“I will never do a long-distance relationship” and other lies I’ve told

Here’s the recap you are welcome to press “skip” for if you’ve been binging my life Netflix-style:

Last year I moved to the South of France to be an Au Pair. One month in I met Arthur, who quickly filled the position of Love of my Life. We passed the next eleven months with seaside picnics and weekends in Spain. Tragedy struck. My visa ran out. He was summoned by the French Navy. So last September we shared a very tearful goodbye at Pearson International Airport, thus commencing our long-distance relationship. In the past five and a half months, we have spent exactly two weeks together, and the rest of the time has been filled with broken FaceTime calls and “goodnight” texts as the other person is about to wake up.

If that was exhausting to read, imagine what it’s like to live.

If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me, with pity in their eyes, “I don’t know how you do long distance!!” I’d have enough money to buy a flight to France (just kidding, I wouldn’t, because it’s like a billion dollars.) So I have surfaced from my blogging hiatus to answer the burning questions on everyone’s mind. Just kidding, I’m sure no one really cares that much. But I am sure most people have, like me, said they’d never do a long distance relationship at some point, and I am here to be a living example of what it’s like to eat your words.

***As a pretty obvious disclaimer I’d like to note that all relationships/experiences are different so I’m just sharing my personal one, with full knowledge that it won’t apply to everyone.

Here’s the mechanics of my relationship. Other than distance, the biggest factor in Arthur’s and my relationship is the time difference. France is six hours ahead of Canada, which really isn’t too bad, but it means that when I am waking up, he has just finished lunch, and when I wish him a good night, I haven’t even had dinner. So we have, on average, nine hours in a day when we are both awake and can communicate, and about seven hours each when one of us is awake and the other is asleep. And that is probably the most annoying and exhausting part of it all. I swear I do more mental math now than I did in all of high school, just calculating what time it is in France.

We text pretty consistently, and we talk on the phone every day, but often it’s just to say, “hey how are you what are you up to today okay we’ll talk later love you miss you bye.” Because here’s a truth about LDRs, or at least mine: you talk all the time to make up for the distance, so sometimes you have literally nothing to talk about and conversations are pretty boring. Which is totally okay, because a boring five minutes is better than no five minutes at all, which sometimes happens. We’re both living our own lives on different schedules, so from time to time we go a day, or even a few days, without really being able to communicate at all.

All of this is to say that Arthur’s and my relationship is unconventional, and not easy. Missing someone is exhausting. So way back at the beginning of all this, I tried googling ideas to keep up long distance relationships, and I scrolled through articles and pinterest boards with tips and tricks, thinking that someone else could give me the magic spell to make it all work. But surprise, they couldn’t. I think “cute note jars” and kinda dumb. Arthur and I are not getting matching love bracelets. And playing online games together isn’t exactly romantic. Maybe this is me being bitter, but there is no such thing as “The 10 Best Ways to Survive a Long-Distance Relationship,” and the more of these lists I read, the more annoyed I become.

And unfortunately, in some of my more bitter moments, I’ve found myself getting petty and qualifying the sucky-ness of different LDRs. In my falling down of the internet rabbit hole, I’ve come across youtube videos of attractive, young youtuber couples talking about how they make long-distance relationships work. I click on them hopefully, grasping for someone to relate to in my struggle, and then I literally yell at my computer screen because exCUSE ME WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT’S HARD YOU LIVE TWO STATES AWAY HOW DARE YOU.

*takes a deep breath to simmer the heck down*

And then I tell myself to stop being so judgy because everyone’s experiences are different. And to be honest, if I’m going to be doing long-distance, I think I prefer to be dating someone across an ocean than someone six hours away.

“Woah hold up what the heck do you mean Marryl??”

Hear me out. If I were dating someone who lives within a drivable distance, I think I’d lose my mind. We’d have to work hard to find ways and times to see one another. But with an ocean between us, I know exactly when I will and will not see Arthur so my expectations are super realistic and I won’t ever be disappointed if plans fall through. Because there are no plans. Don’t get me wrong, I would recommend my situation to literally no one. But if you’re going to do it, go big or go home. If anything, it makes for a more romantic/tragic story.

