Life in Paris Season 3 – Living the American Dream in Paris

 

On the Seine - Picture by My Wonderful Mother
Us - Season 3

So here we are!

Parisian life Part/Year Deux.. but we in the Suarez-Flores household call it Season 3, as far as Parisian life changes go.  We have been back around a month now, after our trip to the US, but with the flourish of guests… our work schedule… and settling back in, I have barely had a moment to breath let a lone write.

Season 1 was our first job. Season 2 was the move to unemployment and then quickly luckily into new employment.  Season 3… is what I shall call… actually settling into Parisian life.

But first some reflection and advice… Primarily: Learn the language.

So what is life like?

  • We work a lot.
  • We eat a lot.
  • We walk everywhere.
  • We teach dance weekly.
  • We travel when we can.
  • We fumble around with French.

Really not much different from Season 2… but it feels different.

The Difference

Well, the big difference is where my head is at. I am fed up.

Before, with so much uncertainty, it was okay to be confused at all times… It was okay to frown but accept weird charges on my phone bill.  It was okay, to be at odds at all times. It was okay, to accidentally order three soups instead of two. Why? Because we were new here and this is what we took as the cost of being an expat in a country where the language was not our native one.

My mother and I sont les ignorants.
"Les ignorants voyagent à Paris!" - My Mother and I posing for our favorite inside joke.

In fact, being back in the US for those 3 weeks it felt WEIRD to finally not be uncomfortable at all times  (which is a post for another time).  Not a complaint… but it made me laugh how used I had gotten to being uncomfortable.

And now I am back.. and I no longer want to be uncomfortable… I am sick of being apologetic and akward. I want a “normal” Parisian life (which will always include apology and formality I realize, as is their way).  I want my old confidence back in my surroundings… I want..

I want the American Dream!

The American Dream in Paris is to blend in.  To order wine with ease.  To meld with your sometimes bewildering French colleagues (because trust me… working in a different country is well, different). To be able to complain about the weather with your fellow boulangerie patrons. Perhaps, it is not the dream for some of the famed ugly american tourists, but it truly is for us Expats that have fallen in love, figured out how to move here and now call this mystical/sometimes mythical place home.

We want to be French.

Karma.. Karma... Chinese Lion
Me, as the social chameleon.

Or at least succeed at becoming French for our time here.

And right now, despite the support of my French and international friends I have yet to achieve that comfortability.

And its my fault.

Í have yet to achieve it because I do not know the language fluently.

There are jaded and not so jaded expatriates that will tell you otherwise about achieving this dream of fitting in… They will tell you that Paris is for the French.  That you will never fit in. I have heard this on several occasions.

Well, first of all I do not want to fit in with those types of exclusive Parisians, which I know those exist.  I just want to be able to live my life normally and interact with them if need to but otherwise interact with the awesome accepting/welcoming/funny French/Parisians that I have met.

But I will never feel at ease here until I learn the language…

Until I see a charge on my phone bill and then can call up and speak in French and explain and get although probably begrudging… but at least palpable… assistance to fix it. Or at least understand what they say when they hang up on me.

My cable has been on and off broken now for a year… And I live in fear of speaking to a human to fix it.

This is not I!

So I must learn French… I want to… I always have… but with not working in French, I have not made the effort enough outside of work to become fluent.  I am fine… I can mumble out some food words… or talk to a foreign french speaker.

But that is not enough.  As I live in fear of probably 95% of potential interactions I may have with the populace on a given day.  I need to get this down to at least a solid 25%.  Because it is isolating and damned uncomfortable.

SO THAT IS MY VOW.

So young... so strong...
Us on our Honeymoon 1.5 years ago at Place Saint-Michel - Ready to conquer... So young.

I will conquer you Paris… and your beautiful mystifying and sometimes odd sounding but beautiful language.  I will gnaw on the metaphorical skull that is your language.

And how! No really… how?

I have some tools I want to share in detail later but basically:

  1. Devouring all culture possible in French only.  Bought us an unlimited movie pass for two people for 35EUR a month!
  2. Only French spoken now at home (no joke).
  3. Flashcards… lots of digital flashcards.
  4. Reading fun stuff in French on my kindle, thanks to the help of a french dictionary I installed on it. Should probably switch to a French to French dictionary…
  5. Actually talking to people in French. Like a real person!
  6. Listening to podcasts as much as humanely possible, all in french.
  7. Hope to start journaling in French soon.
  8. Finishing my grammar lessons at home… (also a pending todo)
Really just making myself do it.. And already only a week into it.  There is a difference.
Any way here I go…

Allons !- S

To Buy or Not to Buy… Big?

So over and over a big thing I tauted as what I’d like about Europe over the US was fewer big chains. As in no walmart eyesore, with crappy employee practices.

More mom and pops. More quality.

But then I moved here on a budget. And over and over I find myself saying “Where can I find a store with everything I need?” or “This is expensive!”

NOT all the time… but a couple times I must hate to admit. Let’s tackle these seperately…

“Where can I find a store with everything I need?”

While I do very much enjoy the ability to go to a small fruit stand or butcher. And they are EVERYWHERE, so its not a bother. Plus VERY affordable!  I’ll be eating more vegetables/fruit here for sure.

BUT I also have been here three days and cannot find a damned watch. I found a few but they were designer watches over 80 euros and the shops were closed anyway.  Also, where the hangers be at?

I’m PRETTY sure this will disapear in time… once I figure out where to look.   I’m not saying this is a valid complaint… just something I didn’t expect to miss… or lament…

“This is expensive!”

