Thursday, September 29, 2011

Parking Space! Beep Beep

Yesterday marked a huge day in the let's-check-things-off-the-to-do-list as I finally found a renter for my parking space. This has taken WEEKS and tons and tons of emails to nail down. Ah, one less financial burden to worry about. Of course, though, I needed to head back up the condo, AGAIN, to show the space, but I was fortunate enough to be able crash with friends in the neighborhood (thanks Jane + cat : ).

For dinner, Jane and I (minus cat) hit up a neighborhood hole-in-the-wall BYOB Thai place that Adam and I have frequented (only to realize, the only thing really worth getting is the curry or else you'll simply be eating stir fry salt lick), and it was just comforting, in a sense, to be back somewhere familiar. The place is called Pho's, but i think the best thing about the place is the restaurant name that appears on your visa statement...Poo's. Poo's Hot and Spicy. Ah, Poo's Thai food and only a 30 min commute. Remember those days?

Yes, this has been time number two within the past few days that I've had to trek up to the ole stomping grounds to meet people at the building. Yes, this other time being early Sunday morning to meet with the condo board to dispute a fine they had given me for moving couches out of my apartment after delivery hours. I mean come on, what are you supposed to do when you play email tag with a couple of guys from Craigslist for two weeks, then they finally decide to show...and hour hour after delivery hours...with a U-Haul outside and money in hand. Um yes, I'm getting those couches outa there. At least the board let this one slide. I'm just hoping, though, no more heading's time to move forward.

And speaking of, I'll be packing my bags once again as my time in the burbs comes to a close. Starting next week, it will be cousin time back in River North. No more hour commute for me!

Monday, September 26, 2011


I meant to do a post right after my first class, but ... well, I didn't. Wish I had a real excuse, but that would require me to make one up. How about: I couldn't write the post because a French mime smoking a cigarette on a unicycle knocked me into the street, where a Paris autobus put me in a coma for the past few weeks?

The classes have varied surprisingly so far. The first lumbered out of the gate like a walrus but did lay a good foundation for the structure of future classes. (Did you catch that pun!? I'm hilarious.) The second class, like a few others, was great: a solid mix of statics, theory, discussion, videos, slides, chalk boards, tablet writing, and even some one-on-one tutoring. I leave each 3 hour session exhausted.

I think the students are still getting used to exactly what this class is all about. They were shocked to have a "hard" quiz on Friday, but after seeing their grades today, I hope they've realized I'm grading their understanding of concepts and application, not just that they can regurgitate solutions from the homework problems, type numbers right, and get an answer that matches what's in the back of the book.

We go on a "field trip" this weekend for a few days, so my next class is not for another 10 days! Yeah, can't wait for them to forget everything... ugh.

Adam in Action!

Adam babbling during the Paris intro walking tour.

This was yanked from the Facebook group / page / wall / what metaphor are they using this week?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

First Impressions of Groceries

Not sure why it seemed significant, but I took a picture of my first groceries receipt a few weeks ago.

There are several food choices near me, and I know very little about the differences between them. I've heard that Leader Price around the corner is "cheap," though a walk through seemed typical. It'll take a while to learn the prices, and I still don't have a good feeling for what a kilogram is (I know, I know: a little over 2 pounds).

A few things to know: one can purchase a generic brand wedge of brie for about 1.60€. That's awesome. Wine prices are all over the place: 1€ all the way to the sky. I've been told to avoid anything below 5€. I know from experience this is a warranted observation. Milk is sold in boxes not refrigerated. To be honest, I've been sticking with the cold stuff (that is sold, too, for a bit more), but I will try the boxed ones soon. Bread is delicious; I'm considering an all-carb diet. Lastly, Europeans know what muesli is. Thank goodness.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Final Cleanup

Last Wednesday night was the final goodbye to good ole 1601 W. School. It's amazing the amount of stuff there is to clean and pack when you never really imagined you had THAT much stuff. But it was a good sense of closure as everything we own has been sorted through, boxed up, thrown out...quite a nice purge as we start clean in a new chapter of life. And now the couch hopping begins, and I'm really ok with that. It's just good to know that I have such good friends to give me this kind of flexibility. It would have been devastating to have to say no to renters just because I could not get out of the place in time.

Chocolate Covered Almonds

This has become our daily ritual, our countdown to the final day when I arrive. Adam and I both have our own boxes of the most delicious dark covered chocolate almonds with the rule being that only one may be consumed per day. We stared at 54 and are over halfway through the box. It's been one of those mind games the entire time we've been trying to whittle this down... is the box really half empty or half full? It's also been contemplated that if either of us eats the entire box at once, will the day all of a sudden be here? Sometimes the anticipation feels more overwhelming than a kid waiting for Santa to arrive.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Atoutprises by Archigeek
Atoutprises, a photo by Archigeek on Flickr.
The local climbing club is just now starting up their annual enrollment, so today they had an open house to see what they're all about.

