Saturday, November 3, 2007

when in rome

oooh la la! This is our second trip to Rome. First one was six years ago. I came for a music festival for three weeks and then took a week to tour the country. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. And now after these very short eight days, I do think I will cry going back to Paris. Yes, Paris is, well, Paris. Beautiful, elegant, refined, cultured, but also very high maintenance. I am so ready to kick up my feet and take the corn husk out of my butt. The Italian people are extraordinary. I can't remember the last time I felt this alive and just so good! Men make you feel desired, women talk to you, and kids play nice. People smile. It's wonderful.
There is so much artwork around the city and in churches all of which are free including St. Peter's. We took the above photo in one of the churches we happened to enter. Michelangelo's Pieta is housed in St. Peter's Basilica, also free and utterly breathtaking. There are so many amazing sculptures by other artists as well, but there is really something to Michelangelo's works when you see them up close and in real life. It is like they have a living soul. Guess that's why he is so well known.
The Campo de Fiori has a pretty good market (photo) though small, and there are many piazzas, oblisques, fountains, etc. all around the city.

For Halloween we went to the Trevi Fountain. Mon petit fee dressed up as Tigger. People got a kick out of seeing him there. Since he didn't do any trick or treating, we had some gelato instead.
Oh, and we went to a few bars, had a few beers, relaxed, I had my FAVORITE shot - a B52. Sooooo good. And we even got some FREE food. What a foreign concept. I don't think they do that in France, at least not from our experience. And they don't really have bars in Paris, either except for a few Irish/English pubs. The local brasseries/cafes are no where near equivalent to a pub/bar either. Ahh, bring on the tissues while the corn husk is reinserted.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Yes, there is such a thing and one of these days I will actually remember my camera and take a picture of it - the poopcycle. Acutally, there are two different types of vehicles that I have seen here that scoop the poop. Mon petit fee accurately described one the other day, "mommy, that's the poop motorcycle." It is a motorcycle that on the back of it has a tank with a hose attached so the rider can just vaccuum the poop into the tank and then ride off to the next dump. And the other one is a golf cart with the same contraption. I haven't seen these in the center of Paris (I am just outside Paris), maybe because they just pay the street cleaners for this, or maybe because it is a little more expensive for this. Not sure. But hey, I don't clean up after the tooter anymore as long as she goes where she is supposed to go - in the gutter, on the grass at the theater, or on a tree, you know, the designated dog poop places. No one else cleans up here, so after four years of shoving a bag under the tooter's butt to collect the remains of her dinner, I turn my head and walk away. Still grosses me out though, but hey, when in Rome... (next week, baby, and I can't wait!!!!!!)

And today is much, much better. A very large dose of music always does the trick.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

mommy's woes

Balance = Happiness

How does one achieve these two things? Ignorance is bliss? So I just think too much, is that it? Because I certainly am no genius that's for sure. Last year I quit my part-time job because I felt so guilty for leaving mon petit fee to go to work. It didn't feel right and I have learned time and time again to trust my instincts. So there you go. And now I feel like I have given up so much of myself that I have forgotten who I am. Just now, I had had it so I took a break (thank goodness I was able!) and left the apartment (mon petit fee in the care of the porcellino) to come to a cafe just across the street and sit for thirty minutes all by myself. That is bliss, something I need to do more than once every few weeks or longer.

Ever hear of a babysitter? Yes, but I don't want to hire just anyone, definitely not a total stranger, and well, you get what you pay for, so that is something that I would not be frugal on. I don't want to be a slave either, but it seems like being "mommy" means the same thing. Well at least I can vote and get out of the apartment daily. Ok, and I can also make play dates and grow my own sprouts and pick which cd's I'd like to listen to, too.

So maybe that was a bad analogy, especially now that I am here enjoying a lovely cup of espresso it seems like such an exaggeration. But often I feel like all I do is clean vomit, poopoo, peepee, dirt, dishes, cloths, noses and nurture til I bleed. And I only have one child! Good lord. But it's just because I am so isolated here in gay land. So I feel so guilty for feeling this way when I should just be so entirely grateful for all that I have. I am American. That alone means that I am privileged. And then we live in such a beautiful city with loads of culture, abundance of healthy food readily available, it's very safe, I can walk everywhere, and yet I often still struggle for happiness. Woe is me. I should stop complaining and start counting my blessings as there are so many. Is that it? Is it all about what you choose to focus on?

When I was a little girl (because that's what it always comes back to) and the clock struck 11:11 or I blew out birthday candles, or threw a dime into a fountain, there was one wish I wished over and over: to be happy. Yes, my step-father was an ass and my parents, who still hate each other today, divorced when I was four or something. So I know those two things had a profound impact on my ego, but I'm an adult now so I should be able to think how I want to, right? I wish I could do what my mom so lovingly told me and just, "Get over it." The problem is, I feel like I am flying solo so much of the time that any energy I have rushes out of the balloon that was not tied. And because I have to work a little at being happy, it is not always possible simply because the energy is being used to blow out a bunch of hot air. Bad analogy? Hey, I'm tired. Get over it. There must be a song about that somewhere. Get over it, I'm over it, yada yada yada. And actually, that is about the only thing that keeps me going. I need to drench myself in music. THAT is what is missing.

Ok, I can't sit at this cafe any longer. There's actually a beautiful blue sky and no rain, but it's something like 50 degrees F, so a bit chilly. The little heater seems to be heating only the air just above my head. Though on the brighter side, this is one thing I love about this land. They put heaters outside at the cafes so if you want to sit outside, you will not freeze your buns off. Though I wouldn't mind a bit of that really, as my buns could use a little shrinkage. And on that lovely note, a tout a l'heure...

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Over time
I've been building my castle of love
Just for two
Though you never knew you
were my reason...

