Chez Soi

Adventures of a Year Abroad

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On a Constant Adventure, Together

Ever since we met, Curt and I have been having an adventure.

So this NPR interview with the artists of Johnnyswim caught my ear.

Sudano and Ramirez spend a lot of time on the road, in the studio and at home, but they say it never becomes too much. For them, it’s “all one kind of stream of life.”

“I think it’s almost the opposite of maybe what people expect to think,” Sudano says. “Instead of the longer you’re out on the road it gets more claustrophobic, the longer you’re out on the road it gets nicer to have [Ramirez] there, because he’s the closest thing to home I have. Home is where he is. The farther away I get from being at home, the more I cling to being near him, because he gives me that sense of, ‘OK, everything’s all right,’ and he brings me back to home.”

“The greatest asset in our marriage,” Ramirez adds, “is that we’re on a constant adventure together.”

I hope we feel the same as we live in Paris.

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JKEROEHFWEHRemember how I told you that there were certain somethings and someones i will miss during our trip? Well the toddler in the background is my one year and around seven month old nephew, who is also one of the someones. See what I mean? He is way to cute to leave behind. Anyways, I am actually starting to have this whole moving idea settle into my brain. France is gonna be my hometown, so I better speak in it. “Pourquoi ai-je fait ce une idée pour le blog la plupart des gens ne peuvent pas comprendre tout ça!”. Nevermind, that will make pretty much everyone confused throughout the completeness of chez-soi’s history and future. Well, peace to all and have a good day. That was weird. Bye.

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Herminia’s Welcome

A week before we were to go to Paris to sort out the school and apartment situation, we got a note from a friend. All she asked was “when? and … can we plan a little gathering for you and the family.” We were touched by her generosity of spirit. Herminia Ibarra and I met at the Thinkers 50 where she was recognized as the *most* influential thinker in the leadership category. Turns out we share an amazing literary agent, Carol Franco.

As you can see in this little video, her home and friends were lovely. Her family is from Miami, so her son spoke fluent English, Spanish, and French. Her kitchen sign of to-dos — one of the first things we noticed… had things like citron (lemons) and Philadelphia. Which just made us smile.

If I ever make you some salad with pomegranate seeds and spinach, know I got the recipe from Herminia… and it will always remind us of this warm spring evening and the loving welcome.

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Departure Date Set

This is getting real, people.

Yesterday, Curt and I mapped out a rough plan of what we need to do by when. Each area of the house gets a weekend of focus. Then the date to do a neighborhood farewell, thus emptying the liquor cabinet. Then, the plans for a big moving sale. Of course, the date to put things into storage. Backed into by knowing our management agency needs five days to spiffy up the house before our tenants move in.

But the thing that made it really seem *real*?

Making the airline plans. One-way.


Paris through London, because it was 3x the price if we went direct. We’ll stay in a hotel for a night, and then meet the agent the next day to get the keys to our new place.

New Digs


New Digs

Living in Paris is a dream come true in so many ways.  When it came to looking at apartments, we were drawn to this, or even this. But alas, our dream doesn’t come with a limitless budget. (drat!)

We used a site called “book-a-flat” recommended by friend Katie Stanton. It offers furnished apartments in Paris, which is important because “unfurnished” literally means a pipe coming out of a wall as the kitchen. I couldn’t imagine needed to build a kitchen while we were learning the language. So book-a-flat it was. Plus, they speak fluent English. We spent hours surfing the site to see what resonated. Some apartments had tons of tilted angles which seemed charming at first, but I was fairly sure it would be less charming if one of us got a concussion from running into a (weird) wall. At one point, we fell in love with a mirage. It was an apartment where the Eiffel Tower was framed perfectly in the master bedroom window. Imagine waking up to that view?! Every day!! And it had a terrace where we could invite over friends for wine. I imagined acting totally nonchalant about it — like, ‘oh, yes, that view, no big deal.’ but inside I’d be doing the cha-cha. But, it was well 2,000 euros (or, 2800 bucks) more than our already-raised budget. Gah.

When Neri was visiting us recently in California, she got us to think more practically (how many minutes to school, you need more doors if you will work in same space, where are heck the closets?) which helped us narrow the field to 3 choices.

Curt had the smart idea to walk the neighborhoods on the 2nd day we were there. Two of the 3 apartments we had picked were in the 8th (closer to the schools) and one in the 7th. But when we saw the 8th neighborhoods in person, we realized that the local grocer, and restaurants would be on the Champs Elysees, aka tourist central. This was not what any of us imagined as “home”. But it took us a few minutes to say anything. Finally, we all raised a collective ‘blech’ to that idea.

We ended up with the place in the 7th arrondissement, a quiet neighborhood, and minutes from things we love. We had originally hoped for 3 bedrooms so we could afford guests, but we couldn’t swing it even after raising our budget by 1,000 bucks. Our new plan is to find a reasonably priced hotel somewhere nearby to direct our friends. And, of course had hoped for some view, but that was also outside the budget. We ended up optimizing for every day life. It is five minutes to the d’orsay museum, and seven to the Rodin. And 38 minutes to walk to school, 17 via the metro. The new place is about 1,100 square feet, which is quite small when compared to our home in Los Gatos (nearly 2400 square feet with a yard, and a 2-car garage), but it’s plenty.

This, by the way, is kiddo’s bathroom. Oooh, la, la.

Apartment bathroom