Sunday, October 31, 2004
Saturday, October 30, 2004
It was a lovely afternoon, and you can see more pics at the photoblog.
Also, something extraordinary happened this morning. A few weeks ago, we went to Stéph's insurance agency to add me to his insurance. Not long after, we received a request for my birth certificate, which I happened to have (I still had two, actually, as I ordered three before I left the states), and we sent if off immediately. So this morning we got a mail from the insurance company. It was my birth certificate, with a note saying that they figured this was an original so they made a copy and sent it back in case I needed it for something else in the future. Will wonders never cease?
Friday, October 29, 2004
You are the the Swedish Chef.
You are a talented individual, nobody understands
you. Perhaps it's because you talk funny.
"Brk! Brk! Brk!"
Kokin' der yummee-yummers
"Wild Strawberries...and Creme"
LAST BOOK READ:
"Der Swedish Chef Kokin' Bokin'"
"Vergoofin der flicke stoobin mit der brk-brk
What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Yeah, I know this isn't a proper post, sorry about that. I've been feeling pretty woozy all day, and it's taken everything in my power not to go back to bed (notwithstanding the time I actually did go back to bed). Stéph thinks it's because we haven't done much since he's been on vacation (it isn't, but he doesn't believe me) so he's taking me somewhere tomorrow afternoon. And he won't tell me where. This should be interesting....
A couple of quick notes
Dana very astutely noticed that I didn't buy any popcorn when we went to the American groceries last weekend. That's because I found some right here in Troyes! It's actually quite good, too.
Once again, I have six gmail invites I would love to give away. Please speak up if you want one.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Oh, wanna see my banner? Go to blogexplosion.com, silly! (There's also a link in the sidebar.)
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
It didn't take me long to understand that there are subtle differences in what information is required when applying for a job/insurance/bank account/library card. I am always asked, without fail, for my maiden name (which is nice, I think), my marital status, my DOB, and my place of birth.
I happened to be born in New York. Everyone here who learns this automatically assumes I mean New York City. The truth is I was born on Long Island and have only been to the city twice in my life, but to correct them...... eh, just not worth it. Actually I have fond memories of visiting the city and am happy to chat about it.
It came up again last week when we went to the bank to add me to Steph's bank account (we decided getting my own account here wouldn't be worth the hassle/cost). Our bank dude was super chatty and lit right up when I told him where I was born (I don't give the town, just the state; I figure it's good enough for my passport, it's good enough for the bank dude). He was very excited to tell us about the last time he went to NYC, which must have been awhile ago since he mentioned Windows on the World, but I smiled and nodded as well as I could (this also happened to be the first day I was sick so I was just trying to hang on at that point anyway).
I have to say I'm quite entertained by the reactions, and they don't bother me one bit. If it opens an opportunity for conversation, I'm all for it. It's just like everyone back in states who kept saying I was moving to Paris - not exactly right, but close enough and not worth interrupting the flow of conversation to correct.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
We arrived at the home of Stéph's friend Y and his girlfriend S in Nanterre, a suburb just northeast of Paris, around 1:30. I'm happy to report that we only got slightly lost, but it was lovely to see the Arc de Triomphe again, even though we hadn't meant to. After lunch, they suggested going into the city, since they are literally 50 steps away from an RER station (subway that connects to the metro), and wondered if we had an idea of something to see.
Well, not too long ago, I was puttering around online and found a couple of American groceries in Paris. Knowing that eventually we'd be going there for one reason or another, I jotted down the addresses. Stéph suggested this, and our hosts were game for a little scavenger hunt.
After a little map hunting, we were on our way. Our first stop was in the 4th arrondissement*, where we nearly lost our hosts on rue de Rivoli. That street was absolutely insane. I've only ever seen a throng of people that large that could stop traffic before in New York City. As we walked, Stéph and I played "Name That Accent", which is where you try to determine the nationality of the english speaker walking behind/beside/in front of you. Finally we arrived at Thanksgiving, on rue Saint Paul. Walking in the shop definitely had the "kid in the candy store" affect on me.
