Thursday, April 30, 2009

Third Time's A Charm? Not in Paris!

So yesterday was my last day at work in the Paris office because Friday is a holiday here in France (like basically every Friday during the month of May... why am I leaving again?) and today I'm taking my last ever RTT - you know, those extra free days off French people get in order to make the 35 hour work week a reality.

And as such, it was of course fitting that we have a few drinks after work. Some work people came by, some soccer girls came by, and some random friends came by. A nice little evening, all in all. And despite eating more than my fair share of croque monsieur, I think I also drank more than my fair share of red wine, so this morning when we decided to make one last attempt at getting me a carte de sejour (French working and residency permit) I can't say that I was incredibly excited about it.

But we went for it anyway. By 7:30 we were up and showering and by 8 we were making sure all the papers were in order and I realized that somehow one of my photos was missing. First stop, rush to Porte Maillot metro station to take more pictures. At or around this time, any slight impression of what could have been considered a hangover disappeared. The sun was out, the air was cool, and I had pictures to take! Raced back to the house, picked up a couple of chocolate croissants, and we were off to the metro.

The metro? Yep. Last night I left my scooter at work because it was raining cats and dogs and I had two laptops and three bottles of wine to bring home. Precious cargo to say the least and, while it made sense last night, this morning I was annoyed to have added an extra level of complication to the morning's activities.

Never mind, off we went to Line 2. I say "we" because this time Frenchy was kind enough to come with me. Partly out of solidarity perhaps, but mostly because this was to be my third attempt and he really wanted to see in person why I'd screwed up the last two times. We arrived by 8:45 and the line was long, but at least today it was sunny and pretty warm. The first time I attempted this, it was February and I had a plane to catch in the afternoon. It was just above freezing and I waited over an hour outside before giving up.

The second time was in late March. I waited outside for about an hour or so (I arrived earlier that time) and was impressed when my number was called within 30 minutes of getting inside. I had all the papers in order. Or so I thought.... turns out that what they told Frenchy wasn't the complete list. Along with all sorts of other documents, I also needed proof we'd been living together for at least six months. I asked if I could bring my rental contract, and the angry administration lady said yes, and I walked out of there, frustrated to the point of tears, to find my scooter covered in white plaster dust which had been blown from a building under construction.

So today we had EVERYTHING in order. And I had Frenchy. What could possibly go wrong? We waited outside for about an hour and a half, and he disappeared for a while to find a wifi connection in order to do some work. The we finally got inside the police station, where once again the numbers moved quickly. Finally it was our turn, so we went up to the desk and I told the woman I was there for the carte de sejour. She started asking for papers and I gleefully handed over each on in succession, feeling confident.

Then she asked for the proof we've lived together for six months, and I gave her the rental contract for the apartment. Which, she said, wasn't sufficient. She asked for our EDF Energy bill, and Frenchy gave it to her. It was from March. Also not sufficient. Because WE NEEDED EVERY SINGLE ENERGY BILL SINCE SIX MONTHS AGO!

I mean, really?

That's around when I almost burst into tears but instead started smiling strangely at her. She didn't smile back. In fact, quite the opposite. When Frenchy asked her very politely for more info so we wouldn't screw up next time, she snapped at him and then even called the next person before we were finished. My strange smile grew and I started to understand those postal workers who went on rampages ... A very good thing I didn't have any sort of weapon handy. Now I see why they make you go through the metal detector on the way in!

So once again, I walked out of the freaking Prefecture de Police in the 17th Arrondissement empty handed and dejected. It was only an hour later that I realized I should have puked on the woman. I mean it worked in Barcelona...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Abraham LinkedIn

Tonight I was helping Frenchy order a computer (a Mac, of course) to be delivered to my apartment in the US. He asked for the address to which to send it and when I said "Lincoln" he typed into the form: l-i-n-k-e-n.

I looked over at what he was writing and said, "Ok sweetie. Seriously. If you want to get a greencard, you're going to need to know how to spell the name of one of the most important presidents of the United States." (I mean geez, we even get a holiday for the guy, or half of one anyway, which is basically unheard of.)

This was not the first time this has happened. So I explained again, gently of course, that it's not Abraham LinkedIn.

To which Frenchy immediately replied - "Yeah, he'd have like 20000 connections!"

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ça m´énerve!

This morning at 7am as I was doing my situps with Frenchy in the living room (this is a new thing - doing them with Frenchy) this video came on NRJ. We never watch TV in the morning, but he had put it on, I guess to give him sit-up inspiration, and I must say that it started my day in just the right way.

For those of you who don´t speak French, "Ça m´énerve" means "It´s annoying" or "That annoys me" and the whole song is about annoying things that French people do. I love it. There really couldn´t have been a better way to start Monday... except to roll over and go back to sleep.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fish France Funky

This morning I rolled into the office in London and was sitting at my desk, working on something terribly important (God knows what) when Will nodded toward the TV, which was showing a news wrap-up, and said, “Good luck getting home tonight, eh? French fishermen are on strike. They’re blocking the channel.” Then he laughed cruelly. This is, among other terribly British reasons, why Will doesn't leave the country.

