jeudi, septembre 07, 2006

"On va boire un coup..."

So, in the preceding couple of days, I had managed to get into contact with Mélanie, an old friend from the days when I came to France as an exchange student. She sent me an email, suggesting that we should get together on thursday (tonight) to "aller boire un coup." Roughly translated, this means "go out for a drink." Not at all surprisingly, this was not just "a drink."

After sleeping in more than I had intended and feeling a bit confused about how I might've slept through my alarm clock (more on this the next day), I got myself together and headed out. In an attempt to make up for my late arrival, I decided to overdress. Mind you, I'm not capable of overdressing in the way French businessmen might; I don't have the budget for Armani suits and none of my shoes are all that nice. Instead, I wore a pair of navy corduroy pants, a powder blue penguin shirt with contrast cuffs, a pair of cheap but nice black leather ALDO boots, my black Anemone moulded vinyl messenger bag, and a cute tie that was navy blue with diagonal rows of multicoloured boxes. All of this layered onto a stocky latino with 6-guage piercings, chin-strap facial hair and a buzz haircut made for a lot of interested stares from the businessmen who shared the subway with me. Interestingly enough, the businesswomen were mostly uninterested.

The day at the Centre was busy but unexceptional, including the usual fixing of things gone wrong. I also started putting together an horaire de permanence (office hours), which will hopefully keep me from being overworked. As it is, I'm only supposed to be working 15 hours a week. I nonetheless managed to stay rather late today, mostly because I had a date with Mélanie @ 7.30 downtown, anyway. After killing time in my office trying to take care of various small tasks, I decided I might as well arrive early to our meeting place, since it was right on rue Rivoli, in the middle of a nice shopping district. I can just wander around for a bit.

As I was heading out to do just that, I passed by the break room and heard a few voices. I popped in to say goodbye and one of them said, "You're not going to leave without drinking a cup of wine with us, are you?" Well, there was no denying them at that point. Although I was just about to go out and have drinks anyway, I didn't want to be antisocial...and I was pretty sure refusing the wine would be an antisocial gesture. So, on an empty stomach that hadn't seen more than a croissant that day, I had two substantial glasses of wine while we chatted and bitched and dished and so on. At some point, I asked what the time was and realized I only had about 30 mins to get to where I was going. I still don't know how to judge travel times in Paris, so I'm always predicting it will take more than half an hour. Of course, I arrived in 15 minutes and Mélanie called me to say she was going to be late.

On my way to the station, I noticed this street sign. What's up with that? How did I not notice a street named after a major 20th-Century French composer two paces from my workplace? Well, I made up for it by taking this nice photo.

But as I emerged from the Saint-Paul métro station (ligne 1) on rue Rivoli, what should I see, but...SPACE INVADERS!!This totally made my day. I'm more and more fond of these little mosaics, and I keep asking myself: how does one lay graffitti-mosaic? See linked article for further discussion...

Drinks with Mélanie were great. We met at a small Dutch bar right near the subway stop called Klein Holland. After a bit of catching up, this "aller boire un coup" turned into heading off at 9.30pm for dinner in the nearby rue des Rosiers, which is the oldest Jewish area in Paris. We had a plate of falafels and other Middle Eastern delights at a neat (but very busy) café called Chez Marianne.

Afterwards, I tired Luis dragged himself back home. Before I could get to bed, however, I had to deal with my earrings. I needed to give Arnaud 3 passport-style photos for my application for the carte de séjour; by French law, these sorts of photos must follow strict guidelines that include the removal of all earrings. But here's the problem, I have those stainless steel captive-bead earrings, which don't come out easily. Essentially, these sorts of earrings should only be affixed and removed with a pair of smooth-nosed pliers. Do you think I have that sitting around in my apartment? Hell no. Do you think that I'm going to trek around Paris tomorrow morning and find a reputable piercing shop before 10am for the photos? Also, hell no. Can I just jam a pair of scissors into the earring and pull outwards? Hell yes. It didn't hurt, since all I was doing was applying outward force on the ring itself. However, it totally bruised up my fingers in the process. Ugh. Now I have my super lame retaining rings (i.e. metal tunnels) in my ears, and they'll just have to stay there until I can visit a piercing shop.

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