Summertime

Every year I anxiously anticipated summer. Freedom. Sunshine. Fun.

This year? Summer just brings good-byes, no time off and loads of good-byes. Not the childhood memory I was so fond of.

It’s the end of June and we have yet to see summer weather. July marks the end of several people’s time here in Paris. And don’t even get me started on how insane work is. It is times like this that I wonder why I took lazy, sunny San Diego days for granted. Honestly, I just want to plop my butt in the sand and soak in summer. Yet for some reason this summer I am exceptionally stressed out and frustrated.

I don’t know what I want. I love Paris. But I also hate it. Truth be told. I talked about my serious relationship with this city awhile back but now it has turned slightly abusive and I can’t break away. Work is honestly eating my soul and I keep having to prepare myself for goodbyes. No consistency, no control. I am spontaneous and go with the flow but I am not going to lie… I am a bit of a control freak like the rest of my family and lately I feel like I have no control.

Thinking about moving back stateside gives me serious anxiety. This has been my life for 2 years. And I see what happens to some of the expats that return–they just want to figure a way to come back. I know I could come back if I wanted to but moving back seems like an even bigger decision than the one I took to move to France. I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s because I know I have changed or the people I knew so well changed, or both. Or maybe it’s because I have I don’t think I will really fit back stateside. Or maybe it’s just my weird obsession with Paris.

I know going back to California would not be the end of the world. In fact, I am sure it would be good. There are days I can’t think of anything else besides moving home but then it seems like something in this city all draws me back in. I am so proud of my experience here. It was honestly the best decision I made. It seems weird to end it all. But I know one day I probably will. As much as I love it here, I am not convinced this is the city for the rest of my life. I’m a mover… I think I will experience several cities before finding my home.

Until then, I would really like if Paris could get its butt in gear and give me some summer!!!

Rêves, Soirées, and My Week

This week was tough. For one, I was suffering from a case of what I refer to as PTD (post-travel depression) brought on by my return from Copenhagen. Although PTD happens quite often in my life, I have yet to figure out how to rid myself of the blues that set in after a great trip. And of course, PTD is hits especially hard on the Mondays I return to work. Clearly a very scientific term I have coined 😉

Work has been tough in itself lately. I really love my job and I realize how lucky (or how persistent I am) that I found a job in my field and in France. The problem is that I went from being insanely busy in college, juggling a lot of different activities, and living in a sorority house of 35 women to having a 9 to 5 job and living alone. I am not complaining and absolutely love the freedom and independence I have. It is just weird to get used to. I do best when I am up to my eyeballs in things to do—not so much when things have come to a lull. Right now at work, we refer to this time as ‘low season’ which basically means we take the time preparing for the ‘high season’ and doing other various tasks. Again, not something I have a problem with but I miss the stress and high energy of high season. The second problem is all my fault. My French. I understand I have only been seriously learning French for about 6 months but it still frustrates me that I am not fluent. I also understand this is an unreasonable wish. But I love to talk and make connections with people and I feel my lack of confidence in French is limited those made connections. The thing that is the most frustrating is I know it. It is not like I don’t know French. I do. I understand. I can read and write. I even know how to say what I want to say typically but when the opportunity presents itself… I freeze. It doesn’t help that when I speak I dive right into a sea of “ahhhh c’est trés mignon!!” Sorry but I don’t want to sound cute, I want to sound French. Very different things.

However, my company had a soirée last night filled with all of our employees and suppliers. It was a great time and I was quite pleased with my able to not get overwhelmed in an entire room of French speakers. I took the leap of faith that my French skills could keep me afloat and I was right. I was quite proud. But this wasn’t the thing I was most excited about. Over a conversation about the processed food intake and obesity of Americans with a new contact, I received the best possible comment from a French woman. She looked at me and said, “if you hadn’t told me you were American, I would have assumed you were French. You look like a French girl.” Now all of you probably have no idea why I got so unbelievably excited about this but it is a big deal. To me at least.

The other toughness of the week was another thing completely brought on by myself. Note to self: do not text when sleeping. Yep, that’s right. I don’t join the group of the drunk texters, but rather I like to text amidst my sleep. Don’t ask how because that is a question I am still trying to sort out. Now, I don’t want to go into detail about this but I think my brain is trying to sort out a lot of things this week. Which brings me to my next subject: dreams.

