A Travellerspoint blog




October 1~11, 2008

~”Operation French Job Search”! If only the French applied their “rules of the road” i.e. no rules…to all aspects of their life…my life here would be, like, way easier!

~So, here’s an example of my efforts in finding a temporary source of income. Go to Youth Hostel to inquire about potential employment. YH Manager guy says he “has all his staff”…perhaps I’m not YOUTHful looking enough. While there, pick up a brochure advertising Au Pair work. Worth a try. Email then pay a visit to agency. First thing Au Pair guy asks me is, “How old are you?”…I’m beginning to have a youth complex by this point! But while in the depths of my despair, the next day I get a phone call from a friend of Au Pair guy, would I like to join a Language Exchange Group “first chat night is tonight”! C’est très cool! Moral: use Oil of Olay before looking for work abroad!

~Yay! I finally found some French friends…and British and Australian and Canadian! 2nd gathering of Language Exchange Group was a Pub night and came home with the time and location of a weekly volleyball club! Double yay! Think I can spike in my hiking boots or Birkenstocks? Neglected to pack sneakers, knee pads, and health insurance along with that electricity bill!

~Also came home committed to a hiking/walking club! Turned out to be more of a Triathlon with me the youngest participant! Usually when I join “stuff”, I’m the oldest in the group, but this collection of really French ladies are aged 60 to 70! And they’re in better shape than me! So, first I had to bike across the city to find my ladies, then we hiked 12 kilometres, half of it upwards, then the bike journey home followed by the swim portion of the Triathlon…in my bathtub!

~Want to know how to say “I have a hangover” in French…just in case…J’ai la geuele de bois…I have the mouth of wood! Yup, that’s about right if I remember my wood tasting course correctly from back in my Forestry days! Seriously, our “Microbiology of Wood” Prof had us licking wood samples…only remember one species of pine, or was it spruce, that tasted like raw potatoes…the rest just tasted like wood to my tongue, the same taste as a hangover!

~I have a resume full of experience administering pills to cats…it’s filed in the bad memories pile. Therefore, I have developed a technique to ensure that at least some of the medication reaches the target destination i.e. INSIDE the cat: 1) crush pill gently between 2 spoons, 2) carefully place dab of canned cat food on crushed pill spoon, 3) gently massage pill powder into soft food, and, 4) offer to cat hoping he’s stupid enough to fall for the trick!

~I’ve given Carb a new name…in French, Ôte-Agrafes…in English, Staple Remover! Seems he likes all this attention and the canned cat food camouflaged pills and the taxi yeowling sessions and Monsieur Le Vet and the never-healing hole in him!

~So Carb had his corsette pulled down from his stitched and stapled incision in about, oh, 2 seconds! But the glued part on his back sure held well, causing Carb, and therefore moi, 2 weeks of incredible agony and grief, turning him and moi snake-like! I finally had to give him a hair cut to remove the retched thing entirely. Now Carb looks kinda like a French poodle, only worse!

~OK, this is too funny! You know that canned cat food camouflaged pill routine I just wrote about? Well, today I had the pill crushed on a spoon on the (next to zero) counter and as I’m going for the canned cat food tin from the fridge, I turn around and there’s Carb licking the ground up pill from the spoon!!! Who’da thunk? Now, had I tried to ram that thing down his throat, do you think he’d have liked it?

~So, I postponed our scheduled rendez-vous, by telephone…am I getting good or what, with Monsieur Le Vet, as I can see Carb is not healed i.e. still bleeding, and I begin doctoring him moi-même! I scout my scant first-aid kit for anything with “Healing Powers” and decide that if he had motion sickness or a headache…I could cure him! So Polysporin it is! Cure-all for anything that ails ya, even if you’re part cat! Et voilà! He starts to heal, like, right before my very eyes! Enfin! Shoulda been a Vet! NOT! My stomach dances at even the mention of red liquid, ‘cept le vin rouge!

