30 November, 2006

Last NaBloPoMo post!

Oooooooo I just went to the gym. Mmmmmmmmm and then I took a shower. So happy.

Now, I know that any story that needs an introduction is probably not worth telling, but it's only a very short introduction and the story was very funny. So. Annie (name changed to protect the hilarious) is one of my friends. She has a crush on Richard.

We were walking down the hallway and Annie stopped to say hi to someone. They said hello, how are you, see you later, and as we walked away Annie made the most horrible face. I asked her what was up.

"Eeeeugh! It's just... That's Alessandra, and she's 26 or something, so she thinks she owns the world. She's always telling everyone else what to do, and... I don't know. She's just... horrible."

I said oh, okay, I'm sorry, you know, there are people like that.

She sort of nodded, waited a minute, and said, "And she's always flirting with Richard!"


29 November, 2006

Yeah, I never remember that reference

Thick Italian Accent: Italian italian italian Roma Inn
Me: English? Francais?
TIA: Yees, Eenglish
Me: I have a booking for tomorrow night and the next two nights that I'd like to cancel.
TIA: What-a eez your name?
Me: Floyd
TIA: ItalianitalianitalianITALIANitalian Italian!
Me: Excuse me?
TIA: Sorree. What-eez your name?
Me: Floyd. F as in father, L O Y D
TIA: Oh, Floyd. Like Peenk Floyd.
Me: Yes
TIA: Yees, three nights.
Me: Can I cancel it?
TIA: Yees, no problem. Cancel.
Me: Thank you.

28 November, 2006

Retrospective, prospective

Didn't get much done today. Had lots of classes. Although, looking back on it now, perhaps I did get some stuff done. I went grocery shopping, and I photocopied the notes of one of the girls in my Bio class (apparently I chose well, as two of her French friends were also copying her notes), and I studied a little for one of my classes (the final for which is NEXT WEEK aaugh), and I watched (part 3 of 4 of) a French murder miniseries with Elsa. The last part is next Tuesday, and I'm going to watch it, if I remember. It was pretty good.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to be able to do laundry (DEFINITELY number one on my to-do list), mail my box of stuff home, go shopping (one of the lingerie stores here's having a 20% off sale on black. Everyone needs a little black lingerie, right? And speaking of lingerie, in October we were discussing something in French class, and the teacher asked us what the most popular Valentine's gift was. We, Americans that we are, said Chocolate? Flowers? Stuffed animals? She looked at us like we were crazy), study (study study study study), and go to the Mac store to see if they can make Safari work.

Also, I have hives. But only on the right side of my body.

27 November, 2006

A plot-driven post

Today was a busy day. I went to French class (boring) and then headed over to the Political Science building for my next class. I gave in to the temptation and bought a package of peanut M&Ms from the vending machine, only to discover that it was impossible to get them out because there was a water bottle stuck in the tray. I was not about to give up my beloved horribly-overpriced peanut M&Ms, so I fiddled around with the vending machine with pieces of paper, notebook covers, torn up plastic cups, etc (not very French, squatting in front of the vending machine poking at it. I decided I didn't care) until I discovered a fork in my bag (don't ask; I don't remember), bent it out of shape, and was able to dislodge the water bottle and package of cookies blocking the tray. So I had not only my M&Ms but also a bottle of water and a package of cookies (which I could not eat). I gave the cookies to the two Californian girls in my next class, which was The European Union and not boring at all. Then I went to a pharmacy and bought a flu shot (the way it works here is you go to the pharmacy and buy the shot and then go to the doctor and have them inject you with it) and went to the student health center on campus and got my flu shot. After that I went to the post office in the centre ville to see if I could get a box to ship stuff home in, 'cause Elsa's answer to my "where do you get a box?" question had been the post office. There was a huge long line out of the front door, and the place that seemed to sell prepaid boxes also seemed to be closed, and as I sighed and got in the line anyway I noticed that the lady in front of me was just holding this taped together shoebox to mail. So I decided to go over to Monoprix (local supermarket) to see if they sold boxes without the 45 minute wait. I asked the lady at the counter if she had just regular cardboard boxes (the way you do this in French is to point at one she has sitting next to her and say, "Do you have boxes? Like that one?" Then she gives you the name, which is "carton," in case you ever need to know), and she said no she didn't, they didn't keep them at the registers; if I wanted boxes I'd have to ask the people who stock the aisles as they sometimes have empty ones. They happened to be setting up all the Christmas stuff today, so I made off with four free boxes. Then I came back here and packed a box full of stuff that I figure I'll mail tomorrow, if I can, and studied some, and talked to Mom and Mary. Then Elsa got home and we chatted for a little while she got ready to go and took me to her gym. We tried and failed to get into the exercise bike class (we were there first but everyone shoved in front of us. No, seriously. They're like large cats, going for the weak ones) and then went and played in the hammam (like a sauna but different, although I'm not quite sure how) and the pool and the hot tub for a while, and took a water aerobics class, which was way more fun than it sounds, and then used the exercise machines for a while (she stair-climbed, I treadmilled). A 1-month membership would cost 90 euros, which is pretty much highway robbery, but given how much better I feel now (I simply can't manage depressed. It's wonderful. I tried, honest, but I just can't do it) it may be worth it. And I have every intention of playing up the fact that I'm an exchange student (from California! no less) and possibly offering to translate things into English for them in exchange for a reduction. Elsa and I were both starving when we got home, but I have no food in the house, so she made eggs and gave me some, which was very nice. I like Elsa.

