December 2004 Archives

When in Rome

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One of the advantages of living with a Frenchman and working with French people is that I have the opportunity to experience French culture in depth.

I have embraced wine-drinking, smelly-cheese-eating and foie-gras-eating as if I was born for it (and perhaps I was), but there are certain things here I will not eat and flatly refuse to even consider eating.

Tripe, brain, tongue, trotters, pig ears - anything like that is totally out of the question. I feel ill at the thought. Foie gras, as I mentioned before, is ok, although it took me a little while to get used to the idea. I do sometimes eat chicken or duck liver in salads, but that's it.

Mushrooms cannot come near me. I have always hated mushrooms - the mere smell of them makes me nauseous. Nary a mushroom shall pass my lips. Ever.

I also refuse to eat rabbit. Rabbits are pests where I come from. They are not native animals, and they destroy the environment. I don't care how well you say you've prepared it, I will not eat rabbit.

Last on the list is horse. Yes. Horse.
The mere thought of eating horse makes my stomach churn. At our local market, there is a butcher that exclusively sells horse. I avert my eyes as I walk past.

I was brought up to eat most things on my plate, and being in another country means trying things that I've never tried before, but I do have my limits. My in-laws have gotten the picture that if they serve such things to me, I will grimace in the most unladylike manner and my plate will remain untouched.

My colleagues, however, refuse to let the matter drop, and continue to make suggestions for lunch, such as an entrée of rabbit terrine, followed by barbecued horse meat with a side serving of sautéed mushrooms.

I think they persist because I react. But it's so hard not to ;)

Especially when they bug me with such behaviour as emptying out my candy jar and putting my teeny platypus and wombat plushies inside and calling it Australian pâté.

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Travelling Update

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According to an email from my mother this morning, the V.I.I.V. apparently got kicked out of the car and left for dead put on the plane safely.

I received an email from said V.I.I.V just moments ago :

i'm at singapore now and i'm bored!!!
don't forget me!
DON'T FORGET ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We are supposed to pick her up from the airport tomorrow morning. The plane arrives at 6:15am, which, with the drive across the city, means we have to get up around 4am. Ish. Meep. I don't think we'll be forgetting her, BUT it would be pretty funny if we missed the alarm and slept in.

hehe.

Traditions

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So. The V.I.I.V. (aka the Very important International Visitor, aka Charlie, aka Carolyn, aka my sister) is arriving early on Tuesday morning. I've taken Tuesday off work, but I must go in to the office on Wednesday and Thursday - then we're heading to the Alps on Thursday night.

I'm REALLY hoping that she's not totally exhausted and cranky and sore after her 28 hour trip from Australia, and that she'll be willing to go with me to the Marché Noël in La Defense on Tuesday. I haven't had a chance to go yet this year, and I would hate to miss out - I've gone the last three years in a row. It's a tradition.

If she doesn't want to go, I'm leaving her exhausted, cranky and sore ass in our apartment and I'm going by myself. I'm really hankering for a raclette sandwich, followed by a steaming glass of mulled wine and a churro.

It's lunchtime here. Can you tell? heh.

Wrap it up

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POX on bad sticky tape!

POX on deceptively pretty and fun but really very crap wrapping paper!

POX on the combination of both - the sticky tape decides to demonstrate that it has a lifeforce of its own and leaps from my fingers onto the wrapping paper. I try to remove said sticky tape, to find the deceptively pretty and fun colours on the wrapping paper coming off with the sticky tape.

When the sticky tape isn't being skanky, the cat is chasing the ribbons that I'm trying to wrap around the packages.

Repeat X times.

Bah humbug.

The art of folding

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My latest crafty obsession is with Origami. Who'd have thought?

I bought a book of How To Make Origami Planes for my brother-in-law for Christmas, and at the same time picked up a general how-to book of Origami, thinking it might be a nice gift for someone else later down the track. The other night I opened the book and started folding paper. It's a really fun little activity to do in the evening as I'm watching tv (and avoiding doing the ironing or something really productive).

