Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thankful

I spent my eleventh Thanksgiving (twelfth if you count the time I was in Holland) away from home.  As usual, I did a mini Thanskgiving meal with turkey breasts and a bit of sauce.  This year though I'm very lucky to have been invited to a Friends-giving by my US expat friend.  I'm making cornbread dressing for the first time in my life.  This was one of my grandma's favorite things to make if my memory serves well.  Also making a pumpkin pie and contributing some cranberry sauce that I had in my cupboard.  The hostess searched high and low for fried onions to make green bean casserole.  These are now available in France.  The brand is called Kuhn and she found it in the "foreign" section of the store next to the Mexican and Chinese food!

So like so many other Americans at this time of year I'm trying to remember what I have in my life and what I am thankful for.

Friends and family!  I'm glad to have a support group of friends in France that make the distance from my US family a bit more bearable.  My little girl, of course!  My hubby (despite my gripes...) who does have his good side.  My family in the US who has listened to all my sufferings with such patience and been there for me through it all.

My cutie pie doing her poser smile!

Fall colors that never fail to move me.  I may get a bit down in the fall but the changing colors are still magical to me no matter how many times I see them.  

Can't help it, such gorgeous colors on cobblestones (and cigarette butts).


I could snap a million pictures like this and it would never be enough. 


Things I'm looking forward to like...going home for Christmas!  I think that's been part of the secret of not being too down this fall- the prospect of my upcoming US trip.  It sure helps beat the blues a bit.

Great colleagues and a job that keeps me in contact with people.  I may not be totally doing what I set out to (that is, lab stuff).  And maybe I'll get more in gear for looking for those type of jobs when I get back from my trip.  But in the meantime I'm thankful to have a better workload (thus better pay) and, as always, the best coworkers in the WORLD!  Sure makes getting up in the morning easier. 

So I'll end with a quote I should remember more often: "Stop your complaining/leave me defenseless/gonna love this life!"   (Virtual points to the first who finds the author...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Part Two of Dichotomy of a Good Girl

Continuation of Dichotomy of a Good Girl

Months after I would think about that little evening in the student house fondly.  How Remi had timidly touched my arm to ask if I had freckles like another redhead he knew.  It was innocent enough, but I wondered if he was the slightest bit interested in me.  In my most hopeful moments I flattered myself that maybe he was. 

Back in the US after my internship I pined away, not just for him, but the fun times I'd had in Holland.  I had felt freer in Holland in some ways, free to explore another side of myself, perhaps to escape from what others expected of me.  I was definitely still a good girl, but one who could let loose, too.

The French boy and I started exchanging emails and chatting online and one day when I kept telling myself, you've got to be kidding yourself that there could be anything more than a penpal here, I wrote something  that would change my destiny.  I figured this thing had run its course and as a way of saying "goodbye" I said, well, if you're ever in the US, I'll be happy to be your guide.  And I thought that would be the end of it. 

And darned if he didn't write back that he'd checked out prices on flights to Alabama.  In the end it was New York (far more touristic than my city) where we met for a week in December 2001 and where two relatively shy people realized there was maybe more to our friendship than we'd dared to hope. 

We vowed to make it work, to find a way for me to come to France.  It was very unlike me, straight-laced, homesick me who'd chosen a university just two hours away from home instead of more prestigious ones which were eight hours away.  It was perhaps in part the fact that this was so out of character for me that it attracted me to the idea.

Eleven years later, the initial haze of infatuation and discovering a new culture and country have of course faded.  I've settled into the routine and am likely to roll my eyes at my hubby (for he is now my husband) for requesting a sauce with his meat or grumbling that we don't buy wine often enough.  The good girl is still there but has a tougher skin and is starting to speak up more when things bother her, at work or at home or at the in-laws.  But I still have moments where my good girl complex makes me bite my tongue and when I wish I could lash out, sing out, tell people to "talk to the hand"! 

Some people would call me quiet, but I'd say they don't know me well enough. I certainly feel there is a lot of chatter in my head!  I sometimes feel like surprising people.  It's not that I want to be a "bad girl" or even a Bond girl (or just for one night ;p) but just free to be whoever I want. 

So to all my fellow "good girls" out there, pamper yourself, dance on your coffee table and make yourself happy!  Good girls shouldn't finish last.