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All posts for the month October, 2012

Home Again, Home again, Jiggy Jig.

Published October 31, 2012 by mindfulofchatter

The drive went smoothly. The roads were a little wet from time to time, but no downpours obscured my vision. I made through the most hated part of the drive (it is narrow and very twistsy turny) early and had no traffic to contend with. My four-legged traveling companion alternated between snoozing on her bed and sitting up, leaning on the passenger door looking out the window. She is a pro at this long drive stuff.

The first leg seemed to go quickly. In no time, it seemed, I was at the huge bridge that marks to halfway point on this drive. It was a sight for sore eyes. I was happy to join the heavier traffic and cross over to the state I wanted to be in. Even though it meant another 5 hours on the road. We glided through this busy metropolis easily. Our big truck, dwarfed by the semi rigs but towering over the automobiles, slid into open spots and joined the flow as if it belonged there.

We stopped at rest areas for a stretch and potty breaks. Miss Four Legs was offered water and food. We stopped only once for gasoline, and once again for lunch (the driver’s stomach demanded to be fed). After that, we motored on with no more stops. The last leg of our journey was filled with passes through the mountains. Up one steep grade and down another. We were light enough to pass the big rigs, but slow enough the keep out of the way of the faster cars. When we were almost home, the drive got long and slow.

That last bit, those last 45 miles, felt like hours. The anticipation of being home again made me want to ‘put the hammer down’, but I didn’t. No use in getting a ticket this close to the end of the long drive. The Highway Patrol was out on force. There were lots of lights flashing on the side of the road as uniformed officers leaned in windows of now unhappy travelers. A few of those lights were on unmarked, bland looking cars. No, I’ll maintain the proper speeds, thank you.

We rolled into to our first stop, where I will stay until I find a job and an apartment. Lots of hands helped unload my clothing and other necessities into the room I have been given. Next we went to the storage unit. More hands showed up. The big truck was empty in an hour. The contents neatly stacked into a storage unit. Arrangements were made to drop off the truck the next day and pick up the car I now drive. It all went smoothly.

A lot of people made this move home happen. The room I have now was my friends daughter’s room. This wonderful kid gave up her room so I had a place to stay. She has not once complained. This same family turned out and helped unload the truck, watch Miss Four Legs and made me feel welcome. My ex-husband showed up and helped rearrange the storage unit so my things would fit. He stacked my boxes neatly and carefully, covered my few pieces of furniture and never once complained. He also picked me up at the truck drop off and gave me a car to drive (with an option to buy it cheap). It is a good car (yeah, it’s white and a sedan – I hate to say it, but I do like it).

There is no way I could have ever done this without these people. I am so grateful to have friends like this.

I have no way to re-pay them, and they don’t seem to mind one bit.

 

And We’re Off!

Published October 25, 2012 by mindfulofchatter

 

The car has sold. I am very happy and very sad about that. It was a Mini Cooper. A car I had wanted for a long time, but could never afford. I fell into one that I could afford in February of this year. A trade, a few dollars and she was mine. After 8 short months of motoring joy, she is gone to her next owner. He is another person who has wanted a Mini for a long time. He is planning to get all of her services that are due (and over due) done. He already loves her as much as I did. Bye, Alice. Take good care of your new owner.

It seems my next car is a Toyota Corolla. *sigh* A 2004, 4 door sedan *oh geez, really?* that is white. White. White! Freakin’ WHITE! *ARGH!!!*. It is what my family calls a ‘Dad’ car. A dull, plain white sedan that your dad would drive. This is an especially hateful thing after having a series of hot hatchback in cute, bright colours. *sigh* But the Toyota is reliable and cheap and is coming for a reliable source. It will get me from point A to point B. I can deal with it. I think.

I have the money from the sale stashed. I have my U Haul truck reserved. I have told my landlord I am leaving. I have told my boss I am leaving. My landing spot has been informed and is making ready for my arrival. I have the next two days to pack up, close accounts, finish off all the little things one has to finish when one moves. Three days from now I pick up and load my truck. Then I am gone.

Back home. Back to my friends. Back to the life I left behind.

