11 March 2006

Pollution is evil!

I recently encountered a map in my European Geography textbook that highlights areas of particularly high airborne pollution. Guess what had a big, black spot over it? Yep, good old Paris. Now, I was never under the delusion that the air I was breathing here was as fresh and clean as an OutKast song, but it's still a bit unsettling to be graphically reminded that I live in the smoking section of France.

While I've never really been a "health nut" per se, I do care about my overall health and well-being. As such, I've been concerned about the effects that the increased air pollution exposure would have on me while living here. In fact, once Didge's gray hair started accumulating at a faster rate, I began to think more seriously about what I could do to counteract the effects of pollution. For example: I've been enjoying the sauna at the gym a few times a week, drinking more water, and (when I think of it) buying foods high in antioxidants to help combat the notorious "free radicals" attacking me. (Sounds like I've joined the war on terrorism, huh? Stop free radicals from controlling our ports!)

But then, it happened.

Yesterday morning.

I found a gray hair.

On my head.

Clearly, this is a DIRECT, one-to-one correlation with my exposure to pollution. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I turn 29 later this month. I am unequivocaly prematurely aging because this city is so dirty! Come on, Europe, diesel fuel might be cheaper and more efficient, but seriously, it makes really nasty air!

Complicating this further is the fact that you can't go outside without encountering a wall of cigarette smoke. People smoke *everywhere* here. It's so gross! There is something wrong when I leave the gym and almost immediately run into someone's gray exhalation. Of course, you can't really begrudge someone for smoking outside. However, I really hate the fact that it is simply not possible to avoid smokers in restaurants. Sure, there are non-smoking sections out there ... they usually consist of no more than four tiny little two-person tables, situated approximately 12 inches away from the gigantic smoking section. Alas, many a good meal has been ruined by an eye-watering, lung-choking cloud. In fact, when Colin and I tried a new restaurant on Monday night, I could *see* the curls of smoke as they passed over the ceiling lights. The haze was so unbearable that we left as quickly as we could.

What can I do about this? Not a lot, and I'm resigned to that. My only refuge is Starbucks and the Métro. (And even then, you sometimes have to remind people that they are smoking while standing right next to a no-smoking sign.) And, there's always my apartment.

As for the gray hair? I did what any self-respecting woman would do. I plucked it and threw it away.


At 11/3/06 19:16, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I remember about Paris was that it seemed like EVERYONE smoked. One of the most striking images I have of Paris is of taking morning stolls in Bois de Vincennes and seeing many people who were jogging and smoking at the same time. That is one of the most obscure sights I have ever seen.

But, don't worry Amy...you'll always be young at heart.



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