Wednesday, October 29, 2008

La Crème de la Crème

Lately I've been dreaming of cupcakes (fairy cakes for all you Brits). Moist mini cakes topped with creamy frosting and sprinkles (or jimmies). Just saying those words makes my mouth water. I mean who doesn't love cupcakes? For me it brings back childhood memories of birthday parties and classroom goodies. After almost a year of tartes, macarons, and meringues, I long for that sugary goodness that can only come from what I believe is a real gâteau. What can I say I truly am gourmande (and American).

I've been imagining cupcake combinations...strawberry with buttercream, , blueberry cheesecake cupcakes, chocolate-peanut butter, even red velvet with vanilla cream cheese frosting. I know one thing I plan on buying when I'm in the U.S. over Christmas holidays....a cupcake tin! When we move into our new apartment I will finally have my first oven while living in France and I can't wait to christen it with these itty-bitty treats!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

God I don't want to go to work tomorrow!  Have I mentioned that I hate my job?  I'm not gonna get into details but let's just say I'm already on the lookout for something new.  Yes, it's only been a month and no, I don't care.  It's amazing how you can talk your self into thinking something is a lot better than it is and then reality sets in and you're miserable.  

On another note, I'm obsessed with this new application called Poladroid that lets you turn any digital photograph into a polaroid-like picture.  You drag and drop your photos into the mini polaroid camera application then wait for them to pop out and develop (you can even shake the picture to make it develop faster!).  Then look at or print your new Polaroid picture.  I love this thing; it's so fun (and a great distraction from my employment woes)!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Emily - 1, France - 0

Or at least that's how I felt today when I finally got my hands on a Carte de Séjour Vie Privée et Familiale!  After a long process of trying to change my "statut étudiant" to a "statut conjointe de francais" (which didn't work out and I actually ended up having to return aux USA), I was finally given my récépissé for a CDS application this past June.  I was summoned again to the préfecture in September and they gave me a second récépissé as well as a date for a sort of "integration day."  That was today.  

It included a collective meeting to "welcome" (ha) newcomers.  This took place at the ANAEM office in the 11th arrondisement of Paris and included a short video called "Vivez Ensemble en France," which basically said how important it is to learn French and understand the organization and functions of l'Etat as well as the fundamental principles of the French Republic: la Liberté, l'Egalité, etc.  I honestly laughed out loud when I walked into the room and saw a big French flag, a buste de Marianne, as well as a photo of President Sarkozy in all his glory.  It made me want to break out in song to the Marseillaise.  Seriously.

After the video I was called for a short interview to assess my French language skills and sign the "Contrat d'accueil et d'intégration."  I was then off to the visite medicale where they measured my height and weightchecked my eyesight, and of course gave me the infamous topless x-ray.  Trust me folks, it isn't any more comfortable the second time around!  Gah!  At least I now have a souvenir (they allow you to keep the radiograph).  I then had to purchase 275 euros worth of ANAEM stamps and was presented with my CDS.  Finally!  It only took 6 1/2 months, a round-trip to Atlanta and 7 visits to the préfecture, and *I can't wait to do it all again next year!  

*only kidding.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crunch Time!

It's only 13 days until election day in the USA  so that means everyone needs to get out there and exercise their right to vote!!  I've never been so excited about a presidential race before, nor have I been so passionate about a candidate.  The US is in such a rut right now.... the economic crisis, the never-ending war in Iraq, the insanely high cost of healthcare premiums, dependency on foreign oil...all this and a $10 Trillion debt!  We really need someone who will turn the country around and get people back up on their feet.  Someone who is ready to make fundamental policy changes and reverse this unsustainable course.  Of course I've chosen my favorite player and I expect others to respect my choice, just like I respect theirs.  But why do people feel the need to write me snide comments, telling me I'm wrong, that I shouldn't even vote as I'm less of an American for living abroad?  I mean, WTF?  Are people that ignorant?  I don't go around trolling people's blogs or facebook pages so I can disagree with their voting preferences!  I constantly receive little messages telling me I'm misguided, that I need to do my research,  that my choice makes them sick.  Will things like this sway my decision, hell no!  It's called tolerance, people!  And when I see these inconsiderate, insulting and uncivilized remarks it just gives me even more cause to stick with my candidate.  Come on- why would I want to join a group of supporters that don't even know how to have a clean debate?!

Ok well that was my rant of the day...but the purpose of this message can be summed up by something a wise old friend of mine recently said: "Who cares who you're voting for, just as long as we can all agree that Peach Cobbler is delicious."  A very wise friend, indeed!  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Paris, why oh why do I love Paris?"

