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Keeping it in perspective

The préfecture incident has caused me much reflection over the past few days. I will admit my first reaction was anger at the fact that a préfecture would inform me in 2004 that Ohio was not a reciprocal state for exchanging driving licence with France two years after Ohio was included in this exchange. The civil servant helping us reluctantly admitted that Ohio was included in 2002. After much reflection I realize that the fact that I am being allowed to do it now is a way of making it right. My Ohio drivers licence is no longer valid which makes it impossible for the moment. However, we were told that once I renew it or get a new one I can get the French driving licence.

Through my reflecting, I see that even though my licence was valid at the time I first went to do the transfer, it is not now. So, it is just not possible to give me a French licence from an expired Ohio licence. It is for legal reasons. If I were given a French licence based on an expired Ohio licence and I had an accident or something there could be some problems.

When I was a banking center manager, I had to deal with similar incidents several times. The customer was a ‘victim’ of the bank in their eyes and I, as a manager, had to fix the problem. Sometimes the best I could do was not unlike what was offered to me by the préfecture. So, I am happy that I am allowed to get the French licence as soon as I get a new Ohio licence. That is all the préfecture can do to fix the situation for me at this point.

I think it is fair to say that France is not perfect. What country is?

I miss America right now. I am very homesick. The driving licence incident became a way for me to separate myself as the little American against the big, bad French bureaucracy. I was wrong. Then, I started thinking about all the other things that ticked me off when I first came to France. For instance, when you call a company in France you, the customer, pays for the call. Air France costs me 12 cents a minute to call. And, there are other examples of things that I miss from America that are not here like all night grocery stores. However, do I function in France just fine without all the things I enjoyed in America? Yes. Is my level of living less than the one I enjoyed in America? No.

If I left France and went back to America to live I am sure there are things that would drive me equally as crazy. An example? College tuition and health care are outrageously expensive. I will happily pay Air France 12 cents a minute rather than pay hundreds and thousands of dollars on health care and college tuition. I didn’t even mention the high cost of childcare. All of the reasons we decided to move to France in the first place. I must keep it in perspective with four kids.

When my French husband came to live in America, I saw a piece of my country I didn’t even know about. Memories of sitting in the INS in Cincinnati for five or six hours at a time with my husband came back to me. I had never seen the America that foreigners see. It is not so organized or friendly. Those civil servants don’t smile and are not helpful or friendly in the least. I think this behavior is a job requirement around the world for civil servants. Well, unless the civil servant works for the U.S. postal system where it is a daily fight to make a profit. They smile behind clenched teeth! I don’t blame them for going “postal” when you see the crap these workers have to deal with and SMILE.

My situation is that I am in love with two countries. If America and France were to ever go to war, I would be at war with myself. I don’t know what I would do. Luckily, the only current problem is a bad game of culture bashing ping pong.

My mother has offered to pay my way back to America for a visit instead of her coming to France. It would be more expensive because of the babies. However, we could stay with her for at least 5 weeks instead of her visiting in France for only two. We could see my father, step-mother, brother and some of my extended family. It is something I am considering taking her up on. She has been telling me for several months to come but I just never wanted to. I wasn’t ready to go back. Now, I feel like I am.

I really am homesick and it would be interesting to see my own country through “new eyes”. My children will get to spend several days getting to know their American family. The other benefit is that I can once again drive in America and begin to drive in France by getting my Ohio driving licence. It is a pretty package with beautiful ribbons. It is too good to pass up.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Pauline March 31, 2006, 11:42 am

    Pumpkin – 5 weeks at home sounds like a really good deal. Great for you and the kids to discover their US roots. I suppose that you will be going alone as your husband has just started a new job. Imagine the freedom :) and you get to see your daughter too.

    I guess after all this time you will be ready to come home to France aswell.

  • Pumpkin March 31, 2006, 12:16 pm

    You said it all perfectly.
    He is jealous because he does love visiting America and adores American food. So, I will be sure to rub in all the favorites I get to eat…hahaha. He can’t come because of his job but he would be bored for such a long visit anyway, I think. My mother wants me to stay 2-3 months but I think that is too long with her and I not always seeing eye to eye.
    I know I will miss France very much while in the States. That is another reason why I won’t stay 2-3 months. And, of course my husband. I would miss him too. Plus, it is hard for the kids to be away from one of us for so long. When he went for training and was gone a week in another region they asked me all day every day where was Papa.
    I can’t wait to see the kids reaction to America or maybe they won’t see any difference?
    I will visit all the little farms with the kids and the little things we can’t do here. And, you are right about the freedom. I would love my mother to watch the kids for just 4 hours and let me just go do nothing really but I would be ALONE for the first time in ohhhhhhh almost 4 years. ;)

  • samantha March 31, 2006, 12:21 pm

    Out of all the American bloggers I know, I’m most surprised to hear you say that you are homesick – you always seemed the one who felt the most comfortable here. I guess it happens to the best of us, huh? Luckily, it’s usually only a passing thing, and then something wonderful usually happens to remind us why we’re in France in the first place.

