annoyances

On Ordering Pizza

A few centuries ago, when I began this blog, I touched up on a subject that intrigued many people: the pitfalls one must navigate when attempting to order pizza and, even worse, having that pizza be delivered to your doorstep.
I think it’s time to share that story, which has now many other sequels, all more hilarious (see: pull-your-hair-out frustrating) than the other.

Let’s go back to the Fall of 2012. Young, fresh, bright-eyed Beatriz had people over her 15m2 château (let’s call it Château Lopez, for old times’ sake). It was a lazy, rainy weekend afternoon when hunger stroke past lunch time.
“Man, you know what I haven’t had since we left the States?”, someone said. “Pizza!”
There was a murmur of agreement and mouths began to salivate thinking about that delicious smell of warm pizza wafting from that cardboard box. A vessel of joy in times of academic uncertainty.
“Let me go online and order it!”, I said, unaware of the horrors that would befall me.
There *was* an online system. But my street did not qualify for the area Pizza Hut…nor for the Domino’s Pizza. No Papa John’s on this side of the Pond. Weird, right? Let’s remember Château Lopez was in the thick of Rue de Rennes, a huge thoroughfare, very popular for its shops.

But we were not to be discouraged- oh no! We were young and wild and free and we were finna get that pizza.
I looked for the number, and to my horror, there was only some hotline that cost 10 cents per minute. But we’re all American passport holders, and we liberated this country once, so what were 10 cents to this beacon of freedom?
After ten minutes of being on hold, I decided the beacon of hope was to be shut off.
We found more numbers (at this point, we might as well have gone downtown and gotten pizza, but, freedom).
“No, we do not deliver to your street”, call after call.
What?
Defeated, we gave up. Pizza was not to be had.

No, no. Drivers No Work Tonight. 
Fast forward to 2014. Pizza craving struck again. I decided Pre-Historic pizza ordering services had to have changed. I tempted fate and tried ordering some pizza on the internet.
(If anyone cares to know, I preferred the online method because that way, I don’t have to deal with the straight up shitty customer service everywhere, plus I don’t know the word for “thick crust”).
Anyway, so I was about done- I had selected my order, and all I had to do now was give my address. Of course, it wasn’t just as as simple as that: I had to fill in the number, and then select my street from a pull-down menu.
My street was not on the list.
Puzzled, I looked for the neighborhood pizzeria numbers (shitty customer service it is!) and had the S.O. call, since he’s French and knows how to say “thick crust”.
Called the first one- nope. Two kilometers was too far for their driver. Called the second one: Nope. They had received so many orders that day that they decided their drivers were tired, even though closing time was 2 hours away. Called the third one: our street did not show up in their system and did not know how to get there. Eventually, after some cajoling, we had pizza!
Now all we had to explain was how to get to the apartment. That means we have to give the access code to the building, explain which door to take, what floor to go, and which door to knock on. A good minute or two are spent at this.
About an hour later, however, I should not have been so stunned that we received a phone call: “Yeah, hi, this is the delivery guy. What’s your access code and how do I get to the apartment?”.

No, You Shut Up!
If there is something I don’t do, it’s learning lessons. It’s like that cycle where you have to go through the same experience over and over again until you learn and you achieve enlightenment and spontaneously combust.
But I’d much prefer to watch the delivery dude combust.
Here’s what happened: In a moment of weakness, we decided pizza was what we wanted for dinner. We decided to call the people who so kindly sent someone to the Elephant Graveyard where we seem to live and placed our order: 2 pizzas and a bottle of Coke.
Again, address, code, door, blah, blah, blah…
One hour later: “Hello, hi, this is the delivery guy. Where is….?”
“We gave the information to the place”
“Well, they don’t communicate that to us”.
Ah.
Eventually, a lanky youth was standing in our doorstep, with…one pizza. No Coke.
Mon gars…

