Being Prepared to be Unprepared and Joyeux Anniversaire à Nous en France

Look! I remember how to log into this blog! Which really calls more into question my password changing practices and not so much my memory…

So here I am a couple days after our anniversary of arriving in Paris… which let’s have a quick update and reflection:

Paris Season… 5ish…

So since last post:

  • Bought an apartment
That a big key!
That a big key!

I know other things have happened but seriously dudes that made my… year… decade… life.  Super happy in our own chez-nous in Paris. I keep thinking we will regret it when our loan payments come out each month but then. I just. don’t. Because it is friggin’ awesome.

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Anyway this takes a lot of effort and much of our life has been a bit saturated with home-needs. We started looking last February, our offer was accepted last April, everything was official in September and we have been living here since October.  Since then lots of home projects which eventually I may share with you kind internet blog black-hole.

Other newssss:

  • Still at the same job! I speaka the French every day! And I am now moving into a new position. 😀 In the last year the product I work on has launched in France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and Austria! In addition, we have released a major project which was a collaboration with the Irish team. And soon we launch in the UK and Ireland. Boy this past year at work has been… eventful and unbelievable! Lots of stress and responsibility but very rewarding and I have gotten to travel a bit with the job and work with other nationalities which is my favorite part.
  • All our siblings are married off! Which meant 3 trips to the US in the last year.
  • Still teaching dance on the side but not dancing as much as we would like
  • Returning back to Yoga thanks to the awesome Affordable Yoga Fitness.
  • Still loving France
  • Learned how to roll sushi.
  • Family came to visit and we have spent quite a bit of time in Loire lately.  And look forward to more family and Loire in the future! Life is good.
  • Plotting my next adventures thinking to take some time in Spain as I take back up Spanish (because I am loca) and Asia (I know big… but I am open)

Moral of the Story: Being an Expat = Prepare to Not be Prepared (AKA Adultness)

I will not bore you more with my Sheila News of the Year but leave you with a tidbit of reflection (still a high chance of boredom could arise).

Easy for you to say… you are a lion

Being an expat/transplant/immigrant (because let’s get real ‘expat’ is just a white privilege fancy word for immigrant) has ‘gotten easier’ as in I am now used to not being used to things.

Moving to a new country, is relearning everything (when perhaps you had not already figured everything else out in your old country) instead now you must do it again in 1 or 2 years rather than 18.

Imagine:

  • Registering/applying so you may be allowed to live there and work (a bit of the expat birth)
  • learning to speak (in the case of moving to a country with a new language)
  • learning about doctors, police, laws, social rules, where to buy random things that before never were a question like… the metal thing you put in your drain to catch stuff or Birthday cards
  • obtaining your driver’s license
  • Social Security subscription
  • Translation of all documents: marriage and birth certificates to prove you exist
  • Asking yourself questions you never thought you would have to like: ‘Will I be socially shunned if I slice the cheese in this fashion?’
    • The answer is Yes.

Now add a layer of figuring out HOW and WHERE to do the above with the vocabulary of a 2 year old.

This face a lot. Photo by Marilyn Suarez of ME!
This face a lot. Photo by Marilyn Suarez of ME!

I have not learned just how to ‘to be French’ but I have learned HOW to learn.

So I advise you several things:

  • Get used to it… the sooner you accept things will be hard and learn adapting/problem solving skills the better.
  • I know you love your expat friends and they are a great comfort and resource as they know and have done what you have done, but also meet locals! Really just meet as many people as possible. They add to your experience and comfort the blow.

Now on year 4 starting… things feel easier but then BAM! New life experience demands awkwardness/growth (now things that I have never done even back in the US that are just adult responsibility evolutions).  Like filing taxes as a home owner!

Expat Pokemon Evolve! photo thanks to http://blip.tv/gameexchange/the-pokemon-x-and-y-french-connection-game-exchange-6700852
Expat Pokemon Evolve!
photo thanks to http://blip.tv/gameexchange/the-pokemon-x-and-y-french-connection-game-exchange-6700852

And then suddenly Expatness feels a little less a state only for us sorry/masochist types that have immigrated more like just like…

Adult Life

– S

 

 

Finding yourself after Finding Yourself + A Life Update

Life Update

So my life has gone through… changes.  Where am I now, almost a year ago since the last post?

meandaug
On a recent trip to Amsterdam – Photo by Marilyn Suarez
  1. Got a new job nine months ago!  At a French company!  In French!  So my French speaking abilities have gone from “poor” to “workable but still shameful”. ;p  Seriously though it is going very well.  Another new intense challenge but worth it.
  2. Everyone in my family ever is getting married.  Which is awesome.  And that means trips back to the US to see them.  We have another this coming October!
  3. I am in the process of finalizing the buying of an apartment. *fingers crossed*.

