Find me a job. Or EU nationality.

For all of you who know me well, you know that I change my mind weekly, if not daily, about staying or leaving Europe. Well, I had basically decided this was my final year and that I would make the journey back to the states this winter. However, I have switched again. But now I have the same problem you will find in my post earlier this year. Continue reading

Advertisements

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!!!

On the Roller coaster of Normalcy

When you move abroad, everything changes. It’s inevitable. The longer you stay the longer the weird foreign things start to become your normal. Sadly, there are things that in the bottom of my soul I think are normal that my American friends have to remind me that they aren’t.

I guess I should first clarify normal. I refer to normal as something that you are used to. For instance, I am American. I lived 22 years in the United States. Therefore, my habits and things I deem “normal” should correlate with my American upbringing. Yet somehow, living in France for a year and half actually brainwashes some of those very simple things out of my mind.

That is not entirely the point of this post. The point is that I think I began to forget things in order to make my life normal here. It was like a survival mechanism in my brain. However I have found, just lately, another part of my brain is fighting back. There are things I am beginning to notice again that had been pushed into the dark corners of my mind.

I miss living in a country where lines for newly released movies have barriers to control the lines rather than leaving it a cluster f**k. I miss that fact that even though the lady at the DMV may be a horrible, angry bitch that she will give you the same answer and procedure as the other angry bitch behind her– the answer and procedure does not, in fact, change dependent her mood. I miss grocery shopping on Sundays or holidays. I miss having sunshine for entire weeks, months even, not a few hours. I miss being able to speak English in public and not getting looked at as an ignorant tourist. I miss guys in basketball shorts and not pointy shoes. I miss crappy American TV and lounging on the couch with my best friends. I miss having a couch or an apartment big enough for one. I miss having a toilet that flushes correctly. I miss having friends that I knew would be in the same city as me longer than a year. I miss working with people who have a concept of how business works and the importance of business relationships. I miss having a meal without someone (guy or girl!) pointing out how fattening something someone in the room is eating.

I don’t know why this is happening now but I remember why I love home. Not that I ever forgot but little things are fluttering back into my memories. But I also remember why I love it here. I can’t just walk out of the metro into an adorable street market with the smell of rotisserie chicken in the air while I am in San Diego. This is the problem. There is so much I love about both my homes. I don’t know what is “normal” anymore. It is this strange mix of things now. It is ok. But I do find that there will always be something missing no matter where I am because I do hold two places so dearly in my heart.

Paris leaves a mark. So much that I don’t know if I will be ready to leave it. It seems so far off when my contract ends but it seems crazy close too. I know I can probably renew it and start the whole visa thing again but I am not sure I have it in me.

I miss these things but I can make a list just as long that I will miss about Paris. I know eventually I will have to just accept it and keep it as a good memory. Until then, I am going to enjoy every last ounce of Paris… and of course the French in me, will complain about it too 🙂

American Traditions in the Land of the French

Halloween was this week and I really had no expectations. Last year I didn’t celebrate it partly due to the fact I was with my parents who were visiting, and partly because the French (and most other Europeans) really do not believe in this holiday. However, with my recent involvement in CouchSurfing due to the persuasion of my Frenchie, a Halloween event caught my eye in the sea of emails I receive from them each day. It had me at: Zombie Bar Crawl.

Now, you fellow Americans know that at my age Halloween has turned into an excuse for girls to wear lingerie and call it a “costume.” Basically, an even larger SDSU themed frat party but you get to pick the theme. Halloween is no longer filled with fright and blood but sex and booze. And that my friends is why this year rocked—I got to be scary… for the first time on Halloween since I was about 11 (and that was just in the phase that I dressed as a witch every year).

