Doctor Day

Today is knee injection day, and I am strangely emotional. I’m hoping it’s just hormones, but I suspect myself. I am normally very calm about injections -they don’t bother me in he slightest, and there is no danger of me fainting or having a hissy. However, precisely half way through my breakfast this morning, I suddenly realised that this injection is likely to need to pump fluid right under my kneecap, and I was abruptly and sickeningly reminded of a television show I saw once that showed a monstrosity of a needle being used for just such an occasion. My appetite, which positively never leaves me, ever, immediately departed, and I couldn’t eat my lunch either of the times I tried it. Additionally, I am crying at the drop of a hat. I also realised that there is a chance I may be somewhat physically incapacitated after this assault on my kneecap, and working this evening might be difficult, if even possible. While I was dutifully doing my physio exercises, I started imagining what would happen if I couldn’t walk later on. I knew that I would bravely limp my way to work, but also started imagining how upset I was going to be if I had to ask a colleague to go down the stairs for me, and how tired and incapacitated and vulnerable I was going to be -especially in light of Alice having been the biggest bitch imaginable to me again lately for no good reason. I was imagining myself explaining my predicament, and such sympathy did I have for my imaginary future self, that I realised I was ACTUALLY crying!! Lifting my weights, tears streaming down my face!! So there you have it. I was crying over an imaginary knee related meltdown that never materialised.

But evidently my capacity for crying is not restricted to the sadness response -no no!! At the end of my midday shift today, I was preparing my second attempt at lunch and fighting with the microwave. Who intervenes but my oul flower Alice, and starts being extraordinarily and inexplicably nice to me!!!! Non ma cherie (“ma cherie”!!!!), let me show you how to do it, no not like that, it will burn you, here you go pet. WHAT???????? More tears. Like a mad thing. However, the emotions cleared up fine and handy AFTER the trip back in to Dr. Ledivil. The injection was a bit sore, but as I exclaimed to him in surprise, nothing serious. Yes he said, the unparalleled chancer, that is why I suggested it. YOU DIDN’T SUGGEST IT YOU BRASS NECKED BOLLIX!!! I DID!!! Still, the injection is done, and I skipped down the steps with demonstrably no tears in my eyes.

The joys of Get27

Do you know about Get27?? It is à French liquor pronounced approximately ‘jet van set’, which is highly alcoholic. Well needless to say, I did not know Get 27 and was most confused when asked for it in work. I attempted to lie that we didn’t have it (as far as I was concerned we did not) but was quickly caught out when it was pointed out to me on the menu. I thought maybe it could have been something like a Britvic 55, and offered the lady an Orangina instead. Also needless to say, she was less than impressed. So that was my first introduction to Get27, and I was well familiar with it by the time Karim recounted the tale of his grand Get27 binge. A few years ago, apparently he went out for the night with his manager, who suggested they join a group doing all pubs on Grenoble. To say that Karim likes Get27 is somewhat of an understatement, and he decided to have one in each pub. He reckoned he had ingested almost a full bottle by the end of the night, by which time they were in one of the farthest out quarters of the city. At this point his manager gave him the keys of his BMW to prevent him from driving it, and promptly abandoned him. So Karim was a few miles away from home, at about 2am, without a taxi in sight. So he spotted a hotel, and had his friendly credit card with him, and every intention of using it. He was very keen to impress his willingness to pay on me, the reason for which became clear during the remainder of the story. So it turned out the hotel was closed. But Karim being Tunisian, and as of yet unused to the ways of French culture, couldn’t imagine that this could possibly be the case, and so proceeded to jump the barrier, in his much inebriated state. The reception was closed, but he found an open window, through which he slid, to further investigate matters. Finding nobody there, he proceeded to go pushing on doors that might look open, in the hope of finding an empty room -again, with the intention of reimbursing them fully in the morning. However, in the midst of this drunken lunging, he lunged at the wrong door, which turned out to be what I presume was an emergency exit, because the alarm started sounding throughout the whole hotel. Freshly roused hotel guests started emerging blearily from their rooms, the manager arrived, followed swiftly by the police, all finding a young drunk trespassing Tunisian disturbing the peace of their lovely hotel. Karim tried to explain that he had money and just wanted to find a bed for the night, but he took fright in front of the police (and was influenced by quite a significant amount of Get27, I imagine), and forgot all his French. It took him a considerable amount of time to convince them he wasn’t trying to rob the place, but eventually they must have believed him, because they bundled him into the back of the police car and dropped him home! It certainly wasn’t Britvic 55….