After I picked out a few items, S suggested we go to the other store, which was quite a shock as it had taken quite a while to find this one, and I told her it wasn't necessary, but she insisted that she didn't mind. So, off we went to the 7th arrondissement*, where we found The Real McCoy. I couldn't find a website for this place, but they did give me a little flyer and I'm happy to give them a little shout out since they were so nice and they truly had a great selection of stuff:
So I know you're wondering, what the heck did she buy? Well, I'm happy to show you:
I'm embarrassed to tell you how much we paid for that stuff, so I'll just say it was easily twice what you would pay at your local grocery. The root beer was more for Stéph than it was for me, and he had one ready to drink as we left The Real McCoy. He invited Y and S to try it, and they all agreed that it smelled like Vick's Vapor Rub. Eh?
On our way back to Nanterre, we happened to walk by this Paris landmark. It suddenly occurred to me that the last time I stood on this spot was 15 years ago, when I came to France with my high school choir. Damned funny the way life works out, isn't it?
We had a pleasant evening of conversation and dice games, and after breakfast and a walk around the park the next morning, we headed home. It took us easily an hour and a half to get out of Paris, which is another reason it's a nice place to visit, yadda yadda yadda. How do people not go postal on each other there? But I digress: Y and S were super gracious hosts, and I hope we can return the favor one day.
*What the heck is an arrondissement?
From the (Basic) Paris Glossary:
Arrondissement - Paris is divided up into twenty ``arrondissement'' or districts. The ``First'' is in the center of the city, and the others are laid out in a clockwise manner about this. As these are such a basic unit to the city, they are constantly referred to in guides and literature; almost always using simply their associated number (1er, or 2em etc). The Louvre is in the First, the Arc de Triomphe is in the Eighth. NB: You can determine the arrondissement of an address from its postal code. The last two digits of a Paris address give the arrondissement; 75018 is the eighteenth for example. The exception to this rule are addresses with the word ``CEDEX'' appearing in them.
Friday, October 22, 2004
Y'all have a good weekend!
Alas, this comfort is now gone, as NyQuil is not available here, and we don't have satellite tv. But I made do as well as I could. Flipping through seven channels (well six really, since Canal+ is blocked out most of the day), I watched a very cheesy made-for-tv movie starring Megan Mullally, better known for her role on Will and Grace. Of course it was all dubbed, but I couldn't help thinking she was speaking in Karen's nasal high pitched voice.
Then came back to back episodes of Touched by an Angel, or as it's known in France, Les Anges du Bonheur. When the hell did Valerie Bertanelli join this show? And what happened to Roma Downey's face? Anyhoo, the first show featured Luther Vandross, and the second featured Angela Lansbury. Whenever the actors sing (and of course there's singing), the dubbing stops and the lyrics are subtitled. Would it have killed them to subtitle the whole show? Hm.
My favorite show right now is a quiz show called Zone rouge, or Red Zone. One person is strapped to a chair in the middle of the studio and is asked rapid-fire questions by Jean-Pierre Foucault. The trick is that your heartbeat is being monitored, and if it goes too high, you enter the "red zone" and must calm yourself or lose all your winnings. They can also be quite silly; here's a sample question from yesterday's show:
What did Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple have in common?
a) their mustaches
b) their nationality
c) their professions
d) their father
Well, I'm happy to report that I'm feeling a little better than I did yesterday. Stéph is convinced I had the flu, given the unbelievable ache in my back and hips that had me shifting around every 10 minutes. It must have been a sympathy flu for all my fellow americans back home with no flu shots.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Now, here's the thing about going to the pharmacy in France: you must tell the pharmacist behind the counter what's troubling you, and they will choose an appropriate medicine for your ailments. For me, the good news with this is that I don't have to stand in the cold remedy isle at CVS staring at a hundred different cold medications, trying to decide which is the best for me, which is already difficult without the cotton that someone had stuffed into my head. The bad news is that I have to make sure the pharmacist understands what the hell is wrong with me.
I looked up a couple of words in the dictionary before I left:
my nose is stuffy = Je suis enchifrené
sore throat = mal a la gorge
to cough = tousser
Success! Not only did I get the goods (pills for the sore throat, pills for stuffy nose and fever, and cough syrup that, according to the pharmacist, will knock me out with only one soup spoon dose) but I was also able to carry on a small conversation (they're moving around the corner next month).