Dreaming isn’t my thing. Rarely do I ever wake up and remember anything I dreamt about the night before. I am talking around 5 dreams… a year. However, this week I have already met my quota for the year. I have had multiple dreams every night. They are all similar, too. Every night I have dreams about my family or people from my past. In most of the dreams, everything is normal and pleasant but ultimately something bad happens. At first, it started off about something happening to me, but slowly it turned into things happening to my family. I hate this feeling. I hate waking up worried and knowing that they are thousands of miles away. But that in itself is why I believe I am having those dreams. My brain is doing its best to sort out what I want.

Lately, I have tried to think more long-term than the usual ‘what’s my next trip.’ There are only a few things I know for sure while all this rest is just floating around in my head. One thing I know is that Paris isn’t forever. I love it now and I am not sure how long ‘now’ will last but I know it is not where I want to settle down. But this leads me to the question, well where is it I want to live? Answer: I have no effing clue. If only there was like a halfway house for people who lived abroad but also like America. I need the best of both. Mostly what is driving me most right now is being close to my family. My sister and I haven’t lived in the same city since I started high school. Because she is my best friend, this is a bit difficult for me. Of course, we still talk daily but I want to be able to have the relationship where we can grab drinks together, or cook dinner, or go shopping. Which is all way I think I will make the move to San Francisco next. Plus, I think the city might be the halfway house I am looking for. We will see.

I also don’t really know what I want to do. I love events and now I look the travel and leisure side of the industry. Problem is, ultimately I would love to be a travel writer/photographer (or host a show on the travel channel!) The writing field isn’t the easy place to break into. Excuses, I know. I can make it happen. I just wish I could have more time to focus on it…

My gosh what a ramble. Wow. Well for all of you that are still awake after this post, high-five. I am stopping now for your sanity.

Bonne weekend à tous!!

My Year in Review

Its official. One year ago today I was landing in Paris and running into the arms of the girl who helped me get here. I had no idea what was ahead of me and I definitely had no idea what … Continue reading

Silly Sorrows

“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” ~Leo F. Buscaglia

 

Life in France is strange. But I havent completely decided if that is France’s fault or the whole living on my own as an adult part.

Lately a lot has been going on and there doesn’t seem to be a break really. Dont get me wrong… work is incredible and so is my petite Parisien flat but damn, when it rains it pours.

Anyone who knows me knows that I talk to my mama a lot…. A LOT. She is always trying to lure me home and failing but when it comes down to it, she really wont let me give up. Today was one of those days where there is too much going on in your life for your brain to process it all. And there she was pushing me to look on the bright side of things. Honestly–my personal cheerleader. My mom has this ability to bring me back down to reality. The thing about me is I am pretty laid back and low-key until things get out of control and then its like all hell breaks loose… for about 2 hours until I calm down and see the crazy person I am being. 🙂 But today my mom helped me realize all i have accomplished being here and that everyday I feel like this is another day that I am learning and growing.

I have always had an easy life. To be blatantly honest. Yes, things have gone wrong and I have dealt with major things. However, I have always managed to get basically everything I want. Not easily, but still. I have always had an incredible network of people around me. My family was never far away. But now I am in a crazy new place and i have to get used to things being different.

When I have a bad day, I can’t drive 50 minutes to have my mom cook me dinner. Or when I am broke I can’t have my dad come down to go grocery shopping and put gas in my car. I don’t live in a sorority house with 34 of my close friends and room with my best friend. I don’t have a social calendar anymore. I don’t have a boyfriend to escape to when I can’t party anymore or the girls are driving me mad. I don’t live in a country where they speak the same language as me and where nothing is convenient.

The thing is though…. that strangely that is all ok. Sometimes it bogs me down and I can’t see past what I don’t have. But then (after those 2 hours of craziness) i realize what I do have.

I have more than I ever have before. I have more courage and patience. More knowledge of other cultures and ways of doing things. More independence. More responsibility. More flexibility. More freedom. More experience. More choices.

It is completely my life now. 100 percent. And I couldn’t be more proud. I am so fortunate for everything that I have. With everything going on I have realized what is important and what isn’t. I realize how lucky I am and how important it is to never take a day for granted.

