Tuesday, November 15, 2011

P.S. I live with a Nazi

I live with a handful of people and each one of them have their own unique personality.

Michele – early 50s (French) is a terribly generous Crazy Uncle that will give you the shirt off his back even though he probably has never washed it.  He is a white, chubby 5’9” witho about 3 to 4 teeth in his mouth. I’ve always wanted to know why. But I can’t imagine starting up that conversation. “Bonjour Michele, what are you up to today? Oh by the way, why do you have 3 teeth?”

Farida –late 40s (French/Algerian) is the Fun Aunt with a quick sense of humor who loves to mother the younger roommates. She cleans and cooks often and will always make the time to sit down and have a conversation with you. She is a caramel color with dark black hair. She has the face of a smoker and the voice to match. She loves to laugh.

William- 23 (French) is basically like my brother. We give each other a hard time all the time. We are relentless with insults which has really expanded my vocabulary. He is patient with me and always corrects me and explains the reason for the grammar structure or pronunciation.  He is a tall and strapping in stature- easy on the eyes. But he is shy and quiet. He reminds me of a horse.

Dalal-21 (French/Moroccan) is like that friend where you go out to lunch and feel so close to and have a deep conversation, only to call them later that week and they make you feel like you are bothering them---the fickle type. She cried to me 2 weeks ago about a co-worker she had strong feelings for and a couple days later we were both in the kitchen and she basically walked in and walked out with the smallest salutation. I take it with a grain of salt.  She is beautiful- olive skin and curly black hair. She has striking eyes. One time while we were on a train ride from St. Lazarre to Poissy, we saw this woman drawing a sketch of her on the train. It freaked Dalal out but I told her to take it as a compliment.

Emma- 22 (English) is one of my closest friends in the apartment. Of course its expected since we don’t have to work very hard to express our feelings. Although from time to time we like to laugh at each other’s colloquial language. I keep trying to mock her accent but she always tells me it pure merde. She has a dry sense of humor that I am usually drawn to in people. We do our laundry and grocery shopping together. We make a good lil errand running team. She is a tall, pale 5’10”. I encourage her to wear flats. She wears glasses and has very long, straight light brown hair.

The Black Guys (Sengal/French)-17 and someone old enough to have a 17 year old son. The younger kid actually plays for the youth team for PSG which is pretty incredible. He is a nice quiet guy that gave me one of his soccer balls which is actually from the PSG team. He is probably 5’9” and thin and athletic. His dad,  who literally looks like his older brother lives in the same room as his son. He is very kind although has such a thick accent that I have a very difficult time understanding him. It is west African French—Imagine the French language trying to beat box. He is the same height as his son and could easily pass for 27. I try not to think about it because honestly I start to think how there is some weird drug cartel or illegal something or another. But they just look so close in age!

Judith- 19 (Scottish) is the living epitome of naivety. She loves to talk. You will be standing in the doorway with about a centimeter of the door cracked open explaining how you are tired and going to bed and she will continue to stand there and tell you about the book she read but didn’t finish because she got bored and started watching TV and was wearing a pink shirt and craving chocolate and wanted to date a vampire. She is a curvy 5’3” with a constant rouged cheek and brown hair to her shoulders. She has the best room in the apartment—a beautiful view of the river and a larger room with built in shelves. I find myself getting jealous and thinking how unfair it was that she has that room. It’s real sandbox envy.

Miaou- somewhere between 16 and 35. (Chinese)—so I have no idea.  I neither know nor see too much of Miaou but I  feel like I do. She happens to be Emma’s neighbor and I get a story about Miaou from Emma everyday about how loud Miaou is at 6 a.m. “My god, she blow dries her hair for an hour. I wish there was a bullet in that hair dryer.” This is why I love Emma. I asked Miaou her age once and you’d think I asked for the “ainshant chinese secret” She said she came from China 5 years ago to study. But that really told me nothing.

