Saturday, March 17, 2012

Beannachtai na Feile Libh go Leir

Or, if you insist on having it in English: "May the blessings of the holiday be with ye all".

The holiday in question, of course, being that most beloved of all Irish-American occasions for celebration, Saint Patrick's Day. Like many native Irish people, I remain firmly convinced that this is a holiday that is celebrated with far more vigour outside of Ireland than at home. Maybe they honour the day with green beer in some Irish pubs these days, but they certainly never did so in my time.

But, as an expat in Paris, I couldn't let the occasion go completely unmarked. So I celebrated by having a nice dinner at my neighborhood restaurant -
Le Vernissoir
When I say "neighborhood" I really mean it. I am at #16, they are at #18, so their bar is just on the other side of my kitchen wall.
The meal was great, and they were very welcoming -- I got to practice my French quite a bit, and the owners were very encouraging. When I got there at 9pm, only three tables were occupied, but a big party of 20 or more arrived around 10:30pm and things were hopping when I left at 11.

To make up for some of that caloric excess, I went for a nice brisk walk to the Louvre and back after dinner. Who knew Paris had so many fake Irish pubs? Revelers overflowed into the streets, but this being Paris, even the drunks were polite. I managed to make it home without acquiring a whimsical Guinness hat.

Right now Kurt Masur is conducting the National Orchestra of France in Beethoven's Ninth on Channel 3 and I am hoping that my earlier walk will finally cure me of the insomnia that has plagued me since arriving here on Sunday. I leave you with a little cat poem, taken from the awesome book of Cat Poetry Paddy sent with me as a St Patrick's Day gift. Even though her card was well off the standard of tackiness we have come to expect*, her gift more than made up for it:

CAT JACKS by Shel Silverstein

Do not play jacks
With the Jaguar cat -
You'll never ever beat her.
If she don't win,
She'll start to whine.
If she gets an eight,
She'll pick up nine -
She'll say she didn't,
But you'll know she's lion -
She's such an awful Cheetah.

*: this year's tacky Saint Patrick's Day card contest is now officially closed, and this year's winner is .... BRAD. (Details in a future post)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday night in the Marais

I had thought of going to see "La Dame en Noir", but then I remembered that Friday night is the NCIS marathon on Canal 6. So I have been brushing up on my French, courtesy of the bizarrely dubbed voices of Gibbs and Co.

It's been a great week. I eased back into things at school by going every day except Wednesday (when I took the opportunity to sleep in). This time around, unlike the fall, I have a lighter program scheduled - just 26 hours a week (5 morning classes and two afternoon workshops). I may eventually add some private classes with Danielle, the tutor I had last fall, independently of school.

One of the workshops is the regular Thursday afternoon "sortie pedagogique". Yesterday, we went with Anne to visit the Mairie du 10e (the mayoralty of the 10th arrondissement) and afterwards we walked along the Canal Saint Martin. The Mairie du 10e is quite impressive - probably the fanciest of all the 20 arrondissements - the architect was Garnier, famous for also having designed the old opera house. There was a lot going on - people were getting married, people were attending adult education courses, and the star of the show was this little sweetie, who was having the time of her life:

(Yes, I think her T-shirt says "Chicken is good").

Here is Anne, and some of my fellow classmates:

Smugness goes before a fall. Earlier this evening I had returned from a little shopping excursion at Monoprix, to get a decent corkscrew, a delicious baguette, and some groceries. Just as I was pouring myself a glass of wine, and gnawing on some delicious baguette, thinking how good life was, I reached for my Kindle. Uh-oh where was my Kindle? So I had to retrace my increasingly panicked steps to the Monoprix bakery, where - luckily - the very nice young lady said "We've been expecting you" and called over the security guard, who had been holding on to my Kindle.

Sometimes I wonder how I manage to survive at at all. But at least this story had a happy ending.

Also, earlier this evening my friend France dropped by with the books I had left with her over the winter. Now that I have my assorted grammar books and dictionaries, I feel much better equipped to face the weekend. There's a Robert Doisneau exhibition at the Hotel de Ville that I certainly need to check out before the lines get too long in the morning.

Meanwhile, the NCIS marathon, he continues. Life is good.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Back in business as Mister Bean

I hope all my Whipping Cats readers will be pleased to read that this blog is officially back in business. The adventure continues in 2012 -- I arrived back in Paris just about 24 hours ago, and already it seems as if I was never away.

Started back in class again this morning. This spring I have a new apartment, but it's just one block away from last spring's location, so I know the quartier fairly well already. The apartment owners were terrific - most welcoming and - in a personal DG first - this time I managed to bring all the correct cables and adapters, as well as a mouse and an alarm clock, so for the first time ever I may not have to go out and buy duplicates of stuff I already have at home. I even paid the extra $25 to have an actual Paris number instead of the dodgy Estonian number that came with last year's international SIM card. And yes, I know that those of you with IPads are rolling your eyes at my general technological backwardness, but - hey - if you are reading this, then I am at least able to get things to function to my own level of satisfaction.

Apparently my new persona for the spring is that of Mister Bean

The apartment is seriously chic:

and very comfortable. Though that spiral staircase may be the death of me. Guests will appreciate the downstairs bathroom (as will I).

Also, from its former days as a boutique jewelry store, there is an external "rideau metallique" (metal curtain) that still works downstairs, so when Brad gets here, if he needs to block out all external street noise and light, he will be able to do so.

Jet lag is starting to hit, so it's time for a little nap. A demain !