Thursday, December 13, 2007

choo choo train of thought...

Only in my present situation can being at McDonald’s be part of a much needed mental/physical health day. Milkshakes are the new aspirin. The past few weeks have really been so all over the place that my blogging capabilities have been at a clear minimum, but i'll attempt a sort of cop-out list blog with mini anecdotes that range in ages ago to today but all are things I'm afraid I'll forget or want to write in more depth later. A theme you will not find, but they all stem from my experience or mental wanderings...both of which are heavily influenced by milkshakes so I guess there is a theme.

(For the record I'm pretty sure I lost weight since being here)

-The most info I want to divulge about the past couple of days is my metro ride from school yesterday morning. Despite the ridiculous amounts of metro strikes (there was one today that was barely noticeable) my metro ride has been the one source of routine and stability here; a 5 second walk to the metro stop, an easy 30 minutes on the 8 line to Madeline and then another easy 30 minutes on the 12 to Port de la Chapelle. If it's not too crowded and I can get a seat I read (metro-reading was a skill I never thought I'd possess). Usually my metro-rides don’t include hallucination but there’s a first for everything. I had the oddest sleep schedule the past couple days where naps usually carried more sleep time/weight than actual “nights,” this has been going on for only a few days but it caught up to me that morning on the metro. Traveling back from an exam I drifted in and out of sleep so frequently that my sleep deprivation turn to hallucination. I had found a seat in an empty four-seat section, one by the wall…deadly. I’d frequently move my leg over because I could swear someone had just brushed against it. Conversations I was hearing prompted me to display the full gamut of facial expressions and mild grunts. Occasionally I’d stand up just to give myself a mild form of movement; afraid I’d pass out and wake up having traveled the entire track an undisclosed amount of time. When I was snapped back to reality I’d look over at the few passengers aside from me, their expressions not lost in translation, they thought I was either insane or on some sort of drug. I was too tired to be ashamed.

That being said tonight I could have received a call from the Pope saying, “Madonna, Hillary Clinton, and the Olsen Twins are having a get together at the Louve, you GOTTA go,” I’d politely decline, reach for an unnecessary Tylenol PM and have my own silent party in bed. Besides I hear the Pope is a sloppy drunk at parties.

(* update: I just had a night of 10 hours of sleep, have been reborn)

- Despite the wildly excessive street cleaning in Paris I’m frequently amazed and disgusted by what I find on the sidewalks. I’ve stepped in a 2.5 foot smear of feces in a metro station, stepped over a pile of puke a mere 4 inches outside the door to my school and stepped over a small intestine outside the butcher shop near my apartment. I’d stop looking exclusively down at my feet when I walk but it’s my only form of shoe-defense.

- The other day I decided to buy a block of brie while shopping and a baguette from one of the many local bakeries just to cram a little more cliché French culture into my last few days. I was alone in the apartment for the afternoon and had already done the essentials: ate, napped, showered, dishes so despite my full stomach I decided to indulge in my food purchases. Having meticulously cut half of the baguette up into small oval morsels and took care to spread a respectable amount of cheese on each piece. I sat down and ate in front of a French makeover show I didn’t understand and realized this was more depressing than fun. I’m frequently amazed at how many times I think an activity will be fun or charming only to have it actually turn out sort of sad. It could have been the intro to a Lifetime movie about depression and obesity had I been a has-been 35-year-old actress and my glass of coke was a bottle of whiskey. Again, I’m shocked at the fact that I’ve lost weight here.

- I somewhat spontaneously bought a bus ticket to Belgium the other day and I leave this weekend. I thought I might be doing the trip alone and I was somewhat apprehensive for I’ve never traveled in Europe by myself but also somewhat excited for that same reason. It ended up that Cara could actually accompany me for one night so it should be a good balance. I assume Belgium will be good for some head clearing; waffles sort of have that power.

- Thursday, December 20th, is my “going away party” at Pop’in. If you’re reading this and in Paris, let me know cause you are probably invited.

