Monday, July 07, 2008

Some Days

Some days -- most days -- you just want to be in Paris. Oh, Paris! Paris is so very Paris.


Some days you want to be somewhere else.

Some days you want to be somewhere that is Not Paris because you want to be with someone dear to you who is far away, or some days it's because you want to be sitting your very own private garden, or relaxing some place that is just peaceful, or some days you just want to be Not In Paris.

Some days it's when the downstairs neighbor calls to say that your pipes are leaking on her bathroom ceiling because she claims there is a canalisation in your pipes and you wait five hours for her plumber who doesn't arrive, and then you realize the true meaning of canalisation when you are standing ankle-deep in backed-up really ugly water in the shower.

Some days it's when the only functioning light in the bathroom burns out and the other halogen light socket got its electrical cord snipped by a well-intentioned "helper," so if you don't find an expensive electrician in before nightfall it will be dark in the bathroom which is a very bad thing when there are embarrassing bottles of all colors and sizes cluttering the sink all of which will knock over because there isn't enough storage room in the damned apartment and it is too depressing to think of running an extension cord and spare lamp into the salle de bains.

Some days it's when your wireless internet connection has not been working for a week and you've played talkie-talkie-kissy-face with France Telecom who promises the world and delivers nothing and your sweet daughter who is as internet-addicted as you sits on the couch waiting for you to hand her the ethernet cord for her turn on line and you wouldn't trade having her here with you in Paris for anything but you can't really write or update your blog or run a home office or accomplish anything else that grown-ups have to accomplish while sitting cozily on the jumbled pull-out sofa with her which is where the mangled ethernet cord lives.

Some days it's when you are going nuts having to stand next to the ancient moldy washing machine in the kitchen to turn the knob from one cycle to the next for all five cycles because it's too decrepit to take that simple step on its own and you know you should buy a new washing machine but it's such a bother and expense and when this incompetent machine finally does finish the umpteenth load of laundry and the clothes are soaking wet instead of wrung almost dry and it will take years for them to air dry because it's cold and raining out side even though it's July.

Some days it's when you need to get errands done but like I said it's cold and raining and the thought of trudging to the Tresor Public to go over the dossier with the gentle kind gray man who methodically explained about the components of your taxe d'habitation in February and who very nicely sent you an abatement check after you paid the tax bill and sent him a copy of your lease and every official piece of imaginable paperwork and then three months later the Tresor sent you a bill for the same amount and you have to gather all the files again and the wind is blowing and the rain is spitting and you just want them to have figured it out correctly in the first place but oh well this is France.

Some days it's just like that.

But when Some Days arrive all on the Same Day -- well, it's time to call in the troops.


laurie said...

Thank you for your honest column today. I have more "some days" than good days here so I really appreciated your retreat from Pollyanna for once. I do appreciate the info in your columns but please let the world know that it is very difficult to live here from time to time.

Isabelle said...

Dear Polly, you've always been so positive wrighting about your life in Paris, and how much you appreciate every moment of it. But when one thing goes wrong it seems that the whole world is against you. It happens to me regularly! I call it the "Complot mondial"...
Bon courage pour la suite, je suis de tout coeur avec vous!

Jacki said...

I appreciate the dose of honesty. After yesterday, the day it all went wrong for me, I am somewhat comforted to know I'm not alone in having those "world crashing around me" type of days.
I hope that your week turns itself around and that there is no bad left because it was all delivered on the Same Day.

Alison said...

Sending you some Kentucky sunshine (but I'll keep the humidity, ok?).

Hang in.

Polly-Vous Francais said...


I really appreciate your comment and it made me stop and reflect for a bit on how I write and how I view life in Paris. I usually try to talk honestly about the plusses and minuses of living here. But I chose to be in Paris, and usually delight in the idiosyncracies as long as I can more or less cope with them.

I am a bit of a Pollyanna, it's true. When life gives me lemons, I try to make citron presse, and find a glimmer of humor in it somewhere. (You should see my manuscript-in-progress entitled "Laughing Your Way Through Divorce".)

I do truly love Paris and am in awe of it every day. Otherwise I wouldn't stay.

Here's the rub: I always want Paris to love me back! So your comment made me think of something. Back when I had a car and it sometimes broke down and I would curse and rant at it, I would immediately pat the car's dashboard and apologize, "I didn't really MEAN that, you nice car," because I was superstitious that saying bad things would make the car behave even worse. (Sorry if that sounds wacky, but it's true!) So maybe I'm the same way about Paris.

Also, I think having read Polly Platt's "French or Foe?" has helped me not be too exasperated with the French way of doing things. I try to explore and figure out the reasoning. And some personal revelations (some coming from reading thoughtful comments on my blog -- like yours!) have made me happy to be who I am in Paris. Not me totally bending to the ways of Paris nor wishing Paris would be different in order to suit my wishes. And learning the ropes so I don't have to get frustrated with it more than necessary.

Now I just hope the stinky economic situation allows me to stay!

And Laurie, I hope you have more good days than the some days. I didn't include a few more crazy-making items on yesterday's laundry list, but figured it was enough whining for one day.


Thanks for the 'bon courage' and yes, sometimes it does feel like a complot mondial. There's always a twist, too. But I have a deep love of irony, and that's perhaps what I find so appealing about living here. No shortage in France!

I hope your complot mondial turns around. My internet is now apparently working, but I'm typing as fast as I can because who knows how long it will last. Murphy's Law seems to always apply. (Did Murphy have French ancestors?) Anyway, I always think of Jean-Jacques Sempe's "Rien n'est Simple". So a propos.

To everyone,

Part of what I was going to include was the latest news item: La Poste is planning to privatize.

That's what I call going postal.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Hey Alison,

I can't believe you're back in KY already! Such fun to see you in Paris. (I'm still giggling over the "I [heart] KY" story.)

Hope all goes well with Big Plans for August! Send some of that Kentucky sunshine my way any day.

Joan said...

Hi Polly,

Even though people go all swoony when they learn where I live, the honest truth is that pipes leak, the electrics blow and bureaucracy exists all over the civilized and uncivilized world. Thanks for reminding us of that!

Hope the series of bad luck is behind you and that you'll be "p├ępin" free for the forseeable future!

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Stay tuned for the follow-up! I couldn't have invented it if I tried.

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