Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Toto, We're not in Paris Anymore

I went to lunch today with T, downtown Houston. There is apparently a city under the city, with tunnels & walkways & plazas covering about 40 blocks (plus or minus). I never knew. But you can walk for miles without ever going out into the open air.

Which I guess is good on rainy days, but it got a little weird after awhile. But that's not actually why I wrote the title.

The real reason why, is that when we went into the restaurant, the first thing the waiter says to us is "I'd bring you bread, but we're all out... Can I get you something to drink?"

To which I answered, "absolutely. Bring me a Riesling or a Pinot Grigio."

He then informs me that they don't serve alcohol.

Okay, fine. I can live without wine at lunchtime. (It's a struggle, but I'm strong).

But here's the kicker. At the end of the meal, when we declined desert, he informed us that the espresso machine was broken. So sorry.

So, in summary. Underground restaurant. No bread. No wine. No espresso.

I am in withdrawl.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What's Old is New Again

I think I've finally figured out why this place feels so odd to me. When we left Sugar Land, I was very comfortable here. Even though we were on our way to exciting, exotic Paris, I did not necessarily want to leave. I had friends, professional relationships, Jazzercise, schools, babysitters, et cetera.

When it was time to leave, in order to make it easier to go, I started noticing all the things I didn't like about living here - all the things that didn't work. I understand it is a normal thing to do, to distance oneself from what you will lose.

So, when we left, it was with the understanding we would never live here again. I said my goodbyes, focused on the negatives and (more or less) didn't look back. (I was, after all, moving to Paris!)

Now, the things that are the most obvious are those I put down on my way out. They haven't changed, just my way of looking at them. It's been more work than I expected to find my place here again.

On the bright side, our air shipment just arrived a few minutes ago. I'm off to unpack and try to make it feel more like home.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Deja vu all over again

I seem to recall writing a post about how it sucked to live long-term in a hotel. I am feeling that way again. I have been living out of a suitcase since December 27.

We have our house. It is ready to go. We just haven't had any stuff. Our air shipment has arrived in Houston, but apparently didn't make it through customs. Monday is a federal holiday, so there will be no one to process it until Tuesday.

We've decided that we can't stand it any more. We bought air mattresses for boys (and happened to be due for a new mattress set ourselves, so went ahead and bought it). Today I bought sheets & blankets and a set of kitchen utensils. Last week we bought towels & groceries.

The upshot is we are moving into the house tomorrow. Hooray! I'm tired of being a nomad.


In other news, it's been strange to be back in Sugar Land, Texas again. There are a number of places and people I said goodbye to, never intending to return. It's only been 18 months, so it feels very surreal to be saying hello again.

I am delighted to be able to go to Jazzercise classes again. This is where I made the commitment to become an instructor, and these are the people who had supported me on this journey. Sadly, there has been a tragic loss in this community recently and re-entry has been disjointed.

Hopefully be being in our home, and teaching Jazzercise again, I will be able to feel settled for awhile.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Reverse Culture Shock

There are two things about being back here that are especially weird for me right now.

The first is how BIG everything seems. Not seems. Is. I keep going in to buildings and feeling completely overwhelmed. Just the grocery store goes on forever. It feels like I have to walk for miles.

I went to a furniture store yesterday and there were two chairs I was interested in - on opposite sides of the store. I had to keep going back and forth. The distance was equivalent to going to the end of my street and back. Repeatedly.

The second thing that is taking some getting used to is all of the "in-your-face" advertising and consumerism. There is nothing you can't get here. And preferably RIGHT NOW.

I realize there was advertising in France too - but not being able to understand it; or using it as a French language lesson made it a lot more palatable.

Here it is all-advertising, all-the-time. It is easy to see why the world views Americans as such rampant consumers. We are.

(Lest anyone get upset... I am not complaining - merely observing. I can't say I am upset about being able to get what I want when I want it without difficulty... I'm just noticing how easy it is).

Sunday, January 03, 2010

What I like about being in the USA...

When I went to get a coffee, I was able to joke with the barista, and have a conversation with the person in line behind me.

Doesn't matter what the conversation was about. Just remembered that I like to talk to strangers.

Not being able to (talk to strangers) was probably the single biggest culture shock for me in France. I remember my first week there, I tried telling the baker how much I liked the package she had wrapped up for me. I tried to say something like "tres jolie," but apparently got it wrong, because it took about ten more minutes to pantomime that everything was okay, and I wasn't complaining, and yes I wanted what I had purchased.

It is nice to understand what is going on around me here.

On the negative side though, now I'm getting all kinds of "news" wherever I go. And news here is (almost) always sensationalized & bad.

But I like being able to understand.

Update: We have arrived in Houston. School starts on Tuesday. Once I get everyone to their proper locations, I am taking the day OFF!!!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Every January 1, I try to think about what I want the upcoming year to be about. Sometimes I write goals. Sometimes I write "intentions." Sometimes I look at all the areas in my life and think about each one individually.

Today, I woke up in time to watch the sun rise and thought about what I wanted, given the chaos and uncertainty that I know is coming. I've decided that what would give me the most peace this year is Acceptance.

Acceptance of how things are.
Acceptance of what is.
Acceptance of this moment.
Without judging it as bad or wrong.
Without trying to change it.
Without trying to plan it.

Wishing you a 2010 filled with light, love & joy.