Tag Archives: chicago

Wow, Paris sure has changed since last time I was here!


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Don’t worry!  I’m just kidding!  So I got to the airport to take my flight from St. Louis to Chicago today at 1:30, and the flight was supposed to leave at 3:30.  Apparently, if there’s any lightening within a five mile radius, the ground crew can’t fuel the plane or load the luggage.  To make a very long story short, we sat in the plane until almost 6:00.  My flight from Chicago to Paris was at 5:55, so that means I get to have one more night in the US before leaving!  That’s why I’m sitting at a table in Bar Louie with about fifty televisions, a bunch of people wearing hockey jerseys, and Blondie blaring in the background.

While I was still in St. Louis I used one of the red courtesy phones provided by American Airlines and I called to rebook my flight.  I’ve been doing this long enough to know that there was no way I was going to make that flight.  No problem, I was able to book the same flight for tomorrow at the same time.  I was assured by the gate attendants that American Airlines would provide me with hotel and meal vouchers.  However, when I arrived in Chicago, I learned that it’s their policy not to provide vouchers when delays are caused by bad weather.  The lady working at the gate was very nice to me, and I was also very nice with her (it’s certainly not her fault).  I politely asked if there was someone else I could talk to about the situation.  She told me that if she called over her supervisor, he would most certainly say no.  She suggested I go to the ticket counter outside of security because the supervisors over there are nicer.  I didn’t need more encouragement than that, so off I went!

When I got to the ticket counter I saw a supervisor, and I told him my story.  He told me I’d have to talk to a different supervisor about this.  I asked if the other supervisor was nice, and he told me that if I flash a big smile and talk with a Southern accent that maybe I’ll have some luck.  Indeed, he was very nice, and I’ll be darned if it didn’t work.  I got a voucher for a hotel and three meals, and that explains why I’m sitting in Bar Louis at a hotel near O’Hare and not on a flight on my way to Paris.  I’ll just consider this evening of hockey, Blondie, and quesadillas a little bonus and a last call for Americana.  I do feel guilty though.  François and the kids are at home sleeping on air mattresses that deflate during the night (b/c we shipped all of our furniture last Friday) and I get to sleep in a comfortable bed.

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I take that back. Long-stay visa… no check.


UnknownWow, two posts in just one day, this must be juicy!  Only four short hours ago I was sitting at a Starbuck’s (don’t hate) wondering why I hadn’t brought my jacket with me to Chicago, with a big smile on my face in honor of La Journée de la Joie.

While waiting for my 5:15 train back to St. Louis, I received a phone call from the lovely lady at the consulate who helped me so much to locate all of the documents that I need for my long-stay visa.  She called to tell me that, unfortunately, my passport will expire NEXT April (2014).  The problem is that the visa I need is valid for one year.  See the problem?  My American passport absolutely must be valid for one full year from the time that visa is validated, which will be June 18 when I arrive in France.

My first reaction?  “Darn it.”  I meant it, and that’s a strong reaction from me.  I don’t curse, but “darn it” is a pretty close euphemism to what I really wanted to say.  I’d just come all the way to Chicago, spent the night in a hotel (spending money that could have been better spent on a wonderful dinner in Carcassonne, for example), gone through all of that just to have this one little stress completely off of my  plate.  And here it’s been regurgitated, right back onto my plate.  But I have to remember that if I were in France right now, it would be National Joy Day!!  So I’m taking my husband’s advice, “Jenn-ee-fère, zen!!!”  Ok.  I’m zen.  No really, I am.  I’m on the Amtrak, the “high-speed” Amtrak with free WiFi, and they have a bar.

I called the National Passport Service to see what could be done.  It seems that the expedite process to receive a new passport takes 2-3 weeks if done by mail.  If I get an appointment at the regional office in Chicago and go back there to get it, it can be done in a day.  I think that’s what I’m going to have to do, because I’m leaving for France on June 17, and the visa could take up to 21 days to receive.  I know from last year, when I did the same exact thing, that I got it back in one week.  Zen.  I’ll get an appointment to get an expedited passport, and once I have it I will hand deliver it to the French Consulate.  Zen. Then I’ll certainly receive it by mail before my departure on the 17th.  Zen.

I don’t want to do the trip alone again.  I’m going to have to find a friend to come along.  Then there’s the problem of work.  How can I take off another day when there’s only one week of school left?  Can’t miss Wednesday afternoon, though.  My colleagues in the Foreign Language Office are taking me out to a French restaurant for lunch.  Happy Joy Day!!

Long-Stay Visa… Check!


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Last night I decided to take the train from St. Louis to Chicago rather than drive or fly.  The last time I took the train in the US was again from St. Louis to Chicago to apply for a long-stay visa at the French Consulate in Chicago, but that was 15 years ago.  Things have changed, and for the better!  The Amtrak trains still aren’t fast, but this one was clean and believe it or not the passengers were well-behaved!

I made it to Chicago at 11:00 and twelve hours later I was at the consulate turning in all of my documents to obtain a long-stay visa that will permit me to live and work legally in France for a year while taking the steps to gain French nationality.  It went very well, and I’ll have my passport back in time to travel to France on June 17.  I’m relieved to know that I can check that off of my list.

They don’t call Chicago the Windy City for nothing.  It’s pretty windy and cold out there, and I forgot to bring a jacket.  I guess I thought my thoughts were focused on the Mediterranean.