Happy Easter! Today when we woke up, the Easter Chicken, as it's known in
France, had come and left chocolate eggs all over the apartment.
It also left Jenga for Gems and a toy cash register for Max. After having
breakfast consisting of Jean's croissants, we went to the Louvre and saw the
highlights and also some lesser known greats, such as the two art works
above. Gems wanted me to tell her the biblical stories behind a lot of the
paintings, and she pointed to the painting shown at top, called Saint Francis
of Assisi, and asked "Who's that wizard?" She also called the pottery in
the second photo a "facepot". After the Louvre, lunch at Cosi, and a
brief rest at home, we went to a concert at the Sainte Chapelle, featuring
pretty much a greatest hits of classical music: Bach, Mozart, Haydn, etc.
It was very cool seeing and hearing it in the Sainte Chapelle with all the
stained glass around, though Jean and I thought musically there wasn't much
difference between the concert and the performance we saw the student violinists
giving just in the little hallway outside the Louvre.
All in all a fun, action packed day and at this rate Millie and Serena
will have taken over Paris by the end of the week.
Today Jean went to a cooking class at the Cordon Bleu and came back with a
huge stack of croissants, pains au chocolat and other delicious things
she'd made. At night
Millie and Serena arrived and seem pleasantly surprised by the
vastness of our huge, spacious apartment. Our place is small, but Millie said she
thought they'd have to sleep under the dining table. She brought a whole
pharmacy worth of vitamins and medications for us. I went out to dinner
with them at Fish La Boissonerie, and though I didn't want to order since
I'd already eaten dinner, the restaurant said I had to, so I did and it
was delicious as usual. Millie was talking about how different all her
daughters are and how if they ran into a bear, Serena would run away,
Savanna would freeze and then slowly back off, and Samantha would attack
the bear. The Canadians next to us overheard, started talking to us
and went on and on about bears in Vancouver and their many bear
Fri, 03/25/16. Sebastian.
Today in the morning I met Rafael, Gemma's friend Angelina's Dad, at a
coffeehouse and he opened up to me about all kinds of things, esp the
separation he and his wife are going through since Oct. We talked a lot about the
differences between France and the U.S. too. He didn't think our
bureaucracy problems are the result of terrorism as he said they've been
going on for years and years. He thinks they are all about people wanting
to feel powerful by saying non. He liked Jean's joke about how the people
working in the police department seemed to be making copies of all our
documents and then throwing them away, and her joke was that the machine
they were taking all our documents to was actually a copier/shredder.
Anyway, Rafael seems to be doing better now.
Later we did a much needed cleaning of our apartment. After school I took
the kids to the park across the street and there's this little apparatus
that is supposed to be a helicopter but the body of it looks like a fish
so Max and Gems call it a fishmobile. Then Gemma looked at the inside
and saw that if you look at it from a certain angle, it looks like a
kangaroo. Anyway, today Gemma said Max wouldn't play with her at school,
and when we asked them about it, Max said he just wanted to sit on the
bench with the kids who were being punished. We can't figure out why he'd
want to do that, and he won't tell us. Tonight Sebastian is coming over
for a sleepover, or more accurately just a partial sleepover from 7pm to
midnight. The kids are really excited about it. At lunch today in their
school the kids had spaghetti with seafood. When we told them last night,
they asked what seafood was, and Jean said it means food from the sea, and
Max said "So, fish? Seaweed? Bathing suits?" So we were joking today that
they had spaghetti with bathing suits. Tonight at basketball I missed my
first 3 shots and then made 6 of the next 7, including three straight
Thu, 03/24/16. Banane et Cannelle.
Today was my treat day to give Max and Gems dessert so I took them to get
crepes after school but mandated they get em without nutella, because I
want them to try some of the others instead of getting nutella every time.
Max chose lemon, and Gemma chose banana and cinnamon, which she invented.
It's not on the menu, but she loved it. She saw Ella Temple get one with
cinnamon when she was here in November and remembered it. In line for
crepes we saw Sebastian and his mom Jackie getting crepes too and went
with them to Cluny park. Jackie has a friend visiting tomorrow so we're
going to babysit Sebastian tomorrow night while Jackie and her friend go
out. Max and Gemma are very excited about it and were arguing about who
gets to sleep next to Sebastian. Saturday Millie and Serena are visiting
for a week, so it's an exciting week coming up.
Jean and I were remembering how we used to guess what Max and Gemma's
personalities would be like when they were babies and wondering if it's
the same as how we'd describe them now.
Jean says Gems is rational, social, and feminine, and
I say she is analytical, girly, obsessed with fairness, and flexible.
Jean says Max is creative, introverted, big, and funny.
I say he is crazy, wild, funny, bossy, and empathetic.
On Oct 24, 2011 I said
"If I had to choose 5 words
to describe Gemma and 5 for Max, I would choose needy, loving,
shrill, social, and smart for Gemma, and happy, peaceful, physical,
sweet, and musical for Max."
Wed, 03/23/16. Tickets.
