July 23, 2007

Introducing Truffles for Breakfast

Truffles for Breakfast is the ongoing story of two people, Morgen Jahnke and Joe Kissell, whose dream it was to leave behind their familiar San Francisco surroundings and live simpler but (we hope) more interesting lives in France.

I described our decision to move to France in an article on Interesting Thing of the Day: La Chose Intéressante du Jour. That contains most of the details of what we’re doing and why. It’s been interesting to read the comments and email messages that article has generated. Lots of people have either welcomed us to Europe or congratulated us on our decision. Several have said that they, too, have dreamed of doing something like this—of these, some still consider it a viable possibility while others don’t. And a few have expressed puzzlement, resentment, or even antipathy: “How could you possibly think France is better than the United States?”… “People with real lives don’t have the luxury to do such a thing” … “France is no friend of ours, so neither are you.” I said a few words about the more extreme examples of such comments in Striking a Nerve.

One refrain I hear over and over again is: “I could never do that. It’s impossible.” I think that’s funny, in a way, because it’s a common French habit to proclaim that something is impossible when what you mean is that you don’t want to be bothered—or that you simply need convincing. We’ve worked our way through a lot of problems that seemed, at first, to be unsolvable. What we’ve found is that there’s a huge difference between “impossible” and “very very hard.” I’m sure that some things truly are impossible, but in our experience so far, we’ve found that persistence and determination make all the difference. To be sure, we’ve experienced some stressful days, tears, pain, and frustration—with more, undoubtedly, to come—but also a lot of joy and laughter. On the whole, I think we’re both very happy with our decision, and delighted to be living in France. I’m here to tell you that it absolutely is possible to do what we did if you make it your priority and refuse to give up when faced with apparent roadblocks.

So there’s reason number one for me to do this blog: spreading that whole shiny “you-can-do-it” attitude. Maybe your dream has nothing to do with France or even with moving, but I hope that the stories we tell here will motivate and encourage you to do whatever you need to do to make your own thing happen.

Related to this is reason number two: Helping out other people who want to move here in particular. I can’t tell you how many books and Web sites we read while preparing for this move, but we still ended up with more questions than answers. Thanks in part to the legendary French bureaucracy, the process of getting into France and staying here legally is full of ambiguities and obstacles. We struggled enormously with things like finding a place to live, getting health insurance, and fulfilling a variety of other requirements needed to get our visas. And I’d like to think that the lessons we eventually learned can help to reduce the grief and anxiety of other people trying to do the same thing. We still have some questions, too, and perhaps readers who have more experience in these matters than we do can help us (and you) figure out the answers.

And my third reason: Laziness. No, seriously. I’ve got dozens of friends, relatives, and colleagues who want to be kept up to date on everything we do here. They want to hear all the stories, see the pictures, and in some cases, live out their own fantasies vicariously. That’s all great, but I only have so much time. Once I’ve told a story three or four times, I start thinking that life is too short—OK, there are too many pastries to be eaten, too many books to be read. So, I’m hoping that if I put most of the interesting facts and photos up here, I’ll only have to do it once!

Oh, and as for the name “Truffles for Breakfast”…I expect we will, at some point, actually have truffles in our scrambled eggs. But that’s neither here nor there. We thought that name would be symbolic of our desire to pay attention to the small but truly important things in life. See our About page for more details.

7 Responses to “Introducing Truffles for Breakfast”

  1. Cat said:

    Hey Joe. I wanted to read “Striking a Nerve” but the link didn’t work.

    And that’s a nice photo of you and Morg.

  2. Lauren said:

    Wow! I have read about 70% of everything you have posted on the blog so far, and will finish after work today. As a fellow dreamer who would love to live in France, even if only on short term, this information is much appreciated. PS — THE TOILETTES ARE FREE NOW?!?? YES!!!

  3. Joe Kissell said:

    Cat: Ah, thanks for pointing out the broken link. I’ve repaired it! And glad you liked the picture!

    Lauren: Oh yes. Free toilettes now! They make Paris 35% friendlier!

  4. Johanna said:

    Thanks for posting all the useful information. And congrats. Also, the photo is quite nice, and it already makes you look different: simplified and more interesting. 😉

    Also, I wanted to look at the link for “need conviincing” but it is broken.

  5. Trevor said:

    And the “About” link in the last line of the above article is also broken.

  6. Joe Kissell said:

    Trevor: D’oh! Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve fixed it.