Friday, February 25, 2011

When wine is cheaper than water....

I just read the Facebook post of a friend in Arizona who said her day was full of drama.  Crazy, cause even all the way out here in France, so was mine.

It's funny, no matter where you are you have those days sometimes.  You'd think that if you went off to live in some amazingly awesome country you'd become immune to them...cause life is supposed to be amazing living there.  Well, not really.  No matter where you go one of those days when you are annoyed at anything and everything, and nothing seems to go right will pop up.

We're currently busy getting some official issues sorted and settling our things into the new apartment before we make our return to NYC to wrap up our lives there to then move it officially back here to France.  Whew, it just feels like the to-do list is so full.  So far this week: we got me my bank account, signed the lease on Grandpa's old apartment over to us -so now I have two of the important items on the "Titre de Sejour To-Do list", painted Grandpa's new apartment, put together all of his flat packed tables and closets, got Grandpa moved into his new apartment, and took in a bit of the Carnaval.  We still have to move ourselves to the new apartment, set up the husband's sound booth, get internet-phone-cable set up, and clean the old apartment.

Now with three days left before flying, the husband is sequestered in his booth half way through recording an audio book and I'm busy keeping the kids occupied while trying to pack the apartment to move it to the new one.  Well, I think this is all becoming more stressful than I think and it's making me grumpy. Or maybe it's the thought of returning to cold weather! So, after grouching at the husband in the morning, I decided to escape the house with the kids and hang out in the sun at a park.  I just said to myself, relax, it will get done, go have fun with the kids.  So I did.  (and in the end we did have some fun at the park)

But of course, since it's one of those days nothing was easy. I chose to try a new way to the park and after three uphill attempts at different streets I ended up on the usual one we take.  Now completely tired.  At the park the kids threw tantrums because I had the nerve to say we couldn't eat ice cream until after we had lunch, and then when we left the park and headed half way down the hill I realized we didn't have Taylor's outer jacket.  So we went back up the hill to find it, couldn't, and went home.  Darn it, now I have to buy him another one cause it will be cold in NY.  But of course, where do you think the coat ended up being???  Yes, in the closet at home.  We didn't even bring it to the park!  Then my head decided to ache so I get grumpy at the husband again.  Poor guy.  But since he is a lovely man underneath it all, he carted two suitcases I packed this morning full of stuff up the hill to the new place.  See, it will get done. :)

MORAL...on these days, always take the tried and tested route, everyone should eat ice cream FOR lunch, and once down the hill forget about the old blue jacket with the red paint on it and think of it as an excuse to go shopping.

Now, I sit with my feet up drinking a nice bottle of red and figure tomorrow I'll tackle the next two suitcases and the cleaning of the "old" apartment.

In a country where wine is cheaper than water, it's easy to drown away a day, or week, full of drama.  :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Carnaval de Nice #2

The Carnaval is such a fun event that all of Nice gets involved.  The Patisseries make special cakes, stores decorate like it's a holiday, and the kids wear costumes to the events.  At the parades people throw confetti and the kids spray silly string and everyone has a good time.

We went to the floats parade today and all I can say is...WOW.  Taylor, Emmerson, and I sat in the stands in awe as each float rode by us thinking the next one couldn't be better than this one.  Here's a short video and a bucket load of pics so you can see for yourself....      

The theme was a tribute to the history of the Mediterranean with a special nod to their neighbor Italy.

Ready for the fun!
The King's float, "Nice, the capital of the Mediterranean"
The Queen's float, "Nice, the pearl of the Mediterranean"
"Children of the She-wolf"
"Cleopatra runs the show"
"The Six Queens"
"Song of the Mermaids"

"Flying Scorpion Fish"
"The Modern tourist" 
The jolly Italians, gotta love 'em
"La Dolce Vita"
"Fellini, King of Rimini" (one made by the USA)

"Don Corleone, the Sicilian Godfather"
"King of Greek Loans" 1 of 3 pics-this is a big one based on mythology (another one of USA's floats)
"King of Greek Loans" 2 of 3 (USA)
"King of greek Loans" 3 of 3 pics (USA)
"Bulls of Picasso" (and another one of USA's floats)
These walk in front of the Picasso float
I almost wore the same costume!
"Balloons Released for Peace"
"Cousteau in the Spotlight"
This is a far as I got before T pulled me away to go home.  After 2 hours he was TIRED! :)  

The great thing is that they do the parades several times throughout the three weeks so you can choose which day works best for your schedule and return if you couldn't stay the whole time. :)  Also keeps the crowds from being too crazy.