It's uncertain how long J and I will stay in Paris. Although it's been my dream to come and live in this magnificent city since I began studying French in collège, J has strong aspirations of starting a life together in the states. Nothing is planned for the moment...J still has to finish school and we definitely need to save money but it's something we talk about quite often. A plan is in the works.

I guess this is why I really wanted my Parisian wedding; I wanted to share my amazing home with friends and family while I'm still living here. To me the idea of being married in Paris was (and is!) utterly romantic....I know it's so cliché and you'd think I'd be over it after two years here- but I'm not. I wanted a classic American wedding (with bridesmaids and even a color theme) and a reception that was typically French. Overall, I wanted Paris as a beautiful backdrop and this is exactly what I got.

I spent my wedding day in a hotel suite getting ready with my mother, two sisters and best friends. When we were all beautified and had enough champagne running through our veins to finally relax and have a laugh, we were called downstairs to be transported to the church. My sister and I hopped into the old convertible excalibur J had rented for us; the rest of the group took a taxi. We all drove down the Champs-Elysées to the Quai d'Orsay in disbelief; what a gorgeous day for a wedding! Everyone was waiting on the steps of the old stone church to catch a glimpse of the bride. The ceremony then went by effortlessly; my sister and J's best friend read a short excerpt from "Le Petit Prince;" my father and baby sister sang. There was the kiss, the hugs between friends and family, the exit with bubbles. And then J and I were off to capture the Paris that I wanted to remember in photos......

Monday, October 13, 2008

Another weekend has come and gone too quickly in Paris. I spent Friday night babysitting my two favorite little French girls; it seems I still get to see them after all! Saturday was such a gorgeous day. I spent it lunching with my belle-mere, meeting a friend who is now teaching English in Amiens for an overpriced café at Trocadero, and window shopping on the Rue de Passy. Later on when the noise from excited soccer fans became too much for me in my tiny Parisian apartment, I decided to meet up with some other American ex-pats for some girl talk and delicious, homemade mexican grub. There is a huge blogging community in Paris and I've been so lucky to meet these women who I would have never gotten to know if it weren't for the internet! J likes to call them my "weird internet friends" but whatever. We chatted about jobs, strange things our significant others do (Is it just a French thing or...), missing Target, the works. Although I think I can hold my own pretty well in French conversation, it's always nice to be able to gab with the girls en Anglais. It's like a breath of fresh air after being stuck in a French bubble.

We also had a meeting with the ouvriers at our new aparment. They should start renovations beginning in November and we should be able (fingers crossed) to move in mid-December. I'm seriously counting down the days until I can stop living out of suitcases (not enough room in our armoire) and can get rid of all the piles that seem to find their way into every corner of our petit studio. Just 9 weeks. I have to keep telling myself that. 9 weeks.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

You know you've been living in France too long when...

-You're at a restaraunt with friends and instead of freaking out when you see a mouse run across the floor you just put your feet up for the rest of the night.

In the US, I would have called the manager, asked for my food to be comped, and left immediately. Here we just informed the serveuse, to which she shrugged her shoulders and said "What, you want me to catch it with my bare hands?" and walked away. We (my sister, Sam, Sarah, and I) just laughed it off. Anyone else have a similar experience? (not necessarily with a mouse but an "Only in France" experience?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Back to Reality....

So here I am, my second week at my new job. It's been quite an adjustment to get back into this routine: metro, boulot (9H-18H), metro, gym, dodo. I can't complain -this is what I wanted after all. Of course I never appreciated all the free time I had before and now I long for it! Luckily I enjoy where I'm working, I like my co-workers and I really like the special coffee machine key we have that allows us up to 5 espressos (or capuccinos or mochas, etc) per day. Actually, I think that's my favorite part. Working in France, I'll have the standard 5 weeks vacation plus one RTT (reduction de temps de travail) per month. I also have 50% of my transport paid for, a very good mutuelle, and tickets- restaraunts that cover my lunch every day. I'll have to get past my 3 month periode d'essai, but once that's up I'm pretty much set. You see, in France, once you get a job it's pretty much yours for life. This is why it's so difficult to find a job in the first place, why employers are so reluctant to hire jeunes diplômés.

It's hard to believe that a week and a half ago I was holding J tightly on a scooter as we drove along the Italian coast from Positano to Praiano to Amalfi. Or that we were drinking 3€ Peroni and eating fresh mozzarella and proschiutto paninis at the local fisherman's bar just a few minutes from our hotel. Sigh.