Wednesday, October 8, 2008

La paperasse = (n) paperwork (pejoratif)

In a whirlwind of activity, we believe we have secured a beautiful apartment on a quiet pedestrian street... It was a magnificent team effort with the apartment viewing, deposit depositing, renters insurance purchasing, and electricity turn-on-ing all taking place within a few hours. Luckily, most of the relevant offices are within a few blocks of each other on a street adjacent to our hotel. To gain the courage to take on the rental agency, we stopped in a bistrot for a very french two hour lunch. After dining on scallops with bacon (Rebecca) and veal head stew (Jeff) and a bottle of wine, we were ready for the agency.

At the rental agency, Bruno and the secretary were very helpful and patient with us while we made sure we had all the necessary bank numbers and identity documents. Afterwards, we trotted down the street to the insurance agent. After some dissertation-related small talk between the agent and Rebecca, we got their spiel about everything that would and would not be covered. Then "home" to the hotel to call the electric company to schedule a start date. There were a few false starts with the automated phone system, but we eventually got through to an operator. She seemed to have a good humor about the situation and didn't mind repeating herself frequently.

If I understood everything correctly, and I probably didn't, we will be moving in on Friday, but won't have electricity until Monday. Hopefully, a few extra blankets will be enough to stave off the night cold.

As a prelude to all this copying, signing and stamping, Rebecca taught her first two classes today. She got on the bus at 7 a.m, before sunrise, to teach two consecutive classes of two hours each (no breaks!). The students in the first class were a little bleary-eyed (a word they learned this morning), but the second group demonstrated their "impetus for social change" (their new idiom of the day) by conceding that French hipsters require a kick in the pants just like their American counterparts. The lesson built off of a recent Adbusters article "Hipsters: The Dead End of Western Civilization." 

As her students are the most advanced English-speakers at the school, she wanted to make sure not to underestimate their intelligence, and the result was satisfactory for all.  Even though the article was full of bizarre and nuanced American slang, there was plenty of time for the students to ask for Rebecca's help to gloss (and sometime physically act out) the terms.  Try translating phrases such as: "hunched over," "leaf through,""go for a stroll," and "Pabst Blue Ribbon" without getting fairly creative, and she'd be impressed.  In the end, teaching for two hours per class was a new experience for Rebecca. She doesn't have to teach again until next Wednesday, enough time for her vocal chords to recover and enough time to plan the eight hours(!) of lessons for next week.

Up next: finding used furniture, a co-signer, kitchenware, un clic-clac (a fold out sofa--for visitors!), and all the necessary knick-knacks for a cosy French abode.  

A quick shout out to Teresa of the CWS.  Rebecca says: You've made things so much easier than they could have been!  Thanks Teresa!!


Kristi said...

Congrats--an apartment! Now you have the real adventure of finding furniture. You know...Craig's List DOES have a site for France, although I didn't see Poiters on the list of city options! When I had to do the same thing in Rwanda, I was really fortunate to hook up with some Americans who had a surplus of stuff (as Americans are wont to do...).

Trevor said...


Anonymous said...

this does look like a beautiful apartment. congratulations! --patrick