A Jumble of Thoughts

I guess I am not a “real” writer: I don’t carry a notebook around with me – well, actually, I do – but I don’t jot down key and witty observations, or beautiful turns of phrase.  Oh, I have them.  But they dance away quickly.  Maybe flit…  I have tried using my IPhone Voice recordings and that works from time to time.  But then I forget to listen when I get home.  And forget trying to write a blog on the iPhone itself.  I do email myself notes from time to time but…

I mention “writer” because when I was going through British Border Patrol at Gare du Nord [let me explain – to speed up things on the border, you first go through the French checkpoint   and get your passport stamped and then 4 steps away you do the same with the British.  Although they require you to complete a “landing card.”  Much like you have to on the way into the US.  And on the other side, you have the reverse —   British then French…  That means when you get to the destination, you are legally there and you just set off to find a taxi. Or Uber. ]

Speaking of Uber, last Thursday when I set out for Dourdan, I discovered my go to buses were on “deviation” and when I headed for the Metro, I saw smoke rising in front of the Palais des Congres (not a Versailles – far from it – a convention center!) and lots of noise of honking cars.  Yup.  Clearly another dreaded manifestation.  I found out on my return that it was the VTC – the guys who drive for Uber and other limo services.  What’s with the French anyway?  Why do I even ask?

Back to the border patrol.  So the Brit officer and I had a bit of a chat.  No one ws in line.  She asked me if I lived in France so I explained…  and that I was going back January 11.  She winked and asked if I had finished my book?  LOL.  I said nope, never started, but I did take a lot of photos.  These officers live in France, it’s like a military posting.  But she said her French was terrible.  I was able to say mine had improved.

You are sick of my talking about my language skills, I know.  I long for the day when I don’t notice how well I have managed.  When it just seems normal.  And I am getting closer to that…  Instead of after every encounter, now it’s more at the end of the day that I think – wow I spoke.  I was understood.  I understood.

I doubt I will ever say that about the French culture.  Or parts of it.  I was castigated… maybe upbraided… by a friend because when I ordered my tea, the server asked if I wanted my milk hot or cold.  That’s such an English issue.  I really don’t care.  So I said – ce m’est egal.  It’s all the same to me.  I was told that I was impoli – impolite.  He could tell from the look on the waiter’s face.  Huh????  I apparently made him feel bad by saying it didn’t matter to me…  So when he came back with the milk, I asked whether it was warm or cold.  I forget.  But I then said with a BIG smile, tres bien! Merci.  To which my friend gave me thumbs up.  I had smoothed the ruffled feathers.  Of course, I asked another Frenchie who said that was no big deal and determined my other friend was bourgeois.  As in snooty, I believe.

Paris has hills.  I know that – certainly Montmartre!  And Buttes de Chaumont. But somehow I am always surprised when walking along to notice I am charging uphill – or suddenly going downhill.  When I am on the bus, the incline is not as noticeable.  But going down Blvd St Michel last week, I was really going downhill!  And yesterday walking back from the hair stylist, Ave Raymond Poincare was uphill to Victor Hugo and then down.  I traverse that on the bus all the time.  My new Fitbit – which does nothing different from the other one that broke after two years – is encouraging me to walk more.  Weird.

I stopped by Georges Larnicol  (food and pastries and chocolate) in Montmarte the other day.  While there, a woman – probably another worker – came in and went to the gal that had just waited on me and they embraced!  I mean, not faire le bise – a full on American style hug!  I was so shocked that I actually said to them it was the first time I had ever seen French people hug.  (In French!)  And they laughed and laughed.  And said, but we are not French!  One was Moroccan and the other Algerian.  Ha!   We had a good laugh and she offered me a macaron.  Yum.



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