Saturday, March 29, 2014

What About Gregory

{The LPV: November 2009}
Today's the day! After three and a half weeks of living life as a pseudo-single girl; total remote control domination, easy peasy bed making (while I barely move during my sleep, Gregory twists and turns like a whirling dervish wrapped inside a tornado) and Lifetime Movie Network marathons, I am being reunited with Gregory and Fifty this afternoon. As I type this, Gregory and Fifty are somewhere in the air between Paris and Houston.

Since I've been filling you in on tidbits of what I've been up to lately, I thought I'd tell you about what Gregory has been doing since we said goodbye in Paris twenty-six days ago.

First, he spent a few days at Brother-in-Law's where La Petite chased Fifty around trying to turn him into her tutu-wearing, Princess tea partner. Oh, and she renamed him Titi. I think the two of them got out of there in the nick of time.

Next up was a blissful week in Toulon with The Londons (on second thoughtI'm not entirely sure how blissful it was for Mrs. London). Gregory and Mr. London gardened, built a fire pit, barbecued and drank Ricard. It was basically their idea of heaven. Occasionally a photo from Mr. London would pop up on my Instagram feed of the two of them in front of an outdoor fire with glasses of pastis and hashtags like; #perfectevening #bestnightever. I'm so glad that I got out of the way so Gregory could have some quality time with his hetero-life partner.

They weren't entirely homebodies though, they managed to make it out to a nightclub on a couple occasions and on one of those, Mr. London attempted to drop it like its hot and dropped it too hot and split his pants wide open. So naturally Gregory spent the rest of the evening trying to throw ice cubes in the hole. As you do. (Shout out to Mrs. London for keeping me in the loop.)

After a week of non-stop bromance, Gregory headed north to French Maman's in Auvergne. He ate fois gras, beef tongue (his favorite), lots of Cantal cheese (another one of his favorites) and Bleu d'Auvergne (my favorite). On his last night there, French Nana opened a bottle of 1969 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. Then she phoned me to tell me how sorry she was that I wasn't there to drink it. Not cool French Nana, not cool... your uppance will come.

With the week over and his belly full, he made a quick stop at The Gypsy's to say goodbye before returning to The LPV to tie up the last of the loose ends and to bid au revoir. The Croupier hosted a small party for him with all of the usual suspects there; laughs were had, and tears were shed. Then four days ago he returned to Toulon to finish up his final days in France with his faithful Bumder.

And that's that. One short flight from Marseille to Paris, followed by a super long one to Houston, and Gregory, Fifty and I will all be reunited this afternoon, ready to start our new lives together in America (sh*t just got real).


Thursday, March 27, 2014

the wonderful world of blates

{my blate, Alex}
You know, when I first started blogging, I had absolutely no clue what I was getting myself into. Before I hit publish on that first post back in 2009, I had never even read a blog. I didn't know that there were thousands of other people out there hitting publish just like me, and loads of them expats as well. And I sure as heck didn't know that one day I'd develop relationships with some of these other publish button pushers, and even meet a few in real life.

Blates are bizarre and wonderful things, even according to us bloggers (for those not in the know, a blate, is a blogger date). I mean, we agree to actually meet someone that we met online. It's our own special version of online dating. But the thing is, even though we don't 'know' each other, we know each other. We can sit down together for the first time and immediately flow into conversation without any awkwardness because we've been all up in each other's blog kool-aid for months, even years.

Take my first blate with my friend, Sarah, for instance, there was no timid blogger lunch for us... no, no, no, we went straight for a sleepover in Avignon. And that blate turned into a friendship that has brought Sarah and her husband to Le Petit Village and on many other adventures with me; to Marseille, Cassis, and Lyon. Sarah even rescued The London's, Gregory and I when we got stranded in London. That's real friendship stuff right there.

So imagine my delight when I found out that Sarah would be visiting Texas when I arrived. Only a few days after stepping off the plane in San Antonio, my blog buddy popped down from Austin and was sitting on my couch with me drinking wine and chatting. It was lovely, and it was beyond comforting to have her here with me. She was a connection to Le Petit Village and my old life, and she was here with me in Texas. It did wonders for the repatriation jitters.
{Texas blate food}
A week later, I was off on another blate, a first blate with Alex. Alex and I had been planning a Tex-Mex get together for a couple of months and we only had a small window of time to go on it. While I have just returned to America from my expat adventure, Alex's is only beginning... she's off to Australia to live with her Australian boyfriend.

It was surreal sitting across from Alex. It felt a bit like I was peering into a mirror at my younger self... a young women in her mid-twenties, full of hope, enthusiasm and anticipation, and embarking on an adventure to a foreign land and to love. It seemed all so familiar.

