Monday, June 15, 2009

1-Year Report

It's coming up on the 1-year anniversary of our move to France. We left SFO on July 1, 2008 and arrived in Paris on July 2. Like a lot of these things, it simultaneously seems like a long time and a short time.

When I think about California and the family I miss like Jordan, Savannah, Kevin, and Sydney ... it seems like a long time. But here on the ground it has gone by quickly.

A few things have gone mostly as I expected like the professional path ... the challenge of building something that didn't exist before, the heavy workload, the cross-border politics, the relationship building, etc. But other things have taken unexpected paths. For example, even though I've made progress - I didn't expect it to take as long to develop language comprehension skills ... mostly the listening portion. And of course, the biggest unexpected challenge has been the general assymetry of experience for Lolly and me. This has been the hardest part.

The Franco-American relationship has been a pleasant surprise - especially post-US-election. I now have a better understanding of our differences but I have also come to believe that there is a lot in common between the two countries. All the joking about 35-hour work weeks and labour strikes aside, the truth is that the French work really hard. It's true that they take their vacations seriously. But having now observed it up close and personal, I think the US could take a cue from the French in the area of work/life balance. Add healthcare management to the list of things the US could learn from the French. On the flipside, the French could learn a thing or two from the US on the topics of workforce fungibility and ventilation ... ooooooh yes, I love the American commitment to ventilation!

The experience has been challenging, energizing, growth-inducing, and life-changing. After routinely struggling with boredom and stagnation in those last few years stateside, I can honestly say that I haven't had a single day in that zone here in Europe. I guess it helps to have a previously undefined job and a large EMEA-wide sandbox to play in.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Death and Beauty

Well, the Scandrettes are in town for a visit. Today was rainy in Paris so we went underground to Les Catacombes de Paris and inside La Musée d'Orsay.

Death and Beauty.

The catacombs are really interesting. Back in the second half of the 1700's they exhumed several cemeteries - something like 6 million people. All the bones were brought here to the old quarry.

It's unclear to me why ... but they arranged the skulls and femurs in stacks upon and stacks. It's creepy at first and then just strange.

And of course, La Musée d'Orsay is a wonderful place. Toulouse-Lautrec was especially cool today.