Diaries Magazine

Caught in the Rain.

Posted on the 24 November 2012 by Ellacoquine @ellacoquine
Caught in the Rain. So I get it. There are tons of things in my French life that I will never understand or shall I say, will never fully sink into my thick American skull. For example, when do I spice up a sentence with a little plus-que-parfait action in place of the plain old vanilla passé compose? I don’t know, I just kind of wing it. And in the process of my cowboy approach to the French language, it's almost certain that I sound like an idiot. Aside from the language, as well as little things like getting used to the fact that when a repairman comes to my house, it’s almost always guaranteed that what he came for will not be fixed during that trip, and that it will take several more. There are a handful of distinctions that exist uniquely in my life in Paris that my brain just doesn't want to get on board with.
Here they arein all their glory: Let's start with the washer machines. I'll never forget my first trip to a French Laundromat near my first apartment in the 15th. I happily dropped the clothes in the machine, put in my two euro piece and returned home. After watching an episode of the L Word (roughly 43 minutes), I hurriedly ran down stairs to retrieve my clothing fearful that they had been sitting in the machine for about 10 minutes past its cycle. Well, if being late is fashionable in Paris, I was last season's garbage bags because not only was I early, I was about an hour and a half early. I sat in a Laundromat on Boulevard de Grenelle in stained pink sweatpants and a gray thrift store sweater not realizing that the washing machine cycles in France run three times longer than they do in America. Having my clothes tossed and turned for 2 and a half hours in a machine is something that I will never, ever understand and almost always forget as I put in a load of wash an hour before I have to be somewhere. After living in Paris for over three years, you'd think that I've gotten the memo that from time to time it tends to rain here and to always leave the house with an umbrella. Nope, I haven't and about once a week, I find myself stuck in the rain or worst, the mist that makes me look like disco days Diana Ross. I don’t have her bone structure or her ego to pull it off, so I just look sloppy and unkempt. I love how proactive France is on recycling and going green, so much that the option of plastic grocery bags isn't even available in most super markets. The only choice one has is purchasing one of their reusable bags that are conveniently located at the check out (petits malins!). Do you know how many times I have left those little bags at home? It’s always halfway through my shopping experience that I realize that I don’t have anything to bring my goodies home in and am forced to buy the bags provided at a low cost upon check out. This has happened so often that I have a massive collection of those little reusable Monoprix bags in our kitchen cupboard. Why don't you just put on in each of your handbags? Excellent idea that my "brain" also won't let me get around to. Hey, since we're blaming it for everything in this post... While we’re on the topic of supermarkets, let’s talk about my inadequacies of purchasing something as simple as chopped hamburger meat. I don't think I will ever remember which slab of steak haché is better; the one with 5% M.G or the one with 15% M.G. I'm often found standing in the meat aisle staring off into oblivion as I rapidly comb through past conversations I've had with French friends and exes who have tried to pound into my memory which piece is better. M.G stands for matière grasse which is just fancy French talk for “fat”. Therefore it should be obvious that I would want ground meat with only 5% fat over the piece with 15%. But not so fast! My brain then tricks me and tells me that M.G stands for "moins gras" (less fat) so I end up buying what I think is 15% less fat and coming home proudly with a packet of lard. Maybe after writing it out, I will finally get it. Doubtful...
And finally, the one thing in Paris that I can safely call the bane of my existence here, especially being a person without a smart phone, is those damn door codes. Do you know that when you open my wallet, there's a mini filing system of tiny pieces of papers of apartment building Parisian door codes? Because apartment buzzers aren't common here (do they even exist?) I have been left standing outside of friends' buildings for tens of minutes waiting for a neighbor to come or go - who then suspiciously lets me in - because I mindlessly forgot to jot the front door code down.With a passion, I hate this system and buying a smart phone just so I can enter buildings in Paris to me is absurd. I also don't have the financial flexibility for that kind of luxury at the moment, but that's for another post.
While I'd say that these nuances at times have become thorns in my side, I'm grateful that I even have the opportunity to experience them. Living a life abroad truly is living a second (or for some people a third or forth) life where even years after arrival, you're still discovering what makes living overseasso special...even if it means occasionally getting caught in the rain. Bon week-end! 

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