Listened to this song (Overjoyed by Stevie Wonder) over and over for almost two hours yesterday. This is my favorite all time song. Has to be.

I didn't go to the doctor againi on Monday though I had intended to - again! I took the metro to Sevres Babylone and called as soon as I got off to tell the receptionist that I would be about ten minutes late. She then informed me that I needn't bother coming as the doctor was not even there. Apparently, he was attending a birth. So I was supposed to call back the next day to reschedule, but guess what, I haven't done that yet. How did I get out of that again? Dread.

So I didn't want to turn around and go back home seeing as we were about a 20 minute metro ride away and it was a nice day (it wasn't raining nor was it freezing). I was one minute from the Bon Marche so decided to give it a try for any Halloween goodies. Nada! Zut. Instead mon petit fee and I took a stroll to a cute little playground pretty close to les Invalides and then over to La Motte Picquet for a quick metro ride back.

Another angry bus driver episode and it's only October. Granted the teens were raucous, loud, and did not ask properly to be let off the bus. They called her "monsieur" not realizing a woman was driving the bus - most are male. The last straw for her was when they neglected to say a simple "merci" when they descended from the bus. The driver got off and yelled at them as they walked down the street warning them that they would not be allowed back on her bus the next day. I am so bored with this. It's not even amusing anymore.

Picked up my cello and actually played today. I have only done that a handful of times since mon petit fee was born and boy did it feel sooooooo good. To use my brain, my soul, my muscles for this kind of expression was quenching and yet made me so thirsty. It's so complicated this mothering thing. I don't regret it for a minute, but I just have to find a way to keep nourishing myself as well.

Friday, October 12, 2007


It has been over a week now and still people are reaching out to me. I love being an expat. I have learned to make friends fast and can talk to just about anyone now. It's amazing to realize just how much all of us have in common. Wouldn't you say the basic human needs are to be loved, wanted, needed? I think this is pretty accurate. We all just have different degrees of those needs and go about different ways of getting it.

But this week is so much better on many levels. To think that last Friday I was desperate to move out of our apartment and now am content to stay a few more years even if need be. I was convinced that the pesticide spray in the cave was the cause of my miscarriage, and because the smell still seeped into our apartment, I was so worried about the health of mon petit fee. So the day after the miscarriage I went on and started looking at apartments. I called a few places and got an appointment to view one the next day. They go really fast here, so if you find something, you've got to grab it.

It was so frustrating once again living here with the "that's just the way it is" attitude. I told my landlord that our apartment had pesticide smell still, and she just shrugged her shoulders. She was apologetic about it, but could do nothing. So if she felt helpless, what could I do? I don't know that I even had any options. You have to give three months notice if you plan on moving unless it is an international move, then it is just one month. After the spray, we did about all we could do to avoid the smell. We got out of the apartment as much as possible, kept the windows open, and kept opening the cave door. Though someone kept closing it the first few days, everyone started leaving the cave door open probably because word spread that we were still getting the odor in our apartment. And now I don't even open the door anymore. Someone else does! My neighbors really are very nice. Some even speak a little English to me every now and then.

So we'll stay in the apartment. The smell is gone now and I am happy again. Though we did reach a very important decision. We want to move back to the US at some point. Maybe not next year or the year after, but within the next few years. I love living overseas, but there are so many things I miss about the US. The ease of life, customer service, speaking English, but probably the main thing is the American philosophy that anything is possible. You can dream in America and have your dreams come true. I love it. I want my child(ren) to grow up believing that they can do anything they love to do. I want them to experience Halloween, Thanksgiving, the Easter Bunny, all those wonderful things about America (except leave out the sugar and the fast food!!!!!) I've never been after a big house or a lot of money. Just some friends, good neighbors, a safe place for my children to grow up, and a place to call home (with a little garden of course!). OK and maybe a little adventure now and then. That's the spice of life!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

rdv with doc

It's only been a week so I suppose I should give myself a break. Her due date was the same as my birthday, April 27, so it will be interesting how I feel when April rolls around. I still tear when I see a newborn or a pregnant lady though that is to be expected I suppose. I had an obgyn RDV on Tuesday that I sort of skipped. The only reason I made the RDV was to see if everything was ok with the false couche. But I say "sort of" because I did go to the RDV and waited for thirty minutes all the time dreading what was to come. But when the doctor came out to ask for the next patient and it wasn't me, I lost my gumption and left. Mon petit fee was jumping up and down while we were waiting and I didn't think it would get much better while I was talking/listening to this doctor who spoke no English. There would be no way I could concentrate on anything other than where mon petit fee's hands and feet were. I don't know where he got all that energy from all of a sudden either. It was kind of like he was trying really hard to give me an out. (Afterwards we sat at a cafe together and talked - well he ate a piece of chocolate while I drank my cafe, but he sat STILL!) And ok, to be honest, I just wasn't ready to hear what I knew already - that I'd lost the baby.

I have another RDV next week anyway, with the doctor that was going to follow my pregnancy. I made that appointment about three weeks ago when I was pregnant. Though I prefer a female doc, he is one of the very few doctors in Paris who has ever seen a natural birth and is actually supportive of it! Can you believe that?!?!?!?!?!? Everyone here gets medicated, something like 95%. When I told the doctor I went to when I was pregnant with mon petit fee that I wanted a natural birth, he basically laughed in my face. When I asked him if I could choose my position to labor and deliver in (basically NOT lying on my back) he very sincerely said, "no, how can I see?" Don't even get me started on that, but well, sorry, too late. If you've ever seen a diagram of a woman's pelvis lying down versus squatting, it is obvious that to lie on your back you are working against gravity. Not sure? Not quite the equivalent, but to give you a good idea of what that would be like, try taking a poo lying on your back with your knees pulled to your chest! And then imagine the size of a baby versus lovely poo and I don't have to elaborate about the necessity of gravity. His arrogance made the decision for me and we took the route of a homebirth because I didn't want some egotistical French man with his hands all in me tugging and pulling to get my baby out when I was made to push it out myself!

