A quick thought on keeping NYRs – the only way to make it work is to hold yourself accountable at regular intervals.
And I’ve been able to do that, thanks to my handy-dandy spreadsheet. So here goes:
First, let’s start with the good.
I’ve made solid progress on my work-related aims. I’ve been able to write about religion for RNS, a longtime goal, and I’ve found an outlet to write about geopolitical issues and where it intersects with business for Supply Management Magazine. I’m building a client base for my communications work, and I’ve written about mining for non-mining outlets (The Ecologist and VICE Canada).
Spending time with my little boy (20 months now) and exploring with him is also high on my priority list. I’m putting down my phone more (awful habit), and reveling in the time we have together, where we read, play (European) football indoors, and learn new words. Since January, we've taken him to New York to meet his cousin (same age), to Paris’ Jardin des Plantes, and to the library and local parks regularly. And we set up the tent indoors to give him a sense of what to expect once the weather gets warm.
I’ve done well on the health front. I’ve stopped drinking completely – not of my own volition. I used to have a glass of red a night, but one day it just tasted awful. Same thing the next day. It’s been two weeks. I miss my reds. But maybe it’s for the best.
I’ve also gotten my ass in gear to get my French residency situation sorted. Because of the horrid company which processes French immigration files, I only have a visitor status here. I’ve found an affordable lawyer who is taking care of it, and hopefully, within four months’ time, I’ll be here as a full resident with working rights. Cross fingers for me.
On the travel front, another winter has come and gone without me taking a much-needed warm break. But I’ve got two trips in April: one to Perugia for the International Journalism Festival, and the other at the end of the month to Nice, Marseille, and Nîmes while the boys are off in Canada.
I haven’t made nearly as much progress, or put nearly as much effort into, speaking and reading French as I should be. I know, I live here and I’m surrounded by it. But I work and live in English, and I’m still trying to figure out how to mix those two better. I have ideas.
I also wanted to get involved in an environmental project, but hadn’t found one yet. I did find a fantastic volunteer project in Paris, but….I’ll address that below.
We’ve made some progress on making the apartment homey. We upgraded our bedroom duvet. There’s now something hanging on Magnus’ wall. But the main room is still under-developed, and I think that should be our focus, now that the sun has returned.
The no-progress at all
On these fronts, I’ve made absolutely zero progress: Making friends. Working somewhere that’s not my apartment. Reinstating our weekly date night. These need immediate attention.
I’ve had a massive shift in my thinking over the past weekend. For the entire time I’ve been in Saint-Ouen l'Aumône (hereafter SOA), I’ve been almost entirely focused on working from Paris, attending events in Paris, making connections in Paris, trying to develop friendships in Paris. All the Meetup groups I’ve joined are Paris-based.
There’s just one problem: I don’t live in Paris, and the train is a 40-minute trip.
I downplayed the distance for months, but it didn’t change anything. I said I’d attend Meetup meetings only to cancel at the last minute. I stopped going to services in Paris. I tried to work from Paris once, but found it too much of a hassle.
But yet I continued to think of myself as “so close to Paris.”
Then, one of Matt’s colleagues needed help this weekend, as she was leaving Paris to get settled in her new flat in Pontoise.
And it hit me.
Pontoise/SOA is a place entirely separate from Paris. It’s got its own events. It has opportunities. And my life could be so much fuller if all I had to do to get there was walk, instead of running to catch the train, then taking a metro, then walking, and then having to do it all over again on the way back.
We've already started to integrate into the neighbourhood. The local market knows us well, as do the local librarians (who always greet Magnus by name when he enters the building). Our neighbours are friendly and love chatting to Mag. I tried rowing on Saturday at the local club (I was miserable at it, but I’ve found a canoe club in Cergy, within walking distance). I’ve also signed up for a coworking space that’s a 20-minute walk from our apartment. And I’m heading to badminton night on Friday, in a gym that’s a 10-minute walk from my desk. I want to start a parenting group for our apartment complex. All of this will force me to speak more French.
So I'm looking forward to the next few months, when I can focus on where I *actually* live and build my community.