The Guy in Glasses –early to mid 20s(French?). I have never gotten a response from him no matter how many times I have said “Bonjour.” He walks into the kitchen. Pops in his frozen dinner.Ding.! And walks out.  He is close to 6 feet. I know that not everyone can be a talker but it kind of creeps me out.

The Thief—between 0 and 99 yrs old (any nationality). Someone has stolen two bottles of my milk, a bag of chips and 5 pain au chocolats. Someone stole a whole plate of Michele’s leftovers and some eggs. Someone stole Dalal’s bottle of milk and emma’s yogurt. I even wrote on my milk bottle last time “PAS POUR LE VOLEUR” (not for the thief) and he must have stolen it out of spite. I have been on a 2 week long investigation that has led me to one conclusion :the thief is not lactose intolerant.

P.S. I live with a nazi.

Nazi- Wallid late 30s but looks like he and death have fooled around a couple of times (Saudi Arabian). He is a doctor (OBGYN) at the hospital at Poissy. Imagine the crazy scientist from Back to The Future, paint him a nice khaki brown and give him dark hair and you would have this man spot on.  He doesn’t have too much too say until it comes to proclaiming Nazi doctrine. Yeah, he was sitting at the kitchen table eating some eggs and reading Mein Kampf. No biggie. He hates woman, and jews, and blacks, and homosexuals. Funny that he lives with all of them.  Farida told me that he was talking about how being gay was a type of sickness that couldn’t be cured so there should be a death penalty. I laughed and asked how a “doctor” could think like that. I told her next time she hears him say that he should think again. Even if he did, in his professional opinion, believe that homosexuality was an incurable sickness, why the death penalty? Last time I checked there was no cure for cancer. Did he think we should kill cancer patients too? There is no logic to it. Farida agreed. She said that I shouldn’t worry that because he told her and Dalal that they weren’t real Arabs. Whatever that means. Farida told me that she said if Hitler was alive today and there was an Arab standing next to a Jew that he would just get out a gun and kill both of them. Then she laughed in her smoker laugh and slapped her knee.
I find it so interesting because I have had conversations with Wallid before and he seriously could not stop talking about America and how he really likes Americans and likes the culture. He has told me that he likes me and he always tries to speak English with me. I wonder if he would feel the same way if I told him I was gay. To my knowledge, he doesn’t know. Normally, the activist in me would want me to start an intellectual conversation probing his opinion on the matter and being a face of a “gay man” since he probably has never even met one. But something about the Hitler, Nazi, Mein Kampf book has kept my lil rainbow flag in my pocket.

I’ll let just let this sleeping dog lie.

By the way, he smells like a wet dog.

P.S. If you ever read this Wallid, it was all a joke, and I will claim this to be a fictional piece of writing based on a wild dream I had.  You are great.  And you are my fav.

oh, and i like sauerkraut.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

a lil picnic under a family tree

Yesterday, we celebrated another birthday. Charolette was turning 18. It's the biggest birthday celebrated here in france. Michele, the same guy who had thrown me a birthday had made sure we all knew that Tuesday night was scheduled for Charolette.
I walked up to the last floor which has become the room where this family at 6 cours du 14 Julliet has been forming. Michele had bought christmas lights. He was again sporting the tightest french rugby shirt ever fabricated in a chinese sweat shop. He let me know that we were having a Bretagne themed party for Charolette. Bretagne is in the northwest of france and i work with about 5 others at my school who are from there. Michele is from there as well.They must like to breed a lot of people and send them to Paris.
The table was set with some purple flowers in the middle of the table.
The menu consisted of crepes and cider. Michele was making jambon, oeuf, et fromage crepes. Everyone started making there way upstairs one by one. Charolette walked up the stairs with her her grandmother. Charolette had told me her grandmother was coming and i would love here since she was bringing champagne. ( ok, side note: so i have been collecting all the wine bottles i've had from just dinner or parties and they are in my room. i'm not sure why i'm keeping them. I guess i'm having a mild case of hoarder syndrome. I can't get rid of my babies haha.Anyway, william came into my room and saw the bottles and has been calling me an alcoholic ever since. I'm not exactly sure why some jokes stick and others fall off but this was definitely was laced with super glue. Everyone has jumped on board and i'm the new "alcoholic american" (insert french laugh). Thanks William.)

