solitary confinement

Thursday, October 24, 2013

You know the home confinement thing is getting to you when you start making up "Whoop, There It Is" jokes about whooping cough.


True story: If you listen closely, my wheezing resembles "shakalaka shakalaka."

Anyway, I am still waiting for my test results. (Side rant: Why the hell is it taking so long? What century are we in? Should I expect the verdict to arrive via telegraph -- antiquated illness requires equally antiquated delivery mode?!)

(Bonus side rant: Pretty sure I just heard one of the cats puke in the living room. Let's take a moment to bid a fond farewell to the 20 minutes of my life that will be required to get from the bedroom to the living room to clean that up. Because crutches suck. And crutches plus shitty, fluid-filled, wheezy-ass lungs are even worse. Shakalaka.)

So how exactly does one pass the time spent confined to one's house (other than listening to early '90s hip-hop, of course)?

Working. Because contrary to the test result people's beliefs, these are modern times and laptops exist. (Also, something really awesome and Washington wine-related is about to happen, so the work must go on.) My "office" is now my bed and my "coworkers" are two cats. (Dear coworkers: Quit puking and scratching up the new couch.) However, it is slightly horrible and embarrassing when I have to tell people I need to cancel all of my in-person meetings because I might have whooping cough and am basically a giant biohazard.

Watching all of the Netflix. Don't judge me for catching up on an entire season of "Vampire Diaries" all at once. Yes, I know "Breaking Bad" and "Downton Abbey" are probably more cerebral choices, but when you are surrounded only by cats all day, watching hours and hours of angsty, well-toned shirtless men is a nice break from reality.

Sleeping. Oh god, the sleep has been amazing. Well, except for right now, obviously. Grrr.

Reading. I'm reluctant to admit I recently started reading Eat Pray Love, which my mom gave me several years ago, and which I have totally resisted for a multitude of reasons until now. This is slightly painful to say, but the book is really not that bad (although the "pray" section is a bit excessive -- I'd rather read about pizza and pasta). And given my dumb relationship history and recent solo sojourn in Paris, I sort of relate to some of the things Gilbert writes about.

Making cat videos. Because duh.

video

a real winner

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

After yesterday's less-than-stellar chiropractor visit during which I was informed I shouldn't swim or walk or pretty much do anything for the next 2-4 weeks, and then staying up all night coughing so hard that I actually puked, I thought maybe it was time to go to the doctor.

  
(Why do these places always look like a horror movie is about to happen?)

What occurred during the almost three hours I spent at the doctor's office today can only be described as comical. Because the only thing I can do is laugh at my luck. Because really, it takes a special kind of person -- someone with real talent -- to end up with the diagnosis I received.

Also, I take back everything I said in my last post.

Because apparently I have the symptoms for -- wait for it -- whooping cough. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am potentially a total nightmare for small children and old people. Granted, I won't know for sure until I get my swab test results back, but because of the public health hazard, the doctor had to treat me as if I do have it. So I'm on antibiotics now. And I'm not supposed to leave the house until (a) I find out for sure I don't have whooping cough or (b) I find out I do have whooping cough and the antibiotics kick in.

Which I guess is a good thing since the doctor also thinks I have a stress fracture and shouldn't use my foot at all until the pain is completely gone. My x-ray came out negative, but hairline breaks don't always show up in x-rays, so I have to go back to the doctor next week for a bone scan. And I also have to use crutches. Which I am absolutely terrible at using, so the nurse felt sorry for me and ordered a wheelchair so I could be wheeled out of the doctor's office to my car.

(That moment when you miss two elevators because you can't get wheeled inside fast enough before the doors close. And then everyone stares at you with sad, pitying looks on their faces. And then finally when you do catch an elevator, it's because an elderly woman holds the door open for you. And the whole time you're in said elevator, you keep apologizing to the people around you because you're taking up so much space.) 


Also worth noting: Do not try to tip the guy who wheels your wheelchair because he will reject your money and the whole experience will be horribly awkward. Because apparently even though your broken body feels like a pile of ugly luggage, this does not mean the guy who wheels the wheelchair is the bellboy.

So yes: Today kind of sucked. 

glass half full

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Obviously, I'm not in France anymore.

I've been back for 10 days now. Well, technically eight if you subtract the two days I spent in San Francisco for work last week. What can I say? The travel never stops.

