Friday, June 24, 2005

In the sweltering heat of Lyon, the full moon shines brightly on my problems

Well, this last week has been interesting. I have been putting out fires literally as soon as I walked out of the Lyon airport, back from my brief visit back home for my brother's wedding.

The first was my landlord. I was moving out and I have had nothing but problems from the guy ever since I moved in.

At the end, it was even worse. First, I had to go down to the Treasury to pay a habitation tax that the landlord normally pays. Then I had to let him in my apartment for a "pre-final" check, totally unheard of, to make sure I didn't break anything. At this check, he brought out a list of charges that I owed him, amounting to over 400 euros. After a lot of fighting from me, my boyfriend and the Centre Oregon, we were able to bring that figure down to around 300 euros – but it still hurt.

Because he is such an asshole, however, my boyfriend Rodrigue and I knew that we would have to thoroughly clean my apartment or else he would ding us for something else. The day arrived to move out: I had started packing the night before and continued through the next morning. In despite of insupportable 95 degree heat with high humidity we moved everything across town and spent the entire afternoon cleaning our 18 square meters until it shined.

With the next morning's final check at 8:30, I didn't have a prayer of catching up on the lack of sleep I'd been nursing since I got back. But finally, at 10 a.m., I had what was left of my deposit and that story was over.

From my appointment with my landlord, I went to finish up with my second dilemma.

The day after I got back from the States, I went down to the Visa office to give them my passport and an application for a Russian visa. I had worked for months and paid 25 euros to get the required letter of invitation that my language program normally gives quickly and easily. My being in France apparently complicated things. Anyway, I finally got the letter with one week to spare before my flight and had to apply for an urgent (read: more expensive) visa. At the visa office, however, they said that in order to apply for a visa in France as a foreigner, I had to have a visa in France that lasted for three months after my application for a Russian visa, even if I wasn't coming back. This turned out not to be true for Americans, but put my relocation to Russia in jeopardy for a good week. I got out of the whole deal for a measly $165 euros.

Many other minor problems or tasks came up, but nothing of note. Just all the loose ends to tie up when one moves. All the paperwork to do. All the friends to see whom you might not ever see again. All the experiences that you soon won't have the chance to have.

But all that is done and I turn now towards my summer in Russia. My host family consists of a mother and her daughter who is my age. They both speak French, so if I get stuck, we can still communicate. They live four metro stops from my school where I will be taking 20 hours per week of language classes. In my spare time, I'll meet a couple of friends I already know in Russia and I'm even crazy enough to try walking in for an internship at the English-language St. Petersburg Times. Wish me luck.

I leave from Paris in the afternoon on Sunday and arrive before midnight during a White Night in St. Petersburg when the pearlescent sky never quite darkens. I will have a cell phone number soon after arriving so email me if you'd like it. I don't know how available internet will be, but I will find a way to keep in contact.

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