    I’d take your mother up on the offer, then you’d be able to renew your Ohio licence and exchange for a French one (I hope you got the name of the woman you talked to though!). And what a great chance for your children to practice their English – sometimes it’s nice to expand their horizons a bit and remind them that mama isn’t the only anglophone in the world, so that when they get older, they won’t refuse to speak English to you. *S* And like Pauline, I bet you will be dying to come back to France after 5 weeks in the US!

  • Pauline March 31, 2006, 12:22 pm

    I think you’ll be surprised at how well they get on English.

    When Leon was little, like your kids, and was in England with my Mum and Dad we’d phone him up each evening. I would laugh because he’d picked up my Mums scottish accent and at the same time he had trouble finding his words when soeaking in French to his Papa. So sute.

    All this didn’t last though, after 24 hours being back home everything was back in place.

    2/3 months with my mother. No way, I adore her and we get on fine but thats way too long. I’d need to be getting back to my home and my way of doing things.

  • Pumpkin March 31, 2006, 12:50 pm

    I get homesick twice a year…in the spring and really bad in the fall…I love autumn in Ohio with Halloween and hay rides and visiting farms…apple cider…picking a pumpkin…well, you know. You are a midwest girl, too.
    The woman that helped us at the préfecture wrote a note on my form and list of what to bring with me saying that it was ok.

    You are scaring me because my family has a strong accent….hillbilly. But, I never really picked it up too bad. My husband had trouble understand my family and some other Ohioians at first.

    It will be cute if they start saying zink instead of sink…well, actually, it could be a French accent as well. I never realized that until now. I’ll have to tell my mother she has a French accent. ;) Or, warsh instead of wash. My Dad says Howdy instead of Hi…I always liked that.

  • M@ March 31, 2006, 2:36 pm

    You really should take her up on the offer, but 5 weeks should be more than enough. :)

    If you need a day trip, Indy has one of the best Children’s Museums in the world.

    Hey I say howdy, what are you trying to say. ;)

  • kim March 31, 2006, 2:57 pm

    For the prefecture incident, consider it, that everything happens for a reason, you just weren’t meant to have that license, for whatever reason..maybe someday you’ll see the reason!

    I think that you would have a great visit to the USA, 5 weeks will fly by, and how wonderful it will be…
    just make sure….
    ya’ll come back now (to the blog, I mean:)

  • Alison March 31, 2006, 3:04 pm

    Take your mother up on her offer.

  • Pumpkin March 31, 2006, 3:20 pm

    It is kinda like a cowboy and very cute. So, you should feel special and cute when you say it! I loved that my dad said it since I was a kid.

    If I go back to Ohio for a visit I will get a new licence and then come back to France and get the French driving licence.
    I will blog from my mom’s house about all my exciting days or boring days just like here in France. And, I most certainly will come back to France because France is my home and I think my husband will not like my staying in America…tends not to be good for a marriage ;)

    I am leaning towards it but still not sure. Most likely I will go because I would love to see my family again and to share America with my kids.

  • Wendy March 31, 2006, 8:03 pm

    Oh go on home for a break – you’ll have a ball and come back full of zest ..but yeah – phew! – I couldn’t do 3 months with my folks.

    The boys and I lived with them twice for 6 months at a time when I was in SA during 2001 – 2004 and my Dad and I fell out very badly the first time round – it was terrible…we did make up though and the next time we lived there we just arranged things better so we had our own space.

    But oh go on home and see the family and eat all those things you can’t get here. And let your kids see their other family too..they’ll be adored.

  • meredith March 31, 2006, 10:04 pm

    You should go home, touch base with your roots, I find that helps in being happy wherever I am found living.

  • peepfrench April 1, 2006, 7:35 am

    It’s a very generous offer…

    If you go, I hope that you’ll get to see Angel Girl as well!

    Can’t wait to read about your daily adventures during your stay (especially your dealings with the Ohio BMV) and to see your pics.

    Well, what are you waiting for …Have a safe trip, Pumpkin!

  • Pumpkin April 1, 2006, 8:21 am

    I am working it all out with my oldest daughter’s step mother. Sometimes they aren’t so cooperative even with things like this.

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