Thursday, September 17, 2009

Home for the Morning

I'm luxuriating this morning in not going out. It's the first time since arriving on Sunday that I haven't had some obligation to get out into Paris first thing. I'm still in bed and it's around 10am. I haven't got the sleeping thing down yet. I can't sleep when I should. I'm up until all hours and then in the morning it's really hard to get up. (The middle of the night back home.) I've only been getting a little sleep, maybe five hours last night. I don't have to be across town until 1:30.

I've started to get my "commute" down. I can now cross the intersection and get to the station without having to think that hard. I did almost step out in front of a car yesterday. It was turning. There are so many one way streets that it's difficult to recognize just where the traffic is coming from as I cross. Parisian pedestrians, of course, don't wait for the light to change either. They walk whenever there's no traffic. I generally walk when others are walking and wait for the light, but this was not an intersection with a light. This was just an alley-narrow street that had no traffic so I stepped out, just as a car approaching beside me going the same direction I was on the same street, turned onto that lane. He stopped. I stopped and waved him on. Pedestrians don't have the right of way here. They do tell you though to be sure to keep walking once you start (like Rome).

I also made the "mistake" of stopping to look at my map in front of a restaurant where folks were gathering for their evening wine last night, tables outside. I just wanted to make sure I was in the right place because I was taking a slightly different route. It was about 7 or 7:30pm. I was looking at my little book map, not opening an ungainly thing. Anyway, as I left a man asked me, I think, if he could buy me a drink.  I said "non" and walked on. Actually, I was rather flattered by it. It cheered me. On the downside, I went back to the same little market and this time I wasn't paying attention as I walked down the vegetable aisle and I stepped in a little pile of dirt that a woman who was working in the store had swept up, right in the middle of the aisle.

She laid into me with a whirl of words that I'm glad I didn't understand. I told her I was sorry, said, Je suis désolé. (A friend who speaks some French told me the woman might of thought I was being sarcastic because it was too much of an apology for the situation. I'm going to ask in my French class about it today.) In any event, the lady in the store was unimpressed and told me I should pay more attention—I did understand that. I'm wondering if maybe I should find another store. I'm not off to a very good start there. It was actually a good choice for being an idiot while I sort of get my act together. It is not one of those small shops of old. It's a chain store. I've seen a much larger version of it at the south end of my route. Across the street is a nice looking old-fashioned vegetable and fruit market, which I've been afraid to try. But the fact is, I'm likely to be changing my route.

I'm going to change at Gare Nord to the metro and take it a couple of stops. If I do that, I'll probably go all the way to Pigalle (the closest stop just to the west of my house) and walk home down rue du Martyrs, which I saw the other night for the first time. It's a delightful street, has a tiny carousel in a square very near my street and all sorts of little shops and cafes. The market I've been stopping at is in a rather uninteresting area that feels a little rough. Not far from Gare du Nord.

I want to sit in a real cafe. I've only sat at the one at the school, which is way too safe, being set up for the foreigners at the school. I'm not going to do it until the weekend, though. I won't usually have any classes on Fridays and only sometimes on Mondays. This week has been crammed with school stuff. It will always be crammed, but... well, anyway. As of Friday noon, I'll be on my own for a few days to do whatever I feel brave enough to do. Just now, I feel brave enough to see if the white stuff I bought yesterday, which I think is cream, (translates to fresh cream), tastes good in my coffee. Did I say my apartment has a French Press? It does.

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