Friday, August 29, 2008

Interesting Facts, Interesting Evening

So last night Cyr and I did the picnic thing, which turned out to be pretty cool. We showed up bringing fruit and others brought quiches, cheeses and other assorted goodies. We ate our fill then rode our bikes along with the group to the movie theater. We saw a British film called "Be Happy". I really liked it. Not much of a story, just the theme that one chooses to be happy or not. I completely agree with this. When life happens and things occur, you choose how you react. You can be angry, aloof or slightly entertained all by the same happening. Read on...

Before I get to my theory of Conscious Optimism (as I have just named it) I would like to post an observation about French movies and movie theaters. The first is the need for the French to retitle something in French, even if it isn't necessary. It's as if they have to change the title to sort of make it their own by saying; "We do not sink zat ewe can make a good title, so wee do zis for you. D'accord?" Take for instance a few titles they have changed;
"Knight Rider" - "K2000" Please don't Hassel the Hoff...
"Happy-Go-Lucky" - "Be Happy" notice the new title is in English?
"The Departed"
- "Les Infiltres" Translated: "The Infiltrators"
"The Dukes of Hazzard" - "Sherif fait moi peur!" Translated: "Sherif, I dare you to scare me!" This one is my personal favorite as "The Dukes" are the people, their last name being "Duke" and "Hazzard" is the county where they it should be the same no?
Another thing I find interesting is that at the end of the movie they don't turn the lights on. The whole audience sits there and watches the credits. This I don't actually mind and sometimes it's fun to see if my favorite gaffer or grip was on the shoot, but sometimes I need to run to the ladies room and it's all dark. Maybe this is a good thing though, this way all those folks who worked their butts off for George Clooney and other celebs can be recognized. Just an observation...something different.

So at the end of the evening, after we have given everyone kisses goodnight, I hear Cyr say; "Hey, I don't see your bike." are correct...someone stole my BRAND NEW BICYCLE!! It was only the third time I had ridden it! I didn't even get to take a picture of it! It was locked up and someone just came along with some clippers and snapped the lock in two. I have to say though, I was super duper glad it was just my city bike and not my road or mountain bike. I would be all kinds of torn up if Blue Bell or Lana went missing. An APB would have been put out to all points! And since APB probably doesn't translate it would have been a rough evening.

Since it was 11:00pm when we made the discovery we were able to walk to the tram station and take the tram home. The sad thing was that they cut the lock, took my bike, but left Cyr's there. Poor guy, he has such a battered bike the thieves didn't even want it. I was a little offended for him. Funny thing was, I was never really upset or mad about it. I'm following the example of Poppy in the movie (who by the way, gets her bike stolen too) and not going to let it tarnish my optimism. I can choose to be pissed off and angry, but instead I am choosing to believe that the person that stole my Black Beauty really needed it. I think that this thief, who is a good person forced to do a bad thing, will ride Beauty to pick up medicine from a pharmacy far-far away, that he could never have gotten to on foot, to pick up a cure for his extremely sick child who would parish without it. So in fact, it is a good thing my bike is gone. It is serving a higher purpose.

Of course I would be hunting the bastard down if he had stolen one of my other bikes. One can only be so optimistic you know...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I have a date!

With the cutest little French lady you have ever seen. I met Lillian today as I was walking out of our apartment to buy some fruit. We started chatting and it turned out she was going to the same market. We walked together and discovered that she and her husband were from the same town as Cyr, they retired here to Lille and that she liked to walk. The conversation went like this:
"Do you like to marche (walk)?"
"Oh, oui! J'aime bien marcher." (Oh yes, I like to walk) I say.
She then tells me "There are lots of places to walk to in Lille."
"Really?" I say.
"Ba oui!" she says. (I love "Ba oui", it's like saying "heck yeah". Or at least that is how I like to translate it.)
So now I have a walking date with my new friend for Monday!

