CFDS Episode 008: How to Win…Even After A Bomb

pic of episode with food for anxiety relief

Not giving up when a bomb throws you a curveball, and a food for anxiety you can actually eat raw (if you want to).

What you will learn

  • how sometimes it’s crucial not to take no for an answer, even from the police
  • a great food for anxiety relief

At the end of this episode I’ll share with you one of the best foods you can eat for anxiety relief. It’s a food that I bet you don’t know that you can eat raw!

On with the story

Living in Paris, France

So as with some of my previous episodes, this story takes place in Paris, France. In Paris I naively thought at the age of 24 that I could just move there and find work. I figured working wouldn’t be a problem, despite the fact that at that time I couldn’t speak the language and I didn’t have a permit. My father and I had been to Paris before when I was 16, and I loved it so much that I’d vowed that one day I’d go back and be able to speak to the people there in their language.

And I did wind up doing just that, including getting my resident card and eventually French nationality, but both involved a long hard road, to say the least. Becoming fluent in French was really easy compared to getting my resident card.

Which brings me to today’s story.

Falling in love with a Frenchman

After a year or two in Paris, I fell in love with a Frenchman (as you do). And if you’ve listened to previous episodes you’ll know that he was also a) a hypnotist and b) a little crazy. Or at least a little vulnerable to religious sects. Not religious sex. I mean, I wish. Religious sex would have been better than nothing. Hmmm, that’s definitely another story!

Anyway, I was living with my ex-French husband whom I call Dave. (I keep forgetting, yes he is still French, but he’s definitely not my husband any more. Actually I don’t even know if he’s still alive…but I certainly hope so). I don’t use his real name to protect him in case he listens to these one day and he’s like “How dare she plaster our life together all over the internet!” Which I doubt because I don’t even know if he was left with a phone after the Scientologists got a hold of him. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Dave and I were happily living together until a) we got married so that I could get my resident card and b) we found the Scientologists. I talk about how we wandered into the Scientology trap in Episode 7 so I won’t repeat that here.


Once we got married I was really relieved because I figured it was just a matter of time until I’d get my resident card and finally be able to go after any job I wanted. Up to that point I’d had to do all kinds of crazy jobs where people didn’t ask about things like permits. Cash in hand type jobs are somehow not so sexy, or so well paid…except for the oldest profession in the world. And there was no way I was doing that! Although the transvestite prostitutes who lived near my apartment across from the Eiffel Tower always seemed happy enough…but that’s another story.

From the church to the police station

As soon as I had our marriage papers (and while I was living with the crazy Italian who almost killed me which I talk about in Episode 3), I went to the police station to apply for my resident card. I was expecting that this would be a smooth process because one of my girlfriends got her card just a few months after she got married. She actually married a felon so I don’t know if that was such a great deal in the end, but that’s another story which I talk about in Episode 4).

At the police station I filled out all the papers. If you’ve ever lived in France, you will know that they love paperwork. They pretend not to, but they’re just faking it. I mean, they ask you for SO many papers and if they don’t have every single one of them, they won’t do anything for you. So if an official tells you they don’t enjoy their job, they are lying.

Well, actually I don’t think they enjoy their job but they do enjoy the power that comes from saying to someone ‘Ah, you’re missing your certificate of xyz’ or ‘I see you don’t have your copy of blah blah blah bank account’ or whatever.

How to play nice with French officials

Actually there’s a game that you have to play when you deal with French officials, and this could come in handy for you if you find yourself trying to get any kind of paperwork processed. Free tip for you!

Here’s what you do. You have to pretend that the person in front of you has such a difficult job. So you have to say things like “Oh I know how difficult this is, you must be looking forward to your holiday” or some such nonsense. It’s kind of expected I think, and if you don’t do it you’re clearly a foreigner and you deserve a hard time. I mean obviously you’re a foreigner, otherwise you wouldn’t be asking for a resident card, but you’re a clueless foreigner who hasn’t learned the rules, which is not good at all. So there you go. You’ll be prepared, just in case.

Anyway I knew all of this, so I went through all the usual phrases like “I’m sorry to disturb you, I know how busy you are.” This is one of their favorite phrases by the way – and all in French of course, very important. It doesn’t work if you do it in English because then you’re worse than the clueless foreigner. You become the arrogant foreigner who thinks that everyone speaks English, and you will get nowhere.

Ready to get my resident card…

So having said all the right things, I was given an appointment to come back in 3 months’ time to pick up my resident card. All I had to do was show up and I’d get it.

I was ecstatic. I had waited over 2 years, and it was finally going to happen.

At that time I had already left Dave and was living in a hovel with the crazy and dangerous Italian that I talk about in Episode 3. I went home and kept saying to myself, “I’m almost there. Not long now”.