To keep this optimism train chugging along, there are some other positive aspects of long-distance, if you can believe it. The biggest one is confidence in the relationship: if I didn’t think Arthur and I were in-it-to-win-it, I wouldn’t be putting myself through all of this. Plus, if we can make it through this, I think we can make it through really anything. We also argue less (yes surprise surprise my relationship seems like a fairytale from the outside, but we are normal so sometimes we have spats which is totally okay) because our time is so precious and we realize that whatever has lead to a quarrel is not all that important in the grand scheme of things. And the greatest part is we get to share this wild, adventurous, crazy love story that always keeps us on our toes, and when we do actually get to see each other, it’s a magical movie-worthy reunion, and our time together is worth so much more.

We survive by texting and calling and facetiming. We survive by always saying good morning and good night, even when it’s not applicable to the other’s time zone. We survive by describing our days in boring detail to paint a clearer picture. We survive by spending our savings on plane tickets. We survive by being in love. I’ve learned that there is no one way to be in any relationship, especially long distance; it’s just whatever works best for you.

I’ll admit I’ve cried a few times in the past 24 hours in respect to Valentine’s Day, because oh man you think you know bitter by being single on this day of love, but I’m experiencing a whole new level of bitter by finally having someone important enough to share this day with and he’s a million miles away like WOW OKAY THANKS A LOT UNIVERSE.

I cried when I saw the flowers Arthur asked my mom to buy for me. I cried when I booked my flight to France in April. I cried when we hung up on FaceTime. Long-distance is so hard and emotional and crappy and weird and fascinating and I would choose a long-distance relationship with Arthur over no relationship with Arthur all day every day.

Love, man. What a magical thing.


I’m coming home

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Maybe this won’t come as a surprise to you, but it certainly does to me.

First I will address the elephant that is my gaping lack of blog posts in the past year. I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I posted something, so unless you follow me on Snapchat you may have believed me to be dead. But alas, no, I am still very much alive and living off salt water and croissants (to be clear I’m not drinking the salt water, just bathing in it).

I haven’t written anything because I haven’t had anything to write about. “But Marryl,” you say, “you’re a nanny in the South of France. You drink champagne more often than Coca-Cola. You picnic on the beach every other day. You’re starting to lose count of the number of countries you’ve visited. How can you POSSIBLY have nothing to write about?” Well, my dear readers, I guess the problem is I have too much to write about, and only things that would probably make people low-key resent me. In the past month alone I’ve kayaked the Mediterranean, drunk Sangria in Spain, climbed the steep hills of Monte Carlo, and shopped in Saint-Tropez, and that’s just the weekends. On weekdays I sip espresso while smelling our lavender plants, eat homemade provencale ratatouille, and go to the beach more times than I can keep track of. My life is incredible, and incredibly brag-worthy, and for that reason I don’t really want to talk about it.

Because I’m not doing this for the instagram likes. I’m not doing this for the stories down the road. Sure, maybe I spend a little too much time staging some of my Snapchats, but only because I know it’ll be gone forever in twenty-four hours, and my guilt will disappear with it. But still feel a little bad about it because I don’t want people to think that my goal is to boast or make anyone feel jealous. So I just don’t talk about it. France is for me, and for the people I’ve been sharing this experience with, so I don’t really feel the need to talk about it. So please don’t think I’m a terrible person who’s going to come home and be like, “Oh yes, this pinot isn’t bad, but it’s grape juice compared to the lovely Bordeaux I had one night in a private beach cabana at sunset on the Mediterranean Sea.”

(I’m not making that up, though I don’t know if it was a Bordeaux; I think it was just boxed rosé and ooookay I’ll stop now because do you see how easy it is for me to sound like such a pompous bitch??)

Speaking of coming home, I’m coming home! If you’ve been following my life, this might not come as a surprise to you, since the whole point of being an Au Pair was I go to France for one year, and then I come back. But this comes as quite a surprising and mixed-emotional thing for me to say, because for a long time I though-slash-hoped I would never be coming home.

