Friday, April 21, 2006

There are a hundred things that I want to blog about; my trip to Burgundy, for example, as well as my experiences in learning how to navigate in France without using cardinal directions, and all those little everyday occurences that make life here both frustrating and fun. (Where did all this chattiness on my part come from?? I think it's the fact that people are actually leaving me comments. Thanks!) Today, however, I think I just want to blog about something that worries me a little. I am very fortunate to have a great husband, a good job and supportive in-laws, so my experiences in France have been mostly good. I have my ups and downs, but I'm just fine here and my coping skills that I developed in Japan seem to work better here than they did there. On the other hand, in the U.S. I had a great teaching job in a school I loved, along with wonderful friends and a loving family. I would be just fine living back home as well. So, it is becoming very difficult for me to adopt or even be able to identify the appropriate attitude I'm supposed to take with people in charge of legalizing my status when I feel they are trying to force me to my knees. I'm not being very bendy anymore.

When I first moved here, I had no trouble dragging my butt out of bed to stand in line for hours before the prefectural gates opened up...I was psyched to be here starting my new life, and I understood that was how things worked so I just had to suck it up and wear warm clothing. I was able to keep my mouth shut without too much trouble when one of the first "Official Ladies Behind the Windows" said, "Oh, what's the matter? You didn't like the U.S. so you moved here?" Now, though, I think I have a chip on my shoulder that worries me a little. The truth is that I am not really interested in begging anyone to stay here. I would be happy to stay, but I'm through with standing in line by myself in a strange part of town during the wee hours of the morning just to get a piece of stupid paper and I am not going to beg or plead. I understand that files get lost and that immigration is a hot topic here, and I really don't expect them to roll out the red carpet for me. Somewhere along the way, however, I've lost all my patience with the prefecture, and I hate the fact that I lose my cool with them. It makes me feel selfish and bad-tempered and spoiled and intolerant.

On Wednesday, I had such a feeling of dread and just overall pissiness as I was walking to that place. If I'd had a long red beard and cowboy hat (I've already got the bow-legged thing going on, unfortunately), I'm sure people would have stopped in their tracks, pointed and said, "Well, would you look at that! There goes Yosemite Sam! Wonder what put him (her) in such a bad mood? Oh, that's right, (s)he's probably just a'goin' to git his working papers in order." You know how he'd get all red in the face and jump around while hollering? That was how I felt. So when the intern told me, "There's no more spaces. I told you you'd have to come back at 4 a.m. along with everyone else to stand in line if you want a place. I don't *care* what Madame X told you, there's no room. Next!" I really wanted to smack her upside the head with my pocketbook. Instead I made enough noise and general nuisance of myself that her neighbor finally listened to me, looked at my paperwork, and sent me through. I know that some people have a lot of success by adopting just the right attitude of smiley helplessness and ignorance, but I have never been able to get that to work for me. Maybe I'm just not cute enough, so I'm doomed to the second option of 'annoying squawker.' Not my first pick, but whatever.

On a funnier note, my husband wanted to see a reenactment of all the jumping around and flailing of arms, so I of course indulged. He has now named my technique "The Dance of the Albatross," which I think is probably pretty accurate. Even though I may have felt like Yosemite Sam, apparently the effect is more like those albatross/pelican things from Finding Nemo. He is a genius at making me feel better and laugh at stuff, bless his heart. How do the rest of you cope with this kind of stuff?

5 comments:

Samantha said...

With lots of alcohol!! *S* No, seriously, what can you do but laugh? Those people are so drunk on the little power they have, the only thing you can do is feel sorry for them that - the fact that they need to belittle foreigners and make their lives as hard as possible for no reason just says it all.

I personally like to think that when they hire someone at the préfecture, they handpick the nastiest ones - that way, they weed out all the weak étrangers, and only the strong survive (haha, only kidding of course...sort of...).

janet said...

bonsoir! il vous faut vous faire accompagner par un prof. d'anglais à la retraite que vous trouverez facilement dans une association en relation avec l'U.T.L. ( université du temps libre) de votre ville; non pas que je doute de vos connaissances en français, mais ce type de personne connait tous les rouages administratifs pour les avoir pratiqués (ou subis!) pendant toute leur carrière....
de plus,à deux, on reste moins longtemps bloqués à l'accueil et, avec un peu de chance, le (la) stagiaire sera peut-être un(e) ancien(ne) élève...qui sait?
courage, vous vaincrez!

janet said...

bonsoir! il vous faut vous faire accompagner par un prof. d'anglais à la retraite que vous trouverez facilement dans une association en relation avec l'U.T.L. ( université du temps libre) de votre ville; non pas que je doute de vos connaissances en français, mais ce type de personne connaît tous les rouages administratifs pour les avoir pratiqués (ou subis!) pendant toute sa carrière....
de plus,à deux, on reste moins longtemps bloqués à l'accueil et, avec un peu de chance, le (la) stagiaire sera peut-être un(e) ancien(ne) élève...qui sait?
courage, vous vaincrez!

Anonymous said...

I loved this blog! Had a good time talking to you today. Love ya! :)

Kim/Thomas said...

you are so funny! next time just bring your camera and snap a picture of them looking all indignant, and just say, sorry i want real proof that you are a constipated looking _____, for my blog, where I'll write how miserable you were to me:)
cause, I want to see the pictures of these miserable women, I just have such a mental picture, i have to see:)
k