So I went in search of color safe shampoo as soon as I got here, as I need to keep the new purple doo safe. Could not find it anywhere until I finally tried a pharmacy.  I found a bottle for 9.80 euro…

I ignored the first rule of shopping in Europe (or really anywhere)… WALK AWAY.

9 times out of 10 you will find it cheaper later on (ESPECIALLY away from tourist attractions) or you can come back later.  And NOW you know what to compare it to. Over and over Austin and I forget this rule and then kick ourselves in the butt about it, whether with food, clothing or otherwise.

So we walk down the street and we find a “mega” store called Tati, or atleast for Paris standards with a gallon (or a lot) of the color safe shampoo for 2.99 Euro… So we bought that as well… for the future/Austin’s use.

big shampoo vs. little
In my shower we see on the left the 2nd cheaper one I bought. The left is the first more expensive one.

Of course we did not return the other one… because we were scared. Asking for a return is hard when you don’t know the word for “return”.

And THIS IS WHAT I HATE… that THOUGH the smaller one might have been better quality, I DRIFT towards cheaper and bigger.  Now in this case the first store I bought from was NOT a mom and pops, but this could very well be the situation.  As mom and pops can’t compete with cheaper and bigger.

So… I’m not sure here.  I know that values aside until I get a job, a few Euros here and there helps.  But at the same time, this is not towards the values I’d like to hold.

But is it bad to save money?  Who says this other company or mom and pop’s treats their workers any better?  I might be talking myself in circles.

TLDR version

Sheila battles with her own feeling of guilt over semi missing cheaper, bigger American stores.

Fini – S

P.S. Confession: I am a McCafe drinker. It’s cheaper…

Lost No More

So I started this post before Lost ended.  This is all I had… “Things I hate about Lost:”

I’ll try to put a more positive spin on this situation by introducing some short lists of likes, complaints and solutions…

Likes

  1. No complaints about the acting. Locke/M.I.B. played Terry O’Quinn especially shined in his contradictory but convincing roles. Michael Emerson (Ben) was also a favorite despite how they let his character peter out.
  2. Some real novel intriguing ideas, too bad it was piece-mealed together. It’s not enough for me that it was “art” or “unique” I need some resolution. They could have been more successful with sticking with oneish concept (time travel, human experimentation, salvation).
  3. Something to watch/bitch about.
  4. Some really good character origins. My favorite episode being Locke’s “Walk About” and Sawyer’s “Confidence Man”.

The characters/actors made Lost.

Dislikes

  1. Overdone suspense music even when revealing a twist for the third time… I don’t care if THIS character is learning it for the first time, we already know.
  2. Gimmicky twists as mentioned above. Especially when in regards to fate. Fate is interesting when its not written (such as coincidence in life), unfortunately there is yet the technology (or amount of intelligent chimps) to produce unwritten shows that aren’t reality shows. So lay off of relying on fate. Of course its all intermingled, you wrote it like that! Oh lord, Jacob touched him!
  3. No regard for my time by letting the ending be what it was.
  4. Character development became more mechanical towards the end as people were used as stereotypes of themselves to move what little plot there was. So Sun spent days seemingly sitting in one location (totally amnesiac of her daughter) until someone told her Jin was where they were going and she followed them.
  5. Time wasted on flash sideways when we had wrapping up to do!

I FELL ASLEEP DURING THE FINAL SO DON’T REALLY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT HOW IT ENDED BUT THIS IS WHAT I SUGGEST AS FAR AS HOW LOST COULD HAVE SALVAGED THEIR DIGNITY

Woke up confused.  Austin explained the end and I was even more confused and slightly agitated.

My suggestions go as follows…

  1. We know we can’t make the island purgatory because some asshole guessed that on a forum after Season 1.  And we DEFINITELY know we can’t make the flash sideways purgatory because that would mean a majority of season 6 was for naught.  We don’t want to waste people’s time… do we Lost?  So how about instead of purgatory we make the island REAL LIFE and life before the island hell?  And the flash sideways if they had gone to heaven and not hell and if they redeem themselves in real life (a.k.a. make nice on the island and don’t let the Devil in Black leave) they will attain heaven.Okay you know what? Scratch that the island should have been purgatory we all know that and that’s why some troll guessed it. I don’t care if they would have had gloating rights you should have stuck with it Lost.
  2. The gold shiny light? Pulp Fiction Glowing Suitcase Should have been time (or at least explained). This theory doesn’t really explain why time turns you into a black smoke monster but we as humans strive for more time (longer lives) so that makes the shinies worth it to fight over. It would explain the longevity of the protectors. Also, if one person released or stole it all it would end time as we know it for everyone else. Also, explains the magical time travel. The flash sideways could have been an alternative universe spawned by the explosion that must be united with the “actual” universe in order to stabilize time. The island could be basically the knot that holds together time (or the cork if you prefer) and Jacob and M.I.B. the humans deranged with power by living at the nexus.  You can also explain Jacob getting off the island as time travel can be perceived as space travel.
  3. How about jumping the shark and explain it away as… aliens. Jacob and the M.I.B. are aliens enacting their own “Crash of Titans”. In some sort of Truman Show biosphere they crashed our plane on to their “mechanical island space ship” and are testing our virtues. The flash sideways are another simulation that they are putting people through and by realizing this the humans end the aliens hold on them.

Pick one. Still better then, some hole light thingy that Jack magically could just plug back in and flash sideways being some sort of limbo where people magically have stupid sons.

Done – S

To be fair I was the one that watched it for 6 seasons… by the ending I just didn’t care.  Made me long for the days anticipating the ending of worthwhile series like Battlestar Galactica.  Even if their payoff wasn’t great either…