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May 5, 2011

Notes from the rock I'm now living under

I have been couped. 

Before I left on my latest European tour, I sent my internet and phone companies very lovely letters rife with French legalese that politely requested that end my connections on May the 10th, as I am departing abroad and would no longer be in need of their services. In a flash of efficiency that boggles the mind (seeing as I have yet to receive the social security card I was promised a full six months ago), they decided to end our relationship within 10 business days of receiving my letters.

So I returned from vacation with no phone, no internet, no way to arrange goodbyes with my French friends other than inviting them to holler at my balcony and hope I was there. You guys, I had no idea Osama was dead.

I have been surviving my coupure in the following ways: 1. Sneaking into the vicinity of the lycée at 11 p.m. so I can leech off their wifi, which allows me to check Facebook (but Gmail is blocked). I generally creep myself out by imagining Stasi members lurking in the bushes within 20 minutes or so of my arrival, so I can't accomplish much. 2. Sneaking into the Salle des Profs in between classes so I can use the staff computers, which allows me to check Gmail (but Facebook is blocked). Using a French AZERTY keyboard and the 1995-era technology are so infuriating that I can stay an average of 15 minutes before I want to scream. Again, can't really accomplish much. So please excuse my absence.

You shall communicate no more!

The other day I went to the Telephone Store to get my phone unblocked. While I was there I asked if I would be able to pay my last phone and internet bills online or over the phone. The clerk, after spending 15 minutes talking to Orange to unblock my phone, had to call a different number and wait on hold for another 10 minutes to find out that yes, it is possible to pay your bill online. But you can't do it today, they said. Their systems are down. Try again later.

Then I tried to buy 5E worth of texting credit for my phone so I could alert someone in the event that my plane got delayed (apparently this Osama stuff is getting American airports on high alert, and could complicate international flights). He gave it ago, but for some reason the phone wasn't letting him add the credit. Instead of trying something else or calling someone, he said he was sorry, he couldn't help me, have a nice day.


I went to the post office today to see how much it would cost to send a box of books back to the States. The Dude brought an entire library over in one of his suitcases, and despite my frequent protests, the Egghead has acquired more. The conversation went like this:

Me: Hello, sir. I am here to inform myself on the way to send livres to the United States in the most cheapest way.
Him: How much in dollars?
Me: Um... I know not... $50 could be?
Him: You see, you cannot send livres to the United States. You must send dollars or Euros.
Me: I am very much sure that one can send livres to anywhere one wishes.
Him: Well, how much?
Me: I do not understand this question. You want to know the weight? I am guessing 10 kilos.
Him: This is not possible.
Me: I have many livres!

At this point I realize that while I am talking about books, he is talking about British pounds sterling. 


  1. That's not even a Welcome to France moment, Neenuh. That more of "WTF, France?! Seriously?"

    I'm hoping that all will go well for you!

    Bisous et tu me manqueras!


  2. This is so frustrating, and I'm not even there. Kudos for not killing anyone!!!

  3. I too tend to creep myself out whenever I'm trying to leech internet at night, outside. Glad you were eventually able to post this blog!

    Oh, France. Yes, post office man, I am aware that Americans don't use Pounds. Thank you for this unnecessary conversation :-/ I might have resorted to making a 'book opening' gesture with my hands while repeating the word forcefully.