My Photo
Location: Upstate, South Carolina, United States

I think that the Meredith Brooks' song, "Bitch," summarizes me rather nicely. Or, if you prefer, X. dell says I'm a life-smart literary scholar with a low BS tolerance...that also works!

Monday, May 30, 2005

I Wonder...

My parents took us all to church yesterday (Catholic church, of course) and then out to breakfast afterwards. That's how they always got me to go to church when I was living under their roof: bribery with food. If we went during the morning, I'd get breakfast; if we went at night, I got dinner. Woohoo! Anyway, as I was tucking my son into bed last night, he had the most interesting line of questioning. His first question: mom, what happens if we don't pray? I mean, if we don't pray, does anything special happen or not happen? (keep in mind the boy is only four years old). Haha! I have to admit, I've never had anybody ask that question before! Then he said a bizarre thing: mom, I can't remember god. I can't remember god! And he sounded almost...panicked. I said, what do you MEAN you can't "remember" god? He said, I mean just that, momma! I'm trying to remember, but I can't remember...I can't even remember if god's a boy or a girl! It was the whole attitude he had that really makes me ponder upon the incident. He acted as if he DID remember god at one time, and now he couldn't...and it upset him. Hmmm.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Here I am!

I found Jezzy's comment very appropriate. "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" was something that Jared felt compelled to ask in a variety of forms the entire trip. That's the bad news. When you are less than an hour into driving and your son says, "Why aren't we there yet? It's taking a very long time!" you know it'll be a rough journey. Hmm you know what is also awful on this computer? I can't make a paragraph break for some reason. So this blog entry is going to be a long, rambling thing. Sorry! Ok, so the trip from my area of South Carolina to Florida WITH kids has always taken me twelve hours in the past. In contrast, my dad with his fuzzbuster (IE, a radar detection device) makes the trip in eight and a half hours. This trip, however, we made it in a world-record 10 hours, 15 minutes! woohoo! Unfortunately now, however, my daughter can read. Why is that a problem, you ask? Because this is direct dialogue from our trip, I respond: daughter--"MOMMY! Why does the sign say speed limit 70 mph but your speedometer says 80?" haha! Anyway, we made it here to the land of good, free, mom has prepared it food, and I am glad. I just found out that my brother Ken has, as of this week, bought a 5200 sq. foot house. WOOF! Both of my brothers are very well off, you see. My brother Mark has a similar sized three story house in Canada. Anyway, I decided that it'll now be even more fun to visit: the guest room has its own floor. There's a basement, fully furnished, with a bedroom, full bath, and an entire media room/entertainment area next to it. THAT is where my little family unit will stay when we visit! Yay! My brother Mark's house is the same way. His bottom floor (not a basement though) is an entertainment room with a pool table, wet bar, huge ass TV and stereo, plus a large guest bedroom and full bathroom. Visiting them is fun! It's strange being the only broke child in my whole family (well, my sister is doing fine but she's not wealthy like my brothers and my parents)...however, I have to tell you that the perks are great. I'm the baby of four, you see, and so whenever I go visit family, they dote on me and go crazy. It pays to visit family! haha! Speaking of which, I'll get back to them now. Damnit if this lack of being able to make a paragraph break isn't driving me NUTS...sorry about that, folks!

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Well, first off, I'd like to thank those who commented on my story!

Thanks, everybody! It means a lot to me that everyone seems to understand and enjoy it (if crying can be called enjoyment...haha!).

Amanda, I'll work on the rabbit. Mechanical rabbits are lookin' mighty good right now...

Jezzy, I appreciate that you liked it!

WordWhiz, I have no formula for being able to let go when you know you should. The stupidest thing I ever did as far as "rick" was concerned was let him callously discard me and then sweet talk me back all within the span of a few weeks. I knew after the second breakup that I should say NO WAY if he ever wanted back together again, but in my heart I realize that it was a long, long time afterwards when I knew his hold was gone and I COULD say no. My "chris" (IE, Alex) went a long way to healing that last wound. You know what? The last time I spoke to "rick" on the phone, he talked like he could have me back. The biggest satisfaction I had was to then talk all about Alex on the phone and how great things were, and have him go silent and confused. HAH! HAH HAH HAH! *chuckles evilly some more* :) But I have no idea what the "formula" is for getting over a man. I just know it took too damn long for my sanity!

And Angie...isn't that just the truth? Most significant others I know would do one of the following in response to the story I wrote: a) not read it; b) read it and not get it; c) read it and feel that every aspect of it was my life (which it's not) and become very jealous and defensive. Alex is just fantastic beyond words! It's great to have somebody who is so good to me and who KNOWS me...knows all my faults and all my bonuses...and loves every last inch of me. Even my damned emotional baggage! haha!

Ok, so, for the blogworld: I drive down tomorrow to Florida with the kids. I'm unemployed, so why the hell not? We'll be at my folks for a week. They have a computer so I may end up posting, but if I don't, you'll know it's for a good reason. I can't wait to take the kids to the beach and eat my mom's fantastic food. We'll have far fewer sweets this time because, unfortunately, my dad was diagnosed with diabetes last November...but ALL her food is the kind that could be served in a great restaurant!

Wish me well on the road. It's an all day trip with TWO (2) small children of ages seven and four. OH, and MY CAT!!!! ARG. I can't afford boarding or a pet sitter, and the ex is going to be gone that week too, so my cat is ALSO going to be in the car! We leave bright and early tomorrow so that I can end the suffering as quickly as possible...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I finished it!

...and I'm not promising it's any good since I'm also intoxicated. Rob has the kids, and I don't get them until tomorrow. I've wanted to finish this sucker up forever. Now I have.

For Amanda....

For a year he professed his love to me. I had never been so inundated with verbal and written affirmation of affection and adoration in my life. Romantic poetry, a short story, emails, phone calls--listening to his whispered words of love, I bathed in the pool of his promises, only to drown in the end. What galls me the most is that I believed every damn word he said. I had been skeptical at first, but he won me over. I trusted him. I actually trusted him to mean what he said. Fool!

I remember the moment where it all changed. Our bodies entangled, my muscles sore and my thighs bruised, he sighed softly as he freed himself from my embrace. Who can regret seven hours of bliss? Typical of the difference of our genders, I came away from our one tryst with stronger ties and emotions....and he came away and found someone else. He had wrapped up all of his love and joy and adoration of me into the tidy package of his sperm...shot it all into me....and was done.Oh, of course there was the obligatory "we almost got back together" incident. That's the part wherein the woman (AKA hopeful, trusting idiot) believes he's changed his mind completely and risks it all again. That's also the part wherein the man (AKA, it's only fun when I'm doing the chasing) returns simply to make sure he's carved out every scrap of the girl's heart and left nothing behind. Heaven forbid he leave me with anything other than numbness as an emotion. If I had been gifted with even the tiniest scrap of a heart still inside my ribcage, I might have loved again. His returning to finish the job was a masterful stroke. Genius, truly! It left me unable to love another, ever again. I could be his forever...and he didn't even have to KEEP me!

And yet before I sleep every night, I remember his face as it turned away from me, laughing. A devilish grin, his eyes twinkling, his smooth, firm jawline tilted just so....and I sigh. And my eyes tighten with tears unshed. And the empty space in my chest constricts, just as an amputee sometimes feels his arm when it has been removed.I wonder when it all fades. When do I become whole again? When do I recover? When do I smile sweetly at my friends and announce tritely, "It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all." Fuck it. If I had never loved, I'd still have a heart. I'd be able to sleep soundly every night. I'd be able to dream.

With all this in mind, I packed my lunch for work. A woman typically has three men in her life: the man she married, the man she should have married, and the man she can't forget. I have all three. At least that's good. I've checked those boxes. It means I won't have to go through it again, right?

The phone rang at that point. I needed to head off to work; did I really have to answer it? Of course I did. It's a compulsion for anyone from my family to do such things. A phone rings, you answer it--no matter what you were doing. A knock sounds on the door, you answer it. A piece of trash is on the ground, you pick it up and throw it away. This is just what we Henrys do. A Henry is an obsessive-compulsive to the end. And so, rather than fight genetics, I answered the phone.

"Happy birthday," I heard immediately after I said hello. My breath sucked inwards at once. Rick. It's Rick. I could recognize that timbre of voice anywhere. Not deep yet not light, his voice straddled the perfect land in-between of a man who has thought and sensuality simultaneously. I hated getting phone calls from him. My mind flashed back instantly to his jawline and his bright blue eyes. Swallowing, I replied tartly, "I don't celebrate birthdays anymore. I stopped at 21. That was the last one that meant anything," and I clutched the phone as if it were my lifesaver tossed to me in the most violent of storms."Well, I don't want to keep you from work," he replied smoothly, "but I didn't want you to think I forgot, either. Even if you say you don't celebrate it anymore, I know women well enough to know how far in the doghouse I'll be with you if I forget it! I sent myself two emails, put a post-it note on my phone, taped up a note on my bedroom door, and then also slapped up a note on the refrigerator to remind myself," he chuckled. I swallowed, not wanting to know the lengths he went to in order to remember this day. "You know how bad I am with dates. But you matter to me, so...I had to make sure I called. You going anywhere tonight? Perhaps with Chris?" He added the last as if he could not possibly care less if I went out with Chris, but I suspected it was yet another fishing expedition. Rick didn't want me anymore, but he'd be delighted if nobody else got me either. I wondered what the thrill was in that. He often professed that he wanted me to be happy and was so delighted that I moved on. I sometimes managed to believe him, too. Today was not one of those days, however.

"Nah. Going to buy a jar opener. I already have a stepstool and a vibrator, so if I get a jar opener, I have no need for a man," I quipped without thinking. "Ahhhh angel, you are something else," he chuckled. His chuckles broadened for a moment, and I imagined him shaking his head as well. "Well, I won't keep you, dearest. There's a little present on the way. Just a token of our friendship and all. Because I still care about you, no matter what, 'k?"

