Sunday, March 2, 2008

Third month

At the start of another month, moving along in my French classes. I'm thinking of taking Medical French classes the second half or the month, and try to arrange an observational experience at one of the public psych hospitals here. One of my classmates is a medical student from Colombia, who is in the process of doing her last year of school here, and she said it's pretty easy to arrange that for professionals. I have the number of a nearby hospital with 52 psych beds, so I will check out how easy it really is in the next week or so.

Had the opportunity to test my growing French skill 'in vivo'when I had to return some linens I'd bought from the nearby discount everything store. Yes, the mistake was mine and the package had been openned, but I was fooled by the picture that appeared to be the comforter cover I wanted, not the fitted sheet and flat sheet that were really in it...the man at the store initially refused "but ma'am the package is openned, how can I re-sell it?" I agreed, but he could see it was a lot of money, and not what I really needed. Then I suggested we use the packaging from the exchange to re-package the return. We spent about ten minutes folding and re-folding in order to get it back in, but 'tout d'un coup' it was done, both us was as satisfying as taking a language proficiency test, and acing it!

Yesterday was Sunday, and for some bizarre reason I decided to go for a run, which I have not done since I've been here. Somehow the hours of walking I do each day had seemed enough, but I had noticed that there was another entrance to the Père Lachaise Cemetery right by my house, and running in the morning quiet of the cemetery seemed like a good idea. It was grey, and drizzling very lightly, but not very cold as I started out, and very few people wandering the cemetery, looking for famous resting places (Proust, Chopin, Piaf, Wilde, J. Morrison). I jogged past the memorials to the deported, the wall the final stand of the communards against the Prussians, monuments to the survivors of the various concentration camps where thousands, hundreds of thousands, French Jews, Polish immigrants to France and various others were sent in the early 40's...there is also a newish section of the cemetery, which caters to the growing popularity of cremation. A lawn where the ashes of loved ones are scattered, flowers laid in their honor...I ran past that, too. I passed several guards, mostly busy answering questions from the growing number of clusters of wandering tourists, brightly colored umbrellas adding a splash of color to the somber landscape, and continued my slow jog. As I came round the front entrance of the cemetery, I slowed to a walk, passed the female guard in the front, and as our eyes met, said "Bonjour, madame" to which she responded with a smile, 'bonjouring' back. I started to jog as I passed her, when I heard a scream behind me "On ne peut pas courrir, il est interdit!!" I looked behind me (it always takes a second or so to figure out unnexpected dialogue) and realized she meant me! I stopped in my tracks and apologized, saying I did not know, and to convince her I did not plan to continue running, I took out my camera and took a couple of shots of graves and trees, but I continued in her sights for the next while until I rounded the next corner. Whew! Glad I did not get kicked out! I checked later, and it's not exactly written down anywhere that you can't run in the cemetery, though picnics and alcoholic beverages are strictly forbidden; as is walking on lawns and leaving garbage...but I don't think I'll go argue my point.

Thanks to all for your comments and responses. For those that are having a hard time responding on the blog itself, since it's not one of those blogs that just anyone can see, I think the trick that you become a member before you can comment, that way there are no anonymous comments. You can get around that by just responding to me by separate e-mail at
Jo Ellen

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


i miss you so much. It is such an incredible inspiration what you are doing.. I am crying as writing this, haha.. It is funny and awkwardly dramatic to write that but it's true. Thinking about the energy that you put towards taking care of yourself and observing the world and people around you helps me to to the same. You have a beautiful incandescence. I love you.