My friends and I never do anything half-ass, so this wasn’t any different. I think normal, reasonable people might wonder why dressing up in full zombie outfit makes any sense in a city where no one will be dressed up but not us. We embraced it. An hour and bottle of vodka later, 3 Americans and a Frenchie were zombified—and so was my flat sad to say! The cool thing was we weren’t just a group of obnoxious Americans–I mean we were but I felt like it helped to have a Frenchie just as into to it as us. On top of the gobs of make up, we felt it necessary to also terrorize innocent passerbys. It was a pretty interesting night to say the least.

In a few weeks it will be Thanksgiving, a more authentic American tradition. Last year was spent slaving over my host family and cooking up some wonderful Picard delicacies. And then attempting to celebrate with my friend Robin at a church function/Thanksgiving dinner. The food was enjoyable, but Robin and I were more than happy to leave the event. It is also a bit difficult to try and take a piece of home when you are living abroad. I have rarely been homesick while here, but I have to say getting a milkshake by myself on 4th of July while dreaming of fireworks and BBQs was a low point. This year I have high hopes Thanksgiving will be different. I am going to a friend’s house and having a true American feast. My Frenchie is quite excited he will be attending his first Thanksgiving too! I am currently brainstorming something to make since my awesome friend has really covered all the bases. My Frenchie has been nice enough to let my use his proper kitchen as opposed to my toaster oven and hot plate 🙂  in exchange for lesson in some American cooking. Should be interesting. Suggestions welcome.

I believe that this year as a whole will be better than last. Not to say that last year wasn’t amazing but it wasn’t my own. It belonged to two kids and their disrespectful parents. This year I can do things my way and therefore it is much more enjoyable. I can’t explain how happy I am that my week day nights are filled with raclette parties with French friends, dinner dates, and relaxing in my very own flat. Life is so much better when you make it your own.

Having Two Places You Call Home

I am currently sitting in the Philly airport (and will continue to be sitting here for the next few hours), listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and reflecting on my last 2 weeks. The lovely view of gray skies, … Continue reading

La Rentrée

Life has seriously been in fast forward lately. When the hell did it get to be September? The good thing is although life is flying by quickly, it’s also flying by amazingly.

Paris has gone through la rentrée and everyone, for the most part, has returned from holiday. This is awesome and horrible at the same time. Lets get the bad news out-of-the-way first. Now if all of my readers lived in Paris, I could explain the problem in 2 words: RER A. However, for clarification purposes I guess I will delve into this a bit more. Basically all the suits that work in La Defense take the RER. Now this experience was really not bad in August when the suits had taken there ninos and left the city. But now they have returned. And although there is an RER about every 2 minutes, it still does not seem to be enough. There are actually human beings employed to push people on to the RER and attempt to close the doors. So there I am, among all the sleepy-eyed yet rushed business people with BlackBerry (or iPhone) in hand praying that I will manage to squeeze myself on to the next RER. Although completely used to this fact, it will never be enjoyable.

Now, for the good stuff. As I said, life has been seriously great lately. With la rentrée, comes the return of my friends who actually got a proper holiday during the proper holiday time, unlike me. It also brings in the new swarm of au pairs. So to say the least my social calendar has made a sudden leap from low-key alone time to too busy to do my laundry/grocery shop. I am loving it though. I have to say it is quite strange to be a “veteran” compared to all the newbies rolling into town. It seems like last week I was in their shoes but when I look back I realize how much I have grown. It is incredible. Although I really loved the experience, I am so happy where I am now. I love that I can look back and finally laugh on the series of unfortunate events that occurred or reminisce about the fun times I had with my fellow au pairs. I love that now I am not afraid to break out of my little au pair bubble and that I actually have French friends and go on dates where the language spoken isn’t always my own.

I am happy that I am spiralling toward a new chapter in my life. Everything seems to be working out lately (shocking I know!!) and I hope this continues. It has taken so much to get to this point of being content. A lot of people will comment on how lucky I am with my current situation, and while yes I did have my fair share of luck, I always worked my ass off. There has been many days of tears; stress, and uncertainty, to get me to this place. I have loved the journey and cant wait to see what is ahead.