I fell in love with France and I fell in love hard. And like true love, it’s impossible to describe. There is just something about the way of life here that is so special and makes me feel so warm and happy. So, very early on in my year I decided I would like to stay in France, and I began looking into my options, because I’ve lived in Canada my entire life one year just isn’t enough time to truly grasp a country. Okay, FINE, I’ll admit it: I also wanted to stay because along with France I fell in love with a French boy. For the longest time I fiercely denied that I wanted to stay for him, because I knew everyone back home would tell me I’m crazy to make such a huge move for a boy (and I would tell myself I’m crazy, too). But in the pie chart of the sources of happiness in my life in France, Arthur makes up a very, very big slice. And I just can’t ignore that, nor do I want to. Before moving I joked that I would fall in love with some French marine and never move home, and well whaddaya know, it actually happened.

Buuuuut unfortunately, staying in a country is more more complicate than just employing sheer willpower. I’ll spare you the boring administrative details, but basically it’s nearly impossibility to obtain another Visa, and on top of that, Arthur is temporarily moving to Northern France, and my best/only French friend Emilie is moving back to Canada. So I-slash-we came to the conclusion that it is best for me to come home. I can see my family and friends and cat and rediscover the country I haven’t been in for a year and maybe actually get a real job that generates income that I don’t dedicate entirely to a weekend in Monaco. Oh, and poutine. I can eat lots and lots of poutine.

Though it wasn’t the final answer I thought I’d be giving Regis Philbin, I’m overjoyed to be coming home. And I don’t need to justify my choice, even though as a young twenty-sometime I do feel that constant pressure to prove myself to everyone after graduation. But what I’ve learned in my year since graduating is that we all have So. Much. Damn. Time. I’m young and curious and adventurous and porous like a sponge and I don’t need to do the exact same thing for the rest of my life. Nor is there any specific path I should feel obligated to follow. If I want to spend three years eating fresh fruit on a beach and teaching English in Tahiti while Arthur is placed there for the Navy then DAMMIT I WILL. Because I’m young and free and can do whatever the heck I want if I want to.

(That may or may not be an actually thing that could happen but I’ll save some secrets for later to keep you coming back for more.)

What will I do when I’m back in Canada? Six months from now? One year from now? Who knows. But also, who needs to know? I’ll figure it out when I figure it out, and that’s all that matters. What is important is that in the last year I have learned more than I thought possible, and certainly more than I would have learned staying in Canada. This move home doesn’t have to be permanent, and it certainly won’t be. I am an intelligent, talented, independent woman. I know who I am, I know what I want, and I am confident that wherever I go, I will be proud of myself for arriving there. But I will say I am very, very excited to come home.

Oh, and if you actually know me in real life and are excited by this information, you’ll be even more excited to know that Arthur is coming with me!!! For about two weeks at the end of August. Because somehow that boy has seen 36 countries, but NEVER Canada. I’m pretty sure he might cry when I take him to Niagara Falls. So even if you aren’t exciting by my return, you can at least look forward to the presence of a tall, dark, handsome French man probably sporting a moustache and striped shirt.

(Also please, please promise me if you meet him you’ll laugh at his accent when he speaks English because it’s so gosh darn cute, because he does that to me all the time when I speak French to the point that I just don’t bother speaking French to him. It’s time for payback.)

Soooo yeah, I have come out from my blogging hiatus momentarily and honestly I’ll probably just crawl right back into my little turtle shell of radio silence until I’m home, because I will be spending my summer profiting from the time I have left. Maybe when I’m home I’ll write about my experiences, but then again I might save all my secrets for a soon-to-be bestselling novel. Because who doesn’t want to read about the fourteen different varieties of cheese I ate in one night??

You can now start planning my numerous welcome back parties. I’ll bring the wine.

I am an immigrant but no one cares because I’m white

Ain’t no subtlety about this one, folks.

