Friday, August 29, 2008

My Lists

Today was our last day of summer camps.  12 weeks, 144 kids from June - end of August.  It was fun and we did some really cool projects, but it's exhausting...I can't even tell you how exhausting it is.  I tell you, working 4 hours with kids is like working 10 hours non-stop without a break.

Tonight we are drinking our vin rouge and realizing that our departure is only 3 weeks away. We received many hugs and kisses from the kids & parents that only come during the summer, because we won't see them for almost 2 years.  Next summer we'll be in france and then we come back in September and run classes until June 2010 (wow, that's strange to type) and then we'll see the camper kids, so yes, almost 2 years.  Hard to wrap my head around that one.

Now we have 10 days off.  We always have a break after summer to let the kids get back into the swing of school and us to get re-charged.  We are going to sleep in - maybe until 7:00, ride everyday, lay by the pool and relax.  Then we'll go back to the studio on the 9th let Travis take over and say goodbye to our 100 students & their parents.

I had a little stressful break-down last night and figured that it would be a good time for a list of what i will miss, what i won't miss and what I am looking forward to.  Here is what I came up with.

what I will miss?  
peanut butter
all of our good friends
the ocean
pacific coast highway
my single speed bike
the kitchen in my house (not the tiny one in our apartment)
warm weather & sun all year round
my pottery studio
Dr. Carlsen, our vet
Mammoth Lakes
the convenience of walking 1 block to the beach
our favorite restaurants
The food channel
the new season of Entourage 
the new season of The Larry David Show
the new season of Grey's Anatomy
a normal sized fridge (or maybe the french fridges are normal sized and ours are just HUGE)
my Le Creuset (i will buy one in france)
my new LA blogging friends

what I won't miss?
every other car being a range rover (100k and 12 miles to the gallon!)
washington blvd.
the noise
bad drivers
the traffic
the 405 freeway
the smog
the possibility of an earthquake at any time
the carpet in our temporary apartment
Los Angeles
paying a huge mortgage
going to work everyday (although 20 hours a week ain't bad)
speaking english
worrying about the dollar/euro
most people
Fox News
having my dogs always be on leash
george bush

what i am looking forward to
fresh croissants
great wine
getting settled in our petite maison
not freezing to death in the winter
biking all over france
seeing the Tour de France in person
biking up the famous cols (Mt. Ventoux, L'alpe d'huez, Tourmalet among others)
taking Bruce to Italy
meeting Kim and Loulou and Betty and Owen and.....
going to Paris and meeting Leesa, Barbara, Sam, and....
having my family come and visit in March
having our good friends come and visit
visiting Bourdeaux
going back to Mallorca (this time to bike instead of rock-climb)
peace and quiet
sleeping in
blogging about our adventure
taking cooking classes
taking pottery classes
beautiful villages
market days
becoming fluent in french
spending time with Jacques, Fabianne and Fabrice
having Thanksgiving dinner with our new french friends
celebrating Bruce's 40th birthday in France
having sex all the time
living in the country
being able to take our dogs into restaurants
a simple life
napping every afternoon
our first African-American  president
hopefully staying longer than 1 year

I love that my "looking forward" list is much longer than the others.  I really have no idea what to expect.  I have never seen the house we are renting in person, only pictures.  We bought a car, but have never seen that in person either.  The longest we have spent in France is 1 month, so I'm sure the first month will be great and then the day to day routine will set in.  I hope that the winter isn't that bad and that I don't freeze to death.  I hope that my brain won't forget the french that I have been studying for 3 years.  I'm sure at first I'll be a bit slow, but after 3-4 months speaking the language I'm sure I'll feel much more confident.  I can't wait to have 2 acres of land for the dog to run free in, they will be in heaven.  I just hope they don't run into a wild boar, not sure what they will do.  I'm not sure what I'd do!

I'll probably freak out again a couple more times before we go.  But  my list did help and I know that what we are about to do will be amazing and life changing and I feel better.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Plan

I just moved to blogspot (and love it) but because I posted a "new" post I don't think I can add my previous posts from Typepad,  they would end up being first instead of last...hope that makes sense.  I also know I have some new readers so I just wanted to take a minute to let everyone know why I started this blog and what our plan is.

My husband and I own a children's art studio here in Los Angeles.  We have had it almost 10 years and we offer after-school fine art classes and summer 1/2 day camps to kids. We currently have about 100 kids that come to us weekly for classes and about 144 kids that come to us over the summer for camps.  We only work part-time - 20 hours a week.  Most days we don't go to work until 3:00, so we have time to work on our art (i'm a potter and Bruce is a painter) and cycle.  It's a great gig and we are very lucky, but we are restless and a bit burnt.