I am ready.

 

Needing Some Good Vibes, Please

Published October 22, 2012 by mindfulofchatter

You know how you get things all sorted out then something, that one little thing, just won’t fall into place?

That’s where I am.

In my plan to move back to the place I came from, I have managed to get a lot of important things in place. A place to stay until I find a job and re-settle in my own place (two offers, in fact. This way if one doesn’t work out, I have a back-up plan of sorts). I also have a car lined up. I’m not completely sure I will buy that car, but it is a car I can afford and it seems to be very reliable. I have checked the availability of moving trucks and costs. I know what I need to make the drive. I am in the process of checking out storage units. I have very little furniture and nothing big (no bed, no appliances), so I need only a small space for my few boxes, love seat and desk.

It all looks pretty darn good, doesn’t it? There is a snag, though. My car hasn’t sold.

It is a nice car. I have it priced a little below Blue Book, and can go a bit lower. It looks great. No dings or dents. Non Smokers car. It has some nice amenities. I have gotten one ridiculously low ball offer (which I am ignoring completely) and one spam offer. You know the ones. They will send you a ‘certified’ check, then send a shipper will pick up your item. In this case, ‘he’ wants to send the money to my PayPal account. Yeah. I’m not quite that dumb. Yet.

I have a co-worker was is interested. She is bringing someone to look it over today. So cross your fingers everyone, send out the good kharma, say prayers, dance naked around the mulberry bush, whatever it is you do to send the good juju, please do it.

I want to go home.

The Plan – Well, The New Plan

Published October 17, 2012 by mindfulofchatter

Remember my plan? The one I had where I was going to move back home? The one where I had some semblance of control?

Well, it’s in the crapper. Zip. Zoop. Bam. Boom. Hear that flushing sound? That’s my Plan heading out to sea.

I returned to work yesterday after my long, unhappy trip to France. I was happy to be home and happy to be back at work. I am not an idle person, so work gives me things to do with the bonus of making money with which to pay rent, buy food and perhaps hit a movie once in while. But yesterday, work decided to throw me a curveball and throw my Plan into overdrive.

WIth what in my business is called a ‘low census’, the head honchos decided it was time to make changes. This has affected me in the worse way. My hours have been cut. No, sliced, diced and minced. From 40 to 28. I am now the ‘weekend receptionist’. My new hours cover Friday – Monday and nothing more. Saturday’s hours are a joke and not really worth the drive to work – 2 hours. I am sure the Home Office doesn’t give a rats arse about my need to pay rent or eat, anymore than it cares about the others who suffered a worse loss in hours.

The icing on the cake in this situation, is that this is a no win for my boss. He has to tell his employees he is cutting our hours. After he does this, and we all leave for greener pastures, he will get torn a new one because of his employee turn over rate. It won’t matter that none of us want to leave. Or that the very people yelling at him forced us to. They will only see the outcome of their demands and lay blame at my bosses feet.

Such is life in this business. I have never yet worked for one of theses types of companies that can see past the money in their own pockets. The people at the top rarely have a clue of how things work in the real world of their business. They see only the bottom line, and will cut as many jobs as it takes to ensure THEIR paycheck is unaffected. Their clients and employees are the ones who suffer from this perspective.

The good out this? I can pack it up and go home. I have a wonderful friend willing to take me in until I find work. I can sell my car and get the ball rolling. I can make the sacrifices I need to make to leave this state I dislike so much. I will go home to the sunshine and warmer fall weather.

I can leave this disaster of a decision behind me and move forward.

And forward is the best way to move.

A Change in Plans

Published October 16, 2012 by mindfulofchatter

 

The plan was to move up north, start an online business and move to France. But there are a few problems with that plan.

I didn’t really like France. Sure, there were some neat things about it. I got some awesome shoes, and jeans that make me look longer and leaner than I actually am. I also found I can order those jeans online. Sweet. But move there and live there? I don’t think that is going to happen.

