I’m not sure how many battles can be lost before the war is over. I suppose it never is if you just keep fighting. Maybe one day I will change my name to Rocky or the Champ, but not yet. I’m just taking the hits and trying to get to the next day. The government wore me down and it was going to cost a lot of money for a lawyer or I needed to try a different way to fix my status here.
I’d been encouraged to go home and see my Dad by my cousins who had visited and were feeling a bit nervous about his decline. It would also be a good chance for me to get to the French Consulate and renew my Visa with the correct status. I started planning. It was going to be a world wind trip starting from San Francisco to Orange County, then to New York and end in New Jersey. The adventure would take 3 weeks and promised much missed visits and American comforts.
I would leave after the DELF results came, allowing me enough time to send off paperwork for dual citizenship. I came out of the exam feeling triumphant. I knew there was no way I was going to fail, I only needed 5 points to pass and the studying had really been showing my improvement . My French friends where telling me how much better I was writing but when the results came and I found that I failed again I couldn’t believe it and either could they. I was so devastated I couldn’t share the news out of sheer embarrassment. Since then I am numb to it, and accept that it will happen in time and vow to return to school witch can only help.
left France in great needed of a break and arrived in San Francisco to find I had issues with my SIMM card preventing me from having contact with anyone. It seems that when my iPhone was stolen the year before, I bought a new one that was not a “Global Phone” meaning an American SIMM card would not work and my paying to my American number had been a waste of money over the last year and a half.
I was at the Sprint store when I was told that I needed to get to the hospital in Orange County. My dad had been moved from rehab to the Hospital and waiting for my flight in a couple days was no longer advisable. He was having issues breathing and they had put a chest tube in. I never imagined in my life that I would ever walk up to a ticket counter and asked for the next ticket they had. It was like a scene a movie. Appropriate with how much my dad and I shared this passion.
I was taken directly to the hospital from the airport and spent the next several days there with exception of the Consulate Appointment witch had to happen in order for me to be able to get back into France when the trip was over. I know my Dad would tell me to go and I made the trip very quickly with no issues.
I was honored to be there with him when he took his last breathe. We were watching a movie on Turner Classic Films and I held his hand and made jokes listening to him snore like a bear making me laugh. It was our last slumber party and I felt a relief for him as he took his last breathe and knew that the pain was gone. It was not the trip I had planned and I was lucky to be there. I assured him though he was not conscious that I would not give up and continue to strive to live life fully and appreciate the gift I have.
With a new guardian angel watching over me, I pledged to come back to France and be a success. After bittersweet times with family and friends, I returned and went straight to the various offices that I already had become an expert at. I submitted my new papers and was discouraged when a typo was made calling me a “visitor” again and forced my way back thru the mobs of immigrants to show the documents to the security guards that awarded me the magic ticket. An appointment the next week.
It was a small victory when they agreed a mistake was made and vowed to correct it. Now I wait for their further instruction. After consulting with the various married friends I have here, I have been given a rough idea of what will come.
First there will be a one day orientation to go over the next steps. Then I will have 3 days of training on various things like French history and a test to evaluate my language skills and determine the number of hours they will school me for free. From my understanding this will not be the level I need help with and they will most likely give me a minimum number of hours to satisfy the process. But I am agree that a strong foundation and review is always a good thing especially when it is free.
After that I will be issued a new Con-joint Carte de Sejour with a questionable expiration. Until then, My Visa will be the key to the kingdom and I proudly point out the part that says “Autorise Travail “meaning I can work. As soon as the government offices were taken care of and the shopping and cleaning had all been done I began on the next real projects that will be taking my time away from Blogging.
I have committed to creating my own Tour company. Having had so much time to explore the city I have been complimented by Parisians as to the level of my knowledge and will stop offering my free tours I have gladly provide to friends and family and start making a living at it.
The idea is to have it be on both continents that way I can travel back and forth for business. Since I was fairly experienced giving tours in San Francisco and Napa, I decided that I will target the French market for this and secured my first client that will have me do a 3 day tour at the end of the summer.
I have a small support system here that I like to refer to as, “The Team.” Each adds a given talent to my needs weather it is listening to my voice mail or helping with government forms. We all have them, but mine have a special place in my heart having adopted me so kindly as their pet American. One of my business savvy “team” members helped me to file my paperwork so that I am officially an auto entrepreneur, or what we call a self-contractor.
Of course each step of the way is a hard one. They lead to other steps, and inevitably they need additional Paperwork. Each paper I fill out is returned with three more that need to accompany it when returned, but I am still in the war.
My Social security is actually reimbursing me on small portions of bills and I was able to get a real Mammogram after a couple years and finding a doctor that speaks a little English. I suppose I am acclimating to French life. I have a an appointment with the unemployment offices in 2 weeks. Supposedly, if I attend this meeting with them, I may be eligible for some small amount of money to help me with my business. I try to see the glass as half full and keep busy and avoid being sad. I was able to end my trip to the states with a visit with my Aunt Grace who just celebrated her 92nd birthday.
I recall as a child visiting their home where her husband, my Uncle drew a picture of 3 of the dwarfs from the Snow White to represent my sisters and myself. Snow white was one of the most famous 35 mm films ever made and the first French book I bought when I started school. He was a very good Artist and he wrote the names of each of us under the dwarves he had selected to represent us.
Underneath the drawing of “Happy” was my name printed clearly and I love that this is what he saw in me. I have the picture in storage still and I will try to remind myself that this me. This is how I should navigate the land mines on the battle field.
I’ll continue to Blog when I can, and encourage you to check out my new web site that is changing every day as I work on it more. I started a novel and will be pulling back from Blogging to spend more time on it although I will be published in September, but not for writing. I did my first Paris tour for Americans this last week and it wasn’t even anyone I know. This made me “Happy” and I know that it is just the beginning. www.towertobridgetours.com