Where does time go? My life was totally disrupted for 5 weeks with two visitors. Not at the same time in this 400 sq foot apartment in France, thank god. LB arrived and went to England with me and the Niece (one of four nieces… 5! Including the great niece… but this is the Traveling Niece) arrived in London as LB was going home. We hung about and came back via the Eurostar. Then she was here an additional 2 weeks. I love my friend, I love my niece. And I love my solitude.
Except. Be careful what you ask for – you might get it! Now I miss the noise and excitement. I will create a separate blog entry on highlights of September for those who like the travelogue. And to spare those that do not.
Suffice it to say, I am trying to return to my daily existence in Paris. My employment here (ok, it’s not a paying job! I had to swear to the French government that I wouldn’t “work” in France for my visa) is to improve my French. So Niece gets on the bus for the airport at 7 am on Thursday and at 9 I am meeting with Albert. And after him, Veronica. And Friday Denise and Elizabeth. Whew. The strange thing – after not doing much in French for 5 weeks, I seemed to jump right in and actually improved! All asked if I had been studying hard. Nope. If you let the brain have some rest, apparently it is happy to recall all it previously forgot! I was feeling quite proud of myself. Until Tuesday this week when Denise chewed me out for my pronunciation. Sigh. I don’t doubt that she is right – I couldn’t get around the room in the second grade with the phonetics cards. I have no clue about sound.
One trip here, I was looking for the train station St Lazare. I mean really simple – where is the train station??? I knew how to say it. Ou est le gare St Lazare? I asked. I received bewildered responses. From everyone! I was getting frustrated and close to angry. Did they need me to write it? I found the station on my own using the map a few minutes later. It was a month later, when I was home in California, that I suddenly realized – and I don’t know how – the thought just appeared in my brain – that I was pronouncing a different word. Sure, I had GARE in my brain, but I was saying GUERRE. Which means…. War. So, yup, I was asking all these Parisiens with increasing frustration – WHERE IS THE WAR???
That sums up my pronunciation skills.
After my visitors left, I crashed. Slept for hours. Tidied the place – they were both very neat but you know how things have to move to accommodate suitcases and bathroom stuff. So everything is now in its place.
And next week is shaping up to be a doozy. CE on Sunday afternoon, one on Monday, 3 on Tuesday, a guided visit of the Opera House IN FRENCH Wednesday, Thursday a trip to St Denis and Friday one CE and a museum visit. My over cultured bilingual brain may explode.
My French friends ask if I don’t like London more than Paris. Mais non. Of course not. London seemed too frenetic to me. Which is probably not true – but it just felt that way. Even with our forays into picturesque and calm St James Park.
Although Paris has those Greves! And Manifestations! Today as I was on bus 73 on my way to the Musee D’Orsay for a CE, I noticed 10 police vans parked around Porte Maillot round-about. I forgot all about it until I was returning home at 1700. The bus basically follows the same route – Place de la Concorde then up the Champs Elysees. But once we got on the Champs, we were slower than molasses in January (or October as it is very chilly here now). We inched along. And then ten police vans zip up the middle of the boulevard, sirens going, lights flashing. Through the Iphone I discovered that the VTC (Voiture de Tourisme avec Chauffeur) was protesting their salaries. It was confusing – the article referenced Uber – but they don’t work for Uber. My French failed me… So I finally ditched the bus and jumped on the metro. Only to stand there and wait 5 minutes. We get to the next station and the same thing. I was thinking I should have stayed on the bus – except when I got to my stop, the bus sign said bus 73 was not serving that stop – it was on a “deviation.” So I wouldn’t have made it home anyway. And when I exit at Porte Maillot, I expect to see tons of police and maybe burning tires… Nothing. Nada. Rien. Well, ok, there was one police car. But the traffic was moving quickly so I clearly missed the action – or whatever was causing the lack of action and traffic. There’s nothing about it on TV. Can’t find an update on the VTC on the web. C’est la vie en Paris.