30 September 2008

Lady Liberty, we go forth from whence you came

we had a lovely mini-break in nyack, ny with the obligatory day in the city. it seems kind of symbolic that we were in NYC for our last american trip before we become (temporary) immigrants in france. the city where the french gave the gift of the statue of liberty, which stands near Ellis Island, that welcomed european immigrants for so many years...

...first time ever where BOTH flights were good experiences. no bad weather, no hours-long delays, no flight cancellations, no passenger vomiting (ive had both the lady next to me barf and also a flight with turbulence was so bad that nearly 50% of plane puked). the La Guardia karma has finally given me a break, which kinda echos the good experience we had with chicago, maybe this is another sign we are on the right path...

Day #1...arrive in nyack at my friends totally cute house. quirky charm, nice yard, great layout, cozy room spaces, perfect location...YUMMY breakfast at strawberry place. teeny weeny bikini omelet, multiberry waffles with yogurt and granola, mountains of meat...the muggy rain continues sticking all over my face so we decide to go see the new movie 'Choke.' completely inappropriate humor (sex addiction, mental health issues, religion, rape), spot-on performances...

Day #2...still raining/sprinkling...arrive at grand central station and head toward the East Village. tracks under construction, three subway trains later...arrive in the east village with destination lunch at Caracas Arepas. tasty venezuelan joint, tiny seating area, delicious menu choices, authentic food presentation, perfect new york memory...

...completing the memory was a stupid white dude who got up from his window seat in the restaurant to go smoke outside. it was slightly drizzling so he didnt want to get his knappy, greasy self wet and proceeded to smoke his cigarette a foot from the doorway. of course the breeze was blowing smoke directly in the restaurant, twirling it right into our nostrils. he sucked on that cancer stick until the paper hit the filter, getting every last drop of chemicals. at one point my friend got up to ask if he wouldnt mind moving a few more feet away from the door, he shrugged his shoulders and moved 6 INCHES further. at this, his wife inside started smirking. i coulda smacked her lips off her face, especially since after he finally threw his cigarette away they stayed in the restaurant only 5 minutes more to pay the bill before they left...

...after lunch we walked into tompkins square park where my friend had read there was a pilgrim tree, the hare krishna tree. expected to see monks with marigolds, instead got a weird white guy asking what our connection to the tree was...in central park, we found our way to the alice in wonderland statue. two girls hanging on the mad hatters shoulders...got to the Met to enjoy the modern art wing. rothko, morris louis, barnett newman, magritte...back on the train to nyack...post-dinner RockBand marathon. serious dave on the drums, ponytailed tony on the guitar, microphone alternating between smokey voiced amy and tone-deaf, bird-killing me. super fun night...

Day #3...free day in nyack. sun shining, pastries for breakfast, little puppy goes for a walk, vegging in the pink house...lunch at reality bites. freshest, tastiest sandwiches, yummy ingredients...post-dinner rockband marathon 2. we win the multi-player group tour. kick ass...

Day #4...flight home...

25 September 2008

New landspeed record to chicago

so, we had my visa appointment in chicago on tuesday, september 23...the day after daves defense. it was at 11:30a (CST) and we figured we would just get up and make a marathon driving day, not wanting to waste anymore time and money than necessary.

everything went so smoothly i thought we were either in a dream sequence or that we were actually receiving validation from the universe that this crazy adventure is actually going to go well. who knew?

7:30a EST - wake up in ann arbor, put the sofabed away, brush teeth, get in car
8a EST - pick up some bagels at Barrys, jump on I-94
10:30a CST - after encountering no traffic get off the Skyway at 22nd and Cermack and make our way up Michigan Ave to park near the consulate
11:45a CST - get called up to the window, sophie is there again, she takes my stuff, charges my credit card $141, and says come back at 12:30p CST to pick up my visa
12:30p CST - eat lunch at mediocre Mexican place, walk back to consulate, get passport back with my spouse long-stay visa attached
1p CST - go back to our car, pay $17 to the machine for parking for 2 hours, get back on the road
4p EST - stop for gas and a necessary unsweetened iced tea, sargento cheese stick, and melty kit kat bar
6p EST - encounter no traffic, arrive back in ann arbor, drive to Plum Market to pick up tasty eats for dinner

isnt it nice when even just ONE thing works out among a bunch of other crap? thank you chicago. your parking prices can kiss my ass though.

PhD defended

short and sweet. dave successfully passed the oral defense. pending revisions to the written dissertation, he should be ready to be checked out of Rackham graduate school and officially a doctor on october 2. woo hoo!

congrats dave! you were fabulous. im very proud of you. :)

19 September 2008

Total chaos

so, the french guy and the halifax guy are thinking dave should now try and stay in france for a year. you know, 1 month, 2 months....12 months!!

what a novel idea. how fascinating. how intriguing that the ONE plan that has been in place since last year, the 'leave on December 31, 2008' plan, went poof, and we all become chaos-mongers less then 3 weeks before we arrive!!

all systems are scrambled, all that you thought was true is false, all preparations are a joke. since i cant even begin to sort all this out, i am attempting to just give up. i dont have even a one-fingerhold of control over my life.

incoming salary/budget constraints: ???
location of housing: ???
time period abroad: ???
ability of a non-french speaker to get a job: ???
watching a control freak get plopped into the eye of the perfect storm: priceless

the only fear i am even attempting to grasp onto is the fear that i have become one of those pet owners who inadequately plans for the future life with their beloved animal. i just hope like hell that my grandma is okay with watching our cat for this infinite amount of time, or that better yet, the universe will conspire to make her fall in love with the cat and become her new adoptive parent.