Honestly, with how stressful and insecure things were for us for so long in France (whether I shared them on the internetz or not) I was not sure I would ever find this stability again.  And WHAM now after a lot of hard work I am on stable ground. *touch wood – as they say here*

 

Selfie after my last Visa Renewal.  Eiffel Tower in the back, if you squint.
Selfie after my last Visa Renewal. Eiffel Tower in the back, if you squint.

And I am happy.  Obviously we are also planning on sticking around for the long run.

Next Steps – Refinding Yourself

When you move to a foreign country (or anywhere) to find yourself, often you find yourself… in respect to your native country.

Self Questioning as an Expat

For at least the first two to three years you have one line of questioning…

How does this new experience compare to my previous in your old country?  And how should you react?

This post needs more photos, so there you go. Photo by Marilyn Suarez
This post needs more photos, so there you go, me and my husband on a train.
Photo by Marilyn Suarez

You are not finding yourself, but finding who you are as an expat from your native country and who you should be in your new country.  You become a walking stereotype and diplomat.

Then you either go home, move on to a new country or stay.

Moving on to the root question, “Who are you?”

if you stay, it is at this point (which you will reach at least by the 3 year mark as we all know Love Only Lasts 3 Years), where you start to sift through all the noise, stereotypes and confusion to figure out who YOU are and not who your country is (the new or native).

I am there now.

I love my life, my friends, my city and still appreciate my roots.  But I have taken on too much and I also have taken on too much the persona of an ‘Expat’.  Which was useful and necessary for the original transition but now is old and tired.

Photo by Corey Maynard
Photo by Corey Maynard

While being a transplant will ALWAYS affect me.  I do not want that to be me.  When I am introduced I do not want to be, ‘Sheila the American who lives in Paris’.

I want to be ‘Sheila the mobile application designer’ or ‘Dancer’ or ‘Poet’ or ‘Lover of fine cheeses’ or ‘Life Long Learner’. Or whatever I find to be my true focus. It could even be ‘Sheila the woman that loves Paris’

It is not a shedding of my national identity because I am ashamed, it is just not hiding behind it.

Plus it’s too easy

To say… I reason like this because I am American.  Yes, I am sure that is true to an extent.

But why?  Not all Americans think the same.  So why in particular do I reason like this?

Because I am me.

But who am I?

Photo by Marilyn Suarez
Photo by Marilyn Suarez

And that is nothing an astonishing view of the Eiffel Tower or a buttery croissant can tell you.  Unless you find time to self reflect while enjoying them.

– S

Author’s Note:  It may seem contradictory to post this sort of post on an Expat Blog. And you are probably right.

Now where were we? – Paris Life – Season 4?

[Insert another Blog start opening blurb]

Introducing my newly branded (rough-draft) and moved expat blog (albeit in potentially perpetual beta mode). Really only the logo design is done. ;p

oooo look at that logo
Translation: American Flowers in Paris

First you must know that the Learning Machine, still exists but will be solely be professional or nontravel/expat ramblings. While this new little niche shall be my hide out for all the things I find fit to share in my growth as an American abroad in Paris.

While I have not been writing here for months now… I have been digesting and figuring out life in Paris.  It has been a labor of love which I am becoming ready to share.  So we will see how these little writings will make their debut to the world and how often.  But we might as well get started.

Carpé journée.

Life Update

Now where were we? Season 3, looking back at the archive.  I have now been amid what I would consider Season 4 for quite a while.

Austin is in a new job.  We have moved at least two times since last time I wrote, now living in upper 11th of Paris or lower Belleville neighborhood.  We were able to take our first real vacations in years, traveling to the Mediterranean and Sweden.

Stockholm was pretty - August 2013
Stockholm was pretty – August 2013

I took a professional pause to work on my French and some personal projects (including a non-profit dance exchange in Paris which welcomed over 200 dancers from around the world). And now I am back on the “find a job I can be passionate about (preferably in French)” train. Going well despite I decided to board this train in the summer time a.k.a. unemployed deadman’s land.