And there it was. The teaser, the yank of the test line as the hook sank deeper in my mouth. Once again, I wouldn't be sleeping well tonight. Why the FUCK does he do this to me? What's the point? And men complain that women send mixed signals! SHEESH!

"Ok," I responded coolly, trying to keep all emotion out of my voice. "That was sweet of you. And thanks for the call. Gotta go to work now. Take care."He blew a damn kiss at me before he hung up. Freaking bastard. But NO, he has no feelings for me and it's so good we split up. But NO, if we got back together for a third time I'd never be able to trust him, and I'd run him off with my insecurities as I waited for the next split up at his request. Damned if you do....damned if you don't. Happy freaking birthday, Savannah, I thought to myself in disgust as I then ran over to slide on my shoes and head out the door. I hated being late.

When I arrived at the office, I thanked the people who wished me well on my birthday. There would be a cake later, of course, probably at lunch. But for now, what I wanted most was to retreat to my office and review over and over again the call I received. Why couldn’t I let go? Oh, a few months of therapy shed a bit of light on the matter, but not enough that I could stop it. I knew WHY I was painfully attracted to a wholly inappropriate man, but I had no idea how to quell the feelings. When a woman knows with certainty a man is no good for her, how does she teach her body, mind, and soul to pretend they are just friends? I didn’t know. I truly, fully, didn’t know.

All of my girlfriends would have been scolded should I know of their stupidity in this direction. If I knew a good friend still pined repeatedly after a man who dumped her and did inappropriate things, I would have beaten her senseless with verbiage until she either decided she couldn’t tell me more about the man or she gave up on him. However, there I sat, unable to do work as I reviewed all that had transpired between me and ‘that man.’ My god. Rick was so much younger than me and couldn’t do more than take a menial job and hold it in life. For him, being able to work day in and day out without quitting was accomplishment enough. Why on earth would I desire a man like that?

And yet, I remember…I remember those whispered words, softly trilling on my ears, the exact content of which I had always wanted to hear…and I know. I know why I can’t let go of him. I know why Chris should run because he deserves better than this wraith of a woman that he chooses to date. He deserves better, and yet he doesn’t. How do you reconcile? I am not good enough. I am too good. I can’t decide. Neither can he.

It took a full hour before I could concentrate on my work. And then, the present arrived. He couldn’t just send it to my house like a normal man: he sent it to my workplace. I gingerly unwrapped the present as if it were a Faberge egg, and then I stared at the end product.

A necklace. A thin, snake-like gold chain with a small heart at the end, covered in tiny diamond chips and rubies.

Oh god…but I thought he had a girlfriend? I thought he wanted nothing to do with me? How does one misinterpret a heart necklace as a token of friendship?

The tears started, but then they stopped. The phone rang, and I am a practical woman. It’s best when one learns how to turn the emotions on and off for the rest of the world’s viewing pleasure.

I heard instantly Chris’ voice, light and cheerful. “Love of my life! How are you doing on this birthday day?” he inquired, and I couldn’t help but smile. Welcome, man I should have married, man who always knows what to say. Man who loves me for just what I am. Man who deserves the best life can offer, but man who is stuck with me.

“Hey, dear…just trying to get some work done,” I lied, staring at the heart-shaped necklace as we talked. How would I explain this one? I could just tell him that the jewelry was something Tony gave me, but he was too smart to believe it. Tony would have never given me anything so romantic. When I was married to Tony, I periodically had the florist send me flowers and had his name signed just so the rest of the office thought my life was better than it actually was. Tony was oblivious to what a woman really needed or wanted. If Chris said he believed it, he would just say that to please me. He was too smart to know it to be truth.

“Well, I wanted to apologize about having to be away on business tonight…you know if I could help it I’d be there,” he told me, and actually I knew he was right. Surprised, I realized that when Chris spoke to me, I knew it was accurate. The man didn’t know how to lie. How odd! So, quickly I replied, “Yeah, I know that honey….but two days from now, we go to the Inn and have a great time, so I’m good! Don’t worry! I’ll find a way to celebrate tonight!” I told him. Many more words of love were exchanged as Chris poured his heart and soul into me. Then he had to go. I had known Chris for years, but I only finally let him into my life the day after my last “encounter” with Rick. Rick wanted reassurance that I was still his, reassurance I was only too happy to provide. I provided it…and the next day he was back with an ex-girlfriend. What was that, two months ago? I had called up Chris immediately for a shoulder to cry on, and it developed into something more. Chris was everything a woman could desire. I kept waiting for him to walk out, too. Not yet though. Not yet. Give it time…

The rest of the day was predictable. I had a cake at lunch with a few presents, and I stared at the whole festivity while fingering the heart around my neck. A co-worker asked where I got that lovely necklace. “Oh, my boyfriend sent it to me,” I lied before I could stop myself. Rick wasn’t my boyfriend. Why the hell did I say it like that? God, I am so screwed in the head.

The workday ended, and I was relieved. I wouldn’t spend the night thinking of ANY of my men: Tony, Rick, Chris. I would go home, drink brandy until I felt all better, play with my dog and walk him, and then tumble into bed, waking up with a hangover. It’d be ok. Today was a Friday, and I knew I could get as drunk as I wanted to be. Happy freaking birthday, Savannah, I repeated to myself, driving home with my right hand and playing with the heart with my left.

Do you ever have a day when you drive home and visualize driving the car into a ditch, or a telephone pole, or another car? Today was one of those days. I kept hoping I’d die before I reached home, and my stomach started cramping something awful. I wondered if I’d throw up before I even reached my apartment. The images would not end, however. Would I be able to sleep and never wake up? That would work in lieu of a car crash….
When I pulled up into the parking lot, I stared up at my apartment. There was Shithead, staring through the sliding glass window, shaking his long golden retriever tail with a ferocity reserved for flaying and whipping the enemy. Most people never understood why I named my dog Shithead, so I called him S.H. in public. Tony, however, understood. Rick understood. And Chris. And that’s why my list was as it was, I suppose. Short damn list. Too few interesting guys in the world, and the ones I liked were usually assholes.

I thought of Rick as I stared at my dog, gripping onto the wheel of my car as if it would somehow keep me afloat. Why? What was wrong with me? He had so little going for him, so you’d think he would be thrilled to get somebody as great as me. Maybe I wasn’t so great. Maybe…oh damn, the nausea hit me again. I grabbed my work bag and my purse and fled the car, running to Shithead since there was nobody else.

As I fumbled with the keys, I realized that there was a growing wetness between my thighs. I stared down, dumbly, and understood that the wetness was blood. I was long overdue for my period…but…confused, I awkwardly opened the door, threw my bags down, locked the door behind me, ignored Shithead’s excited greeting, and ran for the bathroom.

There it was. My life’s blood, the baby’s essence, pouring out of me as water from a pitcher. I sat on the toilet for an hour, Shithead coming in periodically to watch and eventually sprawling out at my feet, napping. Rick, I wailed in my head, oh god Rick, oh god, why? And I cried. And I bled. And I cried some more.

When the hour was out, I cleaned myself up and called Chris.

“Honey? Oh, I’m sorry to wake you up…I just had to say how much I love you,” I whispered hoarsely into the phone.

Finally. It was true. And finally, it would be all right. Yet, I didn’t remove the heart-shaped necklace. I couldn’t. I just…couldn’t.

“Night, love of my life,” I softly told him, hanging up after our brief conversation, and I tumbled into bed. Shithead jumped up and curled in the fetal position next to me. With surprising speed, we were then both asleep.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Des Phoques!

Ok, so this bit is too funny not to share...

French for "seal" is phoque. It's prounounced just like our "fuck." So, next time you slip up and shout out the F word, just say you were screaming out seal in French!

Even better: many seals is des phoques, which is pronunced like "de fuck." STELLAR!

So, today I made my first joke in French, only understandable to somebody who is bi-lingual like Alex.... "Tu es un bon phoque!" Which literally is, You are a good....seal *coughs*. Alex liked it.


Ok, so I need to have a job with benefits, right? My good friend Terry (he's been a close friend of mine since I was 17...met him during my Duke days) was working as the manager of a coffee shop in Durham and then the coffee shop closed down. He sought new employment. You will NEVER guess what he does now.

He watches hardcore pornography.

No, I kid you not. He works for Adam and Eve and writes up their catalogues. Therefore, he must watch the porn flicks to write up a summary on them. He has his own office close to his house...no overtime...9 to 5...$34k per year with FULL benefits...and after one year there, he can get all of his schooling reimbursed at 100%.

Where do we sign up?


Ok, I think I have the assignment straight, even though Amanda hasn't been on to answer my question in her comments yet (hung over? good sex so she's sleeping in? signing papers at CU for the teaching position? that's the list I choose to think she's accessing!). I'm supposed to list off ten things I haven't done yet but WANT to do. Let's try this list. I assure you it will dip into the sewer at least once (gutter's too high class for me).

1) LEARN FRENCH. I think that's a pretty obvious one considering my previous post. I would like to learn French so well that I could write in it and the French would be awestruck by my immense intellectualism. Yeah, might as well aim high!

2) Get something published. I would like to get one "fun" thing published...something entertaining that hits the best seller list just for sheer readability. Then I'd like to get something published that has a minor audience to it...a literary audience who will be amazed at my well-turned phrase and clever symbolism.

3) Have sex up against a house wall. No wait, I did that one. Hum. Ok, use nipple clamps! WEEHAH! And assorted other sex toys I have yet to conquor. Remember, folks, to never buy one of those silly sleigh beds! There's just no realistic place to put the ropes! haha!

4) Marry Alex and live happily ever after. I never thought about getting married again when my marriage collapsed, but...wow...there's just no person out there who can come close to this man and I'd rather keep him.

5) Earn enough money that I can pay for my kids and help out my sister's kids to go to college so they don't have to work their way through their degrees. I did my bachelor's degree without having to work thanks to mom and dad, and when I worked full time through graduate school, I understood what a complete blessing this gift was. Thank you, mom and dad, and I can only hope to return the favor with your grandchildren. I don't worry about my brothers' kids. Both of my brothers are wealthy and can send their kids with no student loans to Harvard if they desired. I worry more about my kids and my sister's kids.

