversation starter, and I met the craziest mix of people. I met an American who was working as a lawyer here and who's now taking some time off. An American woman in pretty much the same situation as me, ie. followed a Frenchie here and now they just broke up. An American guy who lives in Paris but who's family lives in Bourgogne. And my favorite of the night - a tiny little gay Parisian figure skating coach who now lives in Geneva but who spent five years in Scotland. He was so adorable, and we have a date to go skating next time he comes back to Paris.

Just before leaving, I also met this really nice French girl who just got back from working in the US. She really loves the US and American culture, so she wanted to meet some anglophones (but like me, was hesitating about showing up alone). I almost asked if she wanted to exchange phone numbers, but then thought it might be too forward for a French girl since we'd just met. She's planning on going to some of the future events though, so I'm hoping we'll meet up again. That's going to be my biggest challenge here - finding people to speak French with. A lot of the people there last night didn't speak French very well and I totally see how it'd be possible to live in Paris without really ever needing French at all - but that's definitely not a trap I want to fall into.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

On the road again

Last night as I was laying in bed, I suddenly felt overcome with joy. For the first time in a long time, possibly even since I came to France, I felt happy. To clarify that a bit, I was always happy with my relationship with Fab, but I never felt happy myself. I felt consistently on edge and on guard. Under pressure to fit in and to not do or say anything strange, to not always be "that foreign girl". I always used to joke about how France treated foreigners like horses - it just kept beating them down and beating them down until they broke and were submissive, but in all honesty, that's where I was heading.

Here in Paris though, there are so many other foreigners that I don't have to worry about that any more, and it's really freeing. I don't have to worry about sticking out. No one looks twice at me for being tall or blond or for having an accent. I can be myself again. It's the same feeling I always got going back to the US, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But after being in such a negative environment for so long, part of me is still waiting for the other shoe to drop, like "When is it all going to come crashing down?". I keep waiting to feel sad or depressed or upset about what's happened, but I just don't. With the exception of one minor freak-out my first night here (that involved me getting locked out of my apt and panicking and thinking "WTF are you doing in Paris? You don't know anyone here!!"), things have been really good. I'm slowly (oh so slowly) getting a feel for the city, my work is going well and I'm managing to find ways to occupy my time. What more can a girl ask for?


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Puhutko suomea?

I am super excited - while walking back from the bar this weekend, I discovered that the Finnish Cultural Institute is just a few blocks from chez moi! If I decide to stay here next year, I will definitely be signing up for classes. I used to speak Finnish fairly fluently, but since I have a one-track mind and have been concentrating on French for so long now, I've lost almost all of it. I'm pretty sure it will come back pretty quickly though if I start taking classes - it's gotta be hiding somewhere in this nob I call a brain.

I was never really a fan of French, so it was never a language I wanted to learn - but I didn't really have a choice in the matter after moving here! But Finnish on the other hand - now we're talking. It's such an interesting language and is purportedly the 4th most difficult language to learn, after Japanese, Chinese and Russian.

The only sad thing is that now I've lost my Finnish accent. Since I grew up hearing it, it always came fairly easy to me and I didn't really sound like an American when I spoke it. It was the only foreign language I'd ever learned though, so when I started learning French, I had a really hard time because the sounds are just so different. But now my ear has been trained for all the French nasals, and I can't pronounce Finnish words without sounding like a French person! But who knows, maybe that will come back too after a while. And just in case it doesn't work out here, there are also classes available in Minneapolis, so at least no matter where I am this fall, I know I'll likely be studying Finnish a few nights a week!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

We're not in Brittany anymore, Toto

Now that I've recovered from practically robbing the cradle, I can talk more about the wedding. The actual marriage ceremony took place in the mairie of the 5ème in Paris, and only took about 10 minutes - though then again, we were fashionably late, so maybe it really lasted longer, lol. Seriously, only I would be late to a wedding, cuz I'm that classy.

Afterwards, Yuri and I kind of hung around awkwardly while a couple of photographers walked around photographing pretty much everyone but us. And then we made our way to the Cercle Nationale des Armées (read: really fancy army building) for the vin d'honneur. We almost got rejected from the bus ride over there, until the groom's mother finally deemed us worthy of boarding (ie. all the guests were on and there was enough room for us).