When we came back with our fruit she invited me up to see her place. Quite lovely! She's has the same apartment on the same floor as we do just one building over. It has a little different makeup but the floor plan is the same. She also showed me pictures of her kids and grandchildren. I would have invited her over to see ours but I was doing laundry which means I have things hanging all over the house. Guess I will be cleaning up this weekend for my new friend Lillian's visit Monday morning. We agreed that she would ring me Monday and we would go for a walk and I can practice my French. I hope she isn't an early bird. What if she rings at like 8:30?! She is quite progressive though, she gave me her email address! She probably has a Facebook account too.

Well wouldn't you know it; I was a little grumpy this morning, now I'm all chipper again and looking forward to Monday. Just to be safe I think I will send her an email suggesting 10am. That sounds like a good walk time. Tonight Cyr and I are going to take our bikes and meet some people he knows for a picnic and a movie. We are bringing the fruit I just purchased. I think I might have to declare this "Susan-meets-new-friends Day" because I have not met any of the folks we are going out with tonight either. I hope I like them as much as I like Lillian!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Busy or Not Busy?

Well we had a great weekend. Cyriaque's friend from London, Alex and Kate, are just great. We showed them around Lille and then went to Brugges for a day. It's so close, it's the easiest place to show folks once they have been around Lille. Although you could spend a few days in Lille and it would not be a problem there is so much to see. The only problem is that France is closed on Sunday, but Belgium is open! Not all, but most of the shops in Belgium are open Sunday so you can walk around and see things, go into museums and things of that nature. We actually just walked along the canals and ate and drank all day. It was quite lovely really...

Yesterday Cyr thought he was going to have to go to Libya but the trip was canceled so we were able to spend the afternoon together at the house. Last night I remembered that I really needed to get the hotel information together to send out to all the people that are invited to the wedding. So although all day I didn't do much, I started working around 8pm and was up until midnight. Then when I went to bed my mind would not turn off and all I could do was lie there and think about all the other things I need to get done this week. It so odd, sometimes I feel like I have too much to do, then a few hours later I will feel like I can't wait to be able to work because I don't have enough to do. What is that? How can I have to completely opposing thoughts within hours of each other? I think I am in denial about how much I have to do actually. The big thing is that I want to try to have my invitations in the mail on September 1st. I have them all stuffed and ready to go in the US, I just need to make an insert with hotel info/directions and things.

I'm just not feeling very entertaining the last few days. I have lost my wit somewhere. I'm just not feeling at all witty or funny and nothing interesting is happening right now. I'm sure it will pass. I have been wanting to post, but everything I think of just sounds so boring. I just typed this up because I wanted you all to know I'm still alive over here.

Oh - I did find the beginners workbook to the series I have that is Intermediate French. I'm doing to do a few lessons a day and try to really learn the basics. I jumped in so fast I missed some of the simple things. But I can now talk in the past tense! Woohoo!

Here is a picture of my best friend in Lille; Olga. She moved back to Canada. Damn it...

I miss you Olga!!

Friday, August 22, 2008


We have friends in town today until Monday. Cyr's friend Alex and his wife Kate are here for the weekend. They live in London and are so much fun. We are planning to hang out in Lille and maybe make a side trip to Bruges.

I'm gathering pictures though and should have some good posts next week. I think I spent all this week cleaning up and getting ready for our guests today. I like to pretend I keep a clean house when folks come over.'s actually pretty neat, but when visitors come I like to have everything in place. Very un-Susan-like of me I know. I must be nesting...NO...not because of anything, just because.

I did just read a really good book. I started and finished it in one day. It's by Paulo Coelho who wrote one of my favorite books; The Alchemist. It's called Veronica Decides to Die. I love it, I recommend it to anyone who likes to read. I think I might have to add it my list of favorites. Others include Blink by Malcom Gladwell, The Alchemist (already mentioned) and as a guilty pleasure The Outlander series. I just finished the last one and feel that I have lost a group of friends!! I love books, feel free to suggest any you feel I should read. Without a work permit I finally have time to read...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Interesting Facts about France

France does many, many things very well. They have the best food, wine and being close to Belgium some of the best beer I have ever had. I even love some of their movies (will get into this at another date). One thing I think rather interesting though, is that they have HUGE microphones for anyone who is on a game show or interview session.

