Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dear Mom, Blame Sassy

When I was a teenager I remember reading an article in Sassy magazine (yes I'm dating myself) about American expatriates and from what I can recall about the article the expatriates weren't living in the most glamorous of countries. However, Sassy magazine had this uncanny ability to pique my interest in a variety of topics on a monthly basis and even though I had no idea what the word meant at the time I was instantly intrigued by the concept of expatriating.

I couldn't tell you why the article resonated with me the way it but I guess it spoke to something deep seated in my subconsciousness or perhaps spoke to my search for belonging as weird as that may sound. Maybe it was fate that I read that article or maybe it was sheer coincidence but what I do know is that I'm absolutely thrilled that 17 years later (wow) I'm going to have the opportunity to fulfill my dream of expatriating.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sunday Pulse Check #4

Days til Paris: 21

Wow only 21 days until Paris and I'm not sure how I'm feeling about my move. Yes I'm still very excited about moving and my excitement levels will continue to grow over the next 21 days. However, for the most part I just feel like there is a lot to get done which I guess is to be expected. I'm confident that it will all get done but I kind of wish I could hire someone to do it all for me.

I did purchase a rolling duffel bag by Timberland today and if I am to believe what I've read about this bag it is one of the lightest rolling drop bottom duffel bags around. That means I can pack even more shoes and handbags than I had originally anticipated. I also managed to save about $100 because I found it on sale. Cha-ching!!

Lastly, thanks to a some information provided to me by Opal I've decided that I am going to purchase an annual travel insurance policy which will provide medical coverage and trip cancellation/interruption coverage should anything unforeseen happen to me when traveling outside of France and it's not going to cost me an arm and a leg either. Yippie!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

One of Those Days

My official last day of work is September 14th but after a recent turn of events and nasty-gram emails that I received from a colleague I'm seriously considering throwing in the towel today. I was literallythisclose to resigning today. What's 3 extra weeks pay really in the grand scheme of things when my sanity and emotional health are at stake? Part of my decision to move to France is so I can remove myself from the rat race and the politicking and all the other nasty things that take place in most corporate environments.

The irony of it all is that I supposedly work for a company that does things better than everyone else and we instruct others on how to get their "hows" right and yet our "hows" are completely wrong. Each day I have to remind myself that I have x-1 days left to make the 8 hours bearable and while it's a small comfort but I won't be completely happy until that number is equal to zero.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In the Merde for Love

In the Merde for Love

I just finished reading In The Merde for Love by Stephen Clarke (thanks DT) which is sold by the title Merde Actually in the UK. It was a mildly amusing read but by the middle of the book I had lost interest in what was going to happen next. I finished the book because it wouldn't be fair to base an opinion on only reading a small excerpt and I'm glad that I did because now I can say without a shadow of doubt that the book would have been 95%* better if they removed 62%* of what was printed in the middle.

I'm currently reading Talk to the Snail: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French (I'm sensing a theme here) and I'm not sure what to read next to help prepare myself Parisian living. I welcome any and all suggestions.

*By no means were these statistics fabricated by the author of this post. These statistics and have a +/- 3% margin of error.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Still No Arrêté

I woke up this morning almost certain that I would receive my arrêté (official French work contract) in the mail so at 2PM on the dot I went downstairs to check my mail. But alas, I have not been blessed by the arrêté gods so the waiting continues (I'm getting used to it by now and it's good practice for when I get to France). If I don't get my arrêté by Thursday I get to harass my contact in DC and possibly she can light a fire under some cul français to get things moving along.

The main reason I'm so anxious to receive this piece of paper is because I need confirmation of my actual post. According to this post and this one I will be teaching right outside le peripherique of Paris but I need to see it in writing on official looking letterhead with an official looking stamp. That way I can reassure the maternal unit, family and friends that I will not be teaching in any of the areas hardest hit by the riots in 2005. But if by some chance there was an error in the email that I received in July and I am by some chance placed in any of those "red zones" that will just be our little secret dear internet friends.

For now, I'm going to go practice the dance that I will perform once I do receive my arrêté.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Pulse Check #3

Days til Paris: 28

I'm moving to France for a job opportunity but that idea hasn't quite synthesized in my mind just yet. In my mind I'm moving to France for an 8 month paid vacation. I have a feeling that this is not the right attitude.

In other news, I'm all caught up on my medical and dental checkups. Good news is I'm in perfect health
(I still have one outstanding appointment this Monday) and I have no cavities. Even better news is that I'll be covered under France's socialized healthcare system as soon as I start working. Bad news is I'll be among the uninsured when I return home to the US.

Score: France 1 US 0

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Spirit is Bruised But Not Shattered

I've been diligently scouring the internet to find a Parisian apartment of my very own or to share with 1-2 lovely other roommates. Unfortunately, I've come up empty so far. People have warned me that it is notoriously hard to find an apartment in Paris during September and I chose to not believe them.

At first I was naively optimistic thinking that a large apartment with a great view and patio would fall into my hands and would cost virtually pennies (in dollars). Then I turned cautiously optimistic when I realized that maybe such an apartment will fall into my hands but it will require some hard work, determination and the prospect of paying a pretty penny for it. However, I will still be able to afford other basic necessities such as food and entertainment (I'm pretty sure entertainment is not included in Maslow's hierarchy of needs but whatever). Fast forward to today and I'm feeling completely pessimistic and that my only option for shelter in Paris is to live in a closet with no windows in some shady part of town and to top it off I will be required to pay a caution which will be 6 times my monthly salary as an assistant.

In case you don't believe I've brought along a few illustrations to share.

Exhibit A - "Showering in My Kitchen with Plants;
Who Needs a Shower Curtain When Sticky Butterflies are Strategically Positioned to Cover My Lady Bits"

Exhibit B - Is This Not the Scariest Comforter That You Have Seen This Millennium?

After the past couple of days searching my spirit may be slightly wounded and bruised but it is by no means shattered. I still have time to find that perfect Parisian apartment that I envision in my dreams.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunday Pulse Check #2

Days til Paris: 34

I can't believe that I'm moving to Paris in a little more than a month and the whole process started over 9 months ago.

Let's see, what haven't I accomplished this week?

For starters with I did not buy any luggage but I did look at a few pieces that caught my eye. I also haven't figured out where I'm going to live once I get to Paris. The maternal unit did not approve of my answer when she posed that question to me during a phone conversation today. I actually think it may be stressing her out more than me. Oh and lastly, still no arrete.

So now you're probably asking yourself "LA what exactly did you accomplish this past week?"

Well let me tell you, I found some potential parties to reassign my current lease. Management at my building wasn't interested in letting my roommate and I out of our lease 2 months early without forfeiting our security deposit unless we were able to find someone to take over our lease. So I did just that however I say "potential parties" as they have to go through the ol' rigamarole which involves credit checks and application approval. Here's the catch, the whole process takes about 4 weeks. Now if my calculations are correct, I may be on a plane to Paris before the whole thing is finalized. I hung out once again with my newfound fellow assistant friends, shout out to the newest member of the group Lillian.

Despite not purchasing any luggage I did manage to make a few key purchases on Saturday. I purchased this perfume to make all the French boys swoon when they catch a whiff of me as I'm going to need all the help I can get. I purchase this international converter and these noise cancelling headphones for my plane ride.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Luggage Woes

The decision to move to France was a no brainer for me.

The decision of which luggage to purchase is proving to be a very difficult task for me. I just know that as soon as I purchase my luggage I'll find some that I like even more than the ones I purchased.

Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

My Big Sis*

Moving to Paris has always been a dream of mine and not one that I readily shared with those around me. It's always been something that has been completely mine in my dreams and fantasies until recently. Now that the wheels are in motion and I'll have the opportunity to live on French soil do I feel comfortable enough to share that dream with others. And while I'm completely ecstatic regarding my temporary move to France there's another side of the story that I'm in sort of denial about.

My sister went away to college in upstate NY when I was 15 years old and looking back it didn't seem like that big of a deal at the time I was more looking forward to not having to share a room with her any longer. Time has changed that and our relationship has grown and blossomed in ways I never thought possible, I am no longer the bratty kid sister and she is no longer the overbearing older sister (occasionally we do regress back to these archetypes).

When I told my sister that I would be moving to France for seven months she was happy and excited for me but there was a shakiness to her voice that spoke volumes about how she really felt about my leaving. During a recent phone conversation she asked me if I will be returning home for Christmas and my response was "I'm not sure yet and I don't know if I will be able to afford it." And her immediate response was "Well I'll just buy your ticket." I have depended on my sister tremendously in the past and at times have used her as a crutch which may have thwarted development in some areas of my life. And while I appreciate her offer to buy me a plane ticket, an offer that I may more than likely take her up, I'm not sure that if it will be the right thing for me to do in terms of my experience living abroad. Who knows, maybe when the time comes that's the exact thing I need in terms of fulfilling me.

Will I miss my parents, family and friends while I'm in France? Of course but I don't think that will really hit me until after I've been living there for a while and I realize that I'm not there on vacation. However, the person I will miss the most is my big sister and not having her within a three hour drive scares the beejeezus out of me.

*This post is dedicated to Rho my one and only big sister.

Monday, August 6, 2007

France Things I Love #2

Not only does Petit Bateau make the most adorable children's clothing they also make some pretty awesome items for adults as well. A perpetual wardrobe staple of mine, especially in the spring and fall are their Scallop Trim Short Sleeve Tees. These tees are 100% cotton but you would guess it because of their ability to maintain their shape and form wash after wash.

Now, these tees are relatively inexpensive here in the states going for $25 for a set of two. However, in France they are half that price!! Now that's affordability even on an assistant's salary. I definitely plan to stock one these tees and some other Petit Bateau basics whileup while I'm there.

Sunday Pulse Check

Days til Paris: 41

I feel like the stress that I was feeling last weekend regarding my big move has eased slightly. I was able to enjoy a cappuccino while reading the Sunday Times at my local Starbucks whereas last weekend I just stared at the stack of papers in front of me feeling completely overwhelmed.

I'm feeling less stressed because I was able to accomplish the following this week:

  1. I received my passport...Yippie
  2. I had my birth certificate translated into French and notarized (just in case)
  3. I sold some furniture
  4. I packed some boxes of books and cds that need to be put into "storage" aka mom's house

I still haven't received my arrêté, however I did receive an email apologizing for the delay and letting me know that I should receive it by mid-August at the latest. I guess I can stop checking my mailbox every day like a lunatic or maybe I should pick up the frantic frequency at which I check it (don't even get me started on the new mail person that delivers my mail almost an hour later than the regular guy). The only drawback is that I may have to reschedule my visa appointment if I don't receive my arrêté by August 20th.

Hopefully, the upcoming week will be as productive as the last. Who knows, maybe someday soon I'll write a jubilant post about how I secured affordable housing in Paris.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Apple Store = Chaos

Yesterday I went to the Apple Store on 5th Avenue to purchase the World Travel Adapter Kit for Sophia, my MacBook Pro because I didn't want anything bad to happen to her while she kept me company on my sojourn in Paris.

However, moments after stepping inside of the store I had a moment where I said to myself, "self, you should have known better". I've been to this particular Apple Store in the past and the one in SoHo and it's just sheer and utter chaos. I should have known that venturing into the store after the release of the iPhone was going to be a nightmare.

There were people all over the place, music blaring and really no one there to help me out. I can appreciate Apple's concept in wanting shoppers to experience their products with all senses but enough is enough. I prefer a much more serene shopping experience. It's as if the shopping experience at an Apple Store is the complete antithesis of purchasing an Apple product. The only saving grace from the whole experience was not having to stand in the long line at the register. I was able to purchase my adapter by an associate on the floor that had a mini computer and was able to complete my purchase.

I hereby make a mental note to myself, "self, never again, never again, that's why the internet and e-commerce were created."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

An Open Letter to the Middle Aged Man

Dear Mr. Middle Aged Man Sitting at the Bar,

You seem like a nice enough gentleman you really do but unfortunately I am not in the market for a sugar daddy at this time. I understand that my move to Paris will be financially challenging but I'm fully equipped to handle that challenge on my own. Oh and while I'm at it I probably won't be emailing you any time soon requesting that you come visit me in Paris even though you offered to come visit and you mentioned that you like to travel.

Yours truly,