C’est Pas Possible – But That’s No Problem!

Lake Alesario, a local's favorite

Phew. I – we- have survived September. Visitors, foiled travel plans, new writing gigs, MFA deadlines (it’s mid-semester!), strikes, terrorist threats. I mean, wow, I’m a pretty calm person, but it was a month to almost send me off-kilter.

But now it’s October, time to sit back, relax, settle into….seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

No wait! That is not at all the positive take was going for.

I was talking to my friend recently, he from the land of the famous Fall Foliage in the States, and I said, yes, I used to really love autumn, too. And why don’t you now? he asked. Light grows dimmer and everything’s dying? I ventured, as I stared at the Paris rain.

Hmm, attitude adjustment much?

Wait. Here is a big, bright sunray coming your way. Amidst all the hoopla of September I completely forgot to tell you anything about Italy.

Italy! Just saying the word releases my stress.

Wedding guest getting cozy at Lake Garda

You might recall that I was originally thwarted by strikes when I tried to go a few weeks ago. Two days later, though, I was back on a plane that actually flew to its destination.

Can I tell you – instant love? Even though my leisurely trip had turned into a packed itinerary – 4 days of moving from one place to the next – I couldn’t have felt more at ease.

Why? Two words: no problem.

See – and I’m sure I’ve brought this up before – the first response to anything in France is no. Not “no problem”, but “no.” C’est pas possible. And that’s kind of funny, because actually, wait, LOTS of things are possible! Yes, I’d say MOST things are possible!

20100729 milan duomo from front
The Duomo in Milan

It’s something I don’t take to heart anymore. You ask again, ask in another way – or just do what you’re there to do anyway. But you notice it again when you’re in a country of smiles and sunshine and no matter what you want or need the answer is “no problem.”

My friend Simone picked me up from the airport in Milan (I was late, but no problem!). We then drove to his lovely family home before heading to Lake Como. It was already late afternoon, but I didn’t feel pressed for time. Because a slow stroll along the lake is what you’re supposed to do anyway!

Lake Como - could I look any more relaxed?

We then decide to go to Bellagio. Bellagio! Why not! Once on the small, winding road, however, I – or rather, my stomach – thought better of it. Night was falling, I was motion-sick, and we weren’t sure we could go the distance. So we pulled off the side of the road, and watched the lights from other towns light up the lake. Not bad at all.

Because here’s the thing. Travel to me is so much about people and just being open to the experience. Simone and I hadn’t seen each other in 2 years since I had couchsurfed with him in Rome. So we talked and talked and talked, and it was just great.

The 24 hours I spent went something like this: “blah blah blah – oh, wow, that’s pretty! talk, talk, talk – cool, look at that!”

The next day Simone took me to one of his favorite lakes, Lake Alesario, far off the tourist map. I was in heaven.

The offending goose, before it was offended

Until a goose got all hussy, that is. When my sister was younger she was constantly getting attacked by fowl. (I know, how often are you in the position to get attacked by fowl? But really, turkeys, geese, peacocks, any such animal – they’d always go after her).

I had never thought myself cursed with this particular malady, until this goose came out of the water and started walking straight towards us. (Also, a swan hissed at us! Swans hiss?!)

We tried to pretend it was not threatening, but when it got too close, I said, “hey, Simone, that thing is coming straight for us, isn’t it?”

Yes, he said.

We get up, oh, you know, casual as can be. Nope, not running away from the goose. And the goose picks up speed!

“Don’t run,” Simone says. Oh, I’m not running. We’re just walking faster. And the goose walks faster. Wow, my heart was pounding! Simone picked up a big stick – just in case. The goose runs us all the way back up the path.

Maybe you can't see with the sign, but that cone is holding the biggest scoops of gelato you have ever seen

Ok, time to go anyway. Because now I’m off to the wedding in the gelato factory!

Which, do you even need details? It is exactly what you think it is. I also confess to eating gelato starting at 11 AM. The best dang gelato I have ever had in my life. My friend Julie is lucky – handsome Italian and his family owns an artisanal gelateria? Good plan!

After the merriment of the marriage til midnight, and the morning gelato the next day, we’re off to Lake Garda. Packed, but gorgeous.

At one point, I turned to another guest and said, “I am just so happy I could burst. I feel like I’m high!” She almost spit out her wine.

