Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"F" the unreliable Paris wifi

Since late last week, there hasn’t been any connection at the wifi park by my place, and it’s really pissing me off. We were supposed to have our internet sorted out yesterday, but the guy who was helping Gui couldn’t hook it up because he said our phone line didn’t exist, which is a bag of horse poop because Gui called me twice on the line to test it. Still, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the park that advertises free internet access isn’t actually providing their claimed service to the public. And that pisses me off even more. Don’t get my hopes all high, get me skipping my way to the park, only to slam a “Problem loading page” in my face. Get your shiz fixed!


UPDATE: TWO SECONDS after I finished typing this, and 5 minutes before my low battery balloon popped up, I got a connection. Freakin' jerks.

Becoming the domestic goddess I never dreamed of becoming

I’m ironing my dishcloths. Oh, and my bath towels, too. It’s not very common for people here to own dryers. We don’t even have a dedicated space or plug for one in our apartment. So, instead of throwing all my wet linens and things into the dryer so they can be all warm and fuzzy before I put them away, I have to carefully hang it all on a drying rack (which is currently in the middle of our living room) and wait a day or so for it to be crispy dry. And, I do mean crispy. Who wants to bundle up with a stiff, scratchy blanket or dry off with a rough, hard towel? Not me. So, to smooth everything out a bit, I’ve taken to ironing my stuff after it’s dried – a little tidbit I learned, courtesy of Gui’s mom. I always wondered why she ironed his towels and socks and sheets. I just figured she was being your typical French mother from Italian descent. Now, I get it.

Doing all this ironing has got me thinking. Well, thinking about ironing. I don’t mind ironing. It’s a bit annoying at the moment because we don’t have a proper ironing board and I don’t really have a system down yet for the laundry. But, I figured out why people like me and my sister don’t mind ironing so much. It’s a really great opportunity for us to be in complete control of something in every way. So much so that we can achieve utter perfection in our end result. It’s not often that perfectionists get to where they want to be, but when you have a steaming iron in your hand and a wrinkled dishcloth in front of you, there’s nothing keeping you from making it into the perfect, wrinkle-free linen you desperately want it to become.

I’m sure this all sounds a little strange, but I’ve really thought about it. And it makes sense – at least to me. But, as much as I’m enjoying achieving perfection and all, I’m surely not made for all housewife-ish duties. I don’t particularly enjoy doing the dishes, the laundry, sweeping or mopping. I enjoy cooking, but we haven’t done so much of that lately since we’re not doing much grocery shopping until after we get back from Texas. And, I like grocery shopping, but like I said… So right now, at least until we get back from vacation and I start taking my French classes, I’ll have to be satisfied with being a desperately-wishing-to-not-be-a-desperate-housewife housewife in France.

Meeting the Neighbors

This time of year in Paris is when Parisians decidedly make an excuse to meet the neighbors. It’s called the Fête de Voisins, and it’s the equivalent to a block party in the States, only instead of closing down neighborhood streets, folks take it to the common area of their buildings (although I learned that when the weather is particularly great, buildings on small streets will put up barricades and have a combined Fête de Voisins). I’d been looking forward to this for over a week now. We had to sign up for what we planned to bring, and after waiting to see what others had put on the list, I decided to bring a pasta dish, hummus with warm pita, and a liter of Coke.

Even though I’d been the one to convince Gui to go to the Fête in the first place, I was a little nervous about the whole thing once the day arrived. All those questions start rolling through my mind...will they hate the fact that I’m American?...will they be offended that I can’t properly speak French, yet I’m living in their country?...will anyone speak English to me?...will they like my pasta or think its weird?

The poster said everything would begin at 8pm, so right at 8, I hollered at Gui to help me take everything down. I knew we’d be one of the first to arrive, and we were, with the exception of one tenant and the host of the party (who we later came to know as the “president” of our building, even though he didn’t live there). We chatted for a bit – Gui let them know I didn’t speak French very well, and the first female we met, who happened to be young and very Austin-y I thought, spoke perfect English to me the entire night.

It all turned out pretty well, but there were some noticeable differences in how things are done around these parts compared to what I’m used to. No one served themselves from someone else’s dish until the person who brought the dish started serving it. So, that meant that no one touched my pasta until I finally got up, served myself and Gui some and asked if anyone would like some pasta. Same for the hummus. It was pretty bizarre, and it kind of bothered me that I had to ask if anyone was interested in eating the food I’d prepared – talk about being put on the spot.

