“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Fete Renaissance du Roi de l'oiseaux

Fete du Roi de l'Oiseaux

Well, this weekend might have been one of the coolest weekends of my life. One of my French friends, Romain, here in CF has a knack for finding spunkier sides of France.

So this weekend he told me about a Renaissance festival the celebrated the Bird king, thus Fete du roi de l'oiseaux, and of course I accepted. Most people at the festival were dressed up in medieval clothing...but I had the notice a little late, so I borrow this:

This festival is hosted every year in a small town called Puy-en-Velay, here in the region of Auvergne, two hours from where I live. The region is know for several scattered church and buildings built up on little mini-mountains if you will, and the city is in a valley! It's quite a unique place.

So saturday morning we hopped on a train, and headed to join the afternoon festivities. The city was scattered with shows, music, jesters, food and all other types of Medieval fun. We first stopped to get a bite of a medieval tartine, and it might have been my favorite meal in France so far!

We walked from show to show, my favorite being a redone version of Montey Python and the holy grail in French. It brough back great memories of my middle school years being only allowed to watch pg movies.

Anyways, the shows were funny, entertaining, and well a little bit inspiring. The afternoon made me realize how grateful I am for this experience in France, and also to have met some cool people to explore the world with. I got a little choked up during the flag dance, that's probably why I took 800000 pictures of it.
He had 6 flags going at once!!
There is a giant Virgin Mary, Notre dame, statue located on one of the many hills, so after a while, we took a hike up the hill.
notre dame

After a wonderful day, I was planning on heading back on the 8:00 train to CF, and Romain was going to meet some friends in Lyon on the 8:20 train. We both headed to the station, but when we got there, there was no activity. We asked around, and finally found a janitor who said there weren't gonna be any trains tonight, at all....What?

Crisis/panic Mode: For the festival, all the hotels in the city were booked. Uh oh. We were going to have to sleep in a park, or make some friends fast. Luckily, Romain knew some other people attending the festival so we called them up, and they said sure, we've got room....little did we know that that meant that they had extra space in their car where we could sleep. My parents will probably be mortified, but I guess if you come to Europe, you have to take home some great stories, and this weekend was one of them.

my bed

We slept, well, fitfully, I was sleeping in the trunk of the equivalent to nissan-something-tiny car, so well, I'm little but this was kinda like sleeping in a suitcase. But at least it was warm, and dry.

Words cannot really express the experience this weekend. It was a truly authentic French experience. I was surround not by american tourists, but rather regional locals, plus people from Italy and germany. It's a very famous event in Europe, and I'm pretty sure it's one of the most unique things I've done in France. So while i'm lacking for words, here are some pictures from the awesome weekend.

Great Costumes
more flag throwers...couldnt help it, it was sooo cool!
Show for kids, hilarious and adorable
cool show!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Ode to the old Day- Dear Brownies, I miss you.

So if knew me in college, you know what Friday nights entailed...a typical american college Friday night would usually include some sort of party with boys and craziness....mine was almost always sure to include brownies, and my crazy friends, on our big green couch, watching a movie, or just laughing about nothing. I'm pretty sure that might sound lame to 95% of America and possibly 100% of France, but I'm pretty sure I have more treasured memories from that couch, than they have from a lifetime of parties.

So today was my first day back to work, so after a long hard day, I obviously needed my Friday night as usual, but unfortunately, in my new apt I traded in my oh-so-wonderful brownie-making-oven for a microwave, washer and a TV...so at I'm a little at a loss as to what to do with my Friday nights. So here's how I coped:

First, I put a mask on my face and hair (boys, this is a hair product, not something that went with your 8-year-old-self's Power Rangers costume)(or mine for a matter of fact)...

then...I ran to the store, at 9 on a Friday, which guarantees creepers lurking in the streets. I was wearing an american get-up, with my tempos and a 'killi' shirt...when a man hollas from his car, in translation ''oh, what sport do you play mademoiselle'', I know sexy right, my throughts ''exactly what makes me feel lovely and want to jump right into that car with you monsoir, watch out out for the flying jar of nutella, when I run out the door, that's what sport I'm playing tonight.''

Anyways, excuse the rant, So returned from the store with the closest things I could find to happiness and home: Box of my favorite grocery-store, 79 cent cookies, jar of nutella (obviously), anddd box of ice creamish stuff...
First, I cut my ice cream like a loaf of bread...cause it's a little weird here, then I tried heating nutella, but aparantely, she doesn't work like that...rude...but I added the overheated kinda burnt nutella to the ice cream loaf, topped off by the best cookies in the world!

While eating bowl number 2 of ice cream, and I put on a little one tree hill for the Watching (thank you Jenni Burks for me new addiction), pulled out the nail polish, and sat on my couch/bed, wishing it was green, and big!