6) Travel...a hell of a lot. I want to visit Hawaii, Australia, Bermuda, Ireland, and Japan. I think that's my top five list right now. I've already checked off England, Wales, Canada, France, Alaska, Mexico, and the Carribean.

7) Have a third child. With Alex. Three will complete the set and then I'm done.

8) Buy a house that's big enough for my family unit to live comfortably, with a REAL backyard.

9) Get my PhD in Medieval Lit and finish what my ex made me stop.

10) Get a culinary arts degree as well. Cooking is more than a passion to me...like reading and writing, it's LIFE.

Honorable mentions: actually integrate exercise as part of my daily routine; get a bellybutton piercing (always wanted one of those!)

Wow, I only went to the sewer once! Hum. Must be out of it today :) But anyway, that's my list. I want to tag Jezzy, Chuck (like he'll do it!!!), and M. Weasel.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I've Officially Started...

...learning French. I am scared shitless. I have two academic weaknesses, and one is worse than the other. My two hardest subjects have always been foreign languages and math. Well, and I can't even really say that math is TOO bad anymore because the last math I finished up with, Calculus, turned out to be damn easy for me as all I learned just came together in a rush. I had minimal problems learning Latin and Old English because they are not spoken languages, and it's the speaking and making a fool of myself that makes me the most nervous. I have complained to folks repeatedly that I have problems 'hearing' certain sounds in French, and yes, this issue still exists. BUT...I'm going to try. I've started as of last night. Last night, I learned basic colors. Today, I'm working on food words. My good friend Shelly sent me an amazon.com gift certificate to purchase tools to facilitate with my language learning...god it's great to have wonderful friends like that! She knows how broke I am, and she really wants me to learn French (she's a good friend of Alex's too). So, with her gift certificate, I bought one piece of software and two books. We're off!

Why am I doing this torture when I know that, especially at my age, what I've decided to do is near impossible? We must all keep in mind that by learning French, whenever I go to France what will happen is that they will correct my French: pronunciation, grammar, word usage. The French have a slavish devotion to their language, and they feel it to be no insult to correct people when they speak it. How many times do you correct a person who speaks English incorrectly? I don't unless the person has asked me to do so, or if it's a student who makes the same mistake over and over again and I point out that speech error so that it doesn't show up on their writings. It's just not an American thing to do. But it's a French thing. And it's just the sort of thing to make me feel stupid...sigh...but I have to do this action. I MUST learn this language to some degree, and keep trying.

You see, Alex is giving up his country for me. HIS COUNTRY. Do you have any idea what that means? Imagine how attached you are to your friends and family, no matter how sprawled out they might be....and then imagine leaving them ALL for the sake of your love. It is a huge sacrifice, and I don't want him to lose his culture. He may have to abandon his country and live here if he wants to be with me, but he shouldn't have to lose his identity. And the only way around that is to teach Ari and Jared French, speak French around whatever baby we may one day have, and then continue a few French customs in our house. How can we speak French around the house if I can't speak French??? My French will always have an accent, and largely I will always translate in my head. That's what happens when you are exposed to a language for the first time after 12 years of age. But, the French seem to like Alex's mum and she learned in her 20's how to speak French, and she has a clear Brit accent in her speech. In fact, some of the guys think it's "cute." Maybe my American accent can be "cute" too....hmmm....

Culturally, I'm already fairly French in some regards. I appreciate good food and good wine, and I'm an excellent cook. I can argue anytime, anywhere, and I have a lot of education so I can come off as an intellectual. Alex explained to me that there are no such things as "geeks" in France, since there is a bit of a negative stereotype there...there are only intellectuals, and those are highly regarded. I can DO that part! I'm a little dominant for a French woman (haha! no, really, I am...ask Alex's mom!), but otherwise, I fit in well with the French on other issues. That's why I managed to get along with Alex's friends so nicely. I can mimic those aspects, fix French foods, and teach my children about French history and politics. I've been reading up a lot on those two areas these days. My next stop: French literature. I don't know much about French literature beyond the medievalists of Chretien de Troy and Christine de Pisan.

So, here we go. I love Alex like I've never loved any man in my life. He fits in with me PERFECTLY. He is making a huge sacrifice for me...so I must make one in return. I will struggle with my lessons, and I know I will have to work twice as hard as most people in order to learn another language, but I'll have to do it. In fact, the more I think about it, maybe THIS is why I have a summer free.

Ok, so here is what I've learned so far that I think is interesting enough to pass on:

In French, a grape is called un raisin. Confusing!
In French, an apple is une pomme. A potato is une pomme de terre, so that makes it an apple of the earth? Different!
In French, it is near impossible to find the word for "scallop." The French think of scallops only being useful in their famous dish, Coquilles St. Jacques. Therefore, a lot of times a French person refers to a scallop as a coquille st. jacques! Not even Alex knew the "real" word for a scallop (note: coquille is a shell, the scallop shell if you will, but NOT the actual muscle). It took a while but we finally found out the "other" name: petoncle.

For colors, their word for orange is orange. Easy enough...it's just pronounced differently. They use this technique for purple too. Purple is violet, but in pronunciation it in no way resembles English "violet."

And don't forget, folks, if a frenchman tells you he has raped carrots in his salad, don't go eeewwww! hahaha! That just means shredded! Alex did that to me once. Amanda saw the email. He was telling me what was in his salad at lunch that he liked so much, and one of the ingredients was "raped carrots." I had no idea what he meant, but boy did that get a laugh for months! He explained later on what he meant, and we figured out he meant shredded...similar words, different meaning!

Wish me luck. I need it. I HATE being incompetent in anything I do, and in languages I am incompetent. But I will stick with it because I love Alex...and I owe him at least this much.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Friday and Nothing to Grade!

I feel strange. I feel like I SHOULD be doing something, but I'm not sure what. I always felt that way throughout my entire school career, undergrad and graduate. I never could relax fully even on the weekends because I was always vaguely aware that I COULD be doing X reading or writing Y paper or going to the library for research or whatnot. Now that I'm a teacher, I still have that feeling when the term is going off. I COULD be grading this, preparing for that, re-reading Z work... and so I never fully relax during the term.

But, see, I'm not working right now. And I likely won't until August.

I walk the house like a caged animal. Should I clean? Nah, wait until Rob gets the kids tomorrow so they won't get the house dirty right behind me. Should I bake? Ok, here's some cookies. There's some chicken curry. How about a nice salad with homemade dressing? Should I read to the kids? Ok, did that. Wait, now kids are entertaining each other and don't want me. What now? Do I read? Yes, I'll read.

I keep feeling like I SHOULD be doing something, but I know there's nothing that I "SHOULD" be doing other than what an unemployed person does. As long as I'm not spending money, it'll be fine.

My current book, of which I am halfway through, is an excellent one entitled Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong. It is a book I know Angie would love if she had the time to read it. I have never seen a more thorough explaination of France and French people and the history of what makes them culturally French than this work. The research is great. The authors are two French-Canadians who lived over in France for two years to, at first, study why France resisted globalization. They ended up with a full novel on why the French are culturally French. It's incredibly interesting, and it has made me think more of the cultures I've created in the past for my alien nations in my fantasy and science fiction short stories I've written. Yes, I AM A GEEK! So sue me.

I think I'll see Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith on Monday. The majority of my friends and aquaintences who have seen it have loved it. I can take Ari to it, but not Jared, so I have to wait until Jared is gone to go see it. I need to pack up next week for the trip to Florida on Friday. We're going to drive down (me plus kids) to my parent's house in Tampa for the week. Hell, I'm unemployed and as of Wednesday, Ari's out of school. Why not? Maybe I can squeeze in a visit with the Other Unemployed Hottie in the area before I leave! (yes, that means YOU, Amanda!).

It appears that I will have a clean house and several more books read by the end of the summer. I am debating finishing up a short story I started a year or so ago but never finished and seeing where that goes. I believe Amanda and Angie have seen the first two pages of it...it's where I mention the three men a woman gets in her life. I am nervous over trying to get anything published, but just like jobs...you won't know if it's possible if you never try. I must repeat that message thirty times in front of the mirror before bed and stop sabotaging myself due to insecurities over failure.

Yes, failure. I am well aware that my fear of failure has paralyzed my attempts on several occasions to do something with my life. Sounds remarkable for a woman who seems to not have screwed up too badly, but yeah...there it is. I have this irrational thought sometimes that if I don't try, I can always convince myself that I COULD have done it but chose not to. If I try it and fail, however, I just have to deal with the fact that I failed. Brrrr. We all have our hangups, eh? So, pity Alex: he deals with this aspect of my personality as well as the OCD things mentioned a couple of posts down. Haha!

I read the very funny posts on another blog by a gentleman named hofzinser. Immediately, all the questions the women began asking about men made me have flashbacks to just about all my exes, particularly THE ex, my ex husband. He did just about 90% of the things mentioned. Then I realized that, once again, Alex just isn't a normal male. I have trained him to do far more than four things! And most of those items were never an issue anyway (Note: the ex husband only had room for ONE training slot. He could be trained for something else, but it then pushed out the former thing that he had learned...ack...).

1) Leaving dirty clothes everywhere: no, he doesn't do this. He follows what I do and slings barely worn clothes on the end of the bed, but never the floor, and all dirty clothes immediately go to the hamper.

2) Getting upset if the girl doesn't get off before the guy: see, this is why I went for a younger man. If he gets off before I do, he recharges instantly and we just keep going. Everybody gets off before we are through...haha! Anyway, it's not an issue for Alex as long as I AM pleasured.

3) Never does housework when gone: you must be kidding me. This man mops, vacuums, scrubs out tubs, scrubs out toilets, cleans up the kitchen, and generally does more housework than I do. I never have to ask. He just DOES it. And it's not even his damn house, if you want to be technical!