ANYWAY, so now I just have to get totally naked and put my feet in stirrups for ONE person instead of two this month. Yep, NO GOWNS HERE!!! Talk about vulnerable. Geez. As if I'm not vulnerable enough right now. Yes, there are great things about the French medical profession, but a lot of things that I do not like either. Birth plan? No such thing. I was laughed at for that question, too, but by a different doctor, one of the best in Paris actually.

So I will go to this new doctor next week even though he is a man who will see just about every inch of me all in one sitting. But I will be ok with that because I trust him. He goes against the grain (which is HUGE as everyone does everything the same way) by respecting natural childbirth and by respecting the wishes of the woman. At least so I'm told. It will be my first visit with him.

Wow, that was a bit more passionate than I had intended, but hey, I can't always control myself. Though I don't think that's such a bad thing and sometimes wish I controlled myself just a bit less. Just let yourself go...

THE computer place in Paris

We have had numerous computer issues while living here so we've had to find a place to take our computer to. But because we moved last year about an hour from where we lived before, I thought I'd try to find a place closer to here. There is a great place close to our apartment and I figured I'd give them a shot. The motherboard in our Sony Vaio was shot and needed to be replaced. I took it in and they told me that it was not possible for them to fix. I would have to call SONY and get them to fix it. Not only that, it would cost a minimum of 700 euros though would definitely be more.

So I decided to take it back to our place in the 18eme arrondisement of Paris, where we used to live. It is two metro rides away, about 25 stops or something like that. It is a Japanese run place so they are very efficient, fast, reliable, and extremely good at what they do. It took them a week to get to it, but then they fixed it in a day. The cost - 195 euros!!!!! So for anyone living in Paris, THE place to go to get any computer issue repaired is called: LITEC in the 18th off of rue Marcadet by metro Lamark (line 10) or Guy Moquet (line 13).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


I learned a translation of a new word last week Thursday: faux couche. Not exactly something that I had thought I would learn about, but that was out of my control. Wednesday I started bleeding and cramping. Seeing that I was ten and a half weeks pregnant, I knew that the two together was a bad sign. A few times I would finally fall asleep, but would wake soon after as I knew something wasn't right. Until the dream. I had just woken up again and couldn't go back to sleep so I just prayed so desperately for someone to watch over my baby. Minutes later if that, a beautiful angel came and cradled my little girl in her arms. She was so happy to see my sweet little girl and couldn't stop smiling and cooing at her. It was easy to see that this angel had so much love for my little baby and would take care of her. This gave me so much comfort and peace knowing that there was someone watching over my little pea. I thought that everything would be ok and slept like a baby.

It was slow moving in the morning as it often is. Finally took out the tooter at 10:30 and went for a little walk. I still wasn't feeling well. After lunch I couldn't stay awake so I laid down with mon petit fee for a nap. When we awoke, I went to the bathroom and saw the first signs of the false couche, a clot of blood the diameter of a walnut. Even though I had a feeling it was coming, nothing could have prepared me for the amount of grief I had at that moment. I wailed. Mon petit fee stood there, watching me with such concern you would have never known he was two and said to me, "What's the matter, mommy? It's ok."

I cleaned up and sat on the sofa sobbing and sobbing and sobbing. There is nothing like loosing a child, even an unborn one. As I sat on the sofa unable to control my emotions, mon petit fee climbed up, sat down next to me and snuggled with me. He held my hand and gave me a big hug and kiss completely unprompted by me. The compassion and strength coming from my two year old at that moment will I never ever forget.

Realizing that I couldn't sit there forever, we went for a walk. I started to feel better and thought of all the things I could now eat - oysters, sushi, any cheese, basically not worry about the non-pasturized stuff, undercooked meat, and all that. It was so liberating. And yet as I passed by the seafood market, I just could not look at the oysters or I would start sobbing again. My beautiful little girl was gone. Who cares about the damn oysters?

We came home and I expelled more clots. I called my very dear friend who helped me when mon petit fee was born. She had been through three herself and was such comfort to me. When I called the porcellino at work I couldn't even talk. I felt somehow I had let him down, though he never ever made me feel that way. I emailed a few friends and the response I got from everyone was so amazing. All of these people gave me so much strength.

At 10:45 pm, the last piece made its way out. This was the biggest and had a kind of beauty about it. I think it was her. I didn't know what to do with this piece, so I just sat there, holding it on the pad wondering what it really was. In the end I just flushed it down the toilet. I wish I hadn't been so naive and kept it so I could bury her.

It has only been a few days, but I will never be the same. There are certain things in life that take your soul and massage it. Sometimes the massage hurts if it's deep enough, but because of the depth, it releases toxins so you feel so much better afterwards. Last year was a very difficult year. We've been trying hard not to live beyond our means, while still enjoying the things we like to do. It was a big adjustment after I quit my part-time job to stay home with mon petit fee full time. And hormonally things were not right either. But now I feel that this false couche was a way to cleanse my body and help me open up more as I so desperately want to do. So many people who don't even know me that well have given me enormous comfort and support. It seems that all I needed to do was to find the right people who truly truly care. These people, my friends, are like water. They wash away the dirt in your wounds and quench your thirst. So thank you and much love to you my angels, my friends.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

trip to la defense

I am on a super health kick these days. I always eat pretty healthy, get my fruits and veggies, few processed foods, etc. But now I am going organic. Good thing I have a bio (organic) store two minutes walk from my apartment. And their prices are really good. I am not spending that much more by shopping there. True, the fresh stuff can be priced a little more, but this is not always the case. At least not at this place.