I moved ‘up north’ and found I don’t like it here. The town is so small, it sports only two movie theaters. One shows a lot of indie films, the other shows only one movie at a time. Both are old. Old seats, old layouts, smallish screens. There are no department stores. Need underwear? We don’t have that here. You have to drive a good 30 miles. To get underwear. It’s all a little too artsy fartsy for me.

This little town is fairly isolated from the rest of the area. This makes dating darn near impossible. With a small population in town, one has to look outside of town. The catch being no one wants to drive more than 15 minutes for a date. Seriously. I have had men tell me I live to far away when I am in the next town over. We managed coffee, but a real date is just too much trouble (yeah, I get that it could be the nice brush off – but in every case? I’m not that ugly!)

The weather up here is not what I prefer. After spending 10 years in the Midwest, I want warmth and sunshine. The weather up here is cooler and mostly overcast. And rainy. It rained most of the my first month here. After a whole 6 weeks of sunshine and almost down right heat, it is raining again. Ugh.

This is a case of the people who love it here, telling me how great it is in order to get me to come here. Yes, I should have done a lot more research on my own. If I had, I would have found how expensive it is to live here. The sales tax is ridiculously high, the rents are high, the cost of groceries is high, but the pay scale is low. I make less money at a full-time job here than I did at a part-time job at home. It’s just nuts. I’m not sure how the people here make ends meet.

So I have made a change in my plans. I am going to work towards going back home. I will mostly likely have to sell my car to do it, but it’s just a car and I can get another car. If I move back to my old apartment building, I will be in walking distance of everything I need to get by. I will be near my friends again and be able to socialize again. I will be where men don’t feel that 15 minutes is too far to drive for a date.

And I will much happier.

Things I Learned in France

Published October 13, 2012 by mindfulofchatter

I am now home from France. After a marathon day of travel we both fell into our hotel room to sleep before driving home. With a 10+ hour International flight, a 3.5 hour connecting flight and a 9 hour time change we were both pretty beat.

I didn’t find France to be romantic or even all that pretty. It looked the rural Midwest with old stone buildings, cobblestone streets and people speaking French. It really just wasn’t what I expected. A lot of myths were busted.

The French are rude to Americans.

Nope. Everyone we met was very nice and helped us when we needed it. Even the angry Metro ticket lady whose visit with her friend we interrupted to ask directions. She was not happy we didn’t know where we were going or how to use the ticket machine (Metro lines are different costs depending on which lines you are taking. We didn’t know what lines to take, so we didn’t know what tickets we needed). Yet, after rolling her eyes at us, she came out of the ticket booth and showed us how to use the machine, told us what which lines we needed and made sure we got the machine to work properly. When we decide to go to the HUGE ladies department store (this thing is like 10 floors of designer label stuff. Each floor is devoted to one thing. So a floor of nothing but shoes, a floor of handbags, etc.) and we couldn’t find the right street. We stepped into a shop and asked directions. The man we asked, put on his coat, walked out of his shop and WALKED us to the proper corner and pointed out the streets and turns we needed to make. Try to get an American in a big city to do that.

All French women dress to kill all the time.

Again, nope. I saw very few women, even in Paris, who were wearing high heels. Most wore ballet flats or boots. While everyone looked neat and clean (no PJ bottoms or house shoes – thank goodness), no one was dressed to kill. From skirts to jeans, everyone looked nice, but not over dressed. The only over dressed people I saw were tourists. Everyone does seem to wear a freakin’ scarf, though. Men, women and children all sport a scarf almost all the time.

French men are all romantic saps.

Well, maybe. If you ever get one to talk to you. The French are not people who chit-chat with strangers. While I did get a lot of men staring at me (the 6′ foot tall American woman was a fascination to these guys), no one said a word to me unless I was buying something. A few smiled at me, but that was it. So much for the great French romance while on holiday.

All French women are skinny.

Nope. I saw skinny women (all about 5″1′ or so), but I also saw a lot of normal weight women, plump women and a few very plump women. I never saw an obese person. No 300 pounders. Not a one.

Skinny jeans are for everyone.

