Saturday, July 10, 2010

Signs


It's been a rather depressing week. We still haven't found a permanent place to live (according to the NYT, there's a housing shortage here; I'd read just the opposite in the French press not too long ago), and we spent approximately 10 hours over two hot, frustrating days attempting to get our visa/carte de sejour malarkey sorted out at the prefecture de police in the 14th, enduring streams of vomit deposited at our feet courtesy of a little girl who drank too much milk for breakfast (I can't blame her; I'd have barfed too), and having "adults" ruthelessly cut in line ahead of us after we'd waited hours and hours, only to discover that we were in the wrong place altogether. Nothing--as I'd conveniently forgotten in the last five years that I haven't lived here--comes easy in France. Everything is a bureaucratic climb of the Mt. Everest variety. I've wanted to give up scads of times, but we're hanging in there.


The good news this week is that A. I finally got Velib to work (thanks to Sacha--my teenage Franco-American step-nephew-in-law, or some such approximation), who called Velib on our behalf, and discovered that it might just be a matter of wiping the puce on our carte bleu really clean before swiping it through the kiosk), so now we two are completely mobile. It feels great to be on bikes a deux again! Good news B: I got a job! It's a part-time gig, but it's something. Yes: I am, perhaps, Paris' newest professional dog walker. Thanks, Phil, for giving me the job! (My first client is a springer spaniel-type dog named Junior, whose dad lives in a fancy building on Avenue Montaigne, right there next to Chanel, Hermes, and Versace.) Maybe this job is a sign that yes, I really am supposed to be here. Or not. I'm still mulling that one over.

When I'm feeling totally bummed out like I've been for the past 10 days or so, I look around this good-looking, historically rich and interesting city and tell myself that it's not so bad, even if we are living out of suitcases in a place without WiFi. I could be feeling depressed in, say, Lodi or Auburn. Now that's a depressing thought. One of the little things that keeps spirits afloat (besides the daily doses of baguette in the tradition graine style) is the French tendency toward erecting signs and placards for anything and everything. Some of these signs make no sense, like the one below from yesterday's trip to the Parc de la Villette that seems to be saying "no flowers, please." (The one above seems to suggest that holding your child's hand is a criminal activity.) Though I understood perfectly the sign I randomly glanced up to when stopped at a light on the rue de Rivoli today, which announced that "Leo Tolstoy lived here in 1857." Now I'm thinking about Anna Karenina and getting all depressed again. Time for a new topic. Ideas welcomed!

7 comments:

  1. Hey there! It was so nice to meet you the other day. :)

    You nailed a lot of common frustrations in this post. Hang in there.

    I've noticed and laughed at that "No child Hand Holding Allowed" sign, too, lol. I think someone told me it means a pedestrian walk area is ending, but I agree: a totally counter-intuitive sign. It looks like no hand holding allowed. :D

    Well, Paris, for all its allure, can be a real bummer, for sure, and that is a hard thing to explain to people whose dream it is to be here, and who hold the city in such esteem. Have you found that's true, too? It's a fact that things can be a real pain in the ass here, though, and it can and does make a person feel a little bit in a funk or frustrated beyond one's limits. While I don't myself break into a rendition of "Raindrops on Roses" I do something of that kind when I get into that place: I start to try to look around me in gratitude. This does seem to help. I mean, think about it -- in what other city can you go to and (fairly) safely ride a public bike? Or buy a bauguette? Or see a sign that tells you "Leo Tolstoy lived here"? Not too many places. I make a mental list of some of the things that I can see and do here that I cannot see or do anywhere else, and I realize those things are good, then continue to put one foot in front of the other.

    Congratulations on getting the dog walking job! I hope it is a fun way to see more of the city and get a walk in!

    If you'd like to grab a coffee sometime, you know where to find me. :)

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  2. Thank you, Karin, for such a lovely, ephathetic note. I needed that! Thanks, too, for unintentionally reminding me that "My Favorite Things" actually always puts me in a good mood when I sing it (Sound of Music is one of my all-time favorites!), though I'll spare my fellow Parisiens and chanter in the privacy of my own (temporary) home. I am very much looking forward to having coffee with you soon. Yay!

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  3. You hit the nail on the head by pointing out that it's better to be down in paris than in lodi. Part of the problem is just feeling unsettled, which could happen anywhere. I'm still happy as can be about my recent move but I'm having the same problem with lack of internet access (or anything technology related in my home), waiting in the wrong lines, and getting everything slowly set up. Once things are settled you will feel much better. Congrats on the job! And the.. bike permit? which I'm not sure I understood. But congratulations just the same. Love to you and jeff.

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  4. Thank you, Sarah! I miss you guys. Can't wait to see photos of your new place/neighborhood soon.

    xx

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  5. Hi! I found your blog through Karin's (alien Parisienne). We are moving to Paris with our dog in April. Where do you buy dog food? I've only seen it at the BHV in the Marais. We have a fussy Chi who likes Royal Canin food. Is that your dog on the bike?

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  6. Hi Susan! I'm not familiar with Royal Canin, but you can find all of the big brands (Science Diet, Eukaneuba, etc.) at veterinarian's offices here. They nearly all have a little food-for-sale area, and the public is welcome to just walk in and buy. We buy Fanny's food at a local natural foods chain called Naturalia. She seems pretty happy with it. I have friends, however, who use a mail-order company here, and apparently it's affordable and delivery is free! If you'd like me to dig that information up for you, send me an email at aureliadandrea [at] gmail [dog] com. And yes, that's our doggy there in the photo. She's a "melangee"--a mix of Chihuahua and who-knows-what. If you'd like to meet for some dog socializing once you're settled, Fanny would love that!

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  7. That was Freudian somehow, writing "dog" instead of "dot" com!

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