Milan

I stayed with a couple of the groom’s friends, who were absolutely delightful. If you’re ever in Reggio, you could look them up. They’re thinking of starting a bed and breakfast – and I would definitely stay there!

Anzi gave me a quick tour of Reggio before I had to head back to Milan.

It was a whirlwind trip, but completely wonderful. So I only saw the Duomo for 2 minutes? I ate panzerotto! So I spent more time in a car than in Como? I had the best chats ever!

Coming back to Paris feels like home, but gosh if I’m not going to bring some of this Italian spirit back with me.

Oh yeah, another thing? I don’t speak Italian, but between my Spanish and French, I can pick up some things. So everyone said, “oh! You speak Italian! So great!”

Yes. So nothing is a problem and it’s welcomed that I try to speak their language. Come back to Paris and it’s “not possible” and I still get the eye roll when I speak French.

Oh well. No problem. I’ll just jet-set it over to Italy when I need a break. That is, if there’s not a strike.

Sunset at Lake Garda

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14 Responses to “C’est Pas Possible – But That’s No Problem!”


  1. 1 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) October 4, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Wheeee! I am here. The tour project has become, ummmm, ambiguous at this point, lol. I’m not sure what’s up, but I am not slaving away at it as a result today. :) I am happy to be here via your Tweet to say, “Ahhhhhhhh! Life can be beautiful! (but maybe only in Italy, haha).”

    This sounds like the perfect summation to me: “Oh well. No problem. I’ll just jet-set it over to Italy when I need a break.”LOL. Sounds like a plan.

    So how does one say “no problem” in Italian anyway?! ;-)

    • 2 paris (im)perfect October 4, 2010 at 2:25 pm

      Oh good. Glad you’re getting a break from that project – sounded crazy! Yes, I think it’s pretty hard not to be happy in Italy. C’est pas possible! What a great trip. But my gosh, I actually have no idea how to say “no problem” in Italian! (Anyone?) My hosts just kept saying that to me in English!

  2. 3 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) October 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    P.S. It is wonderful to see you grinning your head off in the photos! Especially that gelato one! :D

  3. 5 Lindsey October 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Dying to see that part of Italy, I’m glad you made it there despite the strikes! i’m feeling you on the S.A.D. Today is not feeling/looking like what I remember East coast Falls to be. Motivation is hard to come by and the bed is getting harder and harder to get out of every morning!

  4. 7 Tanya October 4, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Love this post!

    As a Jamaican, the concept of “no problem” is ingrained so it’s soooo hard to accept the “c’est pas possible” mentality here in France. Why make things difficult, I always wonder, when you can easily choose to say “yeah, you can get it done!”

    Keep the spirit flowing Sion! Tout EST possible!

  5. 9 Buffy October 4, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    I know what you mean about Italy bringing calm. When we were there this summer, time went slow. Now back in reality my life is flying by too fast again. It seems like yesterday we left for Europe and it has already been 3 mnts since we did. I am ready to return to Italy and France. Well maybe one day, but for now, I can just dream.

    Have a wonderful Fall!

    Buffy

  6. 11 Adam October 5, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I love Italy, but after reading ‘The Dark Heart of Italy’ (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/jan/19/shopping.highereducation) I knew I’d never actually be able to live there! It’s perfect as a holiday romance though…

    • 12 paris (im)perfect October 5, 2010 at 12:22 pm

      Yes, definitely a problem. (Maybe that’s the flip side of “no problem”? That is why nothing changes?) Well, I am just glad that it’s so easy to pop over because it certainly does relax me after Paris!

  7. 13 Paris Paul P October 5, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Your “no problem” reminds me how much I love hanging out with Aussies. Everything’s always “no worries”, and whenever I hear it, I always catch myself believing it for a sec.

    Also, thanks for the fantastic pictures. The Duomo and the shot through the glass ceiling are wonderful.

    • 14 paris (im)perfect October 5, 2010 at 10:45 pm

      Thanks, Paul! Yes, actually, I prefer “no worries” to “no problem” even. I’ve taken to saying it myself. Because you’re right – I can make myself believe it for a second as I say it. Thanks for the photo props, too. Can’t take credit for the Duomo one, but the glass ceiling one is mine. Cheers!


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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