I promise I'll make a real post on here sometime in the near future. Because this is ridiculous. Bye possums.
I got up this morning thinking it was a lot later than it was, and thought 'Fuck...I have to get up NOW to meet Max and Claudine." It turns out that it was only 8:00 in the morning, and was just sunnier this morning than it was yesterday morning at the same time. WTF Paris. I was due to meet Max and Claudine at 1:00 this afternoon at Bar a Huitres, a restaurant in Montparnasse which is a bit of a metro ride from my hostel, so I decided to get a head start. I got dressed soon after getting up and went down to breakfast, wolfed down cereal and bread (the French are all about the carbs...my kind of people), and started on my way. I took 3 transfers and ended up in Montparnasse at 11:00am. Since I was so early, i decided to hang out and ponder exactly HOW Claudine is related to me.
Claudine is the daughter of Sonia, my great-grandfather's beloved younger sister. Sonia was born in Russia, but came to Paris to study French after high school (Claudine revealed to me during lunch that Sonia actually came because her older sister Clara was already there. I didn't know this) and ended up staying because she couldn't go back to Russia due to WWI. She married a Frenchman and had Claudine and her sister Monique in the 1920s in Paris, and there that branch of my family has stayed ever since.
So since Claudine is Sonia's daughter, she is my grandfather's first cousin. Given that you add a "removed" for every generation your cousin is...well...removed from you, I deduced that Claudine is my first cousin, twice removed. But Max calls her Tante Claudine (Aunt Claudine), so I suppose I should call her that too.
After that deduction (which only took up about 2 minutes of my time), I discovered that the Cemetery of Montparnasse was right around the corner. Taking into account my morbid fascination with graves, this was an immense discovery. I went around the corner and entered the cemetery, and thereupon discovered that who was buried there?
Simone de Beauvoir, Cesar Franck, Jean-Paul Sartre, and other people worthy of note.
WTF. So I spent the rest of the time searching for their graves, and unfortunately, didn't find any. I'm going back tomorrow, along with Pere Lachaise, where Edith Piaf is buried.
I went back and met Claudine and Max at the restaurant, and we had lunch. Apparently I had met Claudine when I was little, and I was unaware of this. Why doesn't my mother tell me such important bits of information? She doesn't really speak English, so we spoke French, and by the end I was exhausted. It's REALLY tough trying to listen and understand and speak every word in a foreign language you haven't been immersed in yet. Russian I have no problem. Spanish I have no problem. But this is my first time really being immersed in French, and so it was hard to have a lengthy conversation with a bunch of native speakers. Not to mention your family.
After lunch I kissed Claudine and Max goodbye and set off back to the hostel (stopping by Notre Dame for a quick visit beforehand) to change. Then I checked my email and went in search of some Edith Piaf sites. Like I said, she is buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, which is not far from her childhood home near the Menilmontant metro station, where there is a museum dedicated to her. I tried to find her home, but I couldn't navigate the streets. It was also dark and I didn't want to spend too much time in the dark there. That is NOT a good neighborhood. So I thought "Okay, I'll go see her grave and then I'm going back to the hostel." I found out the hard way that Pere Lachaise is only open certain hours. Blerg. But I'm going to go back tomorrow.
I bought dinner at the grocery store close to (bread and milk. I feel like I'm in the Bastille with my limited budget) and am currently trying to find a place to eat it. I might just eat it right here.