Of course, my first thought was, ‘Oh geez. Here we go.’ Followed immediately by, ‘hmm maybe I shouldn’t have left my Calatrava Norte key INSIDE Calatrava Norte, as I might be stuck in London tonight.’ And later, after some rationalization, ‘Um, if it’s fishermen blocking the channel, HOW ARE THEY BLOCKING THE EUROSTAR WHICH GOES UNDERNEATH THE WATER??!’

But there wasn’t time to think about that. I had meetings to attend. And anyway, before I had to strain my brain too much, the whole thing was called off and the fishermen agreed to pack it in and go home They warned they might strike again though. Fortunately I’ll be across a much bigger pond by then…

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Deep Thoughts in Late-Nite London

It's Tuesday night in London, and I'm at Calatrava Norte, the flat I've been occasionally sharing with Marco since January. I'm here all week, working on what is to be my next project and my next move. We watched Chelsea v. Liverpool tonight and ate Thai takeout. We talked about my trip to Dubai and I asked Marco to be in my wedding. We laughed a lot.

I'm going to miss this.

In less than three weeks I'm due in New York. I haven't written about it until now because it wasn't official until a few days ago, when I finally received my new contract. Same company, new adventure. The company that hired me in Barcelona, had me start in Boston for two months, and then sent me to Paris in September to help start a new sports and entertainment team there, is now sending me to New York - at my request back in September - to help launch one of our UK agencies.

I have a thing for timing, huh? Moving to another city. AGAIN. At least this time it's one I know well. Too well, maybe, which is why I'll have to live in Brooklyn to stir things up a bit. Trying to simultaneously plan a wedding, manage two careers, organize immigration paperwork for Frenchy, and help launch a new company in the midst of a global economic crisis. Ain't no mountain high enough!

The worst part of all of this is that I will be leaving Europe behind. And Frenchy too, temporarily, while he waits for his visa. But at least I know he'll eventually be joining me there. Europe, however, is staying right where it is. Gone will be the weekend jaunts to foreign countries. (Then again, knowing me, maybe not.) And the random IESE reunions. There aren't many of us in the Big Apple... those who are in the US have tended toward San Francisco. It's going to be strange to be back. And wonderful. I can go back to my old soccer team, my old martial arts school, my old cafes, and my old friends. But what about all the new stuff?

I love New York and I'm excited about this new career move and new adventure. But it's certainly a bittersweet time. Just over two more weeks left in Paris, and just as the weather is starting to turn to spring. Well, at least I know it's not going anywhere....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Overridden with blogging guilt

The other day I updated my Facebook status, which is about the only non-work, non-traveling, non-wedding thing I seem to have time to do these days. I wrote, "Noelle hasn't updated the blog in a really long time, and feels really badly about it." Nicole commented, not long afterward, "Just write 'A lot has happened.'"

Which is true! A lot HAS happened. Even since the other day, when I updated my Facebook status! Geez, there are at least three blog posts worth of material in the past week.

So I was tempted to just write that and be done with it. But then you'd miss out on (and I might forget someday about) some of the marvelous, ridiculous, hilarious, and horrible things that have happened to me or around me in the past 6 weeks since I really had time to write.

Like my trip to the Emirates and Oman with Frenchy. And my trip to the Bahamas afterward with Nicole. And how I sprained my ankle playing soccer, and all the weird, awful, and wonderful things that happened as a result (French hospitals = good, getting around on crutches = baaaaad, wearing a thong as usual the day you get your ankle checked, never expecting to have to fully take off your pants = weeeeeeird), trying on wedding dresses (WEDDING DRESSES!?!?!? I mean, REALLY??), and even choosing one, my first attempt at leading a pitch (hmmm, we'll leave that one at that), Frenchy learning he might need shoulder surgery, and finally getting my contract for a new gig in NYC.... starting in 2 weeks.

So as you can see, life has been so busy, I haven't even had time to catch my breath, let alone write about it. But I know I'll regret it all later if I let all this craziness whiz by without having the time to contemplate it, write about it, and most importantly, laugh about it. Because as hectic, painful, and stressful life has been of late, it has also been pretty incredible, englightening, and hilarious.

Two weeks ago I was in London for work. I was there for work every week over three weeks, and I was exhausted (crutches didn't help!), discouraged, and stressed. One morning I decided to give myself a break and took a taxi to work rather than the tube. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the cab went right past Big Ben and the house of Parliament, and for a few minutes all my worries slipped away. I mean, how lucky am I, to have a job that enables me to drive by Big Ben? Some people go their whole lives without doing that.

So I promised myself that I'd sit down and write over this long holiday weekend. Starting now, with this... and more to come tomorrow and Monday. And hopefully the wait will have been worth it!