samedi 31 juillet 2010
When I went to the supermarket this morning, on the announcements board there was a large sign "Les Majorettes de Marseille recrutent!"
Must be between 165 and 180 centimeters, and preferably have Majorette/PomPon experience. Briefly toyed with the idea of "trying out".
Competitions in France and Europe!

Though I am one centimeter too short, I am almost certain that they would take me, as I have actual US cheerleading/pompon experience, which is different than in France, where it seems to be mostly just marching in line wearing high boots, an outfit from the 1980's, and waving pom pons around.

But who am I kidding? I can't see myself asking my boss:
"Can I have three days off next week?"
"Maybe. Why?"
"To go to a Majorette competition in Paris."

Plus, I don't really have the time for practicing every Saturday from 14:30 to 18:00. Though it would be nice to meet some other women.

Sigh. My Cheerleading Days are officially over.
jeudi 22 juillet 2010
She has been in France for five years now.

On Monday, three days before the official 5-year anniversary, she re-submitted her file to obtain French nationality, hoping that even French bureaucrats wouldn't be so picky as to send it back for being filed three whole days ahead of time.

Woke up at 5:40, did a quick ten minutes of exercise, then shower, catch up on emails and blogs while eating a yogurt, out the door at 6:30 to drive to Aix. Parks in the parking garage, gets to her office a few minutes after 7. It is her favorite part of the day- calm, no people in the streets, cool, quiet. Nobody else has arrived at the office and won't for at least another hour.
She prepares her tea, turns on her computer, then surfs the internet or writes in her journal until about five minutes before 8 when her Frenchman calls to make sure she arrived okay. A quick conversation that takes place after his shower and before his breakfast. It is a habit that they have picked up over the years of working. They don't call each other throughout the day unless it is necessary, but a quick "I made it, have a good day" every morning.

At around 8 she begins working- reading CaseLaw, responding to Official Notices from the Patent Offices, working on the drawings for a new patent to be filed.
The Others start arriving around 9 and say hello but no Bises here.

At around 12:30 she leaves to go to La Poste in the Centre Ville- swerving tourists with their cameras, tour groups, and the little white train, she makes it to La Poste, takes a ticket, waits to be called. One package sent to the US for 25€, then quick to Chez Paul for her favorite sandwich, tomate mozzarella as well as a macaron au chocolat to be shared that evening. At 1, her French class starts, once a week, usually the mondays, in a little café on the main square in front of the Hôtel de Ville. Dictée, verb tenses, conversation while sipping a cappucino. At 2, the official time she landed in Marseille, back to work for the rest of the afternoon. One or two Nespresso espressos throughout the day, earplugs and calming medication to try and not go nuts with the street accordion player, then around 6:30 she starts to get ready to leave. It is summer so it is still light out, but fewer tourists out in the streets now.

On the road, back to Marseille. Usually less traffic at this time of night, but can always run into heavy traffic due to concerts at the Stade Velodrome or the Dôme.

She arrives around 7:30 and luckily manages to find a parking spot right in front of their building. Getting to be quite an expert at parallel parking, as well as accepting the fact that no car remains undented for long in Marseille, she swings right into the parking spot, no problem.

For dinner, quick pasta and tuna, her Frenchman's favorite, while they watch a TV series episode together, then she heads to her desk to study for a few hours before falling into bed before 11. It is hot, so they leave the fan on and the windows open all night long.

And that is the 5-year anniversary of French residency.
dimanche 4 juillet 2010
Back from Strasbourg, back at work.
Coming down from my high of "I did it" only to realize, "It ain't over."

Yep, that's right. Now I start studying for the European Qualifying Examination in March.
This consists of 4 tests:
A : (3.5 hours) tests the candidate's ability to draft claims and the introductory part of a European patent application.
B : (4 hours) requires candidates to prepare a reply to an official letter in which prior art has been cited.
C : (6 hours) involves drafting a notice of opposition to a European patent.
D : (part 1, 3 hours) legal questions and (part 2, 4 hours) legal assessment of a specific situation.

Sounds like fun, right?

March 2011 will be the first time I can take the exam because at least 3 years of work experience under a European Patent Attorney are required. And I want to take it in March 2011 because in 2012 they are changing the regulations so that a pre-exam will have to passed first before one can be admitted to take the other 4 tests, which will be required for everyone who has not taken the exam before.


