Panda in Paris

more about cliches

In this ever painful process of throwing away/packing/mailing all the junk that has accumulated in this apartment, I found more cliches about Americans written by my students from my stereotypes lesson. (See this post.)

– The americans are Great actors in life all the days. (Oh, all the days!)

– All women want to become a cheerleader. (Curse you, Bring it On!)

– American are too superficial and they all have the same hair colour: blonde. (This one is ironic because I’m likely the only American they’ve ever met.)

– Their monies are often spectacular. (I think they were trying to say some people are exorbitantly wealthy, but Andrew Jackson is a handsome man.)

– Californians live only for surf. (There was a joke my freshman year of college that when the Californians on our floor were in high school, they all surfed to school. I’m glad this has been confirmed.)

– Some have like names = Bob and Brenda and Kimberly. (Are they only watching films from the 80’s?)

– Their music sounds are everytime sometime about sex. (I’m glad this gross error was corrected.)

– Americans people say allways “damn” “oh my god!!!” (ALWAYS!)

– They know only footbowl, NBA, and base-ball. They don’t know Zidane!! (I am definitely an expert on footbowl, and it’s actually a pretty legitimate complaint that Americans don’t know Zidane.)

– They are arrogant, they think that everywhere speak english. (But everywhere DO speak English!)

– Their gastronomy is equal to the humberger. (Mmmm, delicious quarter pound humberger.)

– The village people. (There were two that said this.)

– Girl -> bitch, pompom girl, Boy -> gangster, footballeur, cowboy. (This outlines the glass ceiling and double standards regarding gender roles in American society really well, don’t you think?)

Oh, how I will miss humorously awful French teenager English.

Speaking of cliches, Matthew and I saw this romantic comedy the other day:

I don’t enjoy many romantic comedies but I think it’s tired to dismiss them collectively as a genre, and occasionally I’ll see one that rings true or is at least original and charming. This wasn’t one of them, as roguishly charming as Romain Duris is.

Essentially, Romain Duris plays a guy who runs an agency with his sister and brother-in-law in which he is hired by friends or relatives of women in unhappy relationships to stage a romantic intervention and break up their couple. They do research on the women beforehand to find out their likes/dislikes/what makes them tick, and on principle will only intervene if the woman is unhappy. Then Romain Duris sweeps in, charms them, finds something to get emotional about, kisses them, claims he’s not good enough for them, the women say “Thank you,” he says, “For what?” and they say “Just, thank you.” And that’s the trick. Oh, and they inexplicably speak tons of languages. (Arnacouer is a pun in French, combining “arnaquer” [counterfeiter] and “coeur” [heart.])

Vanessa Paradis, known in America pretty much exclusively as Johnny Depp’s girlfriend, is getting married in a week (!!!) to someone with whom she is happy (!!!!) For reasons that are left cryptic at the beginning but turn out to be pretty boring, her father doesn’t want this, so he hires Romain Duris, who originally refuses to break up a happy couple but ultimately he takes it because for some reason he owes some Serbian thugs money and he really needs the job, so he pretends to be the bodyguard her father hired to protect her before the wedding.

(uh, spoiler alert…)

So predictably, Romain Duris pulls out all of the tricks and it doesn’t really work, and then he falls in love with her, and then the night before the wedding they have an amazing night together, and then she gets all the way down the aisle before she decides she’s in love with him too, and then Romain Duris runs back from the airport and back up the hill in Monaco where the wedding is taking place and Vanessa Paradis runs down the hill and then they run into each other and kiss and it’s over.

This whole running-away-with-another-guy-who-she-really-loves-when-she’s-about-to-get-married cliche was parodied in the Baxter, the under-appreciated Michael Showalter film which follows “The Baxter”, meaning the guy who gets left at the alter. The thing that makes this cliche kind of work is that “The Baxter,” while always shown to be a great guy, is kind of a square, and the guy who steals his woman is always kind of rugged.

Not so in this film! Both Romain Duris and Andrew Lincoln (aka that English guy in Love Actually who is in love with Keira Knightly who is married to his best friend…maybe this is karma?) are charming and handsome and appealing. They present literally nothing unlikeable about her fiance, or even any real evidence that she’s not in love with him. The only mildly unappealing thing is that his parents are jerks, but so are hers. And everything she likes in Romain Duris turns out to be a lie. He figures out in his research that she likes Dirty Dancing and Wham (seriously, what a terrible character) so he sings along to Wham in the car and, in the epic climactic night they spend together, does the Dirty Dancing dance with her in the middle of an Italian restaurant. (Said epic night sequence also involves a pretty criminal use of CGI dolphins in a swimming pool.) Everything that makes her fall in love with him is based on research he did beforehand to push her buttons.

