Friday, May 9, 2008
So much in so little time
Gui and I accomplished so much today. It was yet another day off for him, and poor guy didn't even get to sleep in this morning. There was too much to do! Around 9:15 we headed to the Champs-Elysees to sign the documents for our new flat!! Yes, we're proud key-holders of a very lovely apartment in Boulogne-Billancourt, just southwest of the peripherique. Let me just say that getting an apartment in Paris is NOTHING like getting one in the States. It seriously felt like I was signing a mortgage, not a lease. We had to initial every single page of a nearly 50-page packet of documents three times so we could have three originals. And on top of paying a deposit and the first month's rent, we had to fork over nearly 900 euros for a stupid placement fee...yeah, money that we'll never see again that's going to pay this woman who's giving my hand a cramp. I think it's ludicrous, but I guess that's how they roll here. After signing our lives away ('seems like we're doing that a lot lately), we swung by our new pad to check the place out; the las time we were there, the floors were covered with plastic and the place was getting a fresh coat of paint causing the entire floor to stink of turpentine. This time, it was in a lovely state - the floors are really nice and we discovered a few things that we hadn't really paid much attention to before - like the nice mirrors on the hallway wall and the small but very functional window in the bathroom. I think we'll be happy here for a while.
After a tried and failed attempt to take a short nap, we rushed over to the prefecture (administrative offices for the town) to get a clear understanding of what we needed to start the carte de sejour process. It was a pretty hysterical moment for me - facing the reality of all the stories I'd read about this process. It was almost as if a dream I'd been having for so long was turning into a very real and tangible situation...the administrator was just as I'd pictured - wearing an armpit-stained shirt and a hellish scowl across her face. To begin with, we didn't have a number because the number dispenser was dispensing tickets that said they were closed. Luckily, Gui's mom came with us (she does this for a living, so we wanted her input) and she told us to just go to the first floor and wait in line. We found the line that wasn't calling numbers and stood in it. When the window became available, the woman asked us what we needed and then asked if we had a number. Of course we didn't have one (and she knew damn well that they weren't handing them out), but when she spotted a crumpled ticket that said service fermé, she picked it up and said "oh, ok, there's your ticket, now go ahead, what do you need?" So, after she proved her point (that we need to have a ticket, even if it's not a ticket at all, but we need to at least appear to have tried to take a ticket before even thinking about coming to her window), we proceeded with requesting the information about the cds. We had no intention of doing anything but picking up a list of required documents for our next meeting, but she made it clear that she was going to examine all the things she requested (my passport, Guillaume's identity card, our marriage certificate) before doing anything else or answering anymore questions. After looking over our stuff, and not saying much, she finally said, "You've got an appointment, so you'll need to bring the following documents with you to that appointment." No mention of the date, time or location of the appointment, but just that we got one! When we inquired more about this elusive rendezvous, she simply said it was "Thursday at 3pm." Gui can't just leave work whenever he wants, so he asked if he could pick the date and time. That's when she clarified that the appointment was scheduled for 3 months from now - Thursday, August 1st. So, we left it at that, took the paperwork that shows what we need to bring back in August (and is required for me to travel to and from France until then), and went on our way. That's when she finally gave a toothy grin and asked us to have a nice day. I guess it just takes some time for French folks to warm up to you.
Well, that was our day today. We tried to take care of some banking business, but were only able to schedule an appointment for the end of the month...better than nothing. Tomorrow's another early day - we get to check out our wedding photos (yay!!) and start some furniture shopping at Ikea (double-yay!!). We still have so much to do, but the important stuff is at least on the right track towards accomplishment! Things are looking peachy.