Thursday, May 31, 2007

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Finally met my neighors, who get up at like five in the morning every morning and bang around. It was, as most things are for me at this stage in my life, freaking awkward. I blame this on my landlady who jumped me in the hallway and dragged me into their apartment. She said, “I’d like to introduce you to your neighbors.” Then, instead of actually introducing us, we all just stood there, staring at each other, until I said, “um, je m’appelle Emily?” Good work team, that got the ball rolling. Now, I know I live next door to Jerome and Valerie who get up at five in the morning every morning and bang around. We exchanged niceties, promising to practice our respective foreign languages and then I awkwardly excused myself.
In related news, I have to admit, I am a little afraid of my landlord. Not because she’s mean, but because she is a perfectionist. For instance, she looked a little annoyed that I slapped my name on the mailbox with some scotch tape. She said that she would do something nicer this week. And when I threw some paper into the garbage can, I came home the next afternoon to find it safely placed inside a garbage bag. It was just paper! Honest. I wasn’t trying to defile the garbage can. But basically, since, the apartment is still being renovated, she comes and goes as she pleases and I just know that she’s gonna go in there on a bad day, when I haven’t had time to clean or I accidentally left dirty clothes on the floor or a wayward brassiere made it into the living room. You never know. I fear her judgement for some reason. I guess it doesn’t really matter, though, but I have this disease that my mother gave me where you can be a little (or a lot) messy, while you’re alone, but when people come over, there has to be a mad dash of cleanliness. Everything must be spotless And DON’T FORGET THE FLOORBOARDS. Ha, I blame mom, who of course is always clean with or without company coming over. There, I helped maintain the illusion.
I'm involved in an ever evolving struggle with France Telecom the french phone company. A guy came out last week to install my phone line and he said it would work that afternoon. Well, it's been a week, so last night I ventured over to the france telecom store and tried to sort things out. The lady told me the line works and that perhaps it is my phone. SO, i go buy a new phone and it doesn't work either. I go back to france telecom and another lady tries to call her service people, but apparently france telecom's phone isn't working either, so i have to come back tomorrow. I go back today and a lovely young man by the name of Julien helps me by dialing the service people, handing me the phone and dancing to the hold music. It was hilarious and mostly helpful. In short, another technician is coming out tomorrow, so hopefully that will work out. If not, "I had a guy come to my house to install my phone last week, but my phone still doesn't work, when i plug in the phone I hear nothing" branded in my brain in french.
In weather related news, it has been cold as (insert expletive here). The problem is all my winter clothes and my blanket are in Paris, so that I can take them back to the US next week, as a pre-emptive strike against the big move in august. The past few weeks have been super hot, but this week for some reason we had a cold snap. I’ve definitely had to do some creative layering. I actually took the cover of the sofa bed and used it as a blanket. Which is just sad.
In work related news, I am making some friends, who I occasionally understand. Awesome. I have lunch buddies, which was one of my bigger fears about returning to the working world in a foreign language. No one wants to have to eat lunch at their desk because no one likes them and they can’t hold a conversation. Thus, my solitude is broken for a half hour every day. Hooray.

Monday, May 28, 2007

It's the Thrill of the Fight...