In conclusion, this movie is terrible. Matthew’s main complaint is that all Asian people in the movie were assumed to be Chinese. (Matthew is half Filipino and frequently assumed to be Chinese in France.) This connects nicely with the “Stuff Parisians Like” post about generalities about Chinese people.

In other news, I got into the American master’s program I applied to, which is great but I’m still hoping to get into the French one. Also I am going to Frankfurt and Amsterdam and have a million things to send home and no source of income so I am going to be destitute when I go back to the US.




Posted in France by parisianpanda on January 7, 2010
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1) New Year’s in France was pretty fun, especially after midnight when everyone wanted to play “let’s-practice-our-drunk-English-with-the-American-girl.”

2) I was supposed to go to a French grad school today to discuss whether or not they will accept my crazy Evergreen transcript but then I slept until 1 pm because it’s my day off, so now I’m going next week. Have I mentioned I have a crippling fear of rejection? Because I have a crippling fear of rejection.

3) I have started actually putting a little bit of effort into my lesson plans, and it actually makes my classes run a lot smoother. Who know? I used one of Jennie’s lessons (fabulous resource if you aren’t already using it) about American cliches of French people. Most people tend to think they’re pretty funny, but one of my students on Tuesday was VERY offended and insisted French people weren’t like that at all and came up with a whole list of American cliches as what he called “revenge,” some of which I’m not sure exist. (American men are not as good as husbands as French men?) Even the other students thought he needed to calm down… “Mais c’est une blague, quoi!”

4) My “I-do-not-watch-French-TV-because-it-is-awful” policy has turned into an “I-watch-French-TV-precisely-because-it-is-awful” policy, which is probably only going to get worse next week when we get cable. I am currently watching an American after school special dubbed over in French about a teenage boy who RUINS his life with a pornography addiction. My favorite thing about French dubbing is they always read signs out loud instead of subtitling them, so every time the boy visits a porn site he says things like “big jugs.” No wonder his well-intentioned stepmother catches him.

5) My birthday is on Monday and I have invited people over. Hopefully our new neighbors don’t hate us.

Bananée! (I assure you this is a hilarious pun in French.)

ma vie en panne

Posted in France by parisianpanda on December 4, 2009
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– This blog has not been updated in forever because my computer is toast. Dead forever. I am sans ordinateur until I go home for Christmas and get the other Macbook from my house. A hard lesson: if you dent your Macbook, even just a little bit on the bottom case, get it replaced because apparently your whole machine will fall apart and turn into a glorified iPod charger if you don’t.

– I have taken lots of pretty pictures of pretty things since Eric has been here like Canal St. Martin and the fancy window displays for Christmas at Galeries Lafayettes and Printemps but I cannot show you them yet because of aformentioned toast computer.

– I am writing this on a school computer with a French “azerty” keyboard, so if I stop paying attention and there is a “q” where an “a” should be, that’s why. Also you have to hit the shift key to get numbers, because apparently things like é, è, ç, and à are more important.

– I am moving out of my current apartment, possibly to an apartment just outside of Paris in Levallois with the Spanish assistant from my school, but nothing is yet sure.

– I met someone who finished the Master’s program I am currently applying to this year. He has a super cool job in political communications which is pretty much exactly what I want to do. The problem is he doesn’t seem to think he needed the master’s degree he has to get his job and that I may be better off getting a master’s in France and not take out another fat student loan to pay for an American one. So now I don’t know what to do with my future again. Maybe I will go to Seattle and get a job folding jeans and sleep in my friend Paige’s living room until her boyfriend hates me. That sounds more fun than continuing my education.

– I am supposed to work 12 hours a week, but due to a combination of illnesses, exams, strikes, Muslim holidays and mandatory sex education seminars, I have taught 10 hours in the pasr 2 weeks; My pay is not affected. This is a glorious country.

