Thursday, April 21, 2011

しゃしん (Photos)

I'm going to Strasbourg tomorrow for the weekend! How about some pictures, as a lovely non sequitur?

Went to the Château de Vincennes, an old prison where King Charles somebody also hung out to do king work stuff.

There was a chapel at the castle. Plain but pretty! Like me? haha

My friend N and I hung out in the grass at the castle.

At the entrance to the giant Parc Floral de Paris.

Tulips for you, Mom!

Just thought this was funny - the bank is warning thieves that all violent threats are "useless," since the employees don't have keys to the important stuff. I just like the dryness of the French saying "all your leetle threats, zey are useless."

You know, regular Saturday afternoon.

Eating violet (!) and mint chip ice cream at the Musée Rodin.

Favorite #1 "Le Baiser" (the kiss)

Favorite #2, a ballet pose.

Japanese classmate (French), former Japanese teacher (Japanese), me!

Small town bakery, big time Easter enthusiasm

I got a haircut (well, trim) in French!!!

Wary looks at the all-uphill walk, which I finally documented in photos. Those will come soon...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Cold Shoulder

It is school vacation now, and I have about a week until I go back to the high school to see my classes for a final time. There's really no work left to do, just goodbye games and probably snacks. (Let's gloss over the tangent I could go on here about snacks and how I've legitimately gained back all the weight I worked hard to lose last year.) And I have about 12 days till I go home for good.

People keep telling me, "Oh, it's gone by so fast! You really have to take advantage of your last few days, enjoy Paris while you can!" They judge me silently when I say I still haven't gone to this or that place and that I'm actually not planning anything for this vacation other than a weekend trip to Strasbourg. People worry and fret on my account for the immense regret I may incur within my own soul if I don't DO.ABSOLUTELY.EVERYTHING.NOW!!!

I don't know if I will regret anything about this trip or not. I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow, much less months down the road when I look back at this experience. I can guess that I won't regret anything, simply because I accept and affirm the choices I make for myself as the best ones, whenever I can. (Sometimes I make bad choices for myself, but even then I try not to regret but to understand.) But my point is that I have no interest in "enjoying Paris while I can."

Paris, for me, has absolutely nothing on New York and San Francisco. The French, to me, have absolutely nothing on American hospitality and kindness, and the qualities they do have don't really make up for that. This not-so-tongue-in-cheek article about France sent to me by a friend even cites some study that found French people were less likely than many other countries to have performed an act of kindness in the last month. And I believe it!*

If I lived here for longer, if I had the time, I would take that time to comfortably explore Paris, maybe even call it my own at some point. But despite my enthusiasm for it, despite the way I made a forty-five minute to an hour beeline to it several times a week, I was still turned away. Cold, rude encounters, unfavorable situations, and even THEFT, were what met me. Sure, I'm inspiring a lot of sarcastic pity violins right now, but I'm being honest in saying that I don't like the part of France where I have been.

I think the problem is that France is not as used to foreign transplants as America, maybe. Just a hunch, and maybe I expect everyone to be as accommodating as Americans, which I admit is unfair. I'm pretty done trying to solve the unsolvable mystery of how to get on the French people's good side. In any case, I have seen some nice things here, I've had a lot of valuable life experiences, and I have certainly met some wonderful people (a couple of them French). But... this week, I'm just content to stay home, try to run a bit, eat some healthy food, study, and forget that I'm somewhere other than America.

* - However, tonight when I was coming home late from Paris after Japanese class and dinner with friends, I was on the RER train when I recalled that I wouldn't have a ride back from the train station because my host lady is on vacation. I called a few taxi dispatchers that I had in my phone for such an occasion, but apparently you need to reserve in advance. If you've talked to me in the last few months, you know that I live a 30-minute all-uphill walk away from the train station, and the town has been known to turn out the streetlights after midnight and cast an absolutely petrifying darkness over that already-scary walk home. But a lady on the train heard me on the phone with the taxi dispatchers and actually offered to drive me home. We had a nice, easy conversation all the way back and she stated that I didn't even speak with an accent. "C'est vraiment incroyable," she said. I like to think that's the kind of person I'll remember from France when I look back on it all.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

France sucks

Got my wallet stolen by a sketchy Romanian beggar in Montmartre because I was stupid and didn't pay attention to my bag.

At least I did some impressive stuff, like file a complaint in French at the local police department and dealt with my French bank card in French.

This is how I know I have completed my quest in France - I've actually had to use the useless vocabulary from high school lessons in places like the grocery store, the bakery, the train station, and now the emergency room! (January), the bank!, the POLICE DEPARTMENT!

18 days till I'm outta here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Abject and Anticipatory

I'm gonna post soon, I swear! Just as soon as I stop enjoying SPRING, which will be n-e-v-e-r!! A-ha-ha-ha, suckers!!! You'll never get a blog post from me again!!!

Now that I've gone very ninth-grade-diary on you all... here's a list of what's to come. It's as much for my own memory as it is for your abject, anticipatory torture.

  • Student surveys and snack parties
  • Thinking my students are way too attractive (I don't need to post about that, I think that line says it all. Just add a dash of shame and you've got my brain's daily special.)
  • More everyday French that I'm relishing
  • A video or two from my big-city escapades
  • Being mistaken for a French person by a French person, when I spoke, again...
  • Really leaning into the travel-journal-ness of this all, which basically means I don't take enough photos but I'm the kind of person who is more satisfied by descriptive verbal recollection, so that's what y'all are going to get, too. :)
P.S. I'm sorry for not responding to some of your emails, esp serious ones. A response is coming soon.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Three Cool Kids

    1. I am her!
    2. I saw her in concert!
    3. I love her. Send cat hugs to E, whose kitty recently left us. <3