Well. After a lot of waiting, the day finally came. It was a gorgeous September day, and I remember walking across the Pont Neuf which in case you don’t know is one of Paris’ beautiful bridges across the Seine. My appointment was in like 10 minutes, so I was hurrying because I didn’t want to be late.

Here comes the bomb

Suddenly I started hearing sirens. They seemed to be coming from someplace ahead of me.

Sure enough, once I’d crossed the bridge and I was within viewing distance of the central police station, I saw police vans everywhere. No-one could get anywhere near the station.

I asked someone what was going on, and it turned out that a bomb had just gone off inside the police station. 20 minutes before my appointment. I sighed and thought “it’s a good thing I wasn’t early!”

Needless to say, no-one got in that day. I later received a new appointment in the mail (there was no internet at that time so everything happened through snail mail), for 3 months later.

The last thing I expected

So I waited again – having by this time left the dangerous Italian and gone back to live in Dave’s apartment – and I went off to my new appointment.

I was very excited, thinking “Finally!” and I went up to the window. However, instead of getting my resident card, I was given a letter. And the letter said – I’ll paraphrase it – “you have 30 days to leave the country”.

My heart dropped to my shoes. I couldn’t believe it. I said to the woman “But I’m married! My husband’s French!” and she just shrugged her shoulders.

So as you can expect, I just broke down and started sobbing. I couldn’t believe that after 2 and a half years, after marrying Dave, after becoming fluent in French and really loving Paris in the most visceral way possible, I was being told to leave.

From sobbing down the phone to saying no

Not knowing what else to do, I mean I felt like I could hardly walk I was so shocked, I went to a pay phone in the police station (there were no mobiles at this time) and I called Dave. I sobbed down the phone, telling him what the letter said. And I will always be grateful to Dave, no matter where he is now, for what he said next.

He said (in French of course), “That’s ridiculous. You march right back in there and you tell that woman that there’s no way you’re leaving, and you demand a solution.” I’m realizing now as I say this that Dave showed way more strength in that moment than he had ever shown with the Scientologists…but that’s another story.

So I did. I went back to the woman and said just that. And what she said next really blew me away. It showed me how incredibly naïve I was, and how I really had a lot to learn in life.

And from sad to furious

She said offhandedly – as if she were talking about the weather or something – “Oh, that? That’s just a form letter. We give it to everyone”.

I said “So I don’t have to leave?” She shook her head.

I asked incredulously, “Then why do you give it to everyone?” and she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Because some people leave”.

She then told me that the laws had changed because of the bomb, and that I now had to wait till I’d been married for a year. Then I could come back and get my resident card…and I didn’t have to leave the country.

Well I was furious. I mean, there were people with families who left the country because of that letter. Because they didn’t have someone like Dave to tell them how to handle French officials. Because they didn’t question what appeared to be the truth but was actually just a ploy to trick some people into leaving the country.

I think I’ve been on the side of the underdog ever since.

Anyway, in the end I did wait a year…and I did get my resident card. I celebrated, believe me! But I still almost didn’t get it, because of the Scientologists. That’s another story though, which I’ll share with you in the next episode.

A great food for anxiety relief

So what food can help reduce anxiety? As I said, you may not know that you can eat this food raw. And I’m not saying you have to eat it raw, but you can if you want to.

The food is…asparagus!

Benefits of asparagus

Asparagus is rich in folate, which is a really important B vitamin that converts to folic acid in the body. And folic acid is particularly good for helping your body produce and maintain new cells as well as having a healthy nervous system. But did you know that low levels of folic acid have been linked to both anxiety and depression? So if you’re feeling stressed out or sad, asparagus can help.

Some ideas for eating asparagus

Now, how do you eat asparagus?

Well, most people steam it or stir fry it, but you can also eat it raw if you want to. It’s actually quite delicious in a salad, and I’ve found a great recipe for you along with other recipes for cooked asparagus if you prefer. I’ll link to it in the shownotes below. So no more excuses for not eating asparagus, OK?

Some of the recipes use parmesan, but if you don’t eat animal products there’s an easy fix. Just substitute the parmesan for some nutritional yeast (not Brewer’s yeast, there’s a difference). Or you can use one of my easy cheese recipes on my blog.

Well! I hope you’ve enjoyed my latest story, and that you’ll be digging into some delicious asparagus very soon.

Have YOU got a story to share?

If you’ve got a crazy, true story to share (and you’d like to know what food could have saved the day in your situation), I’d love to hear from you!

Got a question, or a comment?

Got a question, or a comment? Pop a note below in the comments, that would be awesome. You can also subscribe to the podcast to listen ‘on the go’ in iTunes.

I hope you have an amazing day. Thank you so much for being here with me to share in my Clean Food, Dirty Stories. Bye for now!


Lots of asparagus recipes:

My dairy-free cheese recipes:

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