So.  Saturday was the one year anniversary of my move to NYC.  I feel like I should make a big dramatic post about it, but I can't really think of much I haven't already said.

I'm happy.

I haven't recaptured the feeling of having a huge group of best friends from college, and I'm not obsessed with or enchanted by my city the way I was in Paris, but I'm fine.

My room is fantastic and I love being in it.  My roommates aren't around very much, and since they're already great friends with each other they leave me alone most of the time.  I have a desktop that runs XP so I can play the original Rollercoaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon games, and once I get my external hard drive repaired I'll be able to run The Sims 2 on it as well.  I have two cute little gerbils who think my hands exist to feed them sunflower seeds.

I know how to get tickets to a lot of Broadway shows for under $40.

I have an office job with a cubicle, just like I always wanted, and I really like my colleagues and my supervisors.  I like the work, and there's always something new to learn without feeling overwhelmed or lost.  I have pictures of the Troupe and my family all over my cubicle, and my boss likes me.  I end up getting saddled with extra responsibilities here and there, but I see that as a good thing.  I got an extra paycheck as a Christmas bonus, there are three paydays in January and August, and I'm getting nearly $3000 in tax refunds next month.  I'm not rich, but I'm managing to pay the bare minimum on my student loans and still save up a tiny bit.

I had pink hair for a few months and no one at work minded--they actually thought it was pretty cool.  I shaved my head just to say I'd done it.

I know how to buy two months' worth of groceries--mostly healthy food!--for under thirty dollars.

I don't see myself has having a future here, but I'm settled for now.  In a few years I'm probably going to get myself back to NC so I can be closer to my family, and I would certainly like to transition into working in translation.

It was a hard year.  It was a horrible year until I got my full-time job and moved to a better living situation.  In the past twelve months I've learned the actual difference between mouse and rat infestations and the best, most efficient ways to deal with either one; I've learned that the store brand is ALWAYS significantly cheaper (if not better), and I've learned to wait for bargains and jump on them when you see them.  I've learned that I should stand up for myself more often, and that swallowing your anger is going to make things worse than confronting it.  I've learned the best cleaner for bathroom floors, and how to smuggle toilet paper from the office to save money.  I filed my own taxes.

Most importantly, I'm figuring me out.  I'm an activist--a social justice warrior.  I'm demisexual and lithromantic and gayer than I ever realized.  I probably won't be able to get married, because I find flaws in everyone and am only able to overlook them half the time.  I like my own company, and anyone else feels like a crowd after a while.  I like talking to myself and dressing however I want around the house and calling my pets silly names in silly voices.  I like talking to my tv shows and laughing at jokes that no one else hears me crack.

Now that I'm not worried about having a roof over my head or enough money to buy food, I want to focus on getting my knitting business running and, in the long-term, getting that translation class under my belt so I can eventually slip over into a profession that actually makes use of my passion for French.

But yeah, happy one-year-in-NYC anniversary, self!

It's that time of year again!  If you're entertained by my personal life, and you SHOULD be, you can go read the entries from 2009, 2011, and 2012.

It was an alright year I guess )


I just signed onto the lease for the apartment I subletted over the summer!  I have a small room in a fifth-floor walkup, but my new roommate is a spunky little blond ball of energy who wears workout clothes all day long and LOVES THE CLEAN THE SHIT OUT OF THINGS so though we are different souls I think it's all gonna be okay.  Idk if you're aware but hot pink has become an all-consuming obsession for me, and my room is a hot pink PARADISE.

I've decided to switch from beds to hammocks for economical and back-pain reasons, and also because it's cool and takes up less space and blah blah, and my hammock isn't coming in until tomorrow, so once I've installed it and put up my posters and stuff I'm gonna post pictures of the room.  And you will freak out because my room is AWESOME.

I'm gonna be in this room for at least a year!  More if the landlord doesn't jack up the rent again.  I'm SO happy.  I haven't had a room that was actually MINE since high school!  In the dorms and with my host families I was acutely aware of living on borrowed furniture and having to move out over the summer, but this room is MY actual room!

Unfortunately, rent is more than twice what I was paying sharing a room with the Connecticut Princess and the MRA, but they've been cleanly and beautifully out of my life for so long that my sanity is recovering from their influence and honestly... ugh I'm so happy.

I do think NYC is stupid, though.  If it wasn't for my awesome job I would have left for less expensive shores this past month.  I'll stick around until MORUSA happens (or I've hit the 2-3 year mark on this job for resume purposes) and then I gotta peace out to someplace a lot less ridiculous.  I want to live in a place with more than one room, air conditioning, a little balcony, and maybe even carpeting that's alllll mine.

But for now I'm good.

Pictures by the end of the week!  You will be ~*dazzled*~ by my badass room.

(Also I buried the hatchet with one Mr Dick Ponte, for those of you who remember that.  It took me almost a year and a half to stop being actively mad at him for dumbass behavior.  He was really excited about it, and not in a gross way.  I don't respect him anymore, but we're cool.  He helped me realize the full extent of my demisexuality, in any case!)
So here's my plan for my life:

Work about three years at my publishing company customer service job, then back on the experience and switch to a bigger name company where I can work my way up some kind of corporate ladder and make contacts who'll get my books published.

Pay off my student loans by the time I'm 30.

Love alone in my own place with a hedgehog and a robot dinosaur.

Move to a cabin in the mountains somewhere and live happily ever after with a pretty pig named Wilbur and a big butterfly garden.

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lesmisloony: (squee ChanTho)
Things are finally coming up roses again!

1. I got that roomshare secured in NYC where I'll only be paying $350 a month for a place in East Harlem. The roommate seems cool and legit, so fingers crossed I don't start/stumble into any drama.