- There are some habits I’ve picked up here that I was sort of afraid I’d pick up and sort of afraid to continue when I come back home. I’m generally afraid of anything that could be considered an addiction. Coca-cola does not count; my body now runs on that. The content of my veins are carbonated. It might not sound serious but I have truly come to appreciate/need coffee. While I’m always impressed by people who can randomly throw out bits of knowledge or taste-expertise when you’re at a café with them, I don’t want to be one of those people who calls themselves a coffee addict and buys novelty coffee-themed sweatshirts and desk ornaments. I don’t want to become my high-school history teacher Mr. Haja whose coffee breath acted as a three feet deflector shield for any sort of social interaction.

- One of my French friends read my blog and although he said “I didn’t know you were so clever,” he also didn’t think it could be described as funny. Perfectly understandable and respectable but I happened to witness said friend laugh at a Garfield comic in a French newspaper. That was the moment I realized that if I ever had a career as a literary humorist my tours would probably skip right over France. France is Jim Davis territory.

- Being here has made me realize how isolated I am from the rest of the world on a mere communication sense. I like the idea of being able to pick up and move to a foreign country without feeling so foreign. Meeting people here you realize how flawed our language-education is in the US and how great it can be. It has inspired me to take on studying a new language when I return. While most logical signs would point to continuing Spanish I feel some sort of strange debt to attempt to learn French. I do know that if I returned to Paris being able to somewhat effective communicate I would enjoy it even more. Strangely being here has made my English somewhat worse for I’m frequently talking to people for whom English is their second or even third language and for some reason this makes me overly think about what I’ll say and what words to use. Often I’ll end up somewhat stumbling and using awkward phrasing. A while ago I was talking for a while to a French guy my age who was completely fluent in English; he stopped me mid sentence once to ask if English was my first language or not.
“It seems you have a bit of trouble with it?”

- I’m finding the prospect of essentially stepping off the plane and stepping into Christmas morning completely strange and jarring. A lot of these feelings have to do with me being able to successfully wrap my presents.

- Following that train of thought I’ve found it hard to think of things I want for Christmas because I feel as if I’ve been given an amazing vacation for the past three months, a great deal of which was made possible by parents and relatives. On the flip side these past three months was the longest time in the past five years that I haven’t been employed and not being able to buy those little things you want but don’t really need has been an unwelcome reality.

- Continuing the train of thought one of the things I do want is a tattoo but I don’t want it to be rushed into or not given adequate amount of thought. Two ideas I’ve had for a while that I would be very happy getting are 1.) a cityscape comprising of selected buildings from cities I’ve lived in / spent time in on my upper back. 2.) a medium sized rectangular print on the upper inside of my arm…there is a Chagall print I’ve always really liked but I also think an Aubrey Beardsley print would be a wise decision. While those two have been walking around inside my head for a while I’ve recently opened the floor to the idea of an illustration from a children’s book namely a Quinten Blake/Roald Dahl image or a Sempé illustration of the Roddy character from the book “Martin Pebble”.

Christmas lists and shopping usually doesn’t require this much debating, thinking or introspection. Although it does require a good credit limit, which I have officially, earned thanks to my continually on-time and in-full payments!

- During one of my sleep deprived days I realized halfway through the day that my underwear was on inside out. Tre chic.

- Thanks to my description of the reaction of Airborne to water and subsequently Cara’s myspace alias we have been teaching the French (and some New Yorkers) the phrase “Frothy top”. The word Frothy is undeniably amusing in English but thanks to the difficulty the French have with the “TH” sound it becomes 100% more amusing and charming when a French person says it. Thankfully a lot of these conversations take place near a pint or pitcher of beer so one only need to point to the foam of the beer in order to convey the meaning. Beer and Vocab: A Frothy Tale could be a fitting title for my inevitable Parisian memoirs.

This entry ended up being much longer than expected but my body is staying awake much longer than expected. The list format took some of the burden off my brain but as cliché as it sounds it does feel good to write and hopefully I’ll have an actually exciting blog entry after Belgium and then at least one masterfully nostalgic and inspiring entry before I return to the U.S.


betsy said...

i can't believe you're going to belgium without me!!!

Lauren said...

my friend who lived in belgium suggested visiting the peeing boy statue, the grand place, and drinking beer. have fun!

in boston, you are missing a snow storm, big enough so i get out of work at 2!