Sunday, November 21, 2010

Paris, not London

This is where I'm at right now: Paris. Not London. This should come as a surprise to no one but myself, seeing as I even forgot to tell my parents that I was planning on going to London to visit a friend for the weekend. One of my friends from Mills is studying at the London School of Economics for the year, so I was going to see her this weekend. I had a plane ticket, I packed the night before, I had thought of a few things to do in London, and I even wrote down my flight information. But I forgot one very important thing. Before I get to that, let me explain that I don't take traveling to be anything out of the ordinary anymore. My life is in a constant state of transit. I haven't lived in any place for more than a year since I was 13, and I spent a good month and a half this summer truly living out of a suitcase. And I fly a lot. So I don't think twice about hopping on a plane to another country with a total on 5 euros in my pocket -- if I get stuck somewhere, I'll sleep in the airport, done it before and it's not that bad -- or having not printed out my boarding pass -- it's really not necessary, you can print it out at the airport.. In fact, that's exactly where I was at yesterday morning when I got on the metro with my backpack to go to the airport. And it wasn't until it was way to late to go back that I realized I had forgotten my passport. So I panicked for a few minutes, thought that maybe they'd accept my American driver's license, realized that was absolutely not going to fly, called up Dane and panicked some more, told him to not bother getting out of bed to go to my apartment to look for my passport and get on the metro to try to bring it to me because there was half an hour before my flight boarded, decided to not accept the advice of the guys sitting next to me on the metro ("just say someone stole it") since 9-11 happened and airport security's sort of not something to mess with, begged at the airport, and then turned around and came home.

That's not the end of the story though. My poor friend in London didn't receive my skype messages that I wouldn't be at her tube stop around noon afterall because I am a dumb connasse, and I couldn't get her on the phone -- some problem with international calling. So she was really worried about me for about 8 hours until we finally connected and I explained everything. Turns out that she had looked up my flight information to see if anything had gone wrong, and my flight was cancelled anyway. I don't really consider that the universe was speaking to me or anything though, because I was taking EasyJet, and frankly they cancel about 2 out of every 3 flights

So I spent my weekend in Paris doing homework. The French universities have caught on to me, and I suddenly have quite a bit to do. I'm going to write a paper for economics about the black markets in refugee camps, and I've got a half hour oral presentation for my film class where I will talk about the movie The Exorcist and the idea of the child as a monster and religion as a tool of society to control the monster. Or something like that. Honestly, I just want a chance to talk about The Exorcist intellectually. I actually merded in my pants when I saw this movie for the first time I was so scared. So I totally want to watch it again and call it homework.

Two friends were visiting last week, Reya, a friend from Milton and Berkeley, and Willa, who was in Paris after leaving the farm. We all went out to lunch together at this super traditional fancy French restaurant where I ate French onion soup and -- wait for it -- SNAILS. I ATE SNAILS. Willa totally peer pressured me into doing it. But guess what: just like everyone says, they were great. A lot like mussels in a beurre blanc sauce, but more parsley and cute little shells and forks to pull them out with. And a little bit too salty, but that was no fault of the poor, delicious snail. I ate three.

I was going to bring my friend in London a Longchamp bag, which meant that I had to go to the Galléries Lafayette. Fine, I could have gone to any of several Longchamp stores in Paris, but I figured that the Galléries Lafayette are always something to see so I may as well go there. This place is indescribable. Malls give me a headache as it is. The flourescent lighting, the cheap perfumes all mixing together, the bad music, the crowds, the echo of all the people shouting to each other, the heat... And Galléries Lafayette is like no other mall I have ever seen. It's got basically the same products as Saks or Barney's. But more. There's a Tiffany counter, a Cartier counter, every high-end make-up counter imaginable, and I would say the average price of an item of clothing there is 250 euros. That includes the lingerie section. It's also in a giant, four-story, domed building, and there is currently an enormous fake Christmas tree hanging in the dome. It's all very bright. Anyway, while I was buying the bag (which actually didn't work and I had to go back later, fml), I decided to get a new bottle of this Clinique lotion I use everyday that's about 15 dollars in the U.S. I figured it'd be about 10 euros, since Clinique is a French company. So I asked for one and got rung up before checking the price. Then the nice lady told me to give her 50 euros. For the lotion. And I didn't know what to do, because it was just completely deer-in-the-headlights. So I just sort of did it. And then I walked around the make-up counters for a while feeling my eyeballs shrinking in my head because the lighting was so harsh wondering how the hell I was going to get my 50 euros back. After about 15 minutes, I explained that I had made a mistake and the lotion was for my sister but actually she doesn't use it anymore, I just double-checked with her on the phone (thanks for your existence, Sophie). I think my accent helped her believe that I was really stupid, and she made the return for me.

My only other news is that I've started babysitting twice a week and tutoring English once a week. I babysit three girls -- 4, 7, and 10 -- in English. The family lived in Florida for three years (but they're French) and the two older daughters speak English pretty well. I'm there to keep the language in their heads. The four-year old speaks no English, so our communication is pretty entertaining sometimes. Tutoring English is pretty good. The boy is seven and really doesn't speak any, and the girl is 10 and understands a little. We do things like practice the weekdays and the months and conjugating basic verbs. It reminds me of my first French lessons. It's kind of fun being on the other end.