Monday, June 21, 2010

Paris accomplishments thus far

-Got BNF card (had the interview, paid the fee, NYPL nostalgia ensued).
-Purchased appropriate Metro tickets. (Why must the monthly begin on the first of the month? Metrocard nostalgia, of all things, ensued.)
-Attended a French-Jewish student (and grown-up) rally-slash-movie-premiere. I'd arrived the morning of, and so was only truly awake for the rally part. More on that later.
-Ate one and a half baguettes (in installments!). No, it's not so bad here, really it isn't.
-Ate flan #1 of I don't want to think about it. The woman who sold it to me referred to it as "petit," which was nice but inaccurate.
-Inadvertently happened upon the conveyor sushi place I was obsessed with in 2003. As quick, 5-euro lunches go, not bad! Is it a wise idea to eat raw fish that's been rotating probably since noon at 3pm? So far so good.
-With the help of a mall's wireless and (more helpful still) running into my former office-mate in that mall, I tracked down NYU in Paris, which is hidden away like one of those fake speakeasies. Note the following parallel: NYU's Paris location is on a street lined with a mix of mass-market and charming boutiques, many of which sell beautiful shoes, while UChicago's Paris site is... next to the giant library and nothing else. (This mall, however, was good for wireless and wireless alone. A GAP, an H&M, a Starbucks...)
-Convinced my bank that I am indeed myself, and so will not need to survive three months on the ~25 euros currently in my wallet.
-Speaking of which, there was a Petit Bateau in Passy that bien sûr took AmEx. This is mine. This is up next.
-Spoke a decent amount of French.
-Was thought to be a local by a woman in Petit Bateau, who was flabbergasted that I wasn't her vendeuse, and by a lost American family in the Chatelet metro station, whose son used his best French on me to ask directions, only to hear back, in New Yorkease, that I had no idea where it was, whatever it was they were looking for.

Still to do:

-Research! I decided to allow myself one day for bureaucracy, although I suspect parts of other days will go that route as well. The process of getting to look at a book - a book, not an archival document - at the library is, I hope, significantly less involved than it now seems. I've "reserved" 12 hours of Saturday, the first available day, for this, but walk-ins are apparently OK in the afternoons?
-Socialize with (as opposed to buy flan from) Parisians.
-Buy, or (more likely) ogle, clothes and shoes extensively. I'd forgotten this about Paris, but apparel here is like food is in Belgium - even the unexciting places are amazing. I walked down the equivalent (for New Yorkers) of Second Avenue in the 80s, or (for Chicagoans) whatever the non-main shopping street is in Lincoln Park, and one store after the next had me drooling. Part of me thinks this is a bit circular - nice clothes are defined as that-which-is-worn-in-Paris, and so Parisians seem well-dressed. But they don't, as a rule - I think many, particularly the younger ones, find the shiny ballet flats and such too bourgeois, and so prefer a pilling-oversize-black-sweatshirt-and-inevitable-scarf (keffiyah preferred) look. Meanwhile, those who want to look bourgeois dress very conservatively (think preppy minus the pastels), and don't really experiment with all the possibilities shiny ballet flats have to offer. It's more that, as raw material, the clothing in the window of Parisian stores cannot be beat.

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