Friday, April 30, 2010

Call Depan!

Finders Keepers was my mom’s rule when it came to doing laundry in my house growing up. If she did the laundry and spare change (or 20’s) came out of the pockets, they were hers for the keeping. But she also nagged continually reminded me to take anything out of my pockets before putting them in the hamper.

This week my washing machine broke. Well not broke per say… more like, stopped working as it is supposed to. To me it was just another saga in the things that I get to learn how to fix. And that if I didn’t live in a foreign I most likely would never have to learn. (Mainly because I would have my dad come and fix it.) But alas, I pulled out my machine. Asked everyone I knew if they knew how to fix washer machines and tried to fix it myself. Of course I failed. But could probably answer any questions you have about a washing machine.

Using my problem solving skills I did narrow down that the machine itself actually works. There was simply a problem with the water draining. If I put the pipe on the ground it would drain, but as soon as I would elevate the tube- the water would not drain as it once before had, and my load of laundry would be stuck in 4 day old water. Ick. I diagnosed that the problem was

1. Either something was blocking the water pump


2. My water pump was broken.

Yesterday I finally surrendered to trying to solve the problem myself and called a repair man. Expecting to be told that he will come in three weeks, have him arrive, tell me it’s broke, come back three weeks later, and then bill me for more than my machine is worth. To my great surprise the exact opposite happened. I called the repair man, and he set up an appointment for the next day. I then kept praying, “Lord- please let it be quick, easy, and cheap!”
My repair guy showed up and looked at my machine and told me as I suspected that my water pump was clogged not broken (whoo hoo #1). He then tipped my machine over, unscrewed my water pump (one thing I didn’t take apart) and then pulled out a

Somewhere along the line of bobby pins I have lying all around- one ended up stuck in my water pump- thus blocking the pump from doing it’s job of pumping water through the tube and into my sink. He then placed the machine back on the ground- turned on the rinse cycle and demonstrated the beautiful flow of water (whoo hoo # 53920343) I was ecstatic! You would have thought I struck oil the cheers that burst through me as the water once again flooded my sink as intended. To me it was like watching Old Faithful burst through the ground as I “eww and ahhhed” at its splendor.

I was utterly impressed that in less than 24 hours this problem was solved. This is a first in my French experience. I will recommend him forever- and for everything! Broken washing machine? Call Depan! Broken vacuum? Call Depan! Broken stove? Call Depan! Sick Cat? Call Depan! Bad Baguette? Call Depan! I have no clue if he does anything other than washing machines- but I’ll recommend him anyways. Maybe he can extend his business. I think I will just make "Call Depan!" my new campaign.

In the end, I got exactly what I had asked for- quick, easy, and almost cheap. My .01 cent bobby pin cost me sixty Euros- but better than a whole new machine or something more expensive. And my mom will finally get what she asked for: Me cleaning out my pockets before I place them in the hamper.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Year Two Brings More Happiness

If you ever have the crazy idea of living abroad. Make sure you stay two years. The first year will be filled with lots of new discoveries, insights, and frustrations. But the second year is so so so much more enjoyable.

I am still in the beginning of my second year living here in France, but so many small things about this time of this year is so much more enjoyable than it was this time last year. And I loved it all so much last year. But rather than continually learning about what is about to come, I get to enjoy it all the more thoroughly when it returns. The expectancy of knowing that soon the tulips were going to be planted, the days would grow warmer and longer, and parks would be filled with people once again.

It’s not just the spring that is bringing me the joy of appreciating the second year. I just really am smiling on the inside knowing, that I know how to take care of things better this time around. I have learned many lessons over the first year, and they are all paying off as I enjoy year two.

I am so excited to still see what is to come, and I know I am not fully in the clear of the, “ desperately helpless me” situations to come, but those too will help me for whatever it may be in the future.

Life at the moment is good. I am content, happy, and enjoying this time I have been given here in France. I hope small moment of reflection give you this perspective too!

This has been part of Mamakat's workshop. To participate go here.

Mama's Losin' It

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Looking at what's ahead- and so EXCITED!

I am so excited and filled with delight of all the goodness that is going to take place in the next six weeks of my life. There are so many great work opportunities, time spent with friends, and adjustments being made to my apartment.

Last July- I found out a new girl was going to be joining our office. Not just a girl. A young Girl! (as in, in her 20’s). I had quickly claimed her to be my roommate thinking she would be arriving in a few short weeks. But no… she has yet to arrive. However… This weekend I will finally be meeting my new roommate. I recently realized I haven’t lived with anyone for quite some time now- almost 4 years. I look forward to a new roommate and all the memories we will share while living here together in France.