Do they have these in the US? Here they are called Physalis. It's a fruit that has the look and texture of an orange cherry tomato but has the flavor kind of like a mango. Really delicious. I grow my own sprouts, too, usually bean sprouts. They are the easiest and fastest to grow and sooooo tasty. I try to eat broccoli sprouts weekly (for the past three weeks) since they are one of the healthiest foods for you. But today, I was rather naughty.
We went to the mall at La Defense to try to find a Halloween costume for mon petit fee. I checked Toys R Us and Auchan, but nothing for toddlers. Auchan didn't have any Halloween stuff and Toys R Us had slim pickins. Halloween is an American holiday, so I have to start planning farther ahead to get any supplies as decorations/costumes are hard to find. One day I would like for mon petit fee to have a good old fashioned American Halloween. I personally didn't like the holiday too much as it always ended as a big disappointment. My ex-step dad would eat all our candy, or at least the very best stuff, at the end of the evening and all my excitement for having gotten such a good loot was so quickly turned into frustration, anger and sadness. But now I get to enjoy every Halloween though these days with organic chocolate (which is REALLY good by the way)! Bye bye mars bars. Ok, maybe I will cheat on Halloween if I feel like it just because I can.
Anyway, we were so hungry and I didn't bring any lunch for mon petit fee assuming that we would get a sandwich there. We ended up at McDonalds of all places! The last time I ate at one was over a year ago. Oh well. And what's worse, I actually enjoyed my double cheeseburger (one patty, two slices of cheese - is a double cheeseburger in the US two slices of cheese and two patties? not that it really matters)! Am I that desperate for Amerian cuisine? I suppose I made up for it by having some slices of beets and a tomato/sprout salad as a snack later in the day.
After eating on the steps at La Defense by the Grande Arc, we came home to a very smelly apartment. They had just sprayed for mice in the cave and it filtered up to my ground floor apartment. (A cave is basically underground storage where people typically store wine as it has the right humidity and temperature. But we and many others use it for storage since there are no closets or storage space in these old apartments). So I turned up the heat, opened the windows and blasted the air purifier. And now the air just outside my apartment is warm and clean.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

new beginnings

Yesterday, mon petit fee, the tooter and I went to the Bois de Boulogne to pick some chestnuts. They are delicious baked and as a soup. It was going to be a long day for me since the porcellino had to work late. So the three of us let out some energy at the bois, I took in a cafe (espresso) at the little cafe there, and then we headed home. I tried roasting the chestnuts, but I think that these were the non-edible kind! Great! Oh well. They didn't look or smell how they were supposed to, and I know it wasn't from the roasting.

Today we went to a new playgroup by Concorde (the metro stop near the Louvre). And I met a new best friend today! That may seem a little presumptious, but either you connect with someone, or you don't. One of my very favorite people moved from Paris just a few weeks ago. I've been feeling quite down because of it. She was an American nanny to two sweet French kids. One of whom was the same age as mon petit fee. They played really great together. But she left Paris for the Hague and I really miss her. But the good news is that I met a really wonderful lady today at a playgroup. She is from Sengal, Africa. When I walked into the room, I immediately spotted her with her gentle and warm smile. She just sat there and played with the little boy she was caring for and eventually I made my way over to see her. She is the middle of five children, all of whom are four or five years apart. She lives in Paris with one of her brothers and one of her sisters and tries to make it back to Africa every two years or so to see the rest of her family. I feel like I know so much about her already, except for her name! But even in such a short time, I feel so connected to her. Really looking forward to Tuesdays!

Monday, September 17, 2007


I don't know anything that can give such thrills, evoke the deepest emotions and embrace the soul like music does. Maybe because I just listened to Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now CD that I am feeling a bit, well, heartbroken, but over what???

Anyway, in a couple of weeks we'll head up to the fete des vendanges in Montmartre, the 18th arrondisement of Paris. We lived in this area for two years and loved it. It's so culturally diverse it made me feel like I was in the twilight zone when we moved to the northern end of Boulogne-Billancourt aka whitesville. The above are the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre and below is the view from our apartment when we lived there. Also a link to the fete des vendanges.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

enough already

Rain rain go away
And please don't come back for at least a week!

Did the sun think she was not needed here? There are rain dances, but are there sun dances? I am in need of one.

We went to the aquarium today. It's by Trocadero and the Eiffel Tour. 19,50 euro to enter! Looks like it will be beans or pasta for dinner.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

where is everyone?

It's still bizarre to me that everyone in Paris leaves at the same time for vacation. The place is desserted of Frenchies. Plenty of tourists in the tourist zones, but in the residental areas, it's so quiet it's erie. On my street, there are six restaurants, three brasseries, and one tea room (among some other stores). The tea room is open, one of the restaurants is open (the Japanese one) and one of the brasseries is open. All the others are closed for at least a week, some for two or three! This is not uncommon. Everyone has to do everything the same way and at the same time. It's quite annoying. I need to get my computer fixed and the place we take it to is closed the whole month of August. They are the best/best priced in Paris (run by Japanese!) so of course we have to go there. They don't open again until Sept 1 and my warranty runs out in Sept. Hopefully they can fix it in time.

Friday, August 10, 2007

lost baggage

Just enjoying an Illy cappuccino on this cold, rainy day in Paris. Mon petit fee is napping. He has a cold because I dressed him in a short sleeved shirt thinking the sun's out, it's August, it must be warm outside. Still had Spain on the brain. I look very much out of place here with my tan and tossled hair. Tan courtesy of Spain. Tossled hair courtesy of Air France.

Twice our luggage was lost this trip. Going to Palma de Mallorca, Spain and then retuning to Paris. We knew we were in big trouble when we went to fetch our bags on the luggage belt in the small airport in Palma. Our flight had been delayed out of Paris so naturally we missed our connecting flight. Luckily though we were on the next plane to Palma, all three of us assigned separate seats. I about flipped, but quickly realized that was an easy fix. Who on earth would wish to sit next to a toddler without either parent next to him?

