Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving à Paris

I celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday with Lionel and some of his friends, and it was great.  I got home from work, cooked like a madwoman and then everyone showed up and we enjoyed a little aperitif then sat down for dinner.  We ate and ate and ate till we couldn't eat any more, then we took a little break before digging into dessert.

the buffet...pumpkin bread, green bean casserole, corn, mashed sweet potatoe and butternut squash,
roasted carrots, stuffing, gravy and a whole, stuffed turkey from Picard (thanks Ksam!)

enjoying Thanksgiving dinner

my delicious plate!

The only little snag was there were supposed to be 7 of us, but then two of Lionel's friends just never showed up and never called, which I think is pretty rude, but oh well.  We still had fun and it just meant more food for us!

the pies...one pumpkin and one pecan (and the pecan pie was DELICIOUS!)

All in all, it was a great Thanksgiving with lots of traditional foods and tons of eating.  Hope everyone else had a great Thanksgiving, wherever you were!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gobble Gobble

Even though Thanksgiving is today, I'll be celebrating tomorrow with a big Thanksgiving dinner, after I cook it of course!  I have at least 7 people coming and lots of cooking to do once I get off work, but it should be worth it!  On the menu is turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, roasted carrots, corn, mashed sweet potatoes and butternut squash, corn bread, pumpkin bread, pecan pie and pumpkin pie.  Should be a great time with lots of good food!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2 years!

Today Lionel and I celebrated two years of marriage!  I can't believe we have been married for two whole years...its seems like the time has passed so quickly!  It still seems weird to me to say that I am married, especially since if you had asked me 6 years ago, I never expected to ever be married.  But there you go...funny how life happens like that!  But I'm thrilled to be married to my little Frenchie and I'm looking forward to many more years to come!

So, in honor of the occasion, Lionel and I went out to dinner to celebrate tonight.  He took me to my favorite restaurant, A la Biche au Bois, and we enjoyed a wonderful meal of delicious French country cooking.  But more about that in another post...

The only downside was that we are both sick (his fault as he got sick first and gave it to me) so we weren't able to completely enjoy our evening out and we couldn't completely taste our food...but it was still a nice night out!

We will also be celebrating in two weekends when we are treating ourselves to our traditional anniversary/Christmas trip.  Every year around the time of our wedding anniversary (and incidentally the anniversary of when we met) and Christmas we take a weekend trip to visit a new city in Europe, but always one that is known for it's Christmas markets as well.  We've already been to Strasbourg, Brussels and Prague for little Christmas/anniversary trips and this year we are planning to take the car and head to Trier, Germany to visit the oldest city in Germany and enjoy it's charming Christmas market.  While there we are either gonna take a day trip and hit up Aachen, Germany (Aix-la-Chapelle) or Luxembourg City.  We haven't decided yet, but we'll see!

All in all I'm pretty happy with this year's anniversary celebrations as last year (for our FIRST wedding anniversary) I got nothing...no restaurant, no trip (cause we were about to head to the US), nothing!  This year is much better!

So, happy anniversary Lionel!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blah...

Yes, blah.  Because that is pretty much how I'm feeling right now.  This week is looking like it is going to be pretty crappy, and at this point I am just hoping to make it through to the weekend.

The week started off badly with the bad news about my cat on Sunday, and it hasn't been getting any better.  Monday we woke up to an unpleasant email regarding Lionel's grandfather who is currently in intensive care after a heart attack.  Unfortunately, we don't have much news other than that for the moment...

Then today I woke up to head to Val de Fontenay this morning to see my two favorite students.  But after four hours of chatting about everything and nothing, I left feeling even more depressed than I was Sunday and Monday.  It was quite strange actually, and I don't know how the conversation even started, but for some reason we were talking about shopping*.  The two women are good friends and so they started to talk about each other's style (all in English, don't worry) and give each other fashion advice.  Then they turned to me to give me some advice and to tell me what they thought my perfect outfit would be (a dress, apparently...like that is ever going to happen!).  Up to this point it was all good, we were talking about shopping and clothes...only natural for three women! 

They continued saying that they really thought I should buy a dress the next time I went shopping, but that I should make sure that I bring a friend with me because it is always important to have a friend's advice when picking out clothes.  It is, afterall, best to have someone else's opinion besides your own and a girl friend is best for this, NEVER your husband, they said.  And I started to think in my head how nice some retail therapy would be considering the way this week started.  I hadn't been shopping in forever (the last time I bought clothes for myself was in the US in August and it was all stuff I needed, nothing I WANTED), so I told myself to find some time to meet up with a friend and go shopping this week or over the weekend.  And that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks...