In my mind, I am shadow boxing around my desk and singing “eye of the tiger.” Why, you ask? Is there a particular reason for a shadow boxing kind of celebration, or is Emily just being weird…again. HA, the joke’s on you, because I am celebrating. I actually made visible, tangible, looks-like-I’m-actually-doing-work progress. Basically, I figured out how to find year to date sales for my boss. He’ll have been gone all but two days of my first two weeks here, so I’ve had to create some work for myself. In general, my job is to analyze a bunch of data and decide what’s important (what indicates problems, growth, etc.) and put it on one excel spreadsheet that would make a monthly scoreboard for manufacturing. Right now, I am interviewing the other demand planners (in French no less) and seeing if I have a jumping off point or if I have to do this stuff from scratch. Please God, don’t let it be totally from scratch. The more I get into it the more complicated it becomes, so really I have no idea what to include and what not to.
In other, apartment related news, I ran into this little French girl who lives in my building while I was waiting for the elevator and she stuck her tongue out at me and I was so offended that I gasped and so then she was like pardon, pardon, bllalhahd margot. And I just smiled and said no problem (oh, universal smile and nod, how I love you). And then she started shouting why aren’t you responding to me, why aren’t you responding to me and I was like oh, sorry, I’m Emily and then her mom came up and said, honey that girl doesn’t speak French, leave her alone. And so I said I speak a little and the mom kind of brushed me off. That’s my story, schooled by a four year old. I met another neighbour and she invited me to a party on Tuesday, May 25th, so basically I don’t know if it was Friday the 25th or if it’s actually Tuesday. Crazy old coot. But she seemed nice. Plus free apertifs, if I can ever figure out when the party is.
Then, this morning I ran into the guy who is supposed to read the water meter. He basically came up behind me as I was trying to lock the door and scared the crap out of me. But, then I had to let him in and explain that it wasn’t just one apartment, the lady had turned it into four and I didn’t know where the meter was. He’s like, it’s in the kitchen. And I said, um, there are four kitchens in four separate apartments and I only have keys to one. So, then we actually found the meter in the hall hidden under a bench, not in anyone’s kitchen, so he was happy, then he complimented me on my French, so I was happy. All in all, a good morning.
This weekend was fairly uneventful. It was rainy and gross, so Saturday I got up the courage to get my hair cut. Try saying, if you give me bangs, I will be forced to punch you in the face in a foreign language. Or, better yet, if you give me anything even resembling a mullet, in exchange, I will shave off your eyebrows while you sleep. Not so easy now, is it? But once again, I was in luck and the lady who was cutting my hair spoke near perfect English. So, no bangs and no mullet, hooray! Sunday was even more disgusting than Saturday, so I went to the movies and saw Zodiac (two thumbs up) and Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (one thumb up, better than the second, worse than the first). I was excited because the version in english was the only one that wasn’t sold out and it made me laugh that the French people in line with me were irritated that they had to see it in English. So, a low key, but good weekend.
This week is my first full week and tomorrow I have an all day meeting in French. We’ll see how it goes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The trouble with doors is....

Today I started work. I didn't have to go in until 2, which was nice, but I stayed until 7, booo. This is the breakdown of how I spent my time.
2:00 - Can't get in the door because i don't have a badge and found out that I don't have a badge yet, anyways, so my boss comes down to get me.

2:00-2:30 -First my boss takes me up to his office and tells me to put down my purse. Then he walks away and I hear down the hall, I would like to introduce, emily, where are you? Ahhh, i was supposed to follow him. got it. So, I get introduced to everyone in the office. EVERYONE. It's a french thing, very nice. I was on display like the letters in wheel of fortune and my boss made a lovely vanna. This is emily, no not spelled the french way, with an i-grec. She's american. You can practice your english with her and she can practice her french with you. She's going to make some pivot tables and help create some key performance indicators. Voila.

2:30-4:30 - I learn about the company, the division and what I will be doing. It was an insane amount of information that left me wondering how i possibly passed operations. Although I did see my good friend the pareto principle in there. who knew that would be used in the real world.

4:30-4:40 - tried to figure out how to turn on my computer. Yes, i pressed the on button. One of the cables was loose.

4:40-4:50 - try to open the files on the network that my boss wants me to look at. No luck. So, my boss copies the files onto a thumb drive for me.

4:50-5:05 - try to open the files on the thumb drive. No luck. Boss tries. no luck.

5:05-5:06- Make first attempt to open bathroom door. Door will not open. Retreat to desk to avoid people in the cubicle area staring.

5:06-5:30- call the help desk. get special code to open the files. files actually open. like in america.

5:30-5:31- Make second attempt to open bathroom door. Door still will not open. Hear person inside, decide facilities are in use. abort mission.

5:31-6:30- Stare at excel files and try to come up with as many questions as possible to ask my boss tomorrow, since he will be gone after that for three days. In that time, i am supposed to make friends and study data. Teaching myself is fun. weeee!

6:30-6:45 - get my own username and email account, which won't open. Boss comes. We call help desk. Success.

6:45-6:48 - Make third attempt to open bathroom door. You know that far side cartoon where the door says "school for the gifted" and pull and there's some nerd pushing as hard as he can on the door? Apparently I should have been pushing. Success and bladder relief.

6:49 - boss says i can leave. I try to leave. door to the outside will not work. check purse for crazy pills. none to be had. Go back upstairs to find boss. Who tells me that i have to have my badge to get out.

6:53 - finally leave, head hurts, need food!

That was my half day. Who know what tomorrow's full day of work holds!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Luck be a lady...