Drinks on me

I have fallen for another, she can make her own way home. Okay, it’s a Swedish girl, and I imagine I wouldn’t be the first to be falling for her ilk. Her name is Anna, and she’s blonde and beautiful and great fun. I have a friend crush on her and I want her to be MINE. However, given how empty my wallet is this morning, I also suspect she is a brazen thing who pays for nothing. I met her through the German, who kindly invited me along to the Christmas markets with her and her boyfriend. I was tired and had a comfy crevice burrowed in the couch cushions for myself, but I was so delighted to be forgiven for last night’s puke-fest that I thought I had better go and try and redeem myself. We spoke English for the most of the night, and I once again very much enjoyed having a personality. We ended up in a really cool bar that Anna knew about, where they were having an open mic night. The Germans went home, but me and Anna were having too much fun, telling each other how great we thought each other were. After the first drink there, Anna announced that she had no more money, but this to her mind was no object to having another drink. I obliged, as you would, but I feel a bit stupid about obliging again for the third round… Still, we had a great time, we danced and flirted our way bilingually around the pub. So yes, I’m hungover again, and it is Not A Good Thing. Not least because I have to work 11 hours today. However, sheer exhaustion seems to have descended a strange calm around me, and we got through the midday service without realising until afterwards that it was 30% busier than normal. Maybe I’ll continue the drinking. But that Swedish wan can pay the next time!

The shame, the shame, the shame…

I have lost the run of myself. Not only have I been flirting in French with some guy called Romain (I was holding out for a Benoit but none were materialising….), but I have asked him out!!!! In fairness, he’s the first one to have progressed a conversation past ‘bonjour ça va tu viens d’ou“, (“hello how are you where are you from”) and I think I got over excited. Apparently his car is broken today and I have refused to travel into the mountains to meet him (Internet dating rule 101 -do not go into the mountains with strange men), so I’m off the hook for the immediate future. The weird thing is that I actually WANT to meet him. I have warned him he will flee in horror when he realises how bad my French is, but he seems undaunted, and is apparently currently installed under the bonnet of his car, working furiously.

As for me I’m installed horizontally on the couch, much the worse for wear after last night‘s attempted socialising endeavours. I say attempted because we did not get past the aperatif stage of the evening, and it was all my fault. I had the apartment looking lovely (read: clean), I had all the ingredients for making Kir Royales, Christmas music playing and a selection of snacks ready. The girls came over and we were very proud of ourselves because we spoke French the whole night. However, before they arrived I had worried about looking like a hound in front of them, so I decided I could live with the guilt and drank a bottle of cider before they came over. Quite the self-congratulatory dance I did around the kitchen, so pleased was I with my genius plan. I was reflecting on the fact that this is akin to what those female customers I see in the crêperie do, eating big meals before they go on their dates, so they can be seen to pick delicately at the plate for four hours before elegantly pushing it away from them, half finished. All the while telling myself, ‘sure I’m Irish, I can’t be drinking like a German, but if they know what I’m really like they will judge me”. Oh they judged me alright. Or at least they should have, because I’m judging myself. So I swigged the first cider (about a pint and a half), with a view to delicately sipping some Kirs for the rest of the evening. But having gotten off to a swilling start, I forgot about the delicate sipping aspect of the plan, and was puking in the toilet by 10pm. The sound proofing in the apartment not being what it might be, everyone was painfully aware of this fact. I made valiant efforts to recover, thinking that with time (and focusing on a fixed point in the wall) that I might get better, but the puking recommenced and everyone had to go home a half an hour later. Now the night was lovely while it lasted, but THE SHAME. The girls were extremely nice about it, but Jesus you would think I would have learned how to manage myself by this stage in life. I woke up from my drunken coma having succeeded in removing my jeans and socks but nothing else. I was highly entertained however to wake up and find Karim in the kitchen, still in his work clothes from last night -he apparently had a similar experience. Two right beauties we are.

