Sunday, November 25, 2012
It actually started about a week and a half ago. My new car was supposed to be available on the 10th but the dealership never called me. Which was OK because I hadn't transferred the down payment to my French account yet. On Monday the 12th a coworker passed me a note that the salesman needed me to come in, there was some problem with my name on the papers (she had also just bought a car from him and had picked it up on Saturday). So I got the name problem updated, and they needed more papers to prove I actually live at my address - my temporary residence permit not being enough apparently, I also had to show an utility bill and rental invoice.
So - finally - on Friday the 16th I go to pick up my car. Everything goes smoothly, the salesman shows my my name on the sign in front of the car and then uncovers it. It was supposed to have white seats based on what he told me at the beginning and these seats are black. I'm actually happier with the black seats, I only took the white because the car that was available soonest had white. He shows me how everything works & hands me the keys.
Except...I don't have insurance yet so I ask if I can leave it in the parking lot for a few hours until the insurance is taken care of. Not a problem he says.
My worry had been being able to get approved for the lease since I am not a French citizen and do not yet have a permanent residence permit (or permanent for 3 years anyway). That didn't even cause a blip.
Apparently getting insurance is a whole different ball game. The first company we tried (a coworker was making the calls for me) initially said it was OK that I wasn't a citizen and didn't have a French driving license. They just wanted proof that I have had insurance in the past. So I wait until 3 pm until my insurance company in the US opened, called them, they faxed over my insurance history by 4...and then the games started.
I could only show 4 years of coverage history...that wasn't enough, they wanted 5 or 6 years or they would have to charge me more. I said fine, charge me more, I need the insurance now and if I can find additional proof of coverage we'll talk about lowering the rate.
Then they claimed because I had a small accident 3 years ago that I was ineligible for coverage. My coworker had some back and forth and they finally agreed that 3 years was long enough and I could be covered.
Then they said I couldn't be insured because I have a Michigan license. Now France has a reciprocity agreement with Michigan and I can just exchange one license for the other...once I get my residence permit. But legally in France I can drive on my US license for 12 months
Not according to the insurance company! So sorry, the lady said, it is a new regulation that only people with French licenses can be insured. This is the law and applies to all insurance companies, not just theirs. Call us back when she gets her French license.
The next company we tried just said flatly that they don't insure foreigners. The 3rd company was closing for the day and wouldn't talk to us - it is almost 6 pm Friday by this time. The 4th company was OK with the foreigner bit but gave us the same story about the license.
So I'm screwed...brand new car and I can't drive it. Because if I drive it without insurance I WILL have an accident...I am a firm believer in Murphy's Law and His Corollaries.
But I have no choice; I have to get home, the office is empty and my coworker is already half an hour late to pick up her children. So I risk it and drive home, a basket case the entire time but I made it without an incident.
Saturday I risk it again to drive the 5 miles into town to pick up a rental, and park my car in a lot. My coworker was picking me up Monday morning and I had no way to call her to tell her it was not necessary. I didn't want her to go out of her way to come to my house just to tell her I didn't need a ride so Sunday I drove the rental back to town & parked it, then ran home.
Monday I start calling HR to see what they recommend since I am not the first foreigner to move to France; they have an option. I also called a company I found on the internet and e-mailed the dealership.
All 3 options opened on Tuesday and are French insurance companies. Strangely all 3 are able to offer me insurance despite my US driving license. They never heard of such a thing!
Which is what I suspected, the local companies just didn't want the hassle of dealing with the American so made up a story to get me to go away.
By Wednesday night I had insurance - yay! - but still drove the rental home because it was a late night and I didn't feel like switching cars. But by Thursday night I finally got to drive my new car (although, as my daughter pointed it, it is still not really mine since I am only leasing it). Whatever, it is mine for the next 3 years and I like it!
While all the car drama was on-going I also had 2 full days of training to conduct for my new colleagues from Russia. This is the first time I ever had to arrange something like this so I was stressed about that, and having to put together an agenda and coordinate with the other presenters. And take them out for dinner one night. So I missed all my training runs during the week.
AND...we are having a global department meeting on Tuesday/Wednesday this coming week, and I am one of the presenters, so I have that presentation to finish. I dislike PowerPoint, I forgot the animations/transitions on the first submission, added them in only to find out they don't work on the admin's computer because I have the newer version of Office. So I had to redo everything in the 2003 version, which is a major pain.
And I still haven't done my French homework for my class at 8:30 tomorrow morning. But I don't care, it is something I already know and we covered in 2 classes already so I am going to skip it.
This coming week I have to go to Paris for a 5 pm meeting on Monday so it will probably be 10 pm before I get home and then I have to be up early the next day to get to the hotel - just outside Paris which is an hour away by car - for the dry run of the presentations. Tuesday afternoon is the start of the meeting so I have to stay late and have dinner / socialize instead of going for my run. So maybe by Wednesday night I'll be able to run. I know I can't keep doing my training runs back to back on FRI-SAT-SUN like I've done the past few weeks.