I'm not really interested in birds and animals and stuff like that, but in making boxes and decorations and fun things that can actually be pretty and useful. I think I might order a couple of Origami books for me this weekend (in English, from Amazon).

Needless to say, as with all my crafty projects, Symphony loves to be involved and is really UNhelpful. heh.

origamicat

Jingle my bells

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See, last night I was all melancholy, and here I am today, all chipper and excited. It doesn't take long for me to turn that frown upside down...

Thats because in a week it will be Christmas - the time, in France, to stuff yourself silly with so many delicious things like foie gras and seafood and bûche.

I'm just a little concerned, however, about the exact things that are going to be going on for Christmas. This year we're all heading up to a chalet in the Alps (Sylvain, Carolyn & I, his parents, his sister and her family, and his brother-in-laws brother and sister), but I think it is someone else that is organising the all-important Christmas dinner. I shouldn't worry though, as these people are French, and it would be a crime for them to not eat all of these wonderful things for Christmas.

I waited all year for this. hehe.

A long way from home

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Some days I don't really think much about "missing" Australia. The homesickness hits, but I've learned to keep breathing, to keep smiling, knowing that I can send an email or make a phone call if I need to. It's not the same as a hug and a gossip over a cup of coffee and a game of Scrabble, but I know that my family is there.

I look forward to opening my inbox every day in the hope that I'll find an email from my parents (more often than not), or from my sister (more not than often), or even from a friend back home (sadly, now that I've been away for three years, that happens less and less frequently). It's hard, but I look at Sylvain and know that this is a good thing.

Last night I called the parental figures to wish my dad a happy birthday. It was really nice to talk to them... I already felt really really really bad that I'm not there to help celebrate his 50th birthday, but then mum burst into tears on the phone and I ended up a blubbering mess too.

It's been nearly a year since I was last in Australia, since I last saw my family. I am imagining that in a few hours, everyone will be congregating to celebrate my dads special birthday. I know that they know I am there with them, in spirit. Being bossy and stealing all the salt and vinegar chips.

I just cannot wait to see my sister on Tuesday. I really need this visit, and I'm so grateful that she's going to be with us for a little while. Even though it means that mum and dad will have neither of us there with them for Christmas, I think they will be ok, eating yabbies and enjoying the heat while we suffer in the cold ;)

Last night, as I was leaving the Abbey Bookshp, an English gentleman who I had been chatting to said, "but what on earth is an Australian doing in Paris at this time of the year?!" He waved at the rain pouring down outside.

I winked at him and said, "get me out of here". I was only 51% joking.

Little tears have been trickling down my cheeks as I write this. I miss my family, I miss my life in Australia. Coming here to be with Sylvain is the best decision I've ever made, but its not always easy. I'm just so grateful for everything we have, and for the wonderful invention that is the internet. I heart emails!

Tech-heads

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"Katia! Katia! Why isn't the internet working!?"

Katia jumps out of her seat and runs to survey the situation.

"Just wait a moment whilst I turn your computer on."

Katia walks back to her office and snickers quietly to herself.

50th Birthday Celebrations

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDLES!
I love you lots!
~nermaldest

Toilet Lady

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Word for the day : "dame pipi" - basically speaking, a "dame pipi" is a lady who takes care of the toilets at certain stations and monuments around Paris (and I'm assuming around France). You're supposed to give her a tip, but apparently you're guaranteed that the toilet is going to be clean. (note: it's sort of the same as the person who hands out towels and hand cream and perfume etc. in the toilets of major restaurants.)

The subject of the "dame pipi" came up today at work (I knew of them, but didn't realise it was a real job!), when we were discussing a habit I've noticed a couple of people doing here : leaving the toilet door open when actually going to the toilet.

Don't ask.

Organisation of a nation

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The morning after I send something to the printer, I sit at my desk in a pool of sweat, bubbling over with anxiety, jumping in the air every time the phone rings... I'm always worried that something is going to go wrong - that I haven't included something important, that I haven't counted the number of pages for the cahiers correctly, etc.