Shortly after my roommate arrives another great arrival comes. My Best Friends! They will be here in 16 days! (Not that I am counting or anything) They are coming for 8 days and it’s going to be wonderful!!! I can’t wait to show them around my life, my town, Paris, and just be with them. I love technology and the ability for phone calls and emails, but NOTHING compares to just hanging out together in person doing something, or even absolutely nothing but the treasure that we are still together.

With the arrival of the new roommate and best friends has brought with it lots of long awaited to-do’s, that are actually being accomplished in my apartment. Many things that have needed to be hung since I moved in have actually been hung. When the roommie arrives we will have to redo the bedroom all before the friend’s arrivals. So there are many fun house projects ahead. I never thought living abroad I would learn to do minor electrical work, hang cabinets, and designing small living spaces like living here has required me to do. The minor changes I have made so far- makes my apartment look much homier- I am anxious to see it all up and completed.

Work is flourishing at the moment. A few weeks ago I had the busy busy busy conference in Cyprus and this next month I have two back to back conferences to administrate. I am sure at the end of May I will collapse from the Friends and then 3 major trips back to back with only 10 hours of turn around time before heading back to the airport and out of country- but I cannot pass up the opportunities to learn more than I have already been blessed with.

With all of this crazy goodness- I will do my best to keep up the blog. If I slack- I am sorry- but know that I will be back. But for my own sake as well, I hope that in the moments of all the busyness, to sit back and take it all in, because it’s all so good. It would be sad, if it all went by all too fast, and I didn’t take advantage to realize what it was, while it was happening. I must make the most of the moments I am given. As one of my friends favorite quotes would perfectly say, “Live this moment, for this moment is your life.” I hope to remember that while taking in all that is being provided for me in this next month.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Big World- Small Circles

Last week in Cyprus I met this guy Matt. Matt is serving with my company in Azerbaijan.

In 2000-2002 Matt lived in San Diego. The place where I grew up and come from.

Then from Sept 2002-Fall 2005 Matt was attended my same university for the exact same time I was there. Matt also attended the same church I went to 40 minutes away from campus. After comparing class schedules we most likely had a class together at one point and time.

My university was quite small. About 5,000 people. My company is quite large and very international. So it is strange to me that on our small campus or at church I never met Matt. But while I live in France and he lives in Azerbaijan, we met one morning in Cyprus over a bowl of yougurt and a plate of eggs.

I love when your path crosses with someone you may have once before walked right beside or really have the whole time, and didn't even know it. It is a big big world, with lots of small circles that keep us all intertwined.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Riding with Strangers

Every child growing up in America, has heard 8 simple words repeated, echoed, and etched into their minds from the time of consciousness and all through elementary school:

“Do not get in the car with strangers.”

I moved to Paris right as the blockbuster hit “Taken” came out – about a girl and her friend who hitch a ride with some nice guy from Charles De Gaule to their place of stay in Paris. Only later to be kidnapped, drugged, and sold into prostitution. Then came the influx of advice, “Katie- don’t take rides from strangers- especially in a foreign country!” “Are you safe? I saw this movie, ‘Taken,’ don’t get a ride from someone you don’t know.” “Be careful who you ride with, just because you think someone is nice. You can never really know, and you might be, ‘Taken.’”

After a week of sitting in conference rooms all day, on Saturday we were given a half day break- to get out of the hotel, and breathe some fresh air. A group of us decided to take the bus into town, and see what there was to offer. The bus is scheduled to run every 30 minutes. After waiting 45 minutes and having no bus come by- we decide the bus is probably not going to come- and we were wasting our precious limited free time.

As we are discussing what to do next, my friend Jeni puts out her hand, and a car pulling out of the hotel stops. She asks for a ride into town, he shakes his head yes and a group piles into the car- me being one of them. We did ensure that one boy accompanied us- but the whole time I am amazed that with ease and without questions we all jumped into this “nice guys” car. My first hitch hiking experience. I Never thought I would put that one on my list of things I have done.

Literally as our car was pulling away- the bus pulled up, loading the rest of the group whom we assumed we would bump into down town. After pulling back onto the road – our new driver puts on a Middle Eastern Techno as our loud background music- and he and the token boy begin rattling off Russian to one another. I am so out of my norm.

Stranger- Check

Driving on the opposite side of the road- Check

Car full of people speaking in Russian- Check

No cell phone- Check

No idea where I am going- Check

No Money on hand- Check

Middle Easter Techno Music- Check

Can my life become any stranger at this moment?


While driving I turn to Jeni who is acting as if all is normal on a regular day and laugh saying,

Giddy Hitch Hiker: “I can’t believe we just did this.”

(Jeni is quite confused by my amusement of it all.)

Calm and Collected Hitch Hiker: “Why??? Because of the Loud Music???”

