Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fashionless in the fashion capital

It's crunch time and with only two full days left before we start vacationing, I'm scrambling to tie up some loose ends, organize our apartment and get everything packed in time for our Wednesday flight. In the midst of all this sorting and packing, I'm noticing a trend with my packing rationale, and I'm starting to realize how segregated my wardrobe is. Living in two different yet equally dashing cities has caused a multiple-personality disorder in my closet. It's interesting to see how how many articles of clothing I have hanging or folded that have never seen the light of a Paris day. And, it's crystal clear to me that my fashion sense is split up into two very distinct wardrobes.

My Paris wardrobe is so much younger, edgier and totally trendy. Black flats, low-heeled boots, tapered-leg jeans, tunics, and layering sweaters in monochromatic tones. Practical streetwear for my city-girl lifestyle. And my rain boots and umbrella are always within arms' reach in the likely event that the rain clouds roll through after a perfectly sun-drenched morning. Ah, Paris.

Contrastingly, my non-Paris wardrobe (or I suppose my Austin wardrobe) consists of flip-flops, multicolored tank-tops, strappy stilettos, pumps and sandals, tube-tops and patterned dresses. Anything that I can get an even tan in while running around during the day or be comfortable walking in from the parking garage to happy hour in the evening. Rarely is there a need for sweaters or boots, umbrellas or coats, yet a week's worth of swimsuits are always on hand should a spontaneous trip to the pool or lake be required.

Sifting through my "take" and "don't take" piles, it's pretty clear to see the lines that divide my two-faced wardrobe - comfort and color. Paris is a walking city, and that's pretty evident by the amount of flats and low-heels that I'm planning to leave behind while I'm vacationing in Austin. I thought I'd wean myself back into wearing longer talons by sporting a pair while out on the town last night, and man did I remember quickly why heels and Paris just don't mix! It's just as well, though because I seem to fit in well enough with the flat-shoe-sportin' boho crowd that I frequently find myself surrounded by. And, as funky as I consider my Parisian-leaning wardrobe to be, I find it's far less colorful than its American counterpart. I don't know why exactly, but I've somehow managed to steer far away from the festive hues while running through the rues. I'd like to think that it's a side-effect of the less-than-festive attitude I've adopted since becoming a resident of the "least friendly European city," but I'm pretty sure it's simply a case of wanting to fit in. Bright colors can get big stares here and I'm of the kind that favor blending in more than sticking out, so I tend to keep it neutral.

I'm excited about stepping back into my heels without the added worry of how far the walk will be to the metro, and I'm looking forward to going strapless once again without the added self-consciousness that comes from gawking, sleeve-wearing pedestrians. Paris may be the best-dressed city in Europe, but although I'd like to think that I contributed to that title, I'm pretty sure I stayed at home when they took that survey. So, I'm enthusiastically leaving comfy and drab behind for these next few weeks to remind myself what it feels like to be part of a fashionable world without paying mind to the typical concerns of a foot-traveler. Which, coincidentally, gives me another excuse to do some shoe-shopping.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Parting is such sweet sorrow

I don't remember when it happened. I just remember being surprised at how real and perplexing my feelings were. How could it be that just when Gui and I start to get serious and down-to-business about our plans to move back to Texas, I begin to have emotional attachment issues with my current home? I suppose it was crazy for me to never consider that I'd be sad about leaving Paris; that I'd miss the place and people; that I'd be nostalgic about our impending departure. Well, I am.

Although nothing is set in stone, yet, there is a very real possibility that I could be employed before heading back from our upcoming Texas vacation, meaning that our far-flung plans to live back in Austin could be a reality before the year is over. We've started the paperwork for Gui's green card, and despite what we've read on websites and forums, the lovely lady at the consulate told us that we could have the answer to our petition in just a few months (given that we do and provide everything that we're asked to). 'Gotta hand it to us Americans for our efficiency.

Still, as the possibility of leaving Paris looms over me, I find myself feeling overwhelmingly conflicted about my sentimental feelings. This is not going to be as easy of a step to take as I had presumed, and that makes me both surprised and concerned. What if we're not making the right decision to move back now? What if we fall on our faces? What if I get there and realize I want to be back in Paris? Well, I don't really know the answers to any of these questions, but I suppose I'll never know without giving it a shot, right?

As far as my career goes, nothing would be better for me than to be back in the States where I can more easily gain more work experience and continue my education. Obviously, as far as my family is concerned, with two new nephews on the way this year, there's really no place like "home." But, it's knowing how enthusiastic and optimistic Gui is about moving back to Austin that puts it all into perspective and makes me realize that we really are making the right move despite my ambivalence. His willingness and excitement to leave the comfort of his home, family and friends to support my career and start a new life abroad really motivates me to make it work. And, man do I want to make it work!

So, if all goes as planned, and things like the unemployment rate or sweltering hot summer don't cause us too much grief, we could be calling Austin home again in a few months, and that makes me squeal with delight! Even if it also means I'll be shedding some tears while bidding à bientôt to Paris.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Maintenant

Taking the cue from my sister, I've decided to pull myself back from my blogging hiatus with a summary post of what things are looking like 'round here these days. I hardly know where to start! The most notable difference in my life right now are my eating habits. Last week, I had all of my wisdom teeth removed during what I like to refer to as a nightmarish, hell-of-an-operation. My bottom teeth were impacted and, as the doctor confirmed, presented a few difficulties during the surgery. Beside the pain, puffy cheeks and complications from the surgery, the after-effects from the general anesthesia left me feeling like my mouth had been in a fight with Edward Scissorhands. I know time heals everything, and as I start to recover from the trauma caused by my everyday dental operation, I'm realizing how typical my experience really was. That's not to say I'd ever do anything like that again, but I find comfort in knowing I'm not the only one who suffered so horribly. Is that bad?

Puffy cheeks.

Gui and I are preparing for our big Texas trip coming up in about two weeks now. It's hard to know where to even begin planning such a long trip; I'll be gone for nearly two months and Gui's coming back after one month. Of course we have plans to see family, I've got my 10-year high school reunion to attend (yikes!), and we'll be making the rounds to see our friends and their families. But, I guess we're mostly looking forward to taking a peek at what our lives could be like living back in Austin. We've started the paperwork for Gui's green card, and I've been scouring the web for jobs and polishing my CV in preparation for the impending job-hunt. Until now, the idea of moving back had been more of a surreality than reality, but if all the chips fall into place as we hope, I could be starting a new job while I'm still on vacation. The job market is a vastly different place in Texas than it is in Paris, and that's something I'd sort of naively forgotten. Over dinner last night, we went over possible scenarios and tried to work out details for dilemmas we might find ourselves in, but it's just impossible to know how it will (or won't) all work out. We're resolved to go at it confidently, but aware of the reality of our situation and the possibility of disappointment.

So, these days, I'm spending my time recovering and planning, although I wish I was spending more time using the new sewing machine I purchased a couple of weeks ago.

It's nothing fancy, but it's got a European plug and I was hoping when I bought it that it would be the creative catalyst I feel is missing my from vie quotidienne. I still have a couple of weeks before vacation starts, though and I'm thinking I might be able to crank something out for one of my new nephews who are scheduled to arrive soon. And, can I just say how stokedI am for a family full of boys?!