When the word spread that I was leaving my job this summer, the Director of Graduate Admissions came to my cubicle, leaned in, and said semi-sarcastically, “so it’s that bad that you’d rather babysit children than stay here?” I smiled and we both chuckled. Ok, so I chuckled- I don’t think she was joking. But it didn’t bother me, because she wasn’t being malicious. She just really couldn’t understand the value in giving up a solid form of salary-based employment to pick up and move abroad- especially for a mere $500 a month. It’s true that my decision was not the most responsible thing to do with $7,000 worth of credit card debit and student loans, but honestly, I think it’s just as irresponsible to let your life fall through the cracks.
I skirted around the question, “Well…no, I’m not miserable, I just know that if I don’t do it now, I might not ever get the chance again.”
“I get it,” she said, smiled at me, and continued with sincerity, “Well, I hope it’s everything you hope it to be.”
I’ve been living in France and working as an Au Pair for a month now. When I first arrived, I was shy out in public because I was afraid that people would try and talk to me and I would look like a complete idiot. In fact, I definitely did several times while I was out jogging and people stopped their cars to ask for directions. Every time I would inevitably stutter, blush, and forget absolutely every word from my vocabulary. They would get the fact that I wasn’t French, say thank you/goodbye and I was off the hook until the next time.
Yesterday, however, while on my morning run, a middle aged man driving a group of 4 elderly ladies stopped me and asked, “où est l‘église d’Epagny?”
For the first time since arriving here, I not only understood what they were looking for (The Epagny church), but I actually knew what to tell them, and quite frankly, I felt like a bad-ass. Furthermore, later that day at a family birthday party, I was able to translate a question from French to English for one of the guests (a family friend visiting from England). Again, despite the fact the question was a simple ‘where does she live in England,’ I felt pretty important for that split second.
The truth is, I still don’t understand 55% of what is happening most of the time, but everyday it gets a little bit easier. Every day my confidence grows and I’m not as afraid to go to the supermarket or the craft store. Some people look at me funny, but most are kind and helpful because they can see that even though I’m struggling, I’m trying, and people respond to that kind of solid effort.
So if you are hoping to try something new, but are afraid…
do it anyway.
You’ll definitely fuck up a couple of times, but then you’ll surprise yourself and the disasters won’t seem so traumatic anymore. Also, if you are waiting until you are ready, you’ll never do it. So make a plan, make it happen, and remember these following words from the great Amy Poehler:
[found on pinterest, pinned from feedly.com]
Last May, while riding the 6 train on my way to work, I wrote a note on my phone’s Inkpad app, desperately attempting to dissect and direct my future.
Life Options, May 8, 2014:
*Stay in NYC
-stay in current position
-apply for transfer position
-apply for jobs in writing field
*Move to Massachusetts
-find a job, save up
*Move to France
I remember this moment clearly, sitting on the train, approaching my stop and realizing I was heading straight into a direction I couldn’t swallow. For an office job, I couldn’t imagine a better fit. The year was cyclical and for someone who gets bored often, this was refreshing. But in the end, the cyclical nature became like the routine I was hoping to avoid, and it hit me that I wasn’t passionate or motivated to wake up and put effort into anything except getting through the day. I wasn’t miserable, but I certainly wasn’t happy, either.
I know what your thinking. That’s life, and sometimes you have to buckle down and get shit done, take a job that doesn’t give you butterflies, and pay the bills because survival is just a bit more important on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs than happiness. And this is true. I lived this way for three years. But last May I came to the conclusion that I’d rather feel alive and be forced to figure it out along the way, than barely make ends meet and slowly die inside. Ok, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but what I’m really trying to get at is that in the end, I think what we all really desire is to be happy. We just sometimes tell ourselves that happiness is too good to be true.
And if you are not where you want to be, please note dramatic, inspirational, and perfect Pinterest quote below:
Cheers to the start of a new week, and to waking up every morning not sure on how to pay the bills, but living out dreams none-the-less. ❤
A 80-year-old French man in a sweater vest and sandals rode pass me on his bicycle this morning.
I was jogging along the path adjacent to the main road, and there he was in a pair of shorts, with his glasses positioned perfectly above his nose, and a collared shirt peaking out from under a gray and blue plaid vest from 1999.
We didn’t make eye contact, because by the time I noticed him he was already in front of me. He took his time and meticulously pedaled one foot after the other, steadily, and with distinct purpose. The bike was at least 15 years old, with cracked paint and rusted edges, but it didn’t stop him from maneuvering up the hill, past the corn fields and toward an unknown destination. Everything about him screamed vintage- in fact, he looked exactly as I would have imagined a Williamsburg, Brooklyn hipster 50 years down the line. If only he understood how lucky he was to have such natural swag.
