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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!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Don't Try This At Home

I just thought it was time for a public service announcement.

If you are engaged in hot and heavy sexual activity with your loved one, no matter HOW damned intoxicated you are from alcoholic intake, do NOT shout out, "I CHOOSE YOU PIKACHU!" at the moment of climax. It will likely make your sig other laugh, but then unable to continue. See what I go through to save you from pain?


I just spent an hour discussing corporate ethics with my eight year old daughter. We watched a video called The Meatrix earlier, and this was part of a larger discussion about capitalism and business decisions vs. morality and ethics. I couldn't BELIEVE how much my daughter followed and how she participated avidly in the discussion. Yes, she's briliant, but wow! Why did she even WANT to enthusiastically go over this topic for so long? She loves to think. She loves to analyze. She loves to ask questions like why, what if, and how come. Sure, it's annoying sometimes when I just wish she'd take what I'm saying and run with it. However, on the other hand, I couldn't be prouder for how she's turning out. My daughter is not afraid to question authority. That alone is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I Hate Moving

I really hate moving. It makes me on edge until everything is in the new place and ready to go. I keep hoping that the next time I move from my apartment (I've been there for three years), I will be able to hire movers. However, regardless of my feelings about moving, Alex has to leave his current apartment and go into a new one THIS WEEK. See, he was living in this one apartment thanks to his internship for the last year...it was part of the job. He was thrilled by it: icemaker, dishwasher, washer AND dryer, and two bedrooms. Well, there's just no way we can swing something that luxurious this time around. He needs another place to live for this following year as he finishes up his schooling at USC, and then he will move in with us. Maybe one day we'll even get a house, but hey, that's far in the future right now.

So, the housing hunt started, and it was difficult to find a place that didn't look like a slum that was also a) in his price range and b) near the school. He has a bike but no car, so being within walking distance of the school was important. We *think* we finally nailed down a place, and we should be able to get the key tomorrow. Then we have to have everything moved in by Friday at 1p because at that time, we leave to take kids back to their father...and then head down to Atlanta to hang with some bloggers.

The move is stressful because I also have several other stressors brewing at the back of my head. Yes, we're planning on doing a civil ceremony within the next month or so and doing the full blown party later on in France. So, we've had to research rings and divert funds to pay for said rings. I'm still doing research on the marrying of a foreigner part too. Alex's lame ass French school still hasn't paid his tuition bill at USC, although they promise it will be done soon. This means he can't use the USC facilities nor officially find out on blackboard his homework assignments because he's been "kicked out" by the graduate school. The business school is accomodating him because they know his school will eventually pay the bill (or we hope so!!!), but they can't do anything about the graduate school's official policies when fees have not been paid by the set date. I'm stressed about this and want them to pay for it...but hey, it's the season for VACATION in France, so his school is shut down for two weeks. Woohoo! What else am I worried about? Oh yes, when I thought that Clemson U had pretty much turned me down, I received a surprise phone call and email that let me know I was still on the consideration list. Holy fuck. But no, they still haven't let me know one way or the other. So! I don't know if I have to prepare for another full year at Tech or prepare for all new classes at Clemson. I don't know if I'll have health ins. through Clemson or I'll have to wait until Alex and I marry to get it through USC's student health ins. policy. Well, after he's officially enrolled, that is. Oh, there are more stressors, but that sampling is enough to give you an idea of what's on my mind.

Alex's new place does not have a washer and dryer, so that sucks. It is one bedroom, and small, but it is nice enough for him to enjoy. It's close to the school, and all of us can fit when we're down visiting. We just need to get moved into that place and then I need to clean up this apartment before we're done with the move. Then that'll be one stress gone, I suppose.

You can tell that I'm off balance this week because I'm low on patience and snappish. Pitty my children. I hate myself when I'm like that, but other than copious alcohol intake, I don't have a clue on how to make myself be nice!


Overheard while I was in the bathroom...

The kids walked by the bathroom yesterday morning while I was in it. I heard Ariana say, "Well, it's what Alex calls mom all the time. It's THAT word." Five year old Jared's response: "Sexy? You mean it's sexy?" I laughed so hard that I couldn't find out what word Ari was actually looking for! Haha!


