Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I was reading a post another blog and came across a link to a second blog written a French guy who'd decided to go from Helsinki all the way to up the Northern-most point of Finland by foot (and the he'll cross over into Norway - but who cares about that bit LOL). His plan is to walk about 20-30km per day and get by only on the kindness of strangers. Though why he decided to do this in the dead middle of winter is beyond me!

Here's his bio - seems like he's led an interesting (if nomadic) life:

Alain Bezard BIO
born 09 01 1955 France

10.10.1978 left France by bicycle towards east. Ended up in India.

1982 While aspiring to Canada found a village in North Norway, Kautokeino, I stayed for four years.

1987 walked following the River Nile form Egypt to Sudan.
1989 found wife in China. Had a restaurant until mafia stopped that. Worked in a nuclear power plant. Had a son.
1995 Returned to France. Escaped again to do construction work in Israel, Lebanon and Jordan.

1997 Experienced being homeless in London.

1998 Adventure to cross the Bering Strait and to celebrate the millennium twice. Went around the world without money.
2001 Traveling two years from Mexico to Chile.
2003 Ireland 2008 back to South America traveling along the River Amazon
2009 Finland

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It cracks me up that any time my (women-only) gym has any kind of celebration or "pot", they always fill the table up front full of CRAP. They put out all kinds of pop, fake juice, cookies, candy & chips. There is never a single healthy thing on the table. And now they have a sign up in the club saying they will offer a bouquet of chocolate flowers to anyone who recommends a new member.
And every time, I wonder - am I the only one who sees the irony in this? Or are they secretly just trying to ensure that their clientele has to keep coming back?

Monday, January 25, 2010

10 ans

Today marks 10 years since my dad died.

10 years. How is that possible?

10 years ago, I was 19, living in Helsinki and feeling so grown-up. Never imagining that one day I'd live in France, let alone Paris.

My dad was a good man. And a great father. And I miss him dearly. It used to make me really sad that Fab and my dad never met - they had a lot in common and I know they really would've liked each other. And now it makes me sad that he will never meet any of the men in my life.

Sometimes a death can really bring a family together. His tore mine apart and left wounds I'm not sure will ever heal. I am generally a believer that everything happens for a reason - and that belief is usually what gets me through hard times. But this is the one event in my life that I have yet to see any good come from.

So I'm not really sure what to do today. This isn't really the kind of anniversary you celebrate, but it's not one that I want to just let pass by either. C suggested we walk over to Notre Dame tonight to light a candle in my father's memory, and maybe that's all I can do.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Every morning when I get up, I turn on the TV to channel 9 and watch some music videos while waking up. This song, by Amel Bent, has been on the hit list for a few months now:

And I don't mind the song, per say - it's just the end that makes me cringe. I absolutely cannot stand the part at the end where the mom comes and screeches "Y'en a marre" at her daughter for singing - it makes me flinch every time. It just reminds me of how so many French mothers out there interact with their children - yelling at them, degrading them, etc. I see it all the time in the streets or in stores (or even when I used to work in the school system), and it's something I've never gotten used to. Not to mention they usually have voices high-enough for only dogs to hear. It's like frickin' nails on a chalkboard.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

One day while I was in Texas, my cousin and I were in her room, getting ready to go out. I was already finished, so I was just sitting around, chatting. She had a book next to her bed - I can't remember the title of it, but it was sort of a religious "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus". I asked her about it, and she said they'd had to read it as part of their pre-marital counseling required by their church. I started flipping through it, and while it seemed a bit cro-magnon-ish (I man. You woman) and hokey, it did have some good points, mainly about the expectations men and women often have of each other.

Along the lines of how most women tend to show their feelings through obvious words and actions. And then get frustrated when men don't reciprocate in the same way. So the book spent a lot of time talking about how a man's way of taking care of a woman can be more subtle - it could be something like checking the air pressure in her tires so she doesn't have an accident or fixing something around the house. The point being that a lot of their actions in the name of love are unspoken and often go unseen, and that we women may need to look a bit harder for them since they're not being shouted from the rooftops.

It's funny though, because I was just reminded of that book now. C just sent me a text saying he finally found some see-through plastic to put up on my windows. And my first reaction was "Um...great!" But when I thought about it further, it actually is really sweet. There's no double-pane action going on here in my shoebox, so I lose a lot of warmth that way and am often cold. And I really hate being cold. C already had some transparent stuff at his place, but he didn't want to cover up my view of the Eiffel Tower. So instead he trekked all over Paris looking for the see-through kind. And when I think about it, he's done a lot of little things like that in my apartment (or vice-versa in his apartment) to make it more comfortable for me.

He's very different from anyone I've ever dated before - he's less vocal & more traditional - so it's been sort of a learning process for me to figure out how to relate to such a man's man. And this post is a mental note to remind myself that's it's also important to look for the small ways he shows he cares, instead of looking only for the grand gestures or proclamations.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Boys sure do take up a lot of time. Despite all the worrying I did about being single and living alone after first moving to Paris, I actually got used to it, and even grew to like it. So I'm still getting used to having to share my time again, and to having to consult with someone else before planning something. Though part of me is happy I have 'a someone else' to consult with. (The other part of me sort of misses just vegging on the couch in comfy pajamas).