I know, sounds crazy. But it's true!! You watch any game show and they all have on these over the ear, wrap around the head microphones. It's like they have not gotten the notice about the small black one that clips to ones lapel. Seriously folks, are you using this as a fashion devise? They mostly look like this:

I don't know why I find this so amusing, but I do. The land of large microphones...this is where I live. Has anyone else noticed this interesting fact? Come on Le Tigre and Leesa...I know you have...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back to France

Well, I made it back safely to Lille. The flight was good, at least this time my tv wasn't broken like on the way over. It was also pretty smooth, but I couldn't sleep much and when I finally arrived home I was pretty tired. I ended up cheating on the whole jet lag thing and took a nap. I know everyone says "don't nap, make yourself stay up and then go to bed at the proper time so your body can adjust." Well, I also went to bed at 10pm and slept all night so I guess the nap didn't affect me much!

The trip was a little more fun this time because I was carrying my wedding dress in a HUGE white garment bag. Everyone kept saying "oh, are you getting married?!" and I got to tell them "Yes" and usually a little about my story. It was really fun and kind of exciting. I was a bit jealous though, my dress rode in first class while I was back in coach. Granted, it was in the closet, but I bet we both had about as much room! Actually Air France seems to do pretty well these days. I had a window seat for the first time, I typically ride in the aisle, and it was pretty comfy. I like being able to lean against the window and try to sleep. I used to fly almost every week for work and always had the window but with the international flight I typically take the aisle.

I called Cyr to let him know I was almost to the train station and he responded with "what car?" When I got onto the platform I looked up and saw a grinning bald man running toward me. I was in the last car, he said he saw the big white bag and knew it was me. We ran to each other and hugged and kissed. It is France after all, everyone kisses in public here. It was so sweet, I was so happy and relieved to see him, I immediately felt at home again.

Saturday we went and bought me a city bike. Cyr has one, but I just have my mountain and road bike. I can't really ride those around town. I guess I could ride my mountain bike, but it's a really nice one and too expensive to risk loosing. It's a custom Turner 5-spot, I used to live in Sedona, AZ and ride all the time. I'll post a picture next time, but I got the cutest little black and silver city bike with a basket and a bell!! We also bought a bike rack so we can take our other bikes places. I'm so excited about this, I really miss riding and can't wait to get some long ones in over the next few weeks. We installed the bike rack in the parking lot so we could take the bike home. Once we got the bike on the rack we realised that there was a strong possibility that it might hit the lights or the roof. The way the bike is shaped it sits really high in the rack and the ceilings are pretty low. No F-150's in this place for sure. So...Cyr drove the car and I followed him thought the garage. We finally found and exit and he paid and drove under the gate. I tried to follow and I feel something stop me and crash into my chest and arms. The gate got me! The wind was a little knocked out of me, but I ducked and was able to get under it. I then followed Cyr up the exit ramp still shocked that I was attacked by the gate. He pulled over so we could load the bike and asked if I was alright. I was, I think I mostly bruised my pride, but my body was fine. We loaded up and went home.

Then we did the most fun thing...we both road our bikes into town. We road to the movie theater to check times and saw a movie, I don't even know what it was because although it was a Hollywood film that was played in English, the subtitles and title of the movie were in French. Jason Statham was in it, they robbed a bank. I love a bald hero-villain!! When we came out we then road around and found a place to eat, locked up our bikes, ate and had fantastic beers with dinner then road home in the dark!! My bike has a light on the front of it but the paths are so well lit you don't really need one, but I think it helps. It was so fun! I didn't even feel bad about eating desert because the ride home is uphill, and I forgot to be self-conscious about the fact that I'm sure someone said "hey - isn't that the girl in the white shirt that was hit by the parking gate?" There was after all a line behind us... When we got home we both decided that we would have to do that more often. We are only about 10 minutes from downtown, just enough to have an enjoyable ride but too long to walk. We typically take the tram or car, but now I think we will take the bikes when we can. What a great first weekend back.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

50th Post

Wow...I saw on my dashboard that this is my 50th post. I guess a lot has happened in the last 5 months or so. Right now I'm rushing to get packed and to the airport. I'm headed back to my new home in Lille. I have been so busy here though I feel like I have not been able to complete everything, but I have to get back and get to work on things in Lille too.