Then, I looked at the yet to be asked questions. Well, Alex listens. Alex fell in love with a bitchy but rather low maintenance woman, and he delights in every part of her and has for years now. He not only sends the sappy card and gives out sincere compliments, but then he ALSO sends me 24 longstem red roses and godiva chocolates. And kisses my hand. And opens all doors. And pulls out my chair, and pushes it in (even at home when it's just the two of us at the dining room table). AND gives me breathing space by fucking right on off when we've been in close contact with each other for a long time, WITHOUT me asking him to do so. He won me a while back and he still treats me like a queen. Alex has always and still wears cologne...not a lot, but just enough to smell good when I suck on his earlobes :) He enjoys kissing a LOT still, but I think that's a cultural thing: the French love to kiss. Constantly. In public, in restaurants, down the street, in the park, greeting folks, saying goodbye, etc. He's always been excellent at foreplay...it's ME who occasionally has the "let's just screw" problem...haha! And committment? Well, the poor man asked me a year ago how long would be "enough" time to ask me to marry him. I said, let me get divorced first :P Divorce has gone through, so now I told him next fall would be fine. I can cope by then. Meanwhile, he doesn't even seem to realize other women even exist.

See, that's the wierd one for me. ALL men look. Hell, most women look too, even if they are in a happy relationship! Alex doesn't look. WTF? His eyes are always on my ass, my eyes, my breasts...me! Wow. I never knew that was possible, so I NEVER expected that one.

In fact, the only guy thing on the WHOLE LIST I read that was an issue for Alex is that he DOES INDEED fall asleep afterwards. But ladies...it's usually between one and four hours of action so we both end up falling asleep....haha! But him first :P One night in France I did make fun of him and tease for the longest time because we went at it for a short period of time (we were both tired...it was one of those grope, sex, goodnight moments), he got off and rolled over and fell asleep. I was trying not to wake him up by laughing. Finally! A male stereotype he fulfilled! haha!

God I miss Alex. The worst part when you're used to sleeping with a guy in your bed is when he's gone. When things dissolved between myself and my ex husband--and even before they dissolved but were going poorly--I counted on that warm body to touch or snuggle against or just feel breathing next to me. I counted on that scent to fill my nostrils, that skin to be pressed against my back. When I moved out, I can honestly say it was the only thing I missed. Why? Well, see, Rob and I met when I was sixteen years old. We were sleeping together by the time I was seventeen (yes, he was my first...awwww :P). Throughout my days at Duke, we lived together (my family didn't know). I broke up with him for a year before we got back together...and then more sleeping together, every night, especially after we moved in with each other again at graduate school. It was like a bed wasn't a bed without that warm male body in it. I could be totally angry at him and wishing I were going to move out of the house first thing in the morning, yet I still loved that body in the bed. It's like sleeping with a favorite blanket or stuffed animal or something...haha!

So, I miss Alex. I got used to just being able to put a hand across him at night and there he was. I got used to smelling him next to me. And once in a while, I got used to elbowing him in the ribs and snorting at him disgustedly when he started to snore. Yes, he snores. Not every night, but ug, when he does...I can't get too mad at him though. He's got a deviated septum. I am encouraging him to wait until he has health insurance over here to have the surgery because I would like to be with him, drive him there and back, and tend to him after the proceedure. My mom AND my sister both had to have it done--they both had their nose broken at different events and ended up with that issue. I know it's not a happy surgery to say the least, but it's improved over time and isn't as bad as it used to be. Meanwhile, he snores. Meanwhile, I jab at him crankily in the middle of the night. And damnit, I even miss that!

He doesn't annoy me. I can't say that often enough. He's the only guy I ever dated in my whole life who doesn't annoy me, and boy am I easily annoyed. 'Cause I'm a bitch. A low maintenance bitch, but a bitch nonetheless! haha!

What IS a low maintenance bitch? Well, I have very few needs. I can go anywhere and do anything. What I need out of a relationship is actually a hell of a lot less than what Alex gives me. But I've always got attitude, and I always speak my mind. When I speak my mind, I tend to concentrate on what I'm saying rather than the 'tactful' part. I keep waiting for Alex to get tired of the bitch in me, but the amazing thing is that he seems to relish it. It's almost like it's his favorite part! Wow.

Low maintenance bitches unite! (hmmm I wonder if this makes me number one on google search for these words...haha!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


...is Gabe sending me info on a job at Ryobi with him, and failing that, a full time teaching position at EPCI?

...and why does my former student Stephen (not Evil Stephen, Amanda!) think his brother actually is buddy-buddy with English department folks over at Clemson enough to put in a good word for me?

Nobody is supposed to make me feel like I can get a decent job, remember? That creates hope...which is inevitably dashed :P

Why I Do Not Own A Scale

I do not own a scale for the same reason why Angie's quiz will be my slow, agonizing death. LOL

Let me explain.

I never have been into the idea of diets. I love food too much, and I hate restricting what exact foods I eat or in what quantities. Food is life to me...food is enjoyment of life, to be more precise. However, when I was 26 years old I realized I fit into no clothes in my closet. I really didn't have the funds to buy bigger clothes (a fundamental issue with me for all but two years of my adult life). To add insult to injury, I had been visiting my mom and she constantly mentioned how unattractively large I was. She handed me an exercise mat, exercise tapes, and some sort of diet book as I walked out the door. I felt horrible.

So, I decided to diet for the first time in my life. It was "my own diet." I gave myself two meals a week wherein I could eat anything and didn't keep track of calories or sugar or fat. That way, I didn't feel like I was so deprived or that everything was forbidden and I could stick with the plan the rest of the week. For the only time in my life, I also exercised daily (walking, sit ups, curls with a light weight).

And I bought a scale.

It was satan's own scale, I tell you. From the first day I weighed in, I knew there was a problem. I stood on it and looked down at the glowing "125" and frowned. The last time I had weighed myself had been several years earlier at the doctor's and I was 112 lbs. I gained that much? How did it happen? I knew my clothes were too tight, but...

I weighed myself five times that first day. Can anybody say OCD??? I really believe obsessive compulsive disorder runs strongly in my family even though it's never been a diagnosis. My entire family save maybe my brother Mark (so that makes five of us then) have these "things" we get stuck on and get obsessive about for no reason. The scale became one of these "things." What if I weighed myself after I went to the bathroom? After I ate? After I went for a two mile hike? If I spit in the sink, did that alter my weight? If I got a haircut? First thing in the morning? Last thing at night? During my period? GAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!

Sometimes I weighed myself as much as ten times per day. If I lost a pound but the next morning the scale reported it back, I was depressed and weighed myself twice as much. If I jumped to two pounds lost, I weighed myself the usual amount just to stare at the numbers all day long...haha! Guys, it was awful. The damned scale ruled my life. I didn't like what I had become. In three months, I lost 9 lbs and could fit into all my clothes. But in three months, I became a neurotic, compulsive, twitching mess.

I threw the scale in the garbage and never have owned one again.

In a related behavior, Angie has put up a damned, devil spawn quiz on her site. LOL

Now, you have to understand something about Kira: I do not have a competative streak with others; it's worse. I have a competitive streak with MYSELF. Why is this worse? Because nothing short of a perfect score on any test, etc. will make me happy. So, she places this quiz on her site--and believe me, I've avoided most quiz sites on the net for just knowing myself that well--and suddenly compulsive behavior kicks in again.

Yesterday, I saw it there and twitched. That quiz wasn't so bad. I got mad at myself because I didn't realize your total score was reduced by time, and I had gotten up when I started the test to get Ari a glass of water and sliding on Jared's nightshirt (he likes to sleep in a tshirt that has the eiffel tower on it...he calls it a teapot...LOL!). Ok, so, grumble, I'll do better next time! I can't for the life of me recall where I was compared to the others...all I could remember was, you lost points because you took too long. Well, I would not do that today! So then I take today's quiz and I realized: I'm SOL (shit out of luck for those not familiar with the american slang). I knew that five of those questions I could NEVER answer and I had NO clue. This bothered me *twitch, twitch* so I went ahead and looked them up. Yes, I just destroyed the point of a trivia quiz by looking up answers...LOL But I don't LIKE not knowing! Ask any of my students. If they asked me something I didn't know, I would tell them: I will find out by next class. And lo, I have done exactly that a number of times. I am the mistress of useless trivia, too, so a trivia quiz is the best way to attack my ego. I can't...stand....not getting...all the answers...*twitch twitch* See, when she had the English quiz, that one was fine. I knew I'd screw up in the spelling and I accept that's a weakness. I know my vocab and grammar are fantastic and my spelling is for crap. It fits my "self concept." But my self concept is also that many of my friends turn to me for useless trivia, small obscure details that I learned and kept in my cobwebbed brain for no reason. So I should do very well on a trivia quiz, right? *twitch, twitch*

I probably need medication for this....haha!

Ang, don't worry about it, I'll get myself under control. But if OTHERS care about their scores compared to the group's, they should all discount mine. At least, from now on out, if you see my time as over 100 seconds, it's guaranteed that I had a nervous breakdown and looked crap up.

I think Zoloft corrects for this...


I'm over the jet lag. That's good.

Alex is still in France and there's still no return date set. That's bad.

I leave for my parent's house with the kids on May 27th. That's good.

All day in a car with two small children. That's bad.

Ariana must have really missed me. Every time I travel in this house, she's left me a tiny note that simply says "I love you mom!" I've found one on my kitchen counter, on my bathroom sink, and on my computer stand. So sweet!

She loved her chocolates and her presents. The first night I had her back, I sprawled out next to her on her bed at bedtime and just yabbered about the world in general with her for a while. Sure, it kept her up later, but we just MISSED each other, and it was our first opportunity to spend time alone since before that, she was having her reunion with Jared.

I love my daughter to pieces. I want to continue this good relationship with her well into her teen years. I read Angie's posts and I have hope I can do that too! Of course I want to be mom first and friend SECOND, but I want to be her friend forever too. That's how it was with my mom and still is: she's my mom first, but she's also my friend. I don't have the advantage of being closer in age with Ariana like Ang is with her daughter, but I take heart in her idea that the "Young at Heart" idea can work too. Since I hang out with students who are usually much younger than me, I think I can fake being young...haha!