Now I'm going to bed.

26 November, 2006


This is my 70th post. I think that's kind of cool. They're not all great writing, and they're not all even interesting, but a lot has happened since my first post.

One of the things that's happened recently is that the year in Grenoble has turned into a semester. Everyone who I know reads this blog already knows this, because I don't think that via blog is the way to find out that someone's coming home six months earlier than originally planned (this is also why this news wasn't up before, because I wanted to tell people myself first). Now, I know there are people reading this blog that I don't know about, and if you wanted to leave a comment that'd be just ducky. Especially all of you over there on the East Coast.

Anyway, I'm flying home on December 24th (!) and coming back to UCSB for winter and spring quarters. Grenoble is a great place, and I really like it here (Alps! There are Alps! I mean, you walk around the corner and look up and there's just this great big MOUNTAIN there!), but a year away from family and SB is not the thing for me at the moment. There's no ocean here. Perhaps I'll come happily back for a year after college (there's a really cool program run by the French government that recruits native English speakers to come teach English in French schools for a year, so if I want to there's a way), and perhaps I made a bad decision and should have stayed for the year, but I did the best I could and I'm happy to be going back.

There are things I'm going to miss. I love the daily produce markets, and the cold, and Elsa. But wherever I go there will be things to miss. Here, I miss the ocean, and the sun, and smiling at people on the street. And the dogs, and running on the beach, and skating to school, and talking to my family whenever I want to, and CCS.

And Christmas is going to be really a lot of fun.

25 November, 2006

Here a pomme, there a pomme

I very nearly forgot to post today! I keep getting up and thinking, Hey, I should post now, so I won't be sitting at my computer at 11.30 trying to come up with something before midnight! And then I keep not doing it.

Today was nice. Went to the Salon du Chocolat with Karen and Jessica. It was basically a smaller version of the one I went to in Paris with Karen and Laura. Worth the euro and a half I spent to get in, I'd say. I bought some chocolate pine cone ornaments to bring home for Christmas, which solved a minor mystery for me. I've been wondering what "pomme de pin" means, and apparently it's pine cone. "Pomme" seems to be the generic French word for something-medium-sized-and-round. Pomme (apple), pomme de terre (potato), pomme de pin, pomme d'arrosage (sprinkler head), pomme de douche (shower head)...

I haven't got any real plans for tomorrow. Perhaps I'll actually end up getting some work done.

24 November, 2006


I just got back from having Thanksgiving dinner with the EAP folk. It was significantly better than I thought it would be. It's always funny to watch the French people struggling with the concept of Thanksgiving (Benedicte brought cranberry sauce for the dinner, and had to explain very exactly to the chef what exactly he was expected to do with it. I was there early, so I got to watch. That was fun). I'd explained to Benedicte in great detail just what my dietary restrictions are, so she passed it on to the people at the restaurant and I didn't have to worry. This made it much more possible for me to actually enjoy the meal.

