Sunday, February 17, 2008

The second month

Stan just left after 12 days, and I'm in mourning still...he had a lot of suggestions for improving my place (new shower curtain, get a microwave for instance), and in addition to his company in romantic Paree, helped me through what might have been a meltdown for me, when I lost my internet connection for a few days.
Thanks to all of you that are making suggestions...I'm noting them all and doing my best to follow through. Keep sending me homework, kathy C.!
Random observations in no particular order-
The markets are an event that anchors Paris to another time...rather than the precious nature of some of the street markets in SF, these are more like the market at Allemany, where the prices are good, about twenty languages are going on around you and you see produce that one sees nowhere else. I'll include some pix on my next web album so you can get a feel. They are all over Paris, on a regular schedule, and one sees families making an outing of it on the weekends. Everyone shops in small amounts and carries it home by hand, and the baguette in hand at the end of the day is almost universal. This seems like a hard place to be on a gluten free diet, though there are more and more choices in the 'bio' (health food) stores.

Fashion in the normal parts of Paris among the young resembles young fashion mostly everywhere, but there is a shabby-chic motif I've noticed accent scarf, a pair of purple boots, chatreuse fishnets, wacky hats especially among teens and middle aged women (making me feel right at home!)

There are more homeless around, and more begging which is particularly poignant in winter...and being in a more working class neighborhood, I notice more how many people jump the Metro entry not to pay, or go into the bus through the back; trasportation being one of the big expenses here. A metro bus pass for the month is about 55 Euro or about $75. A lot if you have a big family or are poor, even with the reductions for youth and the retired.

I'm wandering neighborhoods I had not seen before, and so far my two new favorite areas are the 19th Arr. near Butte Chaumont and the area around the canals Ourk and St. Martin, in spite of their gritty reputation.

On developing my peripheral vision-I read somewhere that 50 tons of dogshit is dropped on the streets of Paris every day...thankfully the street cleaning blasts it off with water hoses once a week, but even so, it's all over. Of all the people one sees walking dogs, I have seen only a handfull pick up after the dog, usually with a napkin that goes into a plastic bag. The inverted plastic bag trick has yet to get popular here. One person I saw used the napkin to wipe the dogs "cul" instead of picking up the detritus! I'm proud to say, I have yet to step in it (knocking on wood as I say this) and I think it's because I have trained my peripheral vision to include the floor. Stan might say not well enough, as I took a big spill when I was walking around with him...checking out the photos I'd just taken while walking, I missed two steps and went down hard on my knee...ouch! No serious damage, but hobbled over to the nearest cafe on Bastille, which may rank among the priciest in Paris and spent 5 Euro on a pain relieving cup of coffee while assessing the damage. Happy to say I'm doing well and did not have to test the medical system of France.

I'm back in school tomorrow!
Bises to all, Jo

Friday, February 15, 2008