2. When I went to put in my notice at Target, they offered to keep me on the payroll an extra week and then transfer me to the East Harlem Target which, according to yelp, is new, largely undiscovered, quiet, and clean.

3. My parents agreed to buy my train ticket since they have the AAA discount, and my uncle agreed to meet me at a stop in NJ, let me come stay the night at the family home up there, then accompany me into the city the next morning.

4. Randomly sent my résumé to a temp agency last night, and this morning they called me back and were ready to set up an interview like five minutes from now, but agreed to push it to February 4th, the first weekday after I stumble into NYC.

So :D
(The first time I made that smiley I did a D: because I've been using that one so much more lately.)
I kind of hit a breaking point in this stupid apartment/roommate search last night, and this morning it was only underscored by one of my roommate-maybe options officially backing out. I'm just so worn down by all this bullshit.

So I'm thinking... I know some of my lj friends are in or have been in or around the DC area... what's that like? I might broaden my search. I mean, yes, it was always a dream to live in NYC, but right now I just want public transportation and to be able to afford rent. Anyway, DC is halfway to NYC on the Amtrak line, so if I have to get to New York for anything--say, MOR--I probably could. You know, unless I had a job that didn't cut me any slack. But still. It's on my radar now. I've heard that public transportation is great there and all.

Anyway, I have a long list of temp agencies I guess I might apply to and one of them is Professionals for Nonprofits, which pleases my humanitarian side. They have headquarters both in NYC and DC apparently.

The only thing is I have a pretty solid idea of what's cool about NYC, but the all I know about living in DC is there's good public transportation and, you know, politics stuff.

Anyway, I am pretty damn exhausted by this whole search. There's still one girl on my roommate radar but she's kind of lax about answering emails and I'm getting a strong impression that she's either not serious enough or too freaked out by the idea of moving out of her parents' place to actually get anything done.

I mean, I'd prefer New York because I've wanted to live there since I was a kid, but at this point I'm getting really complacent about living with my parents and I need something to kick my ass out the door... but it won't be easy to leave a situation where I essentially don't have to pay for anything at all. So I'm uncomfortable going anywhere without knowing I'll be able to find a source of income once I get there... but I also am not sure if I'm supposed to get there and then find work or find work and then get there. HOW DO I ADULT
Just came from my first "real" shift at Target. It's honestly the most positive, cheerful, stress-free job I've ever had outside the tiny two-screen independent cinemas. Customers are nice, other employees are nice, managers are nice... they were super complimentary and I left feeling like I had kicked ASS at register training. I actually worked the express lane alone most of the day. MUCH nicer and more carefree than the job I had at Lowes Foods. Plus I know I did a great job.

Plus free donuts and cookies in the breakroom at all times.

LOVING this job. Next I'm going on to start my training on the clothes floor, which will be my official job from now on. I just need to know how to work a register in case things get super busy or whatever.

As for the whole moving-to-New-York thing, my parents came home finally and heard the story. My dad is intent on trying to convince me to move to a "normal" city, but excuse me sir Emilia Clarke will be in a Broadway show soon and I MUST meet her at least long enough to take a photo. And other things. SNL, Jon Stewart... no way I'm going to a town where things don't happen. New York Comic Con, those Dr Who premiers, that Dr Who themed bar I've seen on tumblr... yeah, no, it's NYC.

My parents, my grandmom, and even my uncle weren't as surprised as I was about my plans falling through. Well, my mom seemed to be a little bit, but I guess she's kind of an idealist like I can be. We'll see how it'll work out.

Anyway long story short, Target = most positive corporate work environment ever.
Alright, I've had time to settle and I think when the time comes I'll be ready to get shit done. I know I still want to move to NYC, because I don't want to need a car, I don't want a lawn, and I do want access to big fun events and celebrity sighting and musicals and tv show tapings.

I think I was romanticizing how "perfect" everything would be in the situation I was headed for based on homesickness. But I think I understand now.

The most important thing I've learned since coming home is that, sadly, friends aren't always going to be your most faithful support group. Friends come and go and move on and replace you. I texted everyone when I got my new phone, and they politely replied with the cursory "hurray you're back in the US" messages, but no one has time for me when I try to make plans. My NC friends are a little scattered and are off pursuing higher education or jobs or internships now. I can't be mad at them for getting on with their lives. My friends who are in New York are all the way in New York, so of course they're moving on.

But who has been regularly calling me, following through with plans to hang out, and making me feel generally welcomed back? My family. My parents are off on that cruise this week, which has been weird because I'm used to being able to at least text or skype them, but my Grandmom calls me every day or so to make sure I'm doing alright and Wednesday we had a whole day of hanging out and cooking and chatting about social justice (for a Bible thumper she's amazingly fair-minded!) and last night we drove a half hour to my old cinema and met up with my uncle Stuart. They were fun to chat with and they were really supportive, and it was my uncle who really got through to me. He reminded me that his brother lives in Trenton, which has access to NYC via the NJTransit (I obviously should have thought of this seeing how Uncle Peter has put me up jillions of times for my various NYC adventures dating all the way back to childhood!) and would be glad to let me crash in one of the rooms his wife's three kids abandoned having left for college. Stuart told me that family is always here for me. I can't believe I forgot about that. I was so eager to get home to see all those friends, but they have every right to have moved on with their lives. My family HAS to care about me, though, and of course Peter will have my back if I ask him for help with this move.

The second thing I learned last night was that everything is easier now that I'm in the US. We went to the movies and there was a CUUUUTE guy working in the concession stand. We both were stealing glances at each other (I had dolled up quite a bit in case I ran into my old crush from college who also works there, but unfortunately I didn't) and when I finally had the courage to chat with him he immediately started telling me I should come back and pick up shifts at that cinema. It was the first time I've felt a sense of mutual attraction and mild flirting (mild flirting is all I'm equiped to do, unfortunately, but I'm learning as I build my self-confidence) and it was totally exhilarating. I remembered how well I was able to impress everyone who interviewed me at Target and how I was the one who started friendly conversations as the other new employees and I waited at orientation.