And the self same Karim is currently installed just opposite me, eating freshly purchased raw shredded carrot from the carton, apparently because I gave out to him a few days ago for not eating any vegetables. He is also lamenting having a bad hair day. He has a piece of hair sticking out that he can’t control and he had to get passport photos earlier, in the process of which he met a girl but got shy and couldn’t talk to her because of the state of his hair. It might be just the lack of serotonin, but I find this hilarious.

Belly’s gonna get ya….

“I’m full, I’m just not ready to stop eating.” These were the last words to go through my mind, and possibly the cause of a lifetime of having four more kilos than I would prefer. I am NEVER mentally prepared for the end of my meal. In fact, no matter how delicious it is, about half way through, I start fantasising about what is going to come next. I look in awe at the 50% of clients in work who refuse the dessert menu, proclaiming themselves to have “assez mangé” -eaten enough. (Although it might be that I have in fact been offering them the ‘desert’ menu instead, as was pointed out to me by a helpful but prissy client today -the dessert/desert minefield equally hazardous en français). This “assez mangé” is a feeling with which I am not overly familiar. Possibly because when I go out to a restaurant, I will often have spent the previous week or so fantasising about what I will have, and the five to ten minutes it usually takes me to imbibe it is not quite enough to make up for this. However, having tried on an old pair of jeans this morning and found them positively roomy, it transpires that working in ‘restaurantation’ is very good for the santé, and the daily scoops of ice cream haven’t caught up with me yet. ‘Yet’ being the operative word here though, I fear. It is only a matter of time before my metabolism twigs that something is amiss here. “ICE CREAM, you say?? And CHEESE??? EVERY DAY, you say? Thyroid, what is the meaning of this?? This woman is 32 years of age, this cannot continue. Fatten her up, immediately. And give her spots while you’re at it. She deserves them.” Christmas is sure to help matters though, and the jeans will soon be mocking me again, with their sneakily moveable buttons.

I’ve noticed that the multiple daily errors have abated significantly in work. Finally. They made a brief reappearance the other night when a bunch of people in headscarves ordered five complicated versions of hot chocolate -Muslims LOVE hot chocolates apparently. (I hate making them and feel an article for the Daily Mail coming on about “How Hot Chocolate Made Me Racist”). I got overwhelmed and all of a sudden recommenced dropping utensils and generally making a hames of things. It was then that I realised -Oh. It was stress all along. That’s was what that thing was, making me borderline malfunctional. This is a terrible habit I have, of not recognising that I am stressed, until I am no longer stressed. Had you asked me two weeks ago whether I was stressed in work, I would have vehemently denied it, and said that no, I wasn’t stressed, I was just useless. However, I can now see that it was the other way around. I’m often like that in general -I tend not to notice inconveniences and irritations. For example, I’m forever finding mystery bruises that I have no recollection of acquiring. (And I’m not always drunk, so it isn’t that either…) I had a dentist once who could not understand how I didn’t remember giving my a tooth enough of a bash to blacken it permanently, and a doctor who couldn’t understand how my dislocated toe was as much of a mystery to me as it was to her. However, this is no great feat of stoicism -it is generally just not being terribly aware of what’s going on in my body. And sometimes outside of it too. Unless,of course, it is a runny nose. THEN, both I and all around me me know all about it. One of the worst forms of misery, if you ask me, and annoyingly, the one thing you’re not really allowed to complain about. “Oh sure it’s just a head cold”. JUST a head cold!!! I need my head!! For crucial activities, like seeing, thinking and BREATHING! A head cold impairs the one bodily function that is so crucial that you will last about four minutes without it, and yet, the majority of the Western world seem not to be too bothered by it. I can only conclude that I am getting THE WORST head colds of all of the people. But maybe I am just a whinge bag. However, fortunately, this particular whinge bag has finally calmed the frick down, and is now a passable waitress. In fact, I had my first fight with a customer last night, of which I am very proud! Normally, this would not be a source of pride, but it was in French, and therefore to be celebrated. Plus, the cause of the argument was not my fault in the slightest, which in itself is cause for opening a bottle of something fizzy and alcoholic.

