Posts Tagged ‘Sleep’

It was a strange day, involving much napping and several hours of breakfast eating.

But it was a rather lovely day, too. Plus, a girl in my Music and Politics seminar thought I was a real French person, which was fun.

I woke up, feeling really rather awful — maybe it was one of my weird “Saturday Morning Sicknesses”, only this time on a Friday, or maybe it was the dread I was facing for having to pay my rent that morning — but I was really hungry, so I slowly ate my usual breakfast during a prolonged period of the morning. I would eat a few spoonfuls of yogurt granola, then lie down on my bed, then try again, then lie down on my bed, etc. etc. It was not the most efficient way to eat breakfast — it took me about 2 hours — but it stayed down, and I felt decidedly better after having finished and showered.

Paying the rent? Not so much fun. But that had to get done, too, I suppose.

Then, eating lunch while walking, I wandered down to campus for my final class of the week, the looming French lecture on “La Musique, la Politique et la Sociabilitié” (Exactly what it sounds like) in one of my favorite buildings on campus — they have one of the better coffee machines there.

I found the room, and another student waiting for the same class, and we awkwardly spoke to each other in French. I asked her if she knew the professor, and she said she did not. I replied that I was the same, because I was an exchange student here for the term.

And then the wonderful thing happened.

“Oh,” she said, still in French, “I thought you were a French student.” She, it turns out, is an exchange student — for the year — from Mexico. We bravely entered the class together, at least one of us feeling just a little more French in doing so.

The class was a grab bag of students from exchange programs and Sciences Po in general, making it clear that I wasn’t the only non-native French speaker present. But for the most part, I could understand the delightful and amusing professor, as he rattled off details of his musicology history and his academic career.

It would appear that this course will be, as its title suggests, an exploration of the intersecting worlds of music, politics and sociability. We will all be presenting various topics in small groups — I’m in a group with my new Mexican friend on opera! — and just pretty much having a musical kind of a time. We even finished the first class yesterday by sampling some recordings of select virtuoso pianists.

It, like the rest of my classes here, will be a truly enjoyable experience, I am sure.

I wandered back home, taking time to go to the huge shopping center close to the center of the city in order to buy a novel for my French class — not available in the independent bookstores down by Sciences Po, which was sad — and then bought two loaves of bread to bring with me to the dinner party I was planning on attending later that evening.

A friend from Chicago in my welcome program here was the host, inviting about 14 students over — all exchange students this term — to her lovely apartment by the Seine for a little bread, cheese, wine and French Soupe a l’Oignon. Everything was delicious — including the strawberries, madeleines and whipped cream for dessert — and a few of us decided to go for a post-dinner walk along the Seine down to the Eiffel Tower.

We sat under the huge iron structure, looking up at the pretty sky and the soaring monument to 19th century French engineering.

And then we called it a night.

Oh, I also got stopped by the National Police at my Metro station at Gare de l’Est. They were closing the station for the night and decided that I, with my satchel and pea coat, looked like a drug carrying type of guy.

Obviously, they were wrong — although I did make sure to warn them that I had needles in my bag, as I am a diabetic — and they let me go. It was a strange experience, and I’m not sure why they singled me out, but maybe it’s because they thought I looked really French.

I think I’ll just go with that one.

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Nothing really significant happened to me since that party on Friday night. I mean, really, I slept for 24 of the past 48 hours. It was much needed sleep and I definitely will be full of life tomorrow, but right now I just feel like I had a most unproductive weekend.

I did manage to go for a run everyday, and finally buy more groceries — most shops are closed on Sundays here in la belle France — which in itself was a major victory. I also did a lot of reading and cooking and relaxing, so I guess while lacking sheer productive output, this weekend was a much-needed rest after a busy week.

I’m now plotting out several lazy — and inexpensive — day trips in the city for my week of nothing, the kind of day trips where I won’t have to spend any money and I can see interesting things without wasting the whole day. If the weather stays grey rather than rainy, I might head over to Père la Chaise, the big cemetery in Eastern Paris where many famous people are famously buried — Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, etc. — and maybe go to the Musée d’Orsay later on in the week, because I think it is free for students with a carte d’etudiant — of which I now proudly an owner, 200 euros later.

If anything, I might just go the cafés in this quartier, order a cup of coffee, and read and write and watch people as they walk by. There’s a great little café called the Liszt close to my apartment, and the Gare de l’Est area nearby has a lot of big cafés that are perfect for people watching. I have 4 or 5 days to kill. Why not do something interesting? And cheap?