Still I am optimistic and have been talking with a couple exciting companies that hopefully I will get to announce in the coming months once the living return to Paris.

Overall life as an expat (especially in the last month) has semi-smoothed out, especially due to my gained proficiency in French, seeking stability and simplifying my commitments.

And of course we love Paris more than ever.

Napoleon graffiti agrees (spotted in Paris)
Napoleon graffiti agrees (spotted in Paris)

Though we have not had electricity for the past week and a half… but that is a post for another time.

After School Special

What have I learned so far this Season? Let’s make this semi-educational.

EXPAT LIFE LESSON #121: Hey man, you are already an expat… do not take on the rest of the world as well.

Not a fancy picture but a genuine one. Taken when we decided one night to take a break, picnic on the Seine overlooking the Eiffel Tower, and take a moment to appreciate what we have and why we work so hard to keep it.
Not a fancy picture but a genuine one. Taken when we decided one night to take a break, picnic on the Seine overlooking the Eiffel Tower, and take a moment to appreciate what we have and why we work so hard to keep it.

Simplify, delve into your new life and concentrate on some (read: not all) positive and productive activities!

Because this is not your past life, you have a new obligatory hobby: Figuring out a new culture, language and way of life.

Until the next post – S

 

 

Ode to My Husband – Love Nest Abroad and Some Fish

Love Expats Style

Some might say that moving aboard can be the worse thing you can do for your relationship.  Or really any major move or life change is tough in a four-legged race… let’s be fair.

For me it has been the best thing I could have done.  As I now appreciate my husband more than I could ever express in a silly little blog rambling.  I am learning to trust in him, see him for the man he is and not take him for granted, not even for one second.

I am so ever grateful that I made this move with Austin.  He is my constant (Lost style ;p).  Life abroad is not all travel, cheese and ease.  I have my down moments of self doubt where I cannot tell the paperwork from the oak trees.  But he always seems to find me no matter how low I get.

301795_10150908522578286_923767118_n
Harry and Sally Meets Good Wine

We had worked together before but moving to a 27 square meter apartment, working at the same long hour jobs (two now), teaching dance together (in french) and relearning to how to live (french style) definitely has been a challenge.

294734_10100565175605402_6778280_n
Our first real apartment in Paris.

I have now reached the point where I see my fellow expats leave, those that came around the time we came (my “expat class” as I call it).  It is sad though we all have our reasons.  Some came planning only to stay a couple months.  Some have found better opportunities. Some just do not like it. And Paris is definitely not a city to stick with if it is not the right fit.  I am not too sure I would still be here if I did not have Austin. (And a few dozen friendly french strangers and friends a like).

Had to keep your head low in our little studio.
Had to keep your head low in our little studio.

We definitely have progressed greatly since our arrival in Paris, in our temporary 17 square meter apartment or when the machine ate my credit card on the first day.  We have progressed enough so that I can fondly look back at some of our earlier now-funny struggles.  I will not say we have stability now but we are gaining comfortability… and we have come a long way.

And I am glad this has been a partner marathon.

Thanks

Austin and I moved to France 6 months into our marriage and 5.5 years into our relationship.  For those who know our wedding date (the binary for 42), you know we love Douglas Adams and our wedding abounded in references to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

74210_957658093350_6500828_n
Shot near Notre Dame from our honeymoon visit to Paris. Where we continued to fall in love with each other and this city.

Today I stumbled upon a reading that I had to share and my relation to it.  It is a mix between how I felt: the first time we kissed, at our wedding and during our first year in Paris (in the apartment where you could barely swing a cat).

Enjoy and Thanks Austin.

From Douglas Adams’ “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish”

There was a sort of gallery structure in the roof space which held a bed and also a bathroom which, Fenchurch explained, you could actually swing a cat in, “But,” she added, “only if it was a reasonably patient cat and didn’t mind a few nasty cracks about the head. So. Here you are.”

“Yes.”

They looked at each other for a moment.

The moment became a longer moment, and suddenly it was a very long moment, so long one could hardly tell where all the time was coming from.

For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone long enough with a Swiss cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation. He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who wakes one morning to find the door of his cage hanging quietly open and the savanna stretching gray and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking.