As we chowed down on fajitas washed them down with a Dos Equis (ahhh... Texas, you taste so good), I grew more and more excited as I listened to Alex tell me about her plans and what she thinks life in Melbourne might have in store for her. And truth be told, I grew a tad envious too... oh to be starting out on that journey again! But, I've got my own journey to continue on, the repatriation journey. It's not nearly as dazzling, I can assure you, but it's mine.

As a dedicated publish button pusher, Alex will be blogging about her fantastic new adventure Down Under on her blog Mutual Weirdness. You should check it out and become blogging buddies... you never know when you might find yourself in Australia looking for a blate.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Last Days of The LPV

My last days in The LPV whooshed by. I was busy; suitcases needed to be packed, bits and pieces had to be sold, given away and moved out, and goodbyes needed to be said. I was sad, but after six months of preparations, ready to go.

Because my move date was closing in, and I was a spinning top barely able to catch my breath, I made a point of snapping a photo or two every time I was out and about in the village. I was too busy to truly appreciate it all at the time so it was important that I captured it to savor later. Well it's later.

I have no idea what the story behind the unicorn that has tagged Le Petit Village is all about. I'm pretty sure our local tattoo artist painted it, but as for the significance behind it, I've got nothing. I dig it though and like to think a unicorn was chosen because that's The LPV's symbol. I honestly couldn't think of a better one. 

I'm actually going to miss walking into my yellow post office. Post offices should be painted cheery colors, it's a bit deceptive to be sure, but cheery nonetheless. Every time I accomplished something at La Poste (which doubled as our bank), I felt like I had slayed a mythical beast. It tried to better me on more than one occasion, but I remained victorious. Suck it La Poste, I own you. 

And of course I'm going to miss the creepy tree house behind my house. It became my favorite thing to show visitors... it's a medieval building that has been eaten by a tree for heaven's sake! How does that even happen?!

But what I'll miss the most in The LPV, is coming home to this door with Gregory and Fifty. There'll be other doors of course, other homes, more memories, but I doubt any will hold a handle to the quaintness of this one. It's too darn cute. 

There was one last thing that I knew I had to capture, the bells. The church bell at the top of my garden that clanged hourly, driving Fifty batty and ensuring that no one in our house ever slept past 7AM. Now I find myself straining to hear them toll. Clocks strike another hour and are met with nothing, no sound. It's downright un-Petit Village like. 


Friday, March 21, 2014

catching up on the things that I missed

{Representing The LPV in The TX}
Back in August, I wrote a post about some of the things I missed in the U.S. Truth be told, it was written about two weeks after we had made the decision to leave France. At the time my mind was swirling with thoughts and feelings, mostly nervous ones, and making a list of all the things that I would get to do once I set foot back on American soil felt like a pretty good way to chill out.

Well I've been 'home' for a little over two weeks now, and out of the eleven things on the list, I've already gotten to experience ten of them (as soon as I get back up New York, I'm checking 'deli' off my list right quick). Life hasn't been too shabby so far (except of course that I miss Gregory and Fifty something fierce) and to celebrate that lack of shabbiness, I thought I'd share a list of all the things that are making me happy. It seems like a nice thing to do on a Friday.

// T E L E V I S I O N !  Oh me oh my! So many channels, so many options, I will never run out of things to watch. There's one channel that shows like five back to back episodes of the Big Bang Theory every night. That's a lot of Sheldon Cooper! Luckily for me, I happen to like Sheldon Cooper. (It's actually more like a bizarre crush than a 'like'... shhh!)

// I have a closet! When I first moved to France I didn't have a closet. The second house we lived in had a small one, and my last house, none at all, not one in the whole house! It was a challenge to say the least. Now, not only do I have a big ol' closet but a bathroom with loads of cabinets and drawers. It's magnificent! Listen to me Americans... do not take anything for granted, not even closets.

// I've been clipping coupons like a woman possessed! I missed those things so much, they're like free money! I'm nowhere near 'couponer' status, but I'm still enjoying clipping and filing away my little money saving wonders. Attn: France... they're called coupons, look into it!

// I love French food, and I loved going out to eat in France, but I didn't love the strict dining hours. Of course I got used to it, but I'm really enjoying that I can go out for breakfast/ lunch/ dinner pretty much anytime that I want.

// Since I mentioned food... B R E A K F A S T !  And when I say, breakfast, I'm talking eggs and bacon people. Whether on a tortilla or just on the plate, I'm delighted to be able to have breakfast options beyond croissants and pains au chocolate. (But I do have to say that I saw some "croissants" yesterday in the grocery store and they made me want to cry because they were [insert air quotes] croissants, as in, they were barely recognizable to me #boohoo.)

// Shopping at Marshalls and TJ Maxx... ooh child! Gregory needs to hurry up and get here because because I need to be stopped! I can't help myself... the bargains, oh the fabulous bargains!

