Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Je pense donc je suis en grève

Wednesday December 16, 2009 - Je pense donc je suis en grève.

This quote is too-stereotypically plastered on a poster on one of my buildings at the university. It means, “I think, so I'm on strike”.

Well it was bound to happen sooner or later: the (in)famous French strike. Now, I been living in Paris for almost 5 months now (wow, btw) and until this point there have only been transportation strikes for other trains besides mine. (Other types of strikes naturally exist all the time such as the Post Office Strike or the Museum Strike and I heard the Eiffel Tower was on strike too awhile ago…no, really!)The RER A (one of the big trains that run through Paris and into the suburbs) has been on strike now for a little over a week or so and apparently I am losing my fresh-perspective for blog-worthy material. See, I just thought it was a pain, not news to anyone until I talked to my Dad on the phone…thus, per request, the French strike report!

On a normal school day, I take my metro line to a bigger station to switch to the RER to get to class. This takes about 45 minutes porte à porte or door to door. My first commute during a strike: 2 ½ hours. I heard that 1 out of every 2 trains was running, so not a problem I just left early for my 1:00pm class. Well, when I arrived at the ghost town aka my RER station I became aware that 1 of 2 was running during rush hour. Oh. So, back to the metro I go to switch to a different metro that will take me as far west as possible and from there take a bus (you can start laughing at this point). When I finally get to that station, about an hour into my commute time, I find that there are exactly 22 buses, twenty-two buses, that depart from there. So, I stood there looking at this map that is INSANE, all the while freezing mind you, and finally walked away and asked someone in a uniform. So, I managed to wind my way around the massive station/underground city to find my bus; which I did! And then continued to stalk the other riders to see if any of them were headed to my destination…I found some! Aaaaaand followed them. Oooon the 10 minute walk from our stop to the university. Heeheehee…

And, PS there is a much simpler way to get to school that I now know so no worries about me walking in the dark to a random bus somewhere. But that reminds me, did you know it is dark in Paris? Like the sun comes up at 8:30am and sets at 5:00pm! That means almost all of my walks to and from the metro station to my apartment are in the dark; it gets confusing! Is it morning? Where am I going? Is it 3am? Did I set my alarm right? Am I going to work or school? What color are my pants? Wait, no that really happened…I didn’t know I was wearing gray pants instead of jeans until I got into the well-lit metro station. So much for be some glamorous Parisian; I guess the first step would be to turn on the light when picking out my clothing! Duh.

I’m almost surprised that I don’t get lost or disoriented more often. Today, Rema and I went shopping in an RER station…that’s right an underground multi-level mall in the middle of Les Halles, a tangled meeting point for 3 RER trains and 5 metro lines. We managed to find our way in, buy Christmas dresses, and then find our way back out again…I feel sorry for tourists! 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12/12 = Mon Anniversaire!

Saturday December 12, 2009 - 12/12 = Mon Anniversaire!

(So, I totally just started this blog in my head in French…so I’ll be sure to translate for my Anglophone followers!) Yesterday was my 21st birthday! Celebrated in a city where it doesn’t matter, but I managed to cause enough trouble! Lol, me? Trouble? …Well at midnight, my roommate forced a celebratory glass of wine at me and I opened a present from home! Then I slept in, did some homework (I know I stink at being a rebel), opened another present, went baaack to sleep, ate a pain au chocolat for breakfast, no wait, lunch, no actually dinner by American standards! And opened another present while waiting for my Californians to wake up! I loved talking to my parents and sister for awhile!

Let me please tell you, I can't even express how incredibly SPOILED and LOVED I feel!! A few days ago, I received a thick envelope from my parents in the mail filled with colorful cupcake cutouts with notes from everyone wishing me a happy birthday…pretty much all of France is convinced I have the greatest Mom in the world and they couldn’t be more right! THANK YOU!!!!! All of you, SO much! Je suis vraiment touchée; as the French would say, I am truly touched!

So last night, after putting on my new sweater dress and Juicy Couture earrings from my parents and applying my new Benefit Hoola from my sister, I headed out with a few friends to le Vrai Paris, a chic and warm Parisian restaurant in Montmartre. After consulting with Alex (the one who brings the stinky cheese to my house) about the menu, I decided to order a Queue de Lotte; “it’s a fysh, verrry goood”… and some white wine of course! It was my 21st birthday after all! So this so-called fysh, was very good, but it was the consistency of crab or lobster and had a somewhat hard shell/exo-skeleton(?) Just for background information, the French love to know just how “fresh” their food is (ie going to a farm in person and picking out a live animal to eat for dinner the next day and enjoyment of watching the whole process) Whereas me, I typically don’t like food that still looks like the animal it was (ie a cheeseburger does not look like a cow versus I can’t eat shrimp well, because it still looks exactly like a shrimp…) Back to my dinner, while eating I kept wondering what this fish looked like! Unfortunately for you and me, I googled it…Just be thankful I chose the cartoon illustration to share. OMG.

My first California-legal glass of wine:

My lovely friend Joanne from England joined us for dinner and brought me the cutest cupcake! A REAL cupcake! It is from Berko, a cupcake shop in the Marais. It had white cake and raspberry flavored hot pink frosting…I definitely have to take my cupcake-baking sister there when she visits!

After dinner, we decided to get another drink nearby. Rema and I both got fruity grapefruit cocktails that were super yummy…Now you are all witnesses, I have had exactly 2, t-w-o drinks so far, therefore I have no way of explaining my tumble down the Metro stairs a half an hour later; I blame my crazy-slippery ankle boots and overall clumsiness, but it is quite the coincidence... And yes, some may use an injury scale to determine just how “successful” a 21st birthday is; I however, do not use my number of bruises as bragging rights. Luckily for your enjoyment, my trusty roommate Rema had the camera ready to catch me in action. This is me rubbing mes trois genoux (my three knees: two normal knees, and the third swelling out of the side of my ankle). The best part: read the caption above my shoulders. It is a disclaimer. On an alcohol advertisement. It says “l’abus d’alcool est dangereux” which you guessed translates to “the abuse of alcohol is dangerous”. GREAT. TWOOOO drinks, really?! So as I limped home, in the dark, 28⁰, on my birthday, clinging to my bag and my cupcake, I couldn’t help but think, man, all I really wanted was a hot fudge sundae anyways…

Hahahahahahaha, oh man!

I think I'll go back to my standard cake and ice cream in the future; this whole 21st birthday experience is obviously not for me!