Happy Monday

Fall in America, or more specifically on the East Coast.

I don’t believe there is anything like it! The beginning of a new school year, going to football games, corn mazes, carving pumpkins and baking the seeds, passing soccer fields filled with kids on a Saturday morning, raking leaves, sitting in Starbucks with a Pumpkin Spice Latte, getting ready for Halloween…

After living in a foreign country for a year I have found a new appreciation for a lot of things but everyone finds a joy in this time of year.  How could you not?

This past weekend, my first back as an American in America, I did some very festive activities.  Saturday afternoon I was involved in a pumpkin carving contest.  As the kids were running around the yard playing football (love it) the adults drank pumpkin beer and ate soul warming chili 🙂  There was also some carving going on as well.  I felt it only necessary to carve a big “USA” into my orange canvas.  I must say I was low on the creativity scale next to my friends.  The winner  was a “Timon and Pumbaa” (The Lion King) carved by my artistic best friend and her sister.  There was also an RIP “Apple” Steve and a “jaws” created by keeping the pumpkin on its side.

Sunday I went with a few friends into Chestnut Hill a small town near Philadelphia.  We walked down Main Street stopping in little boutiques and coffee shops.  The weather was beautiful with strong sun but a crisp breeze.

Since I have gotten off the plane from France I have to admit, I have been a little anti-American.  I compare everything to France and don’t hesitate to tell people that I wish I was back there.  I feel sorry for this attitude now though because really you can’t find this family, happy, cozy Autumn feeling in France and I sure am glad to be back here devouring in it 🙂

(these delicious cookies were HOMEMADE by our pumpkin carving hostess. Amazing detail AND delicious!)

STAYING French (in America)

So here I am sitting in my kitchen at 5am.  My body thinks it is almost noon so the rumbling in my tummy can probably be heard from France where everyone is chowing down for 2 hour lunch break.  I have successfully traveled back to the States but must say I am resisting changing back to an American just as much as my internal clock.  What can I say, I fell in love with a lifestyle that suits me and I am less than thrilled to go back to my old ways. So even though I already feel like a foreigner in my own country I am going to try to keep my French pizzaz vivant in the US.  Looking at the positives however there things to be said about being in America…

I am for one very  happy to have my deodorant back in the stores and Aveeno products which I don’t know how I lived without (oh wait I didn’t ’cause I had my mom send them over). 

I was so thrilled to pour a bowl of cereal yesterday morning with REAL milk and not something that doesnt expire until the next millennium and is kept warm on a counter.  Never got used to that over there.

I’m sad to have a lack of cafes where I can people watch but I have discovered that my newest (and cheapest) order at Starbucks can and will be an espresso! 

I know I must give this transition time.  I forced myself to remember the first days in France last year and how uncomfortable I was with everything.  Now listen to me; I yearn for that!  Being back with family and friends is a treat and they seem to be ecstatic as well.  So I am trying to discontinue the phrase “I don’t want to be here” when around them even though that is how I feel.  Instead I am going to enjoy this next chapter and I hope you all will stay with me too.  I might not be living in France (yet) but I still have the spirit in my bones 🙂

Traveling lesson finally learned

I really need to stop assuming things when I am traveling!

I got to the airport this morning at 8h20 and I dont have my flight until 12h55.  The early bird move was necessary because the only direct train from Dijon to the airport was that one.  Getting to CDG on the earlier side for an international flight was not a big deal, if not a plus–especially considering the move I pulled. So I’m sitting around not knowing what to do with my time.  I didn’t know the gate number but there is a larger than life board with all the flights listed right when you walk into the airport from the train.  So I plopped down with my 90kg worth of luggage and took in the scenery.  I love people watching at an airport.  Might even be my favorite place in the world–airports.  So I am watching the board and two hours pass.  They begin listing the flights for noon.

I wait.

Its 10h15 when I see the first flight listed for 13h and I freak out a bit. WHERE IS MINE?

What I should have down when I first arrived was ask the information desk where I needed to be for my flight.  This is what I did at quarter past 10 however and I find out I need to be at a whole different terminal. I need to take a shuttle!

Lucky for me I had plenty of time and am now even waiting in the lounge before takeoff. Tranquil. But for a minute there I was flashing back to last winter when I missed my train to London because I was on the wrong platform, reading a large kiosk, thinking I was going to see my train listed.

But I have survived both traveling issues and have now firmly decided that pride and travel dont mix.  It doesnt hurt to ask.  I am now sitting in the Star Alliance Lounge, also because I asked.  Well not entirely.  My Uncle was the one who upgraded me and I thank him (having 10kg extra for my luggage saved my life).  But I also had to ask where this place was and had to admit to never stepping foot into a place so classy at an airport: what do I do here? Where do I go? What cool things can I eat?

So that’s that. I’m eating a tarte and having an espresso once last time in France before heading back to the mother land.  I am excited but even more exciting is that Becoming French has not ended just yet….

Happy October. (I’ve been here for over a year)

Since our last chat (my apologizes that it was a month ago) I have extended my VISA for a month.  I just wasn’t ready to buy a plane ticket out of here in September–October just sounded so much better.  It took a while to actually make it official but I finally made peace with leaving and will be returning to the other side of the Atlantic on the 12th.

I am happy to see friends and family and have the holidays in the traditional way that I missed out on last year.  However I am also dragging my feet to leave this life.  A year here in France and I can honestly say that it feels like home.  I enjoy taking my lunch at noon exactly and knowing that everyone else has also stopped their day to eat.  I love grabbing a coffee at quaint cafés with friends.  I am proud that I can flip on the TV and watch a show and understand it all!  I have fallen in love with travel by train and the ease of reaching another country within hours.  But most of all I enjoy speaking this language.  So because of all this I have kept my options open by  buying a round trip ticket…meaning Ill be flying into Paris June next year.  To do what? I dont know exactly but I have time to figure it out.

For now I am enjoying my last two weeks here in France.  Last weekend I took the train 4 hours south to visit a friend in Montpellier.  It was a climate and landscape a lot different from here in the center of the country.  We had fun at the beach, jumping cliffs and exploring ancient villages.  My friend Jess plays soccer in Montpellier so she was also able to snag some tickets to the Montpellier v. Paris soccer game that weekend! Very fun time spent in a new place.

Tomorrow I’m off to Lyon.  I have been to this city a handful of times this past year the first being for the holidays and the most recent to visit friends who had just moved to the “mini-Paris like” city.  This time Ill be going to the zoo with the now 9 month old twins and then a museum which is more up the alley of the two eldest kids.  I’m happy to spend one of my last weekends with the family that has become my extended family.

Bon Weekend!