Isn’t 2015 just MARCHing on by…
Did you miss me? It has been a while between drinks or croissants; I’m really sorry. It’s not that I don’t understand the enormity of the task at hand, I do! Keeping you, my five dear followers, updated on a weekly basis is a goal that I plucked from thin air and have proven unable to meet. It was horrific to receive email(s) from the large percent of you angered and saddened by my hiatus. Unfortunately goals are made to be broken and we may as well call them guilties because that’s how they make us all feel in the end! Guilties aside, my deepest condolences go out to you, your cat and your sweet angelic mother.
So Paris is looking hideous – as per. A complete eye sore.
SPRING-ING TO LIFE
As I have no one to answer to I thought to hell with it, its spring, why not write a reflection piece? After seven months of living in Paris I am clearly an expert, highly experienced and qualified in Parisian life and will soon be asked to tour the world talking to Mayors about how to “Paris-ify” their cities. Kind of like a Queer Eye meets The Block mash up reality show – I am still fleshing out the details. The tour/show will start with Christchurch. I’m home in a few weeks and BOY do I have some ground to cover. Main priorities are as follows;
- I’ll be pushing Uncle John (NZ Prime Minister) to sign off on a large metal tower. We need one – it’s non-negotiable.
- I’ll generously put my hand up to hold a meeting with all the tradesmen in the land and all I ask for in return is to be supplied with a large megaphone so that I can scream “CONSISTENCY PEOPLE! UNIFORMITY! I WANT EVERY BUILDING LOOKING THE SAME! AND YOU BETTER BE ADDING SHUTTERS!”
- Third and final, and I’m mystified as to why this hasn’t been a topic of discussion prior, is GOLD BRIDGES. When bribed with crepes, three out of four English-speaking tourists in Paris listed gold bridges as the deciding factor in holiday plans.* In my opinion the Avon is pretty much the Seine and all that stands in the way of paralleled river fame is in fact GOLDEN BRIDGES.
*survey source T.Ketchup, 2015.
Now back to the spring reflection. My life situation is as rare as a Frenchman with a pet snail so I am sharing something that I am sure will be front page fodder across every health and wellness blog from here to Kaletown. A little something that I like to call THE LIFE-LIFE BALANCE!
Ah there it is, the swift swoosh of your mouse and quick click as you exit this tab and go back to stuff.co.nz or news.com.au or reddit or whatever ‘tube’ you were looking at.
OKAY! So you’re not that impressed with the title, I get it. You’re so Gen-Y, wanting to be bamboozled and wowed and razzle-dazzled. Just humour me for a while friend. Imagine that I am walking up onto a stage somewhere, like the Great Hall of Hogwarts, in a white lab coat with heavy rimmed black glasses and a neat and tidy hairdo (a bun, or chignon if you’re French).
Ladies and gentlemen I present,
THE LIFE-LIFE BALANCE.
A proper science-y study with a hypothesis, practical solution, method and theories, ya-da ya-da squashed banana.
BY C.J. MORRISON. PROF. DOC. WHATCHKNOWABOUTME.
What does it mean to live in a foreign country, jobless, childless and with no real purpose? What does one have to talk about at Friday arvo drinks if they haven’t had a run in with their manager, crazy client, hung-over colleague or slow-constantly-jamming-piece-of-shit-printer? Here’s an epiphany for you, do Friday arvo drinks even exist for a life-lifer?! Sure, those are the rhetorical questions, but I also have a few real life questions or probles to share e.g. “I think I would get bored without a job, do you get bored without a job?” “Are you taking French lessons? You really should learn French.” “It would be nice to have a job in Paris wouldn’t it? There are international offices based there you know?” “Are you stimulating your mind?”
I will address at least one of the above questions, but don’t hold me to it, in the following body of text.
People are genuinely intrigued as to how on earth I’m living sans-job. And I get it! It is not the norm for this sort of thing to go on. It is a challenge to accurately describe what life is like on the other side of the world in my sitch. In Paris, I’m in a bubble. On one hand, I socialise and spend time around a group of women in the exact same position as I am so ‘life’ as we know it is normal with different concerns. Does anyone know an English speaking GP? Can someone recommend a hair dresser who doesn’t use cotton wool and glad-wrap? Have you discovered the frozen promised land of Picard? However, as soon as I am separated from this herd, when I am on the phone to a friend or family member or chatting to a new GP, I grasp for a moment the uniqueness of my situation.
The no work perks.
- No start time which also means no finish time.
- No late nights catching up on work.
- The ability to visit museums outside of peak hours.
- Time to actually think about what YOU want to do (eat more chocolate).
- Travel and adventure.
- Freedom to have a few Tuesday night drinks on St Patrick’s Day with no fear for the following morning.
- Domestic goddess status – all the time in the world to clean! (ha hahahahhaha – Hugh’s laughing).
- No one taking charge of your stomach and telling you when you can eat, when you can’t eat (not necessarily a perk)
- No sick day problems, no annual leave stress.
- No dress code! Can I get an Amen for lounge wear!
- No stress when booking a last minute appointment – “I am literally free all day, anytime, I’ll be there in two minutes”.
- No morning or evening traffic or traffic jams.
- No annoying office music that makes you want to karate chop the stereo.
Of course there are a few key queries and concerns that I would like to address.
On boredom. I do not know how you could possibly become bored in Paris but I can understand how you could become bored of the limited human interactions. For the life-life balance to work in your advantage you must be willing to leave your house or apartment daily. You must enjoy walking, for in Paris you can walk everywhere and you won’t have a car. You must have the courage to fulfill a quest that leads you away from your ‘safe zone’. My own quest that I have embarked on is ‘The unBEANlievable truth’ -one girls’ mission to find the best flat white in Paris. Along with a noble quest navigating a foreign language and culture is enough to keep you on your toes and out of the clutches of boredom. Tasks such as posting a letter, making an appointment for a beautician, hairdresser or doctor, or researching a restaurant will take five times the amount of time it would at home.
