Armistice Day, Sunday Luncheon, and Other Miscellany

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Café des Dames, near M° Colonel Fabien, 19th arr.

It’s Day Ten, Week Two of NaNoWriMo. I got a pep talk email from Chris Baty, the NaNoWriMo Program Director, in my inbox this morning.

It said this at the end:

Remember that your book is important. I didn’t say this in the Week One pep talk because we’d only just met and there’s really only so much cornball sentiment from a random guy on the internet that anyone should have to tolerate in one month. But here’s the truth: You have a book in you that only you can write. Your story matters. Your voice matters. The world will be richer for you seeing this crazy creative escapade through to 50,000 words.

This may be hard to believe given the craptastic state that many of our manuscripts are in. But there are great, unexpected things ahead for you in Weeks Three and Four. And there is someone out there who has been waiting their whole life to read the book you’re writing now.

So don’t slow down. Don’t give up. We’ll be at the first tipping point soon!

I got a little weepy when I read this.

See, I have been trying to justify for myself and for anyone reading that, while it is not a novel, per se, this blog is indeed part of a story — my story: a chick living who happens to be living in Paris, and oh yeah, she is neurotic and gluten (and dairy and yeast) intolerant to boot. Here in the pastry/wine/cheese Capital of the Universe. (This also means her life is highly ironic, sometimes on the scale of Black Comedy. )

When I read these words, “You have a book in you that only you can write. Your story matters. Your voice matters. The world will be richer for you seeing this crazy creative escapade through to 50,000 words,” I believed them. I felt that these words applied to what I am trying to do on this blog (which is tell about my life in Paris), and I felt justified in doing it. It was a good feeling.

So here is another installment towards the 50k words I am trying to achieve by the end of the month. Today I stand at 24,303 and I need to get another couple thousand, at least, under my belt today.

Today’s post includes:

  • Armistice Day
  • Who is Edward Hubbard?
  • Sunday Luncheon, and
  • Peeves

Armistice Day

Tomorrow is a National Holiday: Armistice Day or l’Armistice, the commemoration of the end of World War I. PJ is off work, his kids are off school and will be spending the day with us, and I am not sure if I will have time to post tomorrow, so I hope to have a good word count by the end of today.

Some articles on Armistice Day & Armistice Day in France are here:

Armistice Day

Photos and Text of the l’Arc de Triomphe on Armistice Day by Edward Hubbard

Armistice Day in France, an article at Time & Date.com

Info on this years ceremony at the l’Arc de Triomphe from What’s On When/Frommer’s Guide

I always think about Armistice Day as the original due date of my son who was born on November 7. He decided to come a few days early, which was all well and good at the time, but I loved the idea of his birthdate potentially being on 11-11. I think those numbers are very cool: prime, spiritual, odd. Eleven is just very groovy. Still, he was born on 7-11-2005 (written out Euro-style, with the day first), and numerologically-speaking this combo breaks down into this: 7-11-7, which adds up to 16, which siphons down to a 7. Still a great number.

PJs office is not far from the l’Arc de Triomphe, and when I meet him for movies, we meet at the Métro stop Charles de Gaulle/Etoile where one has a clear view of the Arc. Maybe I should check out the ceremony tomorrow. I shall think about it. I still would also like to go and see the fancy lights show at the ET (Peter’s Paris – ET – 120 years). It ends December 31, so I need to be sure to do it soon!

Who is Edward Hubbard?

I just spent a little bit of time at Edward Hubbard’s site linked up there. He seems like a cute, science-y kind of guy. I got some info on him from trolling about his site. Edward is (or was — the site seems to be dated a few years back) a post-doc at a place called the “INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit/Unité de Neuroimagerie Cognitive.” I went to the site, and it says it is a research facility where:

We investigate high-level human cognitive functions such as language, mathematics, attention…, combining experimental psychology, neuropsychology and neuroimagery approaches. Directed by Stanislas Dehaene, the research unit is located at the Neurospin Center in the CEA campus of Saclay and at the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris.

Edward says on his site that it is in the city of Orsay, about 30 minutes outside of Paris. I Google Mapped it, and yes, it is to the southwest of Paris proper. I looked at the highways there (I love Google Maps), and if one drives from the SW section of the Periphérique, the Paris Ring Road, out from an exit around Pont de Sévres off of the Avenue de General Leclerc, then onto the Route Nationale (N118) southwards, through the Forêt Domaniale de Meudon and past the Periphérique de Île-de-France (the “state” or region in France which Paris is in), maybe going another, oh, let’s just ballpark it and say 20 km total outside of Paris, then you take the exit D446 and you are there. You can see some photos of it here.