I also might try and find Parc aux Buttes Charmantes tomorrow morning on my run. I tried today, but I just couldn’t find it and got lost. Fortunately, when you use a canal as your landmark, it’s hard to get really lost. I’ve found that if I use significant landmarks on my runs here, I’ll always find my way home. Things like La Bastille, la Place de la Republique and the Canal St. Martin are all large, noticeable things that both I and other random pedestrians know, so I am ever lost, I will just ask where these things are and head that way.

I do feel sorry for that woman who stopped me earlier this evening for directions in my friend’s neighborhood. While I might look like I know where I’m going, I really have no clue.

I think that’s the key to Paris. Pretend like you know what’s going on, and even if you don’t, no one does, so you can all pretend together.

It’s like one big game — there was even an elaborately staged puppet show on the metro this evening, complete with keyboards and music and speakers and everything — of imaginary fantasy. Sometimes I don’t believe I’m in a real place.

But I have 4 days this week, and 5 months after that, to really figure things out. Then maybe I won’t have to pretend anymore.

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I set my alarm for 8:23 a.m., Paris time.

It went off at 8:23 a.m., Paris time.

I turned it off at 8:23 a.m., Paris time, and didn’t wake until 12:15 p.m., Paris time.

I slept for 13 hours.

Granted, all that sleep was really necessary. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t really sleep on the plane yesterday, and I stayed up until 11:00 p.m., Paris time, in order to better acclimate myself to this time zone.

I wouldn’t say I’m completely over jetlag, but I’m getting there. I think.

After my resounding victory in waking up this morning — or rather, this afternoon — I had a little breakfast, having finally discovered where the Watson-Blackwell family keeps their cereals and other such dry goods. Most importantly, they have mounds of delicious, quality coffee beans and a coffee grinder. Needless to say, I made myself a tasty pot to go with my yogurt and granola. They also had one last grapefruit, which I ate.

In French, grapefruit is “pamplemousse,” which makes me love the fruit even more than I already do.

I then read the paper a little — there are lots of journalism-centric words in French that I’m just now coming across, but I still can understand it, which makes me happy — and lounged about a bit.

Karl came back to check up on me, and we discussed basic things —  the weather, where he is from (Martinique), the crisis in Haiti, the weather again, only in Detroit this time — and he wished me a pleasant weekend.  During our conversation, I tried to tell him I slept for 13 hours – treize heures in French — but I may have told him I only slept for three hours — trois heures in French — or at least that’s what he might have heard me say. My French skills are going to have to undergo a most rapid improvement if I wish to get by here in the city of light.

After Karl left, I decided to go for a run in the Bois de Boulogne, which is just over a pedestrian bridge a few blocks from this apartment. It was very pretty, albeit rather muddy and overcast, and I enjoyed running through the city. It felt like I wasn’t a stranger here, because I was running on busy streets and seemed to know where I was going. It felt good, I suppose, and I hope I’ll eventually feel that way on a regular basis, and not just when I’m running.

Since then, I’ve just been reading and continually checking my email. I sent out emails to about 20 Craigslist ads for room sharing in the Paris area, and I’ve heard back from a few. Some seem too expensive, some seem rather sketchy, and some are too far away from the city center for me to even consider, but one, in the 10th arrondissement of the city, seems to fit both my budget and my geographic needs. I’m set to visit it Sunday night, so I could have permanent housing as soon as next week! Let’s hope, or espérons, si tu veux.

Several times today,  I considered going out for a walk, but I let my fear of having to interact in French get the better of me. I told myself that running was enough, and I’ll work on further French exploration later this weekend.

John, the UNC alum who owns this apartment, is supposed to be getting home in about an hour or so, and he promised to take me out to dinner. It will be nice to finally meet one of the people who have so generously opened up their incredible home in Paris to a complete stranger, and having some tasty food that I didn’t have to throw together myself will also be lovely.

Tomorrow, I imagine I might get a French mobile phone, and maybe go for that walk that I delayed today. John is supposed to be here all weekend, and hopefully he’ll be able to help me procure a phone and maybe even a bike (!), but mostly I just want him to help explain Paris to me.

I’ll figure it out on my own, of course, but some guidance is always welcome.

Well, I’m headed back to my reading — en Français, mais oui! — but expect more from me soon.

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