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