On a side note, I am finally taking a holiday. Place of choice: CALIFORNIA. I haven’t been home in 10 months. Almost a year. I can’t believe it and I am so ecstatic to be back… but also terrified. It freaks me out I don’t know what to expect when I am returning to a place that is my home. In the whole scheme of thing I know that 10 months isn’t all that long but it is long enough to forget what used to be normal and mix it up with what is normal now. I am only saying this because there are seriously moments in my life that people back home question why I do something or say something and I have to think why. I know I have changed but I feel like some program has been rewired or something. I can’t find the words to explain. Instead, Ill let you know how it goes.

I’m going going back back to Cali Cali 🙂

French Summer= Rain for Days.

I am having quite a hard time believe that this is July. The July I am used to is full of BBQs and bikinis, not rain and jackets. Apparently, because we had such a good spring… we are paying for it now. That doesn’t make sense in my head but hey Ill let the French justify their crappy season.

On a high note (well I dont know if this counts as a high note but ill take it), today I noticed myself wearing the same outfit as about 70 percent of the women on the metro today. Beige raincoat, scarf, dark skinny jeans, heels. Have I been here too long? Am I slowly disappearing into the 20-something crowd of commuters on the metro?

I mean, I guess it is about time. I am living here. I have been for quite some time. I know what metro to take when the usual one is too crowded and what lines to avoid. I know where the best falafel in town is and where the best spot is to sit on a sunny afternoon. I now have no fear to ask the sales guy in the tech store if these speakers work with my Mac… in French.

Now, these all may seem like little thing… and they are. But they are little triumphs and that is what matters. In France, I have learned you have to take what you get and enjoy ever second of it. This year has been a test–and one I have struggled to get good grades with I might add–but slowly I am starting to get a few questions right.  And it feels good.

I was talking to an old friend of mine the other day and we were talking about growing up. I have known him since 5th grade… so it was easy to be nostalgic. We were wondering when this whole grown up thing happened. Here I am. Hardly a grown up, yet technically living that life. I have a real 9 to 6 (ish) job. I pay my own bills. I do my own thing. But I still feel like I waiting for it to get real. But it is real now. Am I making sense at all?

Sorry for rambling on but it is still crazy to think where I am and what I am doing. Honestly, I would be happy where ever life took me next. After this, I feel ready for anything. Preferably on a year-long travel adventure… but hey whatever works 🙂

My Year in Numbers

Number of days spent in France: 366

Vaux sur Seine’s population vs San Diego’s: 4,000 vs 1,223,400

Miles between Southern California and Paris: 5,600

Number of countries visited: 7

Size of my very own place in Paris: 15 square meters

Visits to the Prefecture: 10+

Average number of roses given to me in a night out: 2

Number of trains I have been stuck on a runaway train and had to jump off: 1

Number of months the French pension strike occurred: 2

Number of years ago France had such a cold winter and as much snow as 2010: 25

Amount of Euros I was paid  per week as an au pair: 90

Cost (in euros) of a (cheap) pint of beer in Paris: 5

Number of trips up 6 flights of stairs to move: 8+

Number of baguettes eaten on average per week: 2

Average number of liters a French person drinks of wine a year: 57

Average number of people who read ride the Paris every day: 4.5 million

Average number of minutes daily spent on the metro for my work commute: 50

Average rainfall in inches in Paris vs. San Diego: 24 vs. 12

Average number of times I still talk to my mom A DAY: 2 🙂

Number of marriage proposals I have received this year: 5+

Number of times a night random French guys will tell you “you are ze most beauuteeefulll gurl in ze world”: 15+

Number of scarves I own: 15

Average number of times I had to clean up caca a week as an au pair: 5

Average number of people who visit Paris a year, in millions: 30

Times I have gone home since living here: 1

3 things I don’t know how I lived without: unpasteurized cheese, lebanese food, boulangeries

3 things I could definitely live without: France closing down on Sundays, French administration, lack of sunshine in the winter

 

Number of times I have regretted my decision to move abroad: 0