Stress stress stress, probably for nothing

I’m a creature of stress—I think if there was nothing to stress about, I would probably make something up. I think I probably do that all the time. This week I’ve been stressed, more or less consciously, about:

1) being less and less happy hanging out at the old house with the new roommates (noise, smoke, cleanliness, and friendliness related) when I have to continue to do so to be with J

2) a bad experience with a woman at a tabac yesterday when trying to make a return for a third party (the tabac is a “point de relais” for a catalogue order company, they take the returns rather than you sending them back yourself). I called the company ahead of time to ask how the return worked—they said to put the bon de retour and the product in its “original emballage” (wrapping) and take it to the point de relais. I did so, hiked on down the street, and was immediately told that I had not put the product in its original emballage, and she couldn’t send it back that way. Turns out the original emballage wasn’t the wrapping for the product, but the outer packaging used to mail the product. I hike back up the street, get the extra packaging and some packing tape just in case, and hike back down the street determined to be friendly in spite of my irritation (seriously this street is a lonnnnng hill). As soon as I get there, the woman explains to her colleague that I had come just before but without putting it in its wrapping, just the product on its own. I try to make my case because the other woman is friendly, explaining that the company hadn’t specified which wrapping. Then I tell her I didn’t close the package, but I brought tape in case I needed to. She goes off about how of course you have to close the package, I say well okay the company didn’t specify, and she says, why on earth would you send an open package, it’s evident quand même, blah blah blah, I’m shocked into silence as she explains to her colleague how to take the return. Standing there waiting for them to enter the details and print my sticker, I’m too irritated to watch and start looking in every other direction possible; horrible woman eventually tears off a sticker and hands it to me; I say merciaurevoir as fast as possible and march out the door before she has a chance to say anything else or I have a chance to start crying from irritation.

I don’t know why I find these situations so infuriating—the majority of strangers I interact with day to day range from friendly at best to cold at worst, and yet the insulting, infuriating ones stay with me for days, making me ask questions—is it because I’m young that she thought she could treat me like an idiot? Did my rude exit make any impact on her? What could I have said to demonstrate how idiotic she was being (no, I’m sorry, ma’am, I have no fecking idea what you do with this package after I hand it to you)? How would I have reacted in the States? How would a native French speaker have reacted? And why the heck does it bother me so much? I wonder if it bothers me more because it happened while I’m stressed out about number…

3) This freaking stage that seems like it will never get organized. I haven’t heard from my contact at the diocese for two weeks, though I e-mailed a week ago after speaking with the secretary at the potential school, called him Monday, and e-mailed again yesterday explaining that I was worried about the “passage du temps” given that this thing will presumably take three to five weeks, that it must happen before the orals mid-June, and that I’ll have administrative stuff to take care of since I work and I’m foreign.

My fear with this is that it will fall through and keep me from validating the concours if I pass the orals. The rational side of me tells me that this is not a possibility—surely we will work something out, and how could they invalidate my concours when I’ve been trying to do everything right? (And when this rule is new this year and has been implemented inconsistently in the different académies/diocese.) And then my farthest, most irrational fear, as my new American friend Dan has started naming it, is “DEPORTATION!” It sounds hilarious when he says it but there is always a fear at the back of my mind that my careful plans and efforts will all fall through and I’ll have to leave a country, a people, a person, a city, and a lifestyle that I love. That I’ll end up with no reasonable recourse to stay in France.

So throw in the Horrible Tabac Woman and I just start to feel even more like I’m fighting an uphill battle to belong.

I try to reassure myself by counting

a) the number of things that I’ve worried about in the past that have gone right: numerous lecteur-ship searches, equally numerous visas, one set of épreuves écrites for the CAPES, every carte de séjour I’ve ever asked for, grad school and

b) the number of things that I don’t have to worry about right now: money (budgeting is finally seeming to work now that taxes/CNED/gym are paid), work (I love my job and my colleagues), boyfriend, my weight (yay for the gym).

But honestly sometimes I think a good spa weekend is what I need… or a permanent personality change.


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