I think I'll celebrate by going back to bed.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Monday, October 18, 2004
Sunday, October 17, 2004
So, I am respecting his wishes and not posting the pics that show the half-timbered houses across the street (which easily describes 75% of the streets in Troyes, so I think I'm safe there). I will, however, with his blessing, take some similar pics later in the week and post those.
Saturday, October 16, 2004
So today we, along with all the other geeks in France, headed to the exhibition halls at Porte de Versaille in southern Paris, to celebrate the world of role playing games.
Now, I am not ashamed to tell you that I am indeed a geek and I do love a good role playing game. So does my husband and my sister (ha! outted you as well, sis!). During the long months when Stéph and I were seperated by the Atlantic Ocean, we'd spend many an hour playing Dark Age of Camelot. Now that my sister and I are seperated by the Atlantic Ocean, we spend many an hour playing City of Heroes. Sis has also been playing
And neither does most of the folks who attended today's (unbelieveably overcrowded - why on earth we were all crammed into teeney tiny Hall 8 I'll never know) exhibition.
And then, there's these guys:
"Arr matey, where can we find a mug o' ale and a room full of trolls?"
...who can buy one of these:
Self respect sold separately
Man, I know how much fun it is to dress up and stuff, but...
Eh, that's just me.
I'm sad to report that the day was mostly disappointing. We grabbed something to eat at a restaurant across the street from the expo center, where they clearly didn't expect 500 gamers to show up for steak and frites... I can only guess because they only had one waiter on staff and they got our orders wrong (but am able to report that the Parisien waiter was gracious about it, offering to take them back). Also, we paid 8 euros each to get in, but there wasn't really that much to see. We were both under the impression that the exibition would encompass all of the center, instead of what must have been the smallest hall on the campus. We did get to meet up with a few of the guys we know from DAoC, but it was only for a few minutes as to stand in one place too long was to invite certain death from the crushing masses. There was a photo taken, and if I can get that person to forward it to me, I'll gladly post it.
At 4:00 we left, and thanks to the glory that is the A5, were home by 5:30. Totally worth the 7.90 euros.
Ah well.... we're going back to Paris next weekend, so maybe we'll have better luck the second time around.
Seeing how I'm (hopefully) going to have a lot of pictures to post soon, I figure I have three options: post them all here, start a photo blog to link to, or find a free/really freakin cheap offsite photo gallery.
Those of you that have been doing this longer than me, can I please have your thoughts/suggestions/experience on this?
Friday, October 15, 2004
World War II Memorial 14%
the view from my window 14%
And coming in first place with a whopping 33%:
Clearly you people have a death wish for me. If my blog is so bad I'd wish you'd say so, instead of sending me on a suicide mission.......
Thursday, October 14, 2004
- We're going to spend the day in Paris Saturday to attend a Games Exhibition. I'm very excited because this will mark the first time I'll be driving to Paris without getting on a plane to fly to the states, so it'll be a nice relaxed drive instead of a panic-stricken "I don't wanna gooooooooooooooooo" kind of feeling.
- Steph's got his first break from school in a couple of weeks, and we're going to spend a few days looking at castles in the Loire region. Yesterday we mapped out our itinarary and booked a hotel. I'm really looking forward to doing some siteseeing!
- Not an hour after we booked our hotel, we got a call from a friend of Steph's who lives in Paris. He invited us to visit next weekend. Paris twice in two weeks! As they say back home, I'm so happy I could be twins.
- I'm happy to report that the radiators have been turned on, which is a welcome change from blue toes. The only problem is that it's a little too warm now; last night I was trying to find a happy medium, because the sheet made me too warm but I was too cold without it. *sigh* Hopefully this will work itself out as it gets colder.
- The mosquitoes are back and boy are they pissed! I'm eaten up all to hell. Steph is thrilled, as they seem to prefer me to him. Current count: forehead (!!!), left forearm, right elbow, left thigh. Almost healed: left thumb (twice), left upper arm, lower back. I don't think I've been this eaten up since I lived half an hour away from Mosquito Lagoon.
