Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Le Premier Jour de Mon Post-Doc

Wowie wow wow, it is the first day of my post-doc, and this is Paris, so I decide to go all out and wear a clip-on 8-bit tie, as well as put some wax (not purchased at the Institut Mahler) in ma coiffure (hair style, not New York coffee). This is a good move because I get nothing but respect all day, but looming is an expectation that I should wear a tie every day. Then I go to see Madame Zisso about my long stay visa and ask at reception, "Excusez-moi, je voudrais regarder Madame Zisso." This translates to, "Excuse me, I would like to watch Madame Zisso." Or, "Excuse me, I would like to look at Madame Zisso." Ok, so that didn't happen; but I was about to say exactly that until I realized my mistake and substituted the less weird "voir", which is "to see".

This first day of my post-doc was really nothing but dealing with paperwork: getting my lunch card, figuring out how to obtain a long stay visa, finding official translators of our legal documents, etc. By the end of it I was really feeling like a failure because I had not produced a paper ready for submission. I mean, I am a doctor now. Pure and unpublished knowledge should be flowing from every word I say.

Luckily, mes amis (previously mentioned BFFs) invited me to dinner at their home so that I could forget all that. Guillaume made some steamed vegetables, and saumon (salmon). Sa copine Isabelle made a nice salad with compté (some of my favorite cheese). When we had sat and the obligatory "Bon appétit" had been said, I dressed my plate with a side of salad and passed the bowl on. The two of them just stared at me and Guillaume said, "Go ahead. I want to see what you do with that." It turns out that salad is eaten AFTER the main course, to provide light fresh greens as a counterpoint to the heavier main course. It also turns out to be extremely bad manners to return salad back to the bowl after serving. So much I have yet to learn! Mal élevé! Lucky for me, the tie more than made up for my air of inelegance.

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