6 years ago we went to France (first time for Bruce and 2nd time for me).  Bruce fell in love instantly, the first time I was in Paris I felt so comfortable, like I had been there before.  We knew that we wanted to move to France, someday.  We decided to make it a goal - we would move to france in 6-10 years.  We have been back 4 times since, to many different regions.  We have been to Paris, the dordogne, provence, the languedoc, the aveyron, and the roussillon.  We fell in love with the dordogne and the aveyron regions.  We knew we'd go back to one of these. Last September we spent a month in the Aveyron region and knew that was the region for us. We met some great people and wanted to see them again and the countryside is so beautiful.

When we came home we were ready to sell the house and sell the business...get out of dodge.  But after thinking it through, we figured it would be better to test the waters first.  So we decided on a  1 year sabbatical.  We knew we needed a break from teaching.  There is a reason teachers have the summers off or take sabbaticals.  The longest break we have had was last September for 1 month.  So we made our decision that we would leave in September 08  and come home (maybe) in September 09.  We have a good friend running our studio for us and just hired 2 assistants.  We have faith in them...although it's a bit scary leaving your business in the hands of's been just bruce and I for the past 10 years.

The picture above is of the house we rented in the Aveyron region, near Sanvensa.  How lovely is this house?  It's on 2 acres of land in the country.  Oh, how I cant' wait to live in the country. Thanks to no regrets for me we found and purchased a car (a cute 1985 Renault Stationwagon), one owner, a little old lady who only drove it to the market, it has 50K miles on it and is in perfect condition.

What will we do?  Well, we'll cycle (all over france and we plan to do the major cols), I will take pottery lessons/workshops and cooking classes, Bruce will draw, paint and write, we'll become fluent in french (we have been taking french for 3 years), we'll get to know what living a simple life is like, we'll make new friends, we'll welcome old friends for visits, we'll take many naps, take our dogs on hikes & into restaurants, eat good food and drink great wine.

We leave on September 22nd.  We are flying from Chicago to Paris.  Why Chicago?  Well, we are taking the dogs (Dashell the golden retriever and Stella the terrier-mix) and they will fly under the plane in their crates and the flight from LA to Paris is 12 hours and the flight from Chicago to Paris is 8 hours.  I felt better with 8 hours and Bruce has never driven across the US, so we'll rent a car (after selling our car here) and we'll take a road trip to Chicago.  We leave Chicago on the 28th and will arrive in our new home on the 29th.

That's the plan.  Sorry for those of you who know the plan already, but figured I'd let my new readers know what's going on.  We will update our blog while we are spending our year in France.  We don't have a return ticket, we'll see how it goes.

If you want to check out my other blog that I have had since November 07, you can check it out here, it will be up until the end of September, but I won't be updating it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Last nights dream

So, last night I had a dream that my teeth were falling out, again.  Ever had that fun dream?  Nothing worse then the feeling that your teeth are falling out, or looking down and there they are in your hand.  It wasn't a good dream and I woke up feeling a bit out of sorts.  I did some searching as to the meaning of the dream and was directed to and then to their "dream editor" (who knew there was such a thing) Aisling Ireland.  Here is what she had to say.

"The next time you dream about losing teeth, before trying to figure out what it means, ask yourself how the dream made you feel. Oftentimes, it is not the dream of the teeth falling out that creates the disturbance to the psyche but the feelings that accompany the dream. There is often a feeling of helplessness, of powerlessness--the teeth are coming out and there is nothing the dreamer can do to stop the process. Sometimes teeth fall out, sometimes they are simply missing, sometimes they crumble away. Whichever way they make their exit, the dreamer is left with not only a gap in her smile, but a hole in her heart when she awakens. 

If feelings of loss of control, helplessness or powerlessness accompany your tooth loss dream, the dream is typically acting as a mirror of a situation in waking life. Dreams of tooth loss coupled with anxiety reflect a fear of change, fear of transition. Ask yourself if there is some transition that you are fearful of making. 

Sometimes tooth loss dreams point to a fear of failure or embarrassment. In waking life, when people lose teeth, they often cover their mouths when talking or smiling. Is there something you want to do but are afraid of undertaking because you fear you'll look foolish if you fail? Or is there something going on in your waking life that you feel you must hide or 'cover up'?

Losing teeth in dreams can also point to insecurity about finances. In physical waking life, teeth are what we use to take in sustenance, to keep our bodies fit and nourished, and they are often lost when malnutrition is present. In order to take in nourishment we must be able to 'support' ourselves. Are you worried that you will lose the ability to take care of yourself or are you already not taking care of your needs? Nourishing ourselves comes in many forms, not just our bodily needs--we must nourish our minds, spirits, and hearts as well as our bodies. Is there any aspect of your life that feels like an empty hole? 

