Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Perfect Autumnal Sunday

When I got up this morning, the sun was already shining bright ! I went to the gym, ran ‘till I dropped dead, and than (back alive) went to my parents’.
We went for a long walk through the woods – where fall was really beginning to show. When we got back home, we made pancakes, roasted the chestnuts we'd collected, and ate outside in the autumn-sun. After that, it was just laziness…Reading and drifting off to sleep in the garden.
What more can I write? It was a picture-perfect Sunday!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Disneyland !!!

I’m thrilled, exhilarated, over the moon, very very happy !
After the INSEAD-exams, end of October, P and I are going to Disneyland, Paris. (now that P is officially a student again, we can do this without being ashamed of ourselves :-) .
We’ll be staying at the Hotel Cheyenne, which is actually an old Western town, where you can ride to your room on a pony (not kiddin’).

I’ve been to Disneyland before, like 12 or 13 years ago – so I know what will happen. As you enter “the land” through the gates of this princess’ castle (I forgot which princess), you are thrown back into childhood. Before your know it, you’re walking around with Mickey Mouse ears on your head, and you’re chasing Donald Duck for an autograph and a picture. Trust me, this happens to everyone.

So what is more fun than being 10 years old again for a day or 2?
I can’t wait to see the Halloween Parade, to take a ride on the brand new “Crush’s Coaster” (a “Finding Nemo-theme roller coaster), and to dive into the numerous souvenir shops to buy Disney stuff (this last thing will happen anyway, so I might as well look forward to it!). I also remember that they have this Disney-Cartoon channel, so when you get back to your room in the evening, you can watch cartoons all night long! (P will go “Oh boy….” when he reads this, but I don’t mind, I’m way toooooo happy!) I’ve been humming Disney-tunes for two days now (“Under the sea, tralalalaaa, under the sea, and so on), and this weekend I’ll watch my Finding Nemo DVD once again, well, just to look even more forward to this trip!

Those who will be joining us are warned : I’m an over-enthusiastic Disney lover, who will be as excited as a 10 year old with a sugar-overload!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Loosing the badge

I’ve lost my INSEAD-badge.

There, I’ve written down the words, and earlier I spoke them out to P, so now it’s really true, no denying it, no more hoping I will find it back. For three days now, it’s been missing. I’ve looked everywhere : in my car, in my office, in my apartment…But it has simply vanished.
P’s reaction : “It’s only a badge!”
Nope. It’s not.

I was really proud of this little peace of plastic. Proud of the “July ’08 partner” (not so much of the picture). Being back in Brussels, it was the only “visible” thing linking me to Fontainebleau. So that’s why I carried it around with me, in my bag, everywhere I went. The emotional attachment was there from the first day, and growing.

So to stop myself from feeling absolutely horrible about this, I repeat P’s words over and over again (although they’re not true)
“It’s only a badge”
“It’s just a piece of plastic”
“I can get another one” (I hope…)
Still, good old Murphy really shouldn’t have done this to me.
And I will only feel better again once I can walk around again with a blue string around my neck, with a little white piece of plastic dangling on it, saying “July ’08 partner”.

(Please tell me, my reaction to this is understandable, right? Or am I really going insane here?)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Handling HR & going ga-ga

Here I am, 20.00 pm, still at work.
I did four role-play assessments, and interviewed 5 candidates in one day. (Besides that, 3 employees called me to announce that they will be leaving the company, and I tried to find some holes in our CCO’s agenda to plan his interviews) People who know anything about HR, will now think I'm superwoman:-). No shiny red catsuit, unfortunately.
Yesterday was about the same, and I ended up on my couch, calling my fysio for an emergency-appointment because of complete back+neck lock-down. No..more...movement. Just pain. And a headache. At that moment P called me to tell me I had to go out more often, meet up with friends and not just stay in my apartment. BAD timing!!!!