15 September 2008

The travel train is speeding toward us

whoa, so we finally have some things confirmed, and some more ends left loose. i guess this section of life will never go smoothly, i am supposed to learn the lesson of rolling with the punches i guess but i am just so stubborn.

Fact #1: we now have an open ended leave date for france, possibly an extra month or so. the two collaborating post-doc bossmen want dave to have more time in france to learn the program code, etc. plus the halifax guy is on sabbatical this year so there is no rush to get to nova scotia. anyway, since a tourist visa is only valid for 3 months, we now have to travel BACK to chicago to get me a longer stay visa.

Travel #1: we are going to drive to and from Chicago in one day on September 23 for an 11:30a appointment to get me an extended stay non-work visa. joy! i do not actually consider this fun travel or a vacation.

Fact #2: i have persuaded dave to go with me to nyack, NY/NYC for a mini-vacation before we leave the country. our friends amy and tony have a new house and live on the hudson river so we will get to visit and catch up and enjoy some good ol' americana before leaving.

Travel #2: we found stupidly good prices for flights to la guardia for Sept 27-30 ($115/each). We are going to bum around in the city and in the ann arbor-like city of nyack for a few days and enjoy ourselves. yay!

Fact #3: we bought plane tickets to france! we are actually going to be in that country in 3 weeks. although, we still dont have a place to live...minor details...

Travel #3: Here is our itinerary for the flight:

From: Detroit -Metro Wayne County, MI, US to: Paris-Charles de Gaulle,FR Duration: 12h 5min
#1 Airline: Lufthansa German Airlines Departure: Tue, Oct 07 03:50 PM Detroit -Metro Wayne County, MI, US(DTW)Arrival: Wed, Oct 08 05:55 AM Frankfurt, DE(FRA)

#2 Airline: Lufthansa German Airlines Departure: Wed, Oct 08 08:45 AM Frankfurt, DE(FRA)Arrival: Wed, Oct 08 09:55 AM Paris-Charles de Gaulle, FR(CDG)

From: Paris-Charles de Gaulle, FR to: Detroit -Metro Wayne County, MI Duration: 12h 45min
#1 Airline: Lufthansa German Airlines Departure: Sun, Dec 14 09:25 AM Paris-Charles de Gaulle, FR(CDG)Arrival: Sun, Dec 14 10:45 AM Frankfurt, DE(FRA)

#2 Airline: Lufthansa German Airlines Departure: Sun, Dec 14 01:10 PM Frankfurt, DE(FRA)Arrival: Sun, Dec 14 04:10 PM Detroit -Metro Wayne County, MI, US(DTW)

Fact #4: dave has any number or about 3-4 different travel paths he will take once we come back on december 14. he may go directly to san fransisco for a geology conference, to calgary to meet up with the halifax bossman, to orlando with me and my family, or somewhere else TBD. i am likely to stay in the detroit area for a few days and leave to go to orlando on december 17. hopefully i can get visits in with everyone in that time!

05 September 2008

PhD ahoy!

PhD defense date: September 22, 2008 at 4pm

well, third time's the charm...yes, very charming. after potential PhD defense dates of April 21 and September 5 passed by, i had a meltdown. it's way too hard to explain what i was feeling, but i was getting it from all angles. yes, i realize i am not the one getting the PhD and thus should not be stressed, but that is crap. depending on the personality type getting the PhD and other forces, the partner/spouse/person most directly affected by this person's life will feel like there isnt enough patience in the world for this kind of torture. not to say that dave isnt ready for his living hell to be over more than me. we both have been put through the ringer and hope that we have reached the top of the mountain.

so it seems like we have this to look forward to in the last month of our time in the U.S.:

1. Monday, September 8. dave gives the final dissertation to committee members so they have 10 business days to read it, during which time he cannot make revisions
2. Sept 8 - 21. dave prepares his hour long PhD defense talk
3. Sept 13 -14. hopefully spend some time with family
4. Monday, September 22. dave gives his PhD talk at 4p, followed by the potential for 2 hours of private committee pelting of questions and suggestions for revisions to the PhD will be made
5. Sept 23 - Oct 7ish. dave works on the PhD revisions in order to submit a final final and get the official PhD paperwork in so that the official PhD document can be in hand by around December
6. Sept 26 - 30. hopefully find a moment of relaxation in the form of a roadtrip to Nyack, NY to visit friends and stay in their new house, wander the cute town, visit NYC, and chillax
7. Thursday, October 2. probably my last day of work
8. Friday, October 3. drive up to Boyne for rehearsal dinner for megan's (dave's sister) wedding
9. Saturday, October 4. megan's wedding
10. October 5 - 6. visit with family and head back down to ann arbor to do last minute errands
11. Tuesday, October 7. hopefully catch a flight to France....