In any case I will still be busy for the next few weeks until my vacation starts on December 19th. And I don't have to go back to work until Jan 8th. I am SO ready for a vacation!
Saturday, November 24, 2012
This is what I saw in the grocery store today, right next to the peppers :
They look just like some sort of insect larvae don't they? Yum Yum!
I can't say I've ever seen insects for sale to the general public in a normal grocery setting. And while I've eaten crickets and ant eggs down in Mexico on more than one occasion the idea of frying up some grubs for breakfast just didn't do it for me today.
Fortunately my good opinion of the grocery store is restored. My SP friend STRIVER57 identified these little beauties as Chinese artichokes (also called Japanese artichokes) and apparently they are really root tubers and not larvae. They are to be cooked just like Jerusalem artichokes.
So I may get some next week if they are still there, just to try something different.
And to let my daughter think I am frying up grubs to go with her eggs in the morning
I still haven't gotten around to cooking the horse steak in the freezer. One day soon. But I AM expanding my horizons with...cheese.
Cheese, in my life so for, exists for just one reason. It goes on pizza. And that is my experience with cheese.
But here cheese is like a national passion. There is an entire refrigerated aisle devoted to nothing but cheeses. There is another complete section for cheese in the fruit & veggie section of the supermarket. And, even more amazing, people seem to know what all these cheeses are. They just walk right up and grab the one they want, and sometimes I could swear nothing on the packaging even identifies what kind of cheese it is.
So I bought some cheese this week to see if I can do this cheese thing when I have a meal with other people. I stuck to names I recognized...Camembert and Brie and something called Rondelé which looks like a spreadable cheese with raisin, figs & nuts (it looks like a whipped cream cheese and I don't know if Rondelé is the kind of cheese or the name of the package or whatever). And, after years of thinking cheese was icky I have decided I can do this cheese thing. Maybe. If they bring out something that smells like my daughter's gym socks I draw the line.
Unless it is accompanied by grubs and there is a dare involved
Sunday, November 18, 2012
a book by Peter Walsh, who is an expert on decluttering.
I wish I had read this book 2 years ago. As it was the book sat for more than a year in my "to be read" pile of...clutter. A bit ironic perhaps.
The premise is that the physical clutter in our homes is a manifestation of unmet emotional needs, and creates a vicious cycle. We turn to acquiring stuff because we are unhappy with some part of our life and the more stuff we get the unhappier we are which leads to more stuff and less happiness and so on.
And so too with our weight. Food becomes our drug of choice, creating that same vicious circle of unmet needs, unhappiness and excuses...excess weight is simply the embodiment of the physical clutter in our lives.
So his solution to starting down the path to weight loss and better health is to declutter one's space and by so doing eliminate many of the excuses and stresses that leave us to self-medicate with food.
This is a bit simplistic of an analysis but he makes many points which are spot on, and doesn't try to coddle one (oh sweetie, it's not your fault you're fat...it's your genes, it's your mother's fault, it's your doctor's fault, you're not really fat you're just curvy, look at how many other people are even bigger than you!).
I can so relate. Over a period of years I was unhappy with my life but hadn't consciously admitted it to myself...and I was a shopaholic as a result. My home was the Kingdom of Piles of Stuff. Which contributed to my unhappiness, although I didn't realize it at the time. Clutter creates stress, shopping for more stuff temporarily relieves the stress but creates more clutter and more stress and more shopping....and weight gain because eating temporarily relieves the stress but creates more unhappiness over the extra weight which causes more eating and more shopping which creates more stress...
A vicious circle.
None of this is news to the Spark Community. Before joining I had made half-hearted attempts to get organized and lose weight, neither of which ever lasted very long and I would wind up more cluttered and heavier than when I had started.
But one of the first things I did when I joined SP was the sleep challenge. One of the steps was to clean out my bedroom to create a nice, neat organized and restful place in which to sleep.
I felt emotionally lighter immediately...just from cleaning my room! Who knew!
I expanded to the bathroom...then the kitchen...then other rooms. I tried to stay on top of things, to not let the piles start to grow again. And as I decluttered my home I also had more focus on decluttering my body, which I truly think was possible in a large part because of getting rid of the physical stuff I had accumulated. Less clutter meant less stress meant less mindless eating meant being happier and more involved with my life and the consequences of the choices I made.
Eventually, though, the piles started reappearing. My bedroom was no longer a nice neat calm haven of rest. Counter tops again disappeared. And I gained weight again. Oh, not much, I stayed within 10 pounds of my goal weight, but this time I knew what was happening.
Moving in August was a good thing as it gave me the impetus for a big decluttering push. I had to completely empty the house and because I've downsized domiciles I knew I couldn't take everything. I wound up with 3 piles, roughly equal in size - take, store and donate/trash.
I ended up roughly 1/3 lighter in total possessions. Most of what is in storage are things like my power tools and pictures/memories and Christmas decorations, and kitchen stuff I will give to whichever of my children moves into his/her own place first. And my couch which was too big to bring (too big to fit in my house here anyway).
