Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Avoir Toujours un Pied-Violet en l'Air

My horoscope is still telling me that I'm running in too many directions at once, all of them unprofitable, which is odd as I feel fairly stable these days. I'm still reluctant to settle down, even though I'm starting my first explorations into staying here in France another year, but that might not be in Tours, or at least not all the time. Although I haven't done anything directly cheese-related yet I am starting to feel motivated on that project again, as the start date of my university program approaches. A vague future is taking shape in which I spend a year working at various dairies around the country, each making a different "Saint" cheese - essentially what I originally planned before going off on the university-program/Fulbright-scholarship track. I would keep my official residence here in Tours with Seb, and maintain my student status at the university, ideally with their support on this research project, this book project, this travel and meet people and work with cheese and take pictures project, which suddenly I realize I should probably mold into a slightly more coherent form before approaching anyone at the university to request assistance and patronage.

I got a link to a job opening in the Paris region for an editing consulting company, as a project manager, responsible for coordinating teams, doing writing and editing, customer relations, and so on, native English speaker with good spoken French, and the company will even help get legal work status in the country. It appealed to me for several reasons - I love telling people what to do (and I'm good at it, because I'm good at seeing what needs to be done and asking the questions no one else wants to [which also makes me a pain in the ass per several prior employers, though it never stopped my being promoted]), I'm an excellent editor and a good writer, and I've got enough publishing experience and spoken French to not get lost on either front.

But.

That would mean being back in an office, subject to an externally-imposed schedule, and even though that office would be in (or near) Paris, and having an externally-imposed paycheck would be quite nice ... I don't know. I haven't even had a full six months of freelance liberty, and I don't think I'm ready to give that up, at least as long as I can keep my financial head above water. So I'm not going to apply for the job.

Instead, I'm going to look for new clients, and after the first of the year will concentrate on cheese research, getting ready for school, and finding some part-time job like tutoring English that I can use to bolster - in a non-restrictive way - my freelance lifestyle. Because I'm really enjoying this lifestyle. Every time that I stumble and stammer and search for words it makes me more determined to stay here until I'm fluent, and every time I realize that I've been having a conversation for some time without any sort of conscious translation going on, I am so happy to be here right now.

I am happy that I can talk to people in the market, even if they sell me more mushrooms than I'd really planned on buying. I ended up cooking these pieds-violet, also known as Field Blewits (Lepista saeva) for longer than the vendor recommended, and according to a recipe I found on line. I sliced them thin and added them to three shallots I'd minced and sautéed in olive oil until golden, and cooked them until they had given up a lot of liquid. Then I added a generous splash of white wine, turned the heat down, and simmered the mushrooms until the liquid in the pan was almost gone. At the last minute I added a small bunch of parsley, chopped fine, and a good grinding of black pepper, plus a little sea salt from the Camargue. The mushrooms were good, and I'm actually glad he talked me into them; I said I'd wait a week to get them (having also bought a large pile of yellow-foot chanterelles) but he said he couldn't guarantee that he'd have them in a week. Well, whatever the wild mushrooms are on offer this week, I think I'll buy some.

"Avoir toujours un pied en l’air" (to always have a foot in the air) means to be restless, according to a 1930 French dictionary.

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