Starting to get some survival skills. There are somethings that I can't manage, though. When I'm walking straight towards someone, I step to the right, so we don't crash into each other. This is clearly not what the French person expects. I get really uptight in crowded spaces because I don't know how to go around people.
Yesterday, I went to put money in my new bank account. The nice woman at the bank spent like 20 minutes explaining that I should get cash out of the ATM, and then go talk to the teller next door to deposit it. After a few more explanations, and some pointing, this mission was finally accomplished. Then I went grocery shopping which has become easy enough to revert to being mundane. Then I went to buy a bike pump (as Cola has a flat tire) and decided that maybe I should just buy a helmet already. Simple questions and simple answers I can handle. "Which is the least expensive helmet?" "I have the head, she very small."
Then we went to get Cola a cell phone. For this transaction, they needed to see my identity card. I guess that's why the copier felt free to read it, since it seems like it's public anyway. There's hardly a thing you can do without it. I spouted off more barely comprehensible french. Then we went to dinner. This was our first dinner out since arriving. We went to a tiny vegetarian place in the 4th, very much a tourist area. The food was pretty good. They didn't have carafes of house wine, so we were forced (forced, i tell you) to order a whole bottle. Anyway, afterwards we wandered into a church that was built in 1520 or something. I was surprised to see it open so late. There are informational signs inside, so tourists are definitely welcome. But then I saw they were doing an adoration of the Holy Eucharist, so we left.
In the very very old days, all Christian churches faced east. Between that and the stained glass windows, Christianity looks a lot like a cult of sun worshipping (that pun is English-only, alas). In the middle ages, there started to be a cult of relics, where pieces of dead saints were displayed as a holy objects whose proximity enhanced prayer and holy meditation. Tied up in this was the emergence of the idea of transubstantiation. The piece of bread used in the Mass actually becomes Jesus, according to catholic belief. Because the presence of relics (pieces of dead saints) in gold reliquaries (holders for said relics) enhanced prayer and meditation, a piece of Jesus would certainly have even greater potency. A special reliquary for the consecrated host (transubstantiated bread) was invented and was called a monstrance. It's a round glass holder which holds the round host within it. Then, radiating outwards from the host like rays of the son, there are gold decorations. It strongly resembles a symbol of the sun, perhaps demonstrating a strong unconscious link with sun worship, even though the official symbology is that of a death cult. There is an uneasy mingling of solar symbols and death symbols, with vibrant stained glass windows and macabre crucifixes. Anyway, given that adoration of the blessed sacrament is extremely holy, when I saw the monstrance, I thought it would be disrespectful to try to take unobtrusive photos of the requisite Joan of Arc statue (in every Catholic church in France, afaik) and exit.
Then we went to an abandoned gay bar and then drunk biking home. Good thing I have a helmet.
Today, we have occupied ourselves trying to discover the mysteries of Cola's new cell phone. Not since the Pharaoh's tomb was first discovered have people scratched their heads so violently at mysterious hieroglyphics. For instance, what the heck is her phone number? I called the information code and pressed 0 for operator. (bracketed  text is in english).
"What is the number telephone with we talk now?" Strangely the operator failed to catch my drift. "[Yesterday] I purchased cell phone. I'm not acquainted with number of telephone." She told me to call another number, so I did. It read the number in fast french. I got all but two numbers. What was 'swason set' and 'trant weet'? We covered numbers in my French class over the summer. Everything between 1 and 100 000 000 in about an hour or less. I saw the concierge outside and rushed down to ask her. "Hello, madam, please excuse me for disturbing you, but I'm having a problem. I buy telephone cellular and number 'swason set.' I don't understand the number 'swason set'? Write it please?" She was very helpful, perhaps impressed by my memorized introductory phrase. But I tried calling the phone number and it didn't work. So I rushed back down with the phone. "I don't understand number. Phone, she says number. I don't understand." The concierge went for her glasses. "no no. She says number!" The word 'ecoutez' escaped my brain. Finally I put the phone to my ear. She wrote down the same number as before. I thanked her profusely and then realized I had locked myself out of my building. "I forgot mine key!"
Maybe the phone needs to have cash put onto it? We went to an ATM but couldn't figure out how to use it to charge the phone. (It is possible, according to the phone company's web page (which is just a ton of fun in google translator, since about half the text is in image files).) Ok, so we went to a tabbac and bought a phone card and have spent the last hour or so trying to figure out which numbers to press. French is hard. Maybe the second most difficult spoken language (not as hard to read as German, but way harder to speak and understand spoken) and doubly difficult over the phone. finally the recorded voice said the phone card had already been used. Yay. But we still can't call the phone. The web page for the phone company says no such number exists. (Inspiration strikes as I type this! no, alas, a false lead.)
MY school has not yet posted the schedule. Which is too bad, because I really need to know when I'll have time for French classes. Maybe a cellphone class. I'm going to go get out a dictionary and figure out what I want to ask, write it down poorly, and then go back to happy phone and ask some questions.