And on the "my god it's a miracle" front...guess what me, my ex, Alex, and the kids did this last Saturday? We all went swimming at a local lake for a few hours and had a great time! I shit you not. It went smoothly. The kids were SO happy to see their daddies getting along, too. My mom thinks it's wierd that the new trend in divorce is to have the new families be nice to each other and do things together. She told me that there's something wrong with that. Excuse me? My kids were relaxed and relieved to see us all getting along, joking, and having a good time. Were Alex and I a bit tense before going due to the whole "my ex husband is there" thing? Sure. But it went great, and we just might do it again because it obviously meant so much to Ariana in particular. Well, provided that my ex can cope with the marriage after it becomes official. That one may just take time.

I found out exactly how lazy I am these days, though. I did fourteen trips across an inlet about the size of the inlet on my lake that I grew up on. When I was a teen and swam a lot, that would have been NOTHING. NOTHING, do you hear me? This time, the day afterwards, it was paralysis. Every muscle cursed my name and called me bitch. I wish I lived on the lake though. I swear I'd swim every day with the kids over the summer, and I'd be fit! Swimming isn't exercise to me; swimming is fun. That's the only way to get me to exercise...call it fun and have me believe it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Grandparents I Never Knew

My mom's parents both died within a year of each other, right after she married and then gave birth to my sister (yes, my sister was born nine months and two weeks after the honeymoon...and yes, relatives were counting the days suspiciously...haha!). None of us kids got to know them. My sister was held by my grandmother, and so was my brother Ken (Ken came exactly 9 months after Rose was weaned at 6 months. Yes, I told you guys I came from a Catholic family!). However, when my brother Ken was around 10 months old, my grandmother died too. Then a year later my great-grandmother--who had lived with my mom in their house for her whole unmarried life--also died. It was a rough three years for my mom.

My dad's parents were wonderful to us children, so in my youth I only pondered once in a while what my mom's parents must have been like. I mean, I HAD a great set of grandparents, so it was ok that I lacked the other set, right? But as I grew older, I began to wonder. My mom rarely brought up her family life, so I had to pry whenever I had the chance. The portrait I eventually could sketch from her details facinated me. I feel cheated for having never known them. It feels wierd to find out small scraps about them each year, doled out like sweets after dinner to small children, never knowing if I know all I could know or not. What I do know, though, makes me wonder why I struggle so much with foreign languages when apparently it was in my blood to be at ease with them!

My mom's dad came from Hungary, a disputed area that once was part of Romania. He was a non-practicing Jew, and his arrival over in the US was sudden and unexpected due to an altercation with a Jew-hating professor at his medical school pre WWII. Now THAT story is a blog entry on its own! I will give you the short version: he had to leave the next day. Or else. He grabbed a cousin and they fled together, arriving here with little more than the shirts on their backs. A smooth talking man, he actually persuaded a medical school to let him in with NO academic records. He couldn't obtain them since the altercation with the professor led to his accidental death (told ya that one was a blog entry on its own!), and so the school would never let him have the records. He was a wanted man. I can't imagine what that was like for my grandfather, but in the end since every last one of his close relatives in Hungary were sent off and gassed during the war, I suppose he thought it was fortunate in the end that he was forced to come here and start over.

My grandfather apparently spoke five languages fluently: English, Hungarian, French, Italian, and Spanish. He also spoke three others passingly well. This skill alone was helpful as he was a surgeon in Chicago, a city with a diverse enough population that his language skills were essential. Apparently, I inherited the ability to talk somebody into something they don't want to do...and the mercurial temper...from my grandfather. He was very good natured until you pissed him off. Then he was scary. Yes, my personality definitely has its roots in that man!

My grandmother was Mexican. She came from a wealthy family who was about to lose it all due to the Mexican revolution. My mom says they had an indoor pool, and that was in the 1910's. They were told silly tales about America like how the streets were paved with gold and there were gems along the street they could pick up. So, they gave away all their fine china and other items to the servants and fled. Upon arrival, my great-grandfather greeted my great-grandmother and grandmother at the trainstation in rags. The additional shock? They arrived in Texas and were greeted to the sight of bathrooms labeled, "Whites" and "Colored and Mexicans". Texas was not friendly to them, so they ended up in Chicago...where she met my grandfather eventually. My grandmother was a nurse; my grandfather was a surgeon. It's obvious how they met then, eh?