Oh you're grandmother is bringing champagne? How nice.

Yeah, all i knew the alcoholic like you would love it! (insert laugh)

Yeah, like i said. Not sure i get myself into theses things. But i don't feel like this joke is going away soon. So lets just take a shot and run with it :p

Anyway, so we all set at the table. I sat across from Grandma, Martine. She was a sweet woman in her early 60s. She had such an adorable laugh. Charolette's family is from the South and her grandmother had a strong accent. The accent is ironically twangy like the southern accent in the states. For example, pain in Parisien french sounds like "pehn" but in a souther accent it sounds like "paing." It is honestly very noticeable when spoken.
I poked a little fun at the accent and the grandmother took a Dixie Chick stand to defend her accent and said it's REAL FRENCH. Parisiens give southerns a lot of crap about their accent.
Some things are universal eh?

I transitioned into a little story about  boy who grew up in the south and couldn't rid "y'all" out of his vocabulary and moved to the big apple for a summer and heard tons of crap about his southern accent.
I was trying to draw the comparison that I was in fact on the same team as here. Even though i was technically a "yankee" in my accent and lived  in Paris, i would always be a southerner in my heart."

Grandma liked this and poured me another glass of Cider and we toasted to southern culture.

There were 3 bottles of cider on the table and i got a little lesson on how all cider in france comes from the northwest (normandy and bretagne) and thats why we were drinking it tonight.

Michele had brought out his CD collection and put on a french group singing some kind of high tempoed celtic sound. I can't describe it better than that. Emma and I stared at each other with wide eyes as we saw every french person at the table (grandma included) singing along and swaying their heads and tapping their hands on the table. This was apparently a famous song. A chorus of voices filled the air  and made it all the way through the chorus before laughter commenced at Emma's and my face. Then a two minute debate between Michele and Grandma ensued over which singer had had the affair with that model.
"No no, it was the lead singer."
"I'm positive, it was the shorter guy with the beard."
Their debated faded into the noise and i guess i'll never know who had the affair with that model. Kind of felt like home.

All of a sudden, Michele got up and changed the CD and dedicated the next songs to me.

"Oh lord," i thought, "I hope this is note a ballad for alcoholics."

I was wrong. It was classic country.

Michele tried to talk to me about Hank Williams and Patsy Cline but i disappointed him with my lack of knowledge. "Michele these singers are like the founding fathers and mothers of country. They are classics yes but very old. This is not the country i grew up on."

I think I blew his mind.

With Bing Crosby in the background, I sat there across from Grandma Martine and Charolette and watched how Charolette leaned into her grandmother with her laughter and Grandma kissed her head. "You're my beautiful granddaughter." Even though we had formed our only little family here with the misfits of 18 to 45 years olds. Seeing the bond of a grandmother and granddaughter almost took my breath away. Their eyes were set at the same place and both had higher cheek bones. Grandma's hair was no longer jet black like her granddaughter but had turned into a salt and pepper blanket of wisdom.
I swallowed hard and appreciated the moment but missed my grandmother, and my family for that matter.

I'm so grateful for the friends i've made here but nothing matches the touch of your family. A hug, a pinch, a kiss. Someone who you can sit next to and not care if you're legs are touching. I could use a swing on my family tree right about now :)

It was time for cake and candles and happy birthdays. Farida lit the cake and we turned off the lights and she paraded the cake across the kitchen singing "happy birSday to you" in her french accent. Charolette blew out her candles and we split the enormous black forrest cake.

I closed my eyes and thought about my sister who had her birthday the day before. Not saying anything out loud to take away from charolette, i sent out a little thought across the atlantic back to my sister that i was having a little cake for her.