Wednesday, September 27, 2006


"Take it every half-hour or so," the doctor who showed up around 5:30 said, "as long as you need to. Should clear things up in no time." After he left, I promptly called up my husband (!) and asked him to pick up some on his way home from work.

I've heard people say how yummy Pepto-Bismol is. "It's like pink marshmallow stuff," they say, "or cinnamon hearts or something." And other such insipid commentary.

All said with a fond smile - which I can only assume is caused by the memory of the relief it brought more than of the taste of the noxious, gooey, mouth-coating slime. Pepto-Bismol tastes vile. I almost spat it out. *bleagh* My husband couldn't believe I didn't lick the inside of the little measuring cup to get the rest of the medicine, and almost looked a little disappointed that he couldn't since he wasn't sick.

I have to give the stuff credit, though. Other than witnessing a variety of rumbles and noises emanating from my entire torso over the past 16 hours, (rumbles and noises which have ranged from the interesting to hilarious to highly embarrassing, I might add), I have only had to visit the necessary once since then. I am finally able to slowly replenish my body's fluids and slowly eat some food, of which I have had almost none over the past few days.

So if anyone tells you liquid Pepto-Bismol tastes good, they're lying. It just makes you feel better. Go with the pills or the chewables instead.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Well, all it took was one glass of Parisian tap water to cause me to be violently ill since Saturday. As I unfortunately cannot stray far from the facilities long enough to get to a clinic, I was forced this morning at 8:24 to call the Doctors House Call service, where the receptionist told me in a bored voice, "The doctor will be there anytime between now and seven."

"Seven?" I replied, in as disbelieving tone as I could weakly muster.

"Seven." (After we hung up I realized my health card expired two weeks ago. Oops. Well, I have a credit card.)

So it's nearly eleven AM and I've just escaped for the seventh time since midnight and I honestly don't know if I'm going to survive the day. I'm so dehydrated and I can't keep any fluid in me long enough to make up what seems to be the gallon or so of water I've left behind since we arrived back in Toronto Sunday night. I really hope the doctor arrives with an IV drip or something, because as my friends and family know, I am not good at drinking anything fast, much less water. It's just so...boring. And yet I find myself vastly interested once I'm missing about 10% of it from my body.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Voyage à Paris - Day 3

Nine hours of sleep. We slept in like lazy sacks of turd. The hotel room's curtains, when fully drawn, completely blocked the light and my internal chronometer is all dizzy so we ended up scratching plans for the Louvre since it would be close to noon by the time we got there. We decided instead to hit the Musée de la Marine.

Learning from yesterday, we bought 2 demi baguettes for breakfast (total cost 1/10th of yesterday's meagre breakfast and caustic service) and ate them as we walked. We walked across the Pont de Bir Hakeim, which has a giant statue of someone on a raging horse, I think. The bridge was built to commemorate a ridiculous number of soldiers who either triumphed or perished, I don't recall, when marching across a desert or a city, I'm not certain which, named Bir Hakeim. Don't know what that has to do with horses. Then again, maybe it was a giant goddesse on a sea creature. My memory is kind of foggy.

The Musée de la Marine and the adjoining building, which together form the old Palais de Chaillon, are very white and extremely bright when one has left one's sunglasses at the hotel. It was very hot and very uphill. I was not in the best of moods. But, the sight of the Eiffel Tower from across the river, what a sight worthy of many photos. It really does lean away from the sun, it's weird!

The Musée de la Marine was stupendous. HUGE models of monster square-rigged warships at 1:18 or even 1:12 scale! Nadine composed some wicked pictures of the models.

One model described how some Egyptian decided to give France an obelisk, leaving it up to the French to get it to Paris. So the French built a special barge, sailed over, cut down the obelisk, levered and pullied it over to the barge which they had pulled up onto a beach, sawed the end off the barge, pulled the obelisk in, sewed the boat back up, and took it home. This is the big spike that sits in the middle of Place Concorde, and inspired us to check it out later that day.

