Monday, September 7, 2009

Paris - Ho Hum

Things have come a long way since I wrote my first blog, “7 month itch” way, way, way back yonder. I reminisced about a certain itch and why I came to Paris. And I also wrote that I was supposed to love this city, because it IS paris. And I also wrote that the experience you have here depends on whom you surround yourself with. Well, after I made these declarations I stopped.

I don’t know why I stopped. I just did. I did want to write something, anything, but it just never happened. Maybe I scratched that itch. Maybe I just didn’t feel like sharing. Selfish me.

Well, many things have happened since then. In fact, yesterday I celebrated two years living in France. Some would say “Yay, how wonderful”, while others, like me, just let it quietly pass by without so much as an acknowledgment of that First Day in France, so to speak. The two years went really fast, that’s for sure.

So starting from today I will commence to write something in this blog occasionally.

What will I write about? Well for a start, Paris is expensive. Really expensive. I was an English Teacher here in Paris and I was poor (the salaries are so low for an English teacher, how the hell do you survive?). I also work in film which makes me the clichéd poor artist. So in the last two years I have been constantly searching for the cheapest way to enjoy myself here in Paris. I say was because I am no longer an English Teacher. My contract ended and I am now unemployed. Which makes me just as poor but just as eager to find the cheapest eateries, bars and entertainment. Life doesn’t have to be boring because you don’t have a lot of money to spend in a city like Paris.

If I find something, I will share it with you. On one condition. I hope you can also share with me what you discover here in paris.
Because living in paris is hard. Especially when you meet people who earn truck loads more than you, and who always suggest to go to restaurants that are just way beyond your budget. Sure, its great reading about certain expats with large budgets having wildly expensive adventures here in paris but for some expats like me, its just not the case.

So I hope you will join me. Solidarity, until next time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Born to be Wild

There is nothing like the idea of riding on the back of a sexy motorcycle with the man you love, the breeze in your hair, the countryside around you, smelling all that fresh air. Well that is exactly what I did last weekend. I had never done it before, well, technically I have ridden on the back of the said motorbike with P before. But around Paris doesn’t really count and going on a road trip with the bike was definitely on my “list before you die”. So I was thrilled at the idea of riding on the Hwy aka “Born to Be Wild” to Alencon in Normandy.

We packed out little backpacks – because, you can’t take much on a bike so away went all my usual beauty products and makeup. We were going to stay the night at P’s parents’ house in Alencon. P’s parents weren’t going to be there so we had the 3 storey, stone, 60s décor, ‘stale un-lived in for the summer’ house to ourselves.

I didn’t have a motorcycle jacket. In fact, I didn’t have any motorcycle accessories apart from the borrowed helmut which was designed for a fatter head than mine and some borrowed polyester gloves, 3 sizes too big also.
So I donned my Zara-type, quasi motorbike style leather jacket and layered myself underneath with a woollen jumper, 2 woollen cardigans, and a skivvy. You can never have to many clothes on a bike, I was told.

Looking like a motorbike chick with grungy hair - Of we go. It took a little adjusting on the bike seat to feel safe and comfortable. I learnt to hang on tight so as not to fly off at acceleration. The old BMW is not a fast bike – but you still need to hang on.
I should also mention that I was getting over a nasty flu and P was showing early symptoms of the same nasty bug.

The excitement grew for me as we were leaving Paris and hitting the highway. P accelerated and flew past the cars on the autoroute. It was exciting for briefly a minute when I realised how bloody windy it was and how we were fiercely riding into the wind. I tried to turn my head with the bulky helmut but my head seemed to only sit in one direction, so to avoid fighting the oncoming winds I positioned my head in the same position – for an hour. So I got to see the scenery, mainly on one side of the road. Which was fine when there WAS scenery to look at, other than road barriers and trees flying past.

At one stage I squeezed myself into a position, very delicately mind you, to see what speed P was actually doing….160 km/hr. It’s probably best not to have looked at that really. And the awful thing is that what weighed predominantly on my mind was not how carefree I was but how there was little protection between me and the road and all I could think about was my impending death, perhaps some little stone on the road, some idiot driver, or the old bike could just decide it had had enough – all factors in leading to some horrific accident– and I hoped that if I did fly off the bike that whatever I hit, I would feel no pain and it would be quick and painless…years of nagging by my paranoid parents finally came to the forefront of my windblown mind.
Another frozen position was my legs. To maintain an open legged position, but not too open so as not to create more wind resistance is hard to maintain for anyone, accept if you are a 14 year old Romanian Olympic Gymnast or do regular yoga – which I am neither.