I was able to spend some good time with my Dad and step Mom Sandy. Dad has not been feeling too well and so I was also able to go with him to some doctors appointment and be my pushy self and ask all the questions I wanted to the doctors. Although Dad and Sandy seem to ask what I want to know, it was nice to be there. It's times like this that I wish I could be here and help more.

I also was able to solve the frustrating issue of wedding invitations. Le Tigre, you would be proud!! I ended up being so frustrated I decided to make my own. My good friend Milton suggested Arnies Wholesale and I was able to buy invitation kits with invites, envelopes, response cards, response envelopes all for about 1/4 the price of the already made and just ran them through my printer. I have been up till 2am the last 2 nights getting the US ones done so Mom just has to put labels on them and drop them in the mail. And you know what...I really like them! I picked out ecru cards with a simple straight boarder. I printed a French one, English one, put holes in the top and ran a ribbon through it so they are tied back to back. Not bad!

I think it's really hitting me that I actually live in France. I have my family here, and for the first time I feel like they actually need me and I could be helping them and I'm not here. I hate that. I love Lille and I want to make my life there (for now) with Cyr but at the same time I...for the first time ever...think I'm sad to leave Houston.

I'll miss you Mom. I'll miss helping you out Dad and Sandy. I know things won't be that easy for a while, but I'll be back when I can and if anything goes wrong I can always hop a flight home. Love to all my friends that I didn't get to see too. So many people I wanted to spend time with that I didn't. I guess since I'm getting married it just seems a little different to leave. The next time I return to Houston I will be Susan M, no longer Susan W. Huh, just a little upside down I guess. Ha...never thought of that...

Love you Texas, see you soon France!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Texas Weekend

Well, the weekend has come to an end, but it's been a good one. I leave this Thursday and had a crazy amount of things to get done over the last week, and I think I accomplished most of them. I saw my Dad last week and will see him again tomorrow, and then Saturday I saw my brother. Ralph is my half brother and is 15 years older than me. Actually, I think that is about the same age difference that Cyr has with his younger brother C (I don't put his name here because I have not asked him if that is ok and I wouldn't want to offend him). Cyr and his brother are very close and get along great. Ralph and I get along great, we just don't see each other often enough. We never lived in the same house growing up, and with the age difference our lives were just pretty different. But Saturday we made the effort, went out and had a great time.

It was really fun! We went to eat Mexican food then went country western dancing. He loves to dance and is a really good two stepper. I love to dance too and am pretty good as well. I'll dance to anything; two-step, polka, waltz, whatever! It's great going with Ralph because we always have someone to dance with. Just to answer some of those thoughts people have...NO, we do not line dance in Texas. Why people think line dancing is actual dancing is beyond me, I just think it's so funny! Last summer when Cyr and I went to visit his mother and brother we saw a group of people wearing t-shirts with American flags on them that were line dancing to country music outside of a restaurant. It was the evenings entertainment. It was pretty funny actually, apparently they traveled and did this dance thing! I think Cyr's mom took some pictures, I should ask her to email them to me so I can post them. Right now I'm trying to study a little French so I can send her an email in French without looking like an idiot. She is really nice though, I'm sure it wouldn't be a big deal if I messed it all up. I'll probably email Cyr to check it first though, just in case...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Weathering the Storm