I didn't mean for this to be a post about actually giving thanks, but that's where it decided to go, so here's the backstory.

We were all supposed to bring desserts, so Laura came over to my place this afternoon and we made creme caramel and mousse au chocolat. Laura's having an on-and-off hard time here, this week being one of the -on- times, and halfway through cooking things, when we were at a lull, she went into my room to look at her cell phone or something and when I walked in she was crying. I gave her a hug and asked her what was wrong, and it turned out she'd missed a call from her mom and didn't have a calling card and couldn't call her back. So I set her up with Skype and left her alone for a while. When she came out she was crying even more. Her mom had given her a passive-aggressively hard time about staying in France for the year, which is nothing out of the ordinary, judging from what I know.

I think I have no idea how lucky I am to have a good relationship with my mom. All of my family, but at least among the people here it seems much more common to have a bad relationship with moms than with anyone else. Laura's mom doesn't do it for her, two or three of the other girls seem to have moms who are downright harmful, and at least one of the other girls just can't seem to communicate with her mom. I really have no idea how lucky I am to have a mother I can call at 3am her time and not only not get yelled at but actually get some useful advice.

At dinner tonight we started talking about music, and I told the people at my table about the CDs my dad made me for Christmas a couple years ago. Those CDs are probably the best gift I ever received, and I wish I had put them all on my computer before I came here. The sheer amount of things my dad knows never ceases to amaze me. My favorite memories from childhood are of lying on the couch listening to him read out loud, and I cannot imagine what it would have been like not to have had that time. The things I learned!

Every story I tell about my immediate family is a good one.

So that's what I'm giving thanks for this year, or at least this moment. For the fact that I not only love but also genuinely like my family.

23 November, 2006

Middle of the night phone calls mean either emergencies or idiots

I was woken up this morning by my phone ringing. My first thought was, Susanna's found an apartment and has signed the lease and is calling to tell me about it! My second thought was, Susanna's found another perfect apartment and somebody took it right before she could and Jay's calling me because she's threatening suicide and he doesn't know what to do.

Then I grabbed the phone and looked at the caller ID. It was Etienne, a French poly sci major who wants to study abroad at UC next year. Oh god! I thought, I've slept through my alarm and it's 11 and I missed bio! I scrambled around madly looking for a clock, because my cell phone doesn't show the time when it rings, and discovered that it was 7.50.

7 freaking 50. Who calls at 7 freaking 50 am? What self-respecting college student is even awake then? I'm usually up before everyone else, and my alarm was set for 8.

He wanted to know which UC he thought I should apply to- Davis, Irvine, or SB. I told him SB. He asked me why. I said, look, I only just woke up. He said, oh, should we talk later? I said, yes, that would be lovely, how about NOON.

He said okay. I am now waiting for him to call back, because while he may think I said I would call him back phone calls are expensive here, and I am sure as hell not paying 30 cents a minute for however long it takes me to explain to him that I didn't even apply to Irvine or Davis because I cannot live in either LA or the middle of nowhere.

22 November, 2006

The Joys of Technology

I just downloaded MSN messenger. Now I can once again engage in the wonderful college standby of having an instant message discussion with someone sitting ten feet away from me. Ah, the use of technology when just doing it the old-fashioned way would be better, how I've missed you.

Much though I feel that as somebody who uses a Mac I shouldn't be singing the praises of something Microsoft, any instant messenging program that allows you to send a large pink pig to dance across someone else's screen is all right by me. Now I just have to talk my US friends into using it so I can have someone to share all my lovely new emoticons with...

21 November, 2006

No information contained herein

I haven't got class tomorrow morning. Bio was moved to Thursday afternoon. And I think I'm going to go visit Sam in England, which will be lots of fun. Not tomorrow morning, though. In a few weeks.

There's a reason that I haven't been writing very much, which is that there's something that I can't quite talk about here yet (that all of you probably know about already, but just in case), and oh goodness that sounds far too melodramatic, but perhaps tomorrow? We'll see.

20 November, 2006


19 November, 2006

Damn it. Forgot to update yesterday. Oh well.

I'm late to class now, so I have to run.