And the seat – comfortable for about 15 minutes – tops!
P and I designed some hang signals in case we needed to communicate. Because you really can’t hear anything when you are on that bike, Especially if it is roaring old BMW at 160km p/hr.
I finally gave up and waved my hand signal at P to stop. It was after about an hour of driving and I had to stop pretending how tough I was and besides, my butt really couldn’t take it any more.
Getting off the bike to stretch was a challenge. My legs seemed to have stayed frozen in a cowboy stance, (or I had a carrot up my bottom –whichever way you look at it). My butt really did ache and after a few minutes it seemed to come back to normal again. I took a look at the bike and knew that we had one more hour of arse pain and body stiffness ahead of us.

Apart from all that suffering I did notice that the French drivers really do make room for bike riders on the autoroute. P seemed to kick out his leg each time he overtook a car, which at first I thought was his way of stretching out his leg. But it was a polite signal to the driver. And each time another motorbike rode past there was a friendly wave. I didn’t realize that I was becoming part of this bike solidarity. Until we stopped in a small town St Celerine and I noticed all the other bike riders giving us a friendly nod or smile. Great – I was now a bikers chick. I certainly had the hair for it.

Coming back was pretty much like the journey going to Alencon. Accept there was a beautiful sunset on the horizon and the sky turned a beautiful mauve. But even with the beautiful sunsets around me, the coming dusk and the green fields, albeit with a stiff neck, I still couldn’t help but wonder or more like obsess about all my possibilities…and just that one little stone on the road…

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rockstars and all that stuff...

Rockstars are an enigmatic thing. The reason I use the word thing is because they stop being human and become something 'otherworldly'. And the higher and greater they become the more unattainable they become and their lives more analysed under the microscope.
This isn't quite the case yet for Australian band 'Operator Please' but it is slowly getting there. Starting from high school as a band so many years ago, they now get mentions and plugs on such shows such as la Grande Journal. And they tour enormously through Europe and the UK as well as performing at major festivals. So I thought it unlikely that I would even get an interview with them for my podcast/broadcast. Until I got an email from 'Operator Please' promo dept here in Paris the same day as their performance. Thank god I didn't work that day. Otherwise it would have never happened! It was many emails and phone calls before I finally got the ok to get an interview with the band. Their music is fun and lots of young ones love moshing to it. I was a little nervous being only my second interview for my radio show so far.
The interview went smoothly and although time was limited becoz of soundchecks etc., lead singer Amandah took the time to speak to me. Pretty cool. You never know when luck falls on your lap.

I am finally starting to see some great positives living here...being on the ground in Paris gives me a new advantage. Now that I am now almost at the 9 month mark living here I feel like my third trimester is almost over and its now time to give birth to perhaps a whole new outlook on life here in Paris. I don't know what will be in store as the 9 month mark approaches. How I will nurture this new outlook I don't know.
I will ponder my impending birth (or should i say re-birth) while I look out of my fenetre with a piece of fromage and some good bloody wine.
Operator Please performed at Nouveau Casino Paris 23 May 2008.

Interview with an Oz Rock Star


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The 7th Month Itch

Well, it’s a strange thing. I have had inklings of desire to start a blog for the past 7 months. First it started as a niggle. I imagined it reeked of self-indulgence, so I lay my thoughts to one side. Then as it started to annoy me and as I began to scratch it, it made me wonder how far I will let all this pent up frustration build up until it became a puss-ridden sore. Well the festering sore finally became an open wound when I quietly passed my 7 month ‘anniversary’ here and realised that 1. I am madly, sickeningly homesick, and 2) I still pause for more than several seconds when people ask me why I came to Paris.


Why did I pack all my shit up from the other side of the world to come to this crazy, beautiful place called Paris?
Well, for one thing, it wasn’t for the friendly French people here I can assure you. Yeah, it’s the same old stereotype but I actually thought when I first came here in 2006 that they were nice – I was a tourist though and really had no idea what I was talking about. I’ve had a number of unfortunate events including having my mobile stolen, cancelled English classes, (yes, like most Anglosaxons who venture here we all end up being une professor d’anglais-that’s English Teachers for the non-francophone), It wasn’t for the not very glamorous wage, or the poky little apartments. Or the French men for that matter.

So I started thinking. Why? And why is it that I am now questioning being here at the 7 month mark? Is it like a marriage that has hit troubled waters? Have I got an itch that I just can’t scratch? Don’t get me wrong, Paris is a beautiful city, a living museum, but so are the people, the ‘Parisians’ who live inside the isle of beautiful buildings, museums and The Seine. They seem to be stuck in a time when the buildings were built.

Paris. So am I supposed to love this city because it is a beautiful city with all there is to offer or have my experiences so far been so uneven that perhaps it has coloured my experience so far? I would like to think no but I also think that the people you surround yourself with have a great impact on the experience you end up having here. Along with all these Frenchies.

So while I ponder my 7 month inch and wonder what the hell I came here for and what choice I will make –stay or go, I will sip on my 7 euro bottle of Cote de Rhone 2005 and look out of the window of my apartment I share with P and perhaps do what all Parisians secretly do…watch their neighbours.