Dernière minute

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm not really a last minute kind of gal.  I like to plan ahead, make reservations, shop around and do everything I can to ensure that whatever is happening is done so in the smoothest and most efficient way possible.  I don't mind saying yes to a last-minute invitation or hop off to a movie or dinner on the spur of the moment, but when making plans to, say, host a party or take a trip, quick decisions make me nervous and wary. 

This weekend, though, I caught the most wretchedly dire homesickness that I've ever had in my life and nothing could coax me out of my funk.  Gui and I grabbed happy hour and a movie on Friday evening (Alice in Wonderland in 3D - beautiful film but the jury's still out on the storyline and oddly-added solo dance), and then had some Tex-Mex for dinner, but I could barely eat from being so run amok with thoughts about my family and how much I miss them.  Everything reminded me of my nephews and my far-away friends - now mostly parents of little ones - that I don't see often enough.  I felt awful and tried doing things to distract myself, but nothing worked to deter my thoughts. 

On Sunday, we had lunch with Gui's dad and sister at the same place we took my mom to on her first and only trip to Paris, and I struggled to keep it together.  It was hard to stay composed when they asked how I was doing, how my job was going, and how my family and new nephews where getting along - normal stuff.  My heart was totally longing to be near them, to hold my new nephews and run around like a kid with the others.  Gui and I talked about our trip in June and all the things we'll do while we're there, all the people we'll see.  But, in doing this, we realized how little time we'll actually have to see everyone we want to see.  Between Kansas and Austin and Dallas and the traveling between each, two weeks is just not enough time. 

Monday morning rolled around and I was in such a foul mood.  I dragged myself out of bed, threw on the first black dress I saw, tights and boots, trudged slowly to the bus without much care about the time or my tardiness and then, with immense difficulty bonjoured everyone in the office and sputtered off a lie when they asked how I was doing.  I just couldn't be bothered with the day; with anything. How did it get to this?

Despite my lingering Monday workload, all I could think of was leaving - leaving the office, leaving Paris, leaving France.  Just leaving.  I was so incredibly sad and felt so incredibly guilty about being so sad.  All I could think of was going home - being home with my parents, sister, brothers, nephews, friends and their babies.  I just wanted to be near them all. 

So, as an act of desperation, I checked flights to Texas and flights to Kansas and realized that I could visit my sister (and brother-in-law and 3 out of 4 of my nephews) in Kansas by cashing in on our frequent-flyer miles and paying about half the normal price of a ticket.  Originally, I thought about going for a long weekend - taking advantage of the Monday holiday, I could leave Friday night and come back on Sunday, but Gui thought that was just too crazy.  He reminded me that I work in France, and when my contract is all said and done, I still won't have used up all of my paid vacation and RTT (days accumulated each month that act like paid vacation).  So, I guiltily asked my boss if he would mind my taking a few extra days off - even though I'd already taken two days the week before, and he was totally cool with it.  More than cool.  He waved his hand and told me to take whatever days I need to and not to worry about any asking in advance.  I was elated.

I don't know if this last-minute trip will make everything better or if I'll return with a renewed feeling of positivity and happiness, but I know it will do me some good.  Just knowing that I'm leaving on Thursday morning to finally meet my new nephew and see my loved ones has already made such a difference in my mind.  I've never planned a transatlantic flight so spontaneously before, and this time it's not about how smoothly everything goes or how efficiently my time is spent.  Once I see those toothy grins and hear those hearty grunts from the sweetest boys in all the world, my thoughts will be light-years away from the trifles of time and economics. 

Auntie's on her way!  See you soon, cuties!

Time off

Sunday, March 28, 2010

So, the ski trip that I was so stoked for didn't happen.  We planned to be in the Pyrenées for a long weekend, but when we got news that the trip wasn't happening, we called up some old friends in Caen and headed north for the weekend.  It was really great to get away from Paris for a bit.  Our friends, who are a French couple we met in Austin, have a comfortably spacious house with a garden and well-equipped kitchen that we took good advantage of while there.  Juliet was looking to take a break from the city, too so it turned out to be the perfect solution to our botched original plans.  I really needed a break.

While we were in Normandy, I finally got to visit Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery.  It's such an astounding visual memorial that we couldn't really appreciate because of the rain that followed us there.  I'm really glad to have finally been there, though - I had never before fully understood the magnitude of devastation that the befell the courageous American troops in France.  It was impressive.

The rest of the weekend was spent eating and drinking and being merry with friends.  And when Gui and I returned on Sunday night with a full Monday off ahead of us, we decided to bounce around Paris on a sublime, sunny day.  After grabbing fallafel and coffee, we spent most of the day in the Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin des Tuileries just soaking up the spring sun.

Our (rather successful) attempts at Mexican Martinis


Tuileries and Place de la Concorde

I just wish the sun wouldn't be so fleeting around here.  It's warmed up a bit, but the days have been mostly grey with patches of sunshine, and it would be really nice if spring just sprung already!  Despite my complaints, I am pretty happy that I can still wear my tweed wool sweater that was finished just in time to greet the giboulées de mars (the French version of April Showers or June Gloom).  I'm really proud of my first attempt at sweater-making, and I'm getting as much wear out of my new knit as the weather will allow.

The one where I’m on the K&K podcast…

Thursday, March 11, 2010

…and stuff.

Gui and I were recently invited to the top-secret, velvety-drape-lined K&K boudoir to be guests on the ever-popular podcast hosted by fellow Paris-based expats, Katia and Kyliemac. We’ve known these lovelies for some time now, having met them through the shrinking circle of expat friends that we’ve been lucky enough to have made here. They’re a rather dynamic duo who dish the dirt on life as anglophone transplants in Paris and offer tidbits and advice on how to survive the often bittersweet streets of this bipolar city.

I’ve always secretly wondered what it would be like to be a guest on their show – if costumes were the preferred dress code attire and if cocktails and pineau really did pour freely. Now I gladly know that the answers to my thoughtful queries are indeed, yes and YES.

Gui and I enjoyed bottomless Muffin Manmade rhum-rhums while recounting the tales of how we met, how we managed a long-distance relationship and how we eventually got to Paris. They refilled our glasses and we stayed to record a second episode where we talked about cultural differences in the workplace. It was loads of fun, and I even learned a bit about Gui that I never knew (like how much he missed the morning taco-truck at work).

I’ve got to say, it’s a little unsettling listening to my recorded voice (which I think sounds like a mix between valley-girl and cowgirl), but the K&K team have really got their technical shiz together!  Listening to their show is such an indulgence that I gladly make time for and being on the show felt like a real honor.  Walking home after such a fabulous time spent chatting with friends, Gui remarked on how great of a souvenir the podcast will make for the future us and our eventual offspring. And, he’s so right.

I'm linking our podcast debuts here, but the K&K website has every episode from 1 to 324, and you can also subscribe to their biweekly shows on iTunes (like I do)! 

TEXAS SARAH. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.