He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.

He hadn’t realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones until it now said something it had never said to him before, which was,

“yes.”

– S

And Meow For Something Completely Different

First Watch This

Done?  Okay good… Now read this.

Bask in the glory that is a video of a cat meowing the theme of a popular tv about dragons and stuff.

Now bask in the fact that you have this opportunity at all… the internet (for those lucky enough to enjoy it) is the pinnacle of luxery and awesomeness.  And basically free vs the amount we pay and what we gain from it (though some would argue hours of funny animal videos on demand has no intrinsic value).

Still we do important stuff on there as well… like further technology, humankind and stuff.

It is an invisible omnipresent “box” of awesome.

What would Maud think?

I sometimes wonder what a person from the middle ages would think about the internet… Let alone just as far back as my late grandfather Dido.

“You mean you spend hours on a magical box which has the power to calculate the meaning of life ? But is used mostly for living pictures of cats meowing songs from another magical box called a TV (and naked pictures)?  

Now excuse me, I need to go survive the bubonic plague…”

What will I think?

What further farcical inventions will our children invent? Can’t wait…

I took the liberty of illustrating the future for you… You are welcome. Introducing “Meow-wavesTM”

“You mean a tentacle that you suck onto your left elbow which transfers smells to your shoulder (how we will smell in the future) so that you may fully enjoy the gelatinous laser cats puppetshow (and naked pictures)?

Now excuse me, I need to go survive the NEObubonic plague…”

Excellent – S

P.S.

Also required/related watching (unless you hate swearing or are at work). Love Louis CK.

[REVIEW] Cosmopolis – Digested and Respected

And now a review of Cosmopolis because a status on my Facebook was not enough…

I have been watching a lot of movies lately thanks to my handy dandy UGC card. And afterwards I have been reviewing them very briefly on my facebook wall (I am lame). I tried that with David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis… but it was just too difficult. So much to say… It’s that kind of movie.

I honestly am not very well versed in David Cronenberg’s style/movies as I am pretty sure this is the first one I have seen. So this perhaps will be a useful to other Cronenberg philistines like me.

Enough of that… Quick! Plot Synopsis! Go!

Eric Parker (Robert Pattinson) is a young billionaire tech/financial/genius guy. It’s not a very good day for him as his life spirals out of control.

The movie is artfully and of course purposefully, based primarily in Parker’s limo.  He is among but withdrawn from the people, sealed off with cork so that he does not hear the outside world… much. Parker meets with the people in his life as he slowly is driven to go get a hair cut.

Also, it is a commentary on Capitalism.

Weird huh?  It is.

See it!  Or not…

Cosmopolis is a mind meld or a mind “f***” to be crude about it. As I am told it is typical Cronenberg style, as the king of venereal horror (fancy talk for body/mind horror).

Cosmopolis is not a normal “enjoyable” movie, though you may find it enjoyable.  The trailer will trick the masses into seeing it (as it makes it out to be some cool action/NINesque music video flick) but the masses will not enjoy it.

Even in France, a nation known for dry drawn out movies and polite patient audiences, there was a mass exodus in 15 minute intervals. At least 10% of the people left.

But even if you do not enjoy it… I argue you should respect it.  It is an exercise of the mind. Something not so enjoyable for those who went to the movies for escape (after all we have plays and books for thinking!)

In fact, it feels very much like an esoteric play, especially given the style of acting which is wooden like a poorly rehearsed play.  But I can only assume Cronenberg wanted this from his actors.

Very dry. Very disconnected. At first very alientating… but in the end perfect for the reality of the film.  Because that is what it is… disconnected “slice” (I cringe to say that cliché) of realities on either ends of the economic scale.

How to enjoy this film

You will hate this movie until you accept its weirdness.  Like the main character Parker, you must observe the passing world.

And afterwards you may find yourself needing to “digest” the film. Austin and I walked home instead of biked just so we could discuss it.

Digest it, think about it afterwards, bring a friend so you may discuss it later: but during it, just hang on to each word and observe.

The acting… did Pattinson sparkle?

Robert Pattinson… was really good in it, or maybe the “plasticness” of the acting style necessary for this movie fit his style of acting. Actually though it made me want to check out his following flicks.