You wouldn't think buying tickets to something would be a full day event,
but it is if you're in France. Today after dropping the kids off at
school, I logged in to the Roland Garros website. Tickets were supposed to
go on sale today at 10am. I logged in at 9:58am and it said tickets are
unavailable. I logged in around 10:05am and it said I was number 2,231 in
line. Please be patient. So I waited and waited, and at 11:35am I finally
got in, but the site was incredibly slow and said I first need to set up
an account, so I did, and then afterwards I clicked on "purchase tickets"
and it just sat there and did nothing for 40 min. So I decided to call in,
though on the phone they said the only way to buy tickets is through the
website. But I persisted and the woman was actually very helpful. At first
she said I should just be patient, and there's nothing she can do, it's
just that so many people are using the site, etc. My normal inclination
would usually be to just get mad and give up, but I decided to be like the
French are about everything and just keep going. So I just kept asking her
what I can do to make it work, and what the website is supposed to look
like after it starts working, etc. Finally she asked if I had entered my
login details after setting up my account, and I said no, and she told me
to click on this little square in the upper left corner of the site with
nothing but 3 horizontal lines on it. I have no idea how anyone is
supposed to know to click there. After doing so, a menu appeared asking me
to login and everything worked smoothly. It was stressful though because
there was a clock in the corner and at one point I only had 2 min left to
finalize the purchase and hadn't paid yet, and had kids yelling and
playing and no idea how long it would take to pay, but it worked. So, all
in all it only took 3 hours, one phone call, and a lot of stress to buy
the tickets. Then it was time to try to change the Opera tickets we'd
bought last night but for the wrong day, for two months from now. On the tickets it said no refunds
or exchanges, but we thought maybe since we had just bought them and were
so far in advance of the event they might make an exception for us. So I
called in, and got a little flustered trying to speak French to the man
and explain what had happened, and he broke out in excellent English and
said I could speak English if I'd prefer. So I made a rookie mistake and
spoke English. This is always a bad move. Somehow what is possible or even
to be expected in French becomes completely impossible here in English.
It's happened so many times and today was another example. I waited a bit
and called back, got a woman this time, and she also offered to speak
English but I stayed with French, and sure enough she gave me an email
address she said I should write to with a pdf copy of the tickets and ask
for the transaction to be cancelled. I've never felt so French in my life.
In the afternoon Jean took the kids and went to her American Moms in Paris
friend Amy's house so they could have a playdate with her 5 yr old
son Alex and her 3 yr old son Hugo, leaving me to relax and bask in my ticket buying glory.
They said later that Max and Gems ate all their snacks and pains au
chocolat, while Alex and Hugo didn't eat anything, and Jean apologized for
them eating everything but Amy said she thought it was great for her kids
to finally see some other kids eating. How could they not even eat pain au
Tue, 03/22/16. Lecture scheduled.
One of my goals for this year was to give a seminar here in French. I'm
not sure how I'm gonna do it, but it's been scheduled now, on June 13.
Marc Hoffmann set it up and invited me today to give the seminar when I
met with him at Dauphine. I accidentally took the wrong RER there to meet
realizing that RER C splits and mine split the wrong way, so I got to
walk around Paris a little bit and passed by the Statue de la Liberte,
which I'd never seen before, at least not the Parisian one. The area there
is interesting in a Venice, California kind of way. I saw 3 fourteen year
old boys selling drugs to a fourteen year old girl. Anyway my meeting went
well and I think Marc and I are almost ready to write a paper together. Jean meanwhile
went on a walking tour of the 11th with her American women in Paris group
and said it was great. A highlight was a great trompe d'oeil shown in the
top photo above. The 2nd and 3rd photos are of a fancy restaurant here
designed by Gustav Eiffel. The 4th photo is a passage where supposedly the
Muskateers practiced shooting archery. The fifth photo is mine from near
the Statue de Liberte. The last 2 photos are Max's fancy
cursive. After school, Maxie was tired so Jean stayed home
with him while I took Gemma to ballet class. On the way back, Gems
and Auri were hiding behind polls and popping out and scaring Eva and me.
Gems accidentally stepped on Ari's drawing from school and Auri got mad.
Gems apologized, and then Auri forgave her and they held hands. When we
were leaving them, Gems and Auri gave each other a hug for like 30 seconds
and then kissed each other too. Auri and Iiris both asked where Max was,
in French. I think they missed his post ballet antics in the changing room
where they run around and push each other in the chairs pretending they
Mon, 03/21/16. Trousse.
Today while the kids were in school, Jean had her French class and then
her French language exchange. We realized today that the French have 4 or
5 words for "take" and only one for "give". Maybe this says something
about the culture here. I went to several different stores looking for the
"trousses" Max and Gems needed for their classes. A trousse is like a
pencilbag, and I went to all these markets and stationary stores and none
had it until finally I got em. I've been watching tons of poker on my
computer because the publisher wants me to update the examples in my book
for the 2nd edition. So far, despite the players staring at each other for
minutes on end, I don't see much evidence of them ever being able to read
each other very well. Mostly they're just doing their own thing.