Wait, it's not that I do anything physical with all my candidates that causes this pain - although I must admit it feels as if I lifted every one of them several times. But as the umptied unsatisfying answer comes along, I just feel all those muscles going "AARRRRGGHHH"!
You can't imagine what an HR consultant has to suffer.
An example.
ME (at the end of the interview) : "Do you have any more questions?"
SHE : "Uuhmm, yes,….so for what function was this interview...?"
We completely ignore here that we had been talking about *this function* for almost an hour, asking her how she sees the jobcontent, what would be the challenge for her, what key-competences you would need, etc.

And as if I hadn’t suffered enough “Human resources – agony”, P called me in between two assessments to announce he just met his career counselor, who gave him the advice “to explore all options, and to ask himself if he really wants to stay in consulting and why”. Just…what…I…needed. Here I was up until now, desperately holding on to this one security in our overturned lives : P is going back to CCC (as in Cool Consulting Company :-).
And in comes the guy with the HR bla-bla!
Well, I guess it takes one to know one….

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Means of transportation

A lot of bikes, skateboards, inline skates, roller skates, steps, horse carts, trams, busses, and your own two feet : those were the means of transportation in Brussels today. That’s right : no cars!
As I woke up this morning, there it was, as every last Sunday of September since I’ve been living in Brussels : the silence. No noise. Not that I notice the noise when it’s there - this humming sound of hundreds of car engines somewhere in the background. But when it’s not there, I immediately “hear” it :-)
Unfortunately, not only the noise was missing…..Usually, P and I keep this day to ourselves : spending quality time together, walking through the city that has become our home, taking live at a slow pace (let’s say about 5-6 km/hour). So this morning I felt a bit like the numerous bikes in my street – going down hill…But the sun kept stubbornly shining, so even I had to lighten up a bit!
At noon, I met with P’s mom, and we tried to have a peaceful walk. Only, traffic was more dangerous today than on rush hour Monday morning! No one was obeying any traffic rules, and when hundreds of bikes come speeding towards you when you’re trying to cross one of the big avenues of Brussels (‘cause the little man is GREEN), well than that’s just scary!
Anyhow, we managed to enjoy an overcrowded Brussels, eating tapas in the sun, drinking coffee in the park, and walking ‘till our feet felt numb.
In one hour the humming background noise will be back, and my neighbour is already preparing its' return by doing some drilling works in his apartment at this very moment!

Before I end this posting, one more thing I promised to write : P called me numerous times this weekend, he’s the most wonderful boyfriend in the world, and I love him very very much. There :-) !

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Soothing Saturday

A cappucino (double with extra cream and caramel syrup) and a tripple choc muffin to start with. Than on to the new fall collection, and immediately finding the right size of everything. And some new books to end with…Shopping was great today :-)!
P called, even twice, and we talked for longer than my phone bill wants to know.
My fridge is filled again with veggies, fruit, etc, and I no longer have to survive on breakfast cereals and cookies.
I cleaned up my apartment, and a very relaxed and satisfied N is sitting on her couch, watching Spiderman on tv (writing this during the commercial break).
For the first time this week, I’m happy to be home!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Earth calling planet Insead

Hello? Anybody out there?
Off course international calls are expensive (especially when you no longer have any income), and no doubt that between partying, socialising, studying, attending classes, and managing your own laundry and other household chores etc,..not much free time really remains free.
Nevertheless, I would really appreciate it if P would be using some communication lines between France and Belgium more intensively.
- Emails consist of 10 words max. (are they having some course about efficient communication style at the moment?), and are only sent "in reply of".
-The only text message I received on my mobile this week was "you have a blog!" (ok, thanks for informing me)
- No phone calls from Barbizon, although I called numerous times. But each time "inconveniently" : P was in library, P was driving through the dark woods at night, P was just going for a swim, P was in class and could not answer, P had to study before class started, P was still sleeping after the party last night, etc.

