Well, today was the first day of work at the UofC center, but first I had some more “official” business at the préfecture (police station, but also local administrative office). It was time for the visite médicale, or the medical check-up that all arriving immigrants must pass before being granted the titre de sejour, which is the ID card that serves as your proof of visa while living in France.
If this “visit” was going to be anything like the last one, this is how it would go. You go to the office and get ushered into one waiting room, then into another waiting room. After a fair bit of time waiting, someone calls you into an examination room where they test your eyesight, weigh you, measure your height, and then take a blood sugar reading. Then, they send you into a room where they take an x-ray of your chest (mine always shows that I have a HUGE pair of lungs). You then wait in the waiting room again for a while longer, and then you’re called into the office of one of the doctors working there, who looks at your x-rays, asks you about your health history, asks you what you’re doing in France, and then scolds you about your weight. Then, you head over to the actual préfecture office, where they invariably don’t have your card ready. Then, you have to come back a week or two later to finally get it.
This time, however, my appointment was at 9h00 instead of noon, so the visit actually went very quickly. There was still the usual prodding and poking and scolding, but the whole thing was over in less than an hour. Oh, and of course they didn’t have my card ready yet.
Amidst all the scolding, though, I memorized the weight written on my form noting that it was at least a few kilos lighter than when I had been weighed here a couple of years back. When I got to my office at the UofC center, I converted the weight to pounds and realized that I had lost 20 pounds this summer! Apparently, the “Berlin diet” works: party 3-4 times every week, dancing until 6 or 7 in the morning, while eating really light so that you don’t get cramps while dancing. Also, you should completely screw up your sleep schedule. Simple!
It’s actually a bit surprising, considering that the entire time that I was in Berlin, I was eating 3-egg breakfasts with toast (eggs have lots of vitamin B-12, which is important for the regeneration of nerves, i.e., my Bell’s Palsy). Anyway, it’s good news.
I’m keeping my policy from last time of not blogging about work, so I’ll just say that things went relatively smoothly, it was great to see everyone from the program again, and I love the fact that any reception in France involves lots of wine.
I had an appointment at a hairdresser near Mélanie’s place at 16h00, so I dashed out of my office and made my way over. I had pretty much picked the place because it was a combination hair salon and tattoo shop, and all of the people getting their hair done there seemed to be getting pretty stylized or dramatic haircuts. My hair is the longest it’s been in years (and possibly my entire life), so I felt like it was a good time to get an adventurous haircut. I’ve been doing adventurous things with hair color for almost 13 years now, but the actual hair style has generally been pretty simple. Besides, if I really hate the results, I can buy a hair clipper and buzz that shit off; I’ve got tons of experience in that, let me tell you.
So, after getting there, waiting for the hairdresser to finish his previous client, and sitting down in front of the mirror, I told the him, “I’m ready for a change. The only important thing is that the sides and back are relatively short, because otherwise I develop curly wings. Other than that, do what you like.” After asking me some questions on how much length I wanted to take off the top, he got to work.
I was of two minds about the results. On the one hand, I was impressed with the dexterity of his technique; he gave a great shape to the cut, made everything manageably short, and used a whole range of techniques to lighten and texturize my otherwise over-thick hair. On the other hand, the resulting haircut was pretty unadventurous; it was a good cut and it suited me well, but there was no adventure going on here. Ah well, at least it was a good cut.
From there, I headed back to Mélanie’s place, re-packed my bags, and started moving my stuff over to the apartment at Strasbourg Saint-Denis. It only took two trips (although one of them involved my super-heavy luggage), and in the process I got to know my new neighborhood a bit more. Apparently, it’s a rather seedy area with lots of sex-trade activity, even during daylight. Yay, hookers!
By the time I was finished, it was midnight and most of the food stands nearby were closed. I didn’t realize that Faubourg Saint-Denis, which was just on the other side of my street, was full of late-night döner kebab joints, so instead I wandered down to a schwarma place down the street and had a horribly disappointing kebab. Made from some sort of dark-meat poultry (I’m pretty sure it was pigeon), with only a dash of vegetables and a pile of greasy fries. Meh.