This night might sound a little lame...although to my credit, I have a huge wedding event tomorrow night...except, I would probably be doing this either way. But welcome to my very contented First Friday night back in France! YUM

Thursday, 1 September 2011

New Apartment

17 Avenue Charras n23

le Salford (AV) (LL)

63000 Clermont-Ferrand France

Well, I made it here, and am surprisingly happy to be back here. It feels like I came home, but I guess that is what happens when you spend 7 months of your life in a city. Fall is already starting in the city, and it looks beautiful...not to mention the weather beats the weeks of over 100 back in Texas.

I have a new apartment, that in total is about the same size as my room in the first apartment, but it's great! It came furnished, so no nightmare moving again! Plus...it has a washing machine and a TV, I couldn't be more happy about that!!

Anyways, here's my kitchen living room, bed, closet and bathroom all-in-one!

This is my couch/bed and table
Here's the side of the kitchen...and bathroom entrance
Table and chest of drawers

The bathroom

Went into work for a few minutes today, but unfortunately jetlag is killer. Today recovery, tomorrow, back to the work I love!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Here I go again

Well, for those of you don't know, I am headed back to France, for two more months with Michelin.

While at Michelin, I was working on a project that just couldn't be finished in three months. My boss asked if I could come back to finish it, and of course, I said yes! I had been there for 7 months before I came back for a crazy month in America.

Honesty time: I'm scared, sad, excited, nervous, curious. All those emotions at one time. Unfortunately for me, this means that I go silent, into my little box. I blame my years in the athletics world for this, but when I am anxious about something, I can't say a lot. I assume it came from the many practiced ''focus hours'' on a bus ride to a game, but either way, writing seems the best way for me to express everything.

It's hard for me to say goodbye to everyone. There are so many things that I want to say to each person, but at this moment, just can't. I have had a wonderful month at home with friends and family, and I am so thankful for all the support I have. I saw my parents, my nephews and nieces, my best friends from college, and my new friends from Grad school. All of whom mean the world to me, and I will miss dearly.

I'm currently at the airport, ordering round 2 for today of buffalo wings, one of the many American foods that I'll miss for the next two months, but while I'm having my last moments with American fried...I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm headed back to one of the food capitals of the world, so in approximately 16 hours from now, I will being holding a baguette and fresh French cheese. I'm content.

Coming and going like I have in the last month, wasn't easy, I had to relearn what it means to be American, reevaluate my values, re-meet my family and friends, and now I get to do it all over again. And the truth is, I wouldn't change my life for a second.

I am blessed. I have the opportunity of a lifetime, again.

Stay tuned for more photos and exciting adventures.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Jenny Takes a Tumble

The most important day thus far of my time at Michelin, started with a bang…Literally.

Those of you who know me can attest to the fact that I’m not a morning person, but my time in France has allowed me to change a little. It has become a sacred time, with my cafĂ© (espresso for all you Americans), music, and my newspaper. It sets the day out right, and I’m usually in a great mood by the time I leave my apartment. Well this particular day, I was rushed, excited, and ready for the day. I picked out the perfect outfit for the day, and headed out the door with more things than usual.

I started down the hard stone stairs, when my perfectly selected shoes, got stuck on my perfectly selected pants, and my arms full of computers, breakfast, and other items for the day, failed to grasp the railing…thus resulting in a mighty quake, which simultaneously looked like a tornado with everything flying through the air.

Luckily, nothing was bleeding, and for the most part I was fine. My neighbour, heard the bang, and rushed out to help. As my former roommates know, our neighbour is a complete mystery, and we’ve all been dying to know more about her...Anyways, she babbled on for 15 minutes in incomprehensible French about her cat and apartment, while I iced my knees and head, and recovered. Success.

I lovelingly now refer to it as my good luck quake, because it ended in a eventful successful day...Post coming NEXT!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Wonderful Disaster - Week one, Michelin

Although Michelin is a highly American friendly company, there are still some stark realizations that any American person working there must come to terms with to be successful. In my short time, I’ve made and said done all the wrong things, to finally land in almost the right place. At least along the way, I had a lot of laughs.

May 9, First day at work and the chicken disaster

Overwhelmingly, exhaustingly, amazing. During the first day at Michelin in the purchasing department, my boss took me around to two floors of people (around 200 people) to introduce me to each and every one. Great in Theory, exhausting in practice. I was soon to learn that this action is an important Michelin habit, but at the time, I felt special. Anyways, during each interaction of the morning, I conversed in French, unusually nervous, stammering out my introduction.