I have intentions of doing that very thing this evening as it happens, and the Hungarian (which makes her sound like a warrior from the Middle Ages) and the German and I are meeting for a ‘girls night’. We were supposed to also have the Mexican who I have never met, but apparently she is not available. We are having an apero or two in my place to start out with, and heading afterwards for the Christmas markets. I am considering slugging a bottle cider all by myself in advance, so that they don’t get alarmed at the pace at which I always inhale my first drink, but this notion is niggling at me in a way that doesn’t quite sit right, so I’d better not.. Oh she’s Irish alright.

The Unending Tale of Woe: my knee

I finally went to the doctor. A sports doctor -apparently they have such things here -and with great difficulty I gained entry to his fortress. (Behind two locked doors and three sets of stairs -no lift, in a place for sports injuries…) I got embroiled in conversation with a French woman, who over-shared information and started making announcements to the entire waiting room about her hypothyroidism and weight fluctuations. She commented that I have very good French, but I have noticed that the people who say this are generally people who talk so much they don’t realise I have been doing nothing but nodding. But Frenchly, apparently.

I eventually got in to see Dr. Ledivil, who was more interested in talking about drinking Murphy’s and recommending that I open up a franchise of crêperies in Ireland than talking about my knee. After a millisecond of listening to me, he wiggled my knee around, slapped me on the arse and proclaimed it fucked. The knee, not my arse, fortunately. Okay, he said it was compliqué, but that is French doctor speak for ‘fucked’. He tried to send me off with a printout of seven useless exercises and number for ‘his buddy’, a physiotherapist of sorts, but I abruptly stopped him and demanded something stronger. He was aghast that I had routinely been lifting 20kg as part of my physio programme, but was happy to write me a prescription for an injection, the utility of which is under suspicion, but which is worth a shot. (Or two, as it happens, fifteen days apart). ‘Good idea’, he says. Then why didn’t YOU suggest it, doctor? He was even more aghast when I asked whether I should give myself these injections. WHAT? he says. “No I am the doctor here – I give the injections!!” It was a plausible suggestion, to my mind. However, as to the plausibility of his doctorness, I am less sure. And as for his buddy!! I looked him up on the Internet. Now I can’t be certain it is the same person, but Don Corleone below is the first image that came up:

NOTE the name of the website. Now call me over-cautious, but there is no way I am going to risk the well-being of one of my only two knees on a PROFESSIONAL GAMBLER!! Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin. No no Doctor Ledivil, I’ll take your injections and I’ll be on my merry way. In the other direction. As fast as my gammy knee will take me.

Tunisia 1b is never dull

This week of work is off to a good start. I’ve finished my weekend shifts, and all has gone well. Everyone was nice to me, and I even managed to make a few jokes with the clients. Also, Alice est Malade. Ha. Delighted I am. I couldn’t even conceal my delight enough to sound sympathetic when the boss told me, and launched into an ill-advised and probably incomprehensible rant about the origins of the word ‘marmalade’. (I think “Alice est Malade” reminded me of the phrase “Marie Malade”, which apparently led to the coining of the word. Apparently has something to do with Marie Antoinette). Honestly if I manage to make any French friends here it will be an utter miracle, with anecdotes like that.

Karim and I are getting on well though, and he has upped the level of self disclosure. The latest has me speechless. Apparently, not only did he have a fiancée in the past, but he has also been MARRIED. Not even to the same fiancée!! He was married at 19 to a French girl. It lasted a year and they are now Divorced. He’s 24!!! A colourful character indeed. He’s much aggrieved at the moment though, as a result of the events of last night. (The recounting of which was what led to the previous confessions in fact.) I was in bed after work, and heard him returning home with a girl. One of the copines, I assumed, but oddly, and to my great relief, I heard very little else. However, when I got up in the morning, I noticed a big heap of clothes and a pair of hiking boots in the sitting room. What was going on exactly? Lo and behold, a Spanish girl emerged from Karim’s room, with Karim in hot pursuit, and he was soon escorting her back to the train station. It turned out he had met her there the night before, when he had a rendezvous with someone to sell some Playstation controls (long story -not worth going into details but we spend long hours comparing originals to copies, and debating the advantages of colours and lighting). While there, he encountered this girl who asked to use his phone to contact her friend, as there was some problem with her SIM card. The friend was uncontactable and the girl was about to be without a roof over her head for the night, which Karim could not stand over. So he invited her home. Now admittedly, not all of his intentions were that honourable, and he also hoped to profit from the situation. Further conversation with this girl revealed that she was travelling alone through Europe with very little money, and had been bunking in with strangers as she went. She explained to him that she often slept with these people -didn’t matter if they were old or strange or anything, she just did. However, she refused to sleep with Karim, and he is Baffled. She told him if he tried anything that she would bite him (I am not sure what percentage of this was a joke) and he spent the night keeping strictly to his side of the bed, in fear of getting rabies. So he hasn’t slept well and keeps repeating, “Mais pourquoi pas moi???” (“But why not meeee??”) She slept with everyone else like! He can’t understand it and has concluded that the next damsel in distress will be left unceremoniously at the train station.

