Thursday, March 17, 2016

Paris—Moved in!

Chères Famille et Amies,

My move to the land of baguettes, top-flushing toilets, and butter is mostly complete and it has been disconcertingly seamless. 

This is my very own top-flusher
(Not pictured: my traditional French scented pink toilet paper)
My train into Paris was delayed, so I got off at the Notre Dame station to find a cab just in time to catch a spectacular sunset.

My flight to Dublin couldn't have been more perfect. I had four seats to myself, so after watching Spectre, which was pretty mediocre, I spent most of the rest of the flight sprawled across the seats. On my second flight, I volunteered my seat at the front of the plane to a guy in a wheelchair, which resulted in the flight attendants bringing me goodies from first class for the rest of the flight. Good karma.

Good karma seems like a bit of a theme with this move. Prior to researching housing in Paris, I was under the impression that I'd be spending San Francisco-style rent. Fortunately rent is only extraordinarily expensive, yet still nothing like what San Franciscans pay. After sifting through hundreds (literally) of listings, I realized that I had a tough decision to make: I had the choice between living in a dump or a shoebox.

Then I found this place. I'm still wondering how I got so lucky. It's spacious, clean, and naturally illuminated. It has its own washing machine and a balcony. More importantly, its location couldn't be more perfect. In the bourgeois 15th Arrondissement, it's one block from the Seine, and just a few more to the Eiffel Tower. It's also a quick stroll to everything that I need. This is good because, as many of you know, I'm a bit averse to public transportation.

Here are pictures of the apartment:

Couch & bad art

French TV is mostly dubbed American TV
Red is my favorite color, but red furniture should be banned


Plastic furniture should be banned too

And here is the neighborhood it’s in:

I’m by the red dot!

Click here for the Google Map
Click here for the Google Street View

The first thing I had to do was figure out how to get my new iPhone on a French network and then how to get the old one back on my old number so that I don't miss any calls. The old phone will stay at the apartment as a backup, and the new one will accept calls and texts to my new French number and an Oakland one. 

Subsequent endeavors in fun will include getting a social security card. As a French citizen (and, thus, passport holder) I've always enjoyed the short lines at the airport, but now I get to really reap the benefits by using my country's socialized medicine for the first time! Apparently healthcare is considered a basic human right here.

These tasks are necessary, if not fun, but I've already also managed to do a few things I had been looking forward to. I had been really curious to check out Cantine California because the owner is from the Bay Area and is all about things that are near and dear to my heart. He opened the very first organic food truck in Paris. Anyway, my trip took me along the Seine, through the Jardin des Tuileries, then to Les Halles and past the glorious E. Dehillerin storefront. From there I made my way to the Marais where Cantine California is located. I got the Obama: 

The Obama

After my hamburger there, felt ready to cope with a cellphone store and salespeople (turned out it was really a painless experience). I walked back home a different way, crossing onto Île de la Cité and going along the Seine to browse some of the book stalls. I managed to snag this:

1st Edition from 1938
I fell in love with the cover immediately.

Excited by my find, I was energized enough to complete the remainder of my 9 mile walk. I followed the Seine past the Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars and the Statue of Liberty.

When I moved to Rome last year, my very favorite thing to do in my free time was getting lost on foot, or at least choosing very inefficient routes to my destinations. Sarah, my English flatmate was frequently a companion on these excursions, but I enjoyed them nearly as much on my own (Sarah—do come visit soon!). There really isn't a boring place there, so that was how I made a number of great discoveries (I wound up seeing many of the great monuments unplanned this way). This was in a country where I didn't speak the language and where the heat and humidity were almost invariably intolerable. Parisian weather is much more civilized (as are Parisians), and I happen to speak the language, so I'm all the more excited to be living here and exploring every nook of the city on foot! I also just like Paris more than Rome.

Another thing I am excited about is the news that my youngest cousin, Cyrielle, will also be moving back to Paris next week. She is a detective and will be investigating cases of human trafficking. Because I have a sophisticated sense of humor, I have begun calling her Sherlock.

Some version of this email will appear on my blog, which I built right before I moved to Rome last year and then didn't keep up with updating as regularly as I should have. I'll try to do better this year. The site is I never thought I’d have a blog and I swore I’d never make an Instagram account, but I was wrong. They both seem like good ways to keep folks updated on my happenings. So for more current updates, you can point your browser to my Instagram account here:

This last week in California, punctuated appropriately with incessant rainstorms, I was pretty sad. Everyone seemed more excited than I was about my move (I’m thrilled to be here, now that I am). Some of the highlights were spending time with college friends, David, Andrés and Kate. Going out with some of the Chez Panisse crew Wednesday evening after work was wonderful. Taking Pat who flew out from Denver to Chez Panisse for his first time, with Chris, was also special (as was seeing Chris about a dozen times in the last couple weeks). Dinner at my other favorite restaurant, Le Bateau Ivre, with my family was a nice finale. These highlights all served, though, as a reminder that I'm leaving behind quite a bit. This time, it seems more permanent: I’ll be here at least a year. As excited as I am to be here, I am very much also looking forward to my next visit to California (in August, perhaps).

In the meantime, I hope to hear from everybody. Better yet, come visit! I know some of you already have begun planning trips.

Very fondly,