We met the lady who lives next door to us, and found out she’s been living in her place for the past 50 years - we learned a lot about our building from her. Apparently, before she lived there, during the war, a bomb blew out the fourth floor of the building and when the got around to rebuilding it, they added another (5th) floor – which is the floor we live on now. It’s pretty neato, actually. The rest of the folks who live on other floors are a great mix of young and middle-aged peeps, all who were incredibly nice and completely welcoming to us newcomers. There’s only one proper family that lives in our building, and I’m not complaining about that. The two kids, though, were rather well-behaved and their parents seemed to have them in check, which is always a good thing.

I was definitely nervous for no reason, since everyone seemed to be interested in my story – how I got here, how I’m adjusting, what I’ll be doing. It was comforting to have my worries laid to rest, and to now know a few familiar faces around my new ‘hood.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Getting there

So, we're on the right path to being organized and settled in our new apartment. We're still missing some of the essentials, like curtains, rugs, lamps and space for our dishes, but we've got the really big stuff out of the way. Gui and I had fun constructing our bed, which we're both really happy with (you've done it again, Ikea). We had it built and ready for use just in time to stay in our new place from Sunday night. On Monday, while Gui was at work, I managed to finish constructing the rest of our Ikea buys - our table and four chairs (nearly rubbed the skin off of my thumb doing that) and the dessert cart that we're using in our kitchen. It's been fun putting it all together, but I'm really anxious to finish it up now. Hopefully, after one more shopping trip, the place will be in good enough shape to share pics with everyone before we go on vacation.

By the way, the only thing that I keep thinking about is what and where I'm going to eat while I'm in Texas...I think I'm a little homesick.


Before...

So all y'all can go out and get you one if you want :)


Woohoo! Made in France!


...and after.


Our first meal in our new place.


Yep, and it's chili!! Totally homesick

Birthday blues

This was my first birthday spent in Paris, and although I didn’t set my expectations high, it was a total bomb. We planned to be moving into our new place all weekend. We I had a schedule planned out and we figured we’d be finished with all the big stuff well before the camionette (rental truck) was due back at 6pm.

Our first task was to pick up the sofa-bed from some peeps in north Paris who were selling it on Craigslist. Man, it’s a big sofa. It was a great deal for the kind of sofa it was, but after seeing the guys take it from the 3rd-floor apartment to put in the truck, I was having second thoughts about how it was going to get into our 6th-floor apartment. We have an elevator, but if you’ve ever seen an elevator in Paris, it’s not usually big enough to fit more than three people (or two Americans…hehe). Well, my thoughts were right on because it was the biggest b!*ch trying to get the stupid thing up the winding steps of our building. Talk about a nightmare. After nearly an hour of heaving-and-hoeing, we finally made it to our apartment. Now, you’d think it’d be easy-peasey at this point, but no way. Our apartment is positioned in such a way that it’s nearly impossible to fit the couch in easily without first calculating the Pythagorean Theorem and angular degrees of how to property position the thing to fit through our living room door.

When we finally managed to get the couch into the right spot, it was off to the next task of sifting through the aisles of Ikea – the nearest one being outside of Paris. At this point, it’s a little after noon and we’re pretty hungry and tired, but we trek on, knowing that we have lots to get done at Ikea, including picking up our bed, our table and chairs, and nearly everything else for the kitchen. After spending about two hours scouring the place for everything on our list, we made it to the checkout counter with two full baskets. Thinking everything is all hunky-dory, we swipe our bank card, punch in the code and get declined. We try again. Declined. And again – but for half the amount. Declined. What. The. Hell? Gui left the checkbook at home, and neither one of us is sure if we have enough on our American accounts to pay for everything in dollars (knowing that charging it in dollars would be really stupid). Gui makes a call to the bank who tell him that there shouldn’t be a problem, so to try again. But, it’s Saturday, and only stupid people work for the bank on Saturday because what he fails to tell us is that we’ve spent more than our limit for the month and there’s no way they can do anything about upping our limit for this month until Monday. So, we think we’ll try to get the money from an ATM – it worked earlier in the day when we paid for the sofa, so it must work now. Only this time, the nearest (and only, apparently) ATM in this poor excuse for a city is about a kilometer away in city center. No, there is not one single ATM in this massive “American-style” shopping center or anywhere near it. So, off we go uphill, downhill, through the town. About 20 minutes later, we’re at the ATM and what do you know, we get declined! I’m totally done at this point, and we decide to forget it at this point.