I must say I found myself impressed with his bed eye acting style (well really… perhaps “romanced by it” is a better turn of phrase).  I understand why the girls swoon.  He has sexual magnetism even when getting an anal check up (pretty good scene actually!) or hugging a big burly black man.

On other actors not named Pattison

Some really grade A acting overall: intense and funny at parts.

You get to know the characters in passing… there is little to no explaination and you may fall behind if you do not pay attention to the nuances of each line… it really is a quite unforgiving film.

You may not even realize who the characters are until well after they are off screen.

But still the characters, each basically in their own strange vignette as they come into contact with the main character, are interesting and on the whole very well acted.

I especially enjoyed Paul Giamatti‘s (though usually he is not my style) and Samantha Morton‘s performances.

[ELITISM ALERT] And another thing…

After reading some reviews… this is going to sound really bad. But if you think this movie is poorly constructed, its probably because you didn’t understand it… And this probably threatened you.

You don’t have to love or even enjoy this movie but you should respect it.

So in the end?

I have convinced myself the more I think about it… I really enjoyed the mental exercise that is Cosmopolis.

I dare you to try it – S

Life in Paris Season 3 – Living the American Dream in Paris

 

On the Seine - Picture by My Wonderful Mother
Us - Season 3

So here we are!

Parisian life Part/Year Deux.. but we in the Suarez-Flores household call it Season 3, as far as Parisian life changes go.  We have been back around a month now, after our trip to the US, but with the flourish of guests… our work schedule… and settling back in, I have barely had a moment to breath let a lone write.

Season 1 was our first job. Season 2 was the move to unemployment and then quickly luckily into new employment.  Season 3… is what I shall call… actually settling into Parisian life.

But first some reflection and advice… Primarily: Learn the language.

So what is life like?

  • We work a lot.
  • We eat a lot.
  • We walk everywhere.
  • We teach dance weekly.
  • We travel when we can.
  • We fumble around with French.

Really not much different from Season 2… but it feels different.

The Difference

Well, the big difference is where my head is at. I am fed up.

Before, with so much uncertainty, it was okay to be confused at all times… It was okay to frown but accept weird charges on my phone bill.  It was okay, to be at odds at all times. It was okay, to accidentally order three soups instead of two. Why? Because we were new here and this is what we took as the cost of being an expat in a country where the language was not our native one.

My mother and I sont les ignorants.
"Les ignorants voyagent à Paris!" - My Mother and I posing for our favorite inside joke.

In fact, being back in the US for those 3 weeks it felt WEIRD to finally not be uncomfortable at all times  (which is a post for another time).  Not a complaint… but it made me laugh how used I had gotten to being uncomfortable.

And now I am back.. and I no longer want to be uncomfortable… I am sick of being apologetic and akward. I want a “normal” Parisian life (which will always include apology and formality I realize, as is their way).  I want my old confidence back in my surroundings… I want..

I want the American Dream!

The American Dream in Paris is to blend in.  To order wine with ease.  To meld with your sometimes bewildering French colleagues (because trust me… working in a different country is well, different). To be able to complain about the weather with your fellow boulangerie patrons. Perhaps, it is not the dream for some of the famed ugly american tourists, but it truly is for us Expats that have fallen in love, figured out how to move here and now call this mystical/sometimes mythical place home.

We want to be French.

Karma.. Karma... Chinese Lion
Me, as the social chameleon.

Or at least succeed at becoming French for our time here.

And right now, despite the support of my French and international friends I have yet to achieve that comfortability.

And its my fault.

Í have yet to achieve it because I do not know the language fluently.

There are jaded and not so jaded expatriates that will tell you otherwise about achieving this dream of fitting in… They will tell you that Paris is for the French.  That you will never fit in. I have heard this on several occasions.

Well, first of all I do not want to fit in with those types of exclusive Parisians, which I know those exist.  I just want to be able to live my life normally and interact with them if need to but otherwise interact with the awesome accepting/welcoming/funny French/Parisians that I have met.

But I will never feel at ease here until I learn the language…

Until I see a charge on my phone bill and then can call up and speak in French and explain and get although probably begrudging… but at least palpable… assistance to fix it. Or at least understand what they say when they hang up on me.

My cable has been on and off broken now for a year… And I live in fear of speaking to a human to fix it.

This is not I!

So I must learn French… I want to… I always have… but with not working in French, I have not made the effort enough outside of work to become fluent.  I am fine… I can mumble out some food words… or talk to a foreign french speaker.