Next up, the Arc de Triomphe - but lunch first. We had pasta and a burger and a demi bouteille of red wine that went straight to our heads as we looked out over the sidewalk patio. With a lot of giggling we continued to the Arc de Triomphe. We were first struck by the madcap traffic circle around the Arc. I can see that the rule is for traffic in the circle to yield to traffic entering, and the policy is to do so begrudgingly. I counted about two near misses in a handful of seconds as cars and scooters threw themselves across multiple lanes. Lanes that were of course only perceived, not painted.

Nadine found a bench and wrote a postcard (a drunken postcard, I might add, to my dear friend and maid of honor Stephanie) while I gaped at the traffic. Two people came to ask us where the tunnel was to go underneath, but we hadn't found it at that point. I began to wonder how many Frenchmen were actually in Paris.

Good great view from the top of the Arc, man, oh man. We reversed Nadine's trick of taking photos through the pay telescope by getting ultra-close pics of the Eiffel Tower.

We picture-bombed the underside and outside of the Arc, and then decided we would walk down the Champs Elysées straight to the Place Concorde to marvel at the spike. ("Real Egyptian sh**!" Nadine enthused.)

We finally found some shade and liquids along the Champs Elysées, photo-noting the Louis Vuitton store with a long line-up.

The spike was very Egyptian, and like the Arc de Triomphe, ringed by a Paris-style accolade of madcap motorists.

Our next stop was decided to be the Gardens around the Louvre (Jardin des Tuileries) as the sun settled and we strolled along eating sorbet cones. We took a whole photo-journal of our approach to the glass pyramid. We had a nice sit by the pyramid.

We took the bus home to save an hour's walk in the dark. Bought two bottles of wine at a corner market, and then struck another item off our list by getting dinner at duhn duhn daa... McDonalds. I had a Royale with bacon and got miffed when the silly wench at the counter wouldn't accept my French. I was saying, "Quoi?" because she was speaking at 2 decibels in a noisy environment, not because I don't know what "Coke? Coke? Coke? Coke?" means. I just kept forging ahead with my order but had to repeat it all because she never progressed to the subroutine after "Coke?". I have two bottles of wine and it's ten o'clock. No Coke! The McDonalds tasted funny. No diarrhea though, praise be.

I wanted more fries, though. I can never get enough of McDonald's fries. The wine wasn't the greatest; I guess our expectations of French standards were a little high. That, or just not the right meal to eat with it. ;-P Found two English channels - CNN and something else. Tried to watch French TV but they spoke way too fast, even for me. And so to bed..

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Voyage à Paris - Day 2

Twelve. Hours. Of SLEEP. AWESOME. Reveille at 9:00AM and on the street by 10:00AM. Looking for a hearty breakfast we found only 2 fried eggs and 2 razor thin slices of ham and 4 pieces of toast for 20 euros!!! Holy Crap!

I decided I needed a new jacket as I felt very shabby in the city of fashion, so I kept my eye out as we headed toward Notre Dame, via Rue Sevres.

We sidetracked from our beeline to Notre Dame so we could check out Eglise Saint Sulpice. Very nice, as you'd expect. Lots of arches, lots of stones, pretty dark inside. Got lots of photos of the Rose Line featured in the Da Vinci Code, which is accompanied by several posters entitled: "The Danger of the Da Vinci Code: Lost Faith!" More savvy business practice would have been to have a stand of those cool spiked leg-torturing things that the albino monk wore. You mean the cilice.

I found my jacket in a little mall, and scored a complimentary gym bag and matching kit bag that may help us bring home lots of wine. Now when people ask where you got that awesome jacket, you can say you got it from "Somewhere", as that was the name of the store. Clever, no?

We had an emergency lunch at a pasta place. Grimbergen beer - nicht gut. I had a 7Up. I think it was the best 7Up I ever had. 25 centilitres of sugary goodness.