They also let me climb a little! That would never happen in America without a waiver signed.

I met the president of the club and he was completely friendly and we exchanged a few climbing terms in the two languages.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Line Dancing

I did a little wandering about the neighborhood this morning and came across an exhibition on the area's evolution of sports and culture. It was assembled at the "town hall," so to speak, and was made of several tents presenting activities, groups, and clubs in the area, such as karate, tennis, scuba diving in swimming pools, wall climbing (!), and ... well, line dancing:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Banking Hoops

I thought I had a bank account in proper order. I received a phone call a few days ago requesting that I stop in to see the bank agent because there was some sort of problem with my account. The gist that I received was that they signed me up for the wrong type of account, and so needed to re-issue me new numbers. My worry is that there is a wire in progress this week, but they promised that the money would end up in my new, new account. We'll see. Likely more hoops ahead.

And of course, it's not just my account that's having problems.

And in the meantime, I still await the arrival of my Visa card / carte bleue. Looks like I'll be doing another fee-laden ATM withdrawal to get thru another week. At least the exchange rate is plummeting!

Moving Out

Bridgette has been in a whirlwind of moving, packing, cleaning, ebaying, craigslisting, and even working through her day job to move on to the next big step. The photo above is allegedly all she has left in the apartment, which she'll be leaving shortly. (Does packing and moving count as a "hoop?")

Monday, September 12, 2011

La Tour Eiffel

La Tour Eiffel by Archigeek
La Tour Eiffel, a photo by Archigeek on Flickr.
I took a long Sunday walk yesterday evening with no intention of walking far enough to end up under the Eiffel Tower. This city is so dang gorgeous that you just keep walking, staring at awesome buildings, immaculately manicured parks, and billowing clouds rolling in. Before you know it, you've gone too far, and you have 6 guys trying to sell you miniature Eiffel Tower souvenirs in the middle of a mass of tourists. So I gave in, went into tourist mode, and took some pics.

This photo is of the real thing, not the souvenirs. ;-)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Paris Intro Walking Tour

Friday afternoon I had the privilege of escorting the class of students from Versailles into Paris for an introductory walking tour. We followed the RER to Saint-Michel, which pops you up onto the streets in front of Notre Dame. I kid you not, 35 students whipped out 35 cameras and started furiously shooting.

Château Sculpture

That there is the current view from one of the school's entrances. The nice castle-looking building in the background is the Château de Versailles. The monstrosity of a sculpture in front is up for interpretation. Even in times of economic hardship, there's cash floating around somewhere for this sort of thing...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Students Arrive

The students arrived this morning about an hour early from what I gathered. Must have had some great winds up at 35,000 ft. We served them cookies, coffee, water, lunch, etc. as we sorted out some orientation needs, a presentation, and sending them off to their respective landlords. I just summed up 11 hours of work in one sentence. Not too bad...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cartes de France

This came through the email this morning...

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

More Hoops

So, in case anyone was wondering, the blog is currently called "Hoop Dreams" because we have a dream of living in Paris, yet it feels like we've done nothing but jump through hoops to make it happen. Someday, we hope that the hoops will disappear from the horizon, and we can change the title to something more appropriate, like "French Bread Overdose" or "How Foie Gras Improved My Soul."

Recently I spent nearly an entire day on a goose chase through Paris. I'll try to be as succinct as possible. After researching online where I needed to go to get my resident's permit (carte de sejour), I traveled to one corner of Paris to find a prefecture with a sign posted telling me I need to go to practically the opposite corner of the city for such items. Once arriving at the next location of the chase, I found a prefecture under construction. Passing by a crane and some bobcat-looking contraption, I found a Parisian police officer who was kind enough to ask if I needed help. I explained to her what I was looking for, and she immediately had an answer: a piece of paper showing a hand-drawn map to the next leg of my journey. Off again I went, to yet another corner of the city, where I found another prefecture / government sort of place.

This final location looked like an old YMCA painted with incredible pastels, and filled with chairs, desks, and a metal detector that failed to detect the chunk of camera in my pocket. Oh, and the metal detector was paired with a police officer that kept an aerosol air freshener on hand. Long story short, after explaining my situation (living, employment, citizenship, etc), the person behind the desk consulted a large tome with the letters C-O-D-E banded across the cover, and determined that I -- well, my situation -- was confusing and needed special attention. So he directed me to another prefecture...