Today Nan and Julie arrived, bearing tons of books, stickers, and other
gifts. They took a little longer than we expected to make it from the
airport, and Max was waiting by the door for them to arrive in eager
anticipation. Jul and Nan had lots of interesting questions for us right
off the bat, such as what we miss about LA and what we will miss about
Paris, and whether we feel French now having lived here for a year (not at
all). Max and Gemma haven't told them about the Tower of Terror yet but
the conversation quickly turned to Max's journal and who Gemma's favorite
Disney princesses are. Max's journal is hilarious by the way. It starts on
page 1, then page 2, then page 0, and then goes to -1, -2, ..., up to -10
where it says the end and has a picture of a face crying. Most ofthe
entries are one word, like "scul" or "brkfst" (school and breakfast), but
some are two worders, like "ckac nap". He has a picture going along with
each day. I took them to the park across the street today and Gemma is
pretty good with the frisbee now but Max doesn't get how to do it at all.
Sat, 05/28/16. Futur conditionel.
Jean's French teacher was explaining the future and conditional, and
remarked how similar they sound in French, and said it makes sense because
to French people the future is uncertain and unclear.
It makes sense. Today we had some tentative plans to do something with
Auri but instead have been stuck at home because it was
raining and thundering most of the day, so the kids
were making up all kinds of games,
like pretending they're on a train or on a roller coaster.
Today we finally figured out how to do laundry here: you have to take it
to a laundromat to dry stuff. For the past 10 months we have been trying
to use our dryer in our place on various settings, and trying to dry stuff
on clotheslines around the apartment in various ways, and nothing really
works well. Today I just took stuff down the street to the laundromat
where they have really heavy duty driers and it was surprisingly cheap,
fast and easy. I'm on my 5th load today as I type. For some reason the
washers are really expensive so we've been washing at home and bringing it
to the laundromat to dry.
Fri, 05/27/16. Fete de Mere.
Today the kids made these awesome paintings for Mother's Day and brought
them home from school. I finished the 2nd edition of my book today and
wrote the publisher who's been on my case about it. Meanwhile, Jean had
coffee with Jackie and then went on an ordeal trying to get the right
vaccines for her upcoming Africa trip. Today I wrote Tania, who we haven't
talked to in a long time, and updated her on Max and Gemma, and I tried to
summarize what they're into these days. I said
Max is into money, tennis, law enforcement, fruit, music, art,
scooters, and foreign languages,
and Gemma likes princesses, ponies, art, scooters, science, medicine,
pets, and hugs.
They both are very interested in tv above
all these other things, unfortunately.
Thu, 05/26/16. Opera cancelled.
We had the kids stay home from school today so we could take them to this
atelier at the Bastille Opera, and we were running late and hurrying to
the Bastille Opera, and by the time we got there nobody was there, so we
went to the ticket counter and they told us it was cancelled because of a
strike. The kids were actually happy about it. So, we went on a nice
leisurely walk to a park, and in the St. Paul church with the very cool
trompe d'oiel, and to the bread festival by the Notre Dame before going
Wed, 05/25/16. The grand gentil.
When I picked up Max from school today, he went to put his chair in and
Madame Laurent looked at me and said "Ah Max, le grand gentil."
Max and Gems have been singing French songs they learn in the school
Chorale, like this one.
Today I made up the following
Haiku entitled "McDonald's".
You are good for only one thing.
Our toilet's clogged.
It's been clogged since last night but tonight I was able to find a
plunger at Monoprix and fixed it. Today was a very full day. After eating
lunch at home with the kids, followed by a homemade banana split since
today was treat day, but without any chocolate sauce in an effort to limit
the sugar a little bit,
we went to the Musee Marmottan with them so
they could see all the Monet paintings before we go to Giverny next week.
