Thursday, February 25, 2010

vivi's first rude Frenchman

Yesterday I was dealing with a client at work, and when he gave me his name I didn't understand it at first, so I asked him to repeat it. When I finally understood it, he said, "Yes, well I speak French, we are, after all, in France, where we speak French. Although if I went to England I would have a rough time, har har!"

What I wanted to say:

"Yes, thank you, Mr. Le Pen*."

"Yes, that's why they hired me, because they couldn't find any French people that could speak to our international clients."

"Yay, I finally found my first actual rude Frenchman!"

What I actually said:

Just as I was biting through my tongue, my boss walked in and said, "Everything ok, Vivi?" I responded through clenched teeth, "Everything is REALLY REALLY GREAT."

I like to think that the jerk realized he'd gone to far because by the end of the transaction he wasn't nearly as smug, but I fumed about it all day. And I have to say the the vast majority of our clients are very sweet and patient and love that I'm one of them there ferners from across the ocean (they usually assume I am either English or Scandinavian - yes I am that pale).

For five years I've been saying that I have yet to meet the stereotypical rude Frenchman, but voila! - I've found him!

*Jean-Marie Le Pen is the founder of the ultra-right wing political group that believes that all immigrants should go away, among other lovely sentiments.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

in other news...

Man, I am still fighting the rest of this crud with a little bit of a cough and my nose is blocked up again by the time I go to bed. No wonder I'm not sleeping well. It's gonna be another long day and I really need a nap. *sigh*

Anyway, besides me moaning all the time about how hard my job is, there are some good things that have been going on around here, believe it or not! I think I've mentioned it before, but Stéphane started working on his family tree a few months ago. The last two weeks he was on Winter Break, so he decided to take off for Pas-de-Calais on my two days off last week to throw himself into the state archives to see what he could see (fully endorsed by me, of course, that boy never wants to go off and do stuff so I practically threw him out the door!). He spent six hours straight at the archives the first day and followed up at another office the next day before heading back home and he was able to trace his family back to 1671, and he when he got home he found a way that he may be able to get one more generation before that, but that will be for his next trip. Considering that official record-keeping didn't really start in France before 1739, he's doing really well! It seems that his family pretty much always lived in the same village, or within a stone's throw of that village, just until his father joined the army and moved away. Unfortunately, any family still there are pretty distant cousins, though.

So that's some fun news from Stéphane, now here's mine: I finally bought a Wii! I have been coveting the Wii ever since it came out, but it just wasn't a sensible purchase while we were living on one paycheck. So of course, with my first big paycheck I ran straight to the store to snatch one up (and of course, waiting so long to buy one didn't hurt since it was significantly less than it was when it first came out!). Since then, I've been spending a lot of time on that one auction website (you know the one) looking for fun used games and hoping they come to me in playable condition. I'd really love to find a good strategy game that Stéphane and I could play together, if anyone has any suggestions!

Fry is so so happy to be back at the nounou's this week, he wore himself out yesterday running around the house and playing with the other kids. It just reinforces my desire to stay with this crappy job as long as it takes to get into that house where he can run around safely in his own home and even have a garden to run around in. So, you know, every time I complain about how tired I am, just plug in "but it's so worth it" at the end.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

harsh reality

Here's a topic I've been avoiding lately: remember how I opened an Etsy shop? And then I got a full time job? Yeah. Hello, logical conclusion.

I'm completely broken-hearted about closing my Etsy shop. I am brimming with ideas for new products and new designs and writing out patterns and I could go on for days and days, but y'all, I am exhausted. This job takes everything out of me. I suspect it may be the fact that I'm still sick and haven't really been able to rest, plus we're still short staffed and will be for another month, which means double shifts on the weekends for another four weeks, but the only other time in my life I've been so physically exhausted was when Fry was a newborn.

The thing that doesn't help either is that it's not exactly my dream job. I am busting my ass for a job I'm not in love with, which is something I thought I'd never have to do again, *but* then I remember that I live in the region of France that has the highest unemployment rate and I am very lucky to have a job, plus the cold hard fact that we really need to get out of this house.

