I have arrived! Got here with absolutely no problems, despite the complexity of my means of transport (bus, plane, plane, bus, walk through Paris with gigantic bags, train, car) and the escalator at the Rouen train station was working! (In the past, the likelihood of the escalator’s working was inversely proportional to the size of my bags.) Anne, my professeur référent, invited my American flatmate Lauryn and me to dinner, which was lovely, and then I went back to my apartment and slept for 12 hours.
Speaking of the apartment… it’s just downstairs from the one last year, and since it’s not right under the roof, it’s much bigger and nicer (carpeted bedrooms!). It’s still free, and we have another American flatmate, Megan. So it’s all USA, all the time, instead of the mini UN last time.
Friday was the welcome day for all the assistants, and this year 11 of us renewed, which is an unprecedented number (thank you stock market crash) so they read our names to the whole auditorium! After hearing about all the paperwork, which was just as confusing the second time around, a few of us went out for drinks and I had my first demi-pêche in months. Oh, how I have missed demi-pêches… After that, I went back home and fixed my curtains so they don’t drag on the ground, and now my room looks mildly more civilized, at least.
Saturday, Lauryn and I tried to start the phone/Internet process, but will have to wait for some paperwork. It shouldn’t take as long this year, but I’m still betting it’ll be November before we get us some sweet Internet love. Also, the McDonald’s no longer has wifi, due to construction, and my old favorite Internet café has doubled its prices, so until I figure out a new routine, don’t count on regular anything. Hooray France!
After the phone disappointment, our other flatmate, Megan, called to invite us to lunch with her teacher, the teacher’s boyfriend, the teacher’s two sisters, and assorted other teachers and significant others. We went to a lovely little restaurant called Le bistroquet, where I had a salade de mer. It had lettuce, tomatoes, smoked herring, smoked salmon, and this really delicious seaweed that wasn’t too briny. The three of us tried to keep up with the rapid, slangy French conversation, but really only talked when one of the Frenchies took pity on us and asked us a direct question. There were lots of grammar jokes, so my little nerdy self felt right at home.
Saturday night, I finally decided to tackle the closet problem: no rod (seriously, French people care so much about their clothes that I fail to understand why NONE OF MY CLOSETS EVER HAVE RODS IN THEM). I had bought some cheap rods that were meant for curtains (all I could find, in three different stores), some fishing line, and some screws, and my closet already has adjustable shelves, so I had a plan. First, though I had to take the sliding doors off the closet to be able to get at everything. No problem, right? I’ll just yank. Except that they weighed a ton, and I had to figure out the mechanism so I’d be able to put them back on. So I pushed and pulled and slid and finally got one out, staggered across my room with it to put it out of the way, and turned my attention to the other one. Same process, except this time something fell off the top. And the bottom. Uh-oh. By careful inspection of the other side of the door, I managed to shove everything back into place, but the bottom piece (the part with the wheel that rolls along the track – rather essential to a sliding door’s function) kept falling out. Well, I’ll deal with that later, I thought, and turned back to the closet to tackle the straightforward task of getting the shelves out. They were just resting on three brackets, the brackets hooked onto vertical tracks to allow adjustment, so I simply lift the shelves out, pop out the brackets, and replace the brackets and shelves where I want them, right? Well, no. Nothing is ever that easy in France. First, the shelves were particle board, and I swear each one weighed as much as a small cow. Second, the shelves were cut to the full width of the closet, despite the slight jamb on one side, so much angling and tipping and near-dropping of shelves and grunting was required. Finally I got them out, set them aside, and adjusted the brackets. My plan was to put one shelf as low as it would go, then attach the rods to the bottom of the other and place it high enough above the first to be able to hang clothes. Next problem: how to attach the rods. Here is where the title of the post really starts to mean something; I present to you my wardrobe.
The magic floating closet rod! Oh wait, the only magic here is the magic of modern synthetics.
Yes, those are screws with nylon fishing line tied in (bowline) knots around them and threaded through the rods. I’m officially changing my name to MacGyver tomorrow. If this doesn’t work, I have other plans, but everything has stayed up for over 24 hours now, and everything that needs to hang is hung, so I’m calling this project good.
Except wait… weren’t there doors on the closet? Oh right, there they are, patiently leaning against the wall waiting for me to restore them to their rightful place. I taped up the mechanism on the bottom that kept falling down, which worked a treat, and cajoled/shoved/begged/pushed the doors back into place. And almost tipped over backwards doing so, as they’re floor-to-ceiling doors and we have 8-foot ceilings. Then I untaped the doohickey and lo and behold they slid! French closets 0, Lisa 2 (see last year’s entry).
Sunday was market day, as always, so I took my flatmates and off we went. Everything is just as I remember, down to the locations of the stalls and the fresh chèvre with cracked pepper on top (France, I love you so much). I got zucchinis and onions and chèvre and a demi-baguette and cider-apple bread and will now proceed to eat myself silly. Oh, how I have missed France.
The Rest of the D.R.
6 years ago