A Travellerspoint blog

CLUB MED...MONTH 2! september 1~15



September 1~15, 2008

~Apartment details…there have to be negatives…the bed a.k.a. Clic-Clac and the water are hard and the kitchen sink is inconveniently located directly below the hot water heater…so, I kind of have no place to put my face when I’m washing the dishes! And I have next to zero counter space and zero oven. I have a stupid shower door, the kind that folds out, although it doesn’t like to do that. There’s also one of those wall-mounted clothes drying racks which I inevitably walk into, face first…every time…so I don’t use it much.

~The greener side of apartment 302 (or 1935)…the bathtub, proximity to Centre Ville, the terrace and freedom for the cats definitely outweigh the few less-tolerable hiccoughs (see above list). And my bathroom sink is the size of a bathtub! And I have a washing machine (now without pressurized leaks) which I discovered is a rare commodity in a French rental “location”! And the hot water tank-thingy isn’t actually a tank. It’s one of those thingies that heats the water as it passes through, so guess what, the length of my shower is no longer directly proportional to the size of my hot water tank! This is a good thing!

~I’ve had a bath EVERY SINGLE night since our arrival. My bathtub is the next best thing to a sauna. I know, it doesn’t start with the letter “S”, but the letter “B’s” pretty good too…beer, Biernacki, uh…bonbons!

~I’ve met our concierge, Monsieur Noto (comme moto he tells me, only with an “N”). Says he hasn’t been to the Centre Ville (5 blocks from here) in over 30 years! What a weirdo!

~My gardener…Darling…appears to come every Thursday to trim the grass and hedges and do his other gardener duties…so I must remember (to tell the maid) not to sweep the terrace until after he has finished!

~There’s this French guy, aren’t they all, that lives in MY building, who faithfully walks his French Poodle twice a day and walks his wife twice a week.

~Carb and Gas have had their first taste EVER of rabbit! Well, not really real rabbit, but the chopped-up, dried-up, French Purina version of lapin! It’s their 3rd dietary change since Canada, but they need to work with me here and eat whatever’s available at the closest grocery store…I love ‘em but I’m not hauling kilos of specialized cat food across a city on foot! Uh uh, no way! Besides, I’ve had to change my brand of cigarettes a fair few times these past couple of years, and you don’t hear me complaining!

~With our sliding patio doors in perma-open position, the cats come and go as they please…just…because…they can! Of course, each time they come, they have half a kilo of natural debris stuck to their coats, whiskers, paws, bums…but better to clean up a bit of nature than “nature calls” I say! No more pee-puddles to contend with now that Carb is content with life! (We all have different definitions of happiness!...although Carb and I agree, freedom rocks!)

~C and G have picked up French hitchhikers…Montpellier fleas, les puces! More language to learn before the task of finding a Vet…but I never did make it to the Vet’s…’cause after Tourist Information Office girl gave me 2 non-existent addresses of Vet’s, some random guy whose door I knocked on, I love random guys, directed me correctly, but en route I passed a Géant Casino, couldn’t resist, and went grocery shopping instead…and what did I find within? Flea collars and flea treatment stuff. So I now know the location of a Veterinarian and a great grocery store that even sells vanilla extract! (shame that I have no oven!)

~So, the flea treatment stuff makes the cats smell like 2 walking bowls of Lavender Potpourri! And now our apartment smells like Lavender and Moroccan spices! Quite nice actually!

~So Lavender does not actually repel fleas…just other cats, and I’m sure Carb and Gas have become the laughing stock of Residence de La Guirlande of the feline populace! So, back to the Vet’s to spend yet another 30 ! But now the cats smell like cats and most of the fleas are in flea heaven!

~Dogs are definitely number 2 on a cat’s “Top 10 Worst Enemy” list…fleas ALWAYS bite!

~Had our first thunderstorm…a nice reprieve from the perpetual hot sunshine. Sat on the terrace and watched the grass grow…and Carb cower under Clic-Clac! Le froussard=scaredy-cat!

~Never underestimate the speed of a snail…one minute they’re not there and the next, they’re there! I was thinking of opening a “U-PICK ESCARGOT” on my terrace every morning! And after that thunderstorm, I had an amazing crop!

~So, you can buy empty snail shells at the grocery store, stuff your own…I could sell my escargot full or empty!!

~The novelty of freedom sure wore off quickly…Carb and Gas spend more time siesta-ing on Clic-Clac than they do venturing!!! But as soon as I shut that sliding patio door…who wants out? Once outside, Carb checks in every half hour or so…he doesn’t trust me…might move when he’s not looking!

~Carb and/or Gas have a petite amie, a French souvenir!!! But I don’t think she’s French. She’s Siamese, obviously an illegal immigrant somewhat like themselves, with striking blue eyes and a nice figure. She wanders into our apartment when our door is open, which is all the time, eats from our crunchy bowl and like typical boyfriends they continue their couch potato habit. They don’t even get up to like offer her, I don’t know, like a drink or a seat or something. Men!

~You know, that first month of living in a new country, and this is my third experience, so just MAYBE I know what I’m talking about…it becomes a big blurr! As I recall, I can’t recall many details about my first month here. Just an over stimulation of the senses, an overwhelming emotional impact and fuzzy, fuzzy, fuzzy! The combination of lack of sleep, lack of appetite thus lack of nutrition, lack of confidence, excitement, nervousness and confusion made it hard sometimes to put one foot in front of the other foot. Each uncertain moment in the beginning is meaningful though in creating eventual familiarity and comfort in this new environment, eventually, but at the time, the purpose of your being here is really questionable. Especially on some days.

