Bus Meditation…

Well no, I don’t really meditate on the bus. Well, I guess this is a meditation on (about) the bus but I don’t meditate while riding the bus. Once or twice I have gotten distracted on the bus or metro and almost missed my stop but that wasn’t meditation, it was reading my Iphone or planning too far ahead and losing sight of the present.

However, now that I have been here for almost 3 months and have become a regular bus rider, I am noticing how long the transportation process takes. In Sacramento, I allow 10-15 minutes to get downtown. Maybe 20-30 for Roseville. 5 minutes for Safeway. Last night I met a friend for Grammar Studying and it took me 45 minutes. Today, to return something to the Galleries Lafayette store, it will take 40. Sure I could do it on the Metro in 30, but the bus is better.

So I was thinking about all this transportation time. And that maybe I could put it to better use (in my Coaching mode, I would realize this is because of my Strength of Maximizer who always wants to be efficient). I always envied those workers who commuted on the DC metro or NYC subway or even BART who always had a book open, reading some exciting thriller, horror story or lurid romance (did you know that bodice-ripping romances sales increased on Kindle and other e-readers – because you don’t have to be embarrassed by the cover!). I have always worked where I had to drive to work. And usually relatively short distances. Friends extoll the audio-books: they just put me to sleep. Or I get distracted and then have to rewind and it becomes both a pain and safety hazard.

Back to Paris. Maybe I can start to use the bus time to read also. Nope. I tried it once and after 2 minutes, I was compelled to look outside at Paris. Even on the same routes, I still want to see what is going on, discover some new nuance, a cool bistro, just be in the Paris bus moment.

Paris is a convivial city. My social calendar is very full and it’s fun.

Computer Battle Aside: So I have been fighting Windows 8.1 and Dell. Things just happen on my laptop. The mouse from the touchpad will disappear. The windows change. The sleep mode takes forever to wake up (does it take Ambien? I am lucky it doesn’t sleep walk out of the apartment!) Yesterday I devoted time to the control panel. And I think I have fixed some issues. Something called Palm Recognition (?) was on. OFF. Some others that I can’t recall now but at least I now know where to go. So why am I telling you this? Because there are still gremlins lurking in my laptop but maybe nice ones? For all of a sudden, a tiny white block appeared in the bottom right corner saying English keyboard – to switch input methods click here…. Hmmm. Maybe I can type in French after all.

Well sure I can type in French. Regardez-moi! There you go. But many words have accents, etc. And wouldn’t auto-correct in French be helpful? My next stage of French Study is to start writing. I thought I was going to have to do it by hand and scan it to my French friend… And I still might.  Sunday morning I spent three hours on French. And I wrote. Longhand. The world says that writing will make things stick. Ok, many of my teachers say that. In fact, I think there are multiple ways of learning but these profs might be correct about me. I wrote away in my exercise book but I also took my calligraphy pen and dipped and scribed. Some things are sticking, finally.

Saturday was a fine Bastille walk. Edith used a kids’ book to talk about the French Revolution. These French are complicated on their politics. I will spare you the details in this blog but maybe later…. We started to the east of the Marais and wound our way back to the Place de la Bastille. Ended up down a tiny walking street that I had just read about on my Paris ZigZag facebook page. I like it when I discover things by accident that I had planned on discovering.  She concluded her story of the Republic right in front of my hair salon! (I go visit Michel again on Tuesday).

Speaking of Republicans. Sarkozy – you remember him? His party was called the UMP. Union for the People’s Movement, basically. They just changed their name. To Republican. I shrugged. So we have the Republicans too. Good luck to you. But I found out this is quite controversial in France. Some people actually took this to court to try to stop him. They lost. But why? What is their argument? Well, it is the Republic of France. So to their thinking, EVERYONE who is French is a Republican. And they are quite upset about this…

Back to Saturday after that brief political interlude. After the walk, I went to a French event. They have a website: Onvasortir.fr   That basically means, Let’s Go Out! And my friend Ronique had created an event – an aperitif at a classy hotel. She signed me up and two other random French folk (women) signed up to join us. We met at the George V hotel – a Four Seasons Hotel just off the Champs d’Elysees. Gorgeous, of course. You realize from the description that I am the only non French speaker? I realized it! The day had been in English with Edith. So switching to French, and FAST French at that, and FAST French in a crowded noisy bar… a challenge to say the least. But my ears became accustomed and I did start talking too.  One gal may become another Conversation Exchanger!  The other, nice but not so much.  Funny to have them tell me that Meetup started in France.  Not.

(Why does Windows 8.1 or Word or the Gremlins… whoever! Suddenly jump my cursor up three lines so I am typing in the middle of another word? Or change my view from edit document to two page view???? Suggestions are welcome. Apparently I didn’t fix everything.)

The 28 euro glass of Provence rose didn’t hurt. Well, only my pocket book! But with the complimentary olives and almonds and bottled water that came with it, it was well worth the two hours of amusement.

People were dressed to the nines. Or very casual. Like us. There were 3 or 4 men who were in black – not necessarily tuxes – but very formal who wore red ribbons and medals. It made me think of the Chevaliers de Tastenvin. Wikipedia it sometime.  I don’t recall seeing that particular medal or sash or ribbon at the Legion of Honor Museum. I restrained myself from going over and asking why they were so dressed up. J

Grammar. A friend texted me that he wanted to join me in my grammar goal.

Ned is someone I met at the Meetup for Expats. He’s from the Bay Area and came here by way of Africa where he was a Peace Corps volunteer for two years.  The people I meet here are so interesting!

Spontaneously we met Sunday afternoon. I lugged my two books, not quite sure how to study with a partner. I haven’t studied in general and specially with a partner for more years than I care to admit. Maybe you can get more studying done if you don’t drink a bottle of wine during the study session? We did conquer Depuis, Pendant, and Pour. All words you use for the concept of since or during. Now the question is will I retain that?

To celebrate, we went to dinner at a great Italian restaurant near his apartment. He lives in the 7th Arrondisement (district) very close to the Eiffel Tower. In fact, he can see the very top of the tower from his window (on the first – American second – floor). Wonderful area but summer may caste a different light as the TOURISTS descend. It’s his first year here so he doesn’t know what to expect. Dinner was an entrée (soup), the plat (main course – chateaubriand) and dessert (orange tart) all for only 22 euros (note, less than my glass of wine at the George V) and totally delicious. And for my wine friends, I shared another bottle, this time of red wine. My wine palette is coming along. More wine than I am accustomed to and perhaps it was dark enough or Ned and the waiters were polite enough not to laugh at my red cheeks. (They laughed at the George V – well, not the waiters, but the other ladies with me! I can’t help it if I haven’t built up my wine tolerance enough! I am working on it!) (Hmm, that’s easier than learning French….)

I take my lovely bus 8 back to my very quiet street and am content.

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