For someone who gets stressed very easily, this is probably not the most ideal job. But you take what you can get, I guess. That said, it is really teaching me how to be more organised and how to demand precision and perfection of myself and those around me.

I now manage to "switch off" when I leave work most of the time, but I obviously haven't got the technique down pat, because on Tuesday night I lay awake in bed for hours with a ball of anxiety in my throat, just worrying about stuff.

I have heard rumours of a yoga club at the American Library in Paris - that might be a good thing to do. I need to figure out a way to really switch off and relax. I've been talking about joining the Library for over a year now, and still haven't got my butt over there to do it. I don't have time to do it now, so I think I'll try to join after Charlie leaves in January.

I don't understand why I'm so reluctant to participate in such things. I say, "oh it would be great to join", but then I don't do it. Laziness? Perhaps... But I think that, in a long and convoluted way, it has a lot to do with a fear of defining myself as an "expat" here - for some reason, I really don't like that label. Not to mention that a few people here think that I shouldn't need to join such groups.

Last week I went to the Abbey Bookshop and the owner said, after complimenting me on my haircut (it worries me that I go there often enough that he actually notices my change of hairstyle - hehehe), "come to our Christmas party! You should come!" I said, "I'll think about it". But I didn't go. Why is that?

And how come this post has moved in direction from me being a ball of stress over sending stuff to the printer, to my reluctance to join expat groups and things here in Paris? There's some sort of subconscious thing happening here.

View from my window

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Christmas

Sure, it's fake, but I do have Christmas snow on my windows.

Chilled to the bone

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This week, the weather has suddenly dropped to the most insane temperature. Just when I thought I had acclimatised to this part of the world, we got several days with a maximum of about 2°C and I am in a state of shock.

Just for the record, I am completely incapable of handling this sort of climate.

I know I'm a wuss. I know that further north it gets a lot colder, but I come from a hot country where these sorts of temperatures are only felt for an hour or two at 5am in the morning. Where I grew up, the average winter day will range in temperature from 13-20°C (according to the Bom). I really like wearing scarves and hats and gloves and big fluffy coats, but despite all of these layers, I am still cold.

As soon as it starts to drop lower than 5°C, I get cranky. It's not as if there is even any snow here in Paris to compensate.

*pouts for the second time today*

It doesn't make me feel much better knowing that at exactly this time last year we were in Australia... albeit melting on our first day there in 43°C heat ;)

Accentuation

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Having an accent means that I can run, but I can't hide.

I have good pronounciation (except when I'm really tired or I'm trying to talk too fast), but I don't think I'll ever totally lose the lilt that defines me as a foreigner here.

I might answer the phone with a simple, "bonjour!", and I get, "Ooooooh hello Katia, how are you?"

Most of the time I don't even know who is on the other end of the line, so I feel that I'm at a real disadvantage, and I have learned how to have very general conversations with the different Mystery Callers - "are you going away for Christmas?".

I try to work on my accent, to ensure that I'm speaking as "normally" as possible, but everyone around me keeps telling me, "don't lose the accent, whatever you do!"

So much for being anonymous.

It's a long way to Tipperary

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So yesterday I sent my wishlist to the Very Important International Visitor that will be coming next week. I didn't think there was anything particularly unreasonable in there - in fact, I had culled it down somewhat, and didn't include some things I really wanted the V.I.I.V. to bring, like a big stuffed toy kangaroo.

This morning, the V.I.I.V. emailed me :
"how about clothes?"

I, in my naivety, and thinking that the V.I.I.V. was extremely concerned about my clothing welfare, wrote back saying :
"I don't think I need clothes. I can find those here."

The V.I.I.V. wrote back :
"i was actually talking about clothes for me. being sarcastic. as in, with all that stuff, where will be the room for my clothes?
do you understand now?
"

Hmmmmmm... I think by the sound of that, I'll be lucky to get even one Caramello Koala.

I wonder if I could convince her not to bring clothes, that she can buy what she needs here instead... But I think that would be like trying to convince me that I only need one pair of shoes for an entire week.