18 November, 2006

Without Subjects

Went to the top of the Eiffel Tower today. Pretty cool. Walked around a LOT. Going to take a nap now. Then going to walk around some more.

17 November, 2006

Weighing the options

Wandering around Paris? Updating blog? Wandering around Paris? Updating blog?

Definitely Paris.

15 November, 2006

Does it count as a post if I wrote it in five minutes right before bed?

Oh shoot! Almost forgot to update my blog! So, I'm leaving for Paris tomorrow, and I'm taking the train (love the train), so I'll have plenty of time to write something real and maybe post it the day after tomorrow if I find a friendly internet cafe.

I really like the train. I am going to have to find lots of excuses to ride it before I leave. Looking forward to Paris, too. Claire and Sam haven't been before, so we're going to have to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, which I haven't done since I was twelve. And now I have an excuse to do it.

14 November, 2006

Damn. It's late.

Ok, so I had things to say. I had lots of things to say, actually. I even started a post this morning, and then I had lots more ideas for things to say and I kept writing them all in my head all day and they're all good things to talk about and I really think I should. However, it is 11.40 pm, and I just finished watching L'Auberge Espagnole with Elsa (it was really good; I highly recommend it) and I have class tomorrow and I'm going to post this really quick and then go to bed.

A couple quick things, though:
I got my carte de séjour. I now am legally allowed to be in France for a year, and come and go as I please. This is a good thing.
The trams stopped running today. Luckily I was already on campus, so I wasn't late to any classes, but I had to walk back. It takes a good hour to walk from campus. I need better walking shoes.

This is all.

13 November, 2006

A short French lesson

One of the French songs I've run across is called "Laisse béton." This has confused me for a while. Not too much, 'cause the band's weird enough that I can totally believe that they come up with their song names (and lyrics) by pulling words out of a hat, but still a little.

The reason this title confuses me is that it translates to "let concrete."

Laisse is the informal you form of laisser, which translates roughly to let (as in laissez-faire economy- let it do (faire) whatever it wants to). Béton means concrete.

However: today in French class we started discussing "verlan," which is a form of French slang spoken by the poor (immigrant) kids in the suburbs. To form verlan you basically take the first and last syllables of the word and reverse them. So... when you take "laisse tomber," which means "drop it!" and verlan the "tomber," you get... "Laisse béton!"

Mystery solved.

12 November, 2006

I'm sure I'll remember what it was the second I post this

I swear, some time today I did something that made me say, "Hey! This is going to make a great blog entry!" But I have no idea what it was.

This morning I went to the big farmers' market near the train tracks. The wonderful thing about the farmers' markets here is that the produce is twice as good as and half the price of the stuff you can find at supermarkets. So this morning I went over there and bought apples and ginger for applesauce and potatoes and cream for gratin dauphinois (now that we have an oven I'm going to try it) and lettuce for salad, and sausage and fromage blanc with cream and dried mangoes (yummmm) and tangerines and eggs. I am going to eat well tonight.

Farm-fresh cream is one of the best things in the world. I would just sit here and drink it if I could.

11 November, 2006

Um, politics. Quick, look the other way!

I'm mostly putting this here so I'll be able to find it later, but I really loved this article. It's about feminism, and I'd love to hear your opinions about it. (Especially... well, especially everyone I know reads this blog, actually. Including you, Mr. or Ms. United Arab Emirates. Who are you, anyway?) It's really long, though, so be forewarned. What's a Modern Girl to Do?

(Also, I think capitalizing rules for titles are really funny. Why does "Do" get to be capitalized, and not "to"? Honestly, they're really the same word. The French only capitalize the first word, and I think maybe they have it right.)

Say it with me, girls

Ohhhh, my period's due in a week? That means it's PMS! Thank goodness. I'm not crazy!

10 November, 2006

Chicken Stock

I'm making chicken stock. I'm typing this sitting at the little kitchen table watching to make sure it doesn't boil over too badly. The pot's way too small to make stock in, and the electric stove regulates its heat by turning on and off, so it definitely boils over a little, but I'm here to make sure it's no worse than necessary.

I have not been able to find any form of gluten-free chicken stock here. There are bouillon cubes, but those don't cut it, and I haven't been able to find any sort of canned or boxed stock, let alone gluten-free. And I've gotten tired of reading recipes that call for stock of some kind and not being able to try them out. And it's really soup weather now.