~Official people, like police, make me nervous! Sometimes I pull out my map in public (a traveller’s taboo) just so they think I’m a tourist!

~Man, the French are really resistant to illegal immigrants. I’ve never been rejected by so many people in such a short span of time. Bank account guy rejected me.

~Next time I venture abroad to live illegally, remind me to pack an old electricity bill…’cause had I brought one with me, I’d have a French bank account now! Bank account lady has also rejected me…because the rules in her bank state I need an official document showing my home address…Driver’s Licence and Teaching Certificates don’t cut it! So, I didn’t get a bank account…but I made a friend! Séverine and I have a rendez-vous (appointment) for coffee and she’s invited me with her boyfriend to visit a familial village outside of Montpellier. In every negative, there’s a positive!

~Without a bank account I can’t get the Internet! It’s the last thing I need, outside of a job, to make my life complete here! Stay tuned for the illegal job search next month…THAT should be interesting!

~The Tourist Information Office employees are baffled by me! I don’t ask typical questions…they’re more of the practical living-here-illegally sort, like, could you please tell me where I could find a washing machine hose replacement store, or, do you have the addresses of the Electricity Co., Gas Co. and all the Veterinarians in Montpellier?

~Every time I try to take a short cut, I get either distracted, lost or find myself in a dodgy area of town I’d wished I’d not roamed into, and it takes me more time and sometimes stress to reach my destination in the end. But it’s much more exciting going the non-direct route!

~There are a a lot of creative drivers in Montpellier!

~OK, so I bought these OB wanna-be tampons, Casino brand, cheap, half the price, and I can’t get the cellophane wrappers off unless I use a scissors…till I put my glasses on and, well, you’ve heard of twist-off beer caps?...well, these are twist-off tampons…how cool is that?! I might still be struggling with them if the miniscule word “twist” hadn’t been printed in English, ‘cause I don’t always carry my French-English dictionary to the bathroom, and I don’t know how to say “twist” in French yet!

~So, what do YOU do with those cereals that you buy to try and discover you don’t like? I wanted Granola and I got bird fodder! Do you leave them in the cupboard till they hatch little crawly flour bugs or mothy creatures like the last tenant here must have done???!!! Or do you suck it up and just eat the disagreeable tasting stuff and say, “Damn it, I’m not wasting that 2,50 !” I ate mine. Here’s hoping the next brand is something just a little less natural!

~It’s kinda like the prune yogurts they put in the middle of the crate of 12 so you can’t see them! I ate them…did nothing for me…till the next day!

~’Twas a sad sad day when I finished my gift tin of 100% pure Canadian maple syrup…I’ve never held a can upside down for 20 minutes before!

~Impostor Saran Wrap just never seems to make it to it’s target without doing somersaults on itself…I know, I need to get a life…I’m writing about plastic wrap.

~Another life’s firsts…my kid has made her way through time and space to Kingston and Queen’s University! She, too, has a new address and phone number for the year, although I doubt she’s hankering for Temptations cat treats!

Lauren McCormick
Room 210, Wing A
Victoria Hall
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario
K7L 3N8

(613) 533-5444

~Even chosen changes are challenging…but the changes that come about in our lives that we DON’T choose, are undoubtedly the toughest! I’m so proud of my kid! It’s a good thing you’re practiced at new beginnings kid!!

~Harry Potter is teaching me the basics of yet another language!

~Don’t know what it is about running water (e.g. showers, brushing teeth), but it stimulates my thought process for writing material…I could never be an environmentally friendly writer!

~Some favourite French words/expressions, so far:

~oh la la…they actually say it, I heard it on the street!
~la jacasse…good word for a magpie (bird)
~C’est du jus de chausettes, ce café!...from the dictionary…do you think
the French really say this? In English, we say bad coffee tastes like
dishwater…but, ew, sock juice…that’s just nasty!
~and I love when you look up a French word, because you don’t know
what it means, OBVIOUSLY, and you find the English word is identical!
Yikes! (No, I’m not telling you what the word was, I might look stupid!)

~If you’ve tried to call me and couldn’t get through…try again!
(011) (33) 645638385. If I park my Virgin in certain dead spots of the apartment it tells me “no service”…and yes, I’ve paid my bill!

~Incidentally, when I recite my cell phone number to someone, which I so proudly remember, I do it in a more memorable way than clumping the numbers in 2’s like they do here: 06 456 38 38 5…I’ve been called on it, questioned, why I don’t just put the numbers in groups of 2’s like normal people…well, they didn’t actually say normal people…but I know that’s what they were implying, in French!

~Lauren and Meagan…when/if you come to visit Montpellier…you must bring your Moroccan Jalavas…you can wear them here without being laughed at…really…this time I promise!!!

~Happy 60th mon oncle…hope you had a beer on me…unless, of course, you’ve switched to sipping hot water?

So, until the month of Halloween,
Salut mes amis,
dana, carb and ess…short for essence…doesn’t work as well in French, does it?! xox

P.S. I just bought myself a vehicle…a JEEP CHEROKEE-OVERLAND…she’s mauve and black and pretty and very comfortable to drive…I say “she” because it’s a girl’s bike! I figure your average bike thief won’t want a mauve girly-girl’s bike! I’m mobile once again and it feels sooooooooooo good! She’ll never replace Mike-the-bike, but as he’s resting dormant in my storage unit 6,000 plus Klics away, I had to buy Jeep ‘cause I can’t walk the walk anymore…this town’s too big…Jeep’s the name I gave her…I’ve always wanted a Jeep because that’s always been our family word for fart!

Posted by hiitsdana 07:01 Archived in France

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