I had never seen any airport with so many unclaimed bags as there were in Palma. There were bags still going around on the luggage belt for over the two hours that we were there. Tons of bags were piled up against the wall, and there were bags and bags and bags everywhere just waiting to be claimed. Foreboding 101. We checked three plus a stroller and received nothing! Our cameras were in one of them (I wasn't thinking clearly and accidentally checked that bag - Oops!) It took one hour to stand in line and report our missing luggage to the one person that sat behind the counter. We thought we would never see any of them again. And a toddler in the city without a stroller is trouble so I could not unwind though I desperately needed it. Lucky for us though, we made it to the place we were staying and wouldn't you know it, they brought each one of our bags the very next morning! I would never have thought this would have had the happy ending it did. Too bad the return to Paris wasn't as easy.

Once again, our second leg delayed and our luggage lost. We've been flying for years and have never had this problem. When/if we return to Palma next summer, we will be flying Iberia! Anyway, we did receive one bag and the stroller but two were still missing. So off to the agents to report it.

There were eleven agents here as opposed to one in Spain. The luggage areas were about the same size. Thankfully it didn't take too long to fill out the paperwork. There were no unclaimed bags anywhere, the luggage area was spotless, and there were several agents walking around to pick up any stray bags and assist people. This was last Saturday.

On Monday they brought one bag and then called the porcellino to tell him the file was closed because we had received all of our bags. But this was not the case, we were still missing one bag. She didn't understand how this could be since it was noted in the file that we had received this bag already. Who told her that? Santa Clause? No, we hadn't received it. So they re-opened the file. Tuesday, I call.
me: Where is our second bag?
agent: It should be there. (typical French response - stressing the word "should") It arrived on Sunday. It should come in the afternoon or evening.

Wednesday, no bag so I call again.
me: Where is our second bag?
agent: You are still missing a bag? You need to fill out a form and send it in because sometimes they rip off the tags and throw them away.
What? Who is "they" and why would they do something so stupid? I call two hours later.
agent: You haven't received your bags yet? I will contact the delivering company and tell them to deliver you bags asap since you have been waiting so long.

Yesterday I got on the bus. All I had was a 10. Bus fare is 1,50. The driver asked if I had change. I said, no, sorry.
Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh huge sigh, mumble, shrugging shoulders like I was asking him to clean up the dog poop on the way. He took each coin out of the drawer and slammed them on the change tray like he was killing roaches. Later that afternoon I got stuck in the pouring rain with the tooter and mon petit fee. Mon petit fee had an umbrella, but I forgot mine because I was not expecting God to slit the sky. Got drenched and was freezing forgetting it was August.

Tomorrow it will have been a week since we arrived back to Paris. I called the airline every day since last Saturday. This last week reminded me why I needed a vacation in the first place and more importantly, why we don't want to stay here any longer. My sanity is actually important to me! Today I call again and the agent told me that the bag was lost and that they were trying to locate it. I was not too happy, but did realize that someone else may have a different story. So I called back again an hour later and that agent told me that yes, the bag was lost, but they found it and would be delivering it today. After all that I did get so lucky. Pristine Paris has its place, but I much prefer to live in organized chaos.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

spanish spinach salad

Made the most delicious salad tonight for dinner:

cherry tomatoes
serrano ham - four slices or so sliced very thin
fresh leaf spinach
dates - halved and pitted
pineapple (though a yellow bell pepper would be much better)
rice-sized pasta - about 1/2 cup uncooked or more depending on how much you want

Cook the rice-sized pasta and set aside (should take about two minutes). Heat 1-2 tbs. spanish olive oil in a pan and saute the onions until beginning to brown. Add the serrano ham torn into pieces and cook a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and saute a minute mostly just to heat. Add the spinach leaves and drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Mix together and let simmer in pan for 1-2 minutes until the spinach has wilted a bit. Take of the heat and add the pasta and pineapple to it and voila! I love the color of this dish, but didn't care too much for the pineapple. Next time I would saute a yellow bell pepper along with the onion and skip the pineapple altogether. That would be perfect!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

smiling in spain

I LOVE SPAIN!!! I LOVE THE SPANISH!!!! Can we move here, please? We're on the island of Mallorca, Spain, aka one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life. We came last year, too, so the landscape was something I had seen before, but it is still breathtaking. We've been here a week already and have one more week to go. I don't want to leave. Please don't make me! It's taken me this long just to unwind from our visit to the US and before that from living in uptight France. People here are singing in the street! I have been here one week, and FOUR YEARS in Paris and never have I heard people singing in the street in Paris (except those with an outstretched hand, ok and maybe for Bastille Day, but it is very rare). Bonjour Madame versus Ola! Hmmmmm, who is uptight? Good lord! Shit, the Spanish have taken that large telephone poll out of my ass in only a few days. The Mediterranean sea, the sandy beaches, the beautiful sunshine are just a part of it. You can get doses of these in southern France where we have also had the pleasure of visiting. But there is something very different here. It is absolutely the Spanish culture that has released me. THANK YOU SPANIARDS!!!!!!!

We're staying in a little apartment in El Terreno, just outside of Palma and a few bus stops from Cala Major. The porcellino is taking two classes while mon petit fee and I spend our days at the beach, at the pier watching all the boats, or in Palma. The MEDCUP is taking place this week and we've been to watch the sailors gear up for the event. Purrrrrrrr... Tall, dark, handsome and toned! Quick, I need a cold splash of water. Last night I bought TWO new pair of earrings from a street vendor. Last time I bought a new pair was maybe over a year ago??? Am feeling human again. Hey, I'll go one step further and say I'm feeling girly again. ahhhhhh

Our apartment doesn't have air conditioning like almost every other apartment here. Not that big of a deal. And no cloths dryers. But that is really not necessary either since you just hang your cloths outside on the balcony to dry. Saves energy and space.

