le decémbre

by jemma margaret

Brrr.

Yes, yes, I know it’s snowing elsewhere. But I am on my way to giving Rudolph a run for his red nose infamy. Thank goodness, I have a nice little chauffage in my room (plus going on 5 blankets) and the libraries (when crowded) do not necessitate an overcoat. But I really felt too akin to Bob Cratchit when I received this email from my graduate student representative:

“comme vous l’avez remarqué, le chauffage de notre couloir est en panne. À en croire l’administration, le problème est loin d’être résolu. C’est pourquoi l’IMJ nous a acheté des radiateurs individuels. Ces radiateurs ont été achetés avec l’argent de l’IMJ 2012. Comme c’est la fin de l’année, il n’y a plus beaucoup d’argent, et seulement 5 radiateurs ont pu être achetés. Normalement, le reste sera complété avec le budget 2013 (donc dès janvier). Au niveau des consignes de sécurité : normalement, ce type de chauffage est interdit.”

He helpfully followed up with an English translation (not just for me, I hope–it looks suspiciously like Google translate, one of my favorite websites):

“as you noticed, the heating system in our hallway isn’t working. According to the administration, the problem isn’t about to be solved any moment. That’s why the IMJ bought us individual heaters. These heaters have been bought with the 2012-IMJ money. Because it’s the end of the year, there’s not much remaining money, and so only 5 heaters have been bought. Others will be bought with the 2013 money (thus, in january). About security: normally, this kind of heaters is forbidden.”

There are 10 offices. Since this is a math department, the solution is that every pair of two offices will be sharing a heater until the new budget begins. Don’t expect to find me there before that happens.

The first of December does not only signal cold extremities and overt references to holiday personnel. Christmas, I mean, December, is also the month where one is supposed to eat one chocolate each day. I think it’s a law in some states.

I used to receive an advent calendar at Thanksgiving as a generous, but tantalizing gift. Actually, I am a huge fan of the rationing concept employed there, if not of the chocolate quality. Apparently there are now fancy advent calendars with a wide variety of flavors and cocoa origins, on the other end of the scale the one at my local Franprix costs 87 euro cents.

I had some intentions to make Paris my advent calendar and eat one chocolate each day (before I depart for California!!) thus sampling 18 different confectioneries. Upon further reflection, this is probably not going to happen for the following:

(1) The chocolate shops are not crazy about customers who purchase one euro’s worth of goods.

(2) I should probably focus on my research. But this IS research! The real research, not the chocolate research. The wine research? Mmm, sort of.

(3) I actually prefer plain very dark chocolate bars or hot chocolate or pain au chocolat to chocolate candies.

However, today I did go to the stunning Patrick Roger and bought a very pleasant chocolate covered caramel. The place smelled like the best version of heaven (I hear that in French there are different verbs for whether something smells good). If they’d let me, I might have curled up next to the chocolate hippopotamus in the window.

I have no idea what the chocolate I did order was called since there were no descriptions or names posted and I don’t understand everything people say to me in French. My sister and I decided it was probably jealousy or envy, but after browsing the menu I wish I had opted for mellowness, fantasy, or instinct. Maybe even atom. That might have been mind blowing.

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