Friday, May 24, 2013

It's Not a Stripper Pole

After weeks of eating soup and endless cups of tea, David finally gave up and turned the heat back on Sunday. I am trying to look on the bright side. Maybe this means we will have an extra long summer and I will still be wearing ballet flats in October. The dreaded "first time I put on socks" which means winter is coming perhaps will be put off until November. The metro doesn't smell, no one has rubbed a sweaty arm on me yet this year, and I don't have to wear my hair up in a sloppy ponytail. And sharing an umbrella in the rain is romantic and cozying up under the covers doesn't happen in the summer when I spend most of the night trying to find the cool part of my pillow and pushing the fat fur body far far away from me.

But I think the rain and cold is getting to me, or maybe I'm becoming a bitchy Parisian, because I did something mean today. Instead of cycling away our winter blubber during the famous month of May which feels like every other day is an official holiday, we are stuck inside saying, "I don't know? What do you want to do?" whilst stuffing our faces with chocolate and tapping on our laptops looking for a restaurant that is open during the holiday since neither of us bothered to go to the grocery store and now they are all closed.

We were on the metro when a group of twenty something got on and all of them sat down except for one, who did two of the most annoying things you can do on the metro. She leaned against the pole I was holding onto like she was the only person there and had a loud conversation with her friends about a text message, leaning forward and laughing and showing it to them and then leaning back on the pole forcing me to move my hand a number of times so it wouldn't get crushed by her back all the while flicking her hair over her shoulder so it touched my hand. Ick.

So I loosened my grip, let a few strands get caught between my fingers and the pole and then held on tightly. The next time she leaned forward... snap crackle pop. She looked shocked that there was someone else touching her personal private stripper pole and quickly moved closer to her friends which meant their conversation was no longer heard through the entire metro car. I'm not proud, but it's not really my fault. I should have been cruising home through the warm spring air on a bike.

I'm bitter because I haven't been able to ride more than a couple of times since we got our velib passes. The other day I cycled all the way from my friends house in the 17th, and I was feeling super proud of myself because I've never gone that far by myself and then bam! it started hailing. I mean wtf dude? It's almost June.

In other news I did this:


Monday, May 13, 2013

Getting My Mojo Back

The next day was rainy and cold so I let David choose a museum. He chose Art and Metiers and at first I thought it was going on my list of places to take my kids to punish them for being naughty, but it got much cooler after the first room. But it is really more of a guy type of place.

And finally Saturday we signed up for a Velib pass online and marched outside to the station closest to our house..... and they didn't work. So we called using the Velib machine, which I highly recommend if screaming French into a large plastic box on a busy street is your thing, and they activated them. And off we went to the Jardin d'Agronomie Tropicale. I've read about it before, most recently in this funny post: Paris in the Springtime: How to Avoid Everyone.

Basically France brought in "natives" from all their colonies and paid them to live in the park like zoo animals. It was closed down for a long time so it has a creepy overgrown aspect that I find fascinating. Plus it's located near Parc Floral,

Chateau Vincennes and Bois du Vincennes, so most people go to one of those places meaning that Jardin is pretty deserted even on a Saturday.

It took about an hour and a half, and we just barely made it under the 45 minute limit when we remembered to dock the bikes and wait two minutes to take another one. If you go over your limit it costs an euro each half hour, and the whole point of having a pass is that we won't have to pay every time.

We arrived and we were cycling along a dirt path in the woods when I realized I had got some of my mojo back that I had lost when I moved here. I missed riding my bike but the velibs never interested me that much because the traffic seemed too crazy and I was used to using my bike as my primary transportation, not to ride in aimless circles. I used my bike to get to work, go to the grocery store, to meet friends for drinks. I only owned a car for a short period because I moved out of the downtown area of Sacramento for a while, and after I moved back downtown and my friend totaled it, instead of being mad I thought "thank fucking god I don't have to deal with that thing anymore".

But now I feel confident on a bike again. A smart car turned in front of me and almost mowed me down, a guy opened his door in front of me and almost made me crash and another women cut me off, but hey, that's part of the joy of riding a bike. The fight to survive. The special freedom of only obeying the traffic laws that are convenient to me and haughtily passing cars stuck at red lights. The self riotous excuse to yell at people who almost kill me. And the cars drive slower and are more aware of cyclists here so it's not as dangerous as I imagined it to be. I'm achy and tired but looking forward to taking advantage of the extra hours of sunlight and not having to pop down underground during the short months of nice weather.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Farie Le Pont - Champagne City

This week David like most French people "faire le pont" (to make the bridge ie bridging the gap between the days) because Wednesday and Thursday were a holiday, so he took Friday off and had a nice little five day vacation. He asked me if I wanted to go somewhere new, or perhaps go visit his godfather or uncle in the northern France who both invited us to come up for the weekend last time we were there.

