Light as a Feather

Sheila and I got up around 10:30 and had a quick half breakfast since we were going to be meeting up with Kyle for lunch around noon. I still had some leftover gluten free pasta and last night’s half galette du sarrasin, so I heated those up instead of getting something at Carrefour since I knew that my selection there would still be limited. Kyle was running a little late, so I ate my lunch before we went to Carrefour. While Kyle and Sheila ate theirs, I took a look at a guide book to figure out where Sheila and I could go to explore before we would meet up for dinner and go to a bar with the rest of our gang. We ultimately decided on the Panthéon, but Kyle said he didn’t want to go (which is starting to be a trend), so he headed home to do some homework, and Sheila and I went on our own. We nearly froze. Evidently, my layered combination of a cami, long sleeves and a sweater for my top half, and warm tights under my skinny jeans wasn’t cutting it…

It would have cost us money to go inside the Panthéon, so we just took pictures of the outside.

It had taken us a while to get there, and we were really cold, so we wanted to stop by a café somewhere and get something warm to drink. We’ve managed to figure out why French people drink wine at lunch: Alcohol blankets. You’ve got to have some way to stay warm… We ended up at the Luxembourg Brasserie (58 Boulevard Saint Michel, 75006) which is very close to the Luxembourg RER B stop and by the Luxembourg Gardens. All Sheila wanted was a glass of wine, but I wanted something a little more substantial. I ordered a dessert that’s gluten-free (most of the time, I didn’t bother asking, but I was very sure I was safe): Blanches au nuages. It’s egg whites with crème anglaise, which is a vanilla custard-like sauce. To drink, I wanted something that would warm me up twice over: vin chaud (hot wine/mulled wine).

Vin chaud

Blanches au nuages

The vin chaud came with an orange wedge in the cup, and sugar on the side, but I wasn’t sure why I needed sugar… until I tasted it. It was very bitter. Lesson learned… cheap red wine mulled with cinnamon and orange… definitely needed sugar. The dessert was very good. I ate quickly enough so I could stomach that wine and head out the door to go home figure out what we wanted for dinner, and leave. Sheila and I Skyped Rouge to hear all about her night last night, which resulted in a conversation about me having shots with her at least once before we went back to America. I don’t do hard liquor. I have enough trouble with wine. I don’t even know how to take shots… After all that, I did some research and Sheila, Kyle and I decided that we’d go to Chez Hanna (54 rue de Rosiers) for dinner since the group had decided to meet up at Bastille at 10:30 to go to a bar, and this place was supposedly cheap and only one metro stop away (Saint Paul). Before Sheila and I left, we wanted to add some more layers to our clothes, so I put on two pairs of leggings under my jeans, and I added a t-shirt on top. Sheila and Kyle wanted something to drink before we went to the bar, so they stopped at Monoprix to get vodka and orange juice. I had no plans to have any. Off to Chez Hanna we went. It’s an Israeli place, and we got a lot of really good food for 16 euro a piece. I had turkey schwarma that came with about five different sides, from cucumber salad, to a red cabbage salad, to hummus, carrots, all sorts of things. The idea was obviously to pack whatever you wanted on your plate into the pita bread that came with your meal, but I can’t do that. Kyle figured it out, and was quite pleased with the result. He was leery about the place at first, especially about the price. Once he’d tasted everything on the plate, he gave me “mad props” for the meal since I’d picked the restaurant. For 16 euro, not only is it a lot of food, but it’s a lot of GOOD food. Well worth it.