The princes of luuurve

I’ve taken the plunge. I grown tired of listening to Karim telling me that I need to go out more, and I need to be less timide, and I need to be doing something if I want to find a man. (He is not accepting my claims of ambiguity as to my motivation in this area). He tells me that it will be easy for me, as I am still ‘en forme‘ (despite my great age), and I just need to get out there. That or sign up for “Les Princes de l’Amour” (“The Princes of Love“), an appalling French reality TV show that he is convinced is a foolproof alternative. So I signed up for Tinder. And Karim was most disapproving. HA!!!

So I’ve made a few matches, and I’ve been French flirting with fellas who don’t speak English. What do I think I’m up to?? I’m going to be rumbled the minute they clap eyes on me and realise I need to put myself through Google Translate to sustain a conversation with them! But it’s not really flirting, truth be told. Because French Tinder is as boring as Irish Tinder, and the conversations are MUNDAAAANE. However, mundane is about all my French personality is able for, so maybe I’m the perfect candidate? Watch this space..

Tables and transcendentalism

2am

I just caught myself in the middle of the following inner dialogue, after reading a short article by Marian Keyes, where she describes taking a sudden turn in which she developed an obsession with using chalk paint to upgrade household items. The inner dialogue went like this “That was a nice story. I liked all the blue tables. God I had a great time reading about the blue furniture.” And I really did!!! Now call me a philistine if you will (and I’m sure you will), but I’ve always considered imagery in literature a bit of a waste of time. Skim skim skim, I thinks to myself, get to the juicy bits -you know, with the STORY, and the PEOPLE, and the TALKING. The good stuff. But here I am, lost in a world of turquoise blue tables, which I find soothing, delicious, and dare I say it, therapeutic, to visualise. Kind of like a salt bath, but for my brain. It was really lovely!! And then I realised that it isn’t that I don’t like imagery in books, I just have very odd tastes. It’s like when I look at a still life, or a painting of a meadow of allegedly lovely flowers. YAWN. BOOORING. NEXT. Cold, they leave me, cold, I tell you. I would even go so far as to say that I find them objectionable. However, there are one or two notable exceptions -I have just recalled being moved to tears in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, by his Almond Blossom painting. So moved in fact, that I couldn’t bring myself to buy the poster of it that I wanted, in case I ruined it by over exposure to a substandard copy, and soiled the sanctity of the moment, with our post-post-modern obsession with preserving every fleeting moment. (Photographs, to my mind, are the ultimate denial of the transience of life -but this is a viewpoint that is neither popular nor profitable in the Instagram Era). The Van Gogh painting -you know the one I’m talking about -all delicate white petals and silver-greyish branches on a blue sky background -may finally prove to me that images can have emotional power. This may seem odd to the more educated and cultured of you, but this is a concept I have struggled with for quite some time. Whether there is any value much in looking at a painting, or are we all just codding ourselves, paying extortionate amounts of money to discuss “the artist’s use of loight”. Or white paint, as it is more commonly known. In the past, I have satisfied myself on this matter with explanations that get complicated and centre around transcendentalism, but prior to Mr. Van Gogh and this moment of beauty in the midst of his Terrible and Awful depression, I had never quite found myself having an out of body moment and contemplating the heights to which human experience can rise. However, upon further reflection, and back in my dark room with white walls (and two lesser celebrated posters from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam), maybe I just really like turquoise.

