Saturday, January 08, 2005

my brain hurts

Yesterday afternoon, we went back to the prefecture again, and got the sticker placed in my passport (titre de sejour) that says I can live and work here. Now I'm good until September, when we'll have to go back and have it renewed again for one year. After that, I have the option of having it renewed for ten years, or applying for French citizenship. As I've been told that applying for French citizenship means relinquishing my American citizenship, I'll be opting for the ten year plan, but that's not for another year and a half, so right now I'm more preoccupied with looking for work.

I've had the right to work since I got here - well since two days after I got here when we started the titre de sejour process - but it's been very slow going. Obviously the thing holding me up is the fact that I'm not fluent in French (yet, she added hopefully). I've applied to two companies, one of which didn't even bother to send back a rejection letter. The next step is to register with an employment agency.

Unfortunately, I'm growing more and more frustrated with my poor French and not really knowing what's going on around me, despite the encouragement I get from my extended family and those I communicate with regularly in the two choirs I sing in. If you've never been in this situation, it may sound ridiculous, but just sitting in a room where people are speaking a different language and you're struggling to understand and always having to be "on" is extremely exhausting. It seems like I'm always tired, and I'm constantly asking myself, "Why? I haven't really done anything today." Unless you count sitting through a two hour rehearsal and trying to understand instructions of upcoming rehearsals and details about upcoming concerts. I'm finding myself turning my brain "off" (meaning, letting my mind wander or not concentrating so hard) more and more in the middle of conversations, which I hate because, not only is it rude, it's dangerous, since I could be missing important information.

Oh, please, understand, I'm not complaining (well, trying not to). I know it's going to get better. Conversation is becoming slightly easier. I'm making a more concentrated effort to study more. I really need a break. Luckily, Squishy is coming back tomorrow from her travels in the country, and I can rattle off in English as fast as I like for a couple of days. I can't even tell you how fantastic it was to have her here last weekend, not only to catch up with one of my dearest friends, but I felt so much better having let my brain relax for a change!

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