After explaining to him that we had ordered two, the kid sprung down the stairs screaming “IT’LL ONLY BE A MINUTE!” *THUD THUD THUD THUD*
Again, S.O. knows more than to order “thick crust” and so he called the pizzeria (*cough*dominosonavron*cough*) to inform them about the mishap. The man on the other end couldn’t care less and said “ok yeah”. Then he asked to please let their people know that, no matter how enthusiastic they are about pizza deliveries (ok, those might by my words), they should not scream in residential buildings at 11pm.
Little did we know this comment would lead to chaos just a few seconds later when the delivery boy knocked on our door.
A funny chain of events all began at around the same moment. Delivery Boy arrives, S.O. thanks him and advices him to “try to be a little bit more silent next time- the neighbors will get angry at us”, Delivery Boy’s phone goes off, echoing like hell, he picks it up and does that thing where people scream on the phone. After hanging up, he was ready for murder: “You don’t know what talking loud is- I can speak real loud!”. He was, of course, not whispering at this point.
Delivery Boy gets uppity, on my doorstep, and I’m real glad tipping is not a thing in this country.
You try enjoying pizza after that.

Two weeks later S.O. received a text message: “Following the incident on x day, enjoy a 50% discount on your next offer”.
The offer was, of course, nearly expired by the time we received it.

First week at ClubMidd

It’s like being the popular kid back in high school.
Because last year I was the new girl (along with many others), there were many people I simply did not approach because I was downright intimidated. Everyone was part of a huge happy family and I was the outsider trying to get in. This time around, though, the return has been so much sweeter. I feel a sense of ownership over the place, and it’s much easier to glide through the crowd, smiling and making small-chat with people. It feels very nice.

I thought I had gone unnoticed last year, but I was wrong. The very first day I had some faculty members and fellow students come up to me with the biggest smile calling out my name, which was not visible, since I refuse to wear any and all indicators given to us (it’s my unconscious way of sticking it to the man) inquiring about Paris and all sorts of things about my life. I was taken aback, but then again, it’s the Middlebury family.

We’ve already met the group that will be going to Paris this coming fall. Some were familiar faces, others were newcomers.
I know I’m going to sound like a complete cunt but those smiles and eagerness will soon fade. I kind of feel bad for them, for some will lose their innocence (AND EGO, HOLY SHIT! THERE ARE SO MANY FUCKING EGOS CLASHING IT’S NOT EVEN FUNNY. SITCHO ASS DOWN AND SHUT THE FUCK UP. THE FRENCH WILL NOT BE IMPRESSED AND NEITHER ARE WE 😀 ) and see that maybe Paris was a little bit more rough than they thought it would be. I was in their shoes last year. I know how it works.
Nonetheless, however, I am still excited for them, because they will have the best year of their lives regardless.
Let us also raise a toast to my passive-aggressive ways!

Concerning academia, I have also observed that Paris corrupted me more than I anticipated. Being back in the American system of schooling, which I missed so much, I find that people are…well…slow.
In Paris we had no time to dilly-dally with questions such as “How do you spell this?” or “Is it double-spaced?” (see also: “Typed?”, “How long should it be?”, “Do you want a particular font?”). I walked out of a meeting under the false pretext that I had class. I just couldn’t bear to sit there and see people get their panties in a bunch over the small stuff. I hope I don’t let myself get worked up over these things, but the eye-rolling has begun, and it’s only the second day of class.

Do you want a particular font?

One thing has certainly not changed, however. “La table hispanique” (“The hispanic table”) is still in full force. While all other tables sit maybe 5 or 6 people at a time, we do magic and manage to fit 10. When the 11th person shows up, it’s always the same story: “Just take a chair and sit here”.
There’s plenty of love and space at our little corner…which is also the loudest. But hey!

Getting into the groove of French has not been difficult. As I am finally able to sit down and write something more or less cohesive, I find that French is slowly pushing into my thoughts and tempts my fingers to actually type in it. Oh, what a tease. When I needed you in Paris, you weren’t there! But now…I see what you’re doing.

It’s not.

Also, I find it incredibly rewarding to be speaking with students of lower levels because I can see them already making progress, and knowing that maybe I taught them a word or two in our conversations feels kind of nice. I look forward to the end of the semester, and see how much everyone, including myself, has improved.

Anyway, I have noticed that as a fully functioning, happy person, I am not as inspired nor as good at doing things like taking pictures and/or writing, but I am trying! Someone commented on this affliction being something characteristic of artists.

