I quit my job yesterday. I’d been mulling it over (and driving many of you crazy about it) for months. Stressing about the best time to do it. Wondering if I’d ever find another job in France (one where I don’t need to speak fluent French, I’d get paid a U.S. salary with no commute and the flexibility to sleep in depending on what I did the night before). But in the end, it happened quite easily.
Literally five minutes after emailing Fred and telling him that I was going to wait a few more weeks before doing the deed my boss called to discuss a project and at the end of the conversation I blurted it out. He was very nice about it and understood my predicament. Despite the “freedom” of working from home, it is a major hindrance when one is trying to learn a new language and culture without the everyday life of a commute, coworkers, office politics, etc. I'm going to commit myself to learning French, at least basic French, for the next 3 to 6 months and then look for a job teaching English, working at the Embassy, or kidnapping tourists and selling their organs on ebay.fr.
As weird as it sounds, I’m a little excited about trying to live on a budget. I went shopping at my neighborhood open air market, which is just down the street three times weekly. I discovered an amazing thing: fresh produce. For 3,03€, my friend and I purchased a head of lettuce, two large tomatoes, a cucumber, and a bag full of carrots. We made two giant salads topped with a 1,50€ can of albacore tuna and dressed with red wine vinegar and olive oil. There was enough left over to make Fred and I a tomato and cucumber appetizer for dinner. And there is still half a bag of carrots left! This is the life I envisioned when Fred and I decided to move to France: learning French, shopping at open air markets, and making simple dishes with fresh ingredients.
While the markets are generally packed, I’ve noticed that it’s mostly older French people doing the shopping. I have to walk by a McDonald’s to get to the market, which is almost always packed with teens and young adults. During lunch and dinner time, there are cars double-parked out front, lines to the back wall, and a line of people crowding the sidewalk at the “walk-up” window. Yes, walk-up window – something that doesn’t exist in San Francisco (although, maybe in NY as my friend Todd told me that McDonald’s delivers in NY).
The “lure” of a McDonald’s burger is lost on me, especially when it costs 5,50€ (it’s not that I’m above fast food hamburgers, in fact this picture made me squeal). But I am confused considering that next door to this McDonald’s and to the many others throughout Paris is a potpourri of beautiful fresh produce, artisan cheeses, and fish and meat stands (that I'll now have time to explore!).
Could it be that the next generation of Parisians prefer MacDo? It certainly isn't cheaper. Could it be that they don't have the time to cook fresh meals due to their hectic 35 hour work weeks and/or protests? I'm just having fun, but it is nice to turn the tables occasionally. Have a great day! And please look for my upcoming review of the fictional book: French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating For Pleasure.