26 July 2008

He finally got a piece of the pie

That's right, I'm movin' on up. Goodbye crazy religious gay roommate and hello "Tale of Two Cities" revolutionary fervour of Faubourg St-Antoine!

My current apartment is pretty nice, all mouldings and marble fireplace and all. I have a nice view of all the protests in Paris too; they always march down Boulevard Voltaire, right underneath my window. They only hitch is my total wacko-jacko roomie. Don't get me wrong, he's a nice guy. He's just totally bonkers. And now he's asked me to move out because his internet boyfriend from Germany is moving to Paris. (I'm maintaining a strict "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy for that. Double yikes!).

No hard feelings, but given the awful time I had the first time around, I was dreading the apartment hunt experience. I did see some particullarly horrible places ("Oh, I see, you would like me to pay €500 to share your 7th-floor walk-up studio which is aproximately the size of a small thimble?" "Sorry, I was under the impression I was here to see an apartment, not a storage closet for Toblerones", of one apartment tucked under the building roof made up of nothing but slanty walls).

Then I went to Faubourg St-Antoine and new instantly I wanted to live there. I hoped and begged and prayed (and considered bribery too) that I would get the apartment. Thankfully, our Lord and Saviour, Betty White, provides for those in need. When my future new roommate called, I think I may have squealed, or swooned, or a little bit of both.

The new place is big, across the street (literally) from the métro and Vélib' stations, and the site of endless barricades being thrown up at various tumultuous points during French history. Very Les Misérables chic. I love it.

15 July 2008

From the Philosopher’s Stone to the Deathly Hallows and back again

I’m 150 pages away from finishing Harry Potter and I’m not sure I like it.

Admittedly, I was quite sceptical when the series first came out. “Children’s books” I dismissed them as. “Not my cup of tea” I said. But after some light badgering in the Micronesia Mall, Jase convinced me to buy a cheap paperback copy of The Philosopher’s Stone to read on the plane coming back from Guam. I was an instant convert.

Five years and thousands of pages later, it’s almost come to its end and I’m having trouble coping. I even decided that I wanted to reread all the books before starting the last book in the series. Then, to draw out the task even more, I decided to reread the series in French. This certainly slowed me down a bit, and introduced words like “barn owl” and “cloak” into my French vocabulary. But nevertheless I persevered and in less than a year enjoyed reading À l’école des sorciers, La Chambre des secrets, Le Prisonnier d’Azkaban, La Coup de feu, L’Ordre du Phénix and Le Prince de sang-mélé as much as I did the first time around. I even debated reading them all in Spanish as well, but I knew full well I was just trying to buy time.

I have to recognise Ms Rowling for being an exceptional authoress. She imagined a world out of nothing. She created characters you identified with and then had them change and develop. The plot is highly complex, almost every element and detail becomes significant at a later point, yet the whole thing seems effortless. Without trying to be overly smaltzy, I have no choice but to call Harry Potter a masterwork of contemporary literature.

And in a few hours of reading, it will all be over. The characters won’t embark on new adventures. I’ll never know what happens after. It’ll be time to let go. Sniff.

12 July 2008


I got on the train leaving Charles de Gaulle airport and I cried. I felt sad knowing that, with MM now on a plane back to Canada, I was, once again, very far from the people who cared about me.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have met Michael for three reasons. First, our meeting was very much by chance. If it hadn’t been for Couchsurfing.com and our friends who told us about it, our lives would have never crossed. Second reason is that MM arrived in my life at the time when I most needed a friend. The holidays were over, Polish gone; I felt isolated and alone. The grey tyranny of Parisian winter was pulling me down and school started taking a heavy toll. MM’s appearance on the scene changed everything for the better. And for this I am immeasurably grateful. Third reason, and more than anything else, he is an extraordinary individual. Kind, genuine, hilarious. Not a moment spent together that wasn’t brilliant.

Our first meeting was at a dingy rock bar in Bastille. By our third meeting shortly thereafter, it felt to me that we had been best friends for half a lifetime. We talked endlessly about our growing and mutual hatred of French universities, made tacos in maid’s rooms and generally annoyed my roommate. We helped each other through the many horrible curveballs the city threw at us, drank wine by the Seine and never stopped laughing at the “France” episode of Ab Fab, no matter how many times we watched it.

MM, I owe a lot to you, and, as the Golden Girls once put it, “Thank you for being a friend.” See you at Christmas!