One great thing about being in a large company is that there are several interns. For lunch, some of the others invited me to each with them in the cantine on the Michelin campus, and of course I said yes—I would do anything for an opportunity to practice my French. The food looked deliciously appetizing, and thus I took a great big helping of what I thought was BBQ Chicken and took my place among the chattering group….except a few bites in, I noticed an unusually taste. I wrote it off as “French chicken just tastes different.” But then, the texture seemed weird. HMM? Strangely textured,French chickens. Less likely. I finally decided to ask another intern exactly what I was eating, when he promptly replied by laughing and saying he thought it was really strange that I had chosen stomach. Let’s just saw that I read carefully now before picking meals, yum.

All-in-all, it was an incredible wonderful day. I accidentally ate intestines, or stomach, and it just goes to show, that FLEXIBILITY is key! I ate with the interns at lunch, and made some new friends. We went for drinks afterwards and one even came to my house for dinner. I sweat in my non-air-conditioned, no internet office all afternoon, and left at 6. Two hour lunch breaks, are bizarre! All-in-all, good day!

Day 2, kisses

My American spirit unfortunately shines through quite frequently in France, which is not always bad, but makes adjustments, funny. If you don’t know already, people in Europe greet each other with a kiss, or as it’s known here, le bise. It is one of my favorite traditions, yet in almost 5 months, I still haven’t mastered which way to go first, or who gets two and who gets three, thus, this is sometimes a cause of anxiety.

In the morning, it’s very important in a French busines to say hello to EVERYONE with either a handshake for men, or le bise for women. It is slightly offensive to people when you don’t. I didn’t know this. I come in and sit down at my desk, and give a little wave to the 12 other people in the room. 5 Minutes later, the whole room had passed by my desk, explaining that you had to greet everyone, every morning.

Day 3, Lunchbreaks

So I went to dine in the cantine once again with the other interns, leaving the office around noon. We had finished lunch around 1:00, and I was ready to head back, but they others kept lulling around. I finally said, I think I need to go back, I’m going to be late. They all just laughed and said no way, no one will be back yet. But I was fresh on the job, and didn’t want to make a mistake, so I went back, and ended up waiting in my bosses office for another 45 minutes.

Note to self: Lunch in France last two hours, enjoy it.

Day 4, Service in France.

Example of Service, In America, everything is on ‘’our time.’’ we are selfish. Today I went running at lunch with some of my collegues, which in and of itself was really great. I was exhausted and happy afterwards, however, one of the guys wasn’t feeling great afterwards. So we all went to lunch and returned to the office and he decided to call the Michelin doctor. The doctor wasn’t there but 20 minutes later, 5 people arrived. 1 Doctor, 1 nurse, 2 guys in security outfits carrying medical PACKs, like they are about to go hiking, and finally one other guy who, I’m not really sure what his purpose is…but he was trying to look important. They entered our office, and took away my colleague, like he had a terrible contagious disease. I choc it up to personal service, and a well-established healthcare system, but in the moment, It was hilarious..

Day 5, Frazzeled.

This day just started out hectic.

1.I arrive at work to realize I had forgotten my USB key with all of my work on it at my house.

2. I walked into the men’s restroom, I blame that on the sun, which was blinding my eyesight.

3. Went to lunch with my colleagues, knowing I had a meeting at 1:45, which I honestly believe I could arrive in time for. But once again, note to self: Lunch in France takes two hours.

ALL –in—All: Even after all the mistakes, I couldn’t be happier with my work. I met some great friends, I work for a wonderful boss who accepts nothing less than the best, and I work for a great company.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Just thoughts for today.

If there's one thing I've learned in France, it's that I'm an eternal optimist. I can't help it, but sometimes I begin to wonder in the far reaches of my blissfully delighted mind, if I've seen too much beauty. Every time that I go to a new place, I am overawed by beauty and joy, but is there a limit? Limit to our happiness, limit to our pleasure? I hope not!

Anyways, I think about this a lot because Europe is my favorite place in the world...I'm definitely American, but I LOVE the European way of life, and especially now, the French way of life, but sometimes I've come to find that while there is such great beauty here all around me everyday, I no longer can recognize it.
This leads me to beg the question, why?
Was my first reaction of awestruck dumbness just a naive consequence my wonder for adventure and new places, do we lose our love of beauty by the gradual desensitization, do we run out of capacity for beauty? Big unanswerable questions.

All that to say, Life in Clermont-Ferrand is going well. This week, we have our final exams, we've taken 3, and 2 more to come. I have another interview with Michelin tomorrow, which will determine my actual post within the company. I have some make-up posts coming this way soon, with everything from the end of spring break, my mom's visit, my crazy 20 hours in Ireland, and a wonderful visit to my beloved Oxford! For now, there's some teaser photos for what's to come.
Vous me manque, je vous aime.