But that is not enough.  As I live in fear of probably 95% of potential interactions I may have with the populace on a given day.  I need to get this down to at least a solid 25%.  Because it is isolating and damned uncomfortable.

SO THAT IS MY VOW.

So young... so strong...
Us on our Honeymoon 1.5 years ago at Place Saint-Michel - Ready to conquer... So young.

I will conquer you Paris… and your beautiful mystifying and sometimes odd sounding but beautiful language.  I will gnaw on the metaphorical skull that is your language.

And how! No really… how?

I have some tools I want to share in detail later but basically:

  1. Devouring all culture possible in French only.  Bought us an unlimited movie pass for two people for 35EUR a month!
  2. Only French spoken now at home (no joke).
  3. Flashcards… lots of digital flashcards.
  4. Reading fun stuff in French on my kindle, thanks to the help of a french dictionary I installed on it. Should probably switch to a French to French dictionary…
  5. Actually talking to people in French. Like a real person!
  6. Listening to podcasts as much as humanely possible, all in french.
  7. Hope to start journaling in French soon.
  8. Finishing my grammar lessons at home… (also a pending todo)
Really just making myself do it.. And already only a week into it.  There is a difference.
Any way here I go…

Allons !- S

The Unconventional Naturally “Spicy” Salad

My need for lightness + veggies + balsamic vinegar + SPICE (PUT SPICE IN ALL THINGS!) lead to….

 

Spicey Salad of the Gods
Unconventional Naturally Spicy Salad of Wonder!


This salad was invented by my husband and actually only has one conventionally “spicy” thing in it (can you spot it?).  The rest are veggies that just naturally have that zing.  Not only is this salad intellectually and thematically interesting.. but its tasty too!

 

Ingredients/Steps for One Serving

 

Basically cut up and add to a bowl in this order… AS PER USUAL: I no good at this measurement thing… so best judgement is need.

  • Two handfuls of Roquette (Argula) – (WOW, the english wiki has nothing on roquette… So here is the french one, look at the pretty pictures) Mixed greens can be substituted if necessary.  But roquette has a zing that completes the salad.  Edit: Thanks, Cliff!  It’s called Argula in the states.
  • Cubed half of a tomato
  • 1/8 of an onion sliced – Three slices about
  • Handful of julienned radish – Small red ones or large white one
  • 1/4 julienned zuchinni (optional) – Not sure if this adds anything but it was in my fridgerater and hence in the picture above. Just more greenery! Sliced cap mushrooms are also a nice neutral complement.
  • 1/3 cup cubed feta (optional) – Optional only if you want to save some calories.  OTHERWISE ROCK THAT FETA! I like the basil, olive oil soaked type… but any will do!
  • 1/4 cup Hot wasabi fried peas (optional) – Okay, not really optional. Because they are awesome. But I suppose you can save some calories again by cutting them out.   I prefer the spicy wasabi ones but you can get them non-wasabi’d.
  • Dress with 1 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsps of balsamic vinegar – I actually like to use the olive oil from the jar feta. 🙂
  • A couple dashes of ground pepper on top – Do not even bother if its not fresh ground pepper.
So voila!  The radish, onion and roquette are “spicy” or zingy naturally.  And with the crunchy spicy wasabi peas, balsalmic and ground pepper on top, they are perfectly complimented.  It is a simple but very satisfying salad!
To be fair though, I find celery spicy. – S

NOM-wegian Shocker Salad of Nom – Fried Potatoes A Top

Austin calls it the Shocker (don’t sue us Dane Cook) because it’s shockingly good.  I call it the Nom-wegian.  But here is Austin and I’s take on the popular Norwegian Salad served in a lot of restaurants in Paris.  Norwegian Salads are usually denoted by a plethora of seafood on top of the salad, where our version just has succulent smoked salmon atop (one of the principles of frenching it up.)

Sorry I need to take better pics…  Trust me it looks as good as it tastes.  Also, this picture is pre-dressing.

This salad was one of our first attempts to make a Parisian salad.  I encouraged Austin to put potatoes on it and he said IT CANNOT BE DONE.  And I told him I DON’T TAKE “IT CANNOT BE DONE” FOR AN ANSWER.  Result = NOM and Austin being wrong (SEO that).

