Saturday, June 28, 2008

Les soldes

Some time last week, I started seeing signs for "Les Soldes," which, as it terms out means "Sales!!!" This week and next, everything in Paris is On Sale! I've seen deep discounts on all kinds of things, but mostly clothing.

Until Friday, I'd avoided buying clothing but I finally gave in and got two shirts and a bag. I had previously bought a small shoulder bag (mistake--I could have gotten it for half price today!) and some household items. A couple of weeks ago I tried on a dress I liked and was actually hoping to get it, but most of the good stuff was cleared out in the first couple of days of les soldes, so I missed it. Apparently, I needed to get up very early on Monday morning (stores opened at 8am) to get the best choice and face the horrendous crowds. I am NOT sorry I missed it.

I did find an adorable pair of shoes on Thursday but at 75 euros, not much of a bargain, so I passed. I don't know, maybe I should go back for them. It's impossibly difficult for me to find shoes that fit in this city and they would be perfect for skirts and dresses, the area in which I'm sadly lacking appropriate shoes. Ach, the shoe dilemma rears its ugly head! I'd happily buy cheap shoes (that were comfortable), but I can't find any in my size!

The best part of the shopping experience was standing in line at Monoprix to pay. I was behind a lady about my mom's age and she was frustrated with our non-moving line. She muttered something to me about it and I smiled and nodded. She wondered if we could go to a different register but I said I didn't know.

A second lady, a little younger than the first, got in line behind me. The two women started talking about the slow line and the sales. They included me in the conversation, asking my opinion occasionally. I would make and agreeing noise or say "oui" or "non" or give a big smile and a shoulder shrug--that seemed satisfactory (especially since I wasn't always sure was I was agreeing or disagreeing with). Part of the conversation I caught was about the materialism of the younger generation (presumably the children of these women). The woman ahead of me said something like, "Really, it's not their fault, it's our fault, the parent's fault." This went on for about 10 minutes, right up until she paid, and I was never found out! Amazing. Mostly, I just looked like I understood and said nothing. In the States, I probably would have participated more actively and thrown in a few platitudes (and hopefully no correctives). It is the kind of conversation I enjoy because I learn something about people I might never meet otherwise. It was fun getting even 10% of it in France. Maybe, eventually, I'll get closer to understanding 50%.

Oh, and after Monoprix, I stopped by a bakery for a treat and was mistaken for Spanish. Sweet!

Class is over, so it's back to completely unstructured time. I hope it goes ok. The weekend is turning out pretty well so far, so I think I'll make it.

First task for Monday is a visit to the police prefecture to get my visa and carte de sejour in order. I've been avoiding the process until now and I'm still not looking forward to it but I can't afford to delay any longer. My extra time practicing French should help but I still expect to have very little idea of what's going on. Sa la vie!

Grateful for: blending in.

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