So today I went over to Saint-Claire-Les-Halles, which is a combination morning farmers' market and permanent installation. Outside in the mornings there's fresh produce, and inside all day long there are butchers and dairy people and the suchlike. This happens every day except Monday, and the produce is half the price and twice the quality of what you can find in the stores. Yesterday I passed the market on my way to class, as they were packing up, and saw a flat of pears. Having not eaten all day, I promptly hopped off the tram and asked the man who was cleaning up if he had any pears that were ready to eat. He picked three out for me, kissed me on both cheeks, and told me they were a gift. They were wonderful pears.

The last time I went inside it was to buy escalope de dinde, which rougly translates to turkey steaks. I have a recipe for chicken stock that calls for a chicken with head and feet, and I noticed him cutting off the head and feet of a chicken for a customer. I figured that maybe he'd be willing to sell me a chicken with the head and feet still attached, so today when I decided to make stock I went over and asked. He said, "You want to prepare it yourself? For an exam or something?" I said no, it was just for me, and he kind of looked at me funny, but he was very nice and took out the innards and wrapped it up all pretty and sold it to me. And now I'm making chicken stock. It's supposed to simmer for four hours, but already at one hour it tastes wonderful. I'm really looking forward to making soup with it.

09 November, 2006


WenttodinnerwithElsaatoneofherfriends'house Itwaslotsoffun Weateyummythings IlovehowFrench
peoplecook ButitwentreallylateandnowIonlyhavefourminutestoupdatemyblog ifI'mgoingtoposteverydayinNovember! Andwouldn'titbeashame tomissadaysoearlyinthemonth sohereIgoQuickQuick!

08 November, 2006

They tell me it gets even colder

We turned on the heating in the apartment yesterday. I hadn't really realized I was cold, but this morning when I woke up I got out of bed and wandered around for a while and made myself breakfast, and I was sitting eating breakfast when I realized that I was just wearing a nightshirt, no socks, no slippers, no bathrobe, and I wasn't freezing!

It's gotten down to -2˚C here at night, which I think is great fun. I'm having a marvelous time skipping about in my boots and my tights and my sweater and my coat and my scarf and my hat and my gloves. Actually, I seem to have left the hat on the tram this evening, but I'm going to go see if I can find the tram lost-and-found tomorrow. I sincerely doubt anyone will have stolen it. It's that kind of hat.

I really don't mind the cold. I don't know how I get away with loving Southern California so much when heat makes me miserable and cold makes me skip. Elsa assures me it's the novelty and I'll soon get used to it, but I hope not. It makes such a nice start to my day, going out and being just thrilled because I can see my breath.

07 November, 2006


Love at First Sight
by Wislawa Szymborska, translated by Walter Whipple

Both are convinced
that a sudden surge of emotion bound them together
Beautiful is such a certainty,
but uncertainty is more beautiful

Because they didn't know each other earlier, they suppose that
nothing was happening between them.
What of the streets, stairways and corridors
where they could have passed each other long ago?

I'd like to ask them
whether they remember-- perhaps in a revolving door
ever being face to face?
an "excuse me" in a crowd
or a voice "wrong number" in the receiver.
But I know their answer:
no, they don't remember.

They'd be greatly astonished
to learn that for a long time
chance had been playing with them.

Not yet wholly ready
to transform into fate for them
it approached them, then backed off,
stood in their way
and, suppressing a giggle,
jumped to the side.

There were signs, signals:
but what of it if they were illegible.
Perhaps three years ago,
or last Tuesday
did a certain leaflet fly
from shoulder to shoulder?
There was something lost and picked up.
Who knows but what it was a ball
in the bushes of childhood.

There were doorknobs and bells
on which earlier
touch piled on touch.
Bags beside each other in the luggage room.
Perhaps they had the same dream on a certain night,
suddenly erased after waking.

Every beginning
is but a continuation,
and the book of events
is never more than half open.

(I read this poem in English class my senior year of high school, and have been vaguely wishing I had a copy ever since. Today I finally got around to googling "love at first sight telephone poem," and the poem was the first hit. Just goes to show how pointless "vaguely wishing" is.)

