Well, I'm all moved in! Finally in Paris...although I got a facebook message from Willa today all about her life on the farm since I've left that literally made me tear up. I knew I would get nostalgic, but the emotion is still surprising every time it hits me.
The weather in Paris right now is beautiful. I'm sitting on this bench in this little rose garden by my metro stop writing this, and it's so much fun to see everyone outside in their pretty summer clothes. I'm carrying around with me a batch of eclaires that I made to take to the APA office. They're okay, the eclaires. Not great. The oven runs hot, so the pate a choux is too crunchy, but what can you do. It's always an adventure cooking in a new kitchen. I learned today, for example, that my host family does not possess a pot. Any sort of pot. How a family can exist for 30 years without accumulating a single pot is completely beyond me, but I swear it's true. They do have a fondue thing, so I used the pot for the machine on the stove to make the pate a choux and the creme. I don't think I ruined it. Anyway, there is also no plastic wrap or aluminun foil in the house, and the lids to the tupperware containers have long since been lost, so I covered the containers of eclaires in trash bags and carried them out. And yes, I can already see the chocolate smeared all over the bags. But whatever. Julia Child says to never apologize for bad cooking, so I will serve them with a smile. I can't keep them for myself, as I made about a dozen. And my host family consists of only a mother and a father -- their three kids have moved out -- and the father works away from home during the week and the mother already ate one eclaire with lunch.
My host parents are very sweet and very bourgieous. Their apartment is absolutely beautiful. I have French windows and a tiny balcony in my room, and a fire place. I also have a salle de bain (bathroom minus a toilet) to myself. It's sort of the anti-WWOOF here: everything is beautiful and clean and fancy, but I have only had one family dinner with them since arriving last Friday. I have complete independence, which is great, but I will have to find my own entertainment or risk getting a little lonely in this giant, empty apartment (the mother and I cross paths everyday, but she works full days and usually goes out to eat, um, obviously since she owns no pots). This family also has some sort of obsession with Chanel. Obsession isn't even a strong enough word. I peaked in the mother's drawers in her bathroom: she wears only Chanel makeup and perfume and nail polish. In nearly every room, at least one bottle of Chanel perfume is on display. In the bathroom with the toilet, about eight bottles are set in this alcove, all ranging in size, the largest about a gallon. Yes, a gallon of Chanel perfum. It has never been opened. Somebody printed out a color picture of Chanel perfume and carfully cut out around the edges of the bottles and stuck it to my door. I find it all a very intersting interior decorating decision, but who am I to judge? I have a black and white picture of Coco herself as my computer background.
I am determined to make French friends. I don't want to get sucked into the trap of only hanging out with Americans and speaking English all the time. I am so happy I spent the summer in France. I am one of the only students who consistently understands what's going on, and who isn't afraid of speaking French to actual French people. I am learning, though, that I may want to unlearn some of the stuff that I picked up on the farm. Yesterday I told the director of the program -- a very sweet, old fashioned, proper lady -- that "ça me fait chieé," which is basically, "that really pisses me off" in English. I didn't have the slightest idea that it was a vulgarity. I mean, that's what everyone on the farm said.
Classes haven't started yet. I've got a meeting in an hour to choose my classes, and after going through the course book, I think I'm going to be taking all geography/economy/political theory type classes. That's what really interested me: no art history, no literature...I feel a little bit like I've come into some understanding of what I want to do with myself by choosing these classes. I'm not really sure what it is, but something concrete, with the developing world. Ideally, I would just sort of turn them all into self-sufficient, Marxist societies (ooh, I bet I have an FBI file for putting that on the internet) but I have yet to hear of a job with that description.
Anyway, now I've got to jump on the metro, and head from the 17th arrondissement, where I live, to the 14th, chez APA and meet with Mme Suraqui, the director of this program. I will try not to offend her this time with any French vulgarities. Oh putain...