// I would be remiss if I didn't mention customer service. Maybe it's just because I'm in small town but it's freaking fantastic here. Last week my mother and I brought her in car to one of those express places for an oil change and inspection. There were a couple of other things that needed tweeking and it was going to take a few hours. One of the mechanics drove us home, and then came and picked us up when the car was ready but not before he washed it first. I told this story to Gregory and he almost passed out.

// Getting to spend time with old friends is a marvelous thing. Of course I haven't gotten to see everyone yet, but my first Friday here, I hung out with my bestie from high school and we hadn't seen each other for twelve years (while I was in Europe, she was in Vancouver... my crew likes to get around). But as it is with old friends, we might as well have been eighteen again the way we were chatting up a storm. Man I missed that.

// And one last thing that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with being back in the U.S. (well sorta because it's the catalyst behind it), but my new blog is under construction and is coming soon #holdontoyourhatskids

So tell me friends, what's making you happy on this Friday?


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

À bientôt Aix

I was lucky enough to squeeze in one last trip to Aix-en-Provence before leaving France. We had to pick up my brother at the TGV station there so we decided to stop by for one final whip around the charming city.

Up until that Tuesday, the weather had been glorious; a beautiful sun had blared in the the sky making it warm enough to sit outside even though it was only February. I thought that if the weather stayed so lovely for my goodbye to Aix, I'd be a lucky duck indeed. 

As we arrived at the TGV station and made our way to the platform, the temperature dropped and grey clouds covered the sun as a cold wind whooshed. The weather went from being on the brink of spring, to dreary winter in a heartbeat. Oh well, I never had seen Aix under a grey sky before, and you know what, it's still every bit as beautiful. (Although cold, grey weather isn't exactly conducive to sipping Rosé outside... drats!)

Oh Aix! I don't even know what to say, I'm going to miss you so much, so very much. In fact, I'm going to miss you so much that I refuse to say goodbye, instead I will simply say, I'll see you soon. 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Gregory vs. The Eggs

Today is my fourth wedding anniversary and I'm about 5500 miles away from my husband. After I moved to France, I never thought that I would be doing the whole long distance thing again, but here we are; me at my mother's house in Texas and Gregory currently at this exact moment, somewhere on the road between Toulon and Clermont. C'est la vie!

In these past four years of marriage, I've learned a few things. One being that it is important to learn to love each others quirks. Take for instance Gregory's quirk of being a horrible cook. I'm talking beyond bad, ridiculously bad, barely capable of boiling water bad. I could let it bother, frustrate or irritate me beyond belief because for the next fifty years, I'm on dinner duty, but instead, I choose to sit back and enjoy the carnage. And today it gives me great pleasure to allow you to do the same.

The backstory: On a Sunday morning not too long before we left The LPV, Gregory declared he was going to make an omelette. I looked at him and raised an eyebrow. Then he said, "no, not an omelette, just eggs, normal." 

"What's normal?" I wanted to know.

"You know, in the pan." Apparently Gregory was going to make fried eggs. 

I watched him for a few seconds, I din't want to intercede, but when I saw him turn the stove up to ten, the highest setting, I had to step in. I reached over and said, "I'm just going to turn this down.

He let out a small huff and puff. 

"OK, I'm going to stand over here and not say anything, but if you want any help just ask." I said.

Another small huff and puff slipped out so I stepped back and let him get on with it, but not before realizing that I would be a fool not to capture the moment (you know, for educational, culinary purposes) and this is what happened...

Despite his ridiculous lack of cooking skills, I would give anything for him to be here in Texas with me right now. I'd even eat those eggs. 


Friday, March 14, 2014


{got salsa?}
It's been just over a week since I've been back in Texas now and all I can say is... actually I have no idea what to say. I'm pretty much swimming in culture shock. This is something I wasn't prepared for, like at all.

When I was younger, I traveled back and forth to Europe visiting family; Dublin, Ireland mostly, with the occasional stopover in London. Maybe the differences between Ireland and England and suburban New York weren't that great in the 80s, or maybe I was too young and too wrapped up in double-dutch and Punky Brewster to notice.

Of course in the ten years that I lived in Ireland and France I had made trips back to the States, about seven I think; four to New York and three to Texas. And for some reason the culture shock didn't seem to sink in then either. Maybe it was because I was looking at everything with excited 'I'm on vacation' eyes instead of 'this is my life now' eyes, and maybe it's all hitting me now because it's been two and a half years since I've been here last. Either way, I'm gobsmacked and a full on fish out of water.