We headed over to Bastille to wait for our friends (Joan, Rouge, Sharon and Nico), then attempted to find a bar. After some searching, we ended up at Art Café (37 rue de Lappe, 75011). It’s got a nice atmosphere, and the drinks are good and well priced. Rouge was giving me a hard time, and since Sheila and Kyle had taught me how to properly take a shot with orange juice earlier while we were waiting for everyone else, I ordered a shot of tequila to take with her (her choice, not mine), along with Art Café’s cocktail maison (house cocktail) which was rum based with guava juice, and some other non-alcoholic mixer since I figured I’d want something not tequila-y to drink after the tequila, and Kyle and Sheila were having that cocktail as well. Both of those things only cost me nine euro. Getting the tequila shot was daunting. I didn’t realize there was a process that involved lime and salt… Rouge told me how to do it. She had me lick my hand, Kyle poured some salt on it, then she told me to lick the salt, take the shot, and suck on the lime. Okay… 1, 2, 3, go, and we both did it. That was my first real shot, and I evidently did it well, since my friends were proud. It didn’t taste all that bad either. Having the house cocktail was nice, it was sweet and definitely took whatever tequila taste I still had in my mouth away. The alcohol hit me pretty hard, and I was quiet for most of the time we were at the bar. Since Nico was there, my custom was to speak French, but I wasn’t able to do that while… totalement pompette. My friends know to judge my level of drunkenness by listening for one key phrase: If I ask for a notebook, I’m very drunk, usually hovering somewhere on brown-out level. I was VERY drunk when you take into account the way I did it tonight. “J’avais besoin d’un notebook.” Notice how I said notebook and not cahier. It gets worse. Direct translation of exactly what I said: “I was having a need for a notebook.” I didn’t use present tense. The rest of my night had to be pieced together with help from a Sunday morning Skype with Kyle. It was about 1AM when we left the bar to head home. I fell at some point on the way to the metro while Kyle had me on his arm. I knew I fell, but only because there was dirt on my coat when I woke up the next morning, and because I remembering hearing Kyle say “merci” randomly at some point before we got to the metro. When I asked him, he confirmed that I had fallen down, and I was deadweight, so a random French person had to help him pick me up (thus the “merci”). I didn’t remember falling because I didn’t hit my head. The rest of me was on the ground, but my head was up. When we got to the metro, I remembered thinking “oh crap, my Navigo is in my purse, and I have to find it. I can’t see anything in my purse…” and when I looked up, all of my friends had gone through the turnstiles already. After rummaging through it for about two minutes, Sharon asked me if I needed help, which meant she’d have to exit the area and she wouldn’t be able to get back in since she’d already swiped her Navigo. As soon as she came through the exit, I found mine in my purse, grabbed her, put her in front of me like we were spooning, swiped my Navigo, and pushed both of us through the turnstile. According to Kyle, we were standing on the metro for about two stops, and then a single seat opened up, so he took it, and sat me on his lap since he didn’t trust me to stand. I remember staring at the map over the door of all the stops saying “Kyle, I can’t read the map. Kyle, I still can’t read the map. Kyle, there are four maps and they’re all on top of each other and I can’t read a single one of them.” for the entire ride. When we got off of the metro, the walk home was interesting. I’ve stolen the phrase “I’m not slurring my words, I’m speaking in cursive” from Rouge. Walking home… I was walking in cursive. Kyle had to just about put me in a headlock to keep me at his side. I asked him to walk me home, he said he would, but Sheila said she could handle me. So we split at our corner, and Sheila attempted to hang onto me for the walk home. Kyle had warned me that if I laid down on my bed to go to sleep, and the room was spinning, I couldn’t fall asleep because I’d wake up and be sick. When I sat on my bed to start taking off all of my layers, I realized that I had to go to the bathroom, so I did. Unfortunately, when I get sick, my body doesn’t give me any time to react. It doesn’t tell me “you’re going to be sick, go to the bathroom and assume the appropriate position” I get “YOU’RE SICK” and then I get sick. Because of where I was when I got sick, by the time I got to the “appropriate position,” let’s just say I missed, and I now had a hell of a mess to clean up. Sheila and I got home around two. By the time I was able to clean up what I’d done with toilet paper and water (which didn’t work so well on the sisal rug that’s covering the bathroom floor), and get into bed, it was four in the morning. I knew Madame was going to find out, so I’d made up my mind to tell her that I’d gotten sick in the middle of the night, explain that I have no time to react when I get sick, and that I would attempt to clean up the stains in the sisal rug with an old toothbrush since we’ve got vacation this week and I have plenty of time… just not now since I feel terrible.