06 November, 2006

Fire! Wait, no. Firemen.

Well, I just bought a calendar from a fireman. I didn't know they still did that.

I'd just started cleaning up the kitchen when the doorbell rang. I jumped out of my skin, 'cause nobody ever rings the doorbell, guessed Elsa had forgotten her keys (while secretly hoping it was someone more interesting), opened the door, and was greeted by a fireman in full fire-fighting regalia. My first thought was not "calendar." My first thought was more along the lines of "oh my god, who called the firemen? Did the fire alarm go off? Do we even have a fire alarm? It wasn't me!"

He asked me if I wanted to buy a calendar. I said probably not, but let me see anyway. Then I kicked myself, because how cool would it be to have a French fireman calendar hanging in your apartment in Isla Vista?

So now I have a French fireman calendar. It's got all the saints' days listed on it. I plan to hang it somewhere properly pretentious when I get back.

A conversation in reverse

The Cast:
Sydney, my almost-two-year-old cousin
Eleanor, me

The Scene:
Over Skype, half in America and half in France, at 5.30 pm my time

Sydney: No
Eleanor: Yes
Sydney: No
Eleanor: Yes
Sydney: No
Eleanor: I'm bigger than you, and what I say goes.
Sydney: No
Eleanor: Yes
Sydney: No
Eleanor: I'm going to ROME in three weeks!

05 November, 2006

The thoughts can't make it through the snot!

So I've been sitting here for about fifteen minutes trying to write a post I won't have to take down in a fit of embarrassment in a couple days when I'm feeling more coherent, and it really isn't happening. And I don't think posting something you know you're going to take down later counts. Really nothing has happened between now and the time I last posted, or nothing that I can remember. I'm sick, and that's all.

04 November, 2006

A pretty typically Eleanor link

A Fitting Experience

I think body image issues are very interesting. See, that makes me sound like a cold-hearted psychiatrist sitting on her couch and saying, "Yes, very interesting. Do go on." Which is not what I meant. So what I'll say instead is that two of the things in the world that make me saddest are anorexia and obesity-induced type 2 diabetes, and this puts me in a rather strange position. Both of these are rather charged subjects which deserve their own posts, probably after a significant amount of research on my part, so for now I'll just return to the fact that body image issues fascinate me and suggest that you visit the aforementioned website.

No tragically single, cute French fathers in this apartment building

[Blogger had fits this afternoon. I orginally wrote and posted this around 12.30 this afternoon, after which it showed up on my blog but NOT in my list of posts I'd made to the blog and could edit, until just now, when I wrote and posted another post and this one disappeared entirely. Luckily I'd copied it to somewhere else so I don't have to throw my computer across the room now and can just repost it.]

Yesterday I got to sleep around 12.30 on account of having a sore throat and horrible headache. I shut my bedroom door and rolled down the shades on my window (a not inconsiderable task) in the hopes of sleeping past 7. I made it all the way to 8, when the light coming in through the small stained-glass window over my door woke me up. So I got out of bed, went to the bathroom, and shut all the doors into the hall to block out the light coming from the kitchen, bathroom, and Elsa's room.

I went back into my room, sat down on my bed, decided as usual that I JUST COULD NOT TAKE knowing that it was light out and things might be happening and I couldn't see it, and gave up on getting back to sleep. I rolled up the shades, checked my email, and made myself breakfast.

Then I discovered that there's a reason that the knob on the outside of the bathroom door is perpendicular to the knob on the inside of the bathroom door: the knob on the outside is purely decorative. You can turn it all you like and nothing will happen to the door. So I turned the knob for a while, and then I laughed for a while, and then I washed my breakfast dishes.

I entertained thoughts of going and knocking on a neighbor's door and asking for help getting into the bathroom. I'd knock, and some cute French guy, or better yet, some cute French guy with two small children who'd tragically lost his wife in an accident right after the birth of the youngest (and this was a while ago and besides which he hadn't really been in love with her, but he thought he had and consequently was more than ready to come out of mourning even if he didn't know it yet), would answer, and I'd say, My bathroom door is stuck, and he'd say, I'll fix it if you'll watch the children, and I'd say, Children? Hell yes (except I don't really know how to say that in French, which is probably for the best, around such young, impressionable children), and he'd fix the bathroom door and I'd watch the children and then the bathroom door would be fixed but I'd keep watching the children and this would turn into some kind of regular gig and then the cute French guy would fall in love with me, because after all, who wouldn't? and then I'd live with him and the children in France forever. And there would be children. And an accessible bathroom.

