Sunday, December 29, 2013

Three Days Till New Years on an Airplane!

Okay, packing for a trip is hard enough but today has been a puzzle of the highest magnitude: trying to decide what to bring on the plane; what to send ahead of me to France; what to send directly to China; what to leave here.  I fly on Tuesday afternoon.

I went to FedEx first, and yikes, a 15lb box would cost upwards of $250.  I asked if they had a slow boat to china, but they laughed, and said no.  Humph.  Next stop: Post Office.  Still expensive, but better: 30lb box to China about $130.  I also asked them if they had a slow boat to China, and the woman did NOT laugh.  Cause apparently, there really did use to be a slow boat to China.  But it's gone.  GONE!  WHY!  Apparently the Post Office stopped shipping by boat a few years ago.  All international freight is by air now.  Humph.  Again!  I originally planned to bring a lot more books, but alas, it's cost prohibitive as we can see.  I sure do love my books!--and some are simply necessary, unfortunately: my language books; my psychology books for my PhD; etc.  Pain in the butt.  I can't find them anywhere else, and I hate reading on an Ipad or kindle, so... sucks to be me.

Anyway, today has been quite the accomplishment in itself: I have managed to consolidate everything into 3 large boxes and 3 small boxes to China, with most of my clothing for a year, plus my books and whatnot.  And 1 large box and 1 small box to France, with some clothing and books. 
And finally my necessities for the next two weeks, since it will take at least 7 - 12 days for the boxes to arrive in France.

I'm sending the China-bound boxes care of my Chinese Language School, Mandarin House.  They are being truly accommodating.  I'm SO stoked to take Chinese lessons three mornings/week when I arrive!

But alas, my adventure is first taking me to France.  Landing in Paris on the 1st.  Ha--gonna spend New Year's on an Iberian Airlines plane (Spanish).  I'm sure this will end up being the one and only time I actually fall sound asleep on a long flight, and at midnight, I'm gonna get woken up with, "Feliz Nuevos Anos!"  My Spanish isn't so great, but I think that's how you say HNY.

I bought my Eurorail pass today as well at  That's a dream come true.  I've always wanted to 'backpack around Europe' and now I'm gonna do it: $660 for 15 days of continuous rail travel, starting March 1st.  I'm gonna be teaching at the high school in France until Feb 28th (a full two months), and then I'm off on a two-week adventure throughout Europe, starting in, I expect, Oslo, Norway.  It only costs $55 to fly from France to Oslo, and then I'll start taking the trains, speaking different languages along the way (how fun!) until I eventually end up in Rome, staying with my friends Roberto and Helen for a few days until flying to Shanghai.  Direct flight from Rome to Shanghai.  Leaving in the evening and arriving the next day in the afternoon.   

I got a text from one of my coworkers at work today.  She told me that I inspired her.  That my decision to leave my job as a public defender and go after my dreams inspired her to reevaluate her life, and what she is doing with hers.  I've been getting a lot of these emails/texts lately.  Really makes me smile.  I'm proud and excited to be living my dreams, and proud and excited to be inspiring others to pursue theirs as well!

Oh, my phone: I have to figure out what to do about that.  When to shut it off.  Do I get a disposable in France for two months, or just stick with wifi Skype on my iphone?   I did buy my foreign plug adaptors today, for France, and for China.  One less thing to worry about.  I'm really excited that I'm 90% done with the planning; that in 3 days, I will be on the trip.  Flying to Paris.  Wow.  And I'm sure, at 30,000 feet, thinking, "OH NO, I FORGOT TO ________!"

Oh, speaking of Skype, I had an hour chat with my host family mother, Veronique, yesterday.  She's awesome.  I really like her.  Neither she or her husband, or her two daughters speak English, and so I'm pretty stoked: we spoke in French the entire time, and it's how it will be for an entire two months.  And wow, how my French has improved.  The conversation was easy, and we talked about jobs, the weather, the best way to get to Barcelona, arrival times, about our families and our futures, and huh, I'm pretty proud of myself.  All this self study these last 5 years has actually paid off: my French is infinitely better than it was the last time I stayed with a host family in 2005 (during my two-week leave from Iraq.  Go figure that while everyone else took their break from war to go home, I chose to live with a French family and study French.  Haha!  That's me in a nutshell.  Haha)

So I'll be landing in Paris, and immediately taking a train for two hours to Lyons to see my friend Eva.  I was originally going to meet my friend Maura (German chick who is in university in Netherlands) but alas, her schedule didn't work out.  I'm excited to see Eva.  She's French, and lives in a town called, "Vienne" which is close to Lyons.  See: I was originally going to be teaching in a school in northern France, and to save money, I bought my plane ticket before my school placement was confirmed.  But in the end, I was placed in a high school in southwestern France, near the Spanish border.  8 hours by train from Paris!  Oh mon dieu!  But it's working out fine, because I'll hang with Eva for a few days up in Lyons (a city I have never been to), and schedule permitting, she is going to drive me down to Castres--by car it's apparently only 4 hours.  Isn't she a total sweetheart?  Oui, Eva, c'est vrai!  Tu es VRAIMENT gentille!  So we shall see.  She's super cool, and even though she speaks English, she loves speaking only in French with me, and I love it.  So for the few days I'm with her, it's more French immersion!  And we Skype every few days and I love speaking in French with her.  And she looovvveeeesss my accent.  Cause I'm soooooooo adorable.  (wink).

But coupled with my adorableness is a little sickness still.  Slight runny nose.  Headache.  Stuffy head.  But much better than I was last week.  I'm hoping to be on the plane with a clear head and a non-sniffly nose! 

That's it for now.  I think I'm gonna go check out the movie "Walter Mitty" now, either with my mom, or alone: I want to see as many movies as I can before I leave, cause pretty soon, I won't be seeing many films in English, I'm sure...  I hope she comes: I won't be seeing her for quite a long time.  I won't be seeing anyone from home really, unless you people come visit me! :)  I really wanted to have a farewall 'concert/speaking gig' but it's been too rushed and harried and I haven't had the time to plan it.  Maybe I can try to do something on Monday evening in Manhattan, but I'm not sure if I can find a venue and promote it.  On verra.

My damn neck is still twitching.  War injury from 2005.  From the body armor I had to wear constantly.  Nerve damage.  A doc two weeks ago gave me Baclafen, a muscle relaxer, to reduce the spasms, but I'm not so sure it works.  Just makes me tired.  I guess it's just a casualty of war I have to continue to learn to deal with.  We all have our struggles, alas, do we not?  But on the bright side, my leg is almost 85% better, thanks to the great physical therapy I received at Performance PT in Greenwich, CT.  Kevin, I miss you my love!  Haha.  My therapist and I have a very special, close relationship.  Though I doubt he will read this blog, so seriously, HOW CLOSE OF A RELATIONSHIP IS IT!?  KEVIN, WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ME!?  WHY DON'T YOU READ MY BLOG!  I'M ONLY WRITING THIS BLOG AS A WAY TO SHOW MY LOVE FOR YOU!  I MISS YOU!  TU ME MANQUE!!! TU ME MANQUE!!!

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