If you’re reading this blog post, that means you have access to the internet, so you are most definitely aware of what’s happening in good ol’ America. Though I’d like to point out that the xenophobic basis of what is happening in America has happened and is currently happening across many parts of the world; the US just beat us all to the punch of being really damn blunt about it.

My race and country of birth give me an immense amount of privilege so I won’t even pretend to relate to any minority seeking refuge from persecution. However, I am currently living on a Visa in France, which has lead me to think and reflect empathetically. If France decided to ban all immigrating Canadians, regardless of Visa or Green Card status, I would have to cancel any upcoming trip I have out of the country because I would not be allowed back into the place where I am employed and have a documented home with all of my belongings, and I would live in fear of being found out by the French government. And while this hypothetical scenario is significantly less grave than the real life scenarios of Muslim immigrants and refugees, it really makes me reflect on how that is a terrible situation to be in.

But the funny thing is, even though I’ve come to France to steal their jobs and live out my Canadian beliefs, no one gives a crap because I’m from Canada and I’m white. No one is afraid of me. No one bats an eyelash at the fact that I’m taking employment away from the French and imposing my Canadian values onto their country. In fact, everyone thinks I’m super exotic and interesting and my accent is really cute and they won’t stop asking me how cold it is back home. My “diversity” is celebrated, while the diversity of Muslims is villainized, even though we post the exact same level of threat to the world.

And I’m sorry for my language but that’s just fucked up.

I don’t have a conclusion to my point here, because there never will be a conclusion to the discussion of xenophobia. And it isn’t just America. My dear naive Canadian friends: if this week has taught you anything, it should be that your own bright and shiny country isn’t as perfect as you make it out to be.

We need to do better. All of us. When you think you’ve done the best you can, that’s probably the exact point where you need to try your hardest. Put yourself in the position of others and try to understand. Because there are so many things in this world that are not fair, and just because you drew the long straw in life, does not mean you won’t be impacted by the sufferings of the short straw.

My 2016 didn’t really suck that much

Really, it didn’t.

Yeah, sure I experienced some not-super-fun things from time to time, but overall, I’ve had worse years.

“But Marryl. It was 2016. It sucked for everyone. That’s just how it is.”

Ah, but see, that’s where you’re wrong. Highlights for me include graduating and moving to the French Riviera, so really I would say it’s been one of my best years yet. And you may call me selfish for saying that, what with all the horrible shit that went down around the world last year, but personally I think I am being less selfish.

Here’s why.

Yes, many people died in 2016. But fortunately I did not lose any of my personal family or friends. Yes, a bigoted human potato was given the leadership of a very powerful country. But I am not a minority now living in fear as an American citizen. Yes, terrorist attacks struck many countries across the globe. But I only experienced them through a television or computer screen from the safety of my Canadian couch.

Maybe 2016 sucked, but MY 2016 didn’t really suck. And I think all this negativity I’ve seen across my newsfeeds of people going on and on about how they personally participated in the suck of 2016 shows how self-centred and egotistical our world can be. Yes you can mourn the loss of your favourite celebrities. You can feel compassion towards the victims of tragedy. You can be angry at the nonsensical things that happened. But don’t make it about you. Don’t brag about how terrible your life was last year because a lot of terrible things happened. It isn’t about you. Aleppo isn’t about you. Carrie Fisher’s death isn’t about you. The Nice attack isn’t about you. Black mothers unjustly losing their children isn’t about you. Fear of deportation isn’t about you. Orlando isn’t about you. Maybe all these things made you feel sad or hurt or angry, but I’m sure there were other people, other people much closer to the incidences, who had it a lot worse. So don’t make it about you.

I say all this under the assumption that most of my audience falls somewhere on the spectrum of having a lot of privilege. And I am also saying all this knowing that I can’t possibly know what everyone dealt with this past year. Maybe you faced hardships of your own. And I completely respect that. I know I shed my fair share of tears last year. But what I’m trying to get across is that you don’t have the right to plagiarize the sorrow of others and claim it as your own. It doesn’t fly with a university paper, and it ain’t gunna fly here. I hate to use the now clichéd phrase of “check your privilege” but seriously, do it. I’ve learned that human beings love to play the anti-brag game of who has it off worse. But maybe we should all stop and consider how lucky we are that we want to brag about how terrible our lives are, and that we aren’t in the position of those praying for the day when they can brag about how wonderful their lives are.