I wasn't really sure what a vin d'honneur was, but it pretty much involved everyone standing around in a fancy reception hall eating hors-d'oeuvres and drinking champagne. Again, Yuri and I were rebuffed by the groom's mother. We were starting to feel really out of place and unwelcome. But then a short while later, she came up and was suddenly all friendly. Either it was the champagne she'd been drinking, or it's a requirement that all French MIL's have to be bipolar.

It was so strange though to be surrounded by people with so much old money. It's not something I've ever been exposed to, coming from small-town Minnesota and all. Apparently the groom's father is/was really high up in the army, so there were a lot of current & ex-military men there, along with some of the "grandes familles" of Paris. But it was interesting to see what an importance everyone's family name held, and how they all judged each other by it.

Around 2pm, Yuri and I snuck out in order to go visit Paris a little and make a trip to the Japanese quartier. I happened to change into a different dress before going back(mostly because I felt like my boobs were hanging out and everyone else was so covered up) - and we showed up to the dinner to discover that everyone else had changed too, only into even dressier clothes. So I did things totally backwards - I should've worn the second dress to the wedding and the booby dress to the dinner/dance. But oh well, bourgeoise I am definitely not.

The meal was really tasty, though it was kind of weird that all of the dishes were fish-based. What was funny was the guy next to me was like "What? There's no meat!" Cuz in France, fish does not count as meat. Go figure. The meal was good though, and then they brought out the traditional flaming pièce montée (pretty much a big pile of cream puffs), along with a bunch of other desserts that I didn't have room for. Quel dommage. And then I danced the night away, drinking champagne until almost 5am when I found myself zooming across Paris in taxi, slightly buzzed, coming home just in time to watch the sun start to rise over the city.

Talk about surreal.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Lord, I have no shame - I spent the night dancing with a boy (no, really, he was a BOY - I can't even call him a man. But in my defense, pretty much everyone was either under 20 or over 40). Look at him though, he's just a baby:I didn't mean too, but he asked me to dance once and then we just never stopped. It really surprised me because I never dance - I have no sense of rhythm whatsoever and I'm normally really self-conscious about it, but when he asked, I figured "What the hell, what've you go to lose?" He'd taken a lot of dance classes though, so I actually ended up learning quite a bit. And it was a change to dance with a man who knew how to lead, versus Fab who's even worse than I am, lol. So look at me, going in hot tubs, dancing the night away - who'd have ever thought?

I'm quite surprised by how the night turned out though - I figured it was going to be some stuffy dinner and we'd be out of there by 9, but we didn't end up leaving until almost 4:30am. Those bourgeois really let loose once the alcohol starts flowing! And man, was it good alcohol - there were just endless bottles of champagne à volonté. (And you guys all know my weakness for champagne).

When things started winding down, the poor kid asked if he could "accompany" me back to my place, and I said "Sorry, the only person accompanying me back is Yuri. Besides, that's probably illegal in half of the states in the US". He tried to convince me that he was just at his sexual peak, but I could only laugh and say "I'm sorry kid, you're just a baby". But I also think that's why I enjoyed myself so much - there was no pressure. I didn't have to worry about being particularly funny or interesting or sexy - I could just let go and have fun. But he was really sweet, telling me I was beautiful and always trying to hold my hand and stuff - you gotta give him credit for trying. Plus, it's the first male contact I've had in like two months now, and I have to admit it felt nice to have a warm (and toned) body to dance with. And like Yuri said, I probably danced more last night than I have in my entire life!

There were times though when I felt like I was in a twilight zone - these people live in a whole different world than the one I knew back in Bretagne. Living in the countryside, I often forgot about how there was still a whole upper class of French people, with old money and fancy homes and where names still matter. It was just a really odd to think about going from living in the middle of nowhere in the gîte and all of the sudden finding myself in a super nice hôtel with chandeliers and people wearing clothes that probably cost more than what I make in a year. But still, give me that over a field of cows any day! So now I just need to find myself a nice little bourgeois boy, one who has a vacation home in Provence and the Alps and who can whisk me off to London at a moment's notice. *S*PS. I have to say mille mercis à Yuri, for coming to stay with me this weekend and being my 'date' to the wedding - it was tons of fun and I'm glad you were there with me to share my first weekend in Paris!


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Don't worry, I'm still alive! It's been a busy weekend, but I'll write more about how everything went tomorrow. Just to give you an idea though, I'll just say that I'm starting to turn into Mrs Robinson.....