Because the truck rental was just for one day, we had to return it that day, and we ended up getting our stuff the next day using two small cars. It somehow all fit, but we still aren’t sure how. After the chaos at Ikea, I was so burnt out from the day and wanted nothing but food and sleep. Gui, being the good husband that he is, stopped at the Italian food shop in town and cooked me a wonderful pasta al’arrabiata for my birthday dinner which I thoroughly enjoyed with the nice Lambrusco he’d also picked out. The day was horrendous, and it’s certainly the worst way I could have spent my first birthday in Paris (which fell on a Saturday this year!!). But, I’ll never forget it and I’m at least grateful for the happy ending.


We fit it in...not sure how. Thank Goodness for Ikea engineering.


One of two full cars - the day after.

Chef Guillaume.

Pouring the Lambrusco.


A fine birthday dinner.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Am I weird?

I know I'm not a typical Parisian, but do I stand out like a sore thumb? I'm sitting in the park by our place, in one of Paris' "Paris WiFi" (pronounced "pa-ree wee-fee") spots, as advertised on the front of the park's gate, while mothers play with their kids on the playground, old folks take a rest, guys play ping-pong and pigeons search for some grub. Normally, just sitting in the park wouldn't merit blatant stares of curiosity, but I've got this big, dinosaur-like laptop with me that I'm typing away on while sitting on this park bench. They're probably wondering what I'm doing in a park, outside, on my laptop. Those things just don't go together, I suspect, in their eyes. I wish I could ask them if I look strange, but I don't think I need to. I'm totally an outcast.

It could just be me, being paranoid like usual, but I'm not so sure this time. Even when I'm just walking to the grocery store to do some shopping or sitting on the metro alone, I feel like an outcast. It's like maybe they know I'm different, that I can't really hold a conversation with them the way I'd like to. Or, maybe it's not appropriate to give a small smile when I pass someone on the street or not turn my head when some dude yells, excusez-moi, mademoiselle in what sounds like a catcalling voice. I know I know I'm weird, but do they know, too? Back home I can get away with being weird and not letting anyone know...here, I think it'll take time for me to figure out a way to mask my weirdness. For now, I'll just carry on as the paranoid non-Parisian and go about my business looking for a place to fit in.

Oh, and I'm totally coming back to the park while we wait for our internet to activate - as long as the weather's this good it's hard to avoid such an opportunity anyway.


View from the park bench.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Taking a train to Austin

That's right, Gui and I are taking a train to Austin. No, it's not the Polar Express, but we booked tickets on the Amtrak Texas Eagle to get to Austin after spending a weekend in San Antonio. It's a real, live, breathing passenger train that serves the central Texas area! We thought we'd save ourselves the hassle of renting a car one-way and spare our friends or family a boring drive from Austin to pick us up, as well as be conscious of our ecological footprint by sticking to public transportation. Plus, it's so much nicer to have someone else in charge of the driving.

When Gui first asked me if we could take a train to Austin from San Antonio, my cynical American response was, "yeah right." But, lo and behold, there actually is a train in Texas that transports more than cattle and horses! With the rising cost of gas (I heard it's something like $3.78/gallon on average today), it's worth taking a look to see if Amtrak serves the places you're traveling to around the States - our tickets were only 15 bucks a piece (less than gas would have been). The only downside to our ride is that we'll have to leave super early in the morning (luckily, the best tacos in San Antonio are available 24-hours, so we'll be stopping by at 5 a.m to scoop some up), and there's only one departure per day. Maybe with all the demand for public transport in the States, they'll finally put into place the so-called Texas T-Bone Corridor that would connect some Texas cities by rail and make taking the train more convenient for travelers. Or, maybe I've just become a silly, optimistic European already.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Smuggler

So, I've started a list. A list of things I must bring back from Texas. They mostly consist of sauce or other bottled and jarred goods that I can't easily (or cheaply) get here and that I'm already starting to miss or know it's only a matter of time. Besides the few bottles of yellow mustard (a la French's), peanut butter (especially with honey) and BBQ sauce, Guillaume and I are hoping to pick up a few household items we can't find here (or can't find cheaply). Most important, and perhaps most interesting on that list is the Roomba, which is sold in France, but for the not-so-bargain price of 300Euros (that's like $450!!). I've seen them as cheap as $200 at Target, and I hear Costco has 'em even cheaper. We'll have to find a plug converter, but I think it'll be worth saving a couple hundred bucks to get it in the States. I think every single friend we have owns a Roomba or two, so we know it's tried and tested. I just hope we don't get stopped at customs!