I am getting a great tan! I actually bought a new two piece to wear to the beach in my favorite color - brown! I LOVE BROWN!!!!! Though I accidentally forgot to bring the top part yesterday. But that didn't matter since half the people go topless anyway. My first time was on the island of Santorini in Greece. It was so liberating and felt great! Here the only women who wear tops are the British and German tourists. Almost all (or at least most) of the Spanish women are topless. Rarely does anyone stare because it is so common. Though mon petit fee (he was in a floaty) and I were swimming and one very smiley 50-60 yr old man couldn't be more obvious. Just please try to look the other way! I am sure though that he had seen it all before anyway so it didn't bother me so much.
Swimming with mon petit fee.
Mozart was a prodigy and this place is stunning.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Reverse culture shock. It has been almost four years since we have lived in the US. Been back maybe five short times. A year has passed since our last visit and yesterday, I just rediscovered Super-Walmart. Nothing can top that except Super-Target. Huge everything: isles, selection, price ranges, parking lot, people. And there is even someone at the entrance of the store just to welcome you to it! Because everything is bigger and better in Texas. Well, at least bigger anyway. Am kind of going crazy having to drive everywhere. Ick. Also missing my neighborhood cafe and seeing people out on the street. Funny how it seems more lonely here. But I am soooooooooooo happy to hear and speak English. Though that is kind of annoying at the same time because now I am distracted by everyone's conversations and I would prefer not to have my thoughts interrupted so much. Day dreaming of Paris and far away places... One and a half more weeks here and then off to Disneyworld. Much prefer getting my toes eaten one by one by an alligator than having to visit with my mother in law. Other than that visiting family is bliss.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

musee rodin

On Sunday we went to the musee rodin. They have a beautiful garden which only costs one euro to enter unless you are accompanying a child which then it is free. There are some really beautiful sculptures there including le penseur (the thinker). On the way there from the metro stop we passed by les Invalides where Napolean is buried. The photo above is one of my favorite sculptures in the garden.


Since we are leaving town soon, I have been working really hard to tie some loose ends. Getting the tooter her annual vaccines was one of them. There is a vet right next door to our apartment that we went to a few months back and I liked him just fine until he started doing all of these tests on my dog. Before I new it, I had a 150 euro vet bill! And all I needed was some medicine for her because she had some kind of "champignon" translates literally as "mushroom", but we would say the dog has a "fungus". So anyway, I didn't want to go back to the guy who just took the liberty to give me whatever test he felt like doing and instead found another vet two blocks over. In the process I met someone I will never forget.

You couldn't see inside this place and it was a good thing or I probably wouldn't have made an appointment. The place STUNK awfully horribly disgustingly nasty like bird droppings. Oh, wait, because he had about 15 birds in two cages that hadn't been cleaned out since, hmmmmmm, before WWII! I didn't think that I could wait and had I been pregnant, I would have turned my tail around and plunged back into the fresh city air. Luckily though I didn't have to wait too long.

The vet looked over the tooter, gave her a couple shots and put the vaccination stickers in her French passport that she acquired after one year of living here. Oh yes, my DOG has become a French citizen! If my child wanted to become a French citizen it isn't enough that he was born here. He would have to live here for five consecutive years under the age of 18. More proof that the French are more welcoming to dogs than they are to children.

Back to the vet, I managed to answer his questions about the tooter, mon petit fee and our life here before he asked me if I was English. I almost said yes. Usually when someone here asks me if I am English, I very cautiously reply that I am American, waiting for an abundance of overly ripe tomatoes hurled at me. But that never happens and it surely didn't in this case. He had one more test to do when he broke out with a little English. As he shoved his paper towel covered finger up the tooter's butt, he told me what a nice dog I had. Um, ok. Thanks. His daughter is married to an Englishman and they live in London with their two kids. That explained why he knew a little English. And then he pointed to an Amerian flag he had hanging from his cabinet. I hadn't seen it until then. He happily shared with me that he was liberated by the Americans in 1944 just eight miles outside of Paris. What? Double take. Quickly he finished business and I collected mon petit fee's things. He took out his wallet and showed me three very very old photos, pointed to the pictures and said that he would never forget. Just eight miles out of Paris. He would never forget. My grandpa served two years in WWII. Why didn't I get any more details? One of those times you really don't know what to say. He was expressing his appreciation to me just for being American, and I hadn't done anything. I left that office with so much more than I had paid for, so much more than I ever expected. I wanted to hug him, stinky finger and all.

a bus fine

When you ride any public transport in Paris, you must always validate you ticket before you ride the metro, bus or train. Nothing happens if you don't validate your ticket, buzzers don't buzz, lights don't light, etc, but it is illegal not to do so and if the controllers catch you, they will fine you on the spot. You can be fined for other things, too, as I found out yesterday.

Mon petit fee and I got on the bus, I validated my ticket (he still rides free), and we took a seat. I was about to call the porcellino when we reached the next bus stop. Four controllers entered the bus, two at the entrance and two at the exit, not to intimidate or anything. The noise level always diminishes, though usually from practically nothing to literally nothing, when they enter. This time was no exception. I had my ticket out in hand, ready, no make that, eager like a puppy ready to pee, to show one of them my ticket. So was everyone else on the bus, or they were digging through their sachels, pockets, butt, to find where on earth they put their ticket.

