Thursday, December 31, 2009

Man, I suck at this...

Hi there.

Did I say (somewhere back in the mists of time) that I was going to blog every day? Yes, I did. And no, I haven't. I truly do suck at this - not so much the writing (hopefully?), but the discipline of doing it every day. Or every other day. Or more than a couple of times a month. D'ohhh!

Admittedly I have been on vacation and have been extremely busy with all the eating, drinking, shopping and socializing, but that isn't much of an excuse. So I decided to squeeze one more post in for 2009 and vow to do better in 2010 - yet another project for me to tackle, but I plan to succeed this time. Maybe not every day, but a solid three times a week minimum. Starting tomorrow. Honest.

In the meantime, I was trying to decide on a photo that summed up my experience in Paris thus far, and although I have taken any number of fabulous Paris photos, this is what I came up with. It was part of an art installation in the Tuileries gardens when I first arrived - there were about two dozen of these guys arranged around one of the ponds and for the life of me, I couldn't seem to find a sign with anything about the artist or the exhibit, but it amused me whenever I was there and I continue to crack up every time I look at this photo, so there you go. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Paris survival tips (Part 1)

Okay, it has been five weeks and I am just about to head off to London for a week, followed by Toronto for three weeks, so I won't be back in Paris until the end of December. But as you've been so patient with the whole not-blogging-every-day thing, I will still post while on holiday, assuming I have anything to say, which I generally do.

So I thought that I would say a few words about surviving Paris from the point of view of someone who lives here, as it's somewhat different from being here as a tourist.

Language - the most important word you will ever learn in French. It's not que or merci or bonjour or any of the words you might think - the most important word you will ever learn in French (and I tell you this because in all of my long years of studying the language, it never ever came up) is truc. It's pronounced trook (and you have to kind of gargle the "r" - I am sure there is a technical term for that but I don't know what it is, so I hope the linguists out there will forgive me) and it means "thing". I was always taught that the word for "thing" is chose (pronounced shoze), and that is correct, but for some reason no Parisian uses it, they all say truc instead. You may not think this is important, but they use it ALL THE TIME FOR ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING - a ring, a bag, a pastry, a vase, a button, a skirt, you name it, that's what they call it. I promise you there is no word you will hear here more often in conversation.

Traffic - here's a fairly important tip if you don't want to be reduced to a bloody smear on the pavements of Paris: if you're not sure if the lights are about to change, don't try crossing the street. Why? Because apparently there must not be any penalties in France for killing a pedestrian with your car. Let me tell you, if you are a pedestrian in Paris and the lights change while you are halfway across the road, you'd best get to steppin' (and by that I mean run for your goddamn life) because those mofos will RUN YOUR SLOW ASS DOWN. No joke.

Table Manners - living with a French person is fantastic because you learn things that you would never find out otherwise. For example, my landlady hosted a dinner party and as I was setting the table, she casually mentioned that in France it is considered very bad manners not to keep your hands above the table at all times. Which had me slightly baffled until she explained that if your hands are below the table, they could be groping someone else's husband or wife. And to that, may I just say: Hee! Ahhhh, the French...

Okay, that's it for now - there are many other survival tips for Paris but I think that's enough for you to start off with...