I have 33 weeks until the exams. Will be taking some preparatory classes, consisting of two week-long seminars in Strasbourg again. (already missing the pretzels)

At least this test I can take in English, but the bad part is that the results aren't given until August, so get to spend many months in anticipatory agony.

I see my 30's stretching before me as one long haul:
30- CEIPI- patents course
31- European Qualifying Exam
32- French Qualifying Exam - patents (assuming I have my nationality by then)
33- CEIPI- trademarks course
34- French Qualifying Exam - trademarks
35- PhD Intellectual Property
36- escape from the world and live on the beach in Tahiti where Alain becomes a pearl farmer
vendredi 2 juillet 2010
After having filed my wheelbarrow's worth of paperwork for the French Nationality Request early last month, and being informed that I would likely get the Convocation in 4 to 7 months, I was quite surprised to find in the mail yesterday a letter from the Mairie addressed to me, Convocation. No, it can't be! I surely forgot some paper. (Well, more likely the person who verified my file when I turned it in didn't do it correctly or else they decided to come up with another hoop, just for kicks).

I opened it up, and sure enough, I was informed that I had to return to the Mairie after July 22, 2010 (my five-year anniversary in France) for a "complement d'information". Oh man.
You see, you can obtain French nationality by two ways- being married to a French for four years (as of last May 26th) OR in France for 5 years (as of July 22nd). Drat. Maybe it is 4 years of marraige AND five years in France, not OR. Or else they misunderstood my request (more likely).

I called the Mairie this morning and got the most unhelpful person in the world. The kind of person you want to reach through the phone and strangle.
"Come pick up your file. For requests for nationality by marriage, you have to file it with the Courts."
"But I was told to do it there."
"Come pick up your file. We only do requests by residency."
"Well, okay, but then what do I have to do?"
"Come pick up your file. Thank you, goodbye."
"Wait, I just want some more information."
"Come pick up your file. I can't stay one hour on the phone." (Because my coffee break is in 5 minutes, even though I just got here 30 minutes ago.)
"It's not an hour. I just want an answer to my question."
(well, actually it went a few more rounds like that- she desperately unwilling to help, and I just wanting to eek out a bit more information)
"Come pick up your file. Thank you, goodbye."
"Thanks for nothing!"

I hung up and was so upset I was shaking. I guess that is what five years of dealing with French Administration will do to you. I went into the bathroom and just cried out of sheer frustration.
Once I had pulled it together a bit, I called the Prefecture and yes, effectively, I have to go pick up the file from them, and turn it back in to them. (with Alain present)

I asked which way was easier, and he said "Well, it's not that one is easier, it is just whichever you are qualified for."
"Yes but considering that I am qualified for both, which way is fastest?"
Apparently, by marriage. There are so many foreigners living in France requesting nationality by Droit du Sol that it is faster to pass by marriage.

Of course, I will really believe it (that I have to go by the Prefecture) when 2 French people tell me the same thing.

Gee, the person who gave me the file couldn't have told me this? Or the person who took my completed file, when I clearly stated I was married to a French, here is his ID card, his passport, his Acte de Naissance, and our Marriage Certificate?

But no, they aren't paid for that.

However, I was confirmed in my thinking that it was not necessary to file it with the Court. Until Dec. 31, 2009 requests for nationality by marriage did indeed have to go via the Court System BUT NOT ANYMORE. Get your facts straight woman, even if you are working as a fonctionnaire.

So now, I have to go back to the Mairie, pick up my file, try not to tell them off (though I will give them a highlighted copy of the official decree), then take another day off from work to go to the Prefecture with Alain and pick up the file. I am hoping that I can re-file it right away. Heck, I have every piece of paperwork that I/my parents/his parents/he has ever signed/breathed on/left a fingerprint on.

Just so frustrated because of the loss of time and the extra run-around.

I am tempted to file both sets of paperwork and see which one makes it through the system, like a race. Woohoo! It's a race: Prefecture vs. Mairie!! How exciting!

Not really sure what would happen if they found out I make two requests. Of course, that is assuming that they are coordinated/communicative enough between bureaucracies that they would put two and two together, which I doubt.

It doesn't say anywhere that I can't do it. Could always play the dumb foreigner card. "Oh. I'm sorry Mr. Prefet. I didn't know I couldn't do two requests. I thought that since I qualified for both, I had to do both."


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