Monday, June 18, 2012

Location, locomotion, location

It has been 12 completely crazed and largely emotional days since I last posted.  Since this blog is largely a tool of creation for MY own happiness - and it has been neglected, well, that tells you something!

First, even though I will be giving birth in less than 3 months, I still do not know where or with whom.  This journey has been incredibly anxiety inducing.  It has now led me down the path of just doing it at home.  The more I sat with this, the more it made sense.   Then began finding a midwife who delivers at home search.  I was completely unsurprised to find out that my options were very few and far between.  This is both due to the lateness of my pregnancy and that the French system doesn't support homebirths ... at all.  Luckily I joined a really helpful group called ANPA, Anglophone Natural Parenting Association.  This community of mothers has been imperative to this journey and would highly recommend any natural-parent leaning person join.  ANPA link

Second, French driving school, is just a little slice of hell on earth.  Exhausting, confounding and completely setting you up to fail, partaking in this process now makes me wonder if I am a glutton for punishment.  Yesterday, however I did drive around with Hicham.  While the many bizarre intersections were just that and the road signs did confuse me on occasion, I handled most situations well.  It seems to take most people about 6 months to get their license in France, I feel it necessary to do within TWO (before the baby is born!)  I start driving with the instructor on Tuesday (have to do 8 hours).  More on that soon.

Third, we got sidetracked-once again in our housing situation.  Even though we have made the great use of our 800 sq ft apartment to make our lives fit into this box, we still get urges to move into something bigger.  Of course, it isn't only about size, it is also about wanting to have easier access to nature.  One reason we moved to this apartment was because we are near the forest of Boulogne, the enormous parc de Saint Cloud, the river and a variety of other green spaces but still opening the door to ones' own plot of Earth beckons me. 

Is this the right time to do be driving around looking at houses?  No.  Particularly when you consider that Sabine's education must be taken into consideration when we think about WHERE we will live.  So, then the house hunt becomes combo school research/city study.  I guess, in a sick way, it is an occassional form of leisure for us.  We look at the ads, the houses, google maps, carve out commutes, consider shopping etc.  I guess it is not much different from people who play simcity or other reality type video games.  Imagining your life being lived in a different setting than it really is. 

Rarely does this exploration lead us beyond the computer, but once and a while, we do go through the hassle of going and looking at a place.  This is always because there is something so incredibly unique about the property, that even if we don't buy it, we will have still gotten to see it with our own eyes.  I guess you could call it "House Hunters, Foreign Edition Live". 

For example, once we went to see a house that had so many cool things going on, I was sure it was "the one".  Giant stone fire place, built in timber lofts in the bedrooms with cool ladders creating cozy nooks, a round stone wall kitchen, an extra underground stone room, bay windows, enormous trees, hello?  When we went to see the house, it was incredibly unique.  Sadly, it was in front of a really busy road and more importantly, the cool kitchen was below the house.  Can you imagine having to carry dinner for four people upstairs every single night?  AND, they were slippery, steep, well worn stone step!  Embarrassingly, it actually took me until we got to the last upstairs bedroom to really see the ramifications of that!   

This weekend, we went to see a house that was located on an island... with no car access.  I was thrilled!  Living on an island that didn't allow cars is like a dream to me.  Even though I want to be able to drive in France, the chance of not having to listen to the constant stream of cars sounds really heavenly.  The island is accessible by a small foot bridge which people use all kinds of contraptions to get their groceries over with.  Electric golf carts (small French versions) with trailers attached would fit.  Across the bridge you will find rows of garages where the residents keep their cars.  The entire island was incredibly lush and natural, with one large path going down the length of it and houses on each side.  The house that we looked at was asking 465,000 euros.  Their asking price a year ago was nearly double that.

The property was large, with several extra small buildings, a studio, an above ground pool, patios, a 1400 sq ft house, a woodshop, underground storage room, tons of trees and of course all of this enclosed in bushes, greenery and the gorgeous river.  A nature lovers paradise, right near Paris.  I think we were really interested, for real, until we saw the upstairs of the house.  The downstairs left some stuff to be desired, but it was the upstairs that made me almost retch.    Every square inch of the upstairs was so irritating that the amount of money, time and energy to change it simply made me want to run away fast.  The house was built in three stages, much to my surprise (and yet not) the upstairs was the most recent.  And it was done on the cheapy, cheap.  Carpet on the creaking (1995!) floor, weird shaped rooms with odd angles making me dizzy, a giant mirrored closet IN the bathroom, no closets in two of the 80's wallpapered pastel rooms, the master bedroom barely fitting our bed but with an attached bathroom with both a shower and a tub all tiled in dark blue and bright white.  Need I go on?  Okay, they not only closed the wonderful fireplace from down stairs, but removed it because they couldn't make it work with the "new" upstairs, the oven in the kitchen was mini, the counters were sized for hobbits, the living room was lime green and as is the norm for the French, the dining area was far from the kitchen.  Why?

We told the agent, lovely man from Argentina, to please let us know if another house goes up for sale on the island, because we are interested in living there - but that house?  At that price?  Yeah, no thanks.

So, there are just two more places we will look at in the coming week and then we will have itched that scratch for a while.  It usually comes up about every 6 months.  Not to say that we aren't content in our cozy apt, it is just that we have been here for over three years!  I have never lived anywhere for this long, ever!  It is also ironic, that it was only recently that I painted the living room....

But well, sometimes you just gotta look at what else is out there to realize how good you got it, am I right?  

To end this entry on a cute note, here is Sabine washing carrots:

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