– This may be the best thing on YouTube:

Until next time!

in which my roommate is the coolest person ever

Posted in France by parisianpanda on October 6, 2009
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Tonight my roommate told me she was leaving for a week on the 17th to go to Jordan. I told her I had two weeks of vacation when she got back but that I wasn’t sure I would have enough money to go anywhere – between the hit I took replacing my iPod and, due to what (I think) is a ridiculous bureaucratic mixup, I may not be getting paid for October until the end of November, (though that isn’t sure yet – the Spanish and Arabic assistants might stage a coup with me if that happens)  the pot is going to be a little dry this month to the point where I may have to dip into my CD account early. To which she responded “That’s ridiculous. You’re here to take advantage of opportunities in France and Europe. If you’re not here for 15 days you only pay half your rent.” I am still not sure I’m leaving but half my rent is probably how much I would spend traveling anyway and I’m pretty happy to be living with someone who feels that way about it.

My school is working out pretty well so far – all the English teachers are very nice (even though more than half of them speak with ridiculous French accents a la Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and they all seem like reasonable people, although it’s a little sad that they constantly talk about how dumb the students are. It’s not the worst suburb – not one with burning cars and gang violence that Fox News likes to talk about – but still a community of underachieving working class kids. Some of the mistakes they make are pretty funny (one teacher showed me a response to an analysis of a Captain America comic that said only “To be bad is sad”,) I’m not sure going into a classroom assuming the kids are going to fail is a good approach. (I know about these things because I watched Season 4 of the Wire.)

Improv classes have been going well – the teacher we’ve had for the past two weeks is German, and certain things he says are 130% more hilarious because he says them with a German accent (“I love hugging barrels,” “This bar is a meat factory.”) The teacher for the next two weeks is Danish, and I’m not sure there are as many hilarious things to be said with a Scandinavian accent, but it remains to be seen.

I went out for Nuit Blanche on Saturday, which is a night in which Paris is at least theoretically open all night and there are big artistic events in all the parks. I didn’t take my camera out of lingering paranoia from the iPod incident of going out with it amongst huge crowds, but my new and really awesome Australian friend Kat-sur-Seine was there (and will perhaps post pictures?) Mostly I saw multicolored lights in the pond at the Buttes Chaumont and a lot of red umbrellas at three in the morning and the whole thing felt like an acid trip, not like I would know what an acid trip feels like.

This post is incoherent but I have to get up early tomorrow for a full day of boring orientation in a town more than an hour away so this is the end.

creepsters and missing ipods and first days of school

Posted in France by parisianpanda on October 1, 2009
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Today was the first day of school and I woke up realizing my iPod was gone. I think it must have fallen out of my bag when I was walking home last night trying to walk fast to make sure a particularly aggressive French creep was at least 15 feet behind me at all times, because I know I had it last night and I can’t think of any other reason it could be missing, plus I remember opening my bag to look for my phone while he was behind me. So I went all the way to school on the verge of tears being mad at myself for being so flustered the night before that I managed to lose a $400 toy and now I have to listen to crying babies on public transportation indefinitely and I was sort of convinced that my experience at the school was going to be awful based on the lack of communication they have had with me thus far. So not a great morning.

When I got to the school I went to the office, which is actually a series of different offices in a circular room with no receptionist, I walked around in circles reading nameplates on doors trying to figure out who to talk to when two men in suits bumped into me and asked if they could help. I told them I was the English assistant and I had no idea where I was supposed to be, and they both looked super relieved and introduced themselves as the principals of the school and that they were worried I wasn’t coming because they hadn’t heard from me (despite the fact that I’ve called twice…) They were also super relieved that they didn’t have to help me find somewhere to live because apparently both the Arabic and Spanish assistants showed up at the school with suitcases and nowhere to go. The head English teacher who is in charge of my schedule is out until next Tuesday afternoon so I don’t have to go back until then. Apparently the school has eleven English teachers who are all fighting over my hours.

Everyone in the school seemed really shocked to hear that I was American and not English, which is particularly weird because apparently the assistant last year was also American. And one of the English teachers I met said, “I’m sorry, I don’t really speak American, I speak mostly British!” as if she may as well have been speaking Chinese. She was very nice though.

So the school thing looks like it will work out okay but the fact that my iPod is probably gone forever still makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. Word to the wise: do not walk home on avenue St. Ouen at night or a man will follow you around yelling and you will lose something important. I guess it’s time to report my iPod stolen to Apple, and maybe buy some pepper spray. Gah.

EDIT: Apparently reporting stolen iPods to Apple is pretty useless and it’s illegal to carry pepper spray in France (but strangely, not illegal to buy it.) Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh I hate my life.