(Extra)Ordinary New Year

Bare winter tree created from dirt on a wall in the 11th

Bare winter tree created from dirt on a wall in the 11th

After the warmest year on record in France, a cold front has moved in. My apartment relies on individual electric heat – piddly little units to warm each room. Penny pincher that I am, I rotate: turning the one on in the living room where I work during the day; switching on the one in my room at night.

That leaves the hallway, kitchen, and bathroom to glacial conditions. This does little to motivate me to start cooking more, though it’s perpetually on my to-do list. And going to the bathroom feels like a courageous expedition. Seriously, I don’t think ice in the toilet bowl would surprise me.

(These rooms, of course, do have their own little heating units. The one winter I treated myself to a toasty apartment, my astronomic electric bill made my blood run cold in my warm body so I reverted back to piecemeal heating and bulky sweaters).

If it's going to be cold, might as well wear funky tights.

If it’s going to be cold, might as well wear funky tights.

Still, I’m not minding this winter so much. The sun shines much more frequently than I ever remember. This is the season that habitually conjures the dreaded grisaille (unending gray skies), yet here we are often with sun! I like the artificial light lamp I gifted myself for my birthday, but honestly, there’s been enough of the natural stuff that I’m not certain I needed it.

Tonight I took a brisk walk to the butcher’s. I called around 4:30 just to check they were open – one never knows during this holiday season. I reserved a roasted chicken (yes! I’ve just learned recently to reserve coveted items at the butcher and boulangerie ahead of time so they set them aside!)

I headed out the door soon after to catch the last light of the day; some stunning pink played across the baby blue sky.

When I arrived at the butcher’s 15 minutes later, there was already a small line. But I was asked immediately what I needed.

“I called and reserved a poulet roti?” I said. (Even after all these years, many of my statements still come out sounding like questions in French. Will I ever be sure?)

“Oh.” the butcher says. “There’s a problem.”

The mairie of the 11th

The mairie of the 11th, near the butcher shop

I’m used to problems in Paris, so I’m prepared for whatever it may be. But he reveals it’s not my problem this time! He explains to the woman in front of me that he’d forgotten this chicken had already been reserved. There wasn’t another one for her.

Wow, the power of the reservation! She accepts the refusal without incident (we’re all so used to hearing non ’round these parts, I guess) and leaves.

When it’s my turn to pay, the woman at the cash register says, “Poulet fermier, 17.50, Madame.”

Uh-oh. So I do have a problem. I didn’t order a poulet fermier. I got a poulet ordinaire.

Now I prefer my chickens happy – free-range and fermier. Often I do pay the premium for them. Tonight, though, cheapskate ways won out and I went with the ordinaire. A plain-old, still-tastes-delicious 6.50 euro ordinary chicken.

“I missed this one for nothing!” the butcher says, picking up the happy chicken, already wrapped in its to-go bag, staring out of the shop as if he might call back the woman who is now long gone. He doesn’t seem miffed with me, though. And everyone says it’s no big deal when I apologize for the confusion.

“Here’s your ordinary chicken, Madame. Bonnes fêtes.”

Will you be partying this New Year's Eve....

Will you be partying this New Year’s Eve….

As I strolled back home, I heard lots of snippets of conversation on the street. Sometimes I mostly look around me when I walk, but other times, it’s passing words I pick up on.

-“We’ve been through worse, Madame,” says an old man stopping a woman with a cane on the street.

-“People are anesthetized by their work,” says a pair of friends sitting on a ledge.

-“Persimmons are supposed to be eaten hard,” the fruit man says to a woman asking if she can get some softer ones.
-“I know kakis,” she replies with a slight edge, “and you don’t eat them hard.”

These all felt very French, these lines, and the thought made me smile. Ah, another year living in France. Another year ahead.

I’ve been working through the holidays, but I have just a few things to finish up tonight and then I’m taking a short break (hallelujah!) to begin the new year.

...or be more reflective, pondering the new year ahead?

…or be more reflective, pondering the new year ahead?

My beau, who is also working during the fêtes, is coming over later. We’ll eat an ordinary chicken, watch a random movie. But the lesson that most encapsulates my past year is that, with love present, any moment, any thing, can be special.

And hey, I might turn on ALL of my heaters tonight.

Happy New Year!

17 Responses to “(Extra)Ordinary New Year”


  1. 1 poetsdoublelife December 31, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Happy New Year to you, Sion, and to your beau and your ordinary chicken!

  2. 3 Tammee December 31, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Enjoy your ordinary chicken and have an extraordinary new year!

  3. 5 Jackie December 31, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    I got a warm and cozy feeling reading your post…thank you. And may you and your beau have a wonderful New Year.

  4. 7 Ana January 1, 2015 at 12:11 am

    What I love about your writing is that everything feels so real and present. Thank you for sending a little bit of Paris and some warmth this way. Have a wonderful new year!

  5. 9 I Say Oui January 1, 2015 at 12:41 am

    So I have the cold to look forward to when I go back, eh?

    Your ordinary chicken reminds me of when I first learned that the regular baguette is called a “baguette normale.”

    • 10 paris (im)perfect January 1, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Cold…but sunny! Ha, about the baguette normale! Yes, I prefer la tradition – still a baguette, but even better. Though in France, all the ordinary and normal stuff still seems to taste great🙂

  6. 11 buffyschilling January 1, 2015 at 2:24 am

    Happy New Year to you!!!! I’m working tonight; a trade so someone could be off. I have already started my new year resolutions. I hope I can keep them this year.

    Take care, and stay warm.

    • 12 paris (im)perfect January 1, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      Happy New Year, Buffy! Very nice of you to work so someone else could be off. I actually don’t mind working on the holidays, as I’ve done this year. It kind of takes the pressure off!

      Great that you’ve already started your resolutions. Have a wonderful 2015!

  7. 13 hmunro January 1, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I love your wonderful little observations about the moments most people write off as mundane! As you so beautifully say: With love, any moment can be special. May your year ahead continue to be filled with such lovely things and special moments. And may you continue to share them with us, your faithful readers, who are living in Paris vicariously through you. Bonne année !!

    • 14 paris (im)perfect January 1, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      Heather, thank you so much for this comment. I love it! Most of my life is simply these little moments so I’m thrilled to hear you enjoy reading them! It’s true that we can write off a lot as mundane as we go about our days – but there’s also a lot of wonder, too. Thank you so much for reading and happy new year!

  8. 15 villalaluna January 1, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Bonne année, bonne santé!


  1. 1 Second Chances | paris (im)perfect Trackback on March 4, 2015 at 12:33 pm

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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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