Good Night, Nurse!

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From time to time I get emails from folks who’ve read Finding Me in France offering their reviews. They are incredibly kind and gracious and say things like, “Oh I laughed and laughed,” or, “You’ve inspired me to travel more,” or, “Overuse of the word arse gets tiresome.” That last one has been my favourite until now.

The other day I got a curious email from a name I didn’t recognize (let’s call her Florence). Her message was fairly direct, in fact, one sentence: “Does the name So and So (again, to protect the innocent) from Corner Brook (town in Newfoundland) ring a bell?” I saw that the email was cc’ed to So and So. Intrigued, I wrote back, “Yes, my head is always ringing with bells.”

It became clear that these two women worked together with the next reply, ” I have just put your book down…magical…laughing out loud in the middle of our recovery room for the last few days…driving So and So crazy…I think my two favourite Newfies should get together for a drink.” Either they both worked at a hospital or my book is currently being used as an anesthetic agent for major surgery. Continue reading “Good Night, Nurse!” »

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The Prince and the Showgirl

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Sometimes I forget about that French adventure I had. It seems so long ago and so far away and then Bam! it comes rocketing back to me, sometimes in very fine form. If you’ve been hanging out here for a while or if you’ve read the goofy book, you’ll know about my fabulous neighbour who made living in rural France quite special, the fantastique Jean-Claude. JC divides his time between being the prince of panache in a small French town and the master of mayhem in Morocco. And, god love him, he carts my doodle collection wherever he goes.

Not long ago, while sipping cocktails in a Moroccan nightclub, he ran into a famous French musician and producer by the name of Patrick Derue. I imagine they chatted about the spectacles Patrick has put on in Vegas and France, everything from a Chinese version of Cirque du Soleil to gospel concerts, and then somehow, this unfolded…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Continue reading “The Prince and the Showgirl” »

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The Last Au Revoir

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Well, the Big French Adventure has come to an end. What an interesting, exhilarating (at times, frustrating), up, down, and all around time it has been. I’ll tell you this: I admire anyone who can live here and not spend every cent they have on Meursault wine and pastries, anyone who can master both spoken and written French in less than 15 years, and, most of all, anyone immigrating to a foreign country without a sidekick who’s willing and able to manage European bureaucracy.

You know, someone asked me the other day if I thought the project was a success. I suppose the answer depends on how you define success. I’ve had unforgettable experiences, and met equally unforgettable people. I’ve seen many beautiful places, and while I haven’t seen a fraction of what I’d like to see in this part of the world, Europe’s not going anywhere and I know I’ll be warmly welcomed back. Overall, I’m far better for it, despite the deleterious effects on my derrière. Continue reading “The Last Au Revoir” »

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Merci Monsieur

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I had planned to write a long and sappy, yet charming and witty post thanking Rusty/Big Red/My Better Two-Thirds for this adventure of mine (everything from funding the finding to feeding the giraffe), but then I remembered he doesn’t read my posts very often—bastard.

Regardless, I sat down to write my thank-you note, but I just couldn’t find the right words to convey my gratitude. I almost abandoned the whole thing, and then I got lucky. I found maybe the best thing I’ve ever seen on the internet, and rather than waxing poetic about my husband’s many gifts to me, I’ve decided to share someone else’s story—an ordinary couple who share an extraordinary love.

So, Neil, if you’re out there, you’re a first rate smartypants, a kind soul, and the best friend a girl could ever have. This one is for you: Click here, turn up the sound, enjoy, and then get busy with dinner, will ya?

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Island Girl

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Okay, for anyone who’s curious about where I’ll be finding me next: think ocean and mountains and vineyards. Think temperate climate, totem poles, Chinatown, orca whales, and people who say please a lot. Come the morning of May 1st, I’ll be opening my eyes on beautiful Vancouver Island. Not exotic or exciting enough? May I remind you that I have never once set foot on Vancouver Island, and that’s as exciting as I’m prepared to be at the moment.

While many locales were up for grabs, we decided an immigration to yet another foreign country was beyond our energy expenditure capacity—code phrase for too bloody lazy. We have friends and work contacts there, and I hear that English is spoken in all the respectable hair salons.

For those who might not know a lot about Canada (Americans, I’m looking at you), perhaps describing Victoria as a mini San Francisco or Seattle with fewer guns and higher taxes will suffice, with apologies to my new home if the comparison is off. Of course, San Francisco, Seattle, and my bucket list restaurant—The French Laundry in the California vineyards—are just around the corner, and I’ll be plotting a plan for all 3 destinations as soon as I unpack. Continue reading “Island Girl” »

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Mama Was a Rolling Stone

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Finders, it’s official: I’m moving. Again. I don’t mean across town, I mean to a different country. Exactly where is not important. For now, it’s enough simply to divulge the drama of the impending déménagement—that’s French for repeatedly doing things that might lead to complete physical and mental collapse.