Oh, this was funny...when we were in France, Jared tried to kiss Kate's breasts (kate is Alex's 14 yr old sister). I mentioned it to the ex when I got back, teasing that our son was such a boy. Jared looks up and says in his best fake innocent voice, "But I was trying to kiss her feet! I just missed!" HAHAHAHA!

Also, I noticed Jared at four years of age likes to hand out flowers and kiss lady's hands. Alex has already started the training process! woohoo!

So, the last piece of news...I had a former student email me and beg me to call him on his cell phone. He's a student I had twice, and he's been using me for girlfriend advice a lot. I have no idea why...but I like him so I'm happy to chat with him. Anyway, we talked for a long time and in the end he told me that he didn't think he could break up with this girl because his whole (small) church community would be mad at him and he wouldn't be able to show his face there again. I paused. "So...you're maintaining a relationship because you don't want your church to be mad at you?" Long pause in return. "OH MY GOD...you're right! Gees, I knew you could put a spin on this in a way I could understand!" Made me feel good. I might not be teaching this summer, but I still think about my students and felt happy I could help. I wish him the best. He's just navigating a lot of new territory as this is just his second relationship ever and he's 18 yrs old. It flatters me that he feels he can turn to me. As he put it, "You're the only person who knows ALL the details of my situation." He should be flattered too though. I talked on the PHONE with him. Crap do I hate that phone!

Except for the no money part, unemployment is fun. I like spending time with my kids...I wish it paid better though! haha!

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Wind Down 2

Ok, so at this point I lost the other half of my post. I hit the post recovery button, and hence it gave me half my post back. I had thought I had copied it before hitting send but I didn't, so now I'm discouraged from typing more. *kicks blogger* But then when I tried to post something else, the old one disappeared. I'm confused *kicks blogger again*

I still need to find someplace to host a picture so I can put a picture up here. I also need to figure out how to make actual links so I don't copy and paste annoying web addies that you guys then have to copy and paste. I don't know how to add links to other blogs, either. I guess since I'll be unemployed this summer, there's plenty of time to learn!

The Windown

Tomorrow we leave to go home. I'd be ok with that if I could take Alex with me, but I can't, so I am pretty bummed. I just have to remember the days when we were separated by an ocean and it was months before we could see each other again instead of 6 weeks or less. I bet Jezzy remembers how this feels!

I'm trying to stuff my face full of cheese, chocolate, pastisseries, and wine today so that I can get overloaded before I head home. That way, I won't miss the food here and all, right??? Honestly, I can get "brie," "Camembert," "Chevre," and other types of cheese at home, but it just is NOT the good, fresh stuff there. Why would it be? Few Americans get into cheese like that, so the grocery stores don't waste time on investing in quality cheeses no one will buy. Sigh. I suppose when I visit my folks in Tampa I can visit a cheese shop there, or when I visit my brother in the triangle area, I can go to the gourmet shop there and have some good cheeses...that's where my friend Joe fetches the cheese he brings me sometimes.

I still can't believe that their "american" pizzas here have creme fraische on them, emmental instead of mozzarella, and a big ol' egg on top of it LOL Instead of pepperoni or italian sausage, the meat they place on that pizza is ground beef/hamburger. That's ok, our "french" bread is NOTHING like the bread I can get over here. I'll miss that bread...

I'm a geek, a real, true geek. So, last night it was fun because a couple of Alex's friends played a dungeons and dragons roleplaying scenario. They all spoke in English for me! It was very appreciated. We had a great time. Alex was the dungeon master. I haven't played a PnP (for those of you non-geeks, that means pen and paper) roleplaying game in years. Most of my geek games are on the computer now--Balder's Gate and related games for the PC itself, and then assorted games like Gauntlet on the PS2. What is great about hanging out with a room full of geeks is that you can make obscure movie or book jokes and they all laugh like you're the funniest comedian. For instance, we had this candle burning that forces players to only answer questions in a truthful manner (MY GOD do I want one of these for real life!!!!). One of the players we suspected of being a doppleganger (that is, a shapeshifter who was pretending to be our friend rather than actually our friend). So I was grilling him, and he was refusing to tell me his true name by evading the question. Since he was evading, I pushed once more, "WHAT is your name?" and then added suddenly, "WHAT is your favorite color?" Of course every person in the room had seen The Holy Grail and loved Monty Python, so we all burst out laughing. Then, as I grilled further, he finally started to say, "My name is...." and then trailed off. I couldn't help it. "My name is Indigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!" LOL I mean really, even non geeks know and love The Princess Bride! hehe It was a one shot, couple of hours dungeon and we all had a great time. Alex's friend Frank, who was there last night, had always insisted that friends were better than girlfriends because you could share everything with a friend, and Alex always contended that I AM his best friend, something which Frank rejected out of hand. We think it's because nearly all geeks are male and he had no idea there were women out there who liked fantasy/sci fi too. Alex and I were joking this morning that maybe NOW he understands why Alex and I are so close...haha! Frank and I actually have read and watched similiar fantasy/sci fi stuff. The beginning of the game got distracted because I found out his first scenario was based in Amber, Roger Zelazny's many book masterpiece which starts with The Nine Princes of Amber (excellent series, by the way). I excitedly told him that I got to meet Zelazny at a sci fi convention a few years before he died, and Frank and I babbled at each other for a while.

I promised Frank several cheesecakes if he came to America to visit us. Cheesecake isn't common here. I know I could get a springform pan here, but I honestly didn't see cream cheese in the grocery at all. The closest thing would be boursin, which is herbed and the wrong texture entirely. Alex's mom told me she thought it was made with cottage cheese and I almost started weeping openly in front of her. Cottage cheese? MY GOD! The only cheesecake I saw made with cottage cheese was a diet one. How nasty...it's like when people tell me that they use cottage cheese instead of ricotta in a lasagna. If you do that, PLEASE do not let me know as it upsets me something hellaciously LOL

Today is all about packing up, stuffing my face, and resting before the awful journey home. We wake up at 5a so that we can get ready, go to the train station, catch an early train, ride it for almost four hours, take a subway to the airport, get on a very long plane to detroit, then take a second plane to home. Five million hours later, we will arrive rather dead at home. I have made sure to pack Jared's spare clothes including a spare pair of pants so we have no more "nude child in the airport" incidents.

I've got to enjoy the good food today because after today, it's time to learn how to make poor woman's food from Amanda! Classes start on Monday and I've still not heard that even the full timers have all the classes they want. Sigh. I will enjoy the break, I just won't enjoy the time where I'm more poor than usual.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

And More Volcanoes!

Something I've always wanted to see--well, at least since I first spotted one of these beauties on the net--was an extinct volcano whose crater had been filled in by water. I have now seen the breathtaking scene of one of these exact places, and so I feel like I've checked off one of those "life boxes." You know the list, right? It's the "things I want to do before I die" list. I have quite a few sites on the list, and I've checked some of them off. I wanted to see glaciers in Alaska and I got to check those off; I wanted to see a huge ass waterfall and got to do that one in our area of the country; I wanted to see the Canadian Rockies and I got to do it; I wanted to see cathedrals in England and France and I got to do that. There are also other things on the list such as "get a full time teaching job," "raise children in a happy and healthy manner into adulthood," and "publish something written of interest." But today I got to check off another thing to see part of the list: lake volcano! Le Lac Pavin!

Here, go look: http://www.cyber63.com/Communes/besse_et_st_anastaise/pavin.jpg

Jared has an entire theory on the history of this lake, which he detailed for us. Apparently in the Jared theory of volcanoes, the volcano was a rare variety called a snow volcano. Eventually, it spewed out soooo much lava though that the snow melted (hence the lake) and then the volcano got tired of making lava, so it fell asleep (dormant, anyone? LOL). So, now the volcano sleeps and maybe one day it will rest enough to spew out lava again. God I love his creative brain!

Alex's friend Frank is the one who offered to drive us out there. It took us about 45 min to get there, a leisurely drive through absolutely gorgeous French countryside...mountains, small villages, farms, old fortresses rising on the hills (we spotted two fortresses/castles and one tower), rivers, late spring flowers, and all sorts of other beauty. The top of the mountain/extinct volcano was cold even though the day was warm, but we were prepared for this eventuality thanks to my own memories of exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway. We all had brought layers of clothes just in case, and we were then able to appreciate two views of the lake: from the top looking down and then level with it.

On the way back, we stopped and had a lovely picnic. Any good French picnic has wine, bread, chocolate, cheese, and pate...we had it all covered except for the cheese. We didn't do cheese because tonight we are doing an all cheese based dinner...raclette? Hum. It's a new one for me, but I know it involves a mechanical device that melts cheese and lots of cheese. The sun was out, we parked by a river, and we got to use a picnic table and everything. Just drive in Auvergne anywhere in the countryside and you'll find a few places like that, picnic sites in lovely locations. Ahhhh! Jared seemed to really enjoy it. What will I ever do with this boy when we come back to the states? He practically insists now on a pure cheese, bread, apple, and chocolate diet! His favorite French item here is the Pain au Chocolate. That's basically a rectangle shaped bread piece, much like a croissant in flakiness and layers, with chocolate inside. Here:


Jared has adapted well to French life and now actively asks me what the french word is for this or that (which means I turn to Alex and look panicked....hehe!). GOD what I'd give to stay here for the summer. It's not like I have employment until August anyway, the way things look! I wish I could just ship over Ariana when she finishes up school in a couple of weeks and just...stay here for a summer. Maybe we'd all learn something!

Oh, anybody who wants a postcard from France can request one from me! Write to my email (kiraln@msn.com) and give me your full name and address. I can give you one of the black cathedral here, of the area, of the volcano stuff, or somesuch. You can only request one though! haha! You have until I search my mail on Friday morning, May 13th, to request said postcard. That gives me time to head to the post office in the afternoon and all. We leave on Saturday, so that's really the firm deadline. Hmmm....Angie, if you want one, I know it's the black cathedral and maybe I'll have Alex write it in French for ya...Amanda, no, I've seen lots of ads here for hot guys scantily clad, but no postcards, so you'd have to settle for regular scenery...LOL! I can send you a picture of Alex's friend Julien when I get back so you can see why I think he'd be a good one to pick out for you if I could just get him to split up with his gf! haha!