On to Notre Dame, at something like 2:30. We started our visit with the "crypts" underneath the spot were the Hotel Dieu stood before it burned down. Roman and medeival French sewers and cellars are intermingled, superimposed, and intertwined in something that now looks like Escher's staircases. It smells bad too. It smells like dried seaweed, like in my grandfather's basement, which is a smell I noticed first and immediately said it smelled familiar. It's because the docks of the Seine used to be further north of where they are now. On to the cathedral!

Many photo ops in front. Inside is very dark. Even on a really sunny day. We discovered the difficulties of taking pictures of dark things, and bright things, in the dark with a camera that automatically adjusts the shutter speed. No matter how steady you hold it your heart still has to beat, so it ends up fuzzy. Maybe it will make everything seem ghostly or bathed in a spiritual radiance.

Looked at the "treasures" of France and was not impressed. Everything was copies! Not so breathtaking with cubic zirconia, dudes.

We tried to get to the top of Notre Dame but the steps had been closed for the day. We made a solemn vow to return. We walked instead around the south side of the cathedral, snapping pictures of the flying buttresses. There's an awesome park with rows of trees trimmed into square hedges behind Notre Dame, filled with people sucking each other's tonsils out. Like those parks back home where people play chess, except for people who suck face. I think we have pictures.

We walked home, stopping for sushi at a place that only had pre-made maki in plastic trays. I was able to communicate my order entirely in French, though. It's nice having Nadine there, like a batter on deck, ready to jump in when the conversation goes badly for me.

Snapped some photos of L'Hotel des Invalides in the dark, and of the Eiffel Tower with epileptic strobes flashing all over it.
The postcards can't really do it justice because the shutter speed is slower in the dark, so when you see a picture of the Eiffel tower all lit up--and I mean bright-white lit up--it's only because all the lights flashed once in the time it took for the shutter to close. Try to picture it with only about a quarter of the lights on, and that's what a half-second of that time is like.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Voyage à Paris, Day/Night 1

[Note: Nadine's text in peach, Andrew's in blue.]

We have had about five hours between the two of us...oh, of sleep, I mean. See? Can't even string a sentence. Together. Arg.

Another five hour sleep stretched out on two plane seats. Felt refreshed for about twenty minutes. Not at all impressed with the subway system that was so lauded by our advisors. But I am just tired and very easily frustrated right now, so I hope to rebound tomorrow. I'm beginning to feat that I'm incapable of relaxing in foreign environments, that I can only function with routine life. It's just so demeaning to be standing in front of a multicolored wall map designed to be understood by preschoolers while native citizens jostle and zoom by with ease. I got chewed up by recalcitrant turnstiles, bleeped at by indifferent red LEDs, and trapped inside the subway system, unable to leave through the "Sortie". How can you call it a "Sortie" if you can't sort? It should be called a "Peut-être sortie".

It's much, much warmer than I expected it to be here. My legs swelled on the plane from the pressure in the cabin and the tiny amount of leg room. Now I'm wearing my wrap dress sans leggings, and my legs look fat.

We went out to dîner at this restaurant which served a teensy French steak with a heaping pile of fries (made with French potatoes) and a single leaf of lettuce. No veggies. We went to the Eiffel Tower after, which we found when we switched tables at the restaurant. Just behind me. Andrew took a picture. Then at the Tower we took about 50 more, including two from the telescope machines. Got our first glimpse of Notre Dame de Paris!!! It got cold so we went back to the hot3el. The elevator is more like a dubwaiter so we took the stairs. Did I mention we took the stairs down - and UP - the entire Tower???*

*Okay, up to the midpoint deck. Still, 668 feet!!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Four days

...and I'm feeling thoroughly nauseated. I have all this nervous energy that I need to burn off or I'm going to have a heart attack or something. We're meeting with our minister tonight to write our vows, four days before the event. I can't believe it.

*covers her head and screams*