But then I thought about what I've seen of the apartment building, and I'm fairly sure there are no single fathers in it. There are definitely some children, and there are definitely some cute French guys, but I'm almost positive that they don't overlap. And I'm not sure I want to deal with the hassle of a French guy unless he also comes with something else good, like children.

So having figured out that it would be a bad idea to knock on somebody's door, I went and fixed the bathroom door myself. It wasn't hard, just involved grabbing a bit of the handle not strictly designed for grabbing and turning that instead of the knobby part. And wouldn't I have felt stupid in front of that cute French guy if I'd asked him for help and it'd turned out easy!

03 November, 2006

Yum, aspartame

I am the proud possessor of a can of Diet Coke. Here they call it "Coca-Cola Light," but I'm pretty sure it's the same thing. I cannot remember the last time I drank a can of soda just for fun. I think it was probably back in the States. (To explain the "just for fun" comment, I am lucky enough- no, seriously- to be afflicted with a disease that requires me to regularly drink full-sugar soda. Take that. So I've been drinking a fair amount of Fanta, the French Orange Soda. But no Diet Coke.) The sodas at restaurants here are quite expensive- generally not less than 3 euros- so whenever we go out we just get a jug of water, because unless you're desperate it's just not worth it.

But today I went to the neighborhood kebab place, as I do fairly regularly, and ordered a package of cooked meat to take home. They sliced off some meat and put it in a package for me, and I went to the counter to pay. I gave the man my 3.50, and when he took it he looked at me and said, "And a drink." This has never happened before. I thought I had misunderstood, so I said, "A drink?" He said, quietly, "Yeah, a drink, over there," and pointed to the cooler at the back of the restaurant where they keep the drinks.

Now, I've been going to that place, as I said, fairly regularly for about a month, and I've been hoping that something like this would happen, that they'd start giving me a little extra meat, or a greek salad I didn't pay for (greek salad = yum. Iceberg lettuce and cabbage = less yum. Guess which one they give you with your assiette kebab). But I've never seen this guy before. So all I can think of is that he liked my pretty blue eyes.

I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I went to the back of the store and picked myself out a nice cold Diet Coke. It's sitting in my fridge right now. I'm saving it to drink with dinner.

02 November, 2006

Why I'm Still in the Country (part 2)

(When we left our heroes, they were standing at the entrance to the Lyon-St-Exupéry airport staring at the list of departing flights wondering why they weren't on it.)

At that point we weren't really worried, because there was an Air France flight to Madrid at 15.20, and we could well have gotten the time wrong, or it could have been changed, and Air France and Iberia fly together sometimes. We were, however, looking nervously at each other and giggling.

So we wandered up and down the row of check-in desks for a while, hoping to find one that said "Iberia." I stopped at the Air France ticket-sales counter and asked the lady working there where Iberia was. She pointed vaguely in a direction, so we set off. We walked the length of the airport without seeing an Iberia counter. We got a little more worried, but still not too worried, because we knew that Iberia did fly out of the airport, having found the airline through the airport's website, and after all, the Air France woman had said that there was one. I stopped at another ticket counter, where the woman said, "Does Iberia fly out of this airport?" I laughed, said, "Well, I hope so!" and started hyperventilating. The next counter, though, was able to give us more precise directions. When we arrived we saw no one behind the counter and a sign saying that they were closed between the hours of 12.30 and 19.00. This was slightly more worrisome.

We went over to the information desk and asked the people there if they knew anything. They didn't. All they could suggest was that Air France flew to Madrid with Iberia sometimes, so we went to the Air France check-in kiosks and tried to check ourselves in to the flight at 15.20. We weren't on it. The looking-nervously-and-giggling increased in frequency.