...I have no more friends in Paris.

I wrote before about how all of my friends were leaving France to return home, but it hadn't really hit me yet that it had actually happened.  You see, the last holdouts left last week on Monday and Friday respectively, and this morning when my students were talking about how great it is to go shopping with friends, the reality finally hit me that I no longer have any friends here.

Ok, that's not entirely true.  I still have Svetlana, but she is so busy being the "perfect" Russian wife that I don't see her very often, usually about once every 2-3 weeks and its only for an hour or two for coffee. 

So, while just 2 months ago I had a small, but great network of friends here in Paris and I found myself so busy between friends and Lionel that I thought I would never have a chance to just sit back, relax and sleep, now I am realizing that I am back to being all alone with nothing to do but spend time with my husband.  Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with spending time with my husband, but he is a homebody and sometimes I just need to get out and do things outside of the house and see people and have girl time.  But it doesn't look like that will be happening anytime soon.  For the first time in all my years in France I find myself with no one to turn to and no one to do things with and it just really hit home this morning while listening to my students talk about the importance of shopping with friends.

Looks like I'm really going to have to make an effort to go to some meetup groups now in hopes of meeting some interesting people and making a friend or two before I go insane by myself.

*I promise I'm not a horrible English teacher and we don't usually talk about shopping during my lessons!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bad news...

I spoke to my parents yesterday, as I do every Sunday, and I got some bad news.  Rusty, my/our cat, was put to sleep last week.


We had the little guy for almost 15 years, since before I started high school, and he was always such a good, but strange, cat.  He hated being held, but always had to be in the room with everyone.  He never really appreciated traditional cat toys, but instead preferred hair ties and a black Beanie Baby cat that he stole from me when I was younger and carried around with him every where he went.  He would even try to "feed" his black toy kitten.  He loved to play with bubbles in the sink but was terrified of bubbles in the air.  He was also terrified of plastic bags, the washing machine, vacuum cleaners, other cats, most people and a million other things.  He didn't show his love by begging to be petted, but rather by following people from room to room and sneaking into bed at night.

Unfortunately, while I was home in August, I noticed that he had lost quite a bit of weight.  When I asked my parents about it they said he had been coughing a lot and breathing weirdly lately and he hadn't been eating as much as usual.  We took him to the vet and were told that Rusty had asthma and needed a shot every 6 weeks, but that otherwise he would be fine and start eating again.

However, a week and a half  ago my parents told me he had been getting worse and had lost more weight so back to the vet he went, and after a ton of tests and more problems, they discovered he had to tumors surrounding his heart.  They were told that if he didn't start eating soon they would have to make the decision to put him down.  As you can imagine it was with trembling hands that I called yesterday, fearing the worst, and unfortunately he wasn't improving and they had to have him put down rather than slowly die, suffering.

They took his ashes home and buried him next to the birdbath (that I didn't even know they had!) with his little black kitty.

I'm devastated that I didn't get to see him again and I'm going to miss the little furball so much.  He was my first real pet (before that it was always hamsters and fish) and he was truly loved and an important part of the family.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chronopost vs la Poste

After today, I can't decide which one is worse**!  Lionel and I made a important purchase online this week, and since we wanted it to arrive quickly, we decided to pay the extra 4 euros for Chronopost so our order from Tuesday night would arrive Friday morning instead of sometime in the next few weeks with la Poste.  Boy was that a mistake!

As promised, the package arrived today.  However, Chronopost claims to have tried to deliver it at 10:41 this morning, but if they did, they certainly didn't try to call to the apartment because I was home all day and, bien sur, no one knocked and no one called with the interphone or the phone.  As a result, we had to go pick up the package this evening.  But where?

One would think this would be a simple question...normally the location is indicated on the slip that is left to let you know they tried to deliver your package.  But it wasn't clear.  The delivery guy marked that we could pick it up at the bureau de poste, but didn't indicate which one (we have 2 near us).  But also on the slip it was stated that the package would be held for 7 days at the bureau de Chronopost indicated on the slip before being sent to the bureau de poste where it would be held for 14 days.  Ok, strange.  And fabulous;  the bureau de Chronopost is in Rungis!

Just to make sure, I decided to check online with the suivi de l'envoi using the tracking number.  When I checked it stated, and I quote "RUNGIS CHRONOPOST Parcel awaiting collection at point of retrieval."  So to me it seemed pretty clear, the package was indeed at the Chronopost in Rungis. 