If you plan a trip to Nice, during CARNAVAL would be a great time to come! ...and plane tickets are usually low this time of year. :) 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

7 Days and Counting...

Well, after many considerations of how we could magically transport our necessary belongings here to France without the WHOLE family flying again, it has been decided that indeed we all need to return to the good ole US of A for the month of March.  

Besides, I don't really trust James to pack the necessities but to rather throw it all out and claim a flash flood took it all. :)

And now, I've suddenly direct-booked two jobs in NYC that shoot the middle of the month and I REALLY want to get that other bunion chopped off so I can finally wear cute shoes.  I only have insurance until June 30th so better take advantage! Plus, my 90 day tourist visa runs out on the 28th and apparently getting work papers isn't as easy as we were led to believe. Hmmm.

So there you go, seven days 'til take off and so much to do.  Have to secure housing for when we return to France, make sure it has internet and phone for James to work, make sure T's school holds his place, get Grandpa securely situated in his new apartment -so we can then take his old one :), convince his landlord to put us on the lease, get a bank account for me, and get in some good sun before being thrust back into the cold NY March weather.

Oh, Nice sun, I miss you already!

See you soon NYCers.....

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm the Junk in his Trunk...Cadam Part 1

Today we made the trek out to Cadam, the administrative offices, to get my Titre de Sejour (work permit, kind of like the American Green Card).  Well, we had a long talk with a managerial type woman at the counter upon entering, which is as far as we got, about what we needed, the process, etc. It didn't go as well as we had hoped or like the internet had informed us it would.  Many more documents were needed and those documents needed to be prepared in special ways that we had not done.  

Such as....copies of passport, both of ours, and not that old one you have James without a microchip - seems a lot of Portuguese are faking their way in (really?), my birth certificate, our marriage license, apartment lease, bank account, tax documents if you are not a salaried employee of a company, a utility or mobile phone bill, AND ALL TRANSLATED IN FRENCH. Because as she said..."The French, we protect our language", and don't forget to have all those documents officially stamped. 

And don't even think about trying to do this if you can't speak the language.  Thankfully I have James who speaks French very well.  Oh, and before any of this, James must declare himself at the Town Hall and register what he does for a living. Everyday I understand more and more the plight of those trying to come into America legally. 

So then the managerial lady proceeds to tell us that...

"You are whatever your husband is (how he's registered), he carries you with him.  If he's a salaried employee then you are, if he's a student then you are (how two students could support a family I'll never know), if he's an entrepreneur, then you are, etc.  She is in your luggage. (huh??)  She is whatever you are, so decide what you are wisely.  It can never be changed."  

Never??? I'm sure that part was lost in translation. Could the French laws really be this condescending or ancient?

So, if any of you ladies think you are going to be strong independent women in France, think again.  By being a non-French foreigner, you are just junk in someone's trunk.

How it all plays out in the end?.....stay tuned.  I won't be beaten that easily!  I WILL live and work here, I will, I will, I will!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Carnaval de Nice

There are so many things that go on in Nice.  This weekend started the three week long 127th Carnaval.  Quite a spectacle and too much fun for everyone.  There are huge parades and activities and decorations everywhere.  We made it to the opening Flower Parade yesterday, where the floats are made of flowers and the girls throw them out to the audience. This week we'll go to the Floats parade, supposed to be some really amazing creations, and catch shows in the Fun Garden.  Stay tuned for those pics!  