On stimulation. Please tell me what’s more stimulating than 18th century architecture and the scent of pastry every single god-dam day. Oh and Netflix… I’ll just leave that there.
On my sense of self and personal development, mining into the depths. In Paris I’ve been forced to hang solo with myself for company for long periods of time. A three year veteran life-lifer mentioned when I arrived that I would discover a new love for alone time, and she was right. Did I think I may become a Shakespearean-type with time on my hands? Yes. Did I think I would be at least 3 per cent French by now? Yes. Do I occasionally want to busk for friendship on the metro? No, who do you think I am??? There are things that have happened already as a result of this experience that would never had happened if I were still working on the other side of the world. Starting this blog for instance, buying a camera and then actually using said camera. Learning a new language. Befriending people from countries so different to my own. Travelling to places I didn’t think I would ever get to see. Reconnecting with friends who I had lost touch with because I have found more time to check in. Getting out of my comfort zone every day and adapting to a new culture.
On routines and my body clock. I am slowly emerging like a pale grizzly bear from winter hibernation to spring. I’ll be honest, it can take a monumental amount of time and internal dialogue to get out of bed in the morning when I have no pressing place to be. Some life-lifers wake up and eat breakfast with their partners, but Hugh enjoys solo breakfast time, or at least that’s what I tell myself as I doze and he bangs around the kitchen inconsiderate to my sensitive hearing in the morning. Alternatively, there are the family Skype conversations that go a little something like this: Dad – “Are you ill?!”I reply “err no?” deeply confused. Dad – “Well why on earth are you in bed at 11am?” On the odd occasion I decide I am my own boss and that I’ll make tomorrow my B*&^*h!, I wake up with a running nose and send myself a text message to say I won’t be in the office today, and, um, probably not tomorrow either.
On the body. Ah my skin, glorious spot-free skin! Without the stress of a full time job my skin has really finally sorted itself out. Paris is apparently covered by a pollution blanket, but my skin is none the wiser. The chronic eczema that flared up on my hands when I was particularly stressed or flummoxed has disappeared as well. I personally like to believe that eczema/rashes are so un-chic that the French climate simply doesn’t allow it.
On meal time. The anti – lunch breaks. When you have no internal meetings, no client catch-ups, no deadlines looming your lunch-break entails a myriad of options. Firstly, when is lunch? Early at 12pm or at 2:30pm at a patisserie? And where is the official lunch ruling that states a lunch cannot be a three course affair? I prefer to have a roving continuous lunch that spans from 30 minutes after breakfast until 30 minutes before dinner located at varying boulangeries, patisseries and making full use of the pantry.
On nothing lasting forever.
Yes Mum, I am well aware I am riding a wave, a wave I had nothing to do with. I am lucky, hashtag super blessed. It was not my skill, talent nor pop-culture-general-knowledge recall that landed me here. If I’m completely honest, one thing does get me a little squirmin’ wormin’ and that’s career fear. A large question mark looms overhead, it’s not exactly a dark cloud but it is an unanswered question nonetheless. How long will we be living in Paris – two years, five years, or eight? What if we move again to another country or city? When we do decide to move ‘home’ will I find a job? Actually, more importantly, where exactly will home be? Will I still sound like a New Zealander, will Hugh sound less Australian? (One can only hope and pray). How will I pitch myself for a job if I’m five or eight years out of the game? At the moment I can see myself trying to walk back into a similar role at the conclusion of this overseas chapter throwing around media buzzwords from 2014 and discussing the dynamic landscape of cross platform advertising. In eight years I’m sure the ‘screens’ as we know them today will be completely different (Candy Crush on a glass kitchen top, checking Facebook on a train window). And don’t get me started on the robots.
At least the future fear keeps me living in the moment, zen-like, namastae etc. I can appreciate this incredible experience because I know that it’s fleeting and rare. The life-life balance may have its critics but I can hand on heart vouch for this lifestyle due to the effects on body, mind and spirit. (Mostly I vouch for the cheese and pastry).
AND NOW MORE PHOTOS.
On my quest for the best flat white. Cafe Kitsune I award 5 coffee beans and my pinky finger also seems delighted with your brew.
Sweet glorious muffin… MY sweet glorious muffin
“You wait for the coffees, I’ll hold the muffin” – Hugh.
Why must we hurt the ones we love the most?!
Making market progress.
I unwrapped my tulips to find a little bouquet inside.
Could this be it? My first sign that I am a local! In your face Hugh! (He walks down the market in his team tracksuit and is often given free spring rolls from the sandwich boys).
SEAing food and eating it.
Our friend H + J invited us to dinner on their side of town.
You would guess from these photos that they lived in a small fishing village.
Alerting you to those crispy fries in the following photos. Hugh spent at least thirty minutes discussing them. They are the hot potato version of the potato chip fries purchased in the school canteens of yester-year. I hope some of you reading this are nodding like, oh hells yeah I remember those bad boys and chocolate milks and moosies and juices.
Due to the heavy amount of cray consumption I had a sore bae and a sorbet
And so we’ve reached the end. As usual you’ve made it this far and I owe you a big old high five. I will be back, sooner rather than later. With some tales from the snails in Paris.
(I think I’ve just classified Hugh and I as snails there, not such a cool thing to do, at least the French will find us tasty)
Au revoir x