Yup. There seemed to be no age limit on skinny jeans. Men wore them, women in their 20’s wore them, women over 50 wore them, kids wore them and everyone managed to look good in them. I bought three pair at the urging of the shoe sales girl who spoke very good English. When I tried to tell her I was too fat, she insisted I looked great (I love that girl) and should go get some. She was right. I look smokin’ hot in my French jeans.

What I didn’t get was the ‘slower’ life style so many people talk about. Paris is bustling and busy. People are moving fast going about their day. Traffic never ceases and flows at an insane pace. Even during the famous midi, people are rushing here and there. A few people sit in the cafes for a long time, but not many. Even in the smaller towns we visited, people were constantly moving. I guess my life is already slower and more relaxed, because I didn’t see a difference.

France does not really believe in side walks. The ancient streets are one car wide. And that’s if you a driving a tiny car. The sidewalks that go with those narrow streets are about 2 to 4 bricks wide. And I mean your stand little red brick, laid with the narrow sides next to each other. They are often slanted at odd angels and hard to walk on. You must go single file or walk in the street. The larger streets in Paris have almost normal sized sidewalks, but they park scooter and motorcycles on the sidewalks, so you right back to rather narrow walkways.

People are people no matter where you go. At midi, men sit in groups of 2 – 6 and talk about politics, the weather, sports and women. Women sit in groups of 2 -4 and gossip about other women, men and maybe fashion. They laugh, talk and eat. Elbows are allowed on the table, dessert after lunch is desired and often followed by a café or thé.

Dogs are welcome everywhere.

Yes! You can bring a dog in a restaurant and eat with him sitting at your feet. You can go shopping and bring your dog. We saw a lady in shoe store trying on shoes with her little terrier watching her. At he grocery store, a dog waited inside the store near the checkout while his master did the evening shopping. We had lunch in a little restaurant near a little dog and his master. I liked that, even though I know a lot of Americans would find it gross.

I think who you travel with makes a huge difference on how you see France. I was with my sister. Not very romantic, is it. We have so little in common lifestyle wise, we often clashed on what to do and when to do it. She wanted to blend in, I didn’t give a crap if I blended in or not. It turns out, I dress more French than she does. What makes me stand out is my height. The French are not tall people and a 6′ tall anyone stands out like a zombie at a Rainbow Bright Parade.

At least I learned that France is not place I want to live. I will keeping my hiney in the U.S. for now. I would like to visit the U.K. someday. Maybe I’ll like that a bit better.

 

 

 

Sleepless in France

Published October 7, 2012 by mindfulofchatter

I am in France. A dream come true for a lot of people out there. I have spent 3 nights in Paris, 4 in Blois and I am now about 15km outside of Cognac. The gite is very nice. At 1:52 am I ought to be asleep dreaming of croissants and designer shoes.

But I am not.

My thoughts are tumbling around my head in whirlwind of things I do not need to be thinking about. Not now. Not thousands of miles from home. Not things that can’t be changed simply because I wish them changed.

Part of the thought is my disappointment with France in general. After all I had heard about Europe in general, I am disappointed to find this part of France to look exactly like rural Minnesota. The fields, the farms dotting the land, the clumps of groves protecting the houses, the wind breaks lining the fields are all the same. I feel as though I have been transported through a timey/wimey wormhole to a French, medevial version rural Minnesota.

And I was never fond of Minnesota. 10 years there felt like an eternity.

I am also disappointed with myself. I can not find the wonder or beauty here. The narrow cobblestone streets and ancient stone buildings hold no awe for me. They just look old and rather tired.

The people here are far more polite. Children are very well behaved. There are no screaming kids in restaurants or stores. You can eat in peace, even with a toddler at the next table.

But that’s it. That’s all I find here that is different from home.

And I’d rather be home. Home is what is keeping me awake. Home is what is calling my heart and soul almost to the point of pain.

I have been a lot of places in my life and never once been homesick. I have always been able to make where I was home. Even those long years in state I disliked so much, I managed to make it home.

Not here. I don’t know what it is about France that blocks my ability to get past the disappointment and enjoy myself. But I can’t.

Three more nights. I have to make it through three more nights. That’s all.

Then I can go home.