New year new you? How about you resolve to keep others in your good thoughts and keep yourself in check.

How to be a foreigner

This week I had planned on writing a post titled, “How to be foreign and exotic,” in which I wanted to talk about what it’s like to find myself as the cool and interesting foreigner, a strange feeling when I always considered Canada to be Wonder Bread level of plain and boring. I was going to make witty comments about how people here ogle at my accent and bow in my maple syrup covered presence because I’m just très exotique.

That was, however, until today when I witnessed a Syrian woman cry in front of my French class as we applauded her for immigrating to France.

On Thursdays I attend a French class in my small city, which is offered for free by a church and designed for recent immigrants to France. I take this class to improve my French, but also as a way to get out of the house and do something with my absurd amount of free time. Moving by myself to a country that has different customs and a different language from what I’m familiar with has been difficult, but today I was reminded just how privileged my experience has been.

Normally our French class is divided into multiple groups so I don’t often interact with other students, but as today was our last class before the holidays, we had a Christmas party, at which some of the volunteers presented a map of where all of the students were from and recognized each country. As I watched this sweet Syrian lady pull tissues from her purse, I felt incredibly moved and incredibly guilty because my biggest struggle of the day was that the instant coffee at the party was not up to par with the Nespresso creation I drink in my 5-bedroom French home, which I moved to not because my country is at war, but because I really had nothing better to do.

France is fun and scary and crazy and challenging and beautiful. It’s difficult being away from my Canadian friends and family, especially at Christmas, but I need to remind myself that moving to France was my choice, and there are many immigrants who were never given a choice. As I watched each student stand up and be applauded for the country they came from, I reflected on just how stupid xenophobia is. People in France welcome me with open arms because I’m Canadian, which apparently means I’m cool and harmless. I just wish that all foreigners here were welcomed with such appreciation, because their need to be here is much greater than mine.

US Election: how I feel as a women


This morning I woke up to my alarm at 5 am, which I had set so I could see the election results come in in real time because France is six hours ahead of Washington DC. I hit snooze a couple times, thinking I could afford a few more minutes of sleep, because while I knew this election would be close, I assumed it would inevitably come out in the world’s favour.

Boy was I wrong.

Wrapped in two blankets, for comfort more so than warmth, in the morning darkness, I could not believe my eyes. I wondered if the early hour and lack of sleep was clouding my judgement, but as the sun came up and the reality sank in, I started to cry. This is an inconceivable blow for minorities, and as a woman, I feel so much indescribable pain in my heart. And when the seven-year-old girl I care for came downstairs for breakfast and asked why her mom was so shocked by what was on the television, my heart broke over her sweet ignorance to the utter bullshit America just got away with.

As a woman, a feminist, and a decent human being, my upset does not simply lie in the fact that a woman lost, although I am almost positive that if a man presented Hillary’s platform against Trump, he would have won in a landslide. Yes, a woman holding such a high position of power would be truly inspirational to the world, but as a woman, that is a loss I can deal with, because qualified women being shafted by institutionalized sexism is a reality I have unfortunately become acclimatized to. No, what really upsets me, the reason tears were streaming down my face as I gawked at CNN at 5 o’clock this morning, is that the so-called leader of the Free World is a man who has verbally crucified women and openly admitted to acts of sexual assault on national television.

I do not blame Hillary for not speaking tonight. I could hardly look at my French daughter this morning, so I cannot even imagine how impossible it would be for Hillary to look out at a crowd of heartbroken women, at a nation of heartbroken women, and tell them that she supports the results of the election, that everything will be okay, that these women are safe in the hands of a self-proclaimed sexual assailant.