Edward posted photos of his apartment at a link on his site entitled “Pictures of the Maison du Cambodge.” It is a really pretty campus-looking place, but his apartment is a very simple science bachelor-guy pad. He is cute writing about it: “Th[is] is the view looking at the Front of my new home, the Maison du Camdoge, which has quite an interesting story, which I won’t reproduce here.” Edward!! How can you do this to us? Leave us hanging by telling us there is an interesting story and then leaving it like that. I want to know the story, dammit!

His descriptions of his rooms are cute, too: “It is pretty small, but actually quite a bit bigger than I had been thinking. I have everything I need for day to day life, including a great workspace, with a nice view looking to the southeast, so that I can watch the sunset in the evening (when I’m home in time)…. In the second picture, you can see the kitchenette taken from near where the computer is. It’s small, but I’ve never been one to cook a lot (especially for just myself) so it suits my needs perfectly.” Small is an understatement, haha! It is a very cozy place, like a dorm room but a little bigger. He writes that you can come and visit him if you like:

“So, that’s the quick tour of where I live. If you want a longer tour, feel free to stop by… To those of you that are thinking of coming to visit Paris and crashing on my couch, you may have noticed that there isn’t one. But, we can get a small temporary bed, where you could stay. It’s a lot cheaper, and a lot more interesting than staying in a hotel. If you do get a chance to come visit, let me know, and I will be sure to take some time off to show you around town.”

So there you go! You can visit Edward.

Or not.

I just Googled him again and he has a second website (denoted by the number “2” in  the address: http://sites.google.com/site/edhubbard2/). Now it shows that he is in Tennessee. Yes, I just checked. He is using the same Gmail address, so I think  it is the same guy.

I wonder how he got from France to Tennessee. Did he meet a French girl (or maybe a guy?) and move back to the States? He is at Vanderbilt University now, so he must be doing okay in the World of Neuroscience. Ah. Confirmation. It says at his About Me page that he is now at Vanderbilt after previously working in France. I note that he got his undergrad inn 1998, so if he was about 22 or 23 when that happened (okay, even let’s say he took a bonus year to get it, and he was 24) that means he is about 35 years old.

I wonder if he is good-looking or not. There is only one teeny, tiny picture of him here, kayaking. I wonder now about Edward’s personality, and likes and dislikes. What kind of food does he like to eat? What does he do for fun, besides mountain bike and kayak? Does he read? Jog? Watch TV? What are his favorite shows?

Darn. He does not have a Flickr account, nor a MySpace or any other social networking site that I can find. He probably hand-coded his own webpage, lol. A true Geek, not just a Wannabe. He sounds really healthy, though, what with the kayaking and mountain biking he writes about on his first site. He took some trips to Belgium while in Europe, so it seems like he likes to travel, too. Ohhh waaaait!! He has a Wikipedia contributor/user profile! He has made over 3,000 contributions to the site. He is an Athiest and secular humanist. Oh and get this:

I am an avid NASCAR fan (I know, strange) and I have made a number of edits on those pages, especially Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, the California boys who drive for the best team in NASCAR.

Hahahahahaha! I love it. There’s a quirk for ya.

I  just downloaded his CV, too, out of curiosity. Looks like he lived in France from 2004 to 2008, and moved back to the States about a year ago. He is beaucoup smart: written a ton of brainiac (literally) articles and given a lot of presentations.

I think my favorite photo of his is the first one on his pictures page of Leuven, Belgium. It’s the one with the tree lights from the holidays still up. It’s a bit foggy and mysterious. I like his written descriptions and it is a very picturesque, peaceful-looking place.

All this, from a random web search on Armistice Day. Who says the Internet is not a freaking brilliant place, especially for finding, reading about, and guessing people’s stories?

Sunday Luncheon

This previous Sunday, PJ and I were invited to his co-worker’s home for a Sunday afternoon lunch. She lives in the 15th arrondissement, off of rue de la Convention, when it turns into rue Voillé. “Voillé” is an amazingly hard word to pronounce. It is something along the lines of voh-ee-yuh. That’s right: the “L’s” are not pronounced like ell. They are pronounced like yuh. Go figure.

