Ellie, Christmas 2010.
Last night my family and I stayed up late playing a riveting game of Hearts, a classic card game my family enjoys every summer. Kirstie decided to be an antisocial weirdo and read her kindle instead of joining us, but after a good fifteen minutes of nagging from my mother and myself, (which included my mom scooting the couch, with Kirstie reclining on it, across the floor) she finally gave up and let us deal her in. And she then, of course, kicked all our asses. She counts cards, pays 100% attention, and goes for the throat. No mercy. No joking. It's serious.
All the same, we enjoyed the game and each other and kept reflecting every half hour or so how wonderful it was to be in Paris, for Christmas, together. Today we plan on going to the Eiffel tower since it claims to be open 365 days a year (though I am skeptical to believe any french website since they don't seem to take them seriously and their statements are more suggestions or guesses than fact). We then will return home, make some eggnog, salad, and cookies for the Christmas party we are sharing with my international friends.
Hopefully tomorrow we will succeed in waking up at a reasonable time (and by that I mean before noon) and open presents. My sweet little tree is shedding almost more than I do, and I'm sure he's ready to retire his needles this year. But I'm going to keep him up until the fire hazard level reaches threat level red (or until January 2nd, whichever comes first).
Poor Grant sent my Christmas present to me and while he meant well it, of course, ended up being a massive pain in my ass. Through the online tracking we could see that it had been attempted to be delivered, but without success. No note was left in my box and this left me frustrated and perplexed. I went to my local post office and to say they were less than helpful would be kind. After three trips they finally gave me a phone number to call to find out what the issue was. This took me to an automated message which was, as you may have guessed, in french. I believe it was four attempts before I made it through to a person who, also, spoke french, and only french. She was sweet and laughed kindly with me as I fumbled through my limited lexicon saying, "I have a package and the man came but I have a big problem with the address." She seemed to understand me and asked me for the number, but since I get slightly confused with the french alphabet and since I don't pronounce all numbers perfectly, we reached a wall in our comprehension and she forwarded me to someone else, presumably someone who could speak english. When I asked this woman, "Parlez-vous anglais?" She hung up on me.
I went through the whole song and dance a second time, waited on hold for a what felt like 20 minutes, and eventually stumbled upon someone who still spoke little english but at least was near enough to someone who could translate for her. I discovered that since Grant had sent it express so that I would get it in time for Christmas, the delivery man did not know the code to get into my apartment and so could not leave a note in the box. I also discovered that to pick it up I had to go far, far, far away from my endearing apartment into the sketchiest part of Paris. I asked when it would be delivered again, and the woman told me on Monday, so I will be sending the family off to Versailles (which I have visited previously) while I stay at home, too terrified to leave for fear of missing the drop off. The woman also added sweetly at the end that there would be a forty euro tax charge, thank you very much, and I was so happy to finally have figured out this situation and almost be done with it that I didn't let this sink in completely until I hung up.
Forty euros? Who the hell do these people think they are. First, I believed that if something was a gift you didn't have to pay taxes on it. Second, Grant and I are supposed to be exhibiting self control when it comes to spending for one another, and I can't imagine that the gift itself is worth much more than 40 euros. Third, why couldn't my post office inform me that these other people had the box my first or second time out. And finally, so much for Grant's express shipment. If Santa can figure this shit out, why can't the post office? At least Monday is only one day late.
Oh how I love dealing with this. It's obnoxious enough in my own country when I can communicate with the jackass on the other end, but when there's a language barrier on top of it adding extra pressure, I just can't handle it. I find myself blaming the entire country for this ridiculousness and missing my motherland where I can, at the very least, cuss out the fools who drag me through these situations. I like to think that when I finally become an adult (I'm waiting for it to hit, like puberty, or lightning...any day now would be nice) I will be able to jump through these hoops with grace and dignity. As of now, I get flustered, angry, and want to cry. I end up looking like an escaped mental patient having an allergic reaction.
At least with Christmas on the horizon, my mom, Kirstie and Nance here to comfort and distract me, it was easy to snap out of my convulsions of exasperation. And going to the Musee de Marmottan to see beautiful impressionist art can calm anyone out of the eye of a frustration tornado. The day went by beautifully and I look forward to today and my Christmas in Paris. This is one I certainly will never forget.