The girl sitting across the isle from us was about 22 years old, very cute, talking on her cell. She had her ticket in hand and took about thirty seconds to wrap up her phone call so she could appropriately present her ticket to the controller. Apparently however, she took thirty seconds too long. The female controller demanded my ticket and I shot it out like a, well, just very fast. The male controller stood by the pretty young lady ready to chomp. Fangs, saliva, venom, the works. As soon as she hung up the phone, he slapped her with a fine for not getting off the phone fast enough! She was flabergasted as were everyone else on the bus. It was already silent, but somehow it managed to become ... silent?er?. I think this would be a good way to save some clean air because we all stopped breathing it for several minutes while they argued back and forth. That was just as surprising to me as her getting a ticket. At the end of their four minute disagreement, she handed him her credit card, he swiped it and made her already low balance thirty five euros lower. If you think that you were not in the wrong, you would have to take your claim to the mairie (town hall) and duke it out before a judge there, not with the controller. If you loose, however, you pay 100 euros instead of the measley thirty five or whatever it was that you got. After that confrontation, I slid my cell phone in my bag like a dirty pair of panties - not that I would know what that's like! Mine are always clean.

Friday, June 8, 2007

effects of a coffee

It's almost 3 am and I have yet to go to sleep. For some reason my mind is racing and I just can't seem to shut down. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all to have a double shot of espresso with Bailey's at 8 pm this evening. Hello? What on earth was I thinking? Guess I wasn't. It was one of those days and I really needed some kind of drink. So I head for coffee/Bailey's. Good choice.

Mon petit fee is getting over a virus. He caught it on Tuesday and has had a low grade fever for a couple of days. Today really wore me out though because he was super exhausted from not sleeping well the past two nights. And because he is working hard to fight off this pesky virus, he has been nursing about every hour or so. This afternoon he had very runny poo and I only mention it because I am a mommy and that's all I seem to have time to think about lately. He seemed much better today except for the tired part, so we went to the playground. Not a good idea. We were there about fifteen minutes when he came up me and whimpered "poopoo". Dripping down his legs was a bit of a mess. Mommy pro that I am, I pulled out the diaper wipes and got busy cleaning him up. Took off his underwear, put them in a plastic bag, pulled up his jumper, put his sweater on the seat of the stroller, sat him on it, buckled him in and walked home. It was a beautiful day.

I usually can handle only one cafe/espresso a day and I had a total of THREE today or rather yesterday as it is now after 3 am! Around 11:00, I took mon petit fee for our morning walk (a bit late at 11:00!) and stoppped at the brasserie down the street to have an espresso there. This is absolutely one of my favorite things to do here and at that moment, I really needed a quick pick me up. Never liked coffee before we moved here, but I LOVE having an espresso, especially the Italian brand Lavazza. Most cafes serve Lavazza, Cafe Richard (French), or a generic coffee that they don't advertise the name of. The Lavazza brand is just a bit sweeter than the Cafe Richard. mmmmmmmm

Anyway, I stood at the bar and ordered a coffee while mon petit fee sat in the stoller. You pay half the price if you stand at the bar and it wasn't the day to linger any longer than it took to drink the three little sips. I put in my two sugar cubes, stirred it, and waited a minute for it to cool before I took that first sip. So good. As I enjoyed a moment with my much needed cafe, a guy walked into the bar and stood about three feet from me. Just in front of him, behind the counter, was the bartender. But the bartender's back was turned to the customer because the bartender was busy drying glasses. About five feet from the bartender was a waiter, but you'd never know the difference because both were standing behind the bar and were wearing the same uniform. So the smiling customer (really, he was smiling) looked at the waiter who was just standing there doing nothing and asked for "un cafe s'il vous plait". The waiter looked at him and immediately turned sour. Apparently the waiter was insulted that the customer dare ask him for a coffee when the bartender was right in front of him. Seriously. The waiter told him so! He said "why do you ask me when the bartender is right in front of you?" And the very nice, non confrontational customer replied "what did it matter" - he didn't know who to ask, they both were standing back there, how was he to know, etc... The waiter gave the typical French attitude like "you stupid idiot" and lectured him on correct protocol to order a freaking coffee at a bar! The very nice customer smiled, said never mind, and left; neither the waiter nor the bartender could have cared less! WHAT?!?!?! You know you're in France when...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

musee gratuit

Just when l want to flee this place, l experience something that makes me want to stay here forever! Yesterday evening we decided to take advantage of the offer to get into a museum for free. Once a year Paris offers free admission into many museums (after 6:00 pm) and yesterday was the day. (The first Sunday of the month is always free as well, but this is a different occasion.) We took the metro to the Jardin des Tuilleries by the Louvre and took a place in the long line to enter the Orangerie where Monet's very large and famous Water Lilly paintings are housed. lt has been closed for years and just this past fall, they reopened it. The eight HUGE Water Lilly paintings are extraordinary. When you look at them closely, the paintings are not very beautiful, kind of a hodge podge of colors dabbed here and there, or so it seems. But at a distance, they are exquisite. These three photos were taken when we went to Giverny a few years ago, and where Monet got his inspiration for these paintings.
Anyway l didn't think mon petit fee would last in that long line, but lucky for me, l didn't have to worry about that. One of the security guards motioned for us to move to the front of the line and avoid standing in the line all together! l can't believe l had forgotten that this priority extended to the museums also. On the bus or metro, if l am riding with mon petit fee and all the seats are occupied, someone almost always asks me if l want their seat. Of course, it doesn't always happen, but probably 90% of the time. lf you are handicapped, old, pregnant or have a young child, you get certain perks and this was one of them. Yippee!!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

les traiteurs japonais

l was absolutely thrilled a few months back when l saw that there was a new sushi restaurant opening not too far from us. Not that you can't get good sushi here. Oh no. You can get some really great sushi here. Just not a great selection. You go to any Japanese restaurant and they all have the exact same thing: sushi, maki, sashimi, yakitori (beef and cheese, chicken balls, chicken, salmon and beef). And if you order a "menu" you get cabbage salad and miso soup with it. All of them do this. And l'd say that within a 5 mile radius of us, there are probably six sushi establishments, though two are closed for renovation. So needless to say, you know that you've found an exotic establishment when you have the option of tempura and wait, hold your breath, fondue japanese style.