- Thanks to everyone who have voted in my mini poll! Voting is open until tomorrow, so please roll on over to the sidebar and make your voice heard! Hell, make it heard two or three times for all I care!
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Um, not this picture
Last night we watched Ali-Baba et les quarante voleurs, or, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, circa 1954. It was a light-hearted romp, and funny in the "gee aren't old movies charmingly silly" kind of way.
The last scene featured Ali Baba riding his mule into the sunset, with his new bride running along beside him. I'm not a feminazi or anything, but this stirred something inside.....
Me: Isn't there something wrong with this picture?
Steph: Um..... he should be riding a horse instead of a mule?
Me: Erm, no........
Steph: She should have better running shoes?
Truth is, this conversation made me laugh so hard, I cried.
So, vote as many times as you like, and the top three entries will be photographed by Yours Truly at sometime in the near future (hopefully this weekend). Voting is open until Friday so hop to it!
Ladies Village Improvement Society - Crazy Train or Emotional Subway Attack
Very Very Very Very funny!
Voting coming shortly.......
Monday, October 11, 2004
1952 - 2004
I had a college professor who directed "Chris" Reeve in D.C., and you know when you know somebody who knows somebody you almost kind of feel like you know them? (eh?)
But the way he championed the countless others who suffered the same injury as him made him a real Super Man in my eyes. I know it's selfish, but I was really hoping to see him walk one day.
Anyway, this made me really sad this morning.
Sunday, October 10, 2004
- The Lurker (Thomas clearly has a death wish for me)
- the view from my window (a lovely idea, Tracy)
- the main street in Troyes
- A plant I've never seen in the states
- my husband (submitted by my sister, who was my maid of honor and knows what he looks like)
- the most different building/street sign I see everyday
- local pedestrian shopping zone (I think Anna and I think alike - "where's the shopping?!" :P)
- a local market
These are really really great! I'll keep taking suggestions until Tuesday, and then you'll be asked to vote... the top three will be my photography assignment, to be posted here.
In related news....
I did actually get the pictures downloaded to the computer, but when I added the pic of the fridge to the site, it was ginormous. Could some really nice soul explain to me in small words how to decrease the size of the photo so I don't have to rename this page Dispatches from the Fridge?
Saturday, October 09, 2004
Party on, dudes,
And be excellent to each other!
First off, let me say yesterday was damned cold. I don't think it ever got over 60 degrees, and it was damp (a winning combination). I thought I was appropriately dressed but a hat and some gloves probably would have been a good idea. Miraculously, we didn't have any rain at all, especially since when we left there were signs of a good downpour all the way home.
But I digress.
The first three ponds are stocked with trout, which the French prefer, then you've got a bigger pond filled with carp, which apparently is only staked out by the English (how they found this little fishing area in the middle of nowhere is beyond me). So for the afternoon, we circled around the first three ponds and did what we could.
I spent a lot of time mulling over the prefered catching methods of the family. This started when Steph put his first catch of the day in our basket and ran off to catch some more, leaving me sitting next to the basket which contained a fish drowning in air. Now, I am as much of a meat-eater as the next guy, but my thoughts kept going to the fish dying in the basket. I don't really think fish are sentient beings, but can you imagine the next fish getting thrown in the basket and finding his dead brother, and knowing you're doomed to the same fate? Rather like that movie The Vanishing, innit?
Then there's Phillippe, who likes to rip the fish's head off before depositing it into his bag. Or Maman Ute, who enthusiasically beat her fish against a tree until it shrugged off its mortal coil. I don't know which method produces the best karma, but it was amusing to watch, anyway.
So, the final tally for yesterday:
Papa Alain: 7
Maman Ute: 2
Me: big whopping zero
Dammit dammit dammit
Thursday, October 07, 2004
So, your assignment is to suggest three things for me to photograph and post. (The fridge doesn't count, that's just lazy.) I'll take a bunch of suggestions and maybe you can vote on them, say next week? Alrighty then. Let's say I'll take suggestions until Tuesday.