I don’t go anywhere alone at night because I am afraid of being sexually assaulted. I hate walking down busy streets because catcalls cut deep. I avoid magazines and mainstream media because it makes me feel criticized and less valued. But all of these fears derive from strangers and faceless people, not from a man known by all, not from such a powerful figure, not from now the most powerful figure in the world. But it isn’t just Trump who I am afraid of; it is of the millions of Americans who passionately listen to what he says. The millions of men and, shockingly, women who propel his ideals and echo his sentiments. Who have become an army of bigots. Who won today.

Canada, you can joke all you want about welcoming Americans into your spare bedrooms, but the reality is, the 49th parallel does not protect us. I am currently living in the South of France, a million miles away from North America, and I do not feel safe. I am mostly joking when I suggest the possibility of a Third World War, and really, war isn’t what I am afraid of. I am afraid of the mentality shift. I am afraid because today, the bigots won. The bigots learned that they can fill their mouths with the most degrading terms, joke about rape, advocate for misogyny, and get away with it. Today the world was told that sexism, racism, hate, are all okay.

In the United States, women were granted the right to vote in 1920. Less than 100 years ago. That is disgusting. And it hasn’t exactly been paradise for the past century. We all need feminism because we do not have gender equality. Plain and simple. The fight for women’s rights is not our past; it is our present. This win is a step backwards for the world. The days when women were not even considered persons in the western world are not so far in the past, so if we step too far backwards, we will find ourselves in a dangerous reality.

If last night you went to sleep in North America fearing tomorrow, I’ve been living in tomorrow for hours now, and I can tell you it is a scary place. I will never stop fighting sexism or apologize for being a feminist, no matter the judgemental looks or name calling, because now more than ever I am afraid of what will happen if I stop.

I’m with her, her being not only Hillary at this point, but every woman alive. Because we sure as hell need it.

Falling in love with/in France


One of the, like, seven photos I’ve taken since I got here because I hate taking photos

My kids just finished two weeks of holidays from school (because apparently All Saints’ Day requires two weeks to reflect upon in France), and for one of those weeks they were shipped off to their grandparents’ house, so I took advantage of the freedom and spent nine days exploring Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Berlin. It was a super cool and super fun trip, but about half way through I found myself really homesick, but not for Canada, for France. And as my plane was landing in Nice on Sunday night, I literally almost cried from pure happiness of being back in the South of France. That was in part because I live in a city where November 1st can be a beach day, but it was mostly because France feels like home.

It’s really shocking how easily I’ve fallen in love with the South of France. Yes, it’s beautiful, the language is beautiful, the people are beautiful, and there’s always an endless supply of bread and rosé. But those are tangible things. It’s easy to love those (especially the bread and rosé). But the feeling I had in my heart when I walked out of the Toulon train station upon arriving last weekend is indescribable. I am so content, it’s rather unbelievable.

I had a hella stressful four years of university, between academics, work, and relationships, and on top of all that going through a rollercoaster of identity, doubting my abilities and self-worth, and discovering the corruptive power of my anxiety. But I am hardly ever anxious anymore. Sure, sometimes I get a little stressed out, but I no longer constantly feel worried about nothing or like I’m forgetting something important. I have finally let myself relax and enjoy what is right in front of me, and it’s incredible.

Keeping children alive and happy is no easy task, but I do realize that I don’t have a real job and I’m essentially living a vacation and that’s probably why I feel so chill. However, I would argue that most people I’ve met here act like they’re on vacation, too. They all enjoy life and everything it has to offer. Maybe it’s something in the salty water.

I had no goal coming into all this for what I’d do after this year is up, but slowly that goal is turning into “figure out how to stay in France by any means possible.” Seriously. I love Canada, I really do, but with every passing day my desire to stay forever grows and grows. So if you happen to receive an invite to a wedding next summer on the Mediterranean Sea just know that it is totally absolutely 100% legal and not at all like Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal nope not at all please RSVP and don’t call immigration.

As for the “in” part of this post’s title? Well, let’s just say France has pleasantly surprised me in all facets of my life. You know what they say about the French language…