Exhausted, but feeling a bit of accomplishment

This weekend has been a crazy one. We managed to get a lot done, but at the cost of sleeping in late. Saturday was Ikea day, and after a bbq lunch with the family, we headed out to Thiais for what we hoped would be a new kitchen set-up, a bed and a couch. Ikea is insane. Much more so here than back in Texas. Everyone who works there is too busy to help you, and when you finally flag someone down to ask for help, they explain that the color you want is actually $300 more than than the beige one and whatever's on display or pictured in the catalog is actually not what you get, but instead some smaller version. I was super frustrated by the time we left and felt like we hadn't accomplished anything we had set out to, only returning with a bag of delicious Swedish cookies (which somehow eased my frustration a bit). That evening, we made a list of what we needed to get, from where and what our budget would be for everything.

Sunday was a much more productive day, and we managed to come away with a washing machine (we actually found it on Craigslist for a really awesome price), a stove and oven, and a refrigerator. We checked out a few couches, too, but didn't have much luck with finding one we liked, so we'll have to wait for next weekend to get that. The coolest part about our purchases is that the two biggest things (the stove and fridge) are going to be delivered to our 5th-floor apartment and installed by the delivery peeps. Score!

The best part of Sunday was hanging out in Montparnasse with Bertrand and Benjamin. We had a really great lunch on a tree-shaded terrace that lasted a few hours into the afternoon. The weather was ridiculously perfect, and we had a really lovely time catching up on each other's lives. It's pretty crazy that soon we'll all be back in France at the same time, talking about the visits we make to our counterparts in Austin. We should all have some sort of an agreement to visit each other once a year - trading off who visits who each year. Gui and I will start off with visiting Texas this year so next year it's up to you Texas folk to cross the pond (well, actually we have a plan to visit next year, too so maybe we'll start in 2010).

There are still a few things on our list of things to do before we officially move in on Thursday (it's strange that we have the keys to the place, but don't officially take over until the 15th), but we're hoping to have most everything taken care of by the weekend. This weekend is actually my birthday, but we'll be spending it doing what I hate doing the most - moving. It'll be a nice gift, though, to be able to sleep in our new place and start turning it into a home. I'll take some pics and upload them this week!

Friday, May 9, 2008

More pics added!

I've added more pictures from the wedding to the google album I started. Check out the second half of the album if you've already viewed the first half.

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.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Home sweet Paris

Can I start out by first saying that OMG, that was a LONG, BORING, TIRING flight, and what in the world was I thinking when I decided to save $500+ by making two connections - one in a totally different country - instead of one?

So, my flight out of DFW was canceled, which I thought for a second would mean the cancellation of my entire voyage. There we were, sitting in line on the tarmac, when the pilot informs us that we are 22nd in line to use the runway. 22nd!! My mind starts to calculate the time in my head...22 times at least 3 minutes per plane to take-off, plus an additional minute or 2 to taxi there...whoa...that's like at least an hour and a half, yo! I patted myself on the back at that moment for allowing myself a 3-hour layover in Philadelphia to make my flight to London. I'll have plenty of time...I'm brilliant! Ten minutes later, the captain comes on again and says, "Folks, I've got some bad news..." which, of course, provokes an inward sigh from the entire plane. "I've been flying for over 16 hours now, and FAA regulations only permit me to fly [some-odd number] of hours , and waiting here will push me beyond my allowed flying hours, so we're going back to the gate"...and outward sighs/moans/expletives commence. I stay pretty calm, knowing that I can always try to reschedule my flight, but as my brilliant self booked an entirely different carrier from London to Paris, I was pretty much stuck with taking that flight and knew my options were limited with changing it. So, I check the numbers on the boarding pass card that I usually toss in the trash, and give US Airways a ring while we head back towards the gate. My quick thinking pays off and I get a flight out of Dallas just 2 hours later and avoid the mad, angry rush for the gate when we get back, as passengers try to frantically get to their destinations. I feel a little guilty for my wily move, but nonetheless content. I'm still praying that my flight makes it to Philly in time to catch my next flight - this new flight from DFW will only give me 40 minutes to make it to my London flight on time - and that's if there are no further delays!

It's a miracle, but we somehow made it to Philadelphia with nearly one hour to spare before my next flight. I even had time to make a desperately-needed pit stop to release my ginger-ale-filled bladder and had time to cool off at the gate before piling onto the 80s-inspired vessel.