And apparently, the foot pain doesn't either. I'm still limping. (Glass half full: The damage seems to be soft tissue and not a stress fracture.) And to add to the awesomeness, I now have bronchitis too. (Glass half full: It's not pneumonia.) So I'm hobbling around and coughing violently. (Glass half full: I am not shitting my pants or projectile vomiting.)

However, that second marathon I was planning to do this year? That's looking less and less like it's going to happen. Although I may still go to the race because all of my California friends are running it and I miss them and want to make signs for them and try to convince them to do dumb things like drink a whole lot of whiskey with me the night before. (Dear California friends: Consider yourselves warned.)

Normally, I would be more than a little upset over a potential DNS. But I'm tired. It's been a crazy year, and I'm ready for the off-season. (Have I mentioned that I finally got a couch? And unpacked all of my books?) I'd like to actually clean and decorate my apartment. And maybe sleep in a little bit on the weekends and not have to worry about long runs and nutrition and battling the weather.

Also: I'd like to learn how to knit embarrassing hats for my cats.

OK, so maybe the illness and the foot pain really are affecting my mind.

my left foot

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

I ran this morning. It started well. I made it to Les Parc des Buttes Chaumont, which was lovely.




And I was truly enjoying myself and marveling at how great I felt post-marathon and making all sorts of witty mental notes about Euro runners and the abundance of manpris.

And then my left foot totally crapped out: Horrible, sharp, piercing pain that started on top of my foot and radiated outward.

My run lasted all of 25 minutes. And then I had to limp two-something miles back to the apartment. (And on the way, I got hit on by a French dude who told me I looked good and asked me for coffee. When I said no, he asked me if I wanted to have a cigarette. Which makes perfect sense since a cigarette is exactly what I want after run-limping. Whatever. I'll quit being bitchy and take it as a compliment that someone thought my gimpy ass was worth talking to.)

And I haven't been able to walk since. I hobbled down the street for lunch at Comme Sur Une Ile, which thankfully is only a block away ...



... and then hobbled across the street to the pharmacy for anti-inflammatory cream ...


... and then spent the rest of the day in the apartment, icing my foot and reading and trying not to think about Ghostie turning the bathroom lights on and playing with the shower door.


My foot is swollen around the outer ankle bone, and I don't have full range of motion. It also hurts to put weight on it. But the worst part is being stuck indoors on vacation. I feel slightly helpless and isolated and like I'm wasting precious time. And I'm a blatant traffic target now -- if I almost got hit by a bus yesterday with full mobility, there's no way I could escape limping around like I am.

Fingers crossed that by resting today, I will feel better tomorrow and can explore again. 

le fantôme

Monday, October 07, 2013

Perhaps I've been away too long in a place where I can't readily communicate with others. Or perhaps I've gotten too involved in my most recent read (which is all about a creepy house and a creepy family whose members slowly seem to be losing their minds in a creepy way). Or perhaps I've been hanging out with too many skeletons.


Literally.

But I'm starting to think this apartment is haunted. It doesn't feel scary or uncomfortable here by any means (in fact, it's downright cozy and homey and wonderful), but small, strange occurrences keep happening.

For example, the other day, I dragged a chair into the bathroom so I could stand on it to look in the mirror. (There's no full-length mirror here and I'm short, so acrobatics are necessary.) I swear I didn't take the chair back out of the bathroom before leaving for the day, and when I came back, the chair was in the kitchen.

I figured I just wasn't remembering correctly. Maybe I did put the chair in the kitchen. Maybe eating a ridiculous amount of meat parts makes you forget entire chunks of time. 

I didn't think too much about it until I woke up this morning and the kitchen window was wide open (and very conveniently airing out the laundry I did last night and had hanging on a rack to dry -- thanks, Ghostie, for the help!). I know I didn't open that window. In fact, I probably couldn't have even opened that window if I wanted to because it took me a really long time to figure out how to close it.

And then today when I got back from wandering around Canal Saint-Martin and the 10th arrondissement, it was chilly in here, so I went to get my lululemon jacket and had trouble finding it. I swear I had draped it on a chair over my leather jacket this morning when I left the house (and I distinctly remember double-checking my lulu pockets for extra coins for subway fare), but this evening the leather jacket was on top, and the lulu jacket was underneath.

There has to be a logical explanation for this, right? Maybe I'm just not remembering everything completely? Meat coma? Plum brandy hallucination? Creation of imaginary friends to keep me company?

Anyway, other than the ghost thing, which really isn't bad at all (in fact, I suspect this is a very orderly, Type A ghost who enjoys household chores and having things arranged a certain way) today was nice (well, except for the horrific moment when I almost got plowed over by a bus while I was in a crosswalk and had the right of way -- seriously, I came about a foot away from becoming a ghost myself this afternoon -- not even exaggerating, it was that close).