I may have been treated like a freak for the past year by a particularly obnoxious family in a society that thinks "introvert" is an insult (literally they define it as someone who hates other people) but goddammit, I am charming as hell. I'm not as shy as I have acted for the past year. I'm not as awkward as that family made me feel. In fact, I'm pretty spectacularly open and outgoing.

There's no way I can't make new friends and get this show back on the road.

Unfortunately I will have to live out of those damn blue suitcases for a while longer, but losing my support group of friends isn't the end of the world: I still have a support group of family, and luckily for me, I have a lot of really cool uncles.

So I was wrong when I accused the universe of betraying me: the problem was just that I had misinterpreted this year's lesson. It's true that I can't isolate myself. I can't live alone, but I also can't pin all my expectations for friendship on a small group of people... after all, that's just another version of isolating myself. Making new friends will be easier here, and, once I've built up my savings a little bit, you can bet your ass that I'll be ready for a new start.

*cue a Braodway power ballad about self-sufficience and starting over*
Well, I guess my mom was right when she told me I was too caught up in getting back to the dorm atmosphere. Part two, the universe has taught me the hard way over and over not to depend on other people, and now I guess I know I can't expect there to be exceptions to that. I thought my time in France was a lesson in not isolating myself, but now I'm kinda confused because I guess I'll have to? Or idk, maybe it'll be easier to make new friends in a place like New York... Ugh. I don't know why the concept of making new friends intimidates me, when all my old friends obviously have nooo problem with it.

I think the worst thing is that after feeling like a nomad for so long my ability to get a pet and a venus flytrap and a cactus and finally put those goddamn blue suitcases AWAY has been postponed indefinitely... again. But oh well, at least I have access to a piano as long as I stay in my old high school room.
lesmisloony: (Barack!)
I knew something was wrong...

So... does anyone have any suggestions for what I should do with the rest of my life? I literally don't have anywhere at all to start.

The whole point of leaving France was that I wanted to be closer to my friends again, but I get back here and nothing has changed at all. I still have to do everything alone. That would be fine if I knew what I wanted.

I don't know where to start now.

(PS yay obama i guess, too bad all my plans for the future fell through ten minutes before that was announced)


Okay... so basically without housing I'm not going to be able to go to New York in January. I won't be comfortable moving unless I have a job wherever I end up going, and I want to make sure I have enough savings in case whatever job it is falls through. Meaning I sure hope Target asks me to stay after January.

Anyone know someone who will need a roommate in a big city like NYC soon?

All I really wanted was a situation where I was comfortable wandering around in my pyjamas on free days and to live with someone I liked with a sense of humor like mine. I know it could still happen someday but I was a lot less unhappy when I thought it was a sure thing. I feel like I'm exactly where I was in France... if I don't live with people I like I'll never speak to anybody and I'll just get miserable and homesick again. Based on all my experiences with the friends I have leftover from college and high school, if *I* don't organize shit it doesn't happen, meaning I can just assume I'll never see any of those people unless they live in my building. So yeah, it's basically starting over again with no friends.

The only person who has called me since I got my phone is my grandmother, by the way. She made plans with me too. I *have* tried to get together with people around here and they all backed out. I'm not just sitting here whining that nobody likes me. But it doesn't take much for me to be convinced that people are sick of me, so if someone has a reason they can't see me once I wait for them to try to make it up the next time, and if they don't I assume they just don't care.

Okay I'm all over the place. Literally ALL of my plans hinged on this one thing and now I'm not sure where to start. I'll just go to bed.

I wish I could talk to my mom but she's on this stupid cruise and I won't be able to get her advice/have her reassure me/calm me down until SUNDAY. God.

This was supposed to be such a happy moment with the election and everything... I wasn't supposed to spend it crying and bleakly reflecting on how unstructured my future is.
Being home is really nice, as I mentioned before. I'm getting the chance to regroup, to go through all my old stuff from before France and all the stuff I still have after France and get it all together. I took care of the insurance stuff for my hospital stay and now my dad is turning all the paperwork for the student loan payments and deferments over to me too. If I was still in France trying to figure everything out that would be stressful, but here I have the chance to take it slow and stay organized.

But at the same time, I feel like I'm watching myself sink into irrelevance. The MOR fandom is now just a bunch of people on tumblr with a shared interest in the occasional gifset of Flo wandering around a studio. There was a mild interest in 1789, but not really in my recap or stagedoor stories of it. The Florum is just long strings of me sharing news and nobody commenting. Not to mention the fact that none of my friends, the people I was so desperate to get back to, seem to care that I'm home. Zero of the people located in and around my hometown have offered to hang out sometime. There's talk of us all getting together to go laugh through the next Twilight movie over Thanksgiving, but I know that if I don't plan it it won't happen. None of them are ever on skype anymore when I need someone to talk to, which is weird because we're in the same time zone now.

When I went to my first study abroad meeting, they said not to worry about your friends moving on while you're gone, because when you return you'll inevitably find that you're the one who has changed. That was true when I came home for a month after my first semester in Paris. Now, almost two years later... it's the opposite. I have stronger stances on some issues, but I feel like I'm still sitting here putting on silly costumes, dancing to ABBA, and raving about MOR while everyone else goes off and does their own thing without looking back. Things will probably get better once I'm able to leave this town again, but I needed this break so badly and I'm not ready to start making those plans yet. My mom tried to send me on a blind-friend-date with a girl from her work, because as an extrovert she assumes that, like her, I wish I had a bunch of near-strangers to suddenly start hanging out with. It was awkward. I'm reluctant to make new friends for the two months I'll be here, because once I move on they'll just be more facebook status updates and more of me squinting and going "Do I actually know this person?". But now I've just gone and isolated myself again just like in France. I need a few close friends, not a ton of casual ones, and sometimes I feel like I've invested myself in people who don't need me back. People who have other plans with other people whenever I ask if they want to hang out. I feel like that old paranoia from the bad times in the dorms is coming back, when I knew it was just that no one actually wanted to be around me.

