Oof, I’m tired. But I always worry that I’m going to forget the day if I let a blog post sit (which is why you get updates and all my [much better quality] pictures of my outfits and scarves languish on my SD card), so here I am. And yes, my Scarf Challenge is continuing apace. Fortunately, there are enough really lazy scarf knots for days when Tom and I are both exhausted and just trying to get through, although today I tried four or five knots while Tom said, “I think it’s the color of the scarf. You’re already wearing green and blue and purple, you don’t need another green.” In point of fact, I was wearing green and two very similar shades of navy, but he was right: the forest green shirt and the teal scarf clashed. I hate it when my husband is right about fashion.
This morning I woke up before my alarm clock by two whole hours, and then there was SUNSHINE. It was hazy-through-the-clouds sunshine, but I spent at least fifteen minutes at the window casement with my face stuck between the Venetian blinds (yeah, I totally forgot that I could, you know, move the blinds to one side) soaking it up.
I finally got up the courage to Google Translate the posts on the Metz CouchSurfing page and discovered that a very friendly French girl named Catherine had recently moved to town and was looking for people to show her around. The thread was a nice mix of French and English responses, which was encouraging, and I threw my hat in to the ring with a “We’re new here too! I’d love to meet up too!” sort of post–and an hour later, there was a message from a local named Emilie, who was going to meet up for “drinks” in an hour with Catherine–would I like to come? Call her mobile and let her know.
Tom had suggested we go out for lunch–the first meal out since he got sick–and I didn’t want to ditch him, so I dithered. He said, “Skype her and tell her you’ll be late. Duh.” I did.*
Emilie spoke French and I spoke English, and she understood me much more than I understood her. But she said “okay” when I said I thought I’d arrive around 4 PM, so I said “Au revoir” and went to lunch.
We went to a…bakery? café? restaurant? The lines get blurry for me here. It might have been all three, honestly. We purchased baked goods at a counter (mine was some unidentifiable flaky pastry with unidentifiable possibly seafood in it that was damn good, plus une pomme beignet for dessert). Then we sat down in a Starbucks-y area and someone in a chef-looking outfit came and asked us for our drink orders. I gulped my tea and pastry, then left my poor partner to limp along paying for the tea. He needed the French practice. 😛
Sunday (dimanche) is the slowest service day for the buses, about one per hour, so I was fortunate to arrive at the nearest bus stop only about ten minutes before the appointed time. On the way back I waited twenty-five minutes (but that was okay, it was snowing–okay, fine, flurrying–in the dark and there was enough light for me to read my book).
I once again misjudged my bus stop (goddamn the train station bus stop anyway–how am I supposed to know there’s a train station two streets over when I can’t see it?) and ended up ten blocks west of where I had intended to get off the bus.
I had a small bicycle map with me, because I didn’t want to look like ÜberTourist, but it wasn’t quite detailed enough to get me anywhere closer than the general direction I needed to go. This was fine until I got to the general area of the bar we were going to meet at, at which point I spent a good fifteen minutes wandering around confused because I had misremembered the street name. It’s very difficult for people to point you to the Rue du Change if you’re asking for the Rue du Chance!
But I finally found the place, and easily found Emilie and Catherine. Catherine had taken English in high school, so was quite fluent, and Emilie was way more fluent than I am in French–an intermediate level. She suggested that in May, when we leave, I’ll be fluent in French and she’ll speak a little more English. I liked that idea. 🙂
We spent a good two hours talking: about careers, about Metz, about cooking (Emilie aime cuisiner…cuisine from other cultures [sorry, I like my bilingual pun *g*–brought to you by the fact that the American “cuisine” comes from the French “cuisiner,” “to cook”], and had made some awesome-looking sushi recently), about the frankly freaking awesome carousel that was right outside (de deux étages ! )…they kept having to keep me from getting too distracted by the carousel to keep up with the conversation. I didn’t admit that I’m TOTALLY GOING TO GO RIDE THAT THING ASAP, since they seemed to think it was for children only. I am not above wearing my most touristy clothing and bringing my camera. (THE CAROUSEL HAS A SUBMARINE ON IT. IT IS LIKE IT’S JULES VERNE’S CAROUSEL. *FLAILS*)
At any rate, the weird thing was…I liked them. And they liked me. And Emilie only seemed a little bothered by having to sometimes have Catherine translate back and forth between us, and only in a “this is frustrating and slow” way. She wrote down for me how to say “It’s been nice to meet you” in my French phrasebook. I suspect I will collect other useful phrases from friends there, too, and then I will have a sadly way-too-large souvenir that I’ll have to tote around forever. OH WELL. Catherine taught me to say “Comment un dit?” (I couldn’t manage to remember the formal version with good grammar, which is fine.)
Catherine also walked with me to the bus stop, which we both had trouble finding, because she is extremely nice and “she wanted to know where it was.” (She lives very nearby the train station, so just walks to the station and takes the train to her workplace.) She even offered to wait with me, until I said, “You don’t have to wait! I’ll be fine!” and she admitted that her nose was freezing. But it was lovely, walking with a friend through our gorgeous tiny city after dark, snow starting to fall. And I even managed the French hello/goodbye two cheek air kiss without it being totally awkward.
I read some of The Sleeping Partner on my Kindle, snow falling on my nose (SNOW!!!), and came home to dinner, and Tom, and French lessons, and grad school apps, and now this. And sleep.
*If you want to know whether to use Skype or Google Voice overseas, I don’t really know. Ultimately, they have similar features and costs (even if the costs are for different things). So I’ll end up telling you to use Skype because my brother is an accessibility project manager for the Skype Corporate.**
**Yes, he knows the accessibility sucks. Yes, he is pissed that they (mostly) didn’t build in accessibility when they wrote it originally. He wasn’t a Microsoft employee at the time. And yes, he will gladly read every disability link you send him, if you channel them through me. At the moment, he is trying like hell to get the social model of disability into the casual awareness of other project managers and colleagues as well as doing “his actual job,” which is something mysterious and NDA-covered. Yes, he might very well be Batman. Yes, I am fucking proud of him, so glad you asked.