Now, for many years I knew that my mom and her brother spoke Spanish before they spoke English because Spanish was the language of their household. My great-grandmother ONLY spoke Spanish and she lived with my grandparents, so they predominantly spoke Spanish there. My mom quickly picked up English too, and no one would ever hear an accent on her. Apparently, my grandmother was a bit quirky...so I know where I got that from too! My grandfather hunted, and he hung up a nice buck's head with many pointed antlers on the wall. Grandma apparently thought it would look better with Christmas lights strung on it, and she refused to take them down. She just...lit it up all year round. Whenever my grandfather and my grandmother got into a fight, my grandfather would bring my grandmother watercress. Apparently, she LOVED fresh watercress. That makes me laugh: the image of a sheepish, jet black haired Hungarian man coming in with a bunch of watercress in his hand instead of the traditional flowers. It made my grandmother laugh, and then all was usually better.

These details are what flesh out my background, but just a few weeks ago I learned something else that made me pause and wonder, what ELSE don't I know? My grandmother spoke fluent French and was a Francophile. My mom was teasing me that it must be through my grandma that I decided to fall in love with a Frenchman, and I had no idea what she was talking about. Hell, my grandma used to belong to some special French society in Chicago and frequently entertained the French ambassador! Wow!

That made me have a crazy image too...my grandparents fighting in three different languages, and that necessitating an even larger bunch of watercress to fix it all...

I wish I had known them. All I have left are these stories. I am lucky enough to have my other grandparents--they loved me endlessly--but I am greedy. To know my mom's parents would have been wonderful. But I guess I'll just keep badgering my mom for more information instead..that's the only way to see them...

Monday, July 17, 2006


So, we're sitting in a restaurant the other week with Alex and his work folks. They threw him a good bye party because he's now in school at USC and no longer at his internship any more. We got to talking about French and how Alex has tried to show the kids a few words and phrases in French. So, my son feels that it is now time to contribute to the conversation. He tells us that he remembers two words in French! Oh really? I ask. Which two do you remember!

"Eau and merde!" he says proudly.

I laughed my ass off. My five-year-old is fully capable of asking for water or screaming out SHIT! in French. What more did I ever want out of life?


My dad is from Kentucky, Louisville to be precise. His uncle was a bookie when my dad was a teen. The uncle constantly was trying to convince my dad he should be a jockey because of his height (or lack thereof). At 5'6", he probably was indeed the right size to be one. I suppose that's why he sent me this joke...


A group of Kentucky second, third, and fourth graders, accompanied
by two female teachers, went on a field trip to Churchill Downs, the
famous Louisville race track, to see and learn about thoroughbred

When it was time to take the children to the bathroom, it was
decided that the girls would go with one teacher and the boys would
go with the other. The teacher assigned to the boys was waiting
outside the men's room when one of the boys came out and told her
that none of them could reach the urinal. Having no choice, she went
inside, helped the boys with their pants, and began hoisting the boys
up, one by one, holding onto their "wee-wees" to direct the flow away
from their clothes.

As she lifted one, she couldn't help but notice that he was
unusually well endowed. Trying not to show that she was staring, the
teacher said, "You must be in the fourth grade."

HE REPLIED: "No, ma'am, I'm riding Silver Arrow in the 7th race


And the last language issue today...male vs. female communication.

Remember how I told you that my son is so precise with his language? He is a creature of logic on so many issues, even when you throw his heart into the matter. My daughter, however, has a different approach. My children actually had a fight in the car today because of just these differences.