Ingredients for One

Gonna try to make these measurable but I am one of the type of cooks that cooks by the heart and with no scientific reasoning.

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup of cubed potato (Half one of those brown ones?)
  • Half cup of diced onion (Quarter of a big yellow onion?)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper (This best be ground pepper!)
  • Diced half of one dried chili peper (Best thing in my arsenal! You MUST get a bag down at the asian marke. So cheap and lasts for ages and can/should be put it in EVERYTHING!)
  • 1 tbsp aioli sauce 
  • 3 tbsps Balsalmic Vinegar
  • 2 cups roquette or preferred lettuce/mixed green
  • Half of an avocado cubed
  • Half of a tomato cubed
  • Strip of smoked salmon (even better if its the kind with herbs on the outside)
  • Quarter cup of small cube feta cheese
  • Optional but delicious: Poached egg

The Nitty Gritty

  1. Heat up a pan and when hot put in the olive oil.
  2. Add the potatoes and onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook slowly on low for 20-30 minutes (longer for bigger chunks, done when a fork easily pierces the potatoes).  Mix often. This is the majority of/the only cook time. PRO TIP: Add Srircha sauce and diced garlic.  
  3. While this cooks cut up the rest of your veggies.  
  4. Have a beer.  
  5. Ten minutes before your done cooking you can start building your mega salad.  
  6. Dressing: Add in a small bowl your dried pepper, balsalmic and aioli and mix well.  It will be clumpy… so may have to whisk that baby.
  7. In a large bowl (make it big!) add your washed roquette or preferred greenery.
  8. Add your tomatoes and avocado.
  9. Slap your fried potato onions on there.
  10. Salmon on top of that.
  11. EGG
  12. Sprinkle with feta.
  13. Drizzle on the dressing.  Start with a little because you may not need much.
  14. NOM
Voíla! – S

Life in Paris the 2nd Season

So with the start of Fall comes changes for Austin and me.   We have had a wonderful albeit sometimes difficult first 5 months in Paris.  And now the next adventure… we quit our jobs!

Not going to go into why or details or such.  Smartdate was an AWESOME experience, in which we treasure our time there.  And I hope with our new found time I can blog about what I learned/did there.  In fact, I hope to write a whole bunch more about my time in Paris!  I really will miss all our wonderful internationally eclectic coworkers.  But it was time to move on and we now will just have to see them after work hours!

Move on to what?

 

Not sure… It could even take us away from Paris.  We are considering many options though we dearly hope to stay in Paris.  It can be a frustrating and expensive city but one of such beauty and quiet excitement.  Just exhilarating!  Also, with how much we have invested in learning the culture and language… we just aren’t ready to leave yet.  And without counting our eggs its looking hopeful.

Since our last day at Smartdate now over a week ago, Austin and I have kept very busy indeed.  I have secured a freelance job with some others in the works.  Otherwise we both are just honing our skills (french, code & otherwise), getting active again and just enjoying some balance!

To help organize our time we created these lists to live by…  Which if you know me… you know I love lists!

Daily Todo:

  • Be Active (at least take a walk)
  • French Practice
  • Relax ;p
  • At least four hours working on projects/learning
  • Read some professional articles
  • Read the news 
  • Floss

Weekly Todo:

  • Blog one article
  • Dance
  • Explore Paris
  • Practice our Music Instruments

A little something on tough decisions…

 

I think more than ever Austin and I are okay with really just taking a chance!  We thought we were before when we quit our jobs in Florida. But in the end still took a comfortable position (albeit in France).  But to then quit our jobs in Paris in search of the next step, was even harder.  Scarier. But exciting!

As humans we never know if the decisions we are making are the right ones.  We can only just make them and not look back.

I sometimes watch for “signs”.  As to if what I about to do is correct.  Not necessarily superstitious but in an empirical data kind of way.

Still this in itself scary.  What if I interpret the signs or evidence wrong?  Perhaps the bad luck means I should stay rather than leave (For example the week that we quit our jobs we also locked ourselves out of our apartment, my computer died and I got sick…)! What if it is all a red herring?

What if… what if…

Anyway… I am sure I’ll have more to post on this in the future.  Right now we are happy and moving forward!

Our little foray into unemployment could last a week.  Or it could last a year!  Luckily due to the internet we’ll keep busy.

Thank god for the internet! – S