I am feeling absolutely, incredibly and undeniably blessed right now. Two weeks ago I was in tears, afraid i wasn't going to graduate, afraid i wasn't going to get a job. Then when I got the job, I was afraid that I wouldn't have a place to live. Also, that whole working thing is a little scary, too. Anyways, right now I am super happy and this is my story...
First of all, I have to whine a little bit because moving sucks...a lot. even when you only have two suitcases. I took a third suitcase full of winter clothes to nanda's house to store. She lives on the 6th floor with no elevator. That pretty much makes me want to die even when I am not lugging 60 pounds of luggage with me. But once that was done, nanda helped move my stuff to the train station from my house.
On a whim, she decided to come with me to Lyon to help me move because basically I just couldn't drag two 60+ pound rolling suitcases, plus a 30 pound backpack and my purse and my cable box that they wouldn't let me return in paris (which is a whole other story). She was an angel sent from heaven because when i got to the hotel in Lyon, they put me on the 5th floor. I asked if there was an elevator and the guy laughed at me. That's not exactly the reaction I was looking for. Just to give you an idea of how heavy my suitcase was, it took two taxi drivers to get my giant red bag into the cab. and that was just the one bag. But we finally got it up to the room which turned out to be nice and had a real toilet and a tv. Sweeeeet! Already doing better than the residence in Levallois. Then we had a yummy fancy dinner and conked out.
This morning we went to the rental agency at 9am and she gave us a list of names to call. Most people were on vacation, but one lady happened to be at the apartment and said we could come by. It was gorgeous!!!! It is above Dior and across the street from Louis Vuitton. The doors open up for you when you push in the key code. way cool! Also, one of the ministers (re: big wig) of Lyon lives there. She had just redone the apartment. Everything is brand new. It is huge and 150 euro cheaper than my place in Paris. Plus, here's the kicker, IT HAS A WASHING MACHINE. awesome. simply awesome. Plus Plus, it is in the absolute best part of town and close to the tram i have to take to work. PLUS PLUS PLUS it has a view! And i got to get out of my hotel and move in today. And it has an elevator. Basically it is the best apartment ever. It makes me feel really good about being here and really good about starting my job on tuesday. Um, can you tell I'm a little excited? It took me three weeks and a dozen crappy apartments to find my perfect paris apartment and it took me less than 2 hours in Lyon. hooray! Nanda and I walked around in a stupor all day, just amazed at how it went down. craziness. I just can't even express how much better i feel now! THE END.

Apparently the pictures don't want to load, but there will be some in a couple of days!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Gainfully Employed! Like an adult, but not...

I should start off with the most important news, I got an internship. Finally, and about a month after i was supposed to get one, but don't worry there is still at least one other person in my program of 95 some odd people that had to wait to the last minute. I am mostly happy because 1) no more interviews in french and 2) I can graduate. life is good.

For those of you interested in the details, the interview day went a little something like this. I arrived in Lyon around 10 am and checked into my hotel. I took a little nap which was rudely interrupted by the cleaning lady (who by the way had already cleaned my room). Anyways, when i wake up in a nap haze, i don't speak french, and this lady didn't speak english, so when i said "hold on" I guess she thought that meant come right on in. But it was ok, i just didn't have the where withall to say "attendez, si vous plait." Anyways, after that, I watched some nouvelle star which is the french version of american idol, very exciting and then I left for my interview which was at 2. On the way to the interview, I was sitting on the tram when something wet hit my legs. And i'm not going to lie to you my first thought was this, "Oh my god, someone just peed on me. I'm going to this interview and someone just peed on me. I'm going to smell like urine at my interview. I'm going to have urine legs at this interview. URINE LEGS." Turns out though some guy had just spilled his coke on me, which was WAY better than getting peed on. needless to say. So, i show up at merial, looking all cute and professional and trying not to be nervous. The lady at the front desk tried to tell me i must be an english teacher, but i said no, i'm interviewing for an internship and she said, oh. Then, the guy who will be my boss came to get me. He was extremely nice. I explained my resume in french (go me) and then we switched to english to talk about the job and so he could ask me interview questions. That took about an hour. Then i met with another man who i think was my boss's way of getting a second opinion about me, but he was cool too. He asked me some hard questions though, like what don't you like about french people (he's french by the way). So, I answered that there seems to be an anti-american sentiment, especially with all the tourists running around yelling at people in english and being generally rude, and that that was something i dealt with when my french was basically non-existant. He seemed content with that answer. Yay, for avoiding disparaging remarks about your interviewers nationality. Then, my boss came back and walked me downstairs and said i would hear from him on friday or monday. But he actually called friday morning and offered me the position. I am very, very excited. It's in supply chain for an avian flu vaccine. Basically, I have to figure out how to make his job easier by creating key performance indicators and manage the data on the thousand products that he oversees the logistics for. But I guess i will know more later. I start a week from today. I don't have a place to live and I don't really know anyone in Lyon. Let the adventure begin.