The first thing that struck me when I arrived was the size of the vehicles. Now I get that I'm in Texas and that back in high school I dated boys that drove those big a** trucks, but holy moly, they're huge! I walked into the airport parking lot and felt downright Lilliputian. People are basically driving around in tanks, it's unsettling. I could hop in one of those jacked up Ford F-150s and drive right over my old Renault and terrorize all of Le Petit Village. (I just had the most amusing scenario flash through my mind... Run Honey Jr, run!)

Then there is the number of choices for everything... oh the choices! Texas may not hold a candle to France in the wine department, but if you're looking for salsa, well then you've come to the right place.

There are a bunch of other little things that I'll have to get used to... croutons in my salad (I forgot all about those), food portion sizes (it's fine, I'll take whatever I don't finish home with me), and monster sized drinks (I'm convinced people here must have to go tee-tee at all times).

I've eaten in restaurants three times since I've been back and I have to say, I'm not thrilled. Don't get me wrong, I love the super nice waitstaff (see below), the inexpensive options and being able to take a doggy bag home without judgement (or at all really), but what's with the rush? Going to a restaurant in France is a leisurely activity, here I feel like I'm on an assembly line. Lets slow it down. (Before I get a bevy of comments about this one, let me say that I do realize that Americans go out to eat more often and the act is usually more often about 'eating' as opposed to 'dining' and that if I don't want to be rushed I could go to a more formal restaurant. However, even with knowing this, it's still a big ol' shock for someone who has been living in France. Trust me on this.)

But the biggest cultural shock is the people. Now, I will never speak badly of the French, I love the French, I love France, I loved my time there, my French friends, and my French family,  but when it comes to French customer service... meh (of course there are always exceptions to every rule like this guy). Everybody here is so nice. SO NICE. Any confusion and culture shock shakes off me right quick as soon as I see a big smile followed by a "how are y'all doing today?" It's lovely and I like it.

So yeah, this is me at the moment. To sum up... big trucks are freaking me out (although I may or may not be planning a takeover of Le Petit Village in the near future), I'm indecisive and confused most of the time, and I can usually be found carrying a doggy bag and running off to tee-tee. But most of the time the answer to the question is, "I'm doing great, thank you for asking". 

And how are y'all doing today? 


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

ma fête d'au revoir

Oh Wine Bar, I think I'll miss you most of all.

I thought it was only fitting that my Le Petit Village goodbye party was held at the bar à vin, after all, I fell in love with the place the first time I stepped foot in it and had many a fun and memorable evening there. It was only fair that I bid it a proper adieu, as I would an old friend.  

The usual cast of characters were invited; Honey Jr and Honey's Honey, The Croupier, The Spaniard, Brother-in-Law and Child Bride, and The Londons. Everyone RSVP'd yes, and then at the last second dropped out for one reason or another; The Croupier's baby was fussy, The Spaniard couldn't get a babysitter (sheesh kids!), and Brother-in-Law and Child Bride were too hungover (#truestory). 

So at the very last minute, as in literally at like 8:30 (when the evening was planned for 8), we found out it was just five of us; Honey Jr, Honey's Honey, Mrs. London, Gregory and myself. But to be honest, I couldn't have been happier. Even after four years in France, a large table of people speaking French is a lot to contend with... a couple of quiet conversations fine, but multiple being shouted across a table can make my head spin. 

When we arrived I greeted Balthazar the cat and said hello (and goodbye) to all of my beautiful and delicious friends. 

Because the five of us were the only customers that evening we got to have The Sommelier's attention all to ourselves which meant I finally had a chance to ask him about the beautiful books that fill the back wall. He took a few down for a historical show and tell session.  

They had been his grandfather's and were akin to 'year in review' books full of all of the current events, happenings and gossip from the time, including the infamous marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. I was captivated! Flipping through those pages was like a scandalous frolic back through time, oohing and aahing with every page turn.  

Well, Mrs. London, Honey's Honey and I oohed and aahed anyway, Gregory and Honey Jr didn't ooh and aah until the whiskey came out. 


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Won't You Come See About Me

Well I made it, I'm in Texas! I've been here since Wednesday. (It should have been Tuesday but we got stuck in DC overnight due to all the bad weather the day before. I'm not complaining though, that night eating room service in my jammies while watching the CW was exactly what the doctor ordered.)

Before the move, I had it in my mind that I would have been blog ready by last Friday, HA! What was I thinking?! I'm tired, so, so tired. And not just jet lagged tired, just plain old tired. Not to mention being away from Gregory and Fifty and being out of my element has pretty much left me like a scatter brained nincompoop. But I wanted to check in, you know, let you know I made it, I'm alive, and well.

So stay tuned... Before you know it, I'll be back telling you tales of my last days in The LPV, of last trips to Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, and Toulon, and of a couple of days in gay Paree (you know, Paris).

And for the moment, just think of me as Sara in the Texas Hill Country and check me out on Instagram,  Twitter, and Facebook... I'll be back in a flash!

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