Thursday, September 1, 2011

Some Paris Notes

So I am still working on the scanning options here in the apartment--I have a couple of cartoons, but I may wait to post them when I can scan. Meanwhile I have had some requests for more info on what we are doing here.

Daryl and the boys (Henry 17, Theo 12 and Cy 11) and I are here for four months with the Brigham Young University Paris Study Abroad Program. Daryl is the director of the program and I am along for the ride. I will be teaching a writing class, but for the most-part the boys and I will try to stay out of the way.(Okay, we will be having a helluva a time while doing so...) The students live with families here in the greater Paris area and meet at a building owned by the church (the Institute) for classes. They will also be taking French Language classes at a Catholic university.

We will be taking some trips as a group and meeting as a group for meals and some tours of the city. I know some of the girls who are (will be next week) here with us from Timpview High School as well as from BYU classes. I know a couple of girls from past Paris visits and from past lives in Tucson.

We were here five years ago as a family on a Study Abroad program and made some great and lifelong friends...and it feels a bit funny that most of them are not here with us. Most importantly, we miss our girls Sophie(21) and Maude (19). Sophie is back home with her husband Jeremy living in our house and taking care of Gunther and Mae. It is hard to be here without her. She is a great travel companion and friend as well as a hard worker! Last time we were here she was training for her high school State Swimming Championship (which she flew back to Utah to compete in) and she was up and swimming almost every day. We miss her setting of our pace.

Maude is not as far away. She is here in Paris with a family as a nanny. She has been with them (in their summer home on the Riviera) since late June but has just returned for the back to school rush of Parisian kids. She is learning the ropes of her new Paris location and is gearing up for the day to day of the fall routine. We are excited that she is going to spend this week-end with us here at the apartment before she plunges headlong into that routine.

So our days are relatively lazy as we get to set our own schedule (until the BYU students--btw ALL 25 of them are women) arrive. We are all a bit jet-lagged still so we sleep until Daryl manages to drag us out of bed. Breakfast is a production (as are all of the meals )in that our apartment is a classic 19th century bourgeois dwelling. The kitchen is far away from the living area as there most likely was a servant that prepared and served all of the meals in the dining room. So there are many steps back and forth between the dining room and the kitchen. The boys each have an assignment of setting/prep., clearing/put away, or washing dishes. Henry actually threw himself on that grenade and volunteered to be the permanent dishwasher. I think he enjoys the solitude that the kitchen and his iPod afford him.

After breakfast we head to the closest park (Champs de Mars) where the boys play soccer or ping pong and I go running/walking. The boys have become friends with a precocious 6 year old named Canton who travels at all times with a ping pong paddle. He bounces his paddle on the packed dirt playground while he surveys the competition. His grandmother says he choses the older kids "les grandes" to challenge so he will get better. He has beaten 2 of my 3 boys (I won't say who....) We meet up after my foray into the jogging world and sometimes play a little soccer or basketball. Sometimes we just mock the frenchmen who try to play basketball. But the vacations are almost over and by next week most of the regulars will have gone back to school and we will only have the tourists to conted with. (Yes, I consider myself a tourist--although I like to take a superior attitude towards them with my wealth of knowledge!ha)

We head back to the apartment and spend the next few hours studying, reading, doing light housework. And all too soon the meal routine kicks in for lunch. After lunch, Daryl usually says something like "I HAVE to get OUT" so we all head out into the city. We usually follow his lead in wander in whatever direction he takes us. He has been working here for years and has a pretty good sense of the city. We usually wander for a few hours, run errands, complete the endless red-tape of life as a visitor in France, and then drag ourselves back home. Dinner and then another short walk around the neighborhood before bed. I have to say I love the pace of the city. I love being out in the crowds. I prefer walking when I can. If not walking--I like to take the bus so that I can see where I am headed, finally there is the Metro for speed. We are going to try out the Velib in the next few days (bikes that you can pick up and ride to your destination and leave there.) Can't wait.

Finally for today's post-- a lesson in greed. All that glitters is not gold.

I found a gold band in the apartment here. When you move into a place that has itinerant residents, there is usually an accumulation of left overs-- lots of umbrellas, decks of cards, paper back novels (cheesy romance novels that are squirreled away out of sight--this is a pretty literary crowd that comes here so there is some shame in a good bodice ripper,) bottles with 2Tbsps.. of shampoo in the bottom, tea bags, Costco taco seasoning that has been hand-carried from the states....etc.. The apartment has been freshly painted recently and so all things decorative have been stashed in closets or on the tops of armoires. I vase rattled in the shifting of these items and I discovered a gold wedding band inside. Damn. I am lucky; I have been wanting a heavy gold band for years since I have "grown" out of my original wedding ring. So I was faced with a moral dilemma: announce to past residents here at the apartment that a ring has been found or just keep the discovery on the DL (down low--we take great pleasure saying it DL, because of course, these are Daryl's initials and he is a consummate understater--unless he is apologizing at which point he is the most hyperbolic in his attempts to reconcile an ill.) Back to the ring, or maybe the ring belonged to Richard--the landlord... in which case, he might see me wearing it and wonder. I showed it to Daryl.

"It is not gold."
"Yes it is!"
"Then let's sell it."
"No! Do you know how long I have wanted a gold band?"
"Well I have wanted one for YEARS."
"It isn't gold."
"I think it is. I am wearing it."

I put it on. I wear a silver band with it--to keep the gold one from slipping off--because of course, it is too big. It looks good.

I went running this morning. Past the Eiffel Tower down along the Seine River. And I was wearing my ring.I had slowed down to a trot (truth be told, I WALK faster than I can jog...but that is another story) when I felt the mark on me. (You can tell when you have been marked by a con artist almost immediately--because no one else gives a damn about you in Paris. Which is what I love most about being here--you are completely invisible to most people. You can do whatever you want and no one stops to stare or size you up. It is liberating. ) So I knew I was marked and waited to see how it played out. He, the con, was shorter than me, the rube. His fingers, however, were thicker than my wrist. He bent to pick up something off of the ground with those chubsters. It was a heavy gold band. At this point my radar went away and instead of thinking : Something is not right, two rings in three days? I thought, God has looked into the depths of my heart and has answered my prayers to be released from financial bondage! He is raining gold rings on me!!!!!! I can keep my ring and get this one from the man with the fat fingers to sell. Hot damn! Grocery money! Did I say RUBE?

"Look at this!" as he shows me the ring.
"I am lucky, but not so lucky because this won't fit me." He tries to fit it on one of his massive fingers. And then grabs my hand and slides it on my finger.
"Here! You take it--look it is marked on the inside--it is real gold."
"No! You can sell it! Gold is high." ( my French stinks--btw.)
"It is a woman's ring..."
"No thanks" (while I am thinking that I really want the ring.)
"Ok, but maybe you have a couple of euros you could give me for something to eat?"
"No, I am making exercise--I don't carry money with me."
"Just a couple of euros?"
"Sorry, I have nothing." I was being honest. I had nothing in my pockets. I was running,trotting, walking and I don't carry money when I am out.

I left him standing next to the Seine. And it took me a good hundred yards to realize that I am stupid. Rube Queen. Biggest scam on Paris streets right now. A

I am going to BHV to buy a brass bushing that actually FITS me.


  1. I can't believe it's been 5 years!!! Wish I were there again too!

  2. You don't really know me (my wife Jane Wilson just showed me your blog) but I just wanted to tell you I love your blog and your comics! Keep up the good work!