Last night was fun because I got to meet all of Alex's geek friends and eat a meal with them at a traditional regional French restaurant. Their specialty was truffade, an area dish of great repute. The primary ingredients are potatoes, fatty bacon, garlic, and cheese. Now really, folks, how on earth can you go wrong with these ingredients???? Mmmmm! Again, for those wanting a peek: http://www.aurelle-verlac.com/gastrono/truffadf.jpg We had a lot of other specialities, but the truffade was my favorite.

Despite the drinking of wine at every meal, the constant consumption of cheese, baguettes, and chocolate, and the caloric intake of 5000 calories a day including copious wine... I think the amazing has happened. I gained weight the first week, just like I did last year when I was here for a week. Now, the second week, I'm losing weight. MY GOD. Did you hear me???? I'm consuming obscene amounts of calories and my body just adjusted and now my pants are fitting more comfortably. WHAT THE HELL? The French paradox kicking in for an American chick? I'll take it! Maybe it's due to the walking, but I swear I walked more last year. And last year we didn't have Jared, so there was more....well, OTHER exercise. haha! It's just wierd to me, though. The first week, I thought I'd have to go back in Alex's clothes because I could feel the expansion in all my pants. Last year I was here for eight days and gained not one but TWO dress sizes. This year, I gained and then lost, so at worst I will have had two weeks of eating like a fooking pig and gaining nothing! Why? This food is SO high fat, high calorie, bad for you stuff....hum. Again, I'll take it. If I think about it too much, maybe it'll go away!

I can't wait to see my daughter. I think I've decided that since for the rest of the summer it appears I'll be out of work, I shall do copious Good Mom things (art projects, field trips, etc) when I have the kids and lots of reading, writing, and enjoying life when the ex has the kids. I haven't had that kind of break in years. It will feel so strange....but as I said before: I'll take it! haha! There has to be SOME reward for eating tuna and ramen noodles all summer long! Thanks to an unexpectedly large tax refund this year, I have calculated it all out and I can make it through until the fall term starts. I'll be penniless when I start up and sick of cheap ass food, but we can make it. And maybe if I'm lucky, I'll be starting up at CU with Angie and Amanda in the fall! God, I haven't had medical insurance in three years. It would be great to have some for once...Robin said she'd try to work the Eng Lit I class around my schedule if I got the CU job too. Woohoo! *clutches her precious Medieval and Renaissance Literature class to her chest and says in her best Gollum voice, my precioussssss!*

Monday, May 09, 2005


I figured I might as well spit out a blog entry and update folks on the happenings in France while Alex ran to his school and got a few documents straight. Alex got an internship in Columbia for a year, and now he has to get all sorts of paperwork sorted so he can get his visa for the time he'll be at that company. The second he gets it all done, the second he gets to come back to me. That is, the moment he gets his internship/work visa is the moment he can fly back over to be with me in the US (I have to leave him here in France when I head back on Saturday for the states). I'm hoping he can complete the paperwork quickly so that we get more time together before he has to start up work. The goal is that he can at a minimum come to SC again by the end of June. My family reunion is the first week of July, and I'd like him to come along. My 89 yr old grandmother (my only surviving grandparent) has never met Alex, and it's important to me that he gets to meet her.

So, on Saturday we went to Volcania. Clermont-Ferrand has a ring of extinct volcanoes here, right outside of the city, and there's a huge volcano center with all sorts of stuff there to see. We took the bus up there and arrived in less than a half hour. The center was cool! Jared loved seeing all the volcano stuff, much to my amazement. He didn't care that all of the movies and materials were in French (there were a couple of ones that had an English option on them, but not much). There was a children's area, and they had a display with a man running it who made a fake volcano blow...both of which facinated my little son. We saw all sorts of interesting information, pictures, and exhibits. We were there for over five hours (close to six), and Jared was upset because when we left, there was still at least one volcano movie he hadn't seen! All in all, it was a terrific experience.

Sometime during the day, Jared turned to Alex and told Alex solemnly that he had two daddies. Alex asked Jared what he meant by that statement, and Jared explained: I have daddy and I have Alex, and they are both my daddies. Alex was very touched. So was I, actually. Jared doesn't like men, you see, thanks to a) being a mommy's boy and b) seeing too much from his father. So, what Jared told Alex REALLY meant a lot. I already explained to Alex a while back that screw me, my kids were too attached now and for that reason alone he was not to leave. I mean it, too. I fear something happening to me and Alex more for the sake of my kids than myself these days. They finally have some semblance of stability in their lives with a good role model for a man and for a relationship, and I don't want that to change. I already informed Alex of the exact plot of trees wherein his disemboweled body would be buried if he tried to leave us, and Alex good naturedly requested that he actually be put on the other side of the highway. However, I had to point out to him that he'd be dead at that point so he'd not care, and therefore it was my decision to drop off his body in this one particular area of woods. He accepted that. haha!

The whole dating scene changes when you have kids. Does the guy like your children? Do your children like the guy? Can they love each other and live in harmony? Is the guy good to your kids? You can't ever introduce your kids to a guy you are dating until you are sure it's going to last...otherwise, it just hurts them too much to have a revolving door of men in and out of the house. It's why I had decided (before Alex) that perhaps celibacy was the better route. Or at least no dating. haha!

After the volcanoes, we returned to the house and in theory we were to spend the evening with Alex's mom and boyfriend at the bf's house, having dinner with them and returning before Jared's bedtime. That, however, did not happen. They still fixed the food and planned on coming over to fetch us, but they just couldn't get their act together quickly enough. You can't call us at 9p and say, we'll come get you to eat now...then 30 min later we arrive...when I told them I wanted Jared in bed no later than 10p. At home, his bedtime is 830p or 9p on weekends, but on vacation I move it up to 10p since nobody has to wake up early to do anything. If I have him go to bed later than that, we all get to pay for it. His mom, although a lot of fun, is one of the most irresponsible mothers I have ever met. Her lifestyle and patterns are in direct contrast to my folks' lifestyle and patterns. It makes it very hard for me to adjust. Sorta reminds me of one time when Alex and I were in Florida, and I told him, well I said to mom and dad that we'd be there by 6p and we'll be there at 610p, that's not good. He was amazed. Why, he asked? That's on time? Of course not! I replied. Anything over five min from the projected time is late to my parents. They'll be agitated. He couldn't understand because when HIS mom says 2p, it really means 4p. He just learned not to worry about it. I, on the other hand, am the daughter of a predominantly German man. My maiden name was Mueller. Germans are PUNCTUAL. Germans have a PLAN. Germans follow order and have their ducks in a row and get it all straight in a timely fashion. Sure enough, when we arrived at 610p, my parents had to mention that we were late and were we ok? It stunned Alex, but now he knows why I am, on the whole, fairly punctual and reliable that way. (side note: my hispanic blood from my mom's side of the family is what saves me from being anal retentive...in case you were wondering why I'm not completely uptight and orderly like I just described my father in particular...haha!)

Let me give another example of my parents vs. Alex's mom. Alex's mom has a cat, Moon. Alex's mom is often at her boyfriend's house, so the kids here feed Moon. Well, when she came over Friday night, Alex and I told her that Moon just got her last bit of food. "It'll last to morning," I told her, "but you need to get her more food first thing in the morning. " We went to the volcanoes first thing in the morning. We came back...no cat food. We thought, well, when they come over, they will bring cat food. Nope. Moon ended up eating some very expensive ham for dinner because all the shops were closed and there was no way to buy actual cat food for her at that point. Sigh. My cat Chian is 13 years old, and I've had three other cats in my life, and I will tell you this fact: not once have they ever run out of food. The cats are MY RESPONSIBILITY and if I can't take care of them, I need to find new homes for them. Moon got cat food at 230p on Sunday. She had more expensive ham for breakfast. Poor thing! We've run out of soap, matches (essential for starting up their gas stove), etc. frequently throughout the week. I was always taught to plan ahead, and so it's a rare day I run out of jack all. Sure, I might decide I want something particular to eat and I'll have to run to the store to get a few ingredients, but I don't ever run out of paper towels, soap, shampoo, shavers, toilet paper, laundry detergent, milk for the kids, cat food, or any other non perishable item I can stockpile. Of course, that state of mind might have been really reinforced when I lived in the woods with the ex. Nothing like knowing you have to drive 30 min to get whatever it is you are missing to make you keep careful inventory and not run out of particular items!

Yesterday was mother's day in the US, but not in France. Rob (the ex) never remembered mother's day. The last year before I left, he got me a box of godivas and that was it. He said, well, you're not MY mother....I asked him then if it didn't count that I bore his children for him, and if he didn't value me as a mother. It never occured to him and didn't sink in until the last year I was there. My kids have been, of course, too young to do much about it. Ari makes things for me for Mother's Day (she did last year when she was six), and Jared is just now getting old enough to care. I always have helped them do things for Rob for Father's Day because I just like traditions, holidays, customs. Anyway, Alex remembered that in the US it was mother's day and he bought a boquet of flowers. He then came into the house yesterday morning and handed them to Jared to give to me for Mother's Day. Jared was THRILLED to have something that nice to bring to his mommy! It was so cute! haha!

And then I ate a lot of chocolate pastisseries. Of course!

And later on, I called my mom up to wish her a happy mother's day. She was touched that I managed to remember to do so even though I'm on vacation and abroad.