I escaped the hordes of tourists and went to the 10th arrondissement. Lunch was at La Pointe du Groin, an off-the-beaten-path bar/tapas place that serves wine in magnums and has guests pay with tokens they get from a machine instead of with cash (tricky but fun way to get people to spend more). The prices were fantastic (happy hour all day!) -- I spent 20€ and had grouse terrine (I guess a grouse is kind of like a pigeon?), crudité, panacotta, two glasses of cider and an espresso. Not bad.



And then I took a long walk along the canal.


eating here

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Recent victories: Conducting an entire tampon-buying transaction in French. Figuring out how to use the washing machine in this apartment sans tidal wave of sudsy liquid. Finding amazing vintage literally a block away. Timing this vacation perfectly for "first Sunday free admission" at the Louvre.

Recent failures: This salad.


Note to self: The Louvre is wonderful; its food is not. In fact, this salad made me so angry because it broke my streak of awesome meals here. Also, it was €12,80 (with the bottled water), and only the chicken (and the water) was decent. Grrr.

But other than today's lunch failure, dining in Paris has been beyond incredible. To keep from going broke and gaining a bazillion pounds here, my strategy has been to eat one nicer, destination-type meal each day, and then outside of that, eat cheese at the apartment or pick up a small snack somewhere. I've also been trying to have my more expensive meals at lunch, when menu prices tend to be more affordable. (You know what's great? How responsible that just sounded. When the truth is I've just spent all of my money on shopping, so basically I can't eat more than one nice meal a day. Which is maybe what I suspect the French Paradox really is: French women don't get fat because they spend all their money on amazing clothes and therefore have no money to eat. Which works out because then they look good in said clothing. OK, I'll stop now.)

So where have I been eating (when I'm not longingly caressing everything in Zadig & Voltaire or going crazy over the cat print lingerie at Princesse Tam Tam -- this exists and it is my destiny -- or wandering through the antique stalls at Village Saint Paul)?

Last Tuesday's lunch destination was Le Baratin (which I previously wrote about). Wednesday brought me to Le Severo, a ridiculously awesome 14th arrondissement steakhouse run by a man who used to be a butcher. I had the best boudin noir of my life there:


I was tempted to order seconds, but instead ended up having a medium-rare hamburger steak (I really think the theme of this trip is "stuff your face with weird meat parts") and frites. And then I walked off all of that meat by visiting some dead people and climbing a ridiculous amount of stairs. So naturally, I got hungry again and went to Jacques Genin for mille feuille:


Side note: Clearly this was not gluten-free. But I've been picking and choosing my battles. Been good for the most part (no daily trip to the patisserie or boulangerie, which has required so much willpower), but I have been been sampling a bit here and there. (And dealing with the consequences. But look at that mille feuille: Totally worth it. Oh, and the toilet paper here in this apartment is pink with flowers. It's very pleasant.)

On Thursday, I had lunch at Guy Savoy because I wanted to splurge and experience the whole Michelin three-star thing. This was mind-blowing and will be a future post all on its own. (You just have to remind me, though -- because I know I say "future post" a lot, and that pretty much turns into "never post." And the photos from this meal were just too gorgeous not to share.)

That night I broke my one-decadent-meal-a-day rule and went to another steakhouse with Derrick and Brooke. Where I proceeded to eat this entire thing all by myself:


Meat marathon, anyone? (And remember how I used to be vegetarian? This is kind of embarrassing. I've barely eaten anything green on this trip. Just a lot of flesh. Wait -- if I'm eating flesh and hanging out with dead people a lot, does this mean I'm a zombie?!)

Then Friday's meal was the plum brandy night at Aux Petits Oignons (and I'm reading that post and thinking that maybe I should never ever have plum brandy and be anywhere near a computer).

Which brings me to yesterday's eating adventures and this wonderful find:


Breizh Café, a.k.a. where you can find the perfect crepe, an extensive cider list and a very, very cute server. (Oh, did I just say that?) I was planning to order only a savory crepe ...


... but the sweet ones looked so good.


I couldn't resist. But can you blame me? (Especially since the cute server taught me how to ask for the crepe in French. Le sigh.)

the eiffel tower, etc.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Tonight's question: If I listen to enough Spotify commercials in French, will I wake up tomorrow and be totally fluent and awesome?