Moblog mobility

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So... I really want to create a moblog, with my spanky new little phone that takes fuzzy but fun pictures.

I've tried mfop2, which works marvellously on other blogs, but it is not attaching my photos to posts. Poo. Their support service hasn't gotten back to me either - I can't really hold it against them, as it's a free service and all, but I really wanted to use it.

Not to mention the fact that my provider attaches a stupid message at the end of each post that I can't get rid of unless I physically edit the post on my pinkuter.

I've tried flickr, but when I try to choose the option to the automatically post photos to my blog, it tells me that the module soap::lite is not installed on my server. So I go to my host and say, "my system info says that soap::lite is available for use, but apparently it is not - please configure it. And whilst you're at it, can you organise image::magick to me configured too?" They write back, "sure! it's done!" I go to check, and image::magick is certainly available, but soap::lite still isn't. (Somewhat confusing, as on another site of mine that is hosted by them, soap::lite is available but image::magick isn't). So I write back, "please configure it!". Two days later, and I haven't heard another peep. I'm sure it will happen eventually.

Anyway. Moblogging just isn't happening yet. It will, once I figure out a way to conveniently post emails to this movabletype-powered blog. I refuse to move from MT, because I really love it, but I just wish they had an inbuilt post-to-blog-from-email feature. *pouts*

Survival Pack

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Given that we will be receiving a Very Important International Visitor from Australia in less than a week (w00t!), I am going to make an official request for the following items :

- Caramello Koalas
- Tim Tams
- Smoked Mussels
- a calendar (as well as the Bureau of Meteorology one that I am assuming the parental figures have organised)
- one of those pointy wooden lemon juicer things from Vic Market (I found one here but it cost a whopping 8 euros! I refuse to pay that much on principle)
- a heap of teeny tiny little fun coloured notepads from Morning Glory (and/or any other shops that I don't know about or have popped up since I have been to Melbourne last)

... and anything else deemed suitable for this homesick Aussie Lass...

Christmas cooking

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I'd like to make some Christmas biscuits and bring them to work with me next week - but apart from gingerbread cookies (which I really really really loathe), I am stuck for ideas.

I'm open to suggestions :)

The gift of giving

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Hoorah for Sylvains Christmas present from Thinkgeek arriving super early (and more boo-ing on the 45 euro tax). I have the wonderful gift hiding under my desk right now, and I'm going to have to try to find some time to wrap it in peace.

The only problem is that I want to wear my caffeine molecule hoodie* right now. My kind but curious husband will surely say, "wow, that's cool! where did you get it? when did you get it?". I am totally incapable of lying properly, so I would probably just blurt everything out and there goes the otherwise fantabulous surprise.

I must wait two weeks. Either that, or wear it when he's not at home and hurriedly take it off and hide it when I hear his keys in the door. Don't think I haven't seriously considered it. hehe.

He says he doesn't read my blog - apparently because he hears all of my stories one hundred times over anyway (Katia : "so, did I tell you what happened when...?" ; Sylvain : "yes, love...").

If he does, by chance, read this : even if you know where I got your present from - you don't know exactly which things I got you. That is... unless you go snooping under my desk.

heh.

* I know, I know, it's terrible that I couldn't resist buying something for myself at the same time as buying him a Christmas present.

Change is in the air

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Yesterday we did a whole lot more decluttering - there was a lot of box crushing and throwing out of crap.

I cannot believe that half of our little store room is filled with computer-related junk. There are shelves upon shelves of a million little bits and pieces that Sylvain simply can't bear to part with. I threatened to throw it all out (why oh why do we need three computer monitors that don't even work?!!!!), but the look on his face was enough to make me back down. I did tell him that if we moved, he would have to sort through and figure out what he really wanted to keep.

*sigh*

After we managed to declutter the majority of the study and the store room, we set about moving furniture and stuff around. We have been unsatisfied with the layout of the furniture in our apartment for months, so we decided to do something about it.