The rest of the day we were at Alex's mom's bf's cottage. We went to a tiny, sleepy little French village and we ate midday meal in a very, very old cottage that looked like indoor plumbing was only recently added. Alex told me he really wanted me to have this experience, and I am glad he felt that way. The roads were tiny, the cottages were older than America, the sun was shining...we ate bread and saucisson and crackers and drank wine in a little garden...we walked through the village and went down to the river, where they apparently were holding a dog show. We ignored the dog show, and my son kept picking flowers for myself and for Alex's mom (see? Alex trained him well! haha!) while we chatted and enjoyed the beautiful weather. All in all, it was the sort of experience you can't have when you go to France unless you know French people, and I suppose that's what made it so special! A lot of folks wouldn't give a rip over some tiny event like this one, but towards the end of it I thought, damn, I bet Angie would appreciate it! Not only does Angie appreciate France a LOT, but I've already learned about her that she knows exactly how to relish the little things in life, so she'd have loved this little rural experience as much as I did! It just was one of those pleasant moments where nothing earth-shattering happens, but you still just had the most terrific time.

The French love the good life, but they aren't money oriented like Americans. It's hard to describe the difference because sometimes a person's vision of the good life is wrapped up in having things. That's not it. The French love time to spend with family, time to eat good food, and time to enjoy life. THAT is more important to them than a five bedroom house and three cars, and THAT defines "the good life." It's a slower pace here, but now I'm beginning to understand why Alex's mom left England for France long ago. It wasn't to really be with Alex's jackass father...it was to get to be French.

Ok, the love of my life is back from the school now, so I'm taking off to enjoy the day! Hope you all are having a great one too!

Friday, May 06, 2005

More Reasons Why I Love Alex

Yeah, I know, you guys are sick of hearing about how great Alex is. Sorry! haha! Last night he took me, Jared, and his siblings out for Indian food. It was EXCELLENT Indian food--some of the best I've ever had, actually. I'd eat there again any day of the week. There was a man selling roses there, wandering about the table, and Alex waved him off when he came near us. Apparently, he hates the idea of me watching him pay for the rose or expect it because not too long after that, he excused himself from the table. I thought he was getting the waitress to fetch more water for us, but he went to get the rose! His siblings were NOT surprised, as apparently this action was typical Alex to them.

Alex is, apparently, what his best friend's mom described as "old school French." She told me that the old ways were dying out, but that Alex and his best friend Julien were two of the finest examples of the old ways...flowers, chocolates, opening of doors, dedication, romance, etc. Hmmm I really just have to wait to see if Julien will break up with his girlfriend or vice versa...he's damn tall, very good looking, and is a total sweetheart like Alex....perfect for Amanda....hmmm....

Anyway, Alex apparently liked how pleased I was to receive the rose, so this morning when he went out to get us all kebabs for lunch, he fetched me another one. He also decided I needed a special dessert, so he purchased a millefeuille at a pastissere. Here, lookie: http://www.uark.edu/depts/flaninfo/clelia/millefeuille.jpg

He also knows women need chocolate, so he just bought about 35 euros worth of chocolate cakes, chocolate tarts, and little chocolate pasteries for me on the way back for the grocery. Egads! Help! Somebody send me bigger clothes! I'm running out of room! LOL I asked him why he did it, and he just grinned at me and said, "The look on your face was perfect! That's why!" I can't believe how wonderful this man is. You're looking at a man who turned down having female roommates at USC without even asking me if I minded because he just thought it would make me feel uncomfortable! He wasn't trying to get brownie points for it or he'd have told me way before I accidentally found out. In fact, when I found out, I told him, shoot baby, have a female roommate. I trust you totally. I don't think I've ever been able to say that in any relationship I have ever had. Wow. But I can, and I mean it.

Today Alex took us to a natural science museum here in Clermont-Ferrand. Jared really enjoyed looking at the displays of animals and plants and rocks that were native for the area...well, and so did we! It was an interesting little place. I wish I could read French like Angie can, but at least Alex translated for me. Interestingly, I found that sometimes I could get the general idea of the paragraphs because of latin root words. OH GOD...please don't tell me mom was right and that learning latin was the key to learning all romance languages...

Afterwards, we went to a little cafe to have sodas and enjoy the gorgeous, sunny day and the fresh air. I've always liked people watching, so I find the whole idea of sitting outside at a table and drinking to be fantastic fun. Ok, ok, ok, so I'm easily amused....haha!

I could live here. I really could. Not forever, but for a few years, I could pack up my kids and stay. I keep panicking that I won't do all I want to do before I leave, but I guess I'll just have to return again (and next time, with Ariana! Oh, and Angie and Amanda too! Angie can give us all French lessons beforehand, right? haha!). Sure, there are some things here I have problems adjusting to, but I'm adaptable. And I'm just facinated by so much...it takes so little for me to NOT be bored. Good thing since it appears that I still don't have a summer class schedule...sigh. Mmmm tuna and ramen noodles....mmmmm

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Today's Cultural Exchange

It's 730p and we have not had supper yet. My stomach is growling so we are about to go out to eat, but hey, this is FRANCE...folks here don't have supper typically until after 8p. We're about to leave, though. It's six hours ahead of EST here, so I am guessing a lot of you just finished up lunch recently. They eat lunch (midi) when we do, but they usually have a snack (gouter) late afternoon to tide 'em over until supper. I'm afraid to say "dinner" because dinner to a Southerner can be lunch, yet to a Northerner it's supper...haha! Sorry, just pondering a lot of Southernisms right now due to Angie's blog entry.

We wandered around the town today and went through the Cathedral here in Clermont-Ferrand. It's all black. In fact, the oldest buildings in town are all black because they were made out of volcanic rock, which is black. Coolness! We're going to see one of the extinct volcanoes later on in the week. Should be interesting! The cathedral was magnificent. It had the typical arches and majestic qualities of a cathedral, plus the stained glass, but it also had a certain uniqueness due to being all in black.

The house itself here is very French in set up. Newer houses have the toilet WITH the bath/shower, but the older ones have them separate. In fact, in this two story townhouse apartment, the bath is downstairs....and the toilet is upstairs. I'm a spoiled American and I find it a pain in the ass to wake up in the middle of the night downstairs (where the bedrooms are), and then realize I have to fumble my way upstairs to take a pee. I've had two children; asking me to make it all night long without taking a pee is asking way too much!

All the appliances are tiny compared to ours. The washer is small. The stoves are all space saver sized. His family doesn't even own a dryer or a dishwasher. Oh god I am too spoiled, yes indeed I am! There's no icemaker of course, and the refrigerator and freezer are really small compared to our average sized ones too. The washer themseves have a unique rhythm to their washing and they have different settings than ours. I am sure I don't have to explain that their settings for things are in C rather than F for temperature, either. I've had to use a conversion chart to figure out how to use the stove...haha!

So, last night I made empanadas for them. Mexican food is JUST NOW starting to hit over in France, and most French people have no idea what it is. I decided to do empanadas because they won't be able to find them here...OEP doesn't have an empanada kit! They LOVED them, but since there was no garlic press in the house and I had to mince the garlic like a professional chef, I smell like garlic. Good thing Alex likes garlic! His mother's kitchen is not well equipped because she doesn't like to cook. This is a shock for me because I love to cook and can't believe what basic utensils her kitchen is lacking. She had FOUR spices besides salt and pepper in her cabinet...woof! Anyway, it was fun introducing them to some Mexican food.

I'll give more info later...if I get my ass off the computer now, I've been told we can go eat. They are accomodating the poor American gal who thinks that supper is supposed to be earlier. It's 20 to 8, so that's early for them...seeya!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Playground of the World

So, yesterday Alex and I took Jared to a park. The idea of a children's park here in Clermont-Ferrand is very different than the playgrounds I take Jared to in Pickens County. MY GOD the place was gorgeous! Tons of flowers; a pond with ducks, swans, and a cute little bridge; several different playground areas; a waterfall with rocks and a tiny retaining pool that was also beautiful, and so on. None of the little children spoke a word of English. In fact, one of the little girls a couple of years older than Jared thought that if she told him "I don't speak English" in French, Jared would pick up on it and suddenly communicate in French...LOL. However, the whole situation as I watched it touched me.

You see, my son had no way of communicating with them really. And they had no way of communicating with him with words, either. I thought that'd label him as the foreigner and they'd then ignore him. But...that's not what happened! All the little kids--every last one of them--included him in their play. One of the little boys who had to be right around Jared's age even seemed to communicate with him despite the fact that they both spoke different languages. They were chasing pigeons together, and the French boy said in French, they are too fast for us! They've all gone away! And then Jared responded, nah, there are more in the trees (in English, of course). It made me wonder if he were already picking up on the language. Gah, I SO wish I could keep him here in a little summerschool for the summer and have him learn French! He's at that perfect age to learn.

Anyway, I talked with Alex about it later on. It just touched me how the kids don't CARE about the differences. I told Alex that if adults were more like young children (not older children--by then they learn how to be mean from the adults!) , the world would be a lovely place.

I'm getting used to this wine with every meal deal. Hmmm. Here, that's normal. At home, that's an alcoholic.

One of the cultural differences here that I adjusted to immediately is the "kiss and grope all you want in public" ideal. In the South, unless you want little old ladies to glare at you or bonk you with their canes, you just don't grope and deep kiss in public. Kiss on the cheek, sure. Light quick kiss on the lips, sure. Hugs, fine. Holding hands, yeah. But not a big ol' wet, long, languid kiss for a few minutes! I had always told Alex, you KNOW I'm not a prude, but I just can't stand the way that folks stare at you if you do PDA here (public display of affection), and so I just can't do it. Even though I, personally, don't see a damn thing wrong with people kissing as much as they want, I hate making scads of other people uncomfortable, so that's that. Well, here, everybody kisses! We ate at a creperie today (YUM YUM YUM), and couples all around us were kissing deeply. One couple had the guy stand up, bend over the table, grab the girl by the shirt and just yam his tongue down her throat for a few minutes. Nobody even BLINKED, let alone glared or said anything. It was commonplace and normal. Stunned, I told Alex, well then....kiss me! He said, I'd be kissing you if I were sure about how Jared would react! I said, well, hum, Jared, do you mind if Alex and I kiss? He shrugged. Nope, go ahead was his actual reply. So, I kissed him. It was a lovely, romantic, sexy kiss and nobody looked. Nobody blinked, and nobody cared. Jared himself was too happy to have a 7up to care, either. Wow!