Well this new place offers sushi that is not on any of the other traiteurs menus. You can get sushi with a slice of salmon rolled on the outside of the roll! And instead of one type of california roll, you have a choice of six different kinds! How will l ever choose? And, this is the best part, they are open non-stop! So if we want to eat dinner (out) at 6:30, we can! Most restaurants do not open before 7:00pm for dinner unless it is a traiteur, pizza place like Pizza Hut (yes, they have them over here as well as Dominoes) or in a touristy area. And since we don't live in a touristy area, our choices are limited. But now thanks to Planet Sushi we have one more option! Quelle chance!

take two

Well l suppose l panicked too soon. After the recent abduction of the little girl in Portugal, l decided to not only remove all the pics l had on here of mon petit fee (which weren't many to begin with considering l had only begun this blog in April 2007), but delete the blog entirely! l realize that was a bit extreme especially considering who reads this blog anyway - seulement moi. But l just started thinking of all the perverts that just may happen to come across such photos of my most precious little one, and you just never know. So, once again l will tweak the color scheme, put up a few photos minus mon petit fee bien sur, and see what my fingers have to say. Slowly l will put the entries back. They were thankfully saved in my yahoo account.

Today is a holiday because there just aren't enough holidays in France. Every week dans le mois de mai (in the month of may) there is a holiday. D'accord. A tout a l'heure.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

dual purpose radiator

Spring came early for Paris this year, and the only drag has been the extra time it takes to finish the laundry. Yes, they sell dryers here, but where on earth would l put one? With the sink, fridge, oven, washing machine, pantry, and storage cart in the tiny kitchen space, all you have room to do is flip a pancake. l do have a washing machine/dryer combo, but the dryer part is utterly useless. l’d never seen or heard of one of these before and now l know why. You put cloths inside, wash them, and then heat comes through the same holes that the water came through to “dry” the cloths. After an hour of steaming the water off the cloths, they still aren’t dry, even for a very small load. All the dryer really does is heat the cloths so they come out so hot you could put them in a room, close the door, and bask in your own sauna. And it shrinks the garments, too! So instead l just put everything on the radiators or hangers to dry. Stiff cloths are the result here, too, but at least they’re not also getting smaller. Drying usually takes all day when the heat is off, only a few hours when it is turned on. When we make it back to the States, l always make sure we re-enter France with a suitcase full of clean, tumble dried cloths. Mmmmm soft towels. Boy do l really miss those.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

better than guinness

There is a fantastic little English epicerie just down the street from us, by the market. And when l say little, l mean little. Space is a commodity here, so like many boutiques, they pack as much as they can into a tiny little space of about fifteen square meters (160 sq ft). l head over there once every couple of weeks to pick up one of three things: cream cheese, cheddar cheese and/or British beer, specifically John Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. OH MY GOD! Of all things, a beer has brought me to my knees! With the exception of a Guinness, never have l enjoyed the taste of a beer until these past couple of years when the porcellino taught me the ways. Sure French wine is fantastic and l enjoy a glass or two or four, but it is a very different experience than sitting down for a beer. ln the US l rarely enjoyed a beer, but never before was l exposed to such great beers. Living so close to les chefs of beer – England, lreland, Belgium, Germany – you can’t avoid it. lf l am in a beer drinking mood l’ll order a Grimbergen, a Leffe and where available an Edelweiss. But when l need a little extra something to take my mind off the laundry, toppling over toys, what’s for dinner, cleaning up poopoo and peepee, tooter yapping, wha wha wha, John Young is mommy’s time-out. Take an extra cold Guinness and put a hint of chocolate flavor to it and voila, your taste buds will be making babies. And l’m not the only one who thinks so. This epicerie sells about 50 different British beers including Bishop’s Finger, London’s Pride, St. Peters, Strongbow, etc, but they can’t keep the JY Double Chocolate Stout in stock. They have been sold out for three weeks now, and it probably will be at least another week or so before they get some more in. Glorious oh so glorious OMG the best beer you’ve ever had! l allow myself one of these every few weeks. Otherwise we’d all be twenty pounds lighter and wearing stinky cloths.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

life without betty

My birthday was yesterday. Where is Betty Crocker when you need her? You can buy French cake mixes, but there are only two kinds – yellow and chocolate. l don’t really like either of the brands they sell here very much, so l was happy to make one from scratch. No French equivalent for icing sold here, so l made that as well. Though the cake tasted good enough, l was glad when the candles were lit. lf its appearance is any indication of the coming year, my life will be turned upside down!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

pre-meditated passing

l did a horrible thing today. On my way home from the pharmacy, l saw a man walking with two canes, one in each hand, while carrying three grocery bags full of groceries - milk, butter, not just fluff stuff. l passed carefully, but l passed none the less all the while thinking that l should help the poor man. lt was not the first time l had seen him either. Once when we were on our way to a playdate, he stopped me just to tell me how beautiful my little boy was. And then he proceeded to tell me where my darling got his beauty from - me. Did l mention this man was old, so surely his eyesight wasn't up to snuff. Anyway, that day l had stayed to talk with him even though l was already late. lt was nice to have a conversation with someone even though l could only understand about half of it. People in Paris are not really very friendly and the fact that this sweet man went out of his way to talk to me was like getting Brad Pitt's autograph. Well, this is the sweet man l passed. Though in my own defense, l was walking the tooter while pushing mon petit fee in the stroller with one hand. l had smashed my thumb in the door the day before and it was STILL throbbing. And well, I am shy. I don't know. Maybe I would have insulted him by offering to help. Lame. I suppose if I had smashed both thumbs in the door leaving me to push the stroller with my teeth, then I could be exhonorated from this pre-meditated passing.