I just Googled the word voillé (today is Google Exploration Day. Can you tell I am stretching for something about which to write?). It is a misspelling of a type of fabric (voile), but appears at these sites:

Alexander McQueen Cotton Voillé Pleated Top (and as featured in this clothing set. It’s cute and it’s only € 1, 460!! Jeebus…)

Buy Fabrics dot com

Also, it is the last name of this artist.

Someone posted his travel photos, one of which is the rue Voillé, here. Lennie and Doug took a recent trip to Paris and journaled about it on TravelJournals dot net. They look like they had a lot of fun. No, I do not know them — just found them on a search for “Voillé” and their photo came up! I’m trying to find the story about rue de Voillé now…

Oh, but look!! Lennie has a blog of her own! Right here at Blogspot: A Love of Everything French. What a lovely blog! 🙂 Lennie’s photography of the city is very nice. You should check it out. I just signed up to “follow” her on Blogger.

Ya find out something new everyday, I swear.

Back to Sunday. We got off at M° Convention, coming from Métro Line 12.

This is the Café Convention, a little later in the day, just near the Métro.

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This link is a Google User Photo —  an aerial view of the same location.

Just past the Métro is a carousel — I took the photo of Peter Pan and Wendy, which I used in yesterday’s post, at the carousel.

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Also, there was a Sunday market all up and down rue de la Convention. It was closing up at about 2 pm, but it looked like a good market for everything from fruit and flowers to fish.

Our friend (PJ’s co-worker) has a lovely apartment in what had been a former home (a mansion, essentially), now broken up into units, at the turn of the prior century. Her place was in the inner courtyard of the buildings.

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A view of the other apartment building in what would have been the front yard of the house over a century ago.

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The living room window of PJ’s co-worker, from the courtyard.

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The door to her flat.

She prepared a lovely lunch of shrimp with salad greens and vinaigrette, curried chicken and rice, cheeses, and sorbet with strawberries and almonds for dessert. It was a lovely time with her and another co-workerof PJ’s (Mr. M, a delightful Irishman) whom he has known for 17+ years and who brought his boyfriend to lunch, too. I enjoyed being with a group of people so very much, and Miss S, as I shall call her for now, took care to make the entire lunch gluten and dairy-free so I could enjoy it all along with everyone else. We stayed until about 5:45 pm when we had to leave to collect PJ’s daughter who had been to a friend’s birthday party, but I was so happy for a few hours to have had some social conversation, and I loved meeting Mr. M’s Mister, a delightful Frenchman who did not speak English fluently, but who tried as much as he could (his English clearly being better than my French). The conversation went back and forth between French and English as the other English-speakers have lived in Paris for over ten years each and are all fluent.

I realized, though, it would be ideal for me to meet someone who has about the level of English of Mr. M’s Mr. He spoke just enough English that he could communicate with me and I could understand him, and he was also so careful when using French that I was able to comprehend his French a good deal. Yes, I would like too find a high-beginner English speaker with whom I could trade languages, for sure. I have to practice speaking more.

On the way home, walking back to M° Convention, I saw something unusual.

I know that a bucherie is a butcher, a pâtisserie is a pastry shop, a boulangerie is a bakery, a fromagerie is a cheese shop…

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… but this was the first time I had seen a saladerie – a salad shop. Ha! I always thought of anything ending with erie in French as kind of an artisan-enterprise and a little bit gourmet: special cuts of meat at the bucherie, lovely handmade pastries at the pâtisserie, beautiful breads at the boulangerie, creamy cheeses and handmade butters at the fromagerie, so how does SALAD fit in? I am imagining a specialty salad-prep chef now, creating snazzy salads for sale at the saladerie. Crazy.

Peeves

Oy vey. Orrr, since I am trying half-assed to learn French, I ought to say…

*Googling the search terms “how to say “woe is me” in french idiomatic language”*

pauvre de moi!

There are some peeves I have of which I have been meaning to write, and seeing as I have about another 450 words I need to write for this blog today, I’ve decided now would be as good a time as any. They are of the ilk like my whinging about grocery shopping in Paris the other day.

Peeve Number One (other than shopping)

DISHES.

