MY LIFE AS AN INTERNATIONAL
27 July 2003
As I mentioned in an earlier journal entry, with no
work to go to every day, and no work sitting here waiting for me to do every day, I
have become obsessed with Fotolog. I've been taking pictures for Fotolog, and scanning
photos for Fotolog, and checking out other people's pictures on Fotolog. When I did my
massive clean-up yesterday, I came across a box of old photos I'd forgotten about, so it
allowed me to scan some and post to Showbiz, Water, Spans, Weddings, and my own fotolog
I'm not an exhibitionist in real life, but I do play one on the
In going through some of the old photos, I found pictures of our
trip to Paris in 1996. What a fun whirlwind day that was.
We were staying in London and decided to go with our friend Sian and
her friend Ann and take the Chunnel under the English Channel and into Paris. It was my
first time in a non-English speaking country and I was wondering how much my long-unused
French would come back. (I was a French major, so I was hopeful that I could at least make
myself somewhat understood.)
We began the day at the only logical place: the internet cafe in the
Pompidou Center (Well, we did first ride the escalator up to the observation deck and take
pictures of the city...
...but then we went to the internet cafe). We all had to send
messages, just to say we had sent messages from Paris. The thing was that the keyboard was
French. I knew that there were Japanese keyboard and Chinese keyboards, and I'm sure other
keyboards that use different ways of writing, but it never occurred to me that there would
be a French keyboard. Nothing seemed to be where it should be and we had to get the
attendant to switch it over to an English keyboard. (We completed that transaction in
English, I think).
Next was buying stamps. We hadn't really seen anything in
Paris yet, but I was already prepared to send post cards (unaware that postcards, as well
as everything else in Paris, were atronomically expensive). In halting French I managed to
buy a few stamps.
|Finally we were out on the town, map(s) in hand, and
the unerring direction of Walt and Sian to get us where we wanted to go.
(a split second before I snapped this
picture, Sian was pointing in the opposite direction)
||We first went to Notre Dame cathedral, and were
disappointed to discover that (a) it was closed for 2 hrs, and (b) it was covered in
scaffolding. When we returned later, and were able to go in, I was still
disappointed. Accustomed to the cathedrals of England and Ireland, I was unprepared
for how dark Notre Dame is--black walls from centuries of dirt. Also, the
crowd was so thick it was like trying to get through rush hour on the subway.
When we left, we discovered there was not even a gift shop--you had to line
up at a window and point to things you might like to purchase.
|We went to the Eiffel Tower where we had a beautiful,
clear day to get a city view. But when we started to return to the ground,
there was a mixup in communication. I wanted to go to the second level to catch the
elevator. Sian and Ann thought I meant I wanted to walk down to the bottom,
so they took off like a shot down the stairs.
can it be to go downstairs? Very! By the time we'd finished going down all of
these switchbacks to the bottom, we all felt like death warmed over--and I think Sian and
I wanted to kill each other (until we compared notes and discovered the misinterpretation!
We enjoyed the rest of our day, which included ordering
a late lunch in a little bakery (everything else was closed). I wasn't exactly fluent,
but I did manage to get what I ordered. As evening approached, we headed to
Monmartre. By this time I had hit the wall, as had Sian, so she and I waited at the
bottom of the famous steps to SacreCoeur, while Walt and Ann climbed up the the
By the time they returned, we had no time for a
"dinner" per se, but only a quick snack and a rush back to the train. Here
we were in the gastronomic capital of the world, the place famed for sidewalk cafes and
where did we end up? McDonald's.
Well, I figured that going to Paris and eating at
McDonald's was unique enough. While Walt and the others were looking at the menu and
ordering our food, I stood back to snap a photo.
When the flash went off, the manager's head jerked up
and he began pointing and shouting, people started heading angrily in my direction and I
quickly put the camera away, shouted an apology and quickly exited the restaurant.
We decided that it was probably the hangout for
international spies and someone thought I was the police or something. I halfway
expected Interpol to be chasing me back to the Chunnel train. I also expect to be
stopped at the border if I ever enter France again. I'm sure my photo is posted on
all McDonald's around the country.