Other than that though, there's not much to note. I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but I have decided to make an effort to travel more this year. I took more trips through Europe when I lived in the US than I have since living in France. I guess you just get into that mindset of "it'll always be there, I can go next year". Well, next year has finally arrived.

And C, being a fonctionnaire, gets a crazy amount of vacation. He's already asked for one week off in February and one week off in March. So now we are in the process of discussing what to do and where to go. I alternate between moments of panic, where I freak out about things like purchasing tickets and reserving hotels THAT FAR AHEAD!, and other moments of calm, where I feel reassured because he is wanting to do this too. Sometimes all the ups and downs tire me, and I think to myself "Just get over it already". But I guess it's all just part of the process.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

I've been struggling with something since dating C. No, nothing like that. My problem is, what to call him? Those of you that know me in "real" life, know that I tend to have a lot of nicknames for people - often short, two-syllable words like lady or chica or mama. With Fab, it was easy - I couldn't pronounce his full name in the beginning, so I took to calling him (much to his chagrin) by his childhood nickname - Fafa. (Which also explains my aversion to the Flight of the Concords "Foux de fafa" song that has been making the rounds in the blogosphere as of late - who wants a constant reminder of their ex?).

And while C's name is two-syllables, it is rather long. Plus both of my ex-BIL's share his name, so any diminutives of it are automatically associated with them. So I'm stuck. I don't want to go to with the standard "mon amour" or "mon chéri" or "mon coeur" - I'm looking for something with a little bit of originality. My Scottish friend down south suggested "mon Frenchie", and I tried it out, but that never really worked for me either. I've tried asking around a bit, but most of the people I know here tend to speak English to their partner.

So I'm curious, what do you all call your significant others? Since we speak French together, I'm looking for something ideally in French and not longer than five or six letters.

Let the suggestions commence!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Well here I am, back safe and sound and jet-lag free. I'd been hoping for a little warmer temperatures, but I'll settle for having my normal, drama-free life back. I landed in Paris Sunday morning, and C got up early to meet me at the airport, which I really appreciated. As some of you know, I'd been a bit nervous about seeing him again. Would I feel the same after such a long absence? Would he feel the same? But luckily everything was just fine. And he passed the Christmas present test by giving me a night in a château. I was actually really touched - finally someone gave me something with a little thought behind it.

It was funny though, because while I was gone, he told me he'd purchased a second guitar. And I was like "A second guitar? What happened to your first one?" There was a slight pause, and then he said "Well, I was hoping I could keep the second one at your place". And then there was a slight pause on my part. My brain raced back and forth between "Ack! He wants to start keeping things chez moi! It's too soon!" and "Stop freaking out, this is a good thing". The rational side of me won out, and I now have this hanging on my wall:
And he spent all of Christmas break learning to play a really lovely song for me, so I have to say it was a decision well-made. :)


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I had the nicest surprise this morning on my desk:Yesterday, after one of our meetings, the guys were all going around and saying what they'd received for Christmas. When it came to be my turn, I was sort of like "Well...I didn't really get much for presents this year". They were all like "What?? How is that possible?". Well, my mother was so caught up with the move and everything else going on that she just didn't buy us anything. She says she meant too....but she just didn't. So she stopped by Walmart on Christmas eve and bought me a set of headphones (the same gift she'd just watched me open the previous weekend at our family small gift exchange) and a Twilight book. Um yeah - so not a Twilight fan. The thing is, Christmas is not about the presents for me, it's about the thought you put into it. And I spent a lot of time deciding what to buy for my mom & my brother, so it was kind of sad to get nothing in return.

So my co-workers secretly banded together last night and bought me a surprising amount of beauty products - I don't even know how I'm going to get it all back to France. I got three separate baskets - one for hands, one for feet and one with make-up. There are lotions, gels and polish galore. There was even a really cute little note saying "To:Samantha, From: Santa. I am so sorry I missd you. I flew to Paris, but you weren't home! Enjoy the treats. Merry belated Christmas!!''

I was so touched by their thoughtfulness - I never would've expected it from the manly men I work with (though I'm assuming at least one of their wives had a hand in this, LOL). And then they took me out for Happy Hour tonight. I also forgot to mention that the secretary is on vacation this week and she left me the keys to her house! So I am staying in their lovely home, right on the edge of a lake. She even stocked the fridge with food she knows I like. I really do have the best co-workers ever, and if I have to be in the US for the rest of this week, I'm happy to be spending it at work.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

So we're just going to ignore the shittiness that was these past few weeks, and pretend they never happened. Instead, I am choosing to focus on how good things are going with work, and how I'll finally be back in France again on Sunday. It seriously feels like I have been gone for two months, not two weeks. I am wondering what affect this long separation will have on my (still new) relationship with C, if any at all.

The weather has been bitterly cold here - with lows topping (or should that be bottoming?) out in the serious minuses - like the -30° windchill that we had last night. Aïe. It took a good half an hour for my vehicle to warm up this morning.
Which made me wonder what on Earth this Amish dude was doing out in his horse and buggy at 7am - when the temperature was still -20°. My guess is that he had a preggo wife at home with an ice cream and pickle craving. lol