Sunday, June 17, 2012

Socially Awkward Expat Goes to a Party

About a month ago I received an invite to a cocktail party from a blogger, Un Homme et Une Femme, who I've been reading for a while. That was flattering, but the best part was she invited a lot of my favorite bloggers. I read all the Paris blogs I can get my eyes on, but the ones I enjoy the most write about the good AND the bad of living in France. The other people she invited were bloggers I hadn't heard of and they all looked fun too.

Like most things I agree to do without really thinking it through (let my sister "temporarily" store a stray black cat in my bedroom, get married..move to France) it seemed like a great idea at the time.

But as June 16th crept closer and closer I got more and more nervous. It's one thing to spout nonsense on a blog barely anyone reads. It's a whole other thing to actually walk into a room full of strangers who know I am hiding a leprosy rash under my sweater. So I emailed my personal stylist AKA my best friend and she suggested a dress. Since, you know, it was a cocktail party. I'm fashionably challenged among many, many other things.

But of course it was fabulous. Broken glasses and the requisite dance party at the end.

No matter how you end up in Paris, to stay like me, on a temporary visa, or on an expat assignment, it's an unsettling feeling. For me, I'm not here on a mini-adventure. I don't get to go home. And for people who are here temporarily, it seems like it would be hard to settle in and make it feel like home, knowing all the time that they will eventually have to leave.

Being surrounded by people who understand what you're going through and more  importantly the words coming out of your mouth, is a warm fuzzy feeling because most days the noises coming in my ears and out of my mouth don't make much sense.

A lot of the ladies have been here less than a year. I wish I would have kept blogging when I got here, but honestly I didn't know if I was going to survive, and I didn't want to have that failure broadcast on the internet.

Before I moved to Paris, I blogged about my David and Maza's budding romance,

Maza never liked anyone but me. Now she sleeps on David's side of the bed and it pisses me off

Or how we liked to take my nephew and my best friends daughter up to David's apartment for the weekend and pretend to be white trash potty mouth parents

Or that time David put a swimming pool in my closet

Doing illegal things with our photo night group

Or how when it was 110 degrees out Maza and I slept with ice packs

But writing about missing my fake kids, being homesick, or being intimidated by all the kids in my class at Sorbonne getting their masters degrees when I hadn't even been to college was neither easy or entertaining.

Everything was harder then I thought it would be and for the longest time I thought it was me. I just wasn't smart enough or strong enough. But now I know it's France. I wanted to hug them all and tell them, that although all our struggles are unique, unless you are a super genius super hero with skin of steel, moving to a different country where the language is not your native tongue is very difficult. And the first year is the worst year. For everyone.

My first 8 months were horrible. In order:

*David's expensive camera disappeared somewhere along the way from Sacramento to Paris

*Someone tried to break into our house right before we left for Lyon for a week so I spent the whole time worrying they would come back and my cat would get out and freeze to death in the snow

*The fridge and microwave we ordered finally arrived.... both didn't work

*Had to find a wedding dress in Paris and squeeze into it after a two month diet of bread and cheese because our boat shipment with our pots and pans didn't come for two months

*Lost my wallet full of all the wedding cash we asked for instead of presents in San Francisco, which is where I had to go back alone for my honeymoon thanks to Sarkozy's new immigration laws

*Lost my wedding ring

*My mom came back from France after my wedding to find her cat crushed by my favorite plant, which I insisted she take because I wanted to be able to visit it

*felt like a complete idiot for my entire semester at Sorbonne and was sure I was going to fail and disappoint everyone who believed in me

*had a house guest (who was not even a friend of mine) from hell who ended up staying with us for A MONTH because her Parisian friends stopped responding to her emails as soon as she booked her ticket to Paris.

And as much as I daydreamed about it, I couldn't go home. My apartment, my furniture and my job were all gone.

It didn't seem fair to David to air our dirty miserable laundry on a blog all our friends knew about. So, as much as I admire the people I met last night for documenting their false steps and bad days, for me, it's probably better that those memories are lost.

Someone asked in the comments for a list of the bloggers at the party, and since I’m currently in the middle of painting our apartment and trying not to get paint on my keyboard, here is a link to the post by Expat Edna who already typed it all out.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Little Piece of California

I found a comedy club on that had a bunch of comedians from California this week. Since my brother in law is a comedian, and I've been forced to "support" him in all sorts of shitty "venues" and "comedy clubs" over the years, I can appreciate a small comedy club. It's friendly, it's laid back, and most importantly, when it's in English, I know EXACTLY what's expected of me. Laugh, clap, interact and don't sit in the front row, because the comedians will single you out whether they are bombing or if they are doing well.

My brother in law discussing my sisters vagina

My brother in law discussing a duck vagina

I had to go to the doctor before we left, and he is a little Chatty McChatterson and considers our medical appointments a free English language lesson, so I got back late and instead of changing into some boring outfit in case it got cold, I just wore what I was wearing because the metro is hot in the summer so even if it was too cold for a dress, I would only be cold for two blocks. It's so nice to walk out of the house without a water bottle and a sweater and a book "just in case".

I found a restaurant that was walking distance on Paris by Mouth and even though it was empty when we walked in, usually a bad sign, I felt immediately at ease. So much so, I ordered two appetizers instead of a dinner plate. I know, so rude and I've probably never done that. It turns out that the female half of the couple that owns the restaurant is from San Francisco and misses fresh food as much as I do. The male half looked like a Northern Californian stoner and had the accent to match, but his French was too good for him to be American. Mystery solved.

The comedians were mostly very good. It's open mic, so you can't get mad about the amateur ones that get five minutes at the start of the show.

It was super laid back and casual, the California accent and baggy clothes made me forget I was in Paris,  the price was right (no cover, one drink minimum so 8 euros) and the host was funny enough that I want to go back and see his show which is every Friday, in the same place an hour before the traveling comedians go on stage.

*****we went back last night and saw Sebastian's show. I wasn't having a bad day, and I wasn't feeling homesick, but I imagine that either of those things could be cured by commiserating and laughing at a fellow expats stories about surviving in Paris.

Sebastian's website

Restaurant:Tombé du Ciel

Address: 7 rue d’Enghien, 75010
Nearest transport: Strasbourg-Saint Denis (4, 8, 9)