le marché-aux-puces et le premier jour d’école

When I got up Friday morning at 8 am, it finally didn’t feel like 2 am! Jetlag subsides. A bi-weekly market on Blvd Raspail is literally one block away from my apartment and one giant block long, from Rue de Rennes to Rue de Cherche-Midi. There are dozens of farmers and charcuteriere et fromagiere (spelling and syntactical correctness is always going to be in question with my French… looking for it to ameliorate in coming months) displaying their goods, even in the dead of winter, a salivating symphony of veggies, alien-esque fruits, fungal cheeses and cured legs of meat (to call either of these “fresh” would be an oxymoron), olive-oiled olives, fish from the sea with real fish-eyeballs and other such delicacies. At 8:15 am the vendors were just done setting up and as the sun twinged the horizon; it was utterly magical and I was able to procure an array of groceries before skipping all the way to class at 10 whistling a French tune I’d composed in my dreams.

Orientation in Paris was as different as possible from any orientation I’ve ever been a part of. The meeting portion felt a bit more like a reunion complete with chocolate croissants and a smattering of “important info” about classes, and I admit was completely shocked that nearly everyone had actually made it (the visa process stateside was h-e-double-hockeysticks). I was one of only 3 people who signed up for a single week of intensive French classes (2 weeks, the other option, earns you a full 3 college credits, but who needs that when you’ve graduated?) solely to preserve my sanity/eradicate stress this coming month. Regular classes also begin Monday, so it will still be an intense introduction. That being said, the rest of orientation ranged from learning that our school building closed at 10:30pm daily (praise the Lord, no all nighters are even POSSIBLE!), to learning that we have no actual studio space (hmmm…), to attending a prepaid (albeit subzero) boat tour of La Seine par la nuit, to attending a prepaid wine-tasting complete with baguettes and cheese enough to make a meal out of. No assignments over the weekend. At least 4 “excursions” are being planned by Patrick, our director over here, for the semester, one of which will take us to BARCELONA. Tomas, je vais trouver le meilleur vin d’espagne.

In more practical matters, the roaches can be kept under control so long as I vacuum seal all food and anti-bacterialize all food areas, and while my wi-fi (pronounced wee-fee here, bah!) is still dormant, I will have internet at school when that begins. The landlord, while responsive and kind, has not actually tended to these matters yet, so next week will be an adventure of more waiting on workmen (bug man never did show). Also, if you want to write me a letter ☺ (packages are not encouraged, as customs will open, review, tax and possibly withhold them…), do so at THIS address:

Amanda Sims
c/o Columbia University Architecture
Reid Hall
4, Rue de Chevreuse
75006  Paris, France

In more worldly matters, the Parisians are reacting strongly to the disaster in Haiti – it is difficult to avoid thinking about in a French speaking country. My friend (and fellow Knoxvillian) Anne MacDonald has been there for the past year and just sent a really painful/moving update about the situation. She’s fine, but so many aren’t. She recommends contributing money to the cause via http://wcmchelpshaiti.org – this Cornell-based organization is apparently really efficient at getting adequate resources from donations. She also suggested http://www.clintonbushfund.org, so check them both out. The Obama administration just granted illegal Haitian immigrants 18-month citizenship in the states (which seems reasonable as their home country is in ruins) – whether or not you agree with this or have avoided the news better than I can in Paris, we all know that while prayer and good-vibes and warm wishes are lovely and effective, these are real people with tangible needs.

In lighter matters, what is all this coaching insanity going on in Vol Nation? Not that I’m qualified to discuss it amongst those in the know, but I for one was hoping for some familiarity/stability in our new coach and am willing to question Mike Hamilton’s ability to pick and choose what Knoxville needs. Three cheers for the merging of the Wahoos and the Vols (are Dooley and I kindred spirits? “Volhoos,” perhaps?), but his fresh young face and pretty family and inexperience reminds a little too much of one Lame Kiffen. Prayers to Knoxville as well – I hope he’s awesome.

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~ by soleilsphere on January 16, 2010.

One Response to “le marché-aux-puces et le premier jour d’école”

  1. Oh Amanda! How I have missed your musings. I have laughed more this morning than I have since you left on Monday. Thanks for giving me a great picture of your world. I have to admit that the roach situation is unsettling and I hope that your “landlord” (I use that term loosely) comes through for you. Maybe this would be a good time to ask the very friendly secretary to do you a favor? Please write more soon!! Love you!

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