January 25, 2012
School today till 4. My teacher is teaching the imperfect tense imperfectly. What am I to say? I’m just a dumb American woman. But I am smart when it comes to sentence structure and I know that the imperfect tense is used more than just to talk about a period in history as she is teaching us. She played a video of a song by a Frenchman from the 70’s and it to the tune of “oh what a night” which it turns out was first a French song called “oh what a year”. I’ve been brown bagging it. I just don’t have enough time between classes to order food. When I got home Friday night I was beat so I just put on the sweat pants and retired to my bedroom with a glass of wine and downloaded a book…about Paris, of course.
January 26, 2012
We went to the St Ouen flea market where dogs of all socioeconomic backgrounds spend their Saturdays.
Joan bought a hat. It must be said that I found it first and she stole it from me but it does look pretty cute on her and she said I could wear it so I won’t hold a grudge. It took us two hours to get home because we took a bus again. This time we didn’t make eye contact so we don’t know if anyone was nice. We went to places I had not seen before. Gypsy camps for blocks and blocks. These are shacks constructed of whatever material they can find; cardboard villages of filth and poverty. This was not my Paris. We got off the bus and made our way back by metro.
Good Lord, we went to Galleries Lafayette later on to experience Les Soldes. I’ve taken a lot of French over the years and I always was told that Les Soldes were the twice a year grand sales that take place throughout France. However, I tell you today that the true meaning of Les Soldes has its roots in “soldier” as in “ready for battle”. I tried to capture a photo of the soldiers doing battle but it just does not do it justice. Picture Black Friday on seven blocks with tourists buses and city buses just stopped dead in traffic because of the chaos. At one point I announced, “I’m going in!” To dive into an area of 60% off goods that were tossed onto a table. Joan didn’t hear me and kept walking upstream. She looked back and I could tell from her expression that she didn’t know if we would see each other again. Whew, I bought a belt. That’s all I could handle.
We had dinner at a Portuguese restaurant that had been recommended and then went to the Athenee Theatre to see a play (students get half off–I’m totally keeping this ticket stub because it says right on the ticket “student under 30”). We watched a two and a half hour play, En Attendant Godot, that was basically two guys in dialogue. No scenery change at all. Now it did seem funny. Not because we understood the plot but because the French speaking audience laughed a lot and at the end they gave a 15 minute ovation.
The play was over at 10:30pm and we were in the 9th arrondissement which is 30 minutes by subway from our house. This was by far and away the latest we have been out. The bustling and vibrant metro system becomes the home for the otherwise homeless this late at night when they turn walls and floors into restrooms and beds. This trip to Paris I have noted that the RATP (transportation system) police are out in full force in the metros during the day. Their game is to catch people trying to exit the subway system without a ticket. If you’re caught without a ticket it is 30 euros on the spot. One of my French teachers told me that these guys actually work on commission so they have no motivation to wait for you to find your ticket. Bien venue a Paris said my teacher when one of my fellow classmates complained about being ticketed because they wouldn’t let her rummage her backpack to find her used ticket. Welcome to Paris.