Sunday, December 16, 2018

Surviving the First Year in France


I know I said I was back, and then I slipped off back over the horizon and you never heard from me again...or something like that.

In truth, we've been crazy busy. I thought being unemployed in France with a fresh little baby was going to be relaxing. I would just dress my adorable baby in precious outfits and bake perfect tarts and take breathtaking photos and write poignant blogs and probably tap out the Great American Novel in between it all.

Alas, NO. That is merely what happens in the overactive imagination of a pregnant lady juggling far too many Big Life Events (wedding, pregnancy, renovating a property, selling a property) before hastily moving to France completely unprepared for everything that was about to happen.

Having a baby is the best and the worst thing in the world. It's like having a kitten and a puppy (and later a baby goat) rolled into one, except that you also have to breastfeed it constantly and you also can never leave it home alone (I mean you could, but then you will probably go to jail) and it needs strict naptimes and constant diaper changes. And sometimes, in the early days and weeks, it is hard to make it go down for a nap, and so you and your tired, leaking body will waltz your baby around the room endlessly for what feels like hours to soothing music and shhhhhhhhhhhhh in its ear and rock it gently and sing it the same song repeatedly until you are hoarse (I dare you to sing "Rockabye Baby" more than 6 times in a row and NOT contemplate what a truly warped and twisted little ditty it is) in the vain hope that Baby will sleep for a blessed couple of hours.

And when this sweet little nugget of love finally falls asleep...what do you do? Let me tell you: you do all the dishes and sweep the floor and clean all the surfaces, do laundry, do a French lesson or two and if you are very, very lucky maybe you can squeeze in a shower before your precious little one wakes up and suddenly demands your undivided attention once more.

I don't want to sound ungrateful, of course. I just laughed in the beginning at how hard we had to work to get Charlie to sleep so that we housework.

Anyhow, those were the old days. These more recent days our lives have been filled with different busy-ness. We've been traipsing across France searching for a property to buy. Which may actually sound fun and maybe even romantic to you. Let me squash those notions like a bug under my shoe:

Traveling across the country in a tiny car with a dog and a small baby is hard. Missed naps, bad nights of sleep in hotels, missed meals. Pile on top of that the grueling schedule: of meeting agents in different cities and villages (up to 3 in one day), constantly running late, dealing with the bizarreness of French lunchtime scheduling (from 12-2 everything closes except restaurants and if you don't get lunch in that window, forget about it!) and of course not speaking the language fluently.
The one that got away (before we discovered the extremely loud, GIANT military base down the road)- bullet literally dodged

Not to put a shriveled, rotten cherry on top of it all, but allow me to add this detail: the first 3 such outings ended with Chris and I covered in chigger bites from god knows which property (we swore we would never buy that property, whichever one it was), getting outbid on the property of our dreams (and possibly nightmares), and finding out that we didn't qualify for French financing after all.
A shot from the other one that got away. 

Simultaneously, we've been trying to get onto the famously amazing French healthcare system, to no avail, as I continue to struggle with the immigration process. People. I STILL don't have my long-stay visa, which I've been working on for 9 solid months now. At this rate, I will receive it just as it expires! French bureaucracy is second to none.

Again, I'm happy to be here, but there are many days that I wonder if France really wants me.

I suppose this entire entry has merely been a self-indulgent ramble wherein I try to justify what an awful and errant blogger I am. I really should step it up.

However, the biggest and most delightful reason I've not been blogging is that I am actually being PAID to write, and it's very exciting. Soon I will launch a professional website showcasing my services, and also my personal expat website. Things are looking up, y'all! I'm reinventing myself, again. (Please let this be the last time for a while, I can't take much more change.)

And we finally have a house under contract, hallelujah. More on that next time I post.

Because my readership is mostly limited to family, rest assured that I will soon be foisting my gorgeous, farty little baby into your arms and hugging you all nonstop for the holidays. For those of you in Austin, same same. Brace yourselves, there will be hugs and Mexican food and then more Mexican food and hugs.

Bon weekend, bon soireƩ, bon everything. I send you love and bisous. ~F

Monday, November 5, 2018

Wonders Never Cease

Friends, family, countrymen & women, I hereby announce my return from the black pit of Blog Radio Silence.

Crazy, right? Who knew that I would ever reprise my role of overly-effusive errant blogger overseas? Not I. And yet, I live. 

I never imagined myself living in France. I've never been a Francophile, and to be perfectly honest- I never really liked the French language all that much. I know this puts me in a small minority, and I blame it on a 2-hour-long train journey 20 years ago, seated behind a couple of Parisian girls who never shut up. It soured me on the language. Later, in London and NYC, I would hear the sonorous tones of French spoken by North Africans, and it beguiled me. Now I struggle daily to wrap my head and my mouth around this slippery, archaic language. 

Over the past decade, I've furtively studied French, just a little here and there, just enough to be able to say absolutely useless, irrelevant things such as, "The woman points at something with the finger of her left hand" La femme montre quelque chose avec le doigt sa main gauche (Thanks, Rosetta Stone). My interest in French primarily stemmed from its role in philosophy, art, and literature. Because I'm bourgeois like that. 

And so, here I am an expatriate again, having lived en La France for the past 9 months. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I don't like it... I love it.  I love the language, which comprises something like 60% of the English language! I love French food, which is a little bit like saying, "Antarctica is cold" in its gross obviousness. Anyone who doesn't like French food is either anorexic, vegan (usually the same thing), or is tragically taste-blind. 

I love the wine. I love the natural beauty, which threatens to bowl me over literally every day. But mostly, I love the culture. Here in the south, people are kind and welcoming. And I have a SUPER CUTE BABY, and a sweet old dog- which is basically an invitation for anyone and everyone to come talk to you. 

Anyway, I'm just cutting my teeth here on this old blog, and my new life. 

I'm going to take a little break and just share some pictures of Charlie Luna Singer, our stupidly cute 7 month old (that happened so fast)

. Seriously people, when is Peak Baby??? She is getting cuter by the day, and just when we think we have hit Peak Baby, she gets even cuter. I'm glad we didn't sell her on the black market yet, because she's gaining value daily. 

Just kidding. 

I swear I am trying to upload photos. I'm always on computers or connections that don't seem to like me much. I tried to buy a laptop yesterday to support my suddenly quite busy business of freelance online writing. It was a fiasco of the highest order, but soon. Soon. 

In the meantime, I guess I am directing you, dear friends and family, to come back now, y'hear! I'm back and I have no intention of backing down. I've got a lot to say about everything, and this is just my sign post to let you know that I'm back in town. 

You've been warned. 

Bisous, besos, and all the other multilingual smooches I can offer. 

Vicariously Yours,