~I finally broke down and bought a bike rack and a bunch of bungees so I can mount Carb’s cage on Jeep’s back and save some taxi fare costs! ‘Cept that we need to make at least 2 more trips to Monsieur Le Vet’s to pay off the cost of the rack…so here’s hoping one of the cats gets hurt or sick…JUUUUUST KIDDING!!!

~Murphy’s Law strikes again…day before Carb’s very first bike ride of his life (which I honestly was looking forward to)…upon inspection, because I do that daily with him now…I discover Carb has zero staples and zero stitches left to be removed! I think he finished the job and self-doctored after we tested out the viability of “cat cage on bike”! I think he didn’t like that idea of mine!

~So this daily inspection of Carb has also lead me to discover that he has all sorts of other wounds, minor, but not normal happenings on his body! I think he’s making up for lost time in the free world! Gotta be sparing with the Polysporin though…’cause as he likes the taste…he’s immune now…it kind of works a little like fur ball remedy…and everything passes through him rather smoothly!

~Here’s a sign I was thinking of posting in my apartment:

“Got a Fur Ball?…run to my nearest throw rug to throw up!”
(Please don’t vomit on the tiled flooring which is easy to clean!)

~I love Jeep! And my 2 “heavy” duty level-6 anti-vole/anti-theft locks that weigh more than my vélo, and my let-me-know-when-a-bus-is-sneaking-up-behind-me mirror and my incase-I-get-hit helmet! I’m becoming a really good defensive driver, avoiding dog poop land mines, Tram track ruts and formula one wanna be’s.

~Finally found a French café with WiFi whose coffee isn’t the price of a month’s rent! And they serve Spanish Tapas! I love France!

~I found myself a French man worth finding…my kinda guy…low maintenance and I found him in a dumpster! He’s actually a fine specimen of a man in billboard format. I just can’t figure out from the language if he’s advertising how to increase your abs or how to make them shiny!

~It’s October 3rd today, 25C in the shade…I know ‘cause I bought a thermometer so I know how to dress for the day…outfit # 1, 2, 3 or 4! I’m sojourning on la terrace in my neighbour-repellent attire, bra and shorts, sipping un café au lait avec une tige/a smoke, and writing! Je me sens bien! I feel good!

~If I can make a judgement of all French people based on those who live in my apartment residence, then I think the French have little imagination when it comes to naming their pets! The well-exercised French Poodle is named “Cookie”, the nice neighbour’s nice dog is named “Tina”, the new cat upstairs is named “Scooby” and the dog who used drip drool on me but has since moved residence…I think his name might have been either “La Ferme” or “Ta Geuele”, which both translate to “Shut Up”, because that’s what everyone called him! One guy even named him “Shut-The-Fuck-Up”! Now this guy’s either been watching way too many American movies or he’s an English speaker in disguise. The dog did bark a lot! It’s no wonder my French neighbours are confused when I tell them Carburetor and Gasoline’s names. Then I proceed to ask them if they want to know what I named my daughter!

~Friday’s my favourite day of the week…it’s “Clean Sheet Day”!

~I’m experimenting with my washing machine today (it didn’t come with a manual)…I know I probably shouldn’t because experiments usually turn out messy or wet, but there are 2 mystery settings…maybe you can help me out here…each setting has a picture, one’s a little snowflake (that’s the one I’ve been using because I like snowflakes) and the second one is a rectangle with an “X” through it (and that’s the one I haven’t been using because “X’s” usually mean DON’T DO IT!). So I’m trying out the “X”ed out rectangle today…wish me luck! Ummmm…It’s kind of making some peculiar sounds…so maybe I should just stick to snowflakes!

~I guess what makes living abroad so challenging is that there is no instruction manual to follow! It’s a matter of figuring out the rules as you go, generally after you needed to know them! For example, I received a notice in my mailbox that I had received a parcel. I carefully read the notice and map my route to the other side of Montpellier where I can retrieve my package by providing a piece of identification. No problem, same system in every language. NOT! Cycle to Post Office on the other side of Montpellier, I’m exaggerating a little, to be informed that “Le Gardien” has intervened and should have my precious-as-I-don’t-receive-that-many parcel! So then I cycle home empty handed and incredibly disappointed and worried only to realize I don’t even know where to find the consierge, the notorious “Noto” (like moto only with an “N”) in this conglomerate of buildings of Residence La Guirland. So I ask a random resident, I like random guys, who sweetly escorts me to Noto’s office to discover he’s on holidays! Man…how come “some days” are just so difficult in a foreign language!