Arriving in London was another story...I had to go through customs, get my luggage and get on and off a train before checking into my flight. The new and (thankfully) improved Terminal 5 was beautiful. I couldn't help but fall in love with the Chanel, Tiffany, Dior and Starbucks-lined halls and wonderful assortments of food-stands and restaurants. I had just enough time to grab a bite (dumplings and japanese rice) at Wagamama, which I hadn't visited since my first trip to London more than 5 years ago. The weather was perfect, too - at least mid-70s, bright and sunny.

So, 4 planes, a train, a coach and 27 hours later, I made it to Paris. It was a great day in the city - people were people-watching, sipping coffee on the terrace, couples were making out on a bench in the park and tired business folks were resting in the grass and soaking up the sun. Ah, Paris.

Thursday's a holiday, Friday is a bridged holiday and Monday is another holiday, so Gui and I are planning to spend some time in the city, taking in the amazing weather and doing things that Parisians do. I'm happy to be home!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Everything's bigger in Texas...

...especially compared to Paris! I finally got out of the house today when I took a trip to the local Kroger for some peach pie, Blue Bell vanilla ice cream, and other various necessities my mom needed to replenish. I'm heading home to Paris tomorrow and the nostalgia set in as I pushed in the industrial-sized shopping basket toward the produce and bakery sections. It's so nice to know where everything is in a grocery store, or to at least have an idea of where to find it. And So. Many. Choices!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to grocery shop. LOVE IT! It's so much fun walking up and down the aisles, dreaming of the delicious dishes that might make it into my belly from the plethora of ingredients in this 30,000+ square foot box. And, after spending some time shopping at Monoprix, Franprix and Auchan over the past few months, it sure does feel so great to leisurely push around a cart in a wide-open space where other customers smile and politely excuse themselves for having their cart slightly more than halfway into the aisle you're trying to get through. Not to mention the oh so pleasant odors of freshly-baked bread and cakes that hit your nostrils just as the big, sliding glass doors swoop open. Kroger is no Trader Joe's, but it was still able get me excited about grocery shopping again. I think I'll have to dig a little deeper than my neighborhood Monoprix back in Paris to get that feeling when I'm back, and after doing a little searching, I'm anxious to check this place out. And this one, too.

Friday, May 2, 2008

And so it begins

I've been reading for months now fellow expatriates' experiences with the infamous carte de sejour that in my particular situation is required to hold if my intention is to reside in France - which is the case! I've heard everything from horror stories to fairy tales from others' experiences dealing with French prefectures. I'm still not completely sure what to expect when Gui and I make our first appearance at the local prefecture in Boulogne (where we will, presumably, be residing). Actually, the whole apartment thing is proving to be very important for the carte de sejour - we have to show proof of our residency within the bounds of the prefecture, as well as an unceasing communauté de vie (community of life...or sharing a residence), presumably in our own place with both of our names on a mortgage or lease. So, I can't actually start the process until we've signed for a place, which puts a little more pressure on our apartment-hunting process.

What I've gathered about the carte de sejour (cds) so far, is this:
#1, I will need to make an ungodly amount of copies of everything I have with my name on it, with Gui's name on it, and that proves in any way my existence as his foreign-born wife (translated if need be)

#2, I shouldn't expect to have copies or originals of everything I need on my first visit (from what I've heard, I think it would be setting some sort of French record if I could get it all done in one go)

#3, I will have to submit to a medical exam that consists of taking off my top, squishing my boobs against an x-ray machine and answering questions about my smoking habits

#4, I will be asked politely if I'd like to have to sign a contract that indicates my willingness to receive French values and integrate within its society. This contract will require my presence at two day-long classes, one on French history, one on French culture, and will also test my French speaking abilities in order to prescribe the appropriate number of language course hours they will offer me for free. As cool as free sounds to me, I'm pretty sure my lowly skills will get me stuck in a 400-hour program (that's the maximum) that will mandate a 35-hour week of learning French for 12 weeks. Now, don't get me wrong, I'd love to do just that - all my life, in fact - but I need to make some money, yo. I'm ready to get back to work. Even though I read somewhere (actually somewheres since I saw it on two people's blogs) that the French government will compensate you for your time if you have to take classes on a full-time basis. Problem is, I haven't read this on any official website and I haven't worked since November of 2007 (a disbelief even I struggle to fathom)!! Why would they compensate a (now, technically) housewife-ish foreigner like me?

And finally, #5, I should expect for this entire process to take anywhere from 4 months to a year (which is a little comical since the first cds is pretty much always issued for only a year's time...or so I hear). And get this, you have to apply for a renewal cds two months prior to the expiration of your original cds. Oh, the Frenchness of it all. Who says the French system is a bureaucratic nightmare? Hogwash.

