One month ago, I posted about Differences, highlighting things I liked and disliked. I thought, one month later, I should add a few more items to that list.
I don’t like bureaucracy. We have dealt with a good share of it but it slapped us hard yesterday when we went to get our Residency Card, the final step of our visa process. The assembly line system of the paperwork and physical wasn’t too bad although it’s a bit odd to have a reception area that is surrounded by stalls where people are giving urine samples and undressing for chest x-rays. Felt a bit like a number as they called me over for height and weight, then vision test (I heard Tom, ahead of me, reading his vision test numbers in French. Show off), and then squishing me, bare-chested, against a wall for my chest x-ray (Tom had to redo his x-ray; he deserved to be radiated twice after his vision cockiness). We were interviewed by physicians who stamped our papers with a clean bill of health and then sent us upstairs for the final step. Or so we thought. Another waiting room outside an office where two employees worked together to review paperwork…slowly. We were finally in but the two of them argued back and forth so much as they looked through our things, we had no idea what was going on. In the end, one of them didn’t like the document we had submitted for proof of living arrangements (the other person was fine with it…another argument) which means we go back again next week. I really wonder how much time and money every country spends in order to keep other people OUT.
I love discovering really good restaurants. I think we go out less than the average couple or family. Part of that reason stems from me, I’m sure. Oh, I love the idea of someone serving me and no dishes. But so many times I walk away thinking, “That wasn’t really worth it.” So, when a great food experience comes along, it sticks with me. We have some favorites over the the years and they range in price and cuisine. Harbor View Cafe in Pepin, Wisconsin. Frog & Owl in Highlands, North Carolina. Matchbox in D.C. Kim Wu in Orlando, Florida. Shake Shack in New York City. Cafe Latte in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Tom and I have had two great food experiences so far in Paris. In August we had the most amazing quiche lorraine at a small corner boulangarie in MontMartre. Hot,wrapped in a paper and only four euros. It was like heaven as we savored our large wedges while sitting on the curb of a tourist-filled street. Our second great experience was last night. Tom’s CEO, Karen, and a company partner, Christian, have been in town for a few days. Karen lived in Paris for five years and always returns to some of her favorites, one being a Moroccan restaurant, Le Souk. They invited Tom and I to join them so I met the three of them, who had been meeting clients and potential clients all day, in this cozy restaurant, benches lined with pillows and the sweet smell of baked apples and spices. We shared tangine and couscous dishes, good wine and beer, ending with a variety of nut-based desserts and mint tea. The atmosphere, service and great food at a decent price put this experience on the good list.
I don’t like having credit cards locked down at least once a week because of their over-heightened fraud protection. Oh, I’m happy it’s an algorithm they have in place. But we have had the same conversation so many times: Yes, we had charges all over the U.S. in July/August. Yes, we are now overseas. Yes, we are withdrawing large sums of money (only to redeposit them into a French account so we can write a French check to those that don’t take anything else). And, yes, we are going to continue charging and traveling so please, please, please don’t shut our card down anymore. (On a positive note, four thumbs up for Charles Schwab…and I’m sure there are others…that allow you to make a deposit by taking a picture of the check on your phone. Well done.)
I like that everyone has had some extra time with a friend or two. Sarah had her afternoon lunching and shopping on Wednesday. Julian went to Harry’s house after school today and Elizabeth went with Olivia and her Mom for nutella crepes and crafts this afternoon. As much as I like having them home with me, it makes me happy to hear, “Mom, can Malikai come over next week?” “Can I send Luticia an email?” “Bianca and I are going to hang out tomorrow morning. Is that okay?” “Jiji want to get together and practice soccer this weekend.” A good sign, yes?
I don’t like gray, crunchy towels. I don’t know what it is about the water here (and I’ve read a lot of articles), but whites turn gray. And the hard water really is hard. Turns those towels into what feels like a hard sponge. I stand and stare at all the detergents in the various grocery stores wondering where to start. I’ve interviewed multiple people drilling them for advice. I’m armed with some new products so we will see what next week’s laundry produces.
I love that everything I really need is within walking distance. And I don’t mean, “I can walk there if I have to.” I mean it’s literally all right here. No wonder city folks have a hard time in the burbs. Need some bread for dinner? Why, it’s on your way home. Need to get another notebook for school? The papeterie is on the corner. Need some cow tongue for your dinner guests tomorrow night? There’s the butcher. Need to try a new laundry detergent for the crunchy towels? Well, yes, you can get that, too. I love it. I have many, many ideas for the open retail locations in Middleton Hills.
I love our apartment. I love the tiny wrought-iron elevator up to the 6th floor. I love Eva, the housekeeper and her dog, Fox, who live in the front apartment. I love that my mail is delivered to my doorstep and placed on the mat. I love the tall, white French doors. I love the long flowy curtains in all the windows. I love the creaky wood floors. And I love the ability to live small and be fine with it.
Here are some chocolates we bought ourselves to celebrate the first day of fall. Where did we get these, you might ask? Why, just around the corner, of course.