I had forgotten that yesterday was the Fourth more times than places George Washington slept (if that makes any sense). I mean, it’s not as if the French celebrate it (although they do admit that the American Revolution was a big cultural influence on their political history). Besides, the weather here hasn’t been very Fourth-y. We were told over and over again, “Grenoble is hot,” “It’s so hot, you’ll sweat through all your clothes right away,” “Don’t bring pants, because it’s so hot.” And while it was fairly hot the first week here, it hasn’t been for awhile. Meanwhile, I hear from my mom that it has been miserably hot a lot since I’ve been gone.

 

I found it a little sad, being out of the country on the Fourth. Although some of what passes for patriotic is more like xenophobic, I am very attached to the US. And while there are many things here in France that I love, and would love to bring back with me; all in all, I am at heart, an American.

 

‘Nuff said on that topic.

 

I’m experiencing a little malaise these days. Nothing serious, and I wouldn’t call it homesickness, but the shiny newness of the experience has worn off, and I’m left thinking about all the things I left behind when I got on the plane three weeks ago. Some are more or less practical: I checked my bank balance, and it looks a little more anemic than it should. I went a little over budget, and I’m scrambling to regain a little financial security. Unfortunately, my job tutoring the chers enfants is over, since now that school is out, their schedules are loaded with summer activities. I could have used the extra cash, but what I did make was helpful, so I’m not going to bitch about that. The exchange rate is killing me, as are the various “international fees” my bank is charging me for each transaction. These days, my priorities are two: have enough money to buy my bus ticket from O’Hare back to ‘Sconsin, and have enough money to enjoy Paris (albeit frugally). So, if that means the cheap sandwiches (and not the paninis from the Handsome Panini Guy, who is not in the same league as M. La Poste, but who is?), and a moratorium on trips to the Monoprix (although I spend hardly anything at the Monoprix, every Euro counts these days); then that means cheap sandwiches and no trips to the Monoprix. Or Galleries Lafayette. I wish I could say that I at least managed to get some good stuff while I was within budget; alas, my purchases were more of the dental floss, shampoo and toothpaste variety. Related to making sure I have enough money here is the fact that I will barely have time to wash the travel stink off me before I have to find a hash-slinging gig (or equivalent), so I can still have a roof over my head and groceries in the fridge. There isn’t anything I can do about it here, but that has never stopped me from worrying before. Thus endeth the kvetch on finances.

 

I had stopped here to eat dinner. French dinners, be they two courses or eight (and believe me, there is never just one), last at least two hours. There’s wine, and conversation, and if you’re still hungry, a cheese course (unfortunately, for a cheesehead like myself, I haven’t been able to pace myself appropriately, and forgo the cheese course more often than not). I finished, and fully intended to devote whatever wine-slowed energy I had left to M. Chateaubriand (unfortunately, not M. La Poste, but more on that in a bit), but my laptop, dormant all the while, started speaking to me. Literally – it beeped, so I had to start it up (to properly shut it down). Chateaubriand is no match for yammering on about myself, so he’ll have to wait. After all, he’s been dead for over 150 years; he’s got the time. But on to the other thing that I’ve started to think about again (that I rather wish I wouldn’t).

 

Now, that my schedule starts at the less French hour of 8:30 am, I am no longer able to catch a glimpse of my foxy facteur. Which is a damn shame, as I cannot stress enough how smoldering he is. It was a silly little ritual, but it amused me, and it had been such a very long time since I had thought of a man other than the Ex (and without crying, to boot). Clearly, I never thought anything was going to happen, since all we every said to each other was “Bonjour,” and if we’re being honest, he is so way out of my league we might as well be playing different sports. So here comes the worrisome part…earlier today, I did a little homework, and kind of felt like taking a break. So I decide to let my mind wander and fantasize about M. La Poste. I imagine a little scenario at a café, him offering me to give me a ride on his handlebars. I was just idly thinking, and it was only PG-rated, when I instinctively said the Ex’s name. Not out of guilt, or habit, but of longing. That’s when I realized that lustful thoughts about the mailman aside, I am still in love with the Ex. Which is disappointing for so many reasons. But right now, it’s disappointing because I thought that my time here in France would act as a convalescent period, and that, by the time I returned, I would be cured. Just like after a sojourn in a sanitarium during the TB days. I do have 4 weeks left, but if the World’s Sexist Mailman can’t cure me, I am currently out of options.

 

So the honeymoon is over; I am no longer in a magical land, living a glamorous expatriate life. I’m merely taking a vacation from the crap I left behind, albeit a vacation where I earn college credit.

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