I know I changed so much in France and I'm proud of everything I learned, but sometimes I wonder if I'd have been happier if I'd just stayed here in ignorance so they didn't have a chance to replace me.
lesmisloony: (squee ChanTho)
Hello there!

Gosh, I feel like I've been so busy since I got home. First off the plane portion of my journey took all day Monday and the train portion all day Tuesday, then Wednesday my mom let me spend $100 on some new clothes (I had NO pants after donating most of my clothes in order to get my luggage down to three suitcases), Thursday I did grocery and pharmacy errands and dismantled my broken laptop, Friday I had two interviews for season jobs (I got a job at Target, starting next Sunday!!), and today I'm going to finally finish going through my stuff and arranging everything in my room. I get to put my belongings in DRAWERS for the first time since early August! Still on my to-do list are VOTING FOR BARACK OBAMA and calling my doctor to find out what we're gonna do about m blood thinners and stuff.

I am so happy to be back in the US, and back in a rural town. The trees are so beautiful here (just google "Blue Ridge mountains fall" and you can imagine what NC looks like this time of year--I'm not in the mountains, but those are the trees I'm seeing) and it's been so sunny I haven't had to put on a jacket since I got off the train. People are friendly and easy to chat with, Subway has mushrooms and banana peppers, and I can watch new episodes of Top Model with my mom on our big enormous four foot screen. My mom's dog is adorable, the cat is a thousand times less shed-y and obnoxious than Vincent's, and I've been reunited with things like my extensive nail polish collection and $2 yarn at Walmart!

I filled out two job applications online while I was in France, and when I got to the house I saw two job interviews on the calendar for me. I interviewed at Target in the morning and Ulta in the afternoon, and Target hired me on the spot. The Ulta people were a little bit snottier (I was gossiping with my Target supervisor about people she knew in college for fifteen minutes before she got around to the actual interview) so I don't give a crap if they don't hire me. Plus the Target people want to put me on the clothes floor! I need a red shirt and khaki pants now.

My biggest triumph is that my darling laptop Listolier, who had been getting startlingly hot lately, finally gave up and told me there was a fan error, refusing to boot up at all. I refused to let him die on me after all we've shared, so I used the family desktop to find instructions on dismantling a thinkpad and, with the help of my sonic screwdriver screwdriver I gutted my poor friend, clearing out all the dust bunnies and cat hair (thanks, Vincent's stinky apartment) and finally had the computer fan in my hand, which I sprayed with compressed air. I reassembled everything (losing one tiny screw in the process unfortunately), and, fully expecting the computer to refuse to boot up or to give me another fan error (or be broken from me touching the wrong thing) I tried to restart it and... success! Not only does it no longer have a fan error, it no longer gets super hot! Right now it's on my lap, which before would have turned it into a scorching oven, but when I put my hand on the edge where the fan is it's cold as ice! I'm so excited!

Emboldened by that success, I went ahead and ordered a new keyboard for $20 off ebay, because my number three key sticks and my backspace and shift have been broken and see-sawing for months. Plus I know the compressed air didn't get all the gunk out from under these keys, so it'll be nice to just replace it myself like the badass I secretly am.

Can you tell how happy I am from the tone of this? If not, I AM A HAPPY PERSON. I know what phone plan and phone I'm going to get from Verizon (everyone's recommended network) once I move to New York, but I unfortunately am without a phone for the time being. My parents give me an old flip phone of theirs so I'm trying to find some cheap pay-as-you-go type plan for that. It would be nice.

Question: if I plan to use my future smartphone's wifi VERY sparingly, like only to check maps or directions or whatever when I get lost, is 250MB of internet enough or should I spring for 1G? I've never had a smartphone before--I've been using a flip phone for two years that didn't even have a camera in it--and my parents have become Apple zombies and keep trying to convince me to get an iPhone with unlimited wifi like their plan, but I don't want to always have access to tumblr or I'll retreat from the physical world and never use my mouth to communicate again. But I *do* want access to the internet if I get lost or confused in New York, where I'll be living come January. Anyway I'm figuring all this out from recommendations from friends and stuff.
So it's REALLY hard to erase an entire lifetime of believing fat-shaming and such, but I'm starting to learn.

An important first step was for me to realize that I'm not doing everything all wrong. I always treated myself like I was and still struggle with shame when buying and eating food. I keep realizing that things that never upset me before are totally not okay. I remember my parents being pleased when my naturally thin brother asked for seconds, but my father consistently saying "Don't you think you've had enough?" or "You don't need that." if *I* was the one enjoying my meal. I remember in middle school how proud my parents were when I decided to only ever eat half of the food on my plate in an attempt to teach myself--MY TWELVE YEAR OLD SELF--portion control. I remember my mother and I competing to see who could lose the most weight over Lent when I was eight years old.

I want to also say that I am NO LONGER flattered when people compliment me for losing weight. I know my dad used to jokingly say, "You're wasting away" but would quickly follow that up with "You seem happier like this; you should keep it up." It struck me the most during my month of no income, which I'll talk about more in a second, where I was barely eating at all in an effort to save what money I had and everyone was constantly complimenting me. I WAS EATING A BOWL OF CEREAL A DAY OR LESS. But it didn't matter WHY I was losing weight: losing weight at all is seen as a triumph when you're fat. No one realizes that something serious could be going on.