So here I am, stuck with my romantic vision of a long distance relationship : frequent phonecalls to keep eachother updated, filled with very sweet things you say to eachother, love letters in your (e)mailbox, textmessages saying how much you miss eachother, etc. Just...not...happening.

And I'm not the only one complaining! Oh no! I'm getting full support on this one from my mother-in-law, who's also desperate for some more news from the Fonty-Front. So P, since you've discovered my blog, and since you'll be reading this (hey, where did you find the time?!), could you please remember that I love you very much, and consequently want to know what's happening in your life :-)

Plenty of planning

This week did not exactly go as planned.
- I was going to : meet up with friends, do some sports, enjoy having the bed all to myself, start a new book and read a lot, stay calm at work, do grocery shopping, do my own cooking & eat healthy stuff.
- Instead : I stayed alone in my apartment almost every night, I only called the gym to ask about my membership, I suffered sleepless nights, I watched tv, zapping between things I didn't even want to see, I only read a Calvin and Hobbes comic, I did not really cook once, but ate loads' of cookies, and work has stressed me out already.
So here are my plans for the weekend (only 8 hours away now!!): it will all be about pampering myself, and trying to feel good again!
This includes : shopping (and not only for groceries :-), running, bookhunting & reading, seeing other people than my colleagues at work, going to bed before midnight and trying to get some sound sleep.
And well, just try to enjoy being home again....
And try not to miss P too much.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Au Jardin des Arts

Go on, have a quick look! Because that's where we live in Barbizon : a 200 year old art sudio, still being actively used by our landlady. On Barbizon's Grande Rue, there's a big green wooden gate. Once you open it, you enter this fairy-tale garden, filled with flowers - and you probably will be greeted by Mirabel the Cat. On your left is Erika's art galery. In front of you is her "atelier" where you can see her painting from time to time, and on your left side, once you have climbed the stone stairs, is our apartment.

We ended up here after deciding that we would definitely take an apartment in the center of Fonty :-) . But than we saw this little heaven on earth, and it was love at first sight! Suddenly all arguments were twisted and turned :
- we would "always" need a car, even if we would be living in Fonty
- a Fonty-style apartment was the same as a Brussels-style apartment, so why not try something else for a change
- when would we ever again have the opportunity to live in an apartment overlooking a french art studio, in a little village, in the middle of the forest?

That same Saturday, after having visited the apartment for the first time, we did a quick tour of all the other villages surrounding Fonty. P and I came to the same conclusion : compared to Barbizon, they all seemed a bit ...lifeless. Barbizon was tiny, but very much alive! It was like the Disney version of a little french town : more flowers, more colours, more smiling people, more shops, more art galeries, more restaurants, more hotels, more everything !
Before making any final decisions, P's analytical mind kicked in : there we went for a 2-hour search on the net, comparing all possible information about living in and around Fonty, about rental prices per m² , about trafic to and from Fonty, etc etc.....Luckily he found this very positive feed back about the Barbizon-apartment from another Mexican, and that was enough evidence for P! The "GO" mail was sent to CityJunction, and I was a very very happy person :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Today, a letter arrived for me at my parents'.
Dear N,
It has been 10 years since you graduated bla bla bla....
Hellooooow? What the f***? 10 years? Wow, I was not ready for this one. Ok, High School is 10 years or so ago, but my so called "higher education" as well?? Apparently...(I admit I'm not good with numbers)

So I can picture this reunion very well:
- everybody is still enjoying his/her teaching job ('cause we all graduated as high school teachers)
- they're all married
- they all got kids
- they all got their nice little suburbian house somewhere in the belgian countryside (probably built it themselves, as belgian tradition requires).

No offense.
Only I'm * a little* behind on the schedule...
- Instead of teaching, I continued studying for 4 more years
- I also continued my quest for the perfect boyfriend (quest succesfully completed 6 years ago!). But instead of marriage, there have been separate apartments, and now even separate countries :-)
- no kid in sight, although we enjoyed the company of two great hamsters in the past (Thanks Fritz and Clio, still missing you!)
- no suburbian house, but a rented 50m² apartment in the city (hey, and one in Barbizon off course!)

