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...