Saturday, December 17, 2011

new normal

On Tuesday morning, we met with Sophie, our relocation agent.  She is tres gentille  (very kind) and also very good at what she does.  She picked us up in her tiny French car and braved a traffic jam (bouchon) near L’Arc de Triomphe to transport us to the bank.  The cause of the jam was a strike (a common disruption to Paris life) at a a local newspaper.  Scores of rain drenched newspapers sailed through the air, halting traffic, as they were tossed from sixth and and seventh-story windows of the newspaper headquarters above.  It was a newsworthy mess, to say the least.  Moments later, we found ourselves circling L’Arc de Triomphe, the Russian roulette of roundabouts in Paris.  Thanks to Sophie, we emerged unscathed and continued on our way to the bank.

photo if you want to get out alive, you’d better know where you’re going

At the bank, we were outfitted with French bankcards and pin numbers.  It all felt so official; no more tourist status for us!  I found out that it won’t be long before I can obtain a social security number and actually work in France.  That was an unexpected surprise.  I had contemplated offering to work someplace for free, to gain experience and exposure to the language…but alas, I can earn a paycheck, to boot! 

Annabelle has been battling a cold turned fever turned stomach bug all week, poor thing.  She spent Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday at home and it wasn’t long before I started to feel a little stir crazy.  Fortunately, I managed to squeeze in a run before Naud headed to work, Wednesday morning.  I wonder if I will ever tire of the splendor of this magnificent city.  It never ceases to take my breath away.

carousel du louvre 
place de la concorde at sunrise (i can’t believe i took this photo)

On Wednesday afternoon, there was a children’s Christmas party at Naud’s work.  Annabelle pleaded with me to let her go and, because she was fever free and in good spirits, I obliged.  Naud showed off his new office with its impressive view of the Eiffel Tower.  Annabelle consumed copious quantities of French sweets and had a chance to compare ‘Pere Noel’ (Father Christmas) with Santa (not much difference).  Their similarities ended when Pere Noel not only doled out Christmas presents, but a kiss on the cheek to go with them.

The good news: there was champagne for parents.  The bad news: there was an unbearably long and mind-numbing show for the children and we parents got suckered into sitting through it.  It centered around an over-animated woman in a clown costume, a witch and a panda bear, yet somehow came full circle with Santa (ahem, Pere Noel), who made a brief appearance at the grand finale.  There was mandatory singing, clapping and waving of arms in the air, Enrique Iglesias concert-style.  There were strobe lights.  All I can say is, thank God for champagne.

nutty christmas show 
never trust a clown

On Thursday, it dawned on me that I travel back and forth to Annabelle’s school four times a day, not three as I had previously mentioned.  That’s a whopping two hours of walking every school day and I have the aching feet to prove it.  Beginning in January, Annabelle will stay at the school cantine (cafeteria) twice a week.  This will give her a chance to practice her French and it will give me a welcome reprieve from the excessive coming and going. 

Slowly but surely, we are finding our groove.   We thank our lucky stars for good walking shoes and plenty of wine to cushion the bumps in the road.

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