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Wednesday 21 September 2005

Tampon Officiel

It's not what you think

Tuesday 20 september 2005, 21:33

I know some of you are thinking "soy milk? She's going to France and looking for Soy Milk?!! Sacre bleu!" Well, oh my god, this is the best soy milk I've ever had in my life. I am in love with the soy milk. When I go home, I'm going to go to French import stores to buy soy milk.

I went to the Paris University today to register with the police as a foreign student. Alas, I do need a birth certificate. Fortunately, the woman explained, my consulate can provide one. She even wrote down the address of the consulate. She was monolingual, which forced me to speak in French as much as I was able. These encounters are good for my language skills. So really, there's a silver lining to the mad amounts of paperwork. Oh, and she told me I need a new admission letter from my school because the one they sent when I was admitted was "too old." «C'est ancien!» Right-oh. And I need an original electric bill, not the fax that I used with French Consulate in San Francisco. (Don't ask why I need electric bills.)

For those of you keeping score at home, this was my third time through a metal detector at a police building.

I went from the Paris University directly to the American Consulate, but they only deal with people from 9:00 - 1:00. They've gone native! Or they just want to help people as little as possible. Either way, they've got some fine real estate. They're right next to the Champs Élysés. After being turned away, I had lunch with Cola at the Jardin des Tuileries, near a large fountain and fine art statue with american origin from the late 1920s of two people getting it on. I'm immature.

I went by my school for the first time today to get an admission notice that wasn't "ancient." They tried to give me one with a photocopied signature, but I protested and so got a real signature AND an official stamp. (The word for stamp is "tampon," which explains why I've seen signs about official ones.) The folks at the school seem nice. It took like an hour to get there and it's definitely not something I could just bike.

Speaking of which, I have now been to every used bike shop in my arrondissement and in the ones immediately neighboring mine. I have not gone to every single used bike shop in the entire city, maybe I should look at ones near the university while I'm there tomorrow.

And lastly, I cannot say the word "plan" to save my life. It means map. I failed to buy a map of Alfortville today. How do you pronounce "plan?" I've been going for a sort of a "plah" with a very nasal implied n at the end. This is clearly not right.

Wednesday 21 September 2005

I went today to the American Consulate to ask for a birth certificate. (Why would anyone need proof that I was born? Isn't it obvious?) They gave me a print out of a web page which told me to go a web site in california to request one. As I was on the way out, I noticed that the print out said I would need a notarized, sworn statement as to my identity in order to get a birth certificate. I got back in line and asked for a sworn certificate of identity thingee that perhaps I could use in the month or so it would take to a birth certificate. I got a form. I filled out the form. I got back in line. The new person asked why I wanted a statement of identity and gave me a different form to fill out. I filled it out. I got back in line. Then they sent me to a different line. Then I got into a fifth line to wait to be called. There were two windows assigned to help people with birth certificate-related matters. In front of me in line was a woman who spent over an hour explaining to the birth certificate man that she was a victim of government sponsored mind control experiments carried out by the KKK. She fled to Europe but was followed and now has no money whatsoever etc. It was sad. Also, she had the attention of the birth certificate consular guy.

Are there more crazy Americans than there are crazy people from other countries? Is it fluoride in the drinking water? Mercury in childhood vaccinations? A government conspiracy to paint certain people as mentally ill?

So I swore to a government guy that I had spelled my parents names correctly and he gave me an official stamp. It's a much nicer stamp than CCMIX's official stamp. All textured and notary-like.

So after spending all morning and a good part of the afternoon at the US consulate, I went to the Paris University again. I was back out within 10 minutes. CCMIX's official stamp failed to impress them. "I haven't heard of this school." the woman with the magic stamp that I need explained. I need a third letter from the school complete with it's "number of existence." Also, I need an original of the electric bill at my apartment and it must be much more recent than the one I found in a drawer in the living room. I have no such document. It's unlikely I'll have one before the next bill comes. Which is unlikely to happen before Friday. Which is the day by which I must be registered with the police.

So I went and bought a bicycle. It's a Dutch cruiser single speed with coaster breaks. yee-haw. Since I think I need a monthly subway pass anyway, I was wondering if the bike was actually a wise purchase, and then I started weaving around traffic like a real Parisian. Biking rocks. Also, like a real Parisian, I am totally sans helmet. Whee! Um, but I may go correct this shortly.

Tonight will email the school with the requirements set forth by the cop with the stamp and email the landlord to see if she can overnight me an electric bill or something. (Maybe if I show up with a phone bill, the cop will have forgotten that she earlier demanded an electric bill. Maybe she will be so impressed with the array of stamps that I will eventually collect that she will offer me citizenship if I get PACSed with her.)


at a free wifi pub. beer is cheeper than internet places.


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