We sat down by the Air France counters and started up my laptop. The airport had wireless internet, which was free if you wanted to look at the airport website and cost an arm and a leg if you wanted to look at anything else. So we looked at the airport website, and discovered that there were no Iberia flights scheduled ever from the Lyon airport to Madrid at 15.35. The only Iberia Lyon-Madrid flights leaves at around 8pm.

We went over to an internet kiosk, paid our 50 centimes for 5 minutes, and checked my email. Yes, we had scheduled a flight from "Léon" (which is how you say Lyon in Spanish, we checked) to Madrid at 15.35. However, to get from Lyon to Madrid takes a little more than an hour and a half, and our flight was supposed to take almost exactly an hour. It was at this point that we googled a map of Spain and discovered that there is also a city called Lyon/Léon in Spain, and Iberia flies out of it too. This trip takes almost exactly an hour.

So we plopped ourselves down around the internet kiosk, got out the salami and cheese and chocolate, and had lunch.

It was tasty.

Then we went over to the information desk, explained our situation, explained again because the man didn't understand the first time, listened while he called Air France to see if we were on their flight, explained AGAIN that no, actually, we had NOT booked a flight from THIS airport to Madrid, not even with Air France, were understood, got laughed at, got laughed at some more, laughed ourselves because what can you do, found the Iberia reservation hotline number, spent ten dollars on a phone call to Iberia, were told that we could not cancel our flight, no, not even the return part, and ate some more chocolate. And an ice cream bar. Then we called the hostel in Madrid and cancelled our reservation.

Then we looked at each other and said, "Do you want to go back to Grenoble? No? Neither do I." So we walked to the TGV station and bought tickets for Paris.

Now, while the statement that "You should always make sure what airport you're flying out of" is undoubtedly true, I did check the confirmation email, and the Iberia website, and NOWHERE is a distinction made between the Léon and Lyon airports. If you ask for the site in Spanish, they're both "Léon," and if you ask for it in French they're both "Lyon." Nowhere does it list a country. While knowledge that each aiport has a unique three-letter abbreviation (thank you Mom, and Laura's mom) is more useful, neither airport's abbreviation can be found on either the website or the confirmation email. Anywhere.

I think they must do this on purpose.

01 November, 2006


Over there! To your right! A couple new links!

(These will, of course, only be of interest to those of you who are, like me, essentially 30-year-old women and enjoy reading mommy blogs. However, for those (few) of you who do fit into that category, Laid-Off Dad and Moxie are my two new favorites. I suggest their archives.)

NaBloPoMo and Why I'm Still in the Country (part 1)

Well, November has been christened NaBloPoMo by Mrs. Kennedy over at Fussy, and while I'm too shy to give her my blog to put up on her lovely list I think I'm going to try to post every day anyway. I'm not sure how it'll work out, but it'll be interesting to try. (Note: Actually, I'm pretty sure how it'll work out. But there's always hope, right?)

I haven't mentioned this before because, as some of you may know, I was planning on being in Madrid, where blog posting opportunities are notoriously slim, for the week. However.

Laura and Karen and I had been planning a trip to Madrid for a while. We were planning on leaving last Friday and coming back a week later. We got our tickets online about a month ago, and made a hostel reservation, and found the good restaurants and everything. So on Friday we took the tram to the Grenoble bus station and hopped on the shuttle to the Lyon airport (about an hour away). We'd found our vacation destination by looking up all the other countries you could get to from the Lyon or Grenoble airports and picking the cheapest one, so we were flying out of the Lyon airport with Iberia, a Spanish airline.

Now, we knew that finding the flight would be a little tricky, because we hadn't written down the flight number, and we had no idea where we would have to check in. But we knew what time the flight was scheduled for, and we knew the company, which is usually all you really need to find your airplane. And there are internet kiosks scattered around all airports in Europe, so worst case we could always get the ticket information out of my email.

The bus ride to the airport was great, filled with approximately equal portions of mad giggly gossiping and curling up on the seats and dozing. In fact, I'd say it was the best part of our vacation. Because when we got to the airport and looked at the TV screens showing the flights for the day, there was no Iberia flight to Madrid leaving at 15.35.

This story will be continued later, when I've worked on my bio studying, and my European Union reading, and probably gone to a movie with Elsa and her friends. In fact, I think maybe I can stretch it out over two or three days. Is that cheating?