See, my daughter started saying how I was the best mom in the world. Then she expanded it to state that I was the best mom in the universe. My son denied that this idea had merit. My daughter started screaming at him that he couldn't love me so much if he could say such a thing. That, of course, upset my son. See, my son is the ultimate momma's boy. If you ask him who his favorite person is, he says, MOMMY! If you ask him who his second favorite person is, he'll say, "There's no one but MOMMY!" (sometimes he'll respond "Kate!"--Alex's sister--and then grin at Ariana like the devil knowing that answer would piss her off. She's ok with being second to me, but she's not going to be third on her brother's list!). My son often tells me he wants to be with me for the rest of his life and that nobody is more important to him than me. That if he had just one person in the world near him, it would be ME. I don't feel a lack of love there. I feel rather secure, in fact. So, I felt that Mr. Science Brain had a much more logical reason for why he couldn't say that I was the best mommy in the universe. Suddenly, as Ariana is sobbing, he explains:

"Well, she's the best mom in our family for sure, and I don't know of a better mommy, but I don't know all the mommies in the universe. Chances are good that some mommy somewhere might be greater even if piles are not as good."

See? Logic.

Ariana rejected that idea. "NO! You can't love her if you say that. If you don't KNOW of any other mommy better than her, she's the best mommy in the universe!"

I just tried to drive the damn car and stay out of it. But there you go...difference in approaches. The end result was that they were both upset, too. Jared was upset that Ariana accused him of not loving his mother. Ariana was upset that he wouldn't just say that I was the best mommy anywhere, thinking--truly--that it meant that her brother didn't love me "enough." I tried to tell them both that I knew they both loved me and I was ok with how they expressed it, but they ignored me. Woohoo! And they aren't even teens yet! But the good news is...if they learn from each other...when they reach dating age, at least they'll understand how the opposite sex typically communicates.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Figuring Out What To Do

So, I don't even want to detail the daily ways Alex's French school is trying to wriggle out of paying his tuition bill at USC. It's giving me more stomach pains. Alex keeps soothing me and reassuring me that it'll all work out, so I just have to trust him and try to calm down. Still, it's upsetting. It's like we can't rest for a second and think it's all finally taken care of and just move on!

We had originally planned on having a wedding in France in June of 2007. Now it turns out that he's going to be in school until August of 2007, and then I have to start up teaching for the fall term (I assume), so that won't work. Neither of us want to wait until December of 2007 for the final vows, yet if we were to do them in France, it seems that's the soonest date. What to do?

So, other issues on the table: it appears I will go another year without health insurance...however, if we marry now, we can get insurance for me through the student health insurance. Damn do I need it. Also: then he can get a green card and work for his former boss while he's also in school. Double bonus. Bigger tax refund next March too...triple bonus. My mom will finally let us sleep in the same bed when we're visiting. Quadruple bonus! So, should we marry now and do a nice ceremony with friends and family later on? It seems the practical thing to do...just not the romantic thing to do.

So, maybe we should get the legal part done now for practical reasons, then do the ceremony in Dec. of 2007 in France. Ug, my head!

Regardless, I think that this weekend we'll go ahead and get sized for wedding rings and purchase them. Might as well. We'll need them no matter WHEN we get married, right?

My stomach just knotted up again. You know, there's no man more perfect for me than Alex, but after seeing marriage #1 explode (and thinking that one would last forever), I'm just nervous as SHIT about getting married again. Please tell me that makes sense. I mean, even knowing Alex is so fantastic, please tell me you at least understand why I'm jittery about getting married again. He has no worries. The sooner, the better...that's one happy man...haha! But me? Oh man. I know it will work or I'd not do it. But then again, that's how I felt last time. Ok, but last time, my family and friends could point out a few things of note about my ex. This time, I have asked all of them to point out to me what's wrong, and nobody can point out anything. So, I need to just relax. THIS was the man I was meant to be with. And it will be fine.

So, who wants to go to France in December of 2007 for a party, eh? :) (Grant: I know, I know, you won't go anywhere that Americans are hated like Iraq, France, or Hollywood...you already told me! haha!)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Precision in Language

Ok, I had to post because otherwise, Tim would have interrupted things here by calling in the police...Alex is fine, back from France with gifts, and has completed his first week of classes at the International MBA program here. My left wrist has been injured. There's something about the left side of my body that gets injured more easily during certain...uh, activities. I don't know what the hell is up with that. But, anyway, it's been a nice couple of days.