- not teaching, but HR consulting.

So....should I stay or should I this reunion?
I really don't know. Last year I had a reunion of my primary school (!), and that was great fun. People were single, divorced, unemployed, etc, and I just felt absolutely wonderfull for weeks after :-).
Maybe I'll go to see my old professors. At least they will have gotten all old and wrinkly :-)

Blogging bad for bed

So here it is : blogging deprives me from my sleep. For a few nights now, I come home from work, open my laptop, go to my blog, and start to find my way through this brave new world. Only thing : I keep on writing when I go to my head, that is, not on my pc. It's like there's a library inside my head, just waiting to get out there on the net!
And lack of sleep is really something I can do without! (it's hard enough as it is, going back to work, missing P, getting up instead of sleeping through the morning). So here's the solution : I type this text during the day (let's asume I'm doing it on my lunch break :-), mail it to my home address, just put it on my blog in the evening, and then I CLOSE the laptop, and try to relax by reading, watching tv, etc. NOT by blogging.
I'll let you know tomorrow if this new operating procedure has worked.

In the meantime, I'm missing P more than I would ever thought I would!
Here I was, thinking I can do perfectly with him out of the country (hey, been there, done that!). However, now there's no "home coming" during the weekends. Now, there's "our place", only it's in Barbizon...our little forest town that has completely stolen my heart.
I'm going back there for three days on 5, 6 & 7 october... Or how three weeks can feel like an eternity!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Between Brussels and Barbizon

Here we go! This is my very first posting on my very first blog. I must admit I'm still wondering if I want to share my thoughts, doings, etc with "who knows" on the web....But there's a "trigger" for all of this! In January 2008 I'm moving to France for 6 or 7 months, and I feel that my friends and family should be able to keep up with this exciting event!

The situation-summary :
- P has just started an MBA at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.
- We found a gorgeous apartment in Barbizon.
- In January, I'm leaving my job for 6 months, and will be joining P to enjoy life in France.

There, that's all in a (tiny) nutshell! (I promise I won't bother you with all the emotional roller coasters I've been on between P deciding to do an MBA and me deciding to join him for 6 months - all of them together would make the greatest amusement parc in the history of mankind).

I've just been in Barbizon for three weeks, and here's an overview of my first experiences of living in a little french town....
Sunday, 26 Aug. : arriving in Barbizon with an overloaded car, one hour later we're at our first chateau-party in Montmelian.
1. Welcome week : P finds his way through campus, and I'm doing some discoveries of my own. I drive around the Fontainebleau Forest for 2 hours, in search of the Carrefour supermarket. I'm not giving up, finally returning to the Tourist Information Center of Fonty to ask the directions :-)
(more on this supermarket later, I promise)
First weekend : P has classes all Saturday. Ok, am I allowed to sulk, rage, feel lonely,etc..? On Sunday, a gorgeous walk through the forest....
2. Week 2 : ok, I need a break from unpacking, from the Carrefour, from cleaning, etc. My parents are in the Ardeche, and I'm joining them for 4 days.. Aahhhhh. Pure bliss!
On Friday, I'm back, and I decide to go shopping in Paris (this is my summer holiday after all!!)
Weekend : being pampered by BCG and enjoying a full weekend in a chateau.
3. Week 3 : the weather is really spoiling us, and our little terrace becomes "Plage Barbizon".
I read, I sleep, I'm soaking up the sun, and I'm taking my bike to drive through the forest a few times, joining P for lunch at the campus.
Last weekend: packing and feeling sad...But P finds the ultimate way to sheer me up, taking me to "Caré Senart", one of the biggest shopping malls in the area :-)

And now it's back to Brussels, back to work, back to reality.....!