Probably not, but please don't burst my bubble, especially since it's Friday night here in Paris and I'm typing this in bed, all squinty-eyed and lip-bitten because the bartender at the bistro a block away decided to introduce me to a French plum brandy called Vieille Prune and just kept pouring (and pouring). "Welcome!" she said. And it all went down the hatch.


Also, I have kept the "weird meat parts" theme going and had bone marrow for dinner tonight.


Which was followed by a traditional pistachio rice pudding that the bartender made me order. (But I was so thankful for her forcefulness -- this dessert was amazing.)


Besides stuffing my face, today I went to Montmartre and searched for the places where "Amélie" was filmed.


The toilette scene is my second favorite in the movie. (First favorite is Nino dressed as a skeleton in the fun house and whispering in Amélie's ear. Hot.)


I also went to the Sacré Coeur, where I met up with Derrick and Brooke, who are visiting from California. (I love it when worlds collide in the best possible way. We had dinner yesterday too and then walked to the Eiffel Tower, when it was lit up and lovely.)



Speaking of the Eiffel Tower ...


Allow me to explain: I made the mistake of telling a friend about the infamous Tour Eiffel dildo, and he then decided that was the one thing he really wanted from Paris -- to give as a gag gift for another friend's birthday (or so he says). So I wandered around Pigalle this afternoon, going from sex shop to sex shop in search of this particular dildo.

I'm a pretty brazen person, but I'll admit that buying a tourist dildo (in a horrible metallic gold color) took a bit of courage. Thankfully, as I mentioned earlier, people in Europe barely blink when it comes to sexuality. (Dear 'Merica: Why so Puritannical? And does a Statue of Liberty dildo exist? Or even better -- what about the Washington Monument? Because it is already the correct shape and would be very easy to market.)

You know, I just re-read that last paragraph. I'll stop now while I'm ahead. In the meantime, here are some photos of street art I saw today during my dildo search.




bonjour

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Which is pretty much one of the few things I can say in French that people actually understand. Which has been interesting since I've been rolling solo in Paris since Monday night. (Best reason to run an international marathon: The travel.)

I won't lie: At first, it was slightly terrifying. I've never been here before, I'm totally alone and of course, I had heard all of the stereotypes and stories about rude Parisians who hate you for speaking English.

So I did my best to recall what I could from the whopping six months I spent in French class back in 2010. And besides "bonjour," the only things I really feel comfortable saying are "Where is the cat?," "I am going to explode," "Where are the toilets?" (very necessary if explosion is imminent) and "I love fries!"

But I've been determined not to look like the dumb American. (Oh wait -- just remembered I know how to say "I am American." We can add that to the list.) So I've been fumbling my way through food orders and fromageries (try asking for very strong Brie using nothing but hand gestures) and the local LARP store (which, yes, I did happen to find -- totally by accident, I swear).

And so far, the experience has been amazing. Yes, no one can understand half of what comes out of my mouth, and they all end up speaking English or pantomiming. But they're very nice about it. And I do understand what they're saying in French, but I sound like an idiot when I try to respond.

Anyway, I am enjoying myself immensely and want to remember Every Single Detail. Therefore, be warned: If you aren't into a shit-ton of vacation photos, you should stop reading now. End public service announcement.

Yesterday I explored the neighborhood I'm presently calling home, which is Père Lachaise/Gambetta in the 20th arrondissement -- not far from Ménilmontant and Belleville. I found a store that sells Eiffel Tower-shaped dildos (I know, I know -- I should've purchased at least three in multiple colors -- missed souvenir opportunity!), a fantastic cheese shop run by the nicest people (my goal is to buy a different cheese every single day I am here) and Le Baratin, which is known for a wine list focusing on natural wines and also has a killer three-course lunch for just 19€ (wine not included).

I started with the terrine ...


... moved on to the pork ...


... and finished with cheese. Which I didn't take a picture of because I pretty much inhaled it. (By the way, the toughest question in Paris: Fromage ou dessert? Oh, decisions, decisions!)

After that long, lazy, lingering lunch, I wandered through the Père Lachaise Cemetery for hours.


I failed to find Jim Morrison's grave, but there were so many other beautiful things.



And then I came home and stuffed my face with more cheese, plus some duck mousse and tomatoes. (By the way, I may be the only person to bring her own bread to France. Stupid gluten.)


(Also, side note: Isn't it dumb that this blog is named what it is and I can't speak French or eat wheat? Feel free to call me a poser in the comments section below. I'll accept your scorn.)
 
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