Yesterday, my son did something that he's done all his life since he could speak, but regardless, it still cracks me up. He is very, very precise with his language. You must be careful with how you word things or he'll either fuss or not do what you had in mind. It's not amazing to me that he's like that...it's amazing to me that he's been like that since he was three. The first incident that I can remember offhand was when he had just turned three and was busy lining up his trains, one after the other. My mom walked over and admired his construct, telling him it was one heck of a big train. My son then looked up at my mom, blinked, and replied, "It's not a BIG train...it's a LONG train." Well, uh, yeah, I guess that's the more accurate word. He also gets that way with footwear. Heaven forbid you call his sandals shoes, or his boots shoes. Or flip-flops anything other than flip-flops. Sheesh! If there's a specific word for it, we MUST use it, eh?

Yesterday's incident amused me as well. Alex had accidentally punched the wrong button on a coke machine and received a diet cherry coke instead. He brought it home to me since he knew I like cherry coke (but I don't like the diet one...brrr!). He also has a 12 pack of coca colas in the refrigerator, labeled as such. So, we are sitting down talking, and Alex asks Jared if he'd fetch a coke. Jared, happy to help, bounds off and returns with the diet cherry coke. Alex looks perplexed. "I said I wanted a coke?" he asked, at that point uncertain as for what he had said. Jared nodded. "This one says coke. The others are coca colas. You didn't say you wanted a coca cola...you said COKE." I just laughed. I couldn't help it. He's making me, English instructor, be more mindful of my words. Haha!

Ok, and on another note wherein you probably don't care, but it meant a lot to me front: I went to the gourmet shop here across from Alex's apartment with Ariana in tow. She is very curious about a lot of wine stuff, so we were walking around and looking at their expensive wine and discussing various things. I ran across a very specific Chateauneauf du pape from a stellar producer that had been reduced half off, leaving it at $27 and at that price, honestly, a great bargain. So why was the price so cheap? I looked at the bottle and my mind instantly said, southern Rhone wine, 2002, VERY crap vintage...not worth even $27. It surprised me I remembered vintages of the Rhone offhand, but then I remembered I had looked them up to give Alex suggestions on years for the Cotie Rotie I wanted when he was in France. So, I walked up to the wine guy and asked him why the wine was reduced. I asked him if it had to do with the bad vintage year for the Rhone. He said he didn't know but he thought it was due to needing more shelf space. Then he went to ask his boss, came back, started to say something about needing more room for the superior 2003 vintage...saw the look in my eyes, and then sighed. And laughed. "Oh who am I kidding? You're right. It's an awful vintage, and we're depending on ignorant people to buy it because of the name of the producer. But, since that is not you, since you actually know wine, I'll just go ahead and put it back." I was pleased that my hobby is coming together in my brain so much. However, I was even more pleased to see the pride on my daughter's face. Come on...what mom doesn't want her children to think she's smart and great and all? I grinned for the rest of the day.

Ok, dinner time! We just got back from seeing Pirates of the Carribean 2. I liked it, but darn do I hate cliffhanger type movies. Bah!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth of July, Folks!

Hope you're all having a good day! If you're really lucky, you're spending it with family, too (unless you are Grant...he is excused from ever wanting any member of his family around him at any time). The best celebrations involve food, too, and lots of it! I always think that's the best way to show love: food. Oh yeah! That's how I know Amanda loves me, for instance. Any person who places half a cheesecake in front of me for breakfast, dumps strawberries on it, and expects me to eat it all MUST love me...haha! That's also how I know Grant loves me. Well, ok, so it's more of a "feck off with love" thing since it's Grant we're talking about. Still! He ordered food with me in mind and then let me have some of his meal. Ahhhh! I wish I could do a picnic with the kids today, but they are with their father. So, I have good wine and good cheese for myself today to savor while I read, write, and clean.

Alex has arrived back in America, safe and sound. He just called me from the NYC airport. He has a layover and then will be back this evening to SC. I'm so happy to have him back. Just having him around negates so much anxiety for me. It's hard to explain, but it is true. I know he's a real partner in this relationship, so that any problem that crops up he'll take at least half of it to solve for us on his own. So, bad things can happen and they just aren't so bad. It used to be that I was responsible for all the worry and all the problem solving. I can't tell you how great it is to NOT be the sole adult in the house anymore.

Ok, last night I was introduced to a term I have never heard of before in my life: Gayborhood. I could NOT stop laughing. I can see the point of labeling it as such. At least if you're gay, you'll know that folks there won't be making your life a living hell. Still! All I could think about at that point was Mr. Rogers...

