Archive for March, 2012

The Weather Turned Shitty and Things Weren’t Pretty

March 31, 2012

There is no shower door on our bathtub. I assumed we would just buy a bar and a curtain, but that is too easy and cheap. David wants to buy a $250 glass door and somehow attach it to the tile. And he decided we had to choose one and bring it home on the metro and it has to be done NOW, today.

So we went to Castorama, a huge home and garden store, like Home Depot, which is located inside a gigantic mall at La Defense. Normally malls make my skin crawl, and I had forgotten that The Quatre Temps on a Saturday is like the 7th layer of hell. It’s packed with swarms of people and all ten of their kids, desperately pushing and shoving and buying crap like it’s Christmas Eve.

We were standing in a tiny aisle that was only about ten feet long when a women with a huge stroller decided she needed something right this second in that aisle and started to push her way through despite there being five people and no room for her. Me and David squished ourselves out of the way because we still are instinctually polite, but no one else moved. She was being an asshole so they ignored her, but we are still uncomfortable being rude.

I must have made a dent in David’s reasoning because we ended up with a shower curtain and a rod (and a bunch of other stupid man stuff, like a tool and sandpaper to fix two tiny marks on the old apartment wall). We were finally on our way out of Castorama and I could already imagine fresh air on my face, when a couple strolled in directly towards us (because going into a store through the exit where people have huge bags of stuff is obviously the best way to enter).

There was five feet on either side of us, but apparently they wanted the exact space we were occupying. David moved aside, and I automatically started to do the same, but I have finally started to stand my ground, because if I don’t, I will never learn how to deal with the wedge french people make when there is a line. You have to learn to shove your way to the front or you will be in the back of the wedge forever.

The women stepped aside at the last second and brushed my shoulder and it was all I could do not to turn around and whack her upside the head with the rod I was carrying.

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I Needed a Break

March 28, 2012

So I went to the new apartment. David is gone again in London, enjoying fish and chips and curries and speaking English (ok so he is really stuck in a hotel working, but I like to imagine that he is having fun traveling because I am a martyr).

Maza isn’t helping me pack either. She just follows me around asking over and over again if I am sure that the apartment is close enough that she will have to not have to go in an airplane again like the last time we moved.

I needed to put our name on the new mailbox because it’s already been forwarded, which I did ghetto style because I forgot to bring a sharpie, but mostly I just needed to get away from the cess pit that is our current apartment. There is still so much to do and it freaks me out and I end up watching trashy television shows I would have never been caught dead watching when I lived in the US instead of doing anything productive. I thought I could sort or organize, but there really isn’t anything to do in our new place but enjoy the view and watch people from the balcony.

Dog holding his own leash, waiting for his owner

I still can’t believe I get to live here. I could just slap myself.

Spring in Paris is kind of creepy because Parisians get all friendly when winter is over. I witnessed people smiling and being nice to strangers. An old man stopped me near my old apartment because someone had left a trolly cart that said “don’t forget me” in French on it near the wine bottle recycle bin where there is always cool stuff people leave when they don’t want it. He thought it was funny that someone had “forgot” it.

So I talked to him for about fifteen minutes and he didn’t care if I understood him or not. I love people like this. It’s usually only old people or children who don’t mind if I have no idea what they are saying and just chatter on without stopping or correcting my french. My father in laws girlfriend is like this and it’s so relaxing. She is probably annoying in real life, but to me it’s refreshing.

When I got back I ran into the “gardienne” who is in charge of the building and has been the only friendly and familiar face I have known here. He is patient and kind and works hard for the rich assholes who can’t be bothered to crush their own boxes and just pile them in La Poubelle for him to deal with. I asked him if we could have the nameplate on our mailbox for our new place and he said yes, and took me inside and opened the whole mailbox so he was sure I understood there was actually two and he would take them off and leave them there for us. When I told him me and David didn’t hire movers he said if we needed any help lifting up heavy stuff to come and get him.

So that’s another thing I will miss about this apartment. Monsieur Justin.

I Will Survive

March 27, 2012

At the moment we have two trashed apartments and all I want to do is curl up on the couch and cry but the couch is mostly at the other apartment. We just have the two pieces that we couldn’t fit in the moving van and one is in the cave and the other one is stood up on it’s side with no cushions, just mocking me with it’s uselessness and the fact that we are going to have to carry it up two curving flights of stairs.

Before

Before

You can take the girl out of Rancho, but you can’t remove her habit of keeping a bat by the front door

I suggested we just drink all the wine instead of moving it but David said “NON”

I think it was just the anticipation that was freaking me out. Two floors is not that bad. I finally had a girl over to ooh and aww and tell me she was jealous. I will probably die any day now because good things always make me feel like something bad is going to happen. David is just like “meh” but he finally showed some excitement today when he realized there is a Korean restaurant two blocks from our place. Drinking a beer at the end of the day, standing on the balcony and watching the Friday night chaos, with a friend who also moved here from Califronia was great.

I realized I am just as bad of a hoarder as David. Plants, books, clothes. Why can’t I just get rid of them? But at least they serve some kind of purpose and are not just fifty pound boxes that live under the bed.