Well the hurricane, or tropical storm as it turned out to be, was a complete dud. There was a little rain, but that was about it. All the news stations were extremely excited about this potential threat and canceled all the programming and would show different newbie meteorologists around town who would give reports. Most went like this:
This is (whoever) reporting from north Houston and as you can's raining. I want you to look at the water gathering here so you can get an idea of how much is coming down. (Camera then focuses on a water puddle no more than half an inch deep.) As you can see, there is water gathering here, it's even running through the streets into the storm gutters. Back to you guys in the station.
Since the whole Catrina/Rita thing no one wants to be caught underestimating any sort of disaster I guess. Most businesses were closed, many of them closed the day before to let people get their homes prepared for the storm. The signs on the freeway blinked "Storm forming in Gulf, fill your gas tanks". It was all very exciting for a while! Having been through a few big storms I'm glad it fell apart and turned out to be only a light rain, but I wish the media would have stopped trying to sensationalize the day of not-so-bad effects.

Today I'm going to try to find wedding invitations. I found some that I love, but when they told me they would be $700 for 100 of them I had to laugh.'s paper. What a racket this wedding thing is! Everything is crazy expensive. So I'm off to find some acceptable invitations today (if such a thing does in fact exist). Is it tacky to send an evite?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Showers, Wedding and Tropical Storm

I had my first wedding shower!! I know these things are totally dorky, that they are typically only fun for the bride, but hey, I'm the bride! It was mostly family there, but my Mom and cousins who threw the shower know some friends of mine so a few friends were invited as well. It was so interesting to see all these people mix together.

So in case you don't know, I have a very eclectic group of friends and family. Many people may say this, but I'm actually serious. Many of my friends are not friends with each other, and many of my family members don't really talk to each other. Time goes by and you build your life around a few people and before you know it, you have not spoken to someone in three years. It happens. You don't mean it to, but it happens. Maybe this is why I was so touched that all these people from different parts of my life showed up.

I had childhood friends like Brandy, my high school representative Missy, college was Amanda then came present day with Lori and Shari. Family was represented from not only my mother's side, but from cousins on my Dad's side like Pam and Cheryl. Friends I have known my whole life like Courtney and Susan B. Most of these people don't know each other, some of them came alone, not knowing who would be there. But they were there. They came to this strange place to sit around and talk to people they don't know because they care about me. Or at least that is what I like to think. It doesn't sound like much, but maybe if you take in the whole thing it really was. They did this little thing for me, just for me. It wasn't convenient, it wasn't a promise of fun, just a promise that it would mean something to me. And it did. Thank you all that came. Sorry to all that my family didn't know to invite. There will be other times for you to sacrifice and show your love to me! Just kidding...I hope...

I can't help but reflect on family and friends right now. To think of all the things that I know I have been upset about in the past and to I know that most of those things are trivial. Maybe someone made a bad decision in the past, but today, right now, if they are here for me, how can I fault them? Maybe some things can not be forgiven, but maybe some can. As I have all these sentimental thoughts of how I love all my family and friends, I am watching the news off an on.

"Welcome Home Susan!" screams every channel. There is a hurricane set to hit Houston tomorrow morning and all you hear about on tv or radio is about Hurricane Edouard. Nice spelling eh? Must be some weather guy's relative. The channel we are watching now is running an "Eye on the Gulf" all night. How exciting. Yeah, I pick a week to come home, and it's a good one eh? Well at least I got to know again that feeling of walking into a store and having all the water and batteries gone. The comradery of those walking the aisles with glances that say; "Hey man, I'm with you. I ain't leaving town. We can't take this storm. I'm on your team." So here I sit with my Mom, a few gallons of water in the other room, a few snacks just in case. Hoping that my little pink house doesn't blow away. I may not be able to blog tomorrow as we might loose power, but hey, at least when I can, it will probably be a good one. With the temperature right now at about 100-102 F (37-38) it's going to be a fun time if we loose electricity. No AC, don't mess with me...

Cross your fingers and hope it (Edouard) dies out. Ever since Rita it just seems that people freak out when the wind picks up, so I don't know if I should be worried or not. They are not evacuating, so I guess we are ok. The latest says that Houston should get the brunt of the storm about 7pm Tuesday night. So maybe I should cancel that dinner and drinks at 5:30 eh?