Thursday, October 02, 2014

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Picky Packing

If I wasn't bringing five books for various people, I would be able to get my socks into the suitcase.  (I have this enormous list of everything I need - documents, gifts, electronics, med stuff, clothing, toiletries -  just so when the question arose of DID I REMEMBER TO PACK...., I could look at it and say Yeah, its in the outer pouch of the bigger bag.  I was feeling quite smug until I noticed that the list didn't include socks.)

I could put two or three of the books into the carry on bag, but it's a funny thing; unlike socks and stuff, they don't bend.  Not a real problem for the airplane, but the TGV?  Yeah, could be. So suddenly I'm thinking you know, you COULD just mail some of them from the US.  .  You don't HAVE to physically hand them over. And in fact two of them, for the children of my friend in Greasque, HAVE to be mailed, because I'm not going anywhere south of Paris.  So other than the novel experience of going to a French post office -- je voudrais envoyer cette boite, s'il vous plait.  Oui, monsieur - and then he asks the French equivalent of what class, anything breakable, are you sending liquids.... and I do my Harpo Marx impression.  Yeah, maybe mailing from the US would be a good idea for those two books  And using the bigger suitcase -- its not massive, by any means -- maybe that would  be a good idea,too.  Makes the carry on more collapsible.  Gives me room for souvenirs.

Just that - I know this is silly -- I kind of wanted to do it with the smallest of the bags.  Just to prove to myself that I could.  I'm not 22, I'm not skinny, I have big feet, I can't wear the same clothes four days running -- but still.  Just to prove that I could.


Ever notice how those people who do the I packed for a two month trip using just this small suitcase videos are usually skinny?  And can wear the same clothes for three or four days without a problem? Socks, toiletries, shirts. I suppose I could save some space by getting thong underwear, but I don't think they've made it in my size since Ringling Brothers went out of business....


I was just thinking wow, four days till I leave, five till I have to start speaking French all the time. Man, that's soon.

And then I realized it's three days.  Three days till I arrive at the airport at 6AM after an 8 hour flight, hang around for five hours, get a train to a new city, get shuttled to a tiny town that none of my French friends has ever heard of, meet new people there (two from Australia, one of whom is fluent in French, and one from Germany), have to live with them in a small gite, have to buy things from French-speaking storekeepers, have to figure out how to cook in a strange kitchen. And then after the class is done, have to take the TGV to a city I've never been to, to meet people I've never met before, and live with them for two days.  Then return to the big city, trying to dodge the pickpockets (because there is no way they're going to see me as a poor native!) while trying not to get lost on the Metro.

Initiating panicky clenched-orifice lockdown....

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Arrr... I mean, Oui

"After a recent trip to New York one French journalist remarked that leafing through a copy of Forbes or Fortune is like reading the operating manual of a strangely sanctimonious pirate ship."

Adam Gopnik
Pais to the Moon

Monday, September 29, 2014


Why is it that if we want law enforcement assistance, we occasionally 'call the police department',but usually 'call the police', whereas if we want help to extinguish a fire, we always 'call the fire department', never 'call the fire'?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Un, Deux

One week from right now, I'll be on a flight to Paris.  For the seven days after that, I'll be in a small French town enduring attending a French Language Immersion class.  All French, all the time. Then for the second week, for about two days, I'll be with some friends in Lille, in northern France, and after that in Paris, with at least three and possibly six other friends, including one very close friend -- the one who makes me say My wife really must trust me; she's letting me spend time in Paris with a charming single woman.

And then I come home.

Given that I'm not fond of elegant food -- or really, much that isn't pizza, burgers, or spaghetti -- I will probably come home a little lighter (which could certainly stand to occur) and with a bit of a headache (though my friends speak English, pretty much, I'm going to try to do the whole week in French).

Should be interesting.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Tomorrow my friend (the one who didn't get the scholarship) takes an oral interview to determine whether she can even apply for the doctoral program.

I hope she gets in. I find that it's almost as important to me that she succeed as that my own daughter succeed.  I don't exactly know why, but it is. As for the money that I offered her to supplement any financing she finds -- she probably won't take it.  But if she wants it, it's hers.  Flat-out gift. We're not rich, but her success is surprisingly important to me.  I think its because I like her -- we both do -- and because it someone offends me that someone with that much ability is being held back because her parents are idiots.

Tomorrow, I'll know.

Turns out, she didn't.  Only one person in the group passed. 

Monday, September 22, 2014


I admit it.  I'm looking for a reason to stay longer in France than just the two weeks.  Say, if the Air France pilot's strike went on for another week, which would (could) mean that my arrival at the class would be threatened, so maybe I should go to the class late, like November.....which happens to be during the winter, when my friends said I could live at their house if I wanted.

I know that I am very lucky to be going at all (just the other day, I realized that I was thinking yeah, I'm just going to be in France for two weeks, thats all..., and then I realized TWO WEEKS?  ALMOST A FULL WEEK IN PARIS? THAT'S ALL??? So I do know that.  And I know that I get antsy if I haven't seen my wife lately, and I'm not that fond of French cooking, and staying would be expensive, even if I stayed with our friends. Its not going to happen. I know this.

But yeah, I'm thinking about it.  Sue me, I like France.

First World Problem

I am apparently incapable of telling the difference between the Panera Cinnamon Crunch and the Panera Asiago Cheese bagels.  After slicing two, and finding that both were cheese (one only after I'd started to toast it), New Rule:  The Asiagos get their own bag, clearly marked.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


No, I'm not fixating on the French immersion trip.  Doesn't everyone quickly look up the verb to melt while waiting at a traffic light?

(Faire fondre. You're welcome.)


Maybe just a little....