I promised him if we stayed home I would find us fun day trips around Paris. If I have to pack a suitcase or deal with any more relatives on either side of our families I'm going to throw myself off the balcony. Although, we aren't that high up, so I might have to knock on the door of one of the higher up neighbors and ask them to use theirs.

A week after getting back to California/going to his brothers wedding, we had his brother and his new bride at our house for the weekend and two weeks after that his Mom's new husband brought her down for a surprise Paris weekend for her birthday. And we have to go back to Pas de Calais for his Dad's girlfriends birthday soon. So no no no. I just want some peace and quiet and not have my french skills, empty womb or joblessness inspected.

We went to Reims on Thursday.

After a short 45 minute train ride we arrived and it was even a bit sunny. My friend who came in September while I was gone went to Reims, and Mumm also has a winery in Napa I used to frequent with my friends Paulie and Cindi, so it seemed like a nice place to go. If you can't be with the ones you love, drink champagne in their memory.

The inside of a champagne tank

I never used to care about champagne, but now it reminds me of all the weddings, holidays and birthday parties I've gone to over the last three years. It tastes like celebration. Plus it's a lot cheaper in France than it is in the US.

The church is beautiful, almost hard to look at because it almost seems fake. We took a one hour open bus tour and got a better idea of the size of the town. It's not very big and we could have walked to Pommery if we had more time. But we had already toured Mumm, and I would rather take my 27 euros and buy a bottle of champagne instead of looking at a similar champagne cave.

Maza had a good time too.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May in Paris = Manifestations

My husband and I were wondering what to do the other day to take advantage of the nice weather, when I spotted someone from our apartment walking by with a "Mani Pour Tous" pink flag and thought it meant there was going to be a pro-gay marriage manifestation. 

I think the strikes are fun. It's a nice long walk in the middle of the street which is a different perspective than the sidewalks, there's music, there's yummy street food and margaritas from the back of moving trucks.  

Luckily my husband quickly pointed out that despite the pink and the "for all" in their slogan, it was a strike for the anti-marriage folks because of the upcoming vote for gay marriage. Not my cup of tea. Or tea bagging. Or tea party or whatever they are calling themselves these days.

We decided to walk to the movies and ended up having to cross through the procession. It wasn't too crowded but it creeped me out being in the middle of that many people I consider to be hateful. I got an ick don't touch me don't think I'm supporting this get me out of here feeling. It only took a minute to get across the street but I felt so dirty when I got across I wanted to go home and take a bath. I did read a nice story about this strike on Rue Rude

These are the people in my neighborhood

There was another strike today for people on the left who feel like the president isn't fulfilling his promises, but I didn't know that when we left. David told me the right was protesting in one part of the city because the law passed allowing gay people to get married and adopt children so the left was having a counter-strike. I don't really care. I went to enjoy the weather, get some exercise and see normally blase Parisians show some enthusiasm for once.

This one was supposed to start at 1:30 and it really dragged. Normally we get there, have a snack, collect some stickers to slap on on our shirts in solidarity (or give away to my friends, this one is my favorite), 

F*** Me Not My Retirement

and on y va, the walk begins. We usually find the truck with drinks then find the truck with the best music and hang out with them for a while. Sometimes if we spot a cafe that has an open table we will stop and rest our legs and people watch. But today we waited and waited and the white balloon floating at the beginning of the parade of in the distance was not budging.


This sash means this is a mayor of one of the arrondissments

Eventually it began and we got our walk on from Bastille to Nation and then we took a Velib bike home. It's only the 3rd time I've tried them. It's not as scary as I thought it would be even though the bike lane is also the bus, motorcycle and taxi lane most of the time and Paris traffic is ridiculous and riding in the middle of the roundabouts with cars freaks me out.

From the east of Paris (11th arrondissment) to our house in the south of Paris, it's about five miles, but it's mostly down hill or straight. Now that it's warmer maybe I will get myself a Velib pass. I miss biking. I barely owned a car in Sacramento and rode my bike to work everyday. Of course I had a five foot wide bike lane most of the way, and one time a cop pulled me over with his siren for cruising through a stop sign in a deserted residential neighborhood, so it's a little different here.