12 hours later; 2pm

Yes I lost the plot a bit in the middle of the night, and I apologise. I’m on my day off, and find myself in a small restaurant very near the apartment, where they serve up very bad quality meat at very high prices, by rude staff who never give me what I ask for. In fact, the only person who has been nice to me here is the guy that came in one day to fix the coffee machine. However, I have become strangely addicted to the place, and I keep coming back! I walked past countless viable alternatives today, and still chose here, to spend an hour and a half gnawing my way through what they call steak. Alarmingly, there is a woman beside me commenting that her food -exactly what I am eating -is “trop bon” -too good. I suppose what is more alarming is that I can’t seem to stop returning. Their coffee is nice, and their Wifi is second to none. Maybe that’s the attraction. That or it’s an inexplicable feat of masochism. I really hope it’s the Wifi.

Terrible workplace grievances

I have terrible workplace grievances. They are mainly linked to one middle aged woman, who will henceforth be known as The Biggest Bitch in the Whole Wide World. She has developed a most passionate dislike for me, and has stopped even the most basic of courtesies. I’m not attempting to do the two kisses or anything wild like that now, but she no longer even responds when I ask her a question. What have I done to her? The best I can come up with is the day I said yes to her when I didn’t mean yes. I meant, I am not entirely sure what you just said Alice, but I am willing to make a stab at it. I stabbed the wrong thing apparently. However, crucially, I did not stab HER, which I now regret, as she is certainly acting as if I did. “How is your sore foot today Alice?” No response. “How about now, BITCH?” (Bloodied dagger in hand). Not shaking the whipped cream before using it apparently amounts to social suicide in our beloved crêperie. I may be imagining it, but relations have seemed stonier with my other colleagues too. I spend most of my shifts trying to work out how I have insulted them. I never get any answers, but I can only imagine that it is linked to the ongoing errors. Which are copious. I may be a little late on the uptake, but I just discovered that Manuel -or the actor who played him in Fawlty Towers -died exactly a year to the day of when I was blogging about him, so I am afraid to make any more comparisons between myself and fictional characters. (I’ve just realised that going by a recent post, Mel Gibson better watch himself…) But such is life. And death.

My relations with the clients however continue to be good. Although I still panic when people try to make small talk with me. I try to convey good manners with eye movements and smiling brightly, while mutely communicating with the same expression “PLEASE STOP TALKING TO ME OR I WILL BE OUSTED!!” Children are the worst -I am actually afraid of them, because I know that they will not understand that I do not speak their language. They also talk very loudly, and loud conversations are the very last thing I want, in the quiet crêperie, for all to judge. So we’re still on smiling and nodding. But there is much more French happening without my noticing it, and I actually feel weird talking in English to people in the crêperie. In fact, that brings me on to another topic -a pickle, that I may or may not have gotten myself into.

Last Friday night, I joined a group that I met through an app on the internet called MeetUp. It’s a great app, and you pick the kinds of things that interest you in your area, and hopefully meet other like minded people. So when I stumbled upon a group in the city called the Have Funners, this sounded like a crowd I wanted to get in with. With some difficulty, I found them at the Christmas markets, and truth be told, it was a roaring success. I met some really great, interesting people, and five of us ended up in the pub together, having a fine old time discussing the links between language and personality. It was fabulous to talk confidently in English and remember that I do in fact have a personality. I love them all and I hope to meet up with them again. But not in a gay way. However, the other morning, I got a notification from the group organiser indicating that he had pressed the ‘good to meet you’ button on the app. I went to press the ‘good to meet you too’ button, and discovered there were many more buttons there for the pressing. These other buttons were inviting me to tell the other people I had met that it was good to meet them, with the simple press of a button. Now being new to the app and unsure of its social protocols, I thought I had better give an old ‘good to meet you’ to everyone I had encountered that evening -especially if it was going to be public news that I had thought it was good to meet some people and not others. However, it has since occurred to me that this is not the done thing, and my intentions may have been misconstrued. Which may or may not have led to a few of them calling in on separate occasions to the crêperie, just for the chats. This may seem like a nice friendly thing to do, but on the first such occasion I got all flustered by several factors. 1. Having a visitor. 2. Not remembering his name. 3. Having loads of customers arrive at that very moment when I was supposed to be manning the bar on my own. And 4. Having to speak in English where I normally speak in French. It felt WEIRD. So perhaps I have accidentally flirted with half the MeetUp group, but in my defense I said it was ‘good to meet’ the women as well! However, none of them have showed up in my place of work. All I can think is thanks be to God the ‘single’ sign wasn’t still up!!!!