You are alive and breathing. Make the most of it.

And so it begins….

I did it. I am here. I can’t believe it. My own studio in the center of Paris. I honestly thought I would never see the day. A year ago, when I decided to move to France, this is what I had envisioned. Yeah I knew it wasn’t going to be this magnificent life in the city because I (semi) knew what I was getting into, but this is what I wanted. And now I have made it. I have made my dreams happen.

On my last working night in Vaux, S didn’t even eat dinner with me. Hurtful but expected. Shocking how you can disregard the last 10 months of your life and someone who not only shared living space with you but I also basically raised your kids. I didn’t let it ruin the night however; I grabbed the kids and put Mama Mia on my TV in the room. They sat on my bed playing with their toys and helping me belt out “Dancing Queen.” They were my 10 months and I love them so much. Yes, there were times I wanted to kill them but I truly am going to miss them. Today was the first day I didn’t have to think about going to home to get my little monkey or worry about cleaning up all the morning dishes that weren’t mine. I woke up to the sound of a fountain, busy people rushing to work, and the view of Sacre Coeur from my window. A little different.

The move went quite well. I have so.much.stuff. I have no idea how I accumulated so much stuff in the last (almost) year. I moved to France with two giant suitcases. I moved to Paris with car load. Luckily, my friend Pierre was nice enough to offer his car and help. He showed up in a petite French car of course and all of us were terrified my stuff wasn’t going to fit… and there was no way I wanted to head back to Vaux again. Somehow, with Pierre’s sweet packing skills, we filled his car to the brim. Everything fit… well besides Aggie and a suitcase. She was kind enough to take the train with the last suitcase and meet us in the city. Pierre and I ventured into the city with my feet in my pocket and bags on my lap. I have to point out, to make this even more interesting, that Pierre doesn’t speak really any English and my French is still very limited. Hour car ride into Paris and somehow we managed to talk about our families, work, our future plans… its incredible what you can do with a little amount of language in common and some effort.

Once we got into the city, Pierre managed to park right in front of place (although it’s for pedestrians only—c’est la France, right?). Now, to explain the situation a bit better… I live off a square and my front door is through a café. My front door leads to a foyer where there is another door that leads to a massive amount of stairs I have to climb to get to my place. Because Pierre could not keep his car in the convenient spot for long, Aggie and I decided the best solution was to cram all my things into the foyer. Picture two girls pulling thousands of bags out of a Frenchman’s illegally parked car, walking through people casually enjoying their lunch, and stuffing it all into a little foyer. Quite humorous.

After we managed the pack the foyer to its capacity, we started the long journey up the stairs a few bags at a time. Aggie and I switched off between guarding my stuff and making the trek. Later on, some of my other close friends came and helped me tackle unpacking. It was such an amazing night. Wine, good friends, and organizing all my stuff… what more could you ask for?

After celebrating into the wee hours, I cant explain how great it was to be able to walk just a couple of minutes and be home.

It is still unreal. I live in Paris.

Closing a Chapter

I came to France with the idea I would be here just one year. I wanted to learn a new language, experience a different culture, and most importantly grow. I have to say, that on my last day of au pairing, I can look back and say I have done pretty well. The past 10 months have been filled with up and downs. Most of the time I was sitting here wondering why I am so lucky, but there were also days I wondered why I ever chose to do this. Although my French is still completely rubbish, I really feel like I have gotten the most from this experience so far.

I never thought that today would be like this. I thought I would be filled with sadness to leave a family I cared so deeply about. Sad to say though, although I will miss the kids dearly, today is nothing what I imagined. With the feeling that I can’t go fast enough from the parents, it really makes me upset about all the time and effort spent. I understand that they are mad I am leaving but I do wish this could have ended on a better note.

On the other side, I cannot believe I am moving tomorrow into the center of Paris into my very own place. I havent even wrapped my head around it yet I don’t think. I have never lived alone, let alone in PARIS. Ahhhh. I can’t wait. I am really looking forward to the next chapter in my life. I have faith that everything will work out. And hey, if it doesn’t it was an experience, right?

When Being Civil Goes Out the Door

I always used to be one of those au pairs that said I was so fortunate because I had an incredible family. And I meant it. I really did enjoy my family and legitimately liked spending time with them. S … Continue reading