2010: First, the high points

Ok, so it’s a new year and it seems that the thing to do if you’re a blogger is do some sort of recap. This is especially useful for dilettante bloggers like myself who didn’t really post anything in 2010 and have fallen desperately behind with emails.

I started this post comparing the highs & the lows–essentially weighing the good vs. the bad as we decide how much longer to stay in Paris–but it quickly became epic in length, reflecting my conflicting thoughts about life as an expat. Since I’m already feeling blogger guilt for not posting my 2010 recap in, well, 2010, here is a slimmed-down list of highlights only.

For those wanting a schadenfreude fix,  have no fear, the lowlights are coming. In fact we are still living one of them as I type….more to come soon.

Our 2010 highlights:

  • Escaping the grey, cold, 170-year-old-single-pane-windows draftiness of Paris in January for a long weekend in Seville. Sunny skies, Moorish palaces, and oranges literally everywhere. How could anyone not be happy? As an extra bonus, we got to stay a 5th day – thank you, striking French air-traffic controllers.
    Sevilla
  • Watching Team Canada beat Team USA to win the Olympic Mens Hockey Gold at the Great Canadian Pub in Paris, where even there the crowd was half American which made the end of the 3rd period insufferable but then….. Na na NAH NAH. Na na NAH NAH. Hey hey hey, gooooodbyyyye.
  • Landing a real job, with real French benefits and most critically, a real pay cheque and getting to shuck the ‘trailing spouse’ stigma. The whole process was easier than I was led to expect: in the preceding months, anytime I would brightly explain to whoever I met that I’m looking for full-time work, the reaction amongst expats & natives alike could be best described as funereal sympathy. And a proper salary was a welcome change after 6 months working for the wonderful, but decidedly non-profit, American Library in Paris.
  • Paula’s visit in April, nicely timed to coincide while I was between jobs. It was like being able to vacation in Paris like a normal non-Parisian. Paula was joined a few days later by husband Todd, an ash-cloud refugee en route from Frankfurt. Paula loved everything, and even ardent Francophobe Todd hated France much, much less after we introduced him to the Loire Valley countryside and French rose.
    Paula (and Todd) in Paris
  • Hiking in Scotland with Andrea & Julian in May. The Scottish Highlands makes the BC Coast look like Atlantic City. Now I understand the meaning of “desolate beauty”. Scenery, microbrews, hiking and haggis exceeded all expectations. So did our B&B in For William: http://www.huntingtowerlodge.com/.
    Scotland May 2010
  • Our first visit back to Vancouver for one week of perfect weather in July. 7 days; 20 visits with friends;  9 restaurants + 1 Krua Thai takeout feast; 2 massage therapy appointments; 1 long-overdue haircut;  1 afternoon cleaning out Banana Republic Robson’s sale racks; multiple visits to Artigiano’s & Granville Island Market; 1 jet-lagged afternoon moving van full of remaining stuff from Shaugnessy to North Shore; and one glorious afternoon mountain bike ride followed by unfathomable amount of BBQ’d meats and glasses of Paula’s lethal punch now known as “Hyannis Mist”. It was great, we loved seeing everyone but….never again.
  • Finding an excellent Yoga studio 5 minutes from our apartment with even better instruction than my favourite studios in Vancouver (and I’ve done a fair bit of Yoga over the past 15 years). Whodathunkit? http://www.rasa-yogarivegauche.com/en/index.php.
  • Now having several tried, tested & willing cat-sitters to call upon, even at the 11th hour, and most of them free!
  • Exploring “old east” Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg with Michele and Aaron in early October. It’s like Vancouver’s West End meets Main Street, but with better architecture, a lot more galleries, a lot less traffic and a scary number of fixie-riding hipsters. No pics here because we were either too busy marveling at the pre-WWII buildings, or eating delicious meals at seemingly pre-WWII prices.
  • HerrKaa completing 3 bike races this year, and then capping off his season by participating in a 200+ km “fun” ride from Levallois (just west of Paris) to Honfleur (on the Normandy coast).
  • Finding out my best friend is going to have a baby! For those of you with siblings, this might seem an odd highlight for me (obviously it’s a biggie for Kathryn). But since I’m an only child and HerrKaa is effectively an only (he & his only sibling are not close, to put things mildly), my chances of ever being an Auntie seemed dim to non-existent until Kathryn obligingly stepped up to the parenting plate. I’m looking forward to having a mini-person in my life to dote on!
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