Giddy Hitch Hiker: “No! We just got in the car with a Stranger. My mom would flip if
she knew about this.” (sorry mom!)

Calm and Collected Hitch Hiker: “Ooooooooooooh… (Laughing) I get it now! You have
never done this before. See in Kazakhstan, we do this all the time. We stop cars as if they are taxi’s and take a ride.”

Giddy Hitch Hiker: “YOU DO?!?!” That’s crazy!”

Calm and Collected Hitch Hiker: “Yah, it’s perfectly normal to stop any car and ask for a ride.”

Giddy Hitch Hiker: “Ahhhh! Now I understand why you were so okay with it all. I was just so confused, because all my life I have been told not to get in the car with strangers, especially in a foreign country, and here, you just did it without a flinch.”

After 15 minutes our driver dropped us off exactly where we wanted to be- we asked how much we needed to pay him (apparently another standard when asking strangers for rides) and he dismissed us from the vehicle saying “We owed him nothing- it was free but to get out quickly because we were holding up traffic.” We promptly scrambled out of the car- and just like that, faster than he came, he was gone.

While I don’t think hitching a ride from strangers will become my new normal. I was given a small adventure in this foreign land, and reminded that my abnormal, in another country and culture can always be someone else’s normal .

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Musical Hotel Rooms

It’s 10:30 at night. It’s been a long day. A day of running around, up and down. Jenny needs this. Mike needs that. Can I get 15 copies of this? Did you get my email? Is the coffee Break ready? Do you know where I can get internet?

- Yes
- No
- Yes
- Yes
- Wait on sec
- No

On the go since 7:00 am. Keep up the pace- you need to be in two places at once. But it’s that glorious time of the day when I can escape from the conference and retreat to my room. No questions. Even better- No required answers. Just a bed ready for me to close my eyes and drift to sleep.

I change into my comfy pajamas, crawl under the fresh clean sheets, of the perfectly fitted and made bed. I rest my head on my pillow and sigh and deep breath of relief and relaxation. Ahhhhh a completed day- no more needs to meet for the day. Slowly drifting into a peaceful sleep…





Unrested me: “Uh- hello?”

Reception Desk: “Um, Yes Miss Hickey- sorry to disturb you, but so and so just arrived, and when they went to their room there was someone else in there.”

Unrested Me: “Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay…….”

Reception Desk: “Where would you like me to put them?”

Unrested Me: “Outside” “Um… let me check… “
(reaching for computer- bright light shining in eyes as adjusting back from the darkness- looking through spreadsheets desperately searching for a quick fix- to quickly get back to sleep)

Unrested Me:“ Can they room with what’s their names in 211?”

Reception Desk: “ Well it looks like they also switched rooms…”

Unrested Me: (long pause) Do I need to come down?”

Reception Desk: “Yes - that might be a good idea.”



30 minutes later and lots of unregistered room adjustments later- I am headed back to my room and my bed. This has been the story of my last 2 nights.

My biggest fear at the moment is that with two more people arriving today- my night will once again end this way. Me relaxing in bed- to be jolted by a ringing phone and required to figure out where the “Hotel- Musical Chairs Room” switching has landed and trying to get people into beds- so they can sleep before me.

Bonne Nuit!

This has been part of Mamakat's workshop. To participate go here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Sense of Being Home

Bright color painted toes – freshly sprinkled with sand

A taste of salt that lingers on your lips

The smell of sunscreen and skin from resting in the sun

Cool drips of water on your shoulders from a refreshing dip

The chills you get while wadding into the water

The burst of exhilaration when you take the plunge and go all the way under- you can’t help but to gasp.

The sound of gentle splashes flowing up to the waters edge

A playlist of Colbie Caillat and Jack Johnson playing from your iPod

A t-shirt draped just so across your face to block the blinding sun- but so you can still view the people and water

Watching couples walk hand and hand along the shore and children laughing while at play

Tangles in your hair as it begins to try into place

A breeze the sweeps across and flips the pages of your magazine

A quick nap and a sudden jolt that wakes you and reminds you it’s time to flip

A look in the mirror at the end of the day- for the bathing suit straps that signify you achieved a fresh tan

The glow on your cheeks from a run in the sun

How refreshing a cold glass of ice water can truly be.

The joy in knowing… that tomorrow it will all be here and all be the same.

Only 4 hours in Cyprus and I have been taken back to exactly what it feels like to be at home.
And man, does it feel GOOD!!

For fun- the reminders that I am NOT in Cali but in a whole other world-

The sun rises on the water rather than sets.

And… rather than cute surfer boys sporting board shorts- it’s a bunch of Middle Aged men in Speedos. Ick.