Granted, our kitchen is bigger than a closet and has an oven and washing machine. This is a big deal in a place like Paris where kitchens are often the size of closets, or even IN closets, as Mr. M told me on Sunday about his and Mr. M’s Mr. first place together. Ovens are not so common in kitchens, either, just countertop burners and a toaster oven for many. At least they are not common in the apartments of a lot of the ex-pats whom I have visited.  So I am blessed in these regards. The one thing I have come to miss somewhat is a dishwasher.

Now, I have lived in a lot of places in the U.S. without a dishwasher, too. There was the little house in NE Colorado which did not have one. There was the rental in Tulsa which did not have one (and it had these horrid tile countertops, too, which were impossible to clean as crumbs would get stuck in the grout). Not having a dishwasher is not a huge deal. However, as space is tight, it is also hard to do dishes as the drainer is not especially large, and because we have no kitchen cabinets, we do not have a whole slew of pots and pans, and so I feel like I am constantly washing what we do have.

Rats.

I just realized I lost some more photos in the great computer reformat that we did about a week ago. I was going to post some of how we store our pots and pans in our kitchen. Well, not now. Maybe another time. Instead, here is our kitchen sink.

BEFORE – with dirty dishes & clean dishes in the drainer needing to be put away. And the kitchen window…

2009-11-09 Daily Life & 15th arr

AFTER – clean sink & full drainer

2009-11-09 Daily Life & 15th arr1

I feel like a total whiner here. It’s NOT that bad. I think I wanted to write about dishes as an exercise in cross-cultural comparison, though. Paris apartments are small; Parisians live small, at least the bulk of middling, ordinary people do. The thing is, our kitchen could not fit a dishwasher, even if we wanted it to — no room. What this means is dishes are done in the sink.

I do have to say, too, that I am really grateful for the double sink. A lot of kitchens I have seen consist of a single basin. I think it is a lot more difficult to hand wash dishes with just one basin. Note, you American readers, that there is also no garbage disposer. They do not, as far as I know, exist here.

Still, I get sick of dishes and wish I could toss them in a dishwasher sometimes and have them washed and dried without my having to do anything but load and press a couple of buttons.

Peeve Number Two

PLASTIC WRAP


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Film étirable means “stretchable film” in English. It is pronounced ay-teer-ah-bluh. If you say it out loud and observe the spelling, you will note that étriable looks and sounds a little like TERRIBLE and IRRITABLE. The plastic wrap here is terrible and makes me feel very irritable each time I use it. Okay, so maybe it is that we buy the cheapo Leader Price brand stuff (Leader Price is what we have dubbed the Poor People Store because of its focus on non-brand name food staples at low prices. If you are curious, petite anglaise has an old blog post that mentions Leader Price here and I did as well on an old post here). Still, even the cheapest Wal-Mart crap usually tears off the roll without having to engage in a wrestling and swearing match. Film Irritable. For sure.

Peeve Number Three

LAUNDRY

I don’t have a photo handy right now, but I have mentioned in other posts about doing laundry.

We have a washing machine the size of an apartment washer in the States. We do not have a dryer. Clothes are washed in the washer and then hung on lines in the other bedroom where PJ’s daughter sleeps when she is here. The washing machine will fit in one load about three pairs of pants/jeans and about 3-4 shirts. Or one sheet set. Or several pairs of underwear and socks. Or two bath towels, one hand towel, and a couple of washcloths. Each load takes 30 minutes (minimum) to about 45-50 minutes, depending on the settings (the 30 minute setting is the fastest). The laundry hanging to dry on the lines takes as little as a half a day to dry or as long as two, depending on the weight of the fabric and the temperature and humidity in the house. In general, on a hot summer day, clothes dry pretty quickly, but in the winter, when it is cold and humid, it can take a while. Laundry has to be timed so as to get washed, dried, and taken down so that Girl Child (Belle fille, as I have sometimes called her here) does not have to negotiate a laundry forest while she is here with PJ and me.

Doing laundry is therefore a bit of a chore. It’s not so bad, once it is hanging up. I can forget about it for a day or two, although if I have more than four loads of laundry to do, I have to be more conscientious to grab things off of the line. Only four will fit on all the lines and on a rack we have to hang on the top edge of the door to the room. A fifth load throws a spanner in the laundry works as I have nowhere to hang it to dry. There is a delicate rhythm to laundry timing and I about have it down after 17 months of doing it.

What I miss, though, is the warm, fresh softness of a towel just out of the dryer. I miss the smoothness of machine-dried blue jeans and tops and sweaters that do not have poke-y things at the shoulders where hangers have imprinted. I actually miss static cling — the spark and crackle of dry clothing as it is removed from a dryer.