I follow a lot of blogs on tumblr that are helping me along the way, and every day I see stories about girls (and guys) who were bullied and teased and called names for their weight. The thing that boggles my mind still is that, other than living under the shadow of my mom's insecurities and my dad's enablement of them, no one ever told me I was fat. I never got bullied in school because I radiated a giant I-don't-give-a-shit attitude. It's interesting, because on the surface I don't seem much different now, but in fact I'm totally renovating my thought processes. The difference is that back then I just ignored what my body looked like, pretended not to notice, and constantly wished I could develop an eating disorder and constantly felt bad if reality ever broke through my little shell of denial. I never looked at photos of myself and rarely looked in the mirror, especially getting in and out of the shower. Now I'm trying to come to terms with what I really do look like and to unlearn that I am supposed to change it. I am not a thin person who did something wrong. If I was ever going to be thin, I have given my body plenty of chances to get there and it chose to remain at this lumpy weight.

This is a much harder thing to learn, because most of the world disagrees. Most of the world believes that being fat means I'm going to develop diabetes, or I'm going to die young. (I have seen studies that disproved BOTH of these, and in fact being "overweight" LOWERS your risk of Alzheimer's.) It's even harder since I just went through the whole pulmonary embolism thing. I was reading the doctor's report and it said right on there that it happened because I'm overweight. Over WHAT weight??? When they weighed me in the hospital I was seven kilos less than when I went to my OFII appointment in May!! I'd spent a month eating nothing but one bowl of grain-based cereal and an apple a day OR LESS. I'd been exercising (only a little bit, but still way more than the first 22 years of my life). Should I have eaten LESS food somehow? I was miserable during those weeks. I had headaches and low energy. And guess what? I'm STILL not a skinny person. SHOCKER.

IT HAPPENED because I was on birth control and I spent looooong amounts of time sitting with my legs crossed, knitting and watching shows online. I didn't know pulmonary embolisms existed.

I will not be told that I am unhealthy until I change my body weight. I only went running a few times, but now that I understand how to breathe normally and maintain a steady pace I don't get winded running for métros. (Well, I would if I tried it NOW because I'm still sort of recovering from being forced to do nothing but lie in bed and eat three huge meals a day for a week IN THE HOSPITAL. BY DOCTORS.) This is the first time IN MY LIFE that I have ever been to a hospital. I don't smoke, I barely drink, and I've never even SEEN drugs. Just because I don't think sports are a reasonable use of my time doesn't mean I'm unhealthy, and fuck society for propogating that I am. I DON'T EVEN LIKE SODA. I LITERALLY, HONESTLY ONLY DRINK WATER, AND I DRINK A LOT OF IT EVERY DAY.

On the other hand, I have noticed that when left to my own devices, I am incapable of entering a grocery store and leaving with "grown-up" foods. Maybe once I have a regular paycheck and a decent-sized kitchen that isn't laced with cat hair this will change, but for the moment I am incapable of passing up a €1 bag of chips in a wacky flavor for a €3 salad. BUT I can also say that after a day of only eating potato chips for breakfast and then having mashed potatoes for lunch (what can I say, I'm broke as hell) I had the presence of mind to go get myself a big container of carrot coleslaw the next day to sort of balance things out. I also ate a tomato like it was an apple today.

I still have a mentality that I need to "get away with" eating the "fun" stuff that I want to eat while no one's looking. I constantly want to snack on something even when I'm not hungry, and I think it's backlash against being pressured into denying myself everything my whole life. Now I'm trying to work out a way to normalize my headspace enough to be able to eat what I want to eat without shame, but to also not go crazy and finish off a whole bar of chocolate in one sitting Just Because I Can.

I'm sure there's something really interesting happening in my head that causes the snacking and the obsession with potato chips and other "bad" foods, and if I keep reading up on blogs like The Fat Nutritionist maybe I can work out what it is and learn to change my thinking in a way that lets me eat normally and also be unapologetic if/when that doesn't lead to me suddenly morphing into a runway model.

Part two, I would really love to lose the secret desire to lose weight that STILL won't leave me alone. When the hospital brought me three meals a day I was inwardly cursing them for ruining the "progress" I had made after all but starving myself (for financial reasons, I promise) over the preceding month.

Here's an update while I continue to procrastinate from sleeping for no reason!

My mom told me if I can condense my stuff down to three suitcases to avoid baggage fees, she'll buy me a whole new wardrobe when I get home! So I'm doing crazy stuff like giving away clothes I don't wear enough, giving all my shoes to the American student living here, throwing away the cases to my Sims games and keeping them in a zippy CD case thing, and knitting for the first time since Bercy in an effort to use up my yarn! Also, I've seen nine and a half seasons of Friends in a little less than three weeks.

Started stagedooring 1789 yesterday. I saw Yamin, who teased me and said wow nice tan and I was like b-b-but I dont get tans and he was like yeah I was kidding and i was like ohhhh. Also saw a very beardy Solal on a red scooter who was looking for Yamin. Also met Danton, or David Ban, and he was super nice!!! Also, it seems like Roddy J is ALREADY sick of fans, which makes me sad because when I saw him a year ago at the MOR reunion concert he was SO PRECIOUS AND CHARMING but now he always has a look on his face like he's anxiously waiting for you to shut up and stop bothering him. Boo Roddy J, I mean really what did you expect. Also, the little Dracula understudy named Sebastien who I didn't want to love, IS SO SWEET. And the new guy who replaced Mathieu has a lot of tattoos, including all over his neck... huh. OH and Tamara smiled and waved at me! She's so pretty and nice gah.

ALSO I WILL VERY LIKELY BE ABLE TO FIND AND SAY GOODBYE TO MY MIKELE ON SEPTEMBER 15TH. As for Flo... I just hope I'll catch him when 1789 starts up.

