for the Paris journal from 2016.
for the week of 09/20/15.
Sun, 9/13/15. Zadig.
Today we went to Zadig's house for brunch, and Jean was still coughing so
I just went with Max and Gems. Zadig is really nice as are his parents,
Aurelie and Tabue. They also have a 6 month old boy named Swann. Their
place is really cute and kinda feels like a treehouse in a way, and Max
and Zadig had a blast playing with swords and shields with each other. We
spoke about 60 percent French and 40 percent English, and it worked out
great, and I think everyone understood each other though I had trouble
getting words out of my mouth a lot of the time. Afterwards we went to
Monge Parc where kids were playing soccer and Max and Gemma were very
scared to play with them but were interested, and I coerced them into
trying and said they just had to make contact with the ball once, and
after about 30 min the ball came right to them and they were able to do
it, and were very happy about it.
Sat, 9/12/15. Ouliana.
It was rainy all day today, so we went to the Pompidou Library for video
games and macpaint, which Max and Gems call "Mrs. Paint". At night we got
invited to Ouliana's house for apertifs but Jean's cough was too bad to go, so I went
with Max and Gemma. Ouliana is really sweet and the kids did puzzles and
watched cartoons while I talked with Arina and Olivier, who are also
extremely nice. Ouliana is originally Russian and Olivier is French but
born in the U.S., and the two met in Sweden so they are really
international and fluent in a million different languages. It was fun
getting invited over to someone's apartment for the very first time, and
we all had a great time.
Fri, 9/11/15. Donne moi le rock.
Phew, I got beat up in my basketball league today. I'd heard the players
were better on Fridays but didn't realize they'd be that good. Those were
some tough games. They play zone defense here, which is totally different
than what they do in the U.S., so I have no idea what I'm
doing and the language barrier doesn't make it easier. They always put me
on the "exterieur" but there are typically 4 offensive players out there
and only 2 defenders so I always feel like I'm guarding 2 or 3 guys and my
team is always yelling things at me and I have no idea what they want or
expect me to do. Anyway it was fun and exhausting. Jean was sick today so
I took Max and Gemma to the Pompidou after school today, and we had fun
there. Max's best friend in his class is Timeo, who's a nice kid but we'd
never met Timeo's parents because his teacher won't let any parents enter
the class, but today after dropoff I met Timeo's Dad kind of randomly, and
he seems like a nice guy. A bunch of us Dads were there today and were all
talking about how annoying it is that the teacher doesn't let us in. Some
of them have been at the school for years and they would like to know who
is in their kid's class and they just have no idea. Anyway, the food is
good so Max and Gemma are happy, and Gemma's class is a social happy hour
every morning so both Max and Gemma are making friends there, esp Auri
Zadig, Ouliana and Angelina. All 4 are nice kids and their parents are
extremely nice as well.
Thu, 9/10/15. Renters.
The big news is it seems we finally got renters for our house in LA.
Establishing residency is becoming a bit of a saga.
By French law, according to
EU citizens can live in France for up to a year, and
spouses and children of EU citizens can be here as well for up to a year
but need to apply for a residency permit in their first 90 days by visiting
the local police prefecture and supplying the necessary documents.
Children of EU citizens who wish to work in France also need to apply for
Yesterday the woman at our local police prefecture told us we first had to head
to some other place, so Jean and I metro'd
there, only to realize this
was totally the wrong place since it was for student visas.
So we ate
lunch, a delicious lunch at a place in the 1st called
Ellsworth, a sister restaurant of a place Ellen recommended called Verjus
which is only open for dinner,
and then walked back to our police station for more
ridiculousness. At the check in, the woman asked what we wanted, and when
I explained it, she said "impossible", referring to Jean's chances of
obtaining legal residence for our year here.
Her interpretation of the law is so interesting to me.
She was contending that, because EU citizens' spouses and children who want to work in
France must apply for residency, it therefore follows that if they do NOT
intend to work here, then they cannot apply for residency.
In other words, the law says if you want to work, you need this document.
is that since Jean does not want to work, she therefore ... has no right to exist.
Can you imagine a world where that was the law, and that was the way they
chose to express it?
It is endlessly fascinating to me that she could have had that conviction,
and have been so sure of herself about it. It is such a weird, hilarious,
line of legal reasoning.
Actually, the website above explicitly states that adult family members of
must apply for residency whether they intend to work here or not. But
whatever. I know it won't surprise anyone that France is crazily
bureaucratic, but this one surprised me.
When I started arguing with her that
we were at her same office yesterday
and were told otherwise, one of her coworkers overheard and
and she was the one I'd talked to yesterday. So then we got in to see
someone else, and the craziness continued yet again. The next woman we
talked to told us we need to go somewhere else tomorrow, in the
17th arrondissement, and they will make an appointment to speak to her.
And she told me what papers I need. I said "I have all those papers now.
Do I still need to go there just to make an appointment to speak to you?"
And she said yes. This was all in French, by the way, so there goes my
speculation that things go smoothly when I speak French. Then again, maybe
in English it would've been even worse. Anyway, I have no doubt it will
all work out, and after school we played at the Notre Dame park
with Auri and her Mom and sister. Gemma and Auri held hands on the way
back. Today we were invited to Auri's birthday
party as well as to Zadig's house for brunch this weekend and Ouliana's
house for aperitifs. So we are starting to have a social calendar. We
still can't find really good afterschool activities for Max and Gemma.
Jean joked that their summer camps here are probably called "Camp
Doucement" where counselors just yell at the kids over and over "Doucement!"
Wed, 9/9/15. Anniversaire.
Today was Jean and my 16th anniversary. We celebrated by going with the
kids to Georges, a swanky restaurant on the top of the Pompidou we heard
was kid friendly but it was definitely ritsy and adults only. It had glass
everywhere, roses on the tables and waiters in tuxedos
(for lunch!). But whatev,
the kids did great and the view was amazing. The food was good too.
Then we took the kids to a different dance class to try it out, and then went
back to the Pompidou library where Max and Gemma played video games and
macpