Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Yeah Baby She's Got It

I got my passport today, minutes ago to be exact and if you could see me now I'm actually doing a happy dance. Maybe I should turn on the webcam and record a YouTube moment for you all...yeah on second thought I don't think so.

Just when I was about to give up on the US government they managed to surprise me. I called the National Passport Information Center and informed them that they had been holding my passport hostage for almost 3 months and that I had an appointment to get my visa on August 20th. The kind woman on the other end of the line checked the status of my passport and told me that the paperwork had been processed but that it still needed to be printed. She told me that she would put a note on my application to have it printed and shipped to me by the end of the week. I was skeptical during the whole conversation because I kept hearing horror stories about people missing weddings, funerals and vacations because they didn't receive their passports in time, but I thanked her and then hung up the phone.

Last night I received an email from the agency saying that my passport had finished processing and that since I had paid for overnight delivery I would have it on or around 8/1. I checked the mail today and voila I now have my passport in hand and the photo isn't even that bad.

I guess I can now close the book on my morning ritual of checking the status of my passport at the US Department of State website. I'm sure I'll think up a new ritual to perform in its place.

Monday, July 30, 2007

France: Things I Love #1

I thought this post would be appropriate following my previous one because it will put things into perspective and give me something to look forward to while I prepare for my move. I'm going to keep a running list of things I love about France and things I look forward to experiencing once I get to Paris. The posts won't appear in any particular order as items will be posted as they pop into my consciousness.

Alas, I present you with La Duree Macaroons:


Words cannot explain the deliciousness that are La Duree macaroons and they can only really be appreciated when experienced firsthand. These sweet little numbers come in a variety of flavors that will satisfy almost all palettes.

I hereby pledge to myself to purchase a macaroon or ten upon landing in Paris and to indulge in such treats whenever I'm faced with challenges while living in France.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

She's Coming Undone

As the clock clicks closer and closer to September 17th I find myself getting more and more stressed out about my move to France. Perhaps these feelings are only natural but at times I feel nearly incapacitated by the number of things that I need to accomplish in such a short time frame (49 days to be exact). I know I'm not the first person to be in my situation and I know there are countless others that have done it before me but at this moment I feel like I'm not going to be able to get it all done. When I think about it my life here in New York City it really isn't all that bad. I have a decent job, a great group of friends, a semi-active social life and I'm fluent in the language. Why put myself through such undue stress?

What makes matters even worse is that there are some things that I simply can't do yet such as get my visa because I have yet to receive my passport or my arrêté de nomination. And let's not even discuss housing.

So instead of feeling excited by this wonderful opportunity that I have before me I'm feeling daunted and overwhelmed. I do see the light at the end of the tunnel that unfortunately it is not shining as brightly as it once has.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Shameless Plug

This morning I had my teeth whitened by Dr. Ryan Sellinger, DMD at Go Smile Aesthetics here in New York City.

If you're interested in a relatively painless tooth whitening procedure that takes less than an hour check him out (ladies, he's a looker).

Details:
Ryan Sellinger, DMD
Go Smile Aesthetics
923 Fifth Ave
New York, NY 10021
212-734-6111

Le Rendez-Vous

I always get nervous meeting people for the first time because I have a tendency to be fairly shy and downright antisocial in most social situations. However, there was nothing awkward about meeting Opal and Chi-Young two New Yorkers who will also be assistants in France this fall. Both of these ladies were very personable and friendly and it was as if we were old friends. We enjoyed some drinks, a lovely dinner and even some dessert at the restaurant.

Opal and I seemed to have a lot in common. We are both a bit older than your average assistants who are only 2-3 years out of college or less. This was comforting because I felt like I was going to be the only assistant in my age bracket in all of France. We also both declared that we will not be traveling around Europe carrying anything that resembles this little number:



It's not to say that there is anything wrong with people that carry backpacks but it's just not our style and not our taste.

We're going to try to meet once a week while still we're still in New York and once we get to France since we'll all be living relatively close to one another. It's a nice feeling knowing that I'm not in this alone and that there will be some familiar faces in and around Paris once I get there.

As a side note the eye candy that usually works the bar at Resto Leon was mysteriously absent last night. What must a girl do to get a little eye candy in this city of mine? It's not that his replacement wasn't attractive he just didn't do it for me as he was neither French nor from the Créteil. Peut-être le prochaine fois.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Assistants in New York

This evening I'm going to meet up with two soon to be English Language Assistants in France. We're meeting up because it will be fun to commiserate about the program, finding an apartment in a foreign country and all sorts of other things. It actually turns out that one of the ladies that I'm meeting was placed in Versailles which is not too far from Paris. So it will be nice to know at least one other person in my vicinity before moving out of the country.

We're heading to a little French Bistro in the East Village. While I've eaten at said bistro and the food is pretty good I must admit that I do not go there for the food. I go to flirt with the eye candy behind the bar. The cool thing about the eye candy is that his is French and is actually from the Paris suburb of Créteil. It should be an interesting evening.

Mon Meilleur Ami

I've been slacking slightly in my post frequency and I apologize for that. It seems as though my current job wants to get the most out of me before I depart. They thought it was a good idea to assign me some new projects and overload me with things to do. But more on that in a subsequent post.

Last night I went to go see Mon Meilleur Ami with a friend and I really enjoyed it. The film was light, fun and even poignant at times. Check out the preview for yourself but be warned you may feel compelled to go out and see the movie after viewing the trailer.



I must say that prior to watching Mon Meilleur Ami I was pretty disappointed with many of the French films that I have seen recently. For a majority of the French films that I've seen recently it's as if I started out watching one movie and about 75 minutes into the film there was a drastic plot twist. It's as if I got up to go to the restroom and mistakenly returned the the wrong theater. Has anyone seen this hot mess or this one? 'Nuff said.

I still want to see Paris Je T'aime but I think I missed the boat on that one as it's not playing at any theaters near me.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Stone's Throw

For those of you that prefer visuals I present to you Google maps.




The above illustration shows the center of Paris (blue dot labeled Paris Center, duh) and two other blue dots represent the collèges where I'll be teaching.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

We Have Contact

"I don't know" has become a very popular response of mine lately. I'm pretty sure my friends and family started to doubt my actually moving to France because I was unable to answer so many of their questions. Sometimes even when I knew the answer to a question I would respond with "I don't know" because I had gotten so accustomed to it.

Well today my friends, I finally have some answers and I can break the "I don't know" cycle.

I will be teaching 11 to 15 year olds at two collèges in the Paris suburbs. Collège Diderot in Aubervilliers and Collège Joliot in Pantin. Aubervilliers is 4.5 miles from the center of Paris and Pantin is even closer.

This also means that I can start researching places to live and maybe if I'm lucky I can even secure a place to live before leaving American soil (a girl can dream).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Thing About Moms

Back in May when I first told my mom that I would be moving to France her initial reaction was "I hope you don't think I'm going to come visit you while your there." She couldn't understand why anyone would want to visit France let alone live there for 7 months. And as such she didn't speak to me for a couple of days. After the initial shock set in she called me back and apologized for her initial reaction but she still insisted that there would be no visits from the maternal unit.

Ignoring her decree I composed an email to her, several other family members and friends outlining my vacation schedule for the school year as well as the steps and extended processing times for obtaining a US passport. To which my mother replied:

"...just in case you're interested I'm going to get my passport. Maybe I'll take a trip to somewhere. Not sure where yet but by the time I make up my mind as where to go I will at least have it. Not that I'm coming to France or anything but you never know..."

I thought to myself "wow she's actually lightening up on the idea, she'll get her passport in no time."

Fast forward to today, my mom applied for he passport using the expedited service which means she will probably receive her passport before I even receive my renewal. Recent conversations with the maternal unit went something like this:

Maternal Unit: So I'm thinking of coming to Paris either in February or April. How long are your breaks exactly, I don't want to fly to Europe for only 5 days. I"m thinking of staying for 2 weeks or so.
L'Étrangère Americaine: *dead air*
L'Étrangère Americaine: errr, uhmmm, oh two weeks huh? Are you sure you want to stay that long? Do you think you want to visit some other countries while you're here?
Maternal Unit: Yeah, I wanna visit Germany, Italy, Spain, England, Greece and Australia.
L'Étrangère Americaine: AUSTRALIA? AUSTRALIA? Mom, the flight to Australia is 24 hours.
Maternal Unit: Oh, maybe not Australia.
L'Étrangère Americaine: Ok so I guess we'll be going on a European World Tour 2008.

So mom has been converted, who am I kidding, she knew along that she would be visiting me in France even without my prompting. Now, to get the ball rolling for my sister. Does anyone have any suggestions as how to overcome a fear of flying? She refuses to take pharmaceuticals to aid in calming her nerves.

In the Merde

Last week I returned from my summer vacation in Martha's Vineyard. In preparation for the almost 4 hour drive, 45 minute ferry ride and the endless hours relaxing on the beach I purchased Stephan Clarke's "A Year in the Merde". I intended to purchase this book when it was first published back in 2005 but I never actually got around to it.

Turns out that this book was so unbelievable funny, witty and insightful into the differences between American and French cultures I found it hard to put it down. I even caught myself laughing out loud during certain parts. Three days into my trip I had finished my book and was left with nothing to read during my lazy beach days.

A friend bought me the sequel "In the Merde for Love" and it too is riddled with laughs and insights similar to the first. I just hope that by reading Stephan Clarke's novel I'm able to avoid some of the blunders that Paul Wess faces during his first year in the merde.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Priceless

Airfare from JFK-CDG - $706
Flight Change Fee - $75
Excess Baggage Fee - $30
Living in Paris for 7 months - PRICELESS

Monday, July 9, 2007

One Step Closer

I've officially tendered resigned today. I've known for some time that I would be moving to Paris this fall but it feels that much more of a reality now that I've let the big guy (she's actually a woman) know that I won't be here in September. I wasn't ready to announce my departure for at least a couple more weeks but circumstance forced me to move things up a little bit. One can say that I had somewhat of an ethical dilemma.

While I know in my heart that this is the right move for me as a person I feel that professionally I'm making the wrong decision. At the end of the day though what matters most is my happiness and considering my current situation I have the luxury to be able to do that. I do not want to look back on my life in 10, 15, or 20 years and have any regrets.

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