~So, besides the missing oven, sauna and washing machine manual, my apartment is/was also missing a toilet paper dispenser! I finally got fed up having to reach behind me to the top of the toilet tank every wipe! So I am utilizing the doorknob which is conveniently located directly in front of my toilet in my little toilet room and my one and only belt I brought from Canada. It’s rubber, made from a recycled tire, and works perfectly…except…you guessed it, now what do I do to hold my pants up?!

~The only mirror I possess is an average sized, above the bathroom sink mirror…but there’s a full-length mirror in the elevator. So if I want a full view perspective, I have to go for a ride!

~The hummingbirds, which are the size of my baby toe, are still siphoning the flowers which are still blooming! I’m thinking maybe a Palm instead of a Pine for a Christmas tree this year…Palms are not indigenous to this area, but one would never know that!

~I was taught a French expression that could prove most useful: “Tu peut me dire tu”. It gives your listener permission to be less formal than addressing you as “vous”. But I’d like to use it as a pick-up line, say in a bar, or, on the street, and you see a good looking guy, I’d just walk up to him and introduce myself…”Hi, my name’s Dana and you can call me Tu!!!”

~I think it would suck to be Supermarcher guy who accidentally addressed me as Monsieure today! So I stuck out my chest and pointed to my boobs…problem is when I lose weight, I lose what little I had to begin with…not that I mind, because I can run without a bra! But he smiled and blushed in a way only a French man can blush!

~I had to dump the Hiking Group for the Volleyball Club! First night of Vball left me staggering 2 days later…haven’t touched THOSE muscles in over a year! It’s a fun league with a serious calibre of players and a 100 commitment but I get a T-shirt! A huge Gym, 6 teams, I’m not quite the oldest and one other member is non-French speaking. Scary starting something new in a foreign tongue. Really, I only had a map with a big circle showing me the general vicinity of where the Gym of unknown name should be located…and the day and the time. I found it, then just mimicked the other 40 players through the drill and training portions of the evening. Echo-y gymnasiums and 20 to 40 bouncing balls make French even harder to understand than in a bar! I smiled a lot!

~It is my findings that my updates are most regularly read by:
1) retired people
2) government employees
3) High School teachers
4) university students who should be studying for exams!

~If anyone out there has any stove-top dessert recipes to share with me I would love you for life! I love my sweets and without an oven or microwave I’m limited to rice pudding, custard and uncooked cookies…the only recipes I brought assuming every home has an oven! I can’t find (yet) real brown sugar or I’d be living on fudge!

~Today is the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. The sky is crystal clear, the sun is sooooo present and I’ve just returned from my first visit to Montpellier’s best street market, 2 blocks from my home! A French market on a perfect autumn 25C in the shade day…and I think some guy made a pass at me! He approached from behind and asked, “Party much?” The English threw me as much as the question! At my age, this is a pass! I ditched him at an olive stand!

~So, no oven means no turkey this Thanksgiving, but I’m making a tribute to Canada…listening to Sarah McLachlan and planning homemade burgers, fries and Smirnoff for supper! It’s not like I can smell basting turkey smells coming from my neighbours ovens!

~Thanksgiving and my mom’s birthday…for me, this is a time of reflection…to take a deep breath and be conscious of all I am grateful for…so I just re-read the 72 typed pages of my lasts year’s adventures, and I know what I’m thankful for…I am so fortunate to have the ability and stability to be where I am…happy…a result of the internal and external encouragements of my past and present! The greatest powers of my life…my mom and my kid…and all the experiences and people in between…so…thank you!

Love and appreciation,
dana, carb and gas xox

Posted by hiitsdana 09:34 Archived in France

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