Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Consumption

I needed some flip-flops, to avoid getting French fungus (truffles?) in the communal showers in the undergraduate dorm where I'll be living. I didn't dare look at the bathrooms when a classmate showed me around the dorm over the summer, so I'm not sure yet how communal. There's a slight chance I'll be showering in a big room with a whole bunch of French 18-year-old girls, which is probably someone's fantasy, but not mine.

As difficult to find and perhaps expensive as flip-flops would be in Paris, tracking down a pair on lower Broadway was no simple task, either. Duane Reade had socks and pedicure materials but no flip-flops. David Z wanted nearly $60 for its various options, making the $30 Ricky's was asking seem almost reasonable. But I marched on, braving the dreaded American Eagle Outfitters in vain, because it seemed like a place a flip-flop-wearing teen might shop. The answer, obvious in retrospect: Old Navy. $3.50 and made, no doubt, of the finest materials, by the most fairly-compensated workers.

And it's a good thing, too, because after the flip-flops, I got a new laptop. This, because scotch tape and various French and American Genius Bars can only do so much. Thing is, I hate, hate, hate spending money. Extra for ethernet capability - this, when I'm headed to the land of no wireless. (OK, in theory there's wireless in France, but not in my room or at the library.) But so far I'm liking a computer that doesn't give my wrists electric shocks, and whose screen works without Onslow-like DIY repairs.

Expect my look to remain permanently stuck in 2010, because I am never buying I don't need for basic survival anything again, ever, ever, ever. No Microsoft Word, no 'oh, I've never seen that book about French Jews before, maybe I won't bother checking it's at the library, here are some euros.' Certainly no A.P.C. outlet store. My days as a moderate tightwad are done.

13 comments:

Daniel Goldberg said...

On behalf of the geekerati in your comment section, I'd like to inquire as to what kind of laptop you purchased.

Brand? Specs? OS? Size, weight, etc.?

Phoebe said...

The smaller MacBook Air. If I can get it to perform software updates, it's a keeper!

Daniel Goldberg said...

WANT.

The problem is the cost. Netbooks are not remotely comparable, but there are a series of new ultraportable style laptops that are in fact comparably equipped to the specs on the new Air, and which will retail for >600 with an extended warranty. See, e.g.:

http://tinyurl.com/5sbz4l9

This is half the price of a new Air with AppleCare. I have no doubt the Air is both more durable and much more stylish, but I'm having a hard time justifying paying twice as much. Still, WANT.

Phoebe said...

Meh. I rationalized it both with the student discount (slight, but something) and with the fact that for me, new computers are like haircuts - I can spend a bit more because this is a rare occurrence. I don't have or want an iPad, iPhone, etc., whereas the thing I'm writing my dissertation on may as well be the most expensive thing I own.

J. Otto Pohl said...

At least going to France you do not have to pay for a lot of shots. My travel immunizations for Africa ran over $500. It would have been a little less if I could have gone to County Health rather than a private doctor. But, when I called the county in mid-December upon arriving in the US from Kyrgyzstan they told me there were no openings until February and I start work at the University of Ghana on 31 January. Between visa, plane, and immunization costs I fully understand just how expensive international travel has become.

Phoebe said...

J. Otto Pohl,

No shots, but I had to pay a LOT for the visa, because for France, before you get a visa, you have to get a kind of student pre-visa, which I paid twice too much for before paying the correct amount, because I couldn't tell which type of student I was considered, and the answer if you overpay is paying again. I still need to see if it's possible to get that back, but I'm not hopeful. Then there are the fees for the visa itself, for being an official student in France, etc. That, and I suspect the day-to-day temptations to spend money in Paris are greater than in Ghana or Kyrgyzstan.

Hypatia said...

Just so you know, there's free wireless in all the public spaces in Paris (museums, mairies, parks etc), and if I can help you with Cheapness Studies à la francaise, please let me know. I'm obsessed with your blog and have been living in the 16e on 10eur a day for the past 4months.

Phoebe said...

Hypatia,

How flattering! And yes, cheapness and Paris tips are welcome.

I remember hearing that the free wireless in parks, at least, was just for Paris residents - I wasn't able to get mine to work in the Place des Vosges. (Not that one has a right to complain if in that location.)

J. Otto Pohl said...

I very much doubt a French visa cost as much as a Kyrgyz one. My last one cost $1000. But, I could be wrong. Ghana is a lot cheaper. But, it still ran me a total of $300 including postage.

Phoebe said...

J. Otto Pohl,

You'd certainly win the hardcore world traveler contest hands-down - I'm going from NYC to Paris! Hardly adventure. And no, the visa itself was not $1,000, although adding up getting-to-Paris-related costs not including the flight, it's not far off.

But, once you arrive, are there 200 euro Repetto ballet flats, 35 euro "casual" café meals, not to mention every book on your main area of interest lining the streets? (Using the research library isn't free, either.) People go to Paris to shop for a reason. Even if you're the sort not to be moved by storefronts back home, the very same stores in Paris have this glow. Luckily, a lot of the city's pleasures - wine, cheese, pastry - are far less expensive than their Stateside equivalents. But for those of us who are not stoic intellectuals all the time, or who are not men, the shopping possibilities of Paris are tough not to at least notice.

PG said...

J Otto,

Are you doing anything about malaria risk? I've been taking MalArone but it is very expensive: almost $100 for 12 tablets, and you have to keep taking it 7 days after leaving the malarial area.

J. Otto Pohl said...

I am going to be there for at least a year. So the doctor gave me a script for 400 generic antibiotics to take one a day. They are very cheap. He said that is what they recommend for the Peace Corp. He also gave me a back up of Malarone (10 pills I think).

Britta said...

Wow, now a visa to China looks like a bargain. I was grumbling because they raised their price from $50 to $130.