Everything I chose to bring with me is something I use. Or at least try to use, some of the small appliances work with the converter/adapter plugs and some don't. So some things being replaced with local items and the US versions going into an organized pile in the basement to await the move back to the US in 3 years, at which time I will again be able to use them. I will sell or donate the local items before I move.
And everything I got rid of was all the stuff I had been hanging on to forever because "I might use it one day". But one day never came and I had to force that realization in order to add things to the donate/trash piles. It was hard.
But I felt better afterwards. And I don't think it is just coincidence I'm back at goal weight again. I feel lighter physically & emotionally by having 2/3 fewer things here with me. Keeping the piles banished and counters cleared and an overall lack of clutter makes me happy...I can consciously feel there is less stress in my life and more energy to concentrate on other things.
This Peter Walsh guy is on to something.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Nope, not me. I retain a healthy core of laziness to balance out the Crazy One living inside my head.
My daughter's dog has turned into the Fitness Nut.
It took him 4 days to pick up on the pattern of morning walk; he still hasn't quite yet got it right after 16 days. He hasn't quite understood the purpose of an alarm clock and that he is not one.
He really can't be blamed too much. There are sound reasons I call him Stupid Dog. He tried to bite a wall once...2 seconds after I told my daughter that he's not as dumb as we think he is.
Yeah, sometimes I'm wrong.
His other nickname is Fat Dog. For most of the time we've had him (4.5 years now) he weighed 95 pounds. The family we got him from was an older couple in a tiny house (maybe 800 sq ft) with almost no yard, another lab mix even bigger than Stupid Dog, and a daughter and 2 toddlers moving back in. They would regularly feed him hard candy as treats and he didn't have much opportunity to run around. So he got fat. I think a healthy weight for a Labrador is around 60-65 pounds maybe?
He's so fat that when he walks his whole body sways side to side. You can get sea sick watching him.
Now though, as we were on the Morning Mile walk, I noticed that he doesn't seem to be swaying quite as much as before. Is it possible he's lost some weight? Could be, although I have no way to weigh him. He gets so excited to go on his morning walks, wiggling & doing his little Fat Dog hops all over the house until he gets leashed and we go outside. After the first day or two he doesn't even stop to much to read and leave his doggie messages.
This afternoon, as I was getting ready for my run, he started the whole hop/prance/wiggle routine again and I realized that he was expecting another walk because he saw me putting my shoes on. My daughter said after I left without him he just sat by the door for a while, then went and laid down and watched it the entire time I was gone, like he was hoping I'd come back and get him. Sadly (for him) I won't run with him; there's too much stopping & starting and change of pace and tangling of the leash.
Friday, November 16, 2012
Wednesday night I traveled to Lyon as I had an all day meeting scheduled with my colleagues there. The hotels in Lyon were pretty full so I was booked into this hotel in Perouges, which is nearby. Perouges is actually a medieval town, movies have been shot there (at least one of the 3 Musketeers movies, I don't remember the other ones listed).
I was only there overnight & checked out right after breakfast but it looked like a pretty interesting place. I would like to go back one day to do the tourist thing.
Except...it's a medieval town. Little lighting on the streets after dark. No sidewalks. Road is basically rounded stones of many sizes, sticking up to various heights. Walking is difficult and downright scary for someone like me who can break an ankle walking through her front door. The roads are narrow and twisty and echo so you can't tell if the car you hear is 2 streets over or about to run you down. And did I also mention the lack of lighting and the super scary road surface?
So Wednesday morning I packed my duffel bag with outdoor running clothes, my shoes & my Garmin. I had every intention in the world of doing my 30 minutes Wed. night and my Morning Mile Thursday morning. Every intention in the world...until I got out of the taxi and nearly snapped my ankle within the first 2 steps. I only escaped a face plant because I landed on the concrete flowerpot in front of the entrance.
I decided that running/walking in those conditions was suicidal and instead stayed in my room (remember, this is a medieval castle / town...no fitness rooms!).
My head says I made the right decision. But some niggling little voice in the back of my brain is calling me lazy for skipping out on my fitness commitments. I had my running shoes which would have been easier to walk in than my work shoes with heels. I had a head lamp. I could have walked instead of running to minimize the potential risk.
I also have a habit of a) getting lost (and I had no GPS) and b) tripping on anything, everything & nothing (and have only escaped recent injury through some out of the ordinary good luck).
The niggling little voice needs to be quiet and find someone else to niggle.
In other news, I got home about 10:30 Thursday night. Turtle greeted me with "FINALLY! I'm dying of thirst here, turn on the faucet!" yowls. Gandalf sat and looked at me to say "Have we met? Do I know you from somewhere?" Rocky cracked open a single eye from where she was sleeping to inform me "Meh. The food dish is almost empty. No one cleaned the box for 36 hours so I peed on the bathroom floor. Deal with it." And Stupid Dog, who barks his fool head off if a bird flies over the house across the street...never woke up. Until 5:59 this morning when he wanted his Morning Mile walk...one minute before my alarm went off. I hate waking up before the alarm.
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