Oh, this apartment, we loved it so much when we moved in but it is so so dangerous for Fry. Floors like concrete, exposed brick, concrete and wooden beams, and stairs so dangerous he's not allowed to go up without us holding his hands and not allowed down by himself full stop. The upstairs is pretty much off limits because we can't install a gate at the top of the stairs (believe me, we tried). The only safe place Fry can be alone is his bed. For a 15 month old that only stops running when he sleeps, that doesn't work very well.

So. I keep working, I get my magical CDI, and we can buy house #2, which is still available and, more importantly, totally child-friendly. Then I can start looking for a job that I actually like.

But even then, where does that leave time for designing, knitting, and promoting? It doesn't. I have to make a choice between my personal creative outlet and making a better life for my kid.

And the kid wins. Every damn time.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Vivi gets the flu

Oh dear. And the worst possible timing, too.

Fry has been sick for a couple of weeks now, with the perpetual running nose. His nounou's daughter, who also stays home, caught the flu and was pretty much paralyzed by it: she basically slept all day for about three or four days. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Fry would get it too.

Of course, when Fry gets the flu, it just means that despite running a fever and loss of appetite, he still runs, just slower. The other problem is that Fry loves to share his microbes with Mommy.

As much as I love encouraging my son to share, he couldn't have done it at a worse time. One of my colleagues quit last week, leaving me and my boss to run the whole show. Last Wednesday I had off, but by the end of the day my fever was bouncing between 102.5 and 100 (39C and 38C) and I was in pain everywhere. Since Fry was still sick after seeing the doctor a week before, we both saw the doctor Thursday morning. He gave both of us a nice long list of medicines and then we had to talk about arret maladie.

Arret maladie, or sick leave, is basically a doctor's note that excuses you from work but still maintain your salary. As you can imagine, it's a perk of the French system that is easily abused (my company is currently paying someone that's been on arret maladie for months, the problem is that the direction has changed two or three times since he went on sick leave and no one knows where he is or even why he's on leave). All you have to do is find a doctor willing to put you on sick leave for "rest" and your're golden. Of course, even if the doctor has put on the form that you're allowed to leave your house, you're still supposed to be home between the hours of 9am and 11am and 2pm and 4pm, but it's rare that anyone actually calls to check up on you.

So, as sick as I was, I felt a little guilty about going on sick leave, essentially leaving my boss to run the entire show by himself. Stéphane had told me that Dr H has a reputation in our town for being very strict about giving out sick leave (and now I understand why he's always available! ugh, this town, I tell you...) so I was really surprised when he gave me four days off! I even asked if I could go back to work after two days and he insisted.

The worst part of the whole ordeal was calling my boss and telling him I was on sick leave. He assured me it was fine, but I still feel really guilty about leaving him like that for four days. My guilt was softened a little yesterday when I still had a fever and I'd completely lost my voice, but I'm still not thrilled about it.

Finally today I think I'll be fever-free and I can feel the symptoms finally starting to fade. I'm so grateful that I have a doctor that gave me the appropriate time off because I probably would have gone back to work on Saturday and made myself worse (Stéphane is always saying that I don't know how to rest, and he's right, I often don't rest when I need it most unless I'm forced to). Tomorrow I'll be back at work, still a little sick but not so much as to pass it on to my boss. Because I sure as hell don't want to run that place for four days alone!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

fifteen months

When Fry got sick last week, we thought we might have a break from the kid that never stops running. No dice. He only runs slower and falls down more. *sigh*

One thing I love this month is that Fry has gone interactive! Now he is much more interested in playing with us, as opposed to next to us. His favorite toys recently have been his interactive book that plays music when you press a button that he likes to place on our laps and play and some interlocking blocks that he'll bring us to snap together and then he'll take them back and break them apart.

The biggest change is that we finally broke apart his playpen and used the pieces to keep him corralled in the salon side of the downstairs (which is an open plan with the kitchen). Along with a gate for the bottom of the stairs, this is made a huge difference for Fry, who is free to play on his own and then come grab our attention when he likes (if we're on the computers or something), plus we feel much more relaxed as we're no longer on high alert like we were every moment we let him out of the playpen before.

As for all the changes in his life with Mommy working now, he's handling it like a pro. Even with his first nounou falling terribly ill, he has adjusted again to a new environment with his second nounou without any problems at all, and there's nothing like the way his face lights up when I pick him up in the afternoons. He's still our sweet smiling baby, who is turning into a toddler right before our eyes!