This all brings me to another topic that I'm still struggling to sort out about my move to France. I'm still stuck about what to do when I finally get there. I'm still waiting for a reply from a school I applied to long ago, which in my mind indicates a negative response to my application for admission to their master's program in Paris. I'm going to give them a call on Monday, fo' sho' though. I seriously think I should pursue a year-long master's degree at this point, but my bank account and bills are begging me to get back to work.

Can I really make someone else pay my bills? That's yet to be seriously asked or answered, so I'll wait until that time comes (if ever). But, I'm finding the whole dependency thing is not really for me. I think my my ego is too big, my mind too enthusiastic and my eyes too coveting to not be making and spending my own money. I'm still at a selfish point in my life, where I want to satisfy my wants and pursue my goals at whatever cost it takes (this is likely why I haven't yet joined my more mature friends who are impregnating themselves by the droves). So, there lies my predicament - stay jobless another year to get a master's while my husband pays my bills OR find a jobby-job asap and get back to acting like a real adult. It'll be interesting to see how this one turns out. No doubt I'll be letting you know.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

SOME photos

Below is a very small taste of the wedding. These are a small compilation of photos taken from family and friends who've emailed us with the pictures. I promise more are to come...

On a side-note, I'm realizing my hair is looking a little wacky in these pics, but I spent hours trying to give it a nice wave. I was so sweaty and gross by the end of the ceremony and that got much worse by the time we got to the park (which we walked to). Also note that my dress felt like it was falling off of me the entire day. I don't know what happened. I must have lost a little weight before the wedding...I didn't really eat very much or very well all week, but I didn't think it was that bad until I kept flashing everyone my bustier top. It was annoying, but mom was kept on watch for any peak-a-boo undergarments. As for Guillaume, he looked great, although his friends were quick to make fun of his messy hair. I quite like it, and it was clean and soft, so it didn't much matter to me. :)


roll over the bottom left corner and click the link to see the original-sized pics.

Two

There are two important things I need to blog about.

Firstly, Guillaume and I will be heading to Austin for some fun with friends and famille from June 1st-8th. But, first, we're going to be spending the weekend of May 30th in San Antonio (can you believe Gui's never been?!), enjoying some yummy food at Mi Tierra, the Riverwalk and who knows, maybe even a [pitcher of] margarita[s] or ten. We're super-stoked about a Texas visit, so if you're going to be in Austin for that week, make plans for breakfast, lunch, dinner, steak-night, brunch, happy-hour, or whatever other event that involves food and drink (Texas-style, of course) with Guillaume and me. I'm really excited about him finally returning to Texas (this time as my husband...OMG!) to catch up with friends, but I'm still a little nervous about his first encounter with all my aunts, uncles and cousins! He seems to be looking forward to it, and I know it's going to be a good time, but my family can be a bit...hmmm...loud...crazy...strange! I mean, look at me for goodness' sake!

Now for my second bit of news. I'M NOW AN OFFICIAL FRENCH FAMILY MEMBER! Well, at least according to France. I got my visa today that certifies me as a "family of French," which is probably more appropriately translated as "family to a French person," but seriously it says famille de francais. Anyway, all I know is I'm official. I have two months to get my resident card from the local prefecture in Boulogne-Billancourt (where Gui and I have decided to get an apartment...oh dear, I think I need to add another bit of news here, but it's not really official yet, so I'll wait until we actually have a signed lease, but either way we're living in Boulogne so I'm still going to their prefecture), then I'll be set to work, study and altogether settle in France! We plan to make a visit to the prefecture within two weeks of my arrival in Paris so we can get the ball rolling asap. I need to work, yo. Well, I need to study French first, actually, but I still need my resident card before I can do that, so there you go.

I must add that the French consulate in Houston is really nice, as are the two women who work there. Of course, there was a bit of paperwork that they required that was indicated NO WHERE on their website as required for my particular visa, but it was no biggie. Thank the heavens I way over-prepared and brought copies of just about any paperwork with my or Gui's name on it, just in case.

It was a really pleasant ordeal, actually. I was an hour and a half early for my appointment, but they saw me within an hour and I was out of there with a shiny, new visa glued in my passport before my appointment was supposed to commence. Good stuff. It was a far cry from the near mayhem and crazy lines I saw at the American Embassy in Paris, but I guess the US is slightly bigger than France, so...