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Sunday, 9 October 2005

The more things change

In 2003, when I first started at wesleyan I blogged about one of the first students whom I attempted to befriend. Things were going fine but then, out of the blue, an exhibition of racism, to which I said nothing, unsure of how to react. Oh no! this student is not from this immediate region, but hails from much closer to here than I do and certainly has more culturally in common with the locals than I do. Also, why the heck didn't I object at the time?

In 2005, well.

In 2003, my house had no working smoke detectors and there were constant fire sirens, evidence of the danger of that situation. So I went to k-mart and bought a bunch of them and installed them.

In 2005, well, how do you say "smoke detector" in French? I haven't seen any fire trucks go by, but a bunch of someone's burned possessions appeared on the street several days ago and still they sit out there. A ruined dresser. I wonder how the fire was discovered? Or is my lack of smoke detection an aberration?

In 2003, I felt as if I had moved to an alien culture where I could barely communicate with the natives, causing unintentional offense all the dern time and having perplexing social interactions wherein it became clear that I had totally different values than the person with whom I was conversing.

In 2005, I actually need a dictionary to go buy something. le fil de dentaire = french for dental floss. The pharmacy guy spent like five minutes explaining he was very sorry for having called me monsieur, after he heard my high pitch voice asking for floss. "Dood, I don't care, just give me my damn dental floss." is a bit beyond me, so I only repeated my request for dental floss. The phrase I was searching for was "Ce n'est pas grave." It's not important. Seriously.

In 2003, I felt lonely and homesick, so I walked down to the water area to take in some sunlight on a nice warm day.

In 2005, it was like 21 degrees today and sunny, the warmest it had been in a week. I stepped outside of my apartment and discovered that I didn't need my jacket. It's always warmer on the street than it is in my place. I walked down towards the Saint Martin Canal and discovered that the rest of the 10th arrondissement had the same idea as I. There were street musicians everywhere, a street clown performing for a bunch of very appreciative small children and I swear to god an actual wind band in a band shell in the park. They were wearing straw boater hats, even. I stood for a while and listened to them play (mostly American) band tunes. Then I walked back along the canal and saw a boat going up it, which is exciting. They raised the draw bridge and opened one of the locks to let the boat through. A crowd gathered on top of the pedestrian bridge to watch the boat come into the lock and progress through it. Locks are cool. Then I went towards home and purchased a crème caramel, which bears an exceedingly strong resemblance to mexican flan and the afore-mentioned dental floss. I've been feeling sad all day, despite pudding and having a much cleaner house. I'm going to go tomorrow to buy some vitamins. I eat vegetables every day, of course, but it's hard to get all necessary vitamins unless you eat broccoli every single day, which wouldn't actually be so bad.

random sightings

Last night, I saw that there's some sort of breast cancer awareness campaign going on. I could tell this because there were pictures of topless women with pink ribbons and something about cancer. Breast cancer. Pictures of breast. The french get right to the point, errr, yes. Last night I also saw a large mob of people who climbed onto the République statue to celebrate some sort of football victory, I think. Not France's. The flag they were waving was red with a red crescent. I saw in Le Monde a list of teams qualifying for a world championship. (But I don't know what they meant exactly. Is it time for the world cup again, already? French announcers don't yell "gooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllll" and are thus inferior to the spanish channel.) And today and yesterday both, I saw graffiti that a local woman admitted being perplexed by. She thought it was official and it did blend in rather well with official art. But it's not. It's space invaders! Somebody is putting blocky figures from the space invaders game up around the city. The local woman did not believe my explanation, but the one I saw today had the word "bonus" with it and was clearly an arcade reference.

Also sighted in Le Monde: a review of Doctor Atomic. If you live near San Francisco, you must go see this opera. It's exciting that San Francisco got the premiere. I hope it comes here on the road before I leave, cuz I want to see it.

And the moral of the story: it's good to have had some experience moving suddenly to a school far away where I don't know anybody, because I've been through it all before, so I know it will turn out fine. And I'm never moving again. Until next time. And it's waaaaayyyyyyy better to drop everything in your life and move to Paris than it is to go to Middletown, at least as far as weekend diversions go.

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1 comment:

Crinis said...

To be super-fluent, say "C'est pas grave" for "It's not important". Drop the 'ne'. Sounds very good and rolls off la langue tres facile.