I was only able to get four hours of sleep before I woke up with terrible nausea and stomach pain. I tried to drink some 7-Up that I had in my room, and eat some rice cakes, but I couldn’t make myself do it. I was either sitting in the bathroom not sure if I was going to be sick again, or I was lying in bed trying to go back to sleep. I’d heard Madame get up and putter around the house, including opening the bathroom door and making a disgusted noise, so I knew I’d been found out. I ran into Sheila and showed her that I’d managed to clean up the bathroom, but there wasn’t much I could do about the rug. She was going out to the kitchen and she’d see Madame, so I told her to tell Madame that she didn’t know anything about what had happened in the bathroom until she saw me (which she just did) and to tell Madame that I’d gotten sick in the middle of the night, I was up and resting in my room, and that she could come and talk to me. A couple minutes later, that’s what happened. Madame knocked on my door wearing rubber gloves, and came in. “You’re sick?” “I think so.” “Well… people usually are or they aren’t.” “In that case, I am.” “You had garlic for dinner last night?” Of all things, she asks if I had garlic?! “Garlic?” “Yeah, garlic, really strong smell, that’s what’s in that bathroom.” “Now that I think of it… there was definitely garlic in every single thing on my plate.” “How are you feeling now?” “My stomach hurts, I’m dizzy, and nauseous.” “Have you taken anything for it?” “Yes.” “Okay, rest as long as you need to, shower when you think you can, then go out into the kitchen and make yourself a cup of tea. Stay here for the day.” “Madame, don’t clean the bathroom! I’ll take care of it. It’s my fault…” “Don’t worry about it.” The woman is amazing. I spent the day writing postcards to rest, then I took a nice long shower, and had my cup of tea. She’d done something to make the bathroom smell a little better. Today was her deep cleaning day, I went out into the kitchen to have my cup of tea and a rice cake, and she was washing the walls… that was why she was wearing rubber gloves. I was hoping dinner wouldn’t be extravagant, or she wouldn’t make me something that was, but I had some false hope. We had white fish with a light cream sauce, potatoes, and broccoli, all of which are pretty easy to digest, but she’d given me a normal portion size. Madame told me to eat slow and only eat what I thought I could handle, she’d given me the usual portion size because she knew I hadn’t eaten much of anything all day. I was able to finish most of the food, but it definitely hurt. She asked if I wanted dessert, but not if it was going to be something I had to force down. I mentioned that applesauce was something that we tell people to eat when they have something wrong with their stomachs back home, so that would be a good idea. Madame smiled and said we could have applesauce for dessert, so we did. As far as she was concerned, what I had for dinner Saturday night didn’t sit well with me and I had a kind of 24 hour stomach bug. It didn’t matter to her if I had some kind of hangover, or the stomach flu, the result was still the same.
I’m 20, I’ll be 21 in two months. As much as parents may want to deny it, drinking is part of young-adulthood. I’ll argue this is part of self-discovery. What have I learned this weekend? Hard liquor is not my friend. I got a little peer-pressured into drinking it, but I could have been a little stronger-willed and said no. Had I been back in America where it would be illegal for me to be drinking, I would have. Notice how I BOUGHT my liquor in a bar, and it’s legal for me to do that here. My friends were very proud of me for having my hard liquor, and I’d done so well up until getting sick when I got home. I didn’t do anything stupid like give my number to a stranger or cheat on my boyfriend. The dumbest thing I did was fall down, and I didn’t even hit my head! I’ve made all of them swear to not let me anywhere near hard liquor again, I’m sticking with wine. There’s only one exception to that rule: wine-based cocktails that have hard liquor in them as well, like a Kir (white wine with blackcurrant liquor). I’m honest enough to put something like this on my blog, so judge me as you wish, but at least I’ve learned my lesson. I haven’t felt this awful in a long time, and the last time I did, it definitely didn’t have anything to do with alcohol. Honestly, this was something that had to happen at some point in my life, it’s one of those mistakes you have to make yourself so that you can learn from it. I guess I just took Ms. Frizzle’s motto a little too seriously this weekend… I took chances, I made mistakes, and I definitely got messy.
Pour grands que soient les rois, ils sont ce que nous sommes:
Ils peuvent se tromper comme les autres hommes.
Corneille: Le Cid

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