For our wedding, Sylvains parents gave us a gigantic sideboard/cabinet-thingy. It is made out of walnut (I think) - from a tree that was planted when Sylvains dad was born, but which was too damaged by the storms in 2000 which ripped through France, and had to be cut down. The tree had a lot of sentimental value for Sylvains family, so they wanted to do something with it - his parents decided to get a carpenter in Sylvains fathers home region (Charentes) to make us a piece of beautiful furniture, with carvings and all that stuff which is typical of the region.

So... after over a year of carving and preparation, the cabinet was delivered to us in July, and unceremoniously dumped in our lounge room. It took up an enormous amount of space, and although we knew where we wanted to put it, we had to organise everything in various other rooms so that we would have room for it.

Last night, at 8pm, we finally shifted into its pride of place at the entrance of our apartment. We stared at it, arms crossed - satisfied.

Then we watched Symphony stalk through the apartment, sniffing at pieces of rearranged furniture and miaowing crankily that she hadn't been consulted in the matter, and was entirely unconvinced that the change was necessary.

We finally went to bed, and listened to Symphony sitting in the entrance hall chewing loudly on various things (paper, plastic, keys, anything she could get her teeth into), and continuing to stalk through the apartment, miaowing disgustedly to herself.

I guess that you can't please everyone, all the time.

Fishing

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It's that time of the year when Christmas presents start arriving at my place of employ. Chocolates (usually all eaten within 24 hours of arrival), champagne (put in the fridge for later), and other various different foodstuffs.

Apparently the thing that everyone is waiting for is a special smoked salmon from a supplier in Norway - we have been sent one every year for the last 15 years, and this year should be no different. When the salmon arrives (literally delivered in a case of ice), we immediately put it in the board room, pull out the champagne and everyone congregates to eat this super-special salmon.

It's been given such a big build up - "you have not tasted smoked salmon until you've tasted this smoked salmon" - so I'm a bit excited.

I'll keep you posted.

Thirteen is a lucky number

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I'm not in a supervisory or managerial position in my place of employ, so according to my contract, I get a "thirteenth month" at the end of the year.

That means I get an extra months pay at the end of the year.

I don't really understand it, but I don't care - this morning, my pay slip looks mighty fine to me.

All about the shoes

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Yesterday I was wandering through the shoe section of one of the large department stores here in Paris (as any girl who loves her shoes must do occasionally), and I was very pleased that I didn't fall madly in love with anything and thus didn't have to buy it immediately. (I'm pretty sure that my Carte Bleu and my husband were very pleased about this too)

I did, however, come across these lovely gumboots...

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I am sure that they would look good, even when covered in mud.

I was even more impressed by these...

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Now... Charlie gave us a pair each of those ever-so-classy Ugg boots a few Christmases ago. I wonder if it would classify as super fantastic if I got them out and stuck some sequins and glitter on them?

heh.

I wonder who buys such things...

Strawberries and cream

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I'm delighted to see that fraise is back in action and blogging. :) She was missed in the expat blogging world.

Early Spring Cleaning

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Today Sylvain and I launched Project DeClutter.

This involved an early-morning trip to Ikea, purchases of storage items and various other things to make life easier, and attacking the study with a vengeance.

So far, after 3 hours of work, we've managed to get THIRTEEN (13!!!) enormous garbage bags of JUNK out of the study. I don't know how we managed to have that much CRAP in there. We were in the habit of keeping empty boxes of things we bought two years ago just in case we needed them, so the top shelves in the study were heaped with empty boxes - stacks that nearly reached the ceiling.

We were ruthless. Anything that we hadn't used in 12 months went into those enormous garbage bags. It's still not perfect, but it's much better.

The Dressing Room is to be tackled tomorrow. This is a tiny little room beside the study that we use as a storage area, and it is filled with wine bottles, extra foodstuffs and millions more empty boxes, and I suspect that we might beat todays record of thirteen garbage bags...

Honestly, what possessed us to keep all these boxes, I just don't know.

