May 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Forget Coffee...the New Caffeine Rush

Dear rue Grange aux Belles, look out...
The irony wasn't lost on me as I ran across this scenario in my neighborhood.  The driver of a Red Bull promotional car taking a coffee break at a Parisian café.  Caffeine much?

I don't know if the irony lies in the fact that a Parisian café is the watering hole for caffeine-addicts or if no café waiter ever seems remotely energized, at least not enough to get your bill to you in under fifteen minutes.

Regardless, giving away Red Bull all day in Paris must be exhausting and, of course, requires a coffee break to refresh.  If you had to choose between Parisian coffee and Red Bull, which would you choose? 

Red Bull isn't new to France, but I hadn't seen these cars around town.  But I got to thinking, why would any Parisian need a Red Bull?  What benefits are in it for a Frenchman?  A quick look at the "numerous scientific studies" on the drink shows that the product does have an effect on the body, but the company's website fails to mention any negative cardiovascular effects that may exist.  How do the "positive" effects, however, apply to Parisians?  More importantly, is the marketing campaign working?  Well let's take a look...

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Doorbell French"

My ultra-secure door and keychain
As a child in the suburbs, one of life’s greatest joys was the doorbell.  Each time someone came to the door, the dog would be the first to know, barking frantically at the stranger outside.  My mother would shove the dog in the kitchen before peaking through the curtains of the door window I imagined to make sure it wasn’t a polite burglar, or worse, her mother-in-law. Then my siblings and I would run out of our respective rooms and wait at the top of the stairs peering down to see who was there. 

Usually it was the delivery man dropping off the latest QVC purchase – my mother is a fan.  Sometimes it’d be friends of the family dropping off gifts or returning borrowed kitchen utensils.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses made their rounds as did the traveling knife salesman.  It was always a surprise but one that reminded us that we were not alone on our little street.                                                                          
This excitement has faded over the years as I moved to Paris in an apartment building – and not just because I don’t have a dog.  The doorbell elicits a new Pavlovian reaction for me these days.  Instead of running to see who it is, I hit the mute button on iTunes and freeze as still as possible, much like my mother would have done if her mother-in-law were at the door.

In Paris, I hate answering the door.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Last Day in Paris...

Don't want to forget...

So according to some people, tomorrow the world is going to end.  I’m skeptical, but I don’t trust my own Biblical math as much as I trust others’.  We’ll see who got it right – that crotchety 89 year-old cult leader in Colorado or the defunct Mayan civilization who predicted the world will end in 2012. 

In any case, this premonition has made me think of what I would do if the world really were to end tomorrow.  So many people write touching articles about what they miss when they leave Paris, but in homage to the seven signs of the apocalypse, here’s my list of the seven things I’d do if this were my – and everyone’s – last day in Paris.

1.  I’d consume all of my American reserves.  I’m not sure if other expats are this way, but I squirrel away whatever I can to make those cookies that mom sent for Christmas or those Reese’s holiday candies last as long as possible.  That means eating a Cadbury egg in August, and I’m not ashamed.  But if the world were to end, I’d eat them all in one go and use all of my American deodorant so at least I smell fresh for doomsday.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

March of the...Potheads?


I thought it was a little early for gay pride.  While revising a paper along the sun soaked canal this weekend, I was interrupted by a parade of youth marching in the middle of the adjacent street.  Waving rainbow flags and banners, I half expected to see sequin-wearing drag queens behind them.  I was disappointed to find out that they were instead pushing for the decriminalization of marijuana.

After a few years in New York, living in college dorms no less, I have had my fair share dealing with marijuana (dealing WITH it, not actually dealing).  As a resident assistant, I have fond memories of roaming the halls when I was “on duty,” knocking on doors where pot smoke was all but billowing out from under the door.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Just a kid at the Sorbonne...My Food's Better than Your Food (?)

So this week in English class, the presentations rolled on as usual, discussing Rocky for what it was worth.  The group failed to discuss the importance of Philadelphia in the movie, though every time I tell someone I’m from Philly their only reaction is, “Rocky?”  Alas.

Before class, however, I was the subject of several classmates’ attention on the age-old topic of cultural differences.  Is it difficult living here?  Do you miss home?  The bise is confusing – the double, sometimes trip kiss on the cheek.  Even the French aren’t always sure what side to start on or how many to give.

And then of course they attacked it – the food.  Those who had been to the US recall gaining weight like crazy, those who hadn’t heard that everything is wrapped in cellophane.  I assured them it’s not as bad as it sounds, but when the subject of cheese came up, I lost the battle.  I assured them that food was not the only reason I wanted to live in France, but they weren’t listening.  After almost three years in Paris, I’m used to this sort of lecture. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Paris Win: May Day in France

To have a reason to buy flowers is almost a ridiculous concept.  Who needs a reason to bring something beautiful and cheerful into the world?  Not me.  Not you.  No one.  But sometimes it’s nice to have a little push.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy smells sprigs of Lily ...
Even the President stops to smell the...lilies.

May 1st is May Day, a sort of Labor Day in France (on Sunday?) and while many stores and museums are closed, the flower sellers are out and about.  Organizations like the Red Cross are selling their lilies of they valley on the street, a tradition that dates back to the French royal court in the 16th century.

The lily of the valley is steeped in tradition, and apparently the flower was first grown from the tears of Eve when she was banished from the Garden of Eden.  Other legends say that the flowers grew from the tears of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross.

Both stories are depressing and should be forgotten.