Sunday, December 02, 2012
But in a good way, honest. No one will be writing nasty funny songs about me.
In keeping with my decluttering I've decided this year not to decorate. So no tree, no decorations, no lights.
Also...no stress, no unpacking and repacking, no shopping and wondering if the gift will be liked, no trying to make sure the gift receipts get with the correct gift.
Just enjoying looking at everyone else's decorations, the displays in the towns and the little Christmas market that's sprung up. Enjoying the heated wine and roasted chestnuts (but still have not acquired a taste for the Nutella crepes). Enjoying the idea of going to Paris on a weekend to see the little chatelet market at the end of the Champs Elysees (and more heated spiced wine!). Enjoying wandering through the stores and people watching.
My son is living with his dad in the US and won't be coming to visit me until a few days after Christmas, for a week. My daughter leaves on the 19th to go spend 3 weeks with her Dad and his family. So I will be alone...before you commiserate...this is a GOOD thing!
I need my "me" time with no one around (except the cats...who invented "me" time and Stupid Dog who is genetically unable to grasp any concept more complicated than "food" / "walk" / "poop").
So I'm thinking of spending Christmas somewhere warm. No, scratch that, somewhere HOT & sunny. Where I can just lay outside and bask in the heat. Preferably with my new iPad since the Air France thieves won't even pretend to respond to me anymore, if it arrives soon enough (Merry Christmas to me!). But I can do without it if necessary.
Now...to decide where to go...
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
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