In case I’m misunderstood, I’m in favour of further adventure; I just want the magical version of it, where someone waves a wand or wiggles a nose and it all comes into place while I’ve been off having a full body massage. 

To say this decision was not arrived at lightly would be the very definition of understatement. Rusty and I discussed and debated like never before and, like always, reached a consensus. We know how to do this by now. We celebrated 11 years together Monday past, and I was quick to point out that 132 months had passed and we’d managed to avoid killing each other, a major triumph in my view. We’ll see over the coming weeks whether I spoke too soon. Continue reading “Mama Was a Rolling Stone” »

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Cover to Cover

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So a while back, a lovely Canadian journalist contacted me to do a profile on my shenanigans for a magazine called The Medical Post, a monthly publication exclusively for physicians that covers everything from tuberculosis treatment to travel. OK, Vogue it is not, but it is national and seen by almost every doctor in Canada.

Naturally, I had mixed feelings about having all my former colleagues learn about my abandoning ship, but the woman who interviewed me was so respectful and smart and she asked very interesting questions, so I thought this will be fine, cool even. I’d come off looking all groovy and wise and worldly.

And I did, mostly. Of course the goofy element was loud and clear, but what wasn’t loud and clear was that the cover would feature of picture of my head. Sweet hand of god, not much subtle about me now is there? I pictured me on the back page, you know, the one that nobody ever reads and gets used to sop up spilled coffee or line the compost bucket. I should have known when they asked for multiple pictures of me. So, neither subtle nor swift, me. Continue reading “Cover to Cover” »

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Close Encounters of the Cerebral Kind

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Every now and then, I get to flex my writing and psychiatric muscles simultaneously, and this time it’s all glamour, all the time. I was asked by Canadian film director Kris Booth to offer my perspective on what might happen if 6 souls were thrust into space on a trip to Mars…and things went horribly wrong.

The movie, Red Horizon, is a contender for the Cinecoup competition, and with a grand prize of one million bucks to finance a Canadian feature film, there’s a lot on the line (you can vote for the film on the Cinecoup website).

I was thrilled to be asked to contribute, and I fully expect to pick up the Oscar for Best Psychiatric Advisor next year. So, while I’m picking out my dress, have a read of what I had to say here.

 

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Hope Springs Eternal

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Ah yes, uncertainty. It seems it’s only human to desire the known and the sure. But that would be just too easy now wouldn’t it? And probably exceedingly boring. That said, I could use a little tedium right about now. I’m so used to the humdrum of my day to day life that all this excitement threatens to lead to some sort of radical action on my part, like baking or getting dressed.

We’re all over the map these days—one minute it’s Switzerland at all costs, the next minute it’s Canada or bust! There’s even been a brief, and I mean brief, consideration of a sojourn to the US of A. If Hilary Clinton calls looking for a personal therapist, I’ll put it back on the table. Otherwise, the land of the free will be free of me.

It seems the only certainty chez nous is a lack of certainty, but who the hell cares I say. No matter what kind of chaos life conjures up, there is one thing you can always count on: the passage of time. The sun rises and sets without care of what happens to be going on in my little life. Continue reading “Hope Springs Eternal” »

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Overnight Sensation

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So there we were, living our dreamy yet slightly risky Swiss life. Risky because any time a couple lives on one self-employed income in a foreign (and expensive) country, well, there’s always the chance that things can change quickly, leaving said couple in a precarious position. One day we were rolling along on our skin tight budget. And then, literally overnight, as they say in my homeland, “There it was…gone.”

Neil’s major client, a beloved Canadian company for whom he worked joyfully for 15 years, has decided to close—a sad event for all involved. We’ve always known this could happen, and that uncertainty was a point of discussion at every point along the way in our Big Adventure Abroad. Continue reading “Overnight Sensation” »

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The Sands of Time

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Well, given the long awaited arrival of the Finding Me in France e-book, my delightful former French neighbour and ambassador of adventure (and book promotion), Jean-Claude returns just in time.

He sent me this photo and I wondered whether he’d joined the French delegation to Mars…

but then I realized space travel would be far too boring for JC. I mean does this look like a man who would be caught dead in a spacesuit?

