Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Paris, the Expat Blues, and some chairs

After the whirlwind of last week, scrambling the basics of an apartment together, we hopped on a bus and traveled six hours to Paris. And I'm happy to say that I still love Paris. First off, I love the food (for the most part, we had an entire day of food mishaps, which I'll talk about later). We had a fabulous dinner on Friday night at L'Ebauchoir, eating to the edge of discomfort and intoxication.

This was tasty

One the way back to our hostel we walked along the Seine a bit, discovering groups of people gathering and dancing to music, practicing Capoeira, or juggling fire. It was so amazing to see such a variety of stuff happening in a public space. I really think that the quality of a city can be seen in the amount of activities it's residents engage in outside the home, with each other, in public areas.

Capoeira circle

Saturday we visited the Pompidou for some modern art goodness and checked out their female artist exhibition. We grabbed a falafel for lunch and did some shopping in the Jewish Quarter, where there are a few excellent and cheap vintage clothing shops.

Le Centre Pompidou (Mon musee prefere du Paris)

That's me! With Dana's design! In a book! In the Pompidou!

Headed back to the hostel, we sat out on the patio, drank beers and chatted. We had noticed that we were a bit older than the majority of the other hostel guests, and after a bit of sluething we figured out that it was orientation week for the American University of Paris. And we were the only non-university people there. It was strange, but made for great people-watching.
Several beers deep we headed out to Rock en Seine (the music festival that originally brought us to Paris that weekend) to catch Faith No More (that being one of their more laid-back songs) and Birdy Nam Nam. All I can say is wow, I've seen Faith No More live, and it was fabulous. Mike Patton's voice can melt me into a puddle of goodness.
I then fell asleep on the metro home.

Sunday we woke up too late for the hostel breakfast, so we grabbed a baguette, some proscuitto, cheese, and a tomato to eat on the hostel patio. The baguette was good, but both the meat and cheese were rancid. Gross. So to supplement our bread, we each bought this veggie and sausage dish from the hostel cafeteria. The vegetables were soggy, and barely resembled vegetables, and the sausage tasted like it was made purely of salt. A few bites in and we were done, and returned to the room to nap. We set out again to get a meal in us before heading to Rock en Seine again, and since it was about 4pm no restaurants were serving dinner, just drinks and coffee. And we are famished. We walked for a good 20-30 minutes before finding a restaurant that served food, and we dove into greasy plates of roasted chicken smothered in gravy with a side of fries.

At the festival we saw Eagles of Death Metal, MGMT, and the Prodigy. We had seen the Prodigy a few years back in Spain at a festival, and it was a less than stellar performance. They seemed disinterested in the crowd (and vice versa), played for 45 minutes then left without an encore. This performance, however, was incredible. The played all great songs, and even had little remixes inbetween some of them. And two encores. At one point they got the crowd to make a circle and someone set off a flare, which was (incredibly dangerous, but) so cool. I'm not sure if it was someone from the Prodigy, or just a random crowd member. Looking at that video, the crowd was HUGE. We were on the other side of the flare and back a bit, and we were only about a third of the way back in the crowd.
The dust at the festival was out of control. Some people were wearing masks, and when it all ended you could barely see through the thick air. Everyone was coughing and covering their faces with their shirts. Later that night and the next day, both Dana and I got nosebleeds.

Monday we visited the Pantheon, visited the crypts beneath it, then bussed it back home.

Expat Blues
The emotional rollar coaster I'm riding. On the bus to Paris I started feeling homesick. I wanted so bad to return to my easy, English speaking country with a familiar and comfortable bed to sleep in. I want to call up some friends and hang out. I miss my parents and my cat so much. I was tired of feeling like the only one setting up the place while Dana layed around being all jet-lagged (which I was too), feeling like both a housewife and a mom. I was frustrated with the fact that I had to register at city hall and report to immegration, fill out forms and make an appointment to get a residency card. In Canada I just lived. It was easy. I had an annoying and frustrating couple of days in Paris while I worked all of this out with Dana, letting him know what was upsetting me and why and how to deal with all of this.
Going to Paris and experiencing a new wave of culture shock made Eindhoven feel more like home. At least I had something somewhat familiar to return to, my place where I have clothing in drawers and a place for my toothbrush.
Then I remembered why I moved here. I wanted a different life, something out of the ordinary. I didn't want to have everything to be easy. I made my bed and have to sleep in it. So I decided to just roll with it, and learn to love the adventure of living in Europe with all it's quirks and cultural differences. It might be difficult at times, but at least it's not boring. I'm still in awe sometimes that I'm here, making this happen. I now have my residency forms filled out and the appointment made. Things are fitting together.

My close friend Liane is coming to visit tomorrow, which is so exciting, seeing a familiar face from home. She just moved to Edinburgh for school, so I'm sure she's going through a similar shock to the system. It'll be a great week hanging out with her and showing her around!

Yesterday we went to the 'Polish Market' to look for furniture and other household things. We got some small stuff, like floor mats, garbage can, mugs, etc, but the only furniture we could agree on were these chairs. And they are perfect. They are a great aesthetic jumping off point and has given us some ideas on what else we'd like. Dana and I are both so in love with them.

Until next time,

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