I'm determined to get this crap out of our apartment. I'm sure that we'll feel better afterwards.

declutter.jpg

Random taxes

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I've sent and received many different sorts of presents from Australia, with no problems at all - no taxes to pay on this end or anything. I'd heard rumours that one must pay taxes on a lot of items coming from the US, but I have received a few things from that side of the ocean (I heart ebay) - no taxes to pay either.

Last night I got a note in my mailbox saying that my order from Thinkgeek had arrived, but they need a signature AND I have to pay a 45 euro tax on it. *snarl*

To make things worse, DHL can't give me a specific hour of delivery, and since I'm a working girl, they're going to have to deliver it to my place of employ on Monday. I hope my boss doesn't throw a wobbly.

Hoorah for fast delivery of Sylvain's christmas present (I really wasn't expecting it to arrive this quickly... and maybe I couldn't resist the temptation and ordered a hoodie for myself), but booooooooo for stupid taxes. Thankfully the actual overall cost of the order and the shipping was not outrageous, so I'm not that bothered, but still... *snarl*

I'm going to want to order from them again, because they've got so much cool stuff, so next time I order, I'd better make it really worth it.

Car-nivores

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Parking in Paris has it's dangers. For the people parking, and for those who are already parked.

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The pushee is the dark car. (Note the brand?) The poor car that got shoved out of the way was actually pushed into a temporary fence...

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This is something we walked past on our way back to work from lunch. The Parisians around me didn't even blink, but it doesn't matter how many times I see this on the streets here (it is a very common occurence), it never ceases to amaze me... AND it is one of the many reasons that I won't drive here.

Doggity dog

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Seeing these ...

doggy.jpg

... in restaurants all throughout France will never cease to amaze me, as this is just unheard of where I come from.

It doesn't happen quite as often, but the first time I heard the owners ordering something from the menu for the dog, I had to double-check with Sylvain that I had really heard what I thought I heard. He grinned and nodded at me, and I watched incredulously as all the meals were served, and the dog and its owners were each presented with a plate.

Thankfully, it did eat it on the floor.

Minor details

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I'm not normally one to whinge (shutup), and since it's been awhile since I've had a good whinge, and I think that I'll partake in one now.

The joys of learning the French language, living in France, immersing oneself in the French culture...

Accents : Grave or acute or none at all? Buggered if I know. I basically have to verify with people next to me or in the dictionary every time I write the tiniest thing. That's if I'm not saying the word out loud to try to figure out which what the accent should be going. I even have special hand actions to remember which one is which. I loathe accents on letters. Go @éèê& yourself.

Commas : With numbers, the comma often replaces the decimal point. I work in a tiny publishing house which is dedicated to scientific studies, hence I am confronted with that horrible comma wherever I turn. The slightest lapse in concentration will have me throwing in a decimal point and potentially causing a great deal of confusion later on. This whinge leads beautifully into my next one...

Spaces : Twenty thousand euros? I was always taught that it is written as follows = 20,000. In French, it is written = 20 000. Note the space, and the total lack of comma. I still have a tendency to get confused by this. On the weekend I looked at my mobile phone bill : 3,252 euros. KATIA GOES INTO TOTAL PANIC MODE. That is, until Sylvain (who is, as usual, cool, calm and collected) reminds her that the comma is used as a decimal point and her bill does not amount to three thousand, two hundred and fifty-two euros. The phone bill comes to, in fact, a measly 3.252 euros.

AZERTY Keyboard : Who the hell thought it was clever to require one to press the SHIFT key to reach the numbers lined on the top of the keyboard?! I'm not the only one who thinks this is insane - even the French complain about this one. The numeric keypad over there on the right side of my keyboard is my friend. Yes, it is. My friend. Oh, and while we're on the subject... of course, if I returned to a QWERTY, I'd be screwed for a few days until I got back into the rhythm again.

Thankfully Australia uses the metric system, and I don't have the whole inches/miles confusion added to the mix...

Travelling shoes

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So, yep. Am getting very excited that my sister is going to be here in just a couple of weeks. Some slave labour to do the vacuuming, the washing of floors, the dishes etc. Hoorah!

heh.