They were only mildly amused but liked the park across the street. We then
went to the dentist recommended by Nazanine, and although we had to wait
there a while, the dentist was great and extracted Gemma's tooth which was
ready to come out but kind of jammed in between two teeth. Gemma was a
trooper. As we were waiting, they started working on this little 2 year
old girl in the next chair over, and she was screaming and then vomiting,
so it was very hard to keep Gemma calm. But in the end Gemma hardly
complained at all, and when they took the tooth out it had a big hole in
the back of the tooth,
so it could have gotten infected if we hadn't taken care of
it. Gemma had been complaining about the tooth for weeks and we were
hoping it would just wiggle out but never did, and I tried calling a bunch
of dentists but they all said their next appointment was in mid June,
until Jean called one and broke through on her first try. Actually they
told her the next appointment was in June too, but she didn't take no for
an answer and told them Gemma was in pain, and they made an exception for
her. I guess I should have been doing the same the whole time. By the way
the last couple pictures are drawings by Max and Gemma of Gemma's tooth.
Tue, 05/24/16. Clara and dance.
Today after school Clara came over, and then we all went to dance class.
We got there a little late and got the teacher's wrath a little bit
as we hurried to dress them in their bumblebee outfits. However, they must
be doing pretty well because after class I heard the teacher complaining
kind of angrily to Amelie's dad about how Amelie is messing up dance moves
and slowing down the class. I think the fact that their teachers are not
complaining about Max and Gemma means they are actually doing really well.
Jean went to get her yellow fever vaccine at 520 and the place that does it,
which says on its website no appointment required and that it's open from
9-6, was actually open from 9-6 but of course the vaccination part was
only open til 430. So she will have to go back there tomorrow or Thu. Gemma
has been expressing great interest in time travel lately. At first she
wanted to go back in time so she could not see Spirited Away which scared
her, and then decided she wanted instead to go into the future and see
what her kids will look like.
Mon, 05/23/16. Rainout.
It was pouring rain all morning, and we had to get the kids from school at
430pm, so we decided not to go to Roland Garros even though we had
tickets. I read online that you get refunded if there are less than 2
hours of play, but around 1 or 2pm it started clearing up and play
resumed for a few hours. It was sort of amazing by American standards, but
not at all surprising by French standards, how little information there was
about what would happen in case of rain. I looked for a long time online,
and called in and just got a recording saying nothing.
Instead we had a relaxing day and I got some work done on my book.
After the fiasco getting into Roland Garros last week, I wasn't about to
waste another day there.
In general, I feel like now that we are leaving soon, I think I am
allowing myself to feel more negatively about Paris. I'm pretty ready to
go back to LA and have some semblance of customer service occasionally.
Gemma's friend Auri has been crying and crying every morning at school
when she gets dropped off by her parents, for the last month or two, and I
suspect that it's because she knows she is going back to Finland soon, and
like me, she's letting herself feel how frustrated she is with school
here. I wonder if Max and Gemma will do the same. I feel like in general,
people aren't really very good at realizing how happy they are, or at
knowing whether or not they're happy, and we can really influence our
outlook and steer it in different directions. There was a study many years
ago showing that 1/3 of patients experiencing real postoperative pain said they
experienced significant, prompt pain relief after being given a placebo
pill with just sugar and water. Different people attribute that placebo
effect to all kinds of things, but I think it's obviously just that we're
not very good at telling how much pain we're in, and we can be steered
easily to evaluate it differently. If we can't even tell whether or not
we're in pain, it makes sense that we can't tell whether we are happy
either, or whether we like a certain city or environment or whatever. We
just choose to like it, or not to like it, or at least that's how I am,
and I've been choosing to like Paris for the last 10 months but now I'm
allowing myself to get tired of it. It can be a frustrating place
sometimes, especially on days like today, when we were hoping and planning on a
fun day and it all got rained on. At least we didn't go down there and
wait out in the rain as I'm sure thousands of others did. Instead we saw a
good documentary on sugar called "Sugar Coated", which really paints a
close analogy between sugar and tobacco, and it really is crazy how out of
control the food industry is when it comes to sugar. In that way France is
about the same as LA I think, as sugar is everywhere here and really hard