(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

meet the new life, no resemblance to the old life ...

here's more on a theme I recently touched upon ...

new life ...

awaken with my own rhythm ... let the dogs out... (usually 7ish)...crawl back under covers for a while and look at the internets and stuff ... now that its winter, light a fire in the fireplace (radiator still not hooked up in my salle à vivre ... soon, soon.) If the shop will be open, start a fire in the little stove ... first paper and kindling, then bigger wood, then coal! hopefully these 2 fires light 1st time around but more often than not ... not!

most often, hop on bicycle and buy my pain au chocolat and baguette. make some espresso in my little italian pot and decide whether to snuggle some more or get properly dressed.

attend to the day's projects....which could be sanding furniture, painting furniture, driving around looking for old furniture to buy ... surfing etsy for interesting handmade items cheap enough for resell. blog for France shop, Berkeley Shop, or post FB updates for the same. find time and inspiration to blog here.

read the news (usually tried in French first). Depending on day of the week, attend a French conversation hour.

bathe and scrub the dust out of the orifices. dress myself in frippery and such ... great to have a reason! open the store, haul out and display signs outside. set up music, remerchandise, make signs and displays. meet and greet customers (usually in French).

if it is Friday ... meander down to the market and see if there's anything I can't live without. enjoy looking at everything and everyone. it is a weekly event for the townsfolk, visiting and catching up with each other as much as shopping. I find it a shame that some folks (both French and non-French) prefer the chain grocers and discount stores to the market ... claiming the market is 'so expensive'. With some comparison between stands you can find most things competitively priced, especially given the quality and knowledge of the source. It is SO important to support the market for all sorts of reasons. It is the livelihood of many local farmers. This is a positive impact on the planet and local economy. Small villages that have the good fortune to have a market need support to keep them going, especially in off-season months. And market towns attract tourism and keep a town alive ... essential for all of us who have the privilege of enjoying this lifestyle. I use the local grocer to buy things not found at the market and thus try to support the families working there as well ... I eat seasonally as much as possible, if I'm buying things not in season, there is a planetary price being paid for getting them here to me.

Stepping down from soapbox, I pause between 12 and 2pm and either cook a meal or mosey down to find a cheap one. I'm trying to cut back on this a bit in favor of frugality ... but our local restaurants need our winter support as well if they are to survive into spring and on. Lunch ALWAYS includes wine!

It is funny how many local people decry the lack of businesses and such and yet fail to support them.

In January I've enrolled in an upholstery course so that will be new on the agenda...I've found one artist's group (online) to subscribe to and am seeking other venues of similarly inclined people that I can meet in person vs. internet.

Evenings I am most often worn out and in winter's cold, loathe to go out much. But I do try 3 or 4 times a month to seek out a music happening and get myself there. I'm also lucky enough to now be included in a few social things ... such as my new circle of french women friends (yes, I somehow DID get a 2nd invite...even with my horrible French!) and I've now joined the English 'Bienvenue' circle of women who do a monthly restaurant lunch. Evenings never include television, per se, since I don't have it! That doesn't mean I don't watch movies (computer) or the occasional program fix via iTunes (The Office, Glee) or YouTube (old favorites like Seinfeld or ... gasp! .... ANTM or JudgeJudy .... can't deny every LAST drop of weirdo Americanism in me!).

I also try to scout out a day trip here and there (last one was Bordeaux) ... just to make sure I'm not taking my new life and surrounds for granted. France is one of the most beautiful and historically rich countries in Europe and deserves succor and appreciation.

week-ends might also include a long bicycle trip. a vide-grenier. gardening clean-up. interior home projects like painting and such. planting and tending the potager (in season ... next year bigger efforts in this regard) ... growing my own food or buying as close to the source as possible. better for me, better for my neighbor, better for the planet. part of my new life is trying to more of the right things ... even if they are a little more dear. it all evens out in the long run ( I save fuel by shopping close to home ... ).

if I'm being REALLY honest, I'd have to add I worry a bit more about money than in the old days. Future income that is ... and then I remind myself to 'feel my feet' (thanks Kathleen) ... all I've EVER had power over (of a sort) is the present...this day and making it all it can be. living your dream doesn't seem to pay much ... but I'm working on it.

50 pounds lighter.

old life ....

awaken to my own rhythm. Stay in bed as late as possible (depressed at the prospect of another office day) ... after all it is only a 10 minute commute. Put on the office uniform and trudge on in, driving through the Starbucks window on the way in. maybe dial-in to the first of endless 'conference calls' before I arrive. if it is winter, a good chance that it snowed or icy rained and I was up in the middle of the night on emergency weather phone calls ... (granted, the last year I let my management team suffer on my behalf). Examine reports, study performance indicators, conduct back to back to back meetings (or participate in them). help celebrate the high points, try to encourage and lead a team of great people (while feeling like a turncoat because I'd lost my inspiration, motivation, desire and mojo for such pursuits as operation center life) ... shield the team as much as possible from what was flowing downward from above ...

if I'm lucky enough to have a break in the middle of the day, buy a sandwich and chips from the vending machine. or get someone to bring me something from the cafeteria if I don't have a break. um ... wine? ha. nope but more than my share of diet sodas throughout the day.

surf France real estate sites while on conference calls and dream of an escape. is it just an illusion? confide in the handful of people I trust regarding my plight ... how can I face 15 years more of this before a retirement? why am I deferring my life until I am old? how much money ... houses ... things are enough and do I EVER even enjoy them? I have a seaside cabin that I visited maybe 3 times the first 2 years I owned it. I never even ventured to the upstairs of the house I lived in. Portland? cool city I'm told but I lack the inspiration and time to make it my own. Rather I spend my time working, depressed in bed, missing the bay area and dreaming of a life I've been to scared to attempt to form.

home around 7. usually swing by a to go spot for dinner. home. eat. bed. television. rinse, repeat. if not doing this locally, spending about 2 weeks per month flying to a different city. visiting operations centers. staying in hotel. eating poorly.

week-ends. a movie. shopping for and buying things I don't need. visit a friend. hire someone to do any project that needs doing and that I now most often do myself.

hell of a lot more steady income. selling your soul pays extremely well.

50 pounds heavier.


Randal Graves said...

So what you're saying is that all of us should move to France. That's how I choose to read this.

Non Je Ne Regrette Rien said...

come, COME! I've got extra rooms (well of course some of them need fixin' up but you'll need SOMETHING to do and earn your wine, cheese and baguette....) xx

JouJou Loves You said...

Love Love LOVE your truth.

And I'm on my way :)

Non Je Ne Regrette Rien said...

JouJou! ça va?! bien, je vais toute de suite pour visiter votre blog! xx

JouJou Loves You said...

I am good!!!!

In the states for the mean time...then go to Paris. WOO!!!!

Kathleen said...

This is a book in itself... you still inspire me every day and thanks for reminding me to feel my feet!