Apparently I need to learn to trust myself...

The whole reason I came to Paris during this point of the program was so that someone would be here managing each groups' arrival. To make sure each student gets put in a bed in the rooms we have reserved at this hostel. Without a pointed person last year we had students phoning home to explain to their parents "they don't have a place for me to stay!" Which was soooo not the case. No, having faculty here to sort the room mess last year wasn't enough. They can't be around 24/7, they have class to teach. So this year, I am here. I love Paris. No big deal. And really, how difficult is it to put people in to their assigned spaces? Especially when I'm the one who organized it?

I stayed in London to see each coach off on departure day, and then booked it to Paris on the Eurostar to beat the groups arriving in Paris that evening. I got to the hostel, keys were ready, and I made my lists of which students were assigned to each room.

What complicated things last year is that in a room of ten beds, only six were occupied the first two nights. The students moved around and switched things up, so when the next group arrived two days later and students wet handed keys to that room (which was supposed to have four empty beds) it appeared they had no bed to claim as their own...

So when the group arrived this year and I handed out keys, I explained they were not to move around, because students would be arriving in two days to fill those beds. Period.

What did they do? They moved around. I don't know why I was surprised. They were sharing keys and propping the door so everyone, even those without a key (because they hadn't been assigned to that room) could access it. So the organization I had done to ensure I kept the extra keys for students who wouldn't arrive for two days went out the window.

I found out when I met a professor for a pint in the hostel after the first full day in Paris. Unfortunately for her, ONE of the students who participated in this switcheroo was also sitting in the bar...

Jessi: Hi there. Your professor has just told me you ladies moved some things around last night, so that you are all in the same room?

Student: Yes, it's great!

Jessi: Uh-huh. So when the next group arrives, and I hand keys to those students for the room they are actually assigned, and they get up there to see all the beds are taken, what would you have me tell them?

Student: Oh. Um. We were going to tell you we moved things around.

Jessi: Really? When? Because when I was handing out keys yesterday would have been prime time, don't you think?

Student: Well, we didn't know how to get in touch with you.

Jessi: Wait...You didn't know how to get in touch with me? Do you want to try that one again?

Student: Oh, yeah [looks at the ceiling] I guess we have your number...

Jessi: Aaaand my email, aaaaand the Facebook group...

So I went back to my room down the street, grabbed the keys I was saving for the students arriving later, and keyed in to the room they belonged to, of which every bed is now occupied. By that time the student who was unfortunate enough to bear the brunt of my questioning had already told the others the trouble they caused, so they all had their keys ready to trade in when I got there.

I fixed it.

Fast forward to today, the rest of the group plus two VIP guests from one of our consortium partners arrives in a few minutes...me and my organized self calls to check in with the profs, assures them all is well and sorted, and I'll see them when they arrive.

I decide to go in to the city for a coffee, and to 2 hours before the bus lands, ETA 1pm.

Simultaneously I remember to call my anonymous friend for a courtesy wakeup call so that he doesn't over sleep and miss his early flight to FL for business. While the phone rings on his end the thought occurs to me that I didn't see the VIP guests's names on my room list at the hostel for check in, in two hours. I freeze in a slight panic. The people at my hotel didn't mention anyone else in my group arriving later, either. How on earth could I forget to book them beds in Paris!?!?!

Anonymous friend answers the phone, quite groggily, "Rise and shining. I'm awake".

Jessi: Oh good. I am FREAKing out.

AF: "Wait, what? Why?"

So I spit it out in one breath and proceed to talk through how I was going to fix this out loud.

AF: Jessi, it's all about problem solving, which is what you do. You're thinking creatively, you'll be fine.

Wow, so positive and supportive from thousands of miles away at 4:15AM! #alwaysknowswhattosay #browniepoints

I made it back to the hostel's side of town in the 19th arrondissement with an hour to figure this out. My hotel was completely booked, so was the hostel. On the metro I located two more hotels nearby (I love my iPhone) and turns out one of them had two rooms left. And they weren't just saying that, I saw it on their computer screen!

So I did my usual be-a-really-charming-american-lady-speaking-French thing and paid in full. Problem sorted, with 30 minutes to spare.

I stopped in my hotel on my way back to the hostel and explained to the desk lady I would be leaving tomorrow rather than Thursday. She said something about how it didn't matter to her because the room was already paid for and when would my two other guests be arriving today?

.....other guests?

"Pardon? Des autres? Mais...qui?"

Of course she named the VIPs.

Of course I had already taken care of them.

Of course I put them in a hotel rather than the hostel no matter what anyone else suggested.

Not THREE minutes after I booked two rooms at the hotel down the street for two nights, did I return to cancel them. Ay ay ay, while the little concierge man was thrilled to see me again, he was not thrilled when I asked him to cancel the rooms and refund me in full. He'd only just started the job, didn't know how, would have to speak to his manager.

Okay...go speak to your manager. Please and thank you.

Unfortunately getting our money back (because of course I paid in full with the card upfront) will take 5 weeks minimum, and that's only after I e-mail my request and explanation to them...if worse comes to worst we'll just have the credit and can use the rooms another time - and there is plenty of opportunity for that with our programs in France.

I called my anonymous friend back and explained that I seem to be more organized than even I can handle. Of course I had rooms for them, I just focused so much on sorting the HOSTEL rooms out, I forgot to print the hotel list...so automatically I assumed I fudged up.

Anonymous friend said later, that he hadn't doubted me for a minute...and promised next time to help me think through things slowly first, before I assume the only explanation is that I made a mistake.

Everyone will have a bed. Everything is fine. And I'm better than I give myself credit for.


Lunch at the beauborg...

I'm sitting at a café, Bistro du Centre, facing the Pompidou Centre. The sun is peeking through the clouds, wind lightly blowing, it's 70 degrees. I took my time finishing a salade campagnard: lettuce, cantal cheese, jambon de pays, potatoes, croutons, tomate...as always, served with a side of baguette. And un quart du vin blanc. I can't decide on dessert. I'm slowly sipping the rest of my sauvignon. It's funny how I don't mind cigarette smoke while I'm eating when I'm in Paris. There is a Chinese American family in front of me. When I ordered my lunch the waiter continued with me in French. I was pleased. It's such fun speaking a second language. It feels like I'm walking around with a secret. When the family in front of me ordered 2 coffees and a sprite, he reverted to English, they were grateful. A musician playing the Spanish guitar just set up right in front of the café. He's fantastic. I ordered the dessert du jour: tarte poire amandine. I'm sure I'll have a coffee before it's over. The café is full now and I'm thankful for my terrace table providing a view of the centre, the passerbys, the musician, even the pigeons chasing a piece of bread floating in a puddle of water. The tarte was sensationelle. I ordered un grand crème. And some water. I think the waiter enjoys it every time I ask from something new. The musician left , i gave him a coin. The bill will be next. And then I think I will walk up to Montmartre.

It just hit me, I'm leaving the same café Staci and I enjoyed a coffee one of the days we were in Paris together.