As I was walking to the post office today, the Lurker was hovering on his doorstep. Even though I was across the street, I could still hear him spewing. I didn't look but as I was the only person out and about, so I'm sure his comments were directed at me. Or I'm ultra paranoid.
In any case, I wished him a good day. Well in my mind I did, anyway.
So, are Americans lazy or victims of suburbinite culture? Discuss.
Oy vey, I'm feeling a little verklempt!
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
So Carrie and her very very soon to be hubby Jim (tee hee heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee) have taken up my offer for the free gmail invites, and I still have four left. Get 'em while they're still lukewarm!
Now I wait until I pass his house to cross the road, especially if he's on the doorstep. I can still hear him muttering, and I'm very much looking forward to the day when I can understand what the hell he's muttering about.
In other news.......
The vampire had a visitor yesterday. He was wearing all black. Coincidience?
"I hate waiting."
Inigo,The Princess Bride
We're still waiting for the fridge. We didn't get a call this morning, and when we looked at the paperwork we found they had Stéph's mobile number from three years ago. Strange thing is that we don't even have a mobile now, and we gave the saleswoman our new phone number. So Stéph called them, and they said it should be delivered between 11 and noon. Everything's been taken out, the old fridge moved, the floor swept, etc.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
This weekend we were pointed in the direction of a local business looking for native english speakers by literally the fifth person, so we're going to visit them tomorrow. I'm not really keeping my hopes up on this one since my french is still equal to that of a two year old, but it can't hurt to make some contacts.
Also, I'm back up to six gmail invites. Don't be shy, you know you want one, they're here for the taking.
Monday, October 04, 2004
The first half was a little vocal jazz trio, accompanied by a guy on double bass with the obligatory beret. The girls dressed identically in black strapless tops, short black skirts and black stilettoes and moved around the stage in coordinated patterns while they sang. While their dancing left something to be desired, they sang extremely well. Jazz cords are possibly the hardest style to sing well, and they nailed it. It was mostly old french tunes sped up to a jazz beat (the guy on the double bass was amazing as well) with the occassional english tune thrown in ("Wouldn't It Be Loverley" came out of absolutely nowhere).
After a 15 minute intermission, we welcomed to the stage a Moroccan percussion group (told ya they were different!). These guys were on fire; they had us clapping and singing along and I could tell the french audience was straining in their seats. Some teenagers were standing in the back swaying around and I was doing quite a bit of chair dancing myself. The band was full of so much energy, one guy, after an inspired bit of interpretive dance, actually passed out. He was carried off by his compatriots and the beat never stopped, as if this happened all the time. It was so exciting and invigorating that it took us ages to go to sleep that night; at the bar and on the way home we kept imitiating the drum players and falling all over ourselves. But you know, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Sunday, October 03, 2004
Let's consider the evidence:
- She (and her vampire friends) are always up at all hours of the night
- I never hear a peep during the day
- If I do see her at all, she's wearing black and running (to avoid the sunlight, I'm sure)
So if we disappear one weekend, I'm sure it will be because we will have been attacked coming home in the wee hours of the night, by our friendly neighborhood vampire and her vampire friends.
Friday, October 01, 2004
The temporary exhibition featured artifacts found dating to the Gallo-romanic period, that were all found in Troyes. This town was founded around 2000 years ago, and as I've mentioned before, chances are a construction team is bound to dig up something of historical importance, and if I understood the exhibit well, the items on display were found around 20 years ago near the middle of town. It some interesting stuff, and a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
It's hard to believe I've been here for a month already! I'm trying very hard to be patient with myself regarding improving my french, but I think I've improved a bit. Plus it's really nice to walk through the town and marvel: "I get to live here!" Now what I'd really like to do is figure out how to use Stéph's digital camera so I can take a few pics around town and show you what I mean. So that will be my mission for October.
Thank you all for sharing this with me; not just my friends and family back home, but my fellow ex-pats and curious passers-by. Bisous for everyone!
It looks like my album was saved but I think I was one of the lucky ones. I don't know how many were lost, and I hope they don't get too much grief and I would still recommend their service if you're looking for site to host your pics.