Tooth loss dreams may also symbolize a fear of abandonment, of being left behind with no recourse. Look at your relationships and see if any of them are leaving you with feelings of insecurity. 

Another interesting way of translating tooth loss dreams may be a fear of giving away too much information, a spilling of secrets, or a fear of being lied to. 

While most of these translations sound pretty grim, keep in mind that these are all symbols of how you are feeling. They are not prophecies of doom, or omens that all of the fears you're carrying around are on the verge of coming to pass. These dreams, like all others, are report cards from the psyche, clues to how our consciousness and unconsciousness is handling the events of our waking life. Understanding their nightly messages helps us more successfully navigate our daily activities--even the ones that scare us or fill us with feelings of dread. "

Humm, "fear of change/transition", oh yeah I'm feeling that, hell yes. Don't get me wrong, I'm super excited to move to France, but it's a bit scary.  "fear of failure", yup, feeling that a bit too. What if things don't work out or I freak out and have to come home.   Now I know that won't happen, but what if it did?  "insecurity about finances", yes to that too.  We have budgeted for the year, but what if we run out of money over there and what about the business? We have someone running our classes for us (a good friend who is going to be great).  But what if everyone leaves and we don't have any students? We have rented out our house and have a property management company to handle everything, but what if, oh, I don't know, something happens.  Again, I know it won't, I really do, nothing will happen, everything will be fine.  "Fear of abandonment", nope, this one doesn't apply and neither does "fear of being lied to or giving away secrets".   

Boy, after reading what Aisling said it's no wonder I'm having dreams that my teeth are falling out.  Thank god dreams are not real or else I'd be toothless by the time we leave.  I'd be so attractive to the french!  I lost 3 last night.  We leave for France in 30 days and there are so many unknowns, a new life for us in France,  our new car that we already purchased (we have a picture of, but have never actually seen or touched it), new friends, a new language, a new house, flying the dogs over, selling our car in LA, driving to Chicago (which we are doing so the dogs only have 8 hours on the plane instead of 12 from Los Angeles), turning over our business (holy shit...we are turning over our business...I can't think about that anymore, everything will be find). I think it's amazing/scary/freaky the emotions you have during and after a dream.   

Anyone else ever had this or other crazy dreams?

40 verbs in 40 days

So...we have 40 days until we leave for France (and only 7 more days of summer camp and 7 more days of classes...just had to throw that out) and I'm starting to freak out. Not about the move, I'm super excited about that. I know that it's not going to be like spending a month there, where everything is seen through rose colored glasses. I know that there will be times where I'm homesick (maybe) and I know for sure that I'll be bitching and moaning because it's cold or rainy (oh am I not looking forward to the winter). I'm freaking out because I have been taking french for 3 years and it's still so freaking hard. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get it, you know, where it just comes flowing off your tongue, instead of the hesitation while you try and conjugate a verb in your head or decide if it's Passe Compose or Imparfait (which one is for a habit..I can never remember). I swear someone will ask me a question and by the time I answer them they will be long gone or off onto another topic and I'll be lost. I just don't have the confidence, yet.

So, I have decided that every day until I leave I will study 1 verb. And I figured I'd start from the beginning, with the 17 verbs and the first one is ALLER. I will focus on 4 tenses; Present, Passe Compose, Conditional and Futur. I will write down the correct conjugation for je, tu, il/elle/on, nous, vous and ils and then I will write a sentence for that tense.

Here's where my sentences today:

Je vais au marche' (how I wish I had the little accent on my keyboard) - Present
Tu es alle' a la campagne - Passe Compose
Nous irions a la plage si nous avions une voiture - conditional
Vous irez demenager en france dans septembre - futur

Each day I will review and study a new one. I also still have my weekly lesson with Sylvan our tutor and I'm doing 1/2 hour of Rosetta Stone each day too.

I think I have said before that I'm going to do all the shopping and will be taking some pottery workshops and cooking classes all in French and all without Mr. Smarty Pants, which is my new name for Bruce. He started at the same time as me (although he did know a bit of spanish) and he's advanced, I'm just moving into Intermediate. There are times he speaks to Sylvan and I have no idea what he is saying. He picked up the language so fast, all he has to do is read something and he remembers it, not me, I have to read it and read it again, and write it down, and read it, and use it and then maybe I'll remember it, but it's doubtful. If you have any tips...please pass them along.

Immersion, that's the best way to learn and I'll have a year to practice every single day. The fact that we will be in the countryside, near very small villages is good too, because most people don't speak english. Out of the 5 friends that we met last year, only 2 speak English and one not very well. I don't want to be around my native language, although I'm sure I'm going to be scared as hell when I'm out on my own and don't understand or can't respond. Mais, au moins j'essayerai.

Posted at 04:50 PM in France, misc, sabbatical, Travel | Permalink