Overall, I know hanging laundry to dry is economical and more environmentally-friendly, and it is also better for clothing — less wear and tear. I can live with it.

Some French washing machines have dryers built in. I have heard they do not work very well — items still have to be hung to dry most times. I have also heard they extend washing time per load exponentially. I’m happy enough that I do not have to go to the laundromat. But I do miss machine dried clothing every so often.

To read other Paris bloggers’ laundry stories, see David Lebovitz’s posts here and here, and Shelli’s (Are We In Paris Yet?) post here: The Boring Stuff.

The End (for today)

It’s close to 3 pm (15.00) and PJ unexpectedly had a class cancelled this afternoon, so he is actually home! His kids are coming here for dinner and to spend the night and all day tomorrow with us, and I have a lasagna to make for them as well as to take a shower (yes, writing in my jammies again, per usual). I have already written just about 3,900 words for the day today and that should keep me caught up as I doubt that I will post tomorrow.

Time to take a shower and catch up on old “Ugly Betty” episodes on our Freebox Free Home Video subscription channel.

Catch you all in a couple of days!

Over and out.

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Categories: Cross-Cultural Living, Life in Paris, NaNoWriMo, Paris Blogging, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , ,

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5 thoughts on “Armistice Day, Sunday Luncheon, and Other Miscellany

  1. Lauri

    Your photo of Cafe des Dames reminded me of my long-ago evening of sitting at Cafe de la Paix, drinking Pouilly-Fuissé with friends, and soaking in the sights and sounds of Paris. Oh you lucky girl, Karin!!!

    I loved the pictures of the apartment building (former mansion).

    I don’t have a dishwasher in my kitchen, and I don’t mind at all. You have a washing machine in your kitchen. That would be glorious!!! Granted, I only have to walk down a flight of stairs to the laundry room, but I dream of the day that I have laundry facilities IN my apartment. Yeah, I suppose it would be tough not having a dryer onsite, though.

    Enjoy your next few days!

  2. Janet

    OMG, you have hit on my own pet peeves with life in France, chica. For the first one, I would add that I *have* a damn dishwasher, just that the pipe hasn’t been fixed so it can be used and so I am dish girl — a load or two a day. Sigh.

    For the second one, when I first came to France, Robert and I went shopping and he had been pressuring me to *always* buy the cheap brand of things, so I reluctantly gave in and got the cheap brand of cling wrap. I struggled with it and finally just had to keep it next to the scissors because it *would* *not* *tear.* When he was next at home, I explained to him that the cheap stuff didn’t work and that I would buy the other stuff next time. We had been cleaning up the kitchen and putting away leftovers, and so he went to show me how I was just being stupid about it, and the joy of watching him wrestling with it helped me no end. I bought the other kind the next time and have never heard a word about it since.

    And the third one, yes. Laundry did not get done today. But yes, I have the washer and dryer in one and you can only dry half as much as you can wash, and both cycles take longer. The wash cycle takes a couple of hours and the dry cycle takes an hour and a half usually. Evidently one of those things where in trying to get both, you don’t get either one to be efficient. Oh, well. Enjoying reading along with you chica. *mwah* Have a lovely Armistice Day, and my love to PJ and the kids.

  3. Ken

    It is absolutly true that you are telling a unique story in a unique voice and because of these elements, it is going to reach people in a way that no one else could. If that is not important and validation to continue, I don’t know what could be. You’ve been looking at other pages in a comparitive way, which is good for style and the way content is delivered, but the content itself is unique and must come from you in the way you choose to give it. You are Miller, you are Hemmingway, you are Nin, but you are you in your voice and your style and it is just as important and valid. You are a “work in progress”.

    Yeah, I was curious about the german genetisist that my “girlfriend” was enguaged to and googled the heck out of him. The only thing that came up was papers that were published on genetics and his homepage that was basically a resume with links to examples of his work (dry,dry,dry), not one social link to show a human being behind this workbot at all. She told me he was a fun guy with lits of friends and very social. I’ll have to take her word on that.

    While reading Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, he tells of often making money by tutoring english , it is a fine tradition for Americans who find themselves in Paris. (although I do suspect Miller’s french was very good too)

    All in all, your apartment sounds idea as a batchelor pad, but now that it is a family unit, well….

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