This morning I treated myself to a trip to the French salon. I feel like since I have gotten here I have been a wreck--sweaty from walking all around this city all day, my hair a frizzy mess and my clothes in shambles after trekking them all over Europe and only having washed them once in the past month.
So, by the recommendation of Pauline, I went to Camille Abane for a hair cut, and it was awesome.
Anais, my new stylist, was the cutest thing, and while customer service apparently doesn't exist in this country, one can find some kind of respect for clientelle at a good coiffure.
They greet you by taking your coat, slipping you into your own robe and then escorting you over to the shampooing stations where you sit in massaging chairs. And Anais, what magical hands she has! I got the best scalp massage I have ever received, followed by a deep conditioner rinse, and then the most precise haircut I probably ever have. I swear she checked almost every strand to make sure it was perfect.
So, I walked out al 11am feeling super French chic and not a haggared mess like I have been.
Then I went home (or to my fake home?) and realized I had no return emails for housing or from my school contacts. I was supposed to go sign my work contract today but no one had contacted me. I realized my money was running out and that I really had no idea what the heck I was doing, yet again.
So I cried. A lot. Went thtough plenty of tissue packets (thank goodness I bought the maxi-pack from Match) and called Jonatan wailing and flailing like I seem to always do.
Well he told me to give myself a slap in the face, grow up and stop crying (and to stop biting my nails) and to just go down to my school and see what the heck was up.
So I did. I marched down to the train station, bought my ticket to Valenciennes, got on, and then Mademoiselle Sophie Lejeune, one of my contacts, called me on my portable. I was flustered and couldn't quite understand her on the phone, but somehow managed to communicate that I was on the train, going to Valenciennes. She said she would meet me at the train station and then take me to the Inspector's Office so that we could go over any questions.
I got off the train in Valenciennes, wandered around a bit and then finally bumped into little Sophie Lejeune--a typical petite Frenchy cute in her little black mary jane heels and dress. And she was the sweetest thing. An air of relief finally washed over me. I of course apologized profusely for sounding so desperate the past week or so, but she said she understood, and even invited me to stay with her should I need to in the time being.
Well we walked right down the street to the Inspection de Valenciennes, which is in the same building as my main school that I teach at (Ecole Cariot). It is a typical northern building: large and all brick, with vines creeping up the sides.
And then all the French started. Now I think I understood people fairly well, but now that I think about it, it was really all a blur.
I met the Inspector of Valenciennes, who is sooo super nice and looks like the actor Bob Hoskins (from Roger Rabbit), I met a bunch of other people who work at the school whom I have forgotten now, including some lady I am supposed to have lunch with tomorrow and who is going to look at an apartment with me, I met Anne-Elisabeth, the cute, really tiny, English teacher I will be working with, and then some other guy who I think is an English teacher whom I will be working with (so I better figure out his name...)
Anyways, Sophie made the introductions, it came up I had no housing and was staying in Lille, so then everyone started throwing out ideas for housing. This Serge Gaveriaux (who is supposed to be my main contact) apparently has just been missing. No one knew he was doing nothing for me, so they all tried calling him, finally got him, I forget what was taken care of with that. Someone called the Mayor of Valenciennes to ask about some house he has for housing. I had a coffee and a cookie. The lady I am having lunch with tomorrow went online and called a bunch of apartments. Blah blah. French French. Oh you are from San Francisco? French French. Oh I think I found housing for you! Oh wait no, the guy I tried to call is in China.
That is pretty much how it went, from what I can remember. So, in the end, I am going back tomorrow, at 9am so I need to get up very early. Sophie will introduce me to my other two schools and we will figure out my work schedule (so far I teach at Ecole Cariot Tuesdays from 8:30-10am and then Fridays 8:30-10am and then 2-3pm), I will have lunch with Sophie, the lady whose name I don't know, and her friend, and then the lady whose name I don't know will go look at this studio apartment with me, and hopefully more places if we can find any.
Whew. Man. All I want to do now is eat McDonalds and watch TV. So yeah, I will do that now.
Thanks Jonatan--you know more than anyone when I need a good slap in the face. I don't know if I could have done today without you xoxo
Tomorrow....another day of stuff I probably won't understand or remember