There is so much to do and see, but there's never enough time to do it all.  Bummer.  Eat your heart out Macy's Parade.

These were pulled from the video so not the best day I'll make the video. :)

With an expression like this you know it's gonna be fun!

It's a crazy bicycle and two crazy cars, not the best angle to decipher, but had to show you.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Date Night reignited...

There was a time when James and I would regularly go on "date night" to spend an evening just being together.  A romantic dinner, a movie and dessert, or just sitting at the local bar talking over drinks.  We spend a lot of time together at home since we don't work in offices but it's different spending time together away from the work/home environment.

So finally, after three years -we had to go all the way to France to do it- we adopted a babysitter and reinstated "date night". 
She's great and the kids love her.  As soon as she came in they lead her off to show her all their toys.  Woo hoo, success!! 

Mommy and Daddy were off to Old Town in search of Mussles.  Well, 3 hours flew by with non-stop talking and laughing.  We could actually get out full sentences and follow a real conversation. We felt that WE were important to each other. It was so wonderful that we immediately scheduled her for the next week.

We get so wrapped up in the day to day of getting by, that we forget how important it is to stay connected to our partner with time of our own.  Being out without the children allowed us to focus on each other, and remind us why we like each other.  You don't have to go all the way to France to start your weekly "date night", just make a plan and go. Although France sure makes it nice. :)

The Job...

So back to Marseille I went, this time paid for by the production.  :)

We had a fitting on Sunday, shot on Monday, then again on Tuesday because we were rained out Monday. The first night I stayed in a little hotel in the countryside all by myself.  Got in some good "Shellee-Time".  But then because of the rain day, I got to stay in the posh Pullman Palm Beach Hotel in Marseille with the crew.  Planning on going back there with the family!

Lovely countryside view from B&B Hotel

Posh room in Marseille hotel

A sneak peak of the set

So, all in all, filming is the same as in America.  With one big at lunch!!  Now that's my kind of work! :)  In France it's typical to have wine at lunch, but at work?  And especially when I have to perform?  This was so crazy to me I had to laugh right at my table in the catering tent.  But when in France....ok, I didn't actually partake in the wine.  I'm just still too Americanized. :)  Maybe the next job...
View of Marseille from the train station

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ah, a callback...

 I was asked back for a callback for the car commercial.  Yeah!  (Attention...Spoiler Alert at bottom of post.)

So, another train journey to Marseille-since once again another model couldn't seem to find room in his car, and he was the only one in it!  I'm gonna start having a complex.

This time I thought I'd take you on the journey through a video.  That way you could see a bit of Marseille as well.  Sorry for any shaking, I was the DP as well. :)

Spoiler alert....... I DID book the job.  All too crazy!  Now since I still don't have my work permit the agency had to register me for a "one day pass" to work.  But you only get one so now I REALLY have to get my butt in gear and get my work permit.  Although with the amount of taxes and commission taken out of the pay it may not be worth working here!  I'll take home about 33% of the gross!!!!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

First Audition in France

Just when I was wondering what to do with myself...

The modeling agency I signed up with here in Nice has an office in Marseille.  The agent there texted me (seems to be the way they communicate for work here) and asked me to come to an audition for a car commercial to be shot there next week.  The casting director hadn't asked for me but she, the agent, liked my portfolio and thought I would be good for it.  I said, "You betcha!"  Figured if anything it would give me an opportunity to see what the process here is like.  

There wasn't any room in the cars of the other models going, so I had to take the train. (Wondering if everyone is afraid of being stuck with the American for 2 and a half hours.) When I got to the counter to buy my ticket, my credit card wouldn't work.  What??  And of course I didn't have enough cash with me to buy the ticket.  After spending a half hour on the phone with James who's other ear was on another phone to the bank, we still couldn't get it to work.  And for reasons no one can figure out!  Frrrrustratinnngg!

Well, after missing two trains during that ordeal I gave up and went home frustrated and feeling defeated.  Once at home I gathered myself, gave myself a pep talk, and back to the station I went.  Cash in hand!