Alright, and about masters stuff, I started looking at the courses required for the translation masters at NYU that I was initially interested in, and after the first TWO it all becomes accounting and contracts and patents and my soul died just thinking about it. I don't have a good head for reality. THEN I discovered a literary translation master ALSO at NYU, but it was two semesters in NYC and then a summer program in... PARIS. And I was like GAH I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO AFFORD TO GO BACK TO PARIS (though secretly it sounded amazing) and I was telling the family that's hosting my right now and they were like "Oh that's easy, just come live with us again!" I LOVE THESE PEOPLE.

But now I'm worrying again, because I never intended to do higher education and now I realize how badly I need to. But my GPA was 2.76, and apparently 3.0 is low for NYU standards. I could probably kick ass on the GRE (I'm not stupid, I just made a lot of dumb decisions in college including playing the Sims during class... often) and I have a lot of experience and could probably write a good letter of motivation or whatever in order to prove that I've changed in the what-will-have-been two years since getting my French degree... geez.

Anyway, so I don't know how coherent that was, but it was an update! I've been really hungry ever since I closed my bank account. I went from constantly eating everything in the pantry of the family I worked for to eating less than two meals a day because I don't want to spend all my money and I don't want to take advantage of the amazing family that's hosting me right now. My mom is sending my resume to places that'll hire me for "seasonal work" while I'm in North Carolina.

Oh I'm still typing? Okay sorry. I'll sleep now. Going stagedooring again tomorrow!
I feel good again.

Well, physically I'm absolutely suffering because it's been about 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the past several days and air conditioning barely exists here. Thank the sweet Lord I have a fan in my room, but right now I'm in a chair with the fan blowing straight at me on high and there's still so much sweat rolling down my legs it makes me wonder if I peed myself. It seems so dumb to me that people here don't have air conditioning in their homes. I spend the whole day feeling light-handed and chugging water.

The problem with my life is, I'm more socially lazy than anyone I know, because to be more socially lazy than me you're probably a hermit and NOBODY knows you. Given the smallest opportunity, I will spend any day in pyjamas. It's Sunday and I haven't left this house since Wednesday and that was only because I'd completely run out of food. I'm kind of proud of that, actually.

HOWEVER, that's not a good way to be when you want to start a new life for yourself and make new friends and stuff. I could have made new friends here if I'd been more outgoing and pushy or whatever, but I'm not wired that way. For me, there's "best friends for LIIIFE" and "acquaintances", and I feel weirdly abandoned by anyone in an in-between category.

When I was a little kid, my parents pressured me into joining a local soccer team. I thought the sport was okay, but obviously I wasn't athletic so I seem to recall I spent most of my time wandering around on the field, more interested in the CapriSuns we were going to get at half time than who was winning the game. The other kids were cruel to me, constantly telling me how much they wanted me to quit and how I was the most useless person on the team. I left practices and games alike in tears, and at the end of every season my concerned mother would pull me aside and ask if I was sure I still wanted to play. I would always say yes, just because I didn't want those girls to have their way and get to play without me. One year I finally realized that I was making myself miserable and changed my mind. I never regretted leaving that team, but it was hard for me to admit that, deep down, I did want to. I wasn't as strong as I wanted to be.

That's what's happening here in Paris, in a way. The world acted like I wouldn't be able to do it and I should give up, and in my determination to prove them wrong I stopped thinking about what I wanted.

The last time I left Paris, I didn't want to. I came back to muggy, humid North Carolina and found myself in a living situation I couldn't afford with no idea what my next move should be and no desire to move forward when, as far as I knew, my glamorous groupie life was on the other side of the ocean. So I fought and I dragged myself back over here, only to find that my groupie life wasn't in Paris, it was in the past. Not only did I find that out, but I learned that as a foreigner my rights to employment were limited, and as a product of the American education system I was considered borderline talentless. According to my host family, kids start figuring out what career they want in high school and they study the same subject straight through to their masters or higher, then funnel directly into the job and stay there for life. According to them, my being a college graduate with a broad area of study and no clue what I wanted my life to be was abnormal. It wasn't until recently that I remembered that that mindset was pretty much specific to what I've seen since coming here, and in the US people in their 20's are still considered young and are told they have time to make mistakes and figure things out. I'm 23, and my host family was nagging me about how I needed to find a career and start planning to have a family! (We won't get into how I've never wanted a family and always been skeptical of the idea of marriage right now.)

So yeah. Maybe I'll perk up working for a new family this year, but it won't change the fact that I'm lonely, unwilling to invest in making new friends, and blocked from the locals by both differences communication and background. Here I'm already expected to have marketable skills at my age, so unless I want to get into many years of schooling surrounded by younger people, I'm only slightly qualified for a couple of jobs, and even in those situations I will immediately be passed over in the event that a French person or EU citizen could do it instead.

Worse, I've never been a great student, and here I would have to work twice as hard as everyone else to get a masters because the classes and coursework would be in French. My knowledge of French is an amazing advantage in the US and a crippling disability here.


I've been crying over missing my friends since... late May, I think?

I don't know when I decided New York City was my dream... it must have been about the time I first saw Les Mis on Broadway, when I was... 14? Then when I was 18 I spent a week there with just my friend--my first big trip without my parents, planned and financed entirely by me!--and after that I was obsessed. Everyone told me it was hard to "make it" in New York but, stubborn me, I was going to prove them all wrong as soon as I graduated.

Except then I accidently a France. France and MOR and Flo and a D-list celebrity who wanted to bang me! Obviously I wanted to keep all that attention and positive feedback and admiration and stuff. But then I found out the hard way that that stuff wasn't coming from France, it was coming from the Troupe and MOR fans. And that's done. Now I'm just another immigrant, literally a second-class citizen.

