Panda in Paris

“God, it’s so painful when something that’s so close is still so far out of reach…”

Posted in France by parisianpanda on September 25, 2009
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That is how I’ve been feeling the past couple of days.

No more cryptic melodramatic entries, I promise.

Less than one week until my (sort of) big kid job starts.

Also, when Axel is speaking English and uses a French word because he forgets it’s not English it’s pretty much the most adorable thing in the world. (“These cookies are not vraiment crushed.” “Can you put this in the poubelle?” “Anouk is my friend at my ecole and I love her.”) He also pronounces chocolate “choco-layte” which has nothing to do with the way it’s pronounced in English or French. (You could argue that it’s phonetic in English but he can’t read anything but his own name yet.)

If you’re reading this and you’re an assistant in the Paris area (or an assistant in any other area planning on coming through Paris) we should hang out. Leave me a comment.

(If you are on the other side of the world in the Seattle area, you should go to Sketchfest on Saturday to see some of my friends, because sometimes they are funny.)


I’m an old person.

Posted in France by parisianpanda on September 21, 2009
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I’ve been noticing that I’ve been getting a lot more “madame” than “mademoiselle” this time around. I’m not sure what has happened in the past two years to make me look so old, but it was particularly troublesome today when I was babysitting Axel in the the Parc des Batignolles, which is an area in my neighborhood that would have been used for the Olympics in 2012 if Paris had beaten London for the spot, but was turned into a series of playgrounds and skateparks when they lost. Axel at one point sped off on his bike past some boys who were about 12 or 13, and when they saw me running after him said “Attends ta maman!” (“Wait for your mommy!”)

What was worse was when Axel was playing on the half pipe with a girl who looked to be about 10 or 11, and some other teenaged kid in skateboard gear asked if they were my kids. It’s bad enough that someone would think I was Axel’s mother…he’s 4, so while me being his mother is both unlikely and impractical, it’s at least biologically possible. But do I really look old enough to have mothered a 10 or 11 year old? At 21?

What has happened to me in the past two years? Do I wear mom jeans? Is my haircut too matronly? Inquiring minds want to know.

Pitter pattering

Posted in France by parisianpanda on September 17, 2009
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I have started babysitting a four year old boy who lives in my neighborhood after school. His name is Axel, which is badass in a celebrity baby name sort of way. His family spent all of last year in New York City and he consequently speaks better English than a good portion of the adults I know in France. He says hello to all of the shopkeepers on the street as we pass by and he won’t let me leave to go home without giving him a hug. I don’t really know if I want babies but if I ever have them, between him and Capucine, I definitely want French babies.

Today I found out my friend Eric from Seattle and one of his friends from college are going to come stay here for two months starting in November. This is pretty good news because Eric is my photo buddy and I will hopefully be encouraged to take more pictures when he’s here. Also, I’ve met up with other assistants in the area three times now and have met two from Minnesota, one of whom is from Burnsville which is practically spitting distance from Chaska. So I pretty much went 5,000 miles across the planet to hang out with people from home. I’m pretty okay with that.

Today I realized I left all my favorite jewelry at home because I put it in a separate container to take it to Los Angeles a few months ago and forgot to put it back in my regular jewelry box. Some of it is also worth too much money for me to feel comfortable having it mailed. I am not okay with that.

This week was the Rentree du Cinema, which meant movie tickets were only four euros. I saw Inglorious Basterds and the conclusions I have drawn are: 1) No dairy farmer from northern France in the forties would speak such fluent English. This stuck out to me more than all of the other more glaring historical inaccuracies. 2) The French cannot translate southern jokes (i.e. Stonewall Jackson, moonshine) 3) French people think Brad Pitt speaking broken Italian with a southern accent is delightful. I have never heard the French laugh so hard in a movie without George Clooney in it.

Here is a picture of Sacre Coeur after I had to yell at sketchy bracelet maker guys to stay away from me, and before it started raining.

Et voila.

Posted in France by parisianpanda on September 8, 2009
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I am starting a blog about living in Paris even though there are already too many blogs about living in Paris because I think I need to keep a better record of it this time than I did before, because my friends and family might be interested and because the Assistants in France forum suggests it might be good networking. 

I arrived an hour early yesterday at 6 AM and was dropped off at what will be my apartment, at least temporarily. It is 102 years old and the size of a shoebox but I can see this out the left side of my window:

and this out the right side:

I can also see the Arc de Triomphe and the Montparnasse tower from the kitchen (though I, like everyone else in Paris, avoid looking at the Montparnasse tower if possible.)

I drank tea with Catherine, the lady I live with (not good for jetlag) and then had the best nap of my life (also not good for jetlag.) When I got up I helped her moved some stuff to her sister’s place, watched her get in a fight over a parking spot (“Mais tu as un Mercedes, tu peux pas payer trois euros pour garer la voiture quoi?!”) and then hung out with some of her friends who live on a boat by Bastille.




I drank coffee (still not good for jetlag)

They repainted the roof,



and compared tans.


When we got back I had gotten an email from the other Catherine (my ex-host mother) telling me I was invited to dinner in 45 minutes, so I booked it to the 13th as fast as I could. She and FG (my ex host brother) are pretty much exactly the same as I left them, their dog hasn’t gotten any bigger, and there is a nice boy from California living in my old room. I drank (at their insistence) three glasses of wine and some sort of Croation liquor, which contributed to both my jet lag and me wandering around my neighborhood in circles for half an hour before figuring out where I lived again.

Other things:

1) Today I saw a girl who was probably ten or eleven with a t-shirt that said “Do you want my phone number?” This makes me feel like being someone who teaches the cultural implications of English is not only going to be interesting but philanthropic.

2) I have pretty much stopped caring entirely that French people think I’m fat.

3) Melatonin is a controlled substance in France, so it is a good thing I brought some with me, because I should probably be sleeping now.

A bientot!