I had armed myself with Mapquest directions and what local transit I needed to utilize, so once in Marseille I was off and running, no help needed.  Thankfully, cause my translator was staying home.

I got to the audition, wrote out my name card (had some trouble figuring out my height in centimeters) and sat and waited.  The casting people were alerted that I was coming so it felt nice to be greeted as if they knew me.  The casting director then told us as a group the specific direction to do, all in French.  Uuummmm.  He turned to me, the odd English speaker in the room, and asked if I got that.  Thankfully the direction was easy to follow (he used lots of hand gestures) so I said yes. 

Once my turn came around I went in to do my audition.  The casting director could actually speak English, so it was much easier than I thought it was going to be.  We chatted a bit, then I loved up the pretend car, thanked them kindly and was on my way. 

Well there you go, the audition process is the same as home.  Yeah.  I jumped back on a bus, then a tram, then the 2.5 hour train back to Nice.  Now I await to see if I get a callback...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Christmas a minute

Every once in a while I am going to do what I call " a minute".  I will attempt a one minute video about the subject matter of the post.  Today it's about the Christmas Village in Nice, France.

I know...a bit late for the holiday, but it's taken me this long to get myself caught up. :)  There were stalls with lots of wonderful artsy things to buy, yummy sweets, rides for the kids, an ice skating rink, loads of decorations, and even Santa was making an appearance doing a bit of pottery. 

So, a quick view of our evening in the Christmas Village here in Nice, France.  Enjoy...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

To work or not to work....

Since we've decided to stay I've been thinking of what I want to do for work.  Hmmm, this may be one of those times in life where one needs to reinvent oneself.  The struggle becomes, do I simply give in and become a 'housewife' doing the shopping, kid care, menu planning so James can concentrate fully on making the money? Or do I find work?  Not so easy when you don't know the language well enough.

I did meet with the local model and talent agency here, Enjoy Models, who said they would take me on and that I was right for their commercial market.  But it's a smaller market than if I were in say, Paris.  Here they deal with the Cote d'Azur and it's basically all direct booking, so rarely a casting to go on.  Not a problem, now I can clean my closet of all the "mom-wear" that was taking it over.  Still, definitely not as much opportunity to make the income I may need.

So, I've started to think about what other things I could do for employment.  Gotta support that coffee and croissant habit somehow.  Not to mention the new classy wardrobe I want to purchase.  Or maybe spend on a part time nanny for Emmerson, to help her learn French and give me the opportunity to be a proper cafe-mom. 

Maybe an English teacher in one of the bilingual schools?  I could teach theater in English as part of their language immersion program. Clean houses?  Set up a daycare or kid's club? 

But to do any job, I need a work permit/permanent resident card, a Titre de Sejour.  Even to simply stay and not work I need one.  So, a trip to Cadam will have to take place.  I've heard horror stories, so stayed tuned for that one!

Monday, February 7, 2011

It's a Dog's Life

Dogs have it good here in France cause the French LOVE their dogs.  I was at a nice restaurant the other night, a favorite of Elton John's so it's can't be too shabby, and sitting amongst the guests was a lovely older lady dining with her favorite companion.  Yep, her dog, who was sitting in a chair eating from his bowl which was sitting smack on the table.  The kicker is, children aren't allowed.
our little Charlie

You can take your dogs with you anywhere here.  Restaurants and cafes, the mall, to work (depending on your job), even the grocery store-provided you carry him/her.  Even if a sign on the door says 'No Dogs', you'll inevitably see someone with their dog blindly ignoring the rule and no one chasing them down to correct it.

Their favorite dog it seems, as I'll bet you can guess, is the miniature Yorkie.  I have of course seen a Poodle here and there as well as a Shitzu, the occasional French Bulldog, Chihuahua, a King Charles Spaniel, even a trio of Pugs.  The closest we've gotten to Charlie the Brussels Griffon was an adorable Affenpincher we met one day.  

The oddest sight I've seen so far is the huge Great Dane that lives around the corner. Charlie's not so quick to make friends with him.
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