Ever since I decided to consider going back to the US and taking on NYC with my girls, my whole mood has changed. I keep thinking of things I would be able to do there: Halloween, for instance, and AIR CONDITIONING UGHH THIS IS INHUMANE and buying groceries I recognize and shopping at stores that carry my size and just everything, oh gosh. Spending Christmas with my family.

Do I hate Paris now? Absolutely not! How could I? Will I miss it? Almost definitely.

Is going back the right choice for me right now? I feel pretty sure that it is.

Then I found out that NYU is the number one ranked school for getting a masters in translation... so I made up my mind. I can't stop thinking about how great it will be to be in my own country again, surrounded by people I love and capable of hugging my mom and petting her stupid dog Flossie till she pees all over the driveway.

My mom is trying to pretend to be very level-headed about this decision, but I can tell she's absolutely freaking out with excitement and relief at the idea of having one of her kids back (my brother has gone to Chile to teach English, and he's currently got one week to find new housing or he'll end up on the street, plus he already spent all his money on concert tickets or something and can't afford food, also did I mention he doesn't speak Spanish?).

I'll miss this city. I'll miss the métro. I'll miss muesli crostillant cereal and cheap fancy cheeses and weird animals being served up as acceptable dinner meat. I'll miss Flo constantly. But it's not worth it. I've frankly been unhappy for months now, and this decision is what's turning my mood around at last. So I guess I was right when I figured everything happens for a reason, and there was a HUGE reason for me not to get into a masters program this year: not only was I unprepared for housing and financial aid and part-time job things, but I also didn't have it in me to set up a future so far away from my people. I never would have imagined that it was the idea of making a life for myself in Paris that was making me cry myself to sleep all the time, but that's what happens to us stubborn kids. We don't want people to think we're giving in.

Did I tell you, I'm in the process of dumping the first host family I agreed to after having been contacted by one with two kids instead of four that will give me my own apartment that's so far away from their home that they're going to give me a meal plan as well? So I'll get that apartment in Paris after all. Just... maybe not the venus flytrap and cactus, unless someone wants to adopt them from me when I move out. Or I could go illegally plant them in a park somewhere... haha.

Anyway, now I'm getting together a Europe bucket list, and London and Vienna are definitely on there. I hope I can get that stuff done without blowing all my savings on travel!
I think I must be REALLY homesick.

I've started questioning this whole thing. If it wasn't for the musicals scene and my obsession with stalking Florent Mothe after concerts I would be giving serious though to making a big change. I would be seriously thinking about applying to a grad school in England or something. I would be thinking about following a career path that led into publishing, like copyediting or proofreading or something.

It's been a full year since I was in the States, and in that time I've been in a situation where I lost a lot of confidence in myself, became convinced that I was socially disabled, and was unable to make friends that fill the hole left by the dorm girls. I was supposed to be rooming with Kelley in New York right now, living in a shitty apartment and working a part-time job while I reflected on what I really wanted out of life.

I'm so skeeved out by the lack of separation between church and state and the weird obsession with having the perfect body that I see in American culture that I don't know if I can go back. But I also don't know if I could really make close, bff type friends out of French people who had such different childhoods than mine. I don't know if my French will ever be good enough to get into school.

I guess I'm just really lonely and I feel really inadequate. Maybe I can get my foot in the door working in translation for a publishing house here in France (after two years of a master's program), and if I'm still unsure whether I'm happy I could try applying to one of the millions of companies in New York. Or I could apply to grad schools in New York for next year, and if I don't get into the French ones I have a backup plan that won't require me to au pair for ANOTHER year.

I'm not sure I remember what it is I would miss about France if I went back to the States, besides the obvious political climate stuff and Flo. I think it's just coming down to a cultural thing between me and other French people, and frustration with trying to communicate in a foreign language. Why am I doing this?

This is a burned-out post.

I don't want to be an au pair again.
I am going to get a little apartment in Paris someday.

I don't want it to be big: I have no use for more than two rooms. I want a bed with a firm mattress that doesn't give me back pain, a bathroom, and a little kitchen. Maybe a table and chair for sewing or writing. I don't need anything else.

I will have heavy curtains to block out all sunlight so I can sleep as late as I want on days I don't go to the job I will have. I will have a sewing machine, and maybe even one of those dress forms in my size. I will have a venus flytrap and a hot pink cactus on my windowsill. Maybe a jug plant. I will have my own wifi with a funny name and password and it will work really well. One day I even want a desktop computer with a ton of memory space for my Sims 2 AND 3 games, instead of having them on my laptop which gets hot and runs out of space quickly. The walls will be covered with my MOR posters.

I will have a normal job, maybe in a publishing company. I will have manuscripts to send to various publishing houses in the States. I will have a few really close friends.

Fuck everybody who keeps trying to shit on this dream.
Thanks so much for the replies on the entry I posted last night... the mom showed up around lunch and surprised me by saying I have the afternoon off, but I'm still keeping track of my hours and only have six more to go this week. Now I can wait till this evening or tomorow morning to mention that if I work more than six hours more I should get extra pay. I also have to show her all the money I've been spending taking her kid to parks and pools and stuff and assume she'll reimburse me.

For everyone who told me to report to my agency... that's where my real problem lies.

Remember when I was crying and asked if, after being yelled at constantly, I could leave my host family? Remember how the lady at the agency waved away my complaints with responses like "Oh, French people are hot-blooded, don't take it personally when they yell at you" and "Oh, well sometimes when I come home from work I'm too tired to do anything myself"? Well, I took that and picked myself up and kept going despite NOTHING GETTING BETTER.

When I said I'm in for a second year I asked for a family with young kids where I'd live apart from the family home. The French agency lady called me eventually with news on a family with a 13-year-old and, when asked, didn't have any idea where I was meant to live. It became really obvious really fast that she is on the families' side of ANY interaction, not the girls'. She called me for that family because they needed someone the weekend and she knew I don't go out partying or whatever, not because she gave a shit about any of MY requests.

