Tom Mcrae, Carte de Sejour, Angels on Ice and Gym Musings …

Made my re-entry back to my other “home” this week. It’s always a bit of a jolt to have the rhythm of my life change so dramatically after just a few hours on an airplane. But I’m kind of used to it now.

Took a chance that I’d be upright and operational after my transatlantic flight and bought tickets to a concert the same day I arrived here. I did so because a British singer/songwriter that I greatly admire – Tom McRae – was doing a one-night-only show at a small Paris venue called La Maroquinerie.

Tom McRae at La Maroquinerie in Paris

The show was wonderful and thankfully I did fine fighting back the jetlag. I really encourage you to check out some of Tom McRae’s music if you’ve never heard of him before. A few of my favorite McRae songs that I recommend you check out: “You Cut Her Hair”, “The Boy with the Bubblegun”, “End of the World Blues”, “Bloodless” and “Please”.

Each year since my first year here, I’ve been able to renew my French visa by mailing some documents to the authorities, waiting 3 months and then going to pick up my “carte de sejour”, meaning I only had to scratch the surface of the infamous French administration. So I dutifully sent in my documents back in October, waited my 3 months and during the first week of January, went to go pick up my new visa. Well surprise … some rules had changed as of January 1 and they now required a personal visit to the “prefecture” (Interior Ministry) in order to renew the visa. I of course calmly explained to the clerk that obviously the new rules wouldn’t apply to me because I had sent in my dossier 3 months before the rules changed. She didn’t agree.

So this week I had my appointment at the Prefecture on Ile de la Cite, just across from Notre Dame and a short 5-minute walk from my place. The appointment they gave me was for 1:30pm. To be safe, I arrived 15 minutes early, only to learn that despite the pre-arranged appointment time, you still needed to get a ticket with a number on it in order to see a clerk. The problem was you can only get one of these tickets from the receptionist, and she goes to lunch from 1pm – 2:30pm. Peculiar and unfortunate that I had been given an appointment during the receptionist’s lunch break. I couldn’t fight off the thought of how a simple ticket machine (like at a deli) would alleviate this problem although I tried really hard to.

The reception came back from lunch and all of us immigrants quickly lined up to see her for a ticket. I watched as she asked each person in front of me about their particular details and then shot each one of them a varying disapproving look from her vast arsenal. Got my ticket and sat among my brethren, listening to a mish-mash of French, Turkish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic and some languages I couldn’t identify. I noticed the stress on a young pregnant woman’s face sitting next to me and imagined that it couldn’t be too good for her to be going through this. Then again, it wasn’t too good for anyone.

There were 6 clerks “working” and from where I was seated, I could only see one of them, call her #6. She was about 50 years old, spoke in an exaggerated and high-pitched voice and was very intolerant. At one point I heard her yell “au secours, au secours” at a man in front of her who was fumbling with his dossier, basically saying “help me, help me!”. So the little buzzer sounds and my number comes up on the screen in the waiting room and tells me to go to … #6. Thankfully I was quite organized and had brought some updated documents with me, figuring that she would say my file from last October was too old. She did. She shuffled a bunch of papers around, sent me out into the hallway to make a couple of photocopies and navigated her way through a dreaded printer paper jam.

Right when I thought the process was about to end, she held all my papers in one hand, in what I perceived as a bit of a taunt, and said, “Monsieur Silpa, next year you must start this process earlier; it’s already April”. My instinct told me to go off on her, about how I started this back in October and explain how they changed the rules and blah blah blah, but my experience told me to shut it and smile, say ok, and get out of there ASAP. So she says that we’re all done and hands me a paper, but not my visa card. I was confused and asked her, “but wasn’t I here to pick up my visa card”. And her response? “No monsieur, for that you’ll have to come back in July”.

Elvis Stojko Jumps

Got to shoot an ice skating exhibition – there’s a first time for everything – featuring Olympic and World Champion figure skaters. It was called “Angels on Ice” and entertained me more than I figured it would. I put together a short video of my images from the shoot because I thought they warranted being viewed with some music. To see the video, CLICK HERE.

Since restarting at my French gym, the differences between my experience at my Long Beach gym and this one really jump out at me. Like for instance how many people here are reading books while working out; and I don’t mean on an exercise bike. I mean while lifting weights or on nautilus machines; and not in between the exercise but during it! The group classes – pilates or some boxing variants – with participants sweating profusely and moving with almost military precision in Long Beach look so entirely different to me here … their movements here more akin to a small group of people looking for each other while intermittently picking elderberries in a field. I really like my gym here …

Some photos of the week:

Holding On

Doggie in Long Beach Animal Shelter

Doggie in Long Beach Animal Shelter


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by The Second Baseman on April 4, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    The video has some of the best shots I have ever seen on skating…Beautifully shot and great music…Good job…


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