It's a beautiful day in this Gayborhood
A beautiful day for a Gaybor
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

Oh, man, that's so fantastic. Do they have people with good gaydar at the entrance to this exclusive and gated community to determine if you had it in you to be an exemplary Gaybor? I love it! This is great. My own neighborhood seems so bland and lifeless now.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Messed Up

I apparently have comments on the previous post, but I can't access any of them for some reason. Well, except Cookie's comment...that's the only one that displays for me. I don't know WHAT happened. Oh well. Blogger's free. You get what you pay for! (EDIT: after putting up this post, the comments opened back up normally on the other post. Strange....)

Alex is still in France, and he will be returning on Tuesday. I spoke to him on the phone last night, and I couldn't stop laughing because Alex has become an American. The first thing he did was complain that his feet hurt from walking so much. That's EXACTLY how I felt when I went over to France the first time. We had no car, but that was pretty much the status quo. There was a bus one could take and a train. Clermont-Ferrand, although by no means a small place, was not quite big enough for a subway system. Still, nearly everything was in walking distance anyway (or biking distance), so it wasn't so bad. The main problem was that I, American Girl, was used to sitting on my ass. My main bit of walking was from a chair inside my apartment to the seat in the car. Alex ended up massaging my calf muscles on my legs a lot because after all that walking, they just cramped up in protest constantly. Alex bikes to and from work here in America, but work is pretty close. He then sometimes walks to the grocery store...which is right next door to his apartment building. So, he's lost his walking capacity.

In France, most residences don't have air conditioning. In the summertime, this is a miserable situation. It gets as hot in Clermont-Ferrand as it does in the South here in America. Sure, a lot of the commercial buildings have air conditioning, but you can't sleep there. And sleeping in a pool of sweat isn't fun, especially after your body has gotten used to climate control within your domicile. So, Alex made a few comments about the heat, sweat, chafing, and wanting his air conditioning back.

The last complaint he had caught me by surprise. He has gotten used to dumping ice in all of his drinks, especially in the hot summer months. Sure, he still wants his hot tea (and has a couple every day), but he really loves to have his coca colas loaded up with ice in a glass. So, he was lamenting the lack of an icemaker in the freezer at his place in France.

I know that the English and the French both don't use ice really, nor does most of Europe. When I visit friends in England, they usually buy a little bag of ice for me to keep in the freezer so I'm happy. When I visit France, I use an ice tray and keep some in Alex's freezer. I have found that I like ice in my drinks all year around as I'm just used to having them that way. I wonder if the Aussies do ice or don't do ice? Hmmmm. Hopefully Jezzy, Fatty, or any of the other Aussies who stop by can answer that one for me because I'm curious.

I AM relieved that he has brought up things he missed in America besides me and the kids. It makes me feel less guilty that he is giving up his country for me. It's funny to me because the last time I came back from France, I was lamenting myself the lack of good cheese, some of the French wines I had grown to love over there, and the lack of a good baguette. In fact, my daughter--who has heard me bitch about how Americans can't make a good baguette--asks me when we're at the grocery store, "Momma, are we going to get a fake baguette today?" Haha! I am very aware of the faults that France has, but like America...it has so much good in it, so much that makes it unique and special to me, that I love the country. I am now finding out that Alex feels that way about America too. I still wish we could live over there for a few years so that the children could experience Europe and learn French. But it makes me happy to think that Alex really DOES see what we have to offer here (like the school he attends over here, which he loves) and likes it.

I can't wait until he comes back home. I miss him. Plus, I can't wait to get the load of goodies he'll bring me :) I asked for a decent Cote Rotie. I told him to get a 2003 or a 1999...the 2003 is likely cheaper, but we'd just have to sit on it a few years before it was at a good drinking stage. 1999 could probably be consumed now, but is likely a bit pricy. I can't find too many Cote Rotie over here (Northern Rhone wine, for those of you who wondered). I also want to try a Tavel Rose, which I can't find in SC for some reason. That's the main rose of the Rhone region. I'm getting chocolate too! And a few of these little jarred sauces I love. Woohoo! Yes, I can't go to France with him this time, so he's bringing back France to me. That works!