We didn’t have a full van for our last run and David was running around looking for stuff to bring but couldn’t find anything so I said “I TOLD YOU I was working hard while you were gone!” (I wasn’t).

Good Decision

March 23, 2012

Not only do we have two front doors so we can turn the useless hallway into a closet, we found out that the fireplace works and our rental insurance will cover it if we get it cleaned twice a year. So if that’s not too expensive, I will be joyfully and secretly burning David’s old cell phone bills. Also the Mean Parisian Pregnant lady told me that the toilet had a big accident last year, so it is completely brand new. The windows are also double paned so that explains why it’s not too loud. They can’t legally list the place as having a cave because it flooded and they never fixed it, but it’s definitely usable and full of cool stuff I can steal because it is in the hallways and looks like it belongs to no one.

It may seem like we were being picky, but we were looking in almost every arrondissement, regardless if the place had a bathtub, laundry hook-up in the kitchen (so gross), a guest room, a balcony, an elevator, sun, storage… we only had two priorities. I wanted charm and David wanted a living room big enough for the couch and projector. We got lucky and found a place with a balcony, a guest room, and a bathtub, but I could have survived without them. We also aren’t that much further from David’s work, which he said he didn’t care about, but who wants to get up and ride the metro 45 minutes each day?

I looked at an apartment that popped up in my google reader today. I’m so glad that part of my life is over… forever. I told David we are never moving again and eventually we will have to use the other door because we will be too old to get down on our knees to lock the one in the living room. If he hadn’t pushed me we would still be stuck in the “search” phase. I know I complain about him all the time but he pushes me faster than I want to go because he knows I am capable of more. He believes in me and although sometimes I want to throw in the towel and just go back to California and eat a taco, somehow we make it through.

David got back from London this afternoon and he went to get the moving van, but I am stuck inside during one of the only nice days of the year waiting for that stupid FreeCycle person to come get the books so I can clean off the book shelves and take them apart. He was supposed to be here between 2 and 3 and it’s now 3:30. David pointed out that he is Parisian so he definitely isn’t going to show up until after 3. I also think it’s shady that he is a moderator and emailed me to say he had to modify my post because I forgot to say whether I was giving away or looking for books and asked if he could have them. I didn’t care at the time, but now he is getting on my nerves.*

Paris would be so great if it wasn’t for all the Parisians.

**** stupid FreeCycle guy kept us waiting until 8pm before he finally rolled up.

trente cinq clés

March 22, 2012

I was early for my appointment to pick up the keys are do the apartment walk-through and the former tenant was late, so the guy said he would text me when he was ready. I found a bench and finished reading The Catcher in the Rye because it was overdue at the library and I needed to return it on my way home.

I went back when he texted me. I knocked on the door and a very pregnant, very Parisian women answered the door and for a second I thought I was at the wrong apartment and just froze and then I tried to say something in French about un homme qui texte…

She got all huffy and annoyed like Parisians do and “Pfffft”ed at me and told me in french that SHE had an appointment right now and I needed to go away. So I did.

A few seconds later she opened the door and said in english “Can you come back?” and that she didn’t know he scheduled us both at the same time because he doesn’t tell her everything. She asked if I was the one who visited the apartment when her father was there and then told me that they only moved because they were expecting their second child. So french people say funny things when they try to speak in english too. It made me feel like less of an asshole for not knowing how to explain that the rental agent had told me to come to the apartment. Or maybe it’s just another french thing I haven’t heard about where it’s cool to have kids with your dad.

She apologized and said she wasn’t expecting someone so young (she was either trying to make up for being mean, or I have a New Apartment glow about me). Then she told me the apartment was great, that it actually does get some sun even though it looks like it doesn’t and it turns out that she works for the company that just bought David’s company. Paris is really small.

After she left the guy gave me 35 keys….. there are three different locks with three different keys for the front door we are planning on using and we will practically have to get down on our knees to lock the last one. For some reason there are nine of one, seven of another etc etc. The door we don’t plan on using only needs one key. And I have to go to the rental agency to pick up MORE keys because they forgot to bring the second set for that door.

After everyone was gone, I may or may not jumped up and down with my arms in the air like a total spaz. I didn’t want to leave but  there is still tons of packing to do at our old apartment. While David was away all week, I was supposed to be taking care of the stuff that needs to be done and I’m afraid it took a few days to work up the motivation. I can’t wait to shut the door on the old place FOREVER. It will take a while, but I’m determined to have a clutter free place that doesn’t make my teeth hurt and keep me awake at night.

mes clés

March 22, 2012

I am going to pick up the keys today (and sign MORE paperwork bien sur) and I am so nervous and excited I can’t sit still. I can’t wait to be alone in the apartment and look around and plan out where stuff will go.

I’ve been packing all week and dreading those two flights of stairs. I got all the books packed and posted about 100 of them on FreeCycle, so someone is coming to pick them up today. I was hoping it was a girl because someone who reads, and is a moderator on FreeCycle AND a Couchsurfer would be a great new friend, but despite the e at the end of Stephane, he is a boy.