(Side note on creperie: the main course was a crepe with creme fraiche, scallops, leeks, cheese, and a few other delicious things...and the dessert crepe was caramel, dark chocolate, and a pile of whipped cream....I'm already fatter. YAY! Additional side note: in France, if you say the entree, it does not mean the main course like it does in America. Here, the entree is more like an appetizer).

People keep offering me their cars to drive if I want. That's incredibly sweet, but a) the French drive like maniacs and I'm scared and b) all the cars are manual/stick shift, and I'm not comfortable driving stick shift. In Europe, cars do not often have automatic....or hell, even air conditioning. Instead, it looks like Alex's friend Tuan will cart us about a bit. He had offered to take us to this scenic lake not too far out of the city tomorrow, but we'll have to see about the weather.

I love touring about the city. It has such an "old" feel to it....narrow back alleys, stone buildings with wear and tear upon them, tiny individual shops and very few chains.... I love the French way of eating outside during the nice weather. That's what we did at the creperie: ate outside. You see the hustle and bustle of the city, plus feel the fresh air and enjoy the activity. Clermont-Ferrand was also the site of an old Roman settlement. Apparently, when the construction crews were working on the city a while back, they uncovered pieces of the old settlement. No matter where you walk in the city, you can see the occasional stand with windows that will display a few of the artifacts they have found, plus an explanation of what they are. How cool is that? Shopping, good food, AND history lessons wherever you walk!

I am doing exactly as I promised before I left (and hence, that's why I'm already bursting out of my clothes). I am eating tons of cheese and chocolate. I have had so many good cheeses....mmmmm. The fromage course comes between the main course and the dessert course. At a house or a restaurant, the hostess or server comes out with a platter full of delicious cheeses, and you just slice off what you want onto a plate and eat it! With a nice hunk of French bread, preferably. Note about French bread: buy a baguette a day. Eat all of it, then buy a new one. They turn to rock within 24 hrs. I've been able to eat some baguette for breakfast that was bought later in the previous day, but if you go much later than that, you get a bat. A metal bat.

There's nothing to grade, and I don't have to worry about my bills until I come back. Ahhhh god it's great to relax!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Jet Lag

Today is all about jet lag, so I believe we will be doing nothing exciting on this Monday.

France is about six hours ahead of EST. It gets confusing when you fly over here because you start out with the airlines treating you like it's American time, and then by the time you arrive it's treated as French time. For us, we flew an hour to the Memphis airport, then almost immediately went on to the flight to Amsterdam. The flight to Amsterdam is a little under 9 hours. The plane left at 720p, and hence it arrived at around 4a our time. We were fed dinner around 9p (which was 10p my home time since Memphis is an hour earlier than SC), and then I convinced an exhausted Jared to pass out. I guess he finally did by 10p Memphis time, and then he woke up at like 230a. The airlines served us breakfast at that point because (here's where it gets confusing), we were now in Europe time so it really was like 830a. My stomach pled for mercy. "What are you doing??? You are supposed to be asleep! Why are you feeding me?"

To add to the general fun, my son decided to pee all over himself while he was sleeping. My son was potty trained about two years ago, but until about four months ago he occasionally couldn't stay dry for the night. For those of you out there who are not parents, it's normal for a four year old boy to still have episodes at night wherein he can't hold it. Boys are later with the "dry at night" thing. About four months ago was when he turned four, and hence I was thrilled that he seemed to have it under control a little earlier than I thought he would (in contrast, Ari was dry at night at two years, nine months). However, in a desperate desire to not have to change wet sheets, I've been slapping a diaper on him every night for the last four months...and every time he's dry. I kept thinking, this last bag of diapers should be the last one. He won't wet himself anymore.

Apparently he won't at HOME at least. Sigh. So here's the other issue: I had a spare pair of underwear and a spare tshirt and a jacket for Jared in the carryon bag, but no pants. I THOUGHT I had stuck in some pants, but unfortunately I was WRONG! WAAAHHHH. I get to pull off my son's clothes, put him in a tshirt and underwear, tie the jacket around his waist, and sigh...nothing to be done until we get the bags. Meanwhile, I had several people in several different languages apparently display horror at the poor American child who had an idiot parent who dressed him in underwear and a tshirt to fly.

Hey, folks, I just wanted to introduce Southern American Culture to ya! Little kids Jared's age run around in their underwear without a tshirt, so the tshirt was high class! younger kids are grubby in their diapers, happy, running around giggling all the time. Just consider it a cultural exchange! Next time, I'll try with "What We Mean When We Say Tea." haha!

The wait in the Amsterdam airport was too long. Jared and I both almost lost it...tired, cranky, nothing to do, etc. I converted some dollars over into Euros but not too many (I'm better off going to a bank here for the best exchange rates and lower conversion fees). I wanted to get a few Euros in my pocket, however, because I felt insecure about not having cash on me in foreign places "just in case." Not that Alex will let me pay for anything now that I'm here! haha!

I stared at a few gift shops in the airport. I saw dozens of carved wooden shoes that they sell as tourist items, as well as very pretty carved wooden tulips which are then painted. Ok, I can get the carved tulips. I know WHERE the wooden shoes come from--traditional style of dutch dress that is never done any more--but I imagine them being one of the most useless tourist items a person could buy. "Oh, daaaahling, I decided to decorate my entire house in Wooden Shoe circa 19th c.!" Nope, can't see it. It's one of those items you bring back for a friend and the friend says, wow, thanks for thinking of me! Then the wooden shoes sit on a shelf for years and years until the friend's grandchildren find them, giggle over them, and try to wear them.

What I hated about their airport: not child friendly. By that I mean: all the toilets were down a set of stairs!!!! What the hell do the handicap folks do? I saw a "lift" (IE, elevator) that was labled handicap only that would carry the passengers to the toilet. It specifically stated through signs that there should be NOTHING on that lift but a wheelchair. No baggage carts, etc. I guess that means if you don't want your bags stolen or taken, you have to cart them down with you to the bathroom. Down the stairs. Along with your stroller. And your child.

Fook that shite. We took the elevator, with me glaring at folks periodically as if to say, "Just TRY and tell me and my pant-less son that we can't cart our stroller down this lift! Go ahead! Make my day!"

When we readied up to go on the last leg of the journey--the plane to Paris--we were exhausted. ALL the staff had loaded up on the plane and it was apparent that they were ready to take on passengers. However, the staff preferred to talk and chat amongst themselves and pretend that the ever growing line didn't exist. They took their time and ignored impatient passengers who were asking why the hell we weren't getting on yet. In fact, it made us a little late before we were able to take off. For the record, this incident is what is known in France as "good customer service," so I'm not suprised it was Air France that we were using at that point. The second we got on the plane we both passed out cold. We missed drinks and snacks, but heck, my body had no clue what timezone we were in, what meal we should be eating, nor what we should be doing. Hence, it was ok to miss the food!

I was SO relieved to see Alex when we arrived. I don't think I mentioned this part: Alex and I had to travel separately. SUCKED. He had gotten his ticket last December, and he could change the return date but NOT the routing. So he had to fly through Detriot and then Detroit to Paris no matter what day he picked. I, on the other hand, was relying on some cheap certificates which limited what days and times I could take. If I didn't use them, I couldn't afford our plane tickets. It added on $450 to match Alex's plane flight. No thanks. He got to the airport earlier for us, went to visit a friend who then drove out to the airport so she could take us and our luggage to the train station, and then we were off.

Let me tell you about customs. Customs were in Amsterdam. They consisted of, lemme see your passport. Oh look, you and your son have them. Have a great day. There were no customs in Paris because we were coming from another EU country. WOW. I can look forward to about an hour to an hour and a half of hell upon our return journey to America.

Jared LOVED the train! He was so excited that he was about to burst. The little guy was functioning on soooo little sleep. He had been yanked on three planes, a car ride through Paris, and then placed on a three and a half hour train ride, and boy did he take like a trooper (PS--we put pants on him when we got the bags in Paris...haha!). He collapsed about 45 min outside of Clermont-Ferrand, had a crying and wailing fit that lasted five min, then passed out cold on my lap for the remainder of the journey. I was so proud of my baby boy...he really handled it all so well for a four year old! Oh, I should add that Alex stopped in a pastissere and picked us up "snacks" for the train, so that helped too. Please excuse my lack of ability to spell out French here. I'm pleased enough if I can pronounce it! He bought for us two chocolate tarts....oh god yes....and some shoo-crets. That's the pronunciation guide because I have no idea how to spell it. They are smallish sweet sugary bread things, not like doughnuts because they are light and airy, but they are very tasty! Oh, and upon arrival at his house, we had canard pate! Yum, yum. I try not to think about the ducks because damn, that stuff is GOOD. I love duck, and it's hard to get duck to cook with in SC. If I lived with my sister in Ft Worth, TX, I could go to her central market store and purchase duck whenever I wanted...but not here. I can, at best, get a pre frozen duck piece in the frozen food section of some groceries here.

The weather is gorgeous! Warm, nice breeze, not too hot....lovely! Perfect, really, since most homes and apartments here still don't have air conditioning and this region can get as hot as the South in the dead of summer. Remind me not to come here in July...haha!

Today is all about adjusting to jet lag. Jared didn't wake up until 1230p, which makes sense to me because at home he always wakes up around 630a. That's six hours on the money. He has a very reliable biological clock. We'll probably go out and go to a grocery store later on to get food for the house/Jared, but that's about it. We're tired, jet lagged, and need a day of rest. I can't wait to see more of the beautiful country! Ang, next time you come here, we need to take you all over France and the gorgeous countryside. Paris is terrific and there's a TON of things to do there, but there's just so much beauty all over the country that you NEED to see it! Hear me? NEED. LOL!

Ok, back to the family now....hmmm I wonder if there is any more baguette and pate left from last night....mmmm :D