We're still up in the air about plans to go somewhere after NYE. Charlie keeps smsing me messages saying things like, "lets go to Denmark! We could go to Legoland and eat Danishes!"

My only criteria is a cheap flight/train trip for the three of us. The restriction is that Sylvains passport just expired and so we must stay in Europe. Obviously we're going cheap, so a skanky hotel is probably on the cards. I think Charlie wants to stay in a youth hostel, but I want somewhere that I can at least leave my stuff unattended without worrying.

So I'm searching around for good deals on various things, and I'm getting nowhere fast. I suppose that the longer we leave it, the better chance we'll have of getting a crazy last minute deal, but that's a bit risky. Ah well. As long as I have my red shoes I'll be ok.

Camera Caf�

It's only 10:45 and I'm already exhausted. It's going to be a long day.

coffee.jpg

Time for more ...

Market Day

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We went to the market this morning to buy some fruit and vegetables, and, of course, our weekly portion of cheese.

The only problem is which ones to get.

cheese1.jpg

cheese2.jpg

cheese3.jpg

Then there's the quandry surrounding which bread to choose.

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With all these fabulous foods, how can we possibly be even considering moving out of this country?

I've got to stop playing with this thing. heh. I love gadgets.

There's a hair in there

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The hairdresser tells me that my hair feels lifeless and flat and unhealthy because of the pollution in this city. Apparently I have to take care of my hair with love and affection and expensive shampoo and other such treatments. Of course, I am a sucker for these sorts of things and walked away with my new swinging haircut and four different bottles of stuff for my hair.

So it's not only my lungs that are suffering from the pollution, but my hair.

Speaking of lungs being affected by pollution, yesterday at work I had lunch with one of the girls in my office. For the first time ever, she waited until after we had left the restaurant to light up her cigarette.

I thanked her later. She looked sheepish and said that it was hard to resist the temptation to smoke when the temp was working with us, because she is a serious chain smoker (the one who lit up whilst I was still eating the other day), but she knew I didn't like it and would make an effort from now on.

+1 to me.

Toy story

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Today I'm feeling absolutely fabulous.

I have finished the Christmas shopping.

I got my hair cut and coloured. I now have the first fringe I've had since I was about 12. Scary. I don't know what possessed me.

I got a new toy.

kat&symph.jpeg

A phone that takes photos! Not the cat. I already had that. ( And No, I am not strangling the cat. She was sleepy and I was holding her up. Yes, she is a tiny cat.)

I've been with the same phone company for the last three years, so I had some points racked up for an exchange. Of course, it doesn't replace the real camera, but it's a little more convenient for fun little happy snappies. Watch out for some moblogging in the future ;)

Progress

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Yesterday Sylvain went to England to meet up with some work contacts. Things went very well, and he came home saying, "it went wonderfully for my work... and for us..."

We're putting some feelers out... who knows what could happen... in two years, this blog could be "The adventures of an Aussie Lass, a Frenchman and a Burmese continue... in England!" I don't mind where we go or what we do - it's the journey that counts.

Anyway... tonight after work, I had to pick up a christmas present, and decided to do a walk that I haven't done for awhile - down the Rue du Seine, looking at all the fabulous art galleries, then along the Seine to the Musée d'Orsay, looking at all the fabulous antique shops. It's definitely a "look but don't touch" sort of stroll, but it's magical.

I have a real love-hate relationship with it, but deep down, I really do like this city...

In the spirit of things

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Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat (all the better for foie gras! w00t!), the Champs Elysées is lit up, Printemps and Galerie Lafayette have put up their wonderful Christmas window displays, and even our local little corner of the city has got strings of lights hung over the roads.

So, to get into the spirit of it all, I'm considering getting us a Fake Christmas Tree.