This is the Sahara desert and I’d say Jean-Claude looks like the King of it all. He dragged his FMIF copy along (god love him) to make introductions: Modern book of doodles, meet some of the very first doodles ever recorded.

He sees this as the earliest blog in existence, and he may be right. I’m proud to be associated with this unknown ancient storyteller. I’m thinking we have a lot in common, perhaps we’re kindred spirits or at least kindred giraffes…

It’s amazing to think about someone sitting in the Sahara desert thousands of years ago carving out their world for all to see. Maybe we haven’t changed all that much. I bet if he looked hard enough, he’d find there’s a rock out there with a perfect depiction of an arse and a red-headed husband. Merci JC, you’re the best!

 

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Say it Again Sam

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Well, it’s time for another language rant. You have to agree it’s been a while. Let me preface this whole thing by freely admitting that I am a ridiculous person. That’s never stopped me before, won’t stop me now. I say ridiculous because I still expect to be visited by the French Fluency Fairy who will sprinkle glitter on my tongue while I sleep, allowing me to wake and recite Balzac and Baudelaire with ease.

I’ve been so busy marvelling at mountains, moving apartments, zipping up to Zurich, and starving half to death while Neil was away that I haven’t so much as blown a bit of dust off my French study books. And yet, I walked into a computer store in French speaking Switzerland and assumed all would be well. Continue reading “Say it Again Sam” »

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This Just In

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Cripes, it’s like CNN over here. We interrupt this blog break to bring you breaking news. Finding Me in France (the book, not the now multiple award-winning blog) is going into its third printing. It should be done on or about February 19 and available at Indigo, Amazon.ca and fine independent bookstores across Canada. Not in Canada? Well, hold on to your chapeau

The even bigger news is this:

The e-book is here!! http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=FINDING+ME+IN+FRANCE

Now you can have stories about my arse and over 140 colour pictures wherever you happen to be. So Facebook it, Tweet it, Pinterest it and, in a nod to old times, tell all your friends.

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The Trophy Wife

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A few weeks back, I received notice that I was shortlisted for the 2012 Canadian Weblog Awards in not one, but two categories: Best Blog by an Ex-Pat and, drumroll please, Best Written Blog. Well, you’re never safe from surprise ’til you’re dead.

The first was thrilling, doubly so because I actually won this award last year. To be nominated and then shortlisted again, well, a lovely surprise that. But the second was even more exciting. I was stunned to see my doodle collection being recognized for the quality of the writing.

Mostly I don’t give a merde about awards and accolades or uninhibited criticism for that matter, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stuffed with squealy delight to have been whittled down to one of the top 5 best written blogs in Canada. I had visions of trying to load the washer while wearing a tiara, a huge bouquet of red roses in one hand and the Stanley Cup in the other.

Well, late last night, the results came in and SWEET JAYSUS I’M DOUBLE FISTED!! First place in BOTH categories—moi! I’m speechless, well, figuratively. I’m not one to blow my own horn much, but I’d say congratulations are in order. I should say I’m humbled and honoured and all that crap. Too bad, I’m running with this for all it’s worth. Cripes, poor Neil, there’ll be no dealing with me now.

Seriously, though, it is an honour and my sincere thanks to the judges and to Elan Morgan (aka Schmutzie) who runs the awards. Another big merci to Scott McCulloch, blog tech extraordinaire.

Of course Best of This or That really doesn’t matter. What means something to me is the fun I’ve had writing about my life as a French femme and now as a Swiss Missus. And what matters more is that you Finders have found me. The kindness and positivity and joy of this crowd is what deserves recognition. What we need is an award for Best Blog Followers on Earth—you’d all be wearing crowns and swigging champagne from gilded cups. Merci bien mes amis.

And now I’m taking a well-deserved break for a week. Don’t look at me like that or I’ll smack you with my Queen of the Blogosphere sash.

 

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Rusty Rides Again

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Thanks be to Jaysus my husband is home. I met him at the train station last Friday afternoon and he looked a little less than fresh, but who wouldn’t after that mess? A delayed midnight flight from Halifax, Nova Scotia to London, hours of hanging about in Heathrow, followed by a flight to Geneva, although the view from that leg of the journey can’t be beat—”Ladies and gentlemen, we will be landing shortly, please put your chairs in the upright position and your eyes in the open position. The Alps welcome you.”

Then through Swiss customs, a train to Lausanne and finally another train to Vevey. All that on top of two very busy weeks of work. Poor man, I’m exhausted just typing it out. But never mind him, unbridled narcissism is the theme here, so in fine Finding Me fashion, it’s all about me. Continue reading “Rusty Rides Again” »

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