Well, damn.

I guess I’m an artist.

PS: Did I mention there’s another Beatriz? Yes, with a “z” and everything. I’ve met her a couple of times. More on my one-sided friendly rivalry later!

Dat French Language

(Get comfortable)

It’s as if the words “I speak French” are an invitation to ridiculous phrases like: “Ooh lala” or “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?” or, my personal favorite: “Parlez-vous français?” (or “françois”, it all depends, really).

French is that one language that everyone feels entitled to. It’s like those people that say “Yeah, I have a varied heritage- I’m 1/8 Irish, ¼ German, and 2/7 Native American” and yet you can’t even name the region said ancestors come from (this, by the way, grates my nerves: you’re not a mélange, you’re a modern human being feeling entitled. Congratulations).

Boo, you whore!

Everyone has been in close contact with French- it’s been butchered, romanticized as all-things French, and overexposed…in my most humble opinion.

It’s the language of diplomacy, yes, but to really master it, it takes more than a few phrases: it takes grammar, it takes history (and a rudimentary understanding of diachrony), it takes fillers…and it takes passion, dedication, and perseverance.

The single hardest thing a human being will ever do is to learn how to read. Once that has been conquered, the brain is nice and ready to process information- language in this broad case.
When learning a new language, it’s like learning to speak and read and write aaaaall over again.
We are torn down and re-learn everything bit by bit. One may start by the simple souds from the alphabet and remember it via games or other tactics (I, for example, memorized the sounds of the French alphabet thanks to a my first French professor who recited it as a drill sergeant singing a cadence- we were to follow). Others may jump in and start learning with phrases and putting the pieces together. If you want to get fancy, I know people with thorough knowledge of the International Phonetic Alphabet and that’s just how they figured out what everything sounded like once put together.

And, oh! You have to find your voice again!

Am I perfect? By no means. But another thing that comes with finding your voice in a foreign language is to adopt a personality. And Parisian Me is one condescending little bitch.

Les rageux vont rager!

Anyway, I feel like French, as I said earlier, has been romanticized to the point that it gives it this ethereal quality.

Even though I do enjoy speaking in French because it has been a challenge to master it and find my voice in it, French just became a vehicular language. It’s my language of business, school, of everyday stuff. It’s not what I whisper to a lover (and quite frankly, if anyone ever busted out some French in bed, I’d ask him to leave. Or at least be quiet).

French is what I curtly reply to the lady pushing me in the métro, French is what I use when I weigh my vegetables at the market, what I use to tell the plumber that my faucet is leaky…there’s no glamour in French anymore!

And in a very twisted and perverted way, I like this! I fucking love it. I wanted so badly to immerse myself in this language that “sounded kinda cool!” when I was sixteen and visiting Paris for the first time. I wanted to know exactly what people were saying, why their vowels sounded funny, why it was still so similar to my mother tongue (Spanish) and yet had so many words that I recognized from English and Lord knows how many other languages!

And now I do! And I see how gritty the language can be. How hurtful, how deep it can wound and offend, and also how uplifting, how quirky and lighthearted.

So if you’re on a mission to learn French, do not be disappointed when you realize real people speak it.

There’s a side to French that most people fail to acknowledge: Street French. There are no “vous” here, no pleasantries. Here you get words to describe women that range from the cute like “nana” to “gazelle” to “meuf” to “tcheub”.
It’s this language, this tchatche that makes French, not your textbook.
Paris is multifaceted and so is its language.

Language is our direct link to history. It’s breathing, latent, alive.
This is what makes learning French so challenging- you have a language that is hyper-kinetic. It vibrates, it evolves, it morphs!
Due to its vocalic system and the elimination of diphthongs, among other things, it is the farthest romance language from Latin.

Sorry to those who believe Portuguese is. Or Romanian- it still holds its very Latin roots even if it’s got massive amounts of Slavic influence.

All of these beautiful and fascinating things have come together through centuries to forge a language that is so colorful, so comprehensive and ever-changing and you just better run behind it trying to keep up!

So next time you feel tempted to say “Oui-oui” and any other silly phrase to a French speaker- hold your tongue! You might get a nasty response. After all, it comes with the territory.