David has been in London all week and doesn’t get back until tomorrow. He’s been traveling a lot this year, he was gone almost all of January. And they want him to go back to London two more times in the next few weeks. So I get to do all the packing alone. Luckily my lovely Mum talks me through everything and listens to me whine and bitch for the entire 50 free minutes I get to call the US. I don’t know why she picks up the phone, if I was her I would hit ignore.

In other sad news, because the weather is so sunny and nice I decided to put on a skirt and it is too small. I blame the weekend of eating about ten thousand calories at the wedding and the lunch the next day. Hopefully all this packing and stair climbing will help, because I’m definitely not going to stop enjoying some of the best parts about living in France…. bread, cheese and cheap wine.

Chateau D’Angers

March 19, 2012
Since we had to go to the Loire Valley for David’s cousins wedding, he decided to take a day off work so we could have a mini-vacation. Moving to France has meant I have had to give up sour cream, mexican food, seeing the sun, and my mom, just to name a few things, but sometimes it’s worth it. 
David, being French, thinks he is entitled…no obligated, to vacation when ever he has a chance. There isn’t even a way to say single vacation, it’s always “les vacances” (the vacations).

The Wedding

March 18, 2012

I ended up in church again this week, but for a much happier reason.

Although I’m not sure why we were there. These people had obviously had sex at least three times. I’ve only been to a Catholic wedding once in the US and the couple had to beg everyone not to laugh if the priest said anything about “virgins” and “premarital sex” because the only reason they were allowed to be married in the church was because they lied. To a priest. Who can do that? Last week when one of the nuns asked me if I was christian (I obviously wasn’t catholic because all the hand gestures I ignored and refused to take the scepter and do the cross thing over the coffin because I knew I would mess it up even though I know it goes…..down….left… right?

Well I wasn’t risking it because even if I was Catholic I would do it wrong in France because people are always staring at me and making me more nervous and awkward than I already am.

 So I said “pas religion” even though I had though about lying because it seems rude to tell someone who has devoted her whole life to her religion and is married to God that you think her husband is imaginary. The truth just popped out of  my mouth. Nuns are like, magic or something.

Paper Work

March 16, 2012

In case you have the idea that David has some sort of paper fetish, I want to make it clear, it’s not him, it’s France.

We had to hall around a huge file of original copies of our taxes, paychecks, passports, current rental agreements blah blah blah JUST to look at an apartment…..and they all ask for different stuff for the paperwork you fill out just to say you are interested in the apartment.

This country is just obnoxious with paperwork. When I got x-rays of my knee they gave me the original and only copies to take home. And keep for the rest of my life because somewhere down the line if I don’t have that x-ray I will die. In fact, we might need it next time we are looking for an apartment.

We went to the rental agency to sign sign sign and initial initial in triplicate today. The good news is our rental is for three years and if the government decides that rental prices are down, our rent will go DOWN. They can’t just decide to change our rent. It’s regulated. Our rent went up since we lived here, but only the small amount the government said was ok. And once you are in a place they can’t get rid of you. We could stop paying rent for a year before the cops showed up to kick us out. And the cops really will show up to kick you out.

ps being envious of living in Paris is really dumb. We were searching for south facing apartments on a high floor with no elevator so we could afford to feel sunlight on our faces. We didn’t find one because south facing apartments are so in demand we would have had to go to a black market or a shady back alley and do something illegal to get one. I don’t know why people are obsessed with this city…. the weather is so horrible

The 15th arrondissement

March 15, 2012

Another day another apartment visit another sandwich in the park, but it’s different because this is now MY park in MY neighborhood. It was hard to stop the apartment hunt just when we were getting so good at it, but now we can move on to the next super fun part of this adventure…. Packing up all our stuff and carrying it up two flights of stairs.

We went to look at the apartment and see what it looked like empty, but we had already made up our minds to take it. We discovered that the other door on our landing didn’t go into another apartment…. it went into ours. Oh happy day. Now the long dark hallway can be used to store our stuff while we sort it out and we can use the other door which opens into the living room. The cave was a hot mess, but we can clear it out and put my beloved blue tupperware bins down there. They make moving so much easier, but I wasn’t going to keep them if I had to store them somewhere I would have to look at them every day.

It’s kind of embarrassing but I almost teared up in the street when we told him we would take it. Finally, I was going to REALLY be living in Paris, not in some silent modern building down south. No more having to eat out because we were too far from home. No more buying a coffee just so I can use the bathroom, or worse using the electronic claustrophobic street toilets that kind of scare me. No more packing my bag with water, tissues, a book and all sorts of other stuff for the tram ride into Paris. I can finally wear cute shoes again and not the kind that serve some kind of orthopedic function. I can ignore the emails from seloger.com and all the other places. I can unfollow the agencies clogging up my google reader. No more arguing about location, size, price. No more paperwork and rude, pushy and invariably late rental agents.

A cat friend for Maza

David was late for a meeting, so he took the metro, and I walked back to the tram 2 to check out my new ‘hood. Every once in a while I look up and realize I am married, and I live in France and actual French words come out of my mouth and people understand me. For a second I think it must be some weird dream, but no, I really am here. How did I end up in this life? A series of steps. A combination of decisions. It’s not all good, but it’s not all bad either.