I'm so ashamed to admit it, but for the last three years, we haven't had a Christmas tree at all, because we are always travelling and spending extended periods of time at other peoples places. It's hard enough to finish a holiday at the best of times, but coming back to a dead tree is not much fun at all ;)

I grew up with real ones at Christmas time - the smell of pine in the house makes me so happy - but it's not so easy to get them here. To get a real tree, we would have to make an official excursion and we don't have that much time to do so. And I want a tree now.

A tiny little fake tree could be fun. I must investigate the possibilities.

Masquerade

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On Saturday, Katia was talking to her sister on the phone.

"So," Katia says. "We're going to see The Indestructibles today!"

Charlie pauses for a moment, "huh?"

"You know!" Katia exclaims, rolling her eyes. "The family of superheros? The cartoon movie thing? The Indestructibles?"

Charlie lets out an exasperated sigh (the sort that only sisters can do), and puts on her schoolteacher voice, "You mean, you're going to see The Incredibles?"

Stupid French word masquerading as an English one.

Who decided to translate "The Incredibles" into "Les Indestructibles"?

WHO?

I'm sure it was just to trick me.

The age-old answer

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I want one of these.
Right now.
Covering my knees as if I'm a little old lady who is about to start knitting.
Right now.

I think I'm just a material girl living in a material world.

Book Therapy

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Last night I left work feeling shaken and emotional, after finally having a little "discussion" about the situation in my office. Even though I've got nothing to worry about, shit will be hitting the fan later and it was still quite stressful.

So... what is the best remedy for this Aussie Lass suffering a Bad Case of the Crankies?

Other than ice cream, I mean.

Books of course!

I went to the Abbey Bookshop and picked up three (3!!) books, including the third Artemis Fowl book, The Eternity Code (after having spoken about it with Charlie on the weekend). I got home, huggled the cat and the husband, ate dinner, then spent an hour in the bath, reading The Eternity Code. I finished it in bed last night, and fell asleep with nary a thought about my place of employ.

It's sometimes really hard for me to find that switch which turns my work brain off, and I can lie in bed all anxious and cranky, tossing and turning for hours. I think I've definitely found a way of getting past that.

It's a shoe-in

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Everyone must immediately go to Manolos Shoe blog.

I can't believe it has been on my bloglines for a week now, and I haven't mentioned it here.

I would love to be super fantastic.

There's no smoke without fire

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Lighting up a cigarette across from me before I've even finished my meal is, quite frankly, disrespectful and rude.

I understand that I'm living in a country where smoking is not viewed in the same way as where I come from. As a general rule, I have been told that it is better now than a few years ago, when people would smoke wherever they wanted and however they wanted. At least now, when people wish to smoke in your apartment, they ask first. I politely tell them no, that they'll have to go outside. Even if it's raining. But most of our friends don't smoke, so that's ok.

I have gotten used to the fact that people smoke nearly everywhere here. It was a really big shock three years ago, when I did a traineeship in a very large organisation here, which still loosely allowed people to smoke in their offices. I shared an office with a chain smoker. Our windows didn't open. My asthma worsened, but I didn't say anything.

I still get amazed to see the amount of people smoking here, but it doesn't shock me in the same way that it used to.

Today, as the person across from me lit up, I coughed loudly. We were in a tiny restaurant with bad ventilation, and I ate a couple more mouthfuls of my normally delicious plate of pasta, but as the smoke wafted across my plate, I stopped and left half of my meal uneaten. I continued to clear my throat. It got worse as the other person sitting at my table lit up.

If you want to poison your body with cigarette smoke, by all means, go ahead.

But that does not give you the right to ruin the end of my meal, and to turn me into an involuntary passive smoker.

The thing that pisses me off the most is that I was not even asked if it was ok. With these people, I've never been asked if it was ok. It was simply assumed.

I'm cranky.

And hungry. Cos I didn't get to finish my lunch :(

Softies

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I wish I knew how to sew. Or had even the smallest amount of creativity in me. Then I could join in on activities like this.

btw, just for those curious - the two articles that got published this time around are not part of the group of four that I wrote a few weeks ago. Articles have to be written months and months and months in advance - in fact, these two in particular were written about six months ago. *nods*

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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