So we checked on mappy for directions then hopped into the car.  After 30 minutes for miserable traffic on the N7 we finally made it out to Rungis.  But where was the Chronopost?  This place is IMPOSSIBLE to find.  We passed it once, had to turn around, take the N7 back, go around the centre commercial, pass next to the tolls to enter the Marché International de Rungis, then take the N7 back south to try to get to the Chronopost.  Only one problem:  which exit do we take?  So we picked one and prayed for the best.  Unfortunately; it just took us to the tolls on the other side of the Marché de Rungis.  So we had to go all the way back around and try another exit, which finally brought us to the Chronopost (all this driving in circles...and I mean circles...ended up taking about an hour).  At this point we were just relieved to be at the Chronopost and we hurried up to the door to get our package.  We handed our slip over, the guy looked up the tracking number, and surprise surprise, our package isn't there!  It's at our bureau de poste!  Idiots!

At this point it was 8pm and la Poste was closed so we have to go in tomorrow to pick up the package, after making a call to verify which post office it is at and, bien sur, that the package is actually there since I apparently can't trust any of the mail delivery services in this ridiculous country anymore!  Knowing my luck it's probably lost somewhere in France!  And clearly that was an extra 4 euros well spent...

So you be the judge...which is worse, Chronopost or la Poste???

**I know that in my last post I indicated a desire to try to be slightly less negative toward la France, but I just can't help it...it's all so stupid!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Trop negative?

Lately I have been hearing a lot that I am too negative regarding France/the French and that some people are even starting to wonder why I even live in this country.

I was honestly a little shocked by this as I didn't think I was ever that negative, and I also always thought that when I was being negative against France that it was only things that most French people would even agree with i.e. slow bureaucracy, la poste, etc.  However; according to most of my husbands friends, a few of my French friends, and even some distant acquaintances I am far more negative than I ever thought.

While my extremely negative mind is screaming "it's because you are French and you are happy to critique everyone else and any other country, but can't stand the thought that there could ever be anything bad to be said about yours because France is perfect and the French are perfect," I have to wonder whether or not there is any truth to this; perhaps I am very negative and there is a reason to ask why I am living in this country.  I always thought it would be interesting to find out the good and the bad about what people think about America and their experiences living there, but I guess this is another cultural differences between France and America; while I am very curious, the French, perhaps, do not want to know.

So, I have decided I want to open myself up to some critique about my country and see what I think about it and if I find myself being insulted.  I, of course, already know the basics, the things I hear all the time about America/Americans: we are all fat, self-centered, unfashionable, superficial, cultureless, gun-toting cowboys who like to shoot everyone, don't know or care about the rest of the world and who work too much and never take vacation.  But I am very curious to hear more about what other people (especially the French) think about our system, our way of life, etc in America.  I am hoping that hearing other people's critiques of the US will help me realize that things are complicated and ridiculous everywhere when you are an expat and will help to cure me of some (if not all) of my negativity.

And so, I am hoping to get some help.  I am looking primarily for books, but I suppose blogs would work as well (though I would like at least one book) that talk about a French person's experience living in the US.  I am thinking something similar to Stephen Clarke's books, A Year in the Merde, Merde Actually and other such books that point out the problems/differences in an entertaining way.  I'm also, of course, open to any blogs on the subject of ex-pat life in America (particularly from the French viewpoint).

I am very open to whatever suggestions I can get as I am very curious to hear what foreigners think about life in America, the administration, the differences between their culture and ours, etc.  So please, help me!!!  Thanks!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Finally des bonnes nouvelles!

After ranting and complaining here and here about my 2 month long battle with La Poste to get a checking account, I am happy to report that said account is FINALLY OPEN!

I am also thrilled that none of my money was lost...my check from my old job showed up in the account and my new boss ended up getting my September pay back after 20 days and she sent me a check for it!

Now I just have to decide if I am going to listen to Lionel and keep my money in that stupid bank with its incompetent workers, or if I'm going to remove my money, close my account and stick with Société Générale.

Today I feel guilty...

I am a bad American.  Why?  Because I did not vote today.  I was too late trying to get my absentee information in and so I was not able to vote in today's elections.  And I feel guilty.


I can't say that whatever disasters happen in my country are my fault as I'm sure that my one vote wouldn't have made a difference in the end, but I still feel guilty for not voting.  I try very hard to continue voting even though I live abroad, but this one time I let time get away from me and I realized too late that I wouldn't be able to vote.  And I feel horrible because my party of choice definitely needed all the support they could get...

Here's hoping things work out the way I want in the end, though looking at the projections has me very concerned!