Monday, 26 September 2005, 19:33
I have an identity card! Well, I have a temporary thingee. My landlord fedexed the gas bill to me and it came this morning. So I hopped on my bike and rode all the way out to the southern edge of the city. My route took me near up Montparnasse, sort of, but it was not much of a hill where I was, or it would have been too much for a heavy, single speed bike. I passed the Luxembourg Gardens and the Pantheon and all sorts of interesting diversions, but instead, I rode to the Prefecture de Police where I was finally allowed past the gate keeper of document inspection.
Forms were filled out (with essay questions! (which got remarkably short answers from me)). Lines were waited in. Functionaries were spoken with. It was whirlwind of sitting in uncomfortable plastic chairs, waiting to be called! Actually, the chairs were pretty good, especially in comparison to bearucratic situations in the US. So I have an ID thing that's got stamps on it and is valid through most of October. On the 11th of October, I have to go have a medical exam. I think I will have to miss class for the morning. I don't have a schedule yet. I hope it's not the most important day or something. After I get certified as healthy (hopefully), I get to pay a tax and return to the Prefecture and get a longer term residency card.
I biked back home and felt so dern tired. I still have a cold (which I want to be over). So I took a nap. Travel colds suck. I wonder if they sell Sudafed here.
Last night, I felt pretty good, and so went out to see if I could purchase an eclair. Alas, I could not, but decided to walk to the Place Stalingrad. Since it was impromptu, neither of us were carrying a map. We made a wrong turn at a homeless encampment and ended up at the St Martin Canal. It's pretty. In some spots I was looking up at the water from the street and wondering if they just open all the locks when it rains a lot or what. However, neither I nor Cola had any idea how to retrace our steps nor were we sure which side of the canal that we lived on. We walked past a bar that looked like it was a set from a movie. There was a guy inside actually wearing a beret. The window said it had performances inside sometimes. I could hear someone playing the piano and singing. I think it may have been called Che. I want to go back when I'm not lost and feeling cold-y. Fortunately, though, Paris has signs all over it directing wheeled traffic towards major destinations like the Place Stalingrad or the Place de Republique. We finally saw a sign for the later and walked there, purchased a crepe and then walked home.
When I locked up my bike today, the wind was blowing and chestnuts were raining down in the wind, striking everything around them. They're so dark brown and shiny and perfect and look like they would smart if they hit your head. There are broken, smashed ones in the streets that have been ground under the tires of busses and taxis and cars. I wanted to pick the ones all around the bike racks and stuff them in my bags and take them home and cook them, but nobody else seems to be foraging beneath the trees and I lack the courage to break possible taboo, so they go to waste.
In language news, it turns out that the word for soy "soja" is not pronounced "soya" like it is in many other languages, but instead is called "so-ZHA." And they say TV rots your brain. Soy yogurt is apparently huge here, there's Danonne and Yoplait and a million other brands running TV ads. I also had some pronunciation help from the guy scheduling my medical appointment. "It's by Metro baSTEE."
me: "oh, basteel"
him: no, baSTEE
I should have asked him how to say "plan"
I heard rumors a long time ago that Shakespeare and Co hosts English-language poetry events. As soon as I have my class schedule, I'm going to go by with a CD and talk to them about text sound.
Everything is much too exciting for me to have cold.
And I have a bank account! The first bank I walked into said they couldn't help me until I have a permanent carte de sejour and that nobody would be able to help me without a permanent identity card. So I went to the bank down the block who seemed unaware of said restriction. Tomorrow, I get to go back to get the numbers I need to wire money and then I get to go online and perform said wiring.
Do they have bank insurance in France like the FDIC in the US? All I know about my NEW BANK (w00t!) (Credit Lyonnaise) is that they were part of a massive government bailout several years ago. And they have a branch across from my metro station.
This is nifty: When you get the address to something in France, they also tell you the nearest metro station. Since there's one every two blocks or so, this is a great help in locating any address. Also, the last two digits of your Parisian postal code are the number of your arrondissment.
French people don't smile automatically like some Americans (it's hardly universal even in the US. Yankees don't walk around grinning either). Sometimes it's hard for me to remember not to smile, even though I tend towards not-smiley by California standards. Yesterday, I accidentally smiled at a woman in the bathroom. (I was nervous. I forgot. Anyway, she was kind of butch, which was validating for me.)
There is a guy down the street who has a photocopy place. He has an adorable brown dog tied up outside. The dog is super-friendly and will play with passersby such as myself. I went to get some photocopies made before going to the bank. The man is the opposite of the dog. I've been in his shop before and I think I may have accidentally been rude, trying to do self-copying rather than have him copy things. They have a self-service machine, but anyway . . .. Today I came in and he was dour as normal. I told him his dog was cute and he broke into a grin and started asking about my studies. "Electronic music? In France??" He also took the time to read all of my paperwork that I needed copied. It's not exactly secret, but, um, I think this must also be a cultural difference.
On the weekend, I took a picture of the statue of Joan of Arc in the 1st, by the Louvre and wrote that I couldn't remember why it was important (aside from La Pen's misdirected admiration). I think now that it may be over, or at least very near, the spot where she was injured while attacking Paris. She got injured while attacking one of the gates of the city: Saint Honoré. I don't know where that was, but the city wall used to be right next to where the Louvre is now. Tuileries was outside, the Louvre was inside. And the rue Saint Honoré comes closest to the Louvre where the statue is. Let's Go Paris 2001 reports that she was injured in the 1st, but doesn't say where, probably instead devoting space to snark about popular uprisings and the superiority of American Hegemony and how you can get in to see the Mona Lisa and back out of the museum within 15 minutes (no really, they have said paragraphs. God forbid you see any art or anything). I will look for confirmation of where she was injured and report back.
Every single shirt I brought with me is blue.
My internet modem is here, but is not here. The concierge has it. She takes a lunch break everyday until 4:00(!). It is 4:15. Why has she not returned to give me my wireless modem?
I got Nicole's name added to my bank account. I have to put some money into the account or I sense it will cause some problems. When I get my internet set up, I can use it to wire money to my new bank account.
Today, like yesterday, I am dressed entirely in blue, including my socks, but not my back shoes. If I had the right sort of white hat, I would be a smurf. I seem to have accidentally adopted blue like Jean once adopted purple. I must make a note to avoid the blue man group, lest things get out of hand.
She's still not there!
It's making me feel blue . . ..
Obviously she doesn't work 24/7. During which hours is it acceptable to ring her buzzer?