I was about to stop for a breather when he passed by me. I was jogging along a three mile loop that I mapped out online. Most days I run some, walk some, run some. I can’t run it all yet, but every day I walk less and less. Since arriving to Epagny, I have made a conscious decision to get up and go outside, move around a bit and exercise. I haven’t consistently done so for about 2 years, and I have felt the effects- pants tightening, lack of motivation, and a feeling of guilt because of it. The thing is, I really don’t have an excuse not to now, because after Au Pair duties are done, there are still about 7 hours left in the day that are completely free. 7 hours. If I can’t find time to do it now, I never will.
The moment he approached, I could feel my muscles tightening, and an urge to slow down, to walk for a minute and let the subtle cramp on my side die down.
And then he had to stroll on by, propelling himself up the hill like it was nothing.
I’m not super prideful, but come on, nobody wants to be shown up by an old man.
So I kept going- one foot after the other, and decided that next time I see him, I’ll be asking about where he shops. Let’s face it, everybody could use a nice sweater vest.
When I was three years-old, I wouldn’t cry for cartoons or Barney or Big Bird from Sesame Street. Instead, my mom would put on a cooking show and I’d sit for hours staring and perhaps trying to memorize each intricate step for later use. Not much has changed. I’ll watch cartoons at times and I enjoy the occasional Disney World trip, but to be honest, neither one has ever really been my scene (except if it was The Little Mermaid, of course). Today I watch various types of cooking shows, and am particularly intrigued by the episodes where well-seasoned chefs compete and take on challenges that force them to use creativity, ingenuity, and of course, their solid foundation of knowledge on the art and science of cooking. However, the task of tasting always goes to some b- level celebrity, and I’m consistently left with my mouth watering three feet away from the 42 inch Samsung screen.
This past Saturday during my day trip to Annecy, my host parents took me out to lunch. I was excited, and expected something solid, with great food and atmosphere. Instead, I arrived and tasted a cuisine that was INCROYABLE. Aka incredible, out of this world, unexpected, and more satisfying than anything I have ever tasted in. my. entire. life.
Of course, as with all things indescribable, the pictures won’t do it justice. But I’ll post them anyway, because on Saturday, I felt like I was finally behind the judges panel. My three-year old self would be proud.
On my fifth day here, one of the girls took an egg out of the fridge and in her perfect little 10-year-old French accent, motioned toward it and asked me, “Can I have it?”
“Um…yea, sure is that what you usually have for le goûter?”
Le goûter is the afternoon snack the girls have everyday upon returning from school around 4:30 pm. They usually have a cookie or toast with jam or a yogurt and a glass of milk. Today, Lou wanted an egg.
She smiled and reached for a bowl. I opened the drawer for the pans, and she shook her head. “No, I don’t need that.”
“Uh, are you going to microwave it?” I asked, pronouncing each word as clearly and as slowly as possible- not that they need it though. They usually understand me, even when I speak quickly because they have been raised to do so. It’s adorable but also slightly infuriating because at 7 and 10 they have had more of a multilingual experience than I have had my entire life. If they weren’t so adorable, kind, thoughtful, and well-behaved, we probably wouldn’t be friends.
She cracked it open, and let the yolk fall into the bowl as she wisked it and reached for a bag of granulated white sugar. She poured in several teaspoons, continued to mix it, and then brought a full spoonful to her mouth.
I tried not to look too horrified. Or to vomit all over the kitchen sink. She looked up at me, smiled and said ‘mmmm, so good.”
Let’s just say I didn’t see this one coming.
She poured the egg and sugar mixture into a mug, and then attached a bottle of milk to the espresso machine and pressed on. Hot milk flowed out of the spout, and seeped into the yolk. She mixed it again, smelled it and took a large gulp. “mmmm, perfect,” she said.
With my brows furrowed and my mouth agape in definite horror, she said, “you want to try?”
I hesitated, mumbled, fiddled with my nails and finally came to the conclusion this was my only chance. lord knows I won’t be bringing the recipe back home, I thought.
I took a deep breath, crossed my fingers and prayed that I would not catch salmonella.
My conclusion? So far, I am still alive. Also, it wasn’t horrible. But I don’t think I could have drank a whole glass. Apparently it is a specialty of the region, but I have subconsciously blocked the name from my memory.
The bottom line is that it’s good to try new things- that’s why I am here. But for now, I think I’ll stick with my green tea and an espresso every now and then.
Happy Monday, everyone!
We took a day trip to Annecy yesterday for some sightseeing and lunch. I wore a black dress with a tan belt, sandals and a green bag on my right shoulder. Usually I’m not one to dress up because I’m afraid of my spider veins, but yesterday I made an exception, because let’s face it- i’m in France, and that’s just what you do. Also, because I’m running out of outfits.
Annecy is close, about a 15 minute drive depending on traffic. We arrived there at around 11:15, parked in the garage and walked around the city before our reservation at noon.
I haven’t been to too many places around the world, but I think I’ve seen enough to realize how unbelievable a place like this really is. Every city you visit has it’s own energy, and here it was a mixture of quaint old European charm and a surrounding landscape that made me feel like I was living in a painting. I’ve never seen anything like it.