Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Monday, July 18, 2016

Deep thoughts for a Monday

My mind has been somewhat preoccupied for the past few weeks.  You see, my dear husband would like to go back to school and start a masters degree in the fall. It's a subject he absolutely loves and is passionate about, and the program director is someone who is really well-known in his field. Sounds good,  what's the issue you say?  Well, luckily, this being France, it's not cost!  It's that this is an after-hours program.  It would be a minimum of three nights a week (and sometimes four) for the next two years, with C getting home around 9:45pm each time.

But ksam- you did your own masters and C was so supportive!  I know.  I know.  But I hunted around and chose one 1) the shortest master I could and 2) the one that encroached the least on our time together. I was lucky and had class every other Friday and Saturday, so it really only ate up two days per month of our time together.  And because I work from home, I was able to do all of my studying during the day, so it didn't really impact our time together.

This would be most weeknights, and then weekends spend studying. For Two Whole Years. I feel so selfish even writing this. My husband is one of the most selfless people I know, and has never once complained about all of my travel or asked me not to go on a trip.  He turned down a job that he really wanted because it would have required him to travel too.  When I am home, he does everything to ensure that he is home at nights so we can be sure to spend time together given my crazy travel schedule. He constantly accompanies me to the airport/train station, and is there waiting for me when I get back, even if it's just so we can take the RER together.  He spends most of his vacations on location with me, while I work.  So he deserves this. 

But I can't help be worried about us - our time together is already limited as-is, and this is going to cut it back even more.  I feel we have a strong relationship, but I also firmly believe that relationships take nurture.  We have been very thoughtful thus far about ensuring we spend enough quality time together. And C, bless his heart, is convinced will we still be able to do that.  I on the other hand am not so convinced. Out of the 30 people in my masters program, 8 people had divorced by the end of our program.  And they were all in situations closer to C's, ie needing to do all of their studying at night and on the weekends. Two more are still in an on-going affair with each other, four years later. C's take on it is that they must have already been in 'fragile' couples going in, but I saw firsthand how much time the program took up for them outside of class, and how much pressure it put on their personal life.

So I don't know. I want to be able to support him on this.  And it's really important to him that I do.  We've made my career such a priority for the the past five years. It almost hurts me to even write this, but is it time to think about slowing down on travel?  I've worked so hard to get where I am, and to establish a 'real' career in France. And I love my job and all the crazy opportunities it has afforded me. How can I give that up? But then the other half of me says "That's so selfish! You're a team. It's his turn now."

I guess the good thing is that we've got the rest of the summer to figure out how to make it work. And at least 50% of us is convinced that we will. :)  But if anyone has any suggestions about successfully combining working full-time+studying+family, I'm all ears!


Friday, July 8, 2016

C and I are back from two weeks in the US. It was a total whirlwind for me, and a lovely, relaxing vacation for him (at least one of us is doing it right lol).  Between work, after-work activities and family, there are never enough hours in the day and I always come back more tired than before I left, but I know I'm lucky to have all of these basically free voyages to the US. Or at least they would be free if I could stop myself from doing all that pre-US online shopping...

My birthday was pretty low-key this year since on the same day, C & I became godparents to my cousin's baby girl.  Why she chose the two France-living, childless, non-church goers of the family to be godparents is still not exactly clear to me, but I'm touched we were chosen and I hope we can live up to her expectations of us.

The following weekend (the weekend of the 4th), we had gathered 25 family members to have a gender-reveal party for another cousin, but she very sadly miscarried at 22 weeks the day before the party.  It sent everything into a huge topsy-turvy and our plans were up in the air for a while, but in the end, we all still came together at the lake and spent a family-filled weekend together. It was also a bit awkward for my Paris bff, who is currently doing an internship in NYC and who had flown to MN to join us for the holiday, but I've been missing her terribly and it was so great to catch up in the sun.

On the way back, I ended up losing my French passport. The Delta check-in agent had trouble understanding how I could have two passports and it took a lot of back and forth for her to get it (and this was at the priority counter).  We finally got checked-in, but I realized much too late (ie just after boarding), that she had never given back my French passport.  I informed one of the flight attendants, and she walked me off the plane and back up to the gate so we could see if I could get it back.

The gate agents also had trouble understanding how I could have two passports and started frantically typing in their computer and insisting I couldn't fly and that they were going to take my luggage off the plane.  I was like "Wait a minute. Please just STOP and listen to me before continuing. 1) My husband is still on the plane and I can't just leave without telling him and 2) I can still enter France on my US passport, so everything is OKAY. There is no need to freak out". (Even if it's not technically legal for a French citizen to enter France with a US passport, I sure wasn't going to tell them that!).  We finally got it sorted out and I was allowed to reboard, but my Fr passport was never found. I was a bit nervous throughout the whole flight since we were transiting through Amsterdam and they always ask so many more questions then French customs, but luckily the guy waved me on through without asking why I didn't have a visa nor a return ticket.

I'm flying to Egypt in a few weeks (eep!), and given the current political tensions, I would rather go on my French passport than my US one, so that meant I had to go get a new passport asap. The fonctionnaire I dealt with was a complete tool. He didn't like that I had used a paper clip to avoid losing my ID photo and spent two full minutes examining my pic for the tiniest of scratches or creases.  And then he almost made me redo my ID photos anyways because 25% of my ears were covered by my hair. WTF??  He was upset I had not signed the 'lost passport' declaration form before coming - but sometimes you have to sign those sorts of things in person, so I figured it was better to wait. Then I almost had to redo my application too because I didn't have accents on the letters. But the instructions specifically stated it had to be done on the computer, in all caps - and the majuscule letters don't come with accents, so I would have had to go in and manually insert them one by one.  I was like come on dude - stop looking for any excuse to refuse my application and just process the darn thing. Anyways, in the end I got it done and I'm crossing my fingers it will show up here sometime in the next two weeks.

As a side note, I also learned that you can now buy timbres fiscaux on line here, which I think is a great leap forward.  That was the one step I was dreading in the application process, and I was happy to learn there will be no more of having to go to five different tabacs in order to find one that finally has enough in stock to purchase.

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