I have been emailing asking for information on how to "renew my visa" for over two months and have never gotten a reply from her. Last week I CC'd the lady in New York on an email with the same questions, and SHE replied immediately... however, her response was essentially "Ask the lady in France, not me" and when I pointed out that this was the fourth or fifth time I'd asked the question, New York lady didn't answer. Sunday I finally texted Paris lady and asked my same questions: is there any news on the family you talked about to me two weeks ago, and what can I do to renew my visa? She replied partway through the next day that the family wanted someone with less experience (why didn't she ever tell ME that??) and that I needed to just be patient with the visa stuff. PATIENT MY ASS!

I started searching on my own, and I've found an amazing option through a mutual friend. It's her old host family from two years ago who live in an amazing rich neighborhood close to Champs-Elysées, already have a maid thus don't require ANY cleaning from their au pair, and would let me have a studio apartment next to the family apartment. There are three kids only a teeny bit older than the ones I kept this year, and they pay slightly more than the family I'm currently with. I'm in negotiations with them now, but I WANT THAT JOB SO BADLY that it's hard to act sane about it!

I've done a lot of googling and I've FINALLY understood this whole paperwork thing better. It's not my visa I'm renewing, it's my carte de séjour! Once you get to France you have to go get a medical exam done by OFII, and they put a sticker with your host family's address in your passport. That's the carte de séjour. The visa is essentially for newcomers and travelling, but the carte de séjour lets you stay, so that's the one you have to renew. If you renew a temporary carte de séjour for five years (for me this next year will be my third) you can then apply for a badass one that lasts TEN YEARS before you have to renew it. Basically, all this stress over visas was misplaced! I will NOT have to keep renewing my visa as long as I'm here, but instead the carte de séjour. This means... there is NO CHANCE I will be sent back to the Consulate in Georgia this summer! Phew!

But how did I get all this information? GOOGLE. My agency is not helping me with jack shit, and not once have they ever had my back. Monday night at midnight France Lady texted me to say she had a new family to propose to me and would have New York Lady email their file to me, but it's now midday on Wednesday and I have not received ANY email from them.

This agency charges about €200 a year for JACK SHIT. So for the people who suggested I report my frustrations to the agency... ha! I might as well report it to the family cat. I'm in this on my own. And that's why I don't want to go through this agency again next year: I'm paying them a shit ton for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. For THEM doing my carte de séjour instead of me. Well fuck that, I'll do it myself and it'll only cost me €49.
PSA time with Loony!

Okay, so I basically get ALL the information I have in my life from googling it, and oftentimes I wonder how the hell anybody got anything done before the internet.

Cut for potential tmi )

I guess I wanted to share this on lj just because there obviously was a lack of information out there when I started on this itchy adventure, so maybe some poor soul will benefit from my discomfort in the future. USING YOUR BIRTH CONTROL TO SKIP PERIODS CAN LEAD TO A YEAST INFECTION.

I went to the St-Denis campus yesterday, which is in kinda a sketchy-looking neighborhood made up of old, sketchy-looking buildings but there's something about it that just delighted me. There were trees and grass and students everywhere, and I guess it was just so similar to an American university campus that I was enchanted. The test began with the hot British professor not being able to turn on the lights and a gruff older professor telling us where to eat lunch while we waited for the results by saying that some restaurants were expensive and digusting and others were cheap and disgusting. Everyone was relaxed and cheerful and I immediately preferred the atmosphere to ÉSIT, the massive, sterile institution that I also tried to get into.

For a moment the test scared me: we were given two passages, one in French and one in English, and our assignment was just to translate each one. We had an hour and a half. I finished in forty-five minutes and checked over and over. There was one word I had no idea about, but I made a random guess. For the rest, I was proud. I had even successfully used the passé simple (thanks to all the Balzac I've been reading perhaps). As soon as I started translating I knew that this was work I was going to enjoy one day.

I checked over my test a hundred times until I almost had the passages memorized, then finally turned it in and killed three hours by wandering around the campus, befriending half the staff of their wonderful campus CROUS (the student restaurant that exists throughout France: I ate at one in Paris all the time last year and LOVED it, but this one was infinitely less crowed, more spacious, and staffed by super kind people--it's a huge meal for three euros!). As it got close to two and I was totally attached to the idea of St-Denis (I had already scoped out the bathrooms and decided which was clean enough for me to use all the time next year, plus looked at available housing in the immediate area) I went to see the test results, mentally practising for my interview.

Of course I was shocked when my name wasn't on the list. I read it over and over, blinking back tears, wondering if this was a mistake. I already loved the campus and the professors (especially the hot Brit) and the course content. All morning I had been reminding myself that I wouldn't survive another year as an au pair, and even if I was afraid of housing and finding a part time job and blah blah, being a student was the best way to get my life rolling.

I put on my sunglasses to hide my tears and wore them all the way back to the house, still occasionally wondering if I had somehow missed my name on the list. I looked up the word I hadn't known--my guess was way off--and started mentally composing an email for the lady at my agency.

There it is. I don't know why the universe wants me to spend another year of my life doing this, but it's done. I'll study at Campus Langues again, I'll look for scholarships this time and I'll apply to housing with CROUS so I can get a nice little apartment for less than €200 a month. I'll look for other programs. I'll apply to ÉSIT again. And when the time comes, St-Denis will receive the exact same application from me. Unless I've already gotten into a better school.

My email to the agency will specifically request a family that allows me to live separately from them, that will trust me to leave the room in the exact state I found it at the end of the year, and will have decent wifi and, for extra credit, a piano. I don't care how many kids there are or what their ages are. Maybe no kids older than, say, twelve, because it's harder to gain their trust and I don't want to deal with teenagers.

January 2017

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