Saturday, September 02, 2006
Back to reality
The city has refired its engine after a month of mass exodus and repose. Our neighborhood is much more vibrant now that shops have reopened their doors, and everywhere there seems to be a desire to be out and about, soaking up the last traces of summer before the inevitable grip of fall and then winter settles in for good. Already I can some mornings see faint traces of breath on the air while waiting for the bus just before sunrise. But upon leaving school, it will be sunny and humid, too warm for the sweater and scarf from that morning.
Like the rest of Paris, I'm back to work. It wasn't as awful as I had anticipated having to wake up early for the first time in over two months. My commute is indeed long and bothersome compared to the extreme ease of where we last lived, but I've using it as an opportunity to read more (and am devising an intricate schedule of cellphone alarms to allow for potential napping). It also allows for meeting people: on Tuesday a business-looking man started chatting with me and we stumbled upon the subject of my recent apartment woes. "Well, if there's anything I could do to help, I'd be happy to lend a hand," he'd offered. I'd replied that that was very kind, but unless he was a lawyer there wouldn't be much he could do... but in fact he is!! He said he would be more than happy to get together and have a look at my contract, which he confirms to indeed contain the illegalities I had suspected. There may yet remain a sliver of hope! But regardless, more than anything it is heartening to meet a stranger who would sympathize, let alone offer assistance. And a Frenchman, no less!
Class is good, although it certainly is a different beast altogether than the first 3 months. This past week we were a modest group of 6: two Korean women (of which one is in my program), three French men, and me. I didn't like my partner terribly much, and luckily the only times we all paired off was to scale ingredients. I immediately tagged him in my mind as a frimeur-- showoff. Cocky, quite young, a wise-ass, and some type of manager at a Lenotre production facility in Dubai, India, he made no real friends of us three girls (nor the other French men, perhaps?) by sometimes mocking our baking gestures or treating us like fools. It's very interesting to be a categorical member of not only the Inept Girls Who Would be Bakers club but also the Clueless Foreigner club. Being frequently patronized, whether intentionally or not and to varying degrees, by teachers and classmates is going to get old, very old. And there's nothing you can do about it. It makes me ponder just how some immigrants manage to tolerate such treatment, in more severe manifestations and for sometimes their entire life. I'm not used to encountering prejudice, albeit not crippling in this case, against me on such a regular basis. It's a curious position. But I can't say it's a great shock, I suppose... I'm some scruffy, bawdy American girl studying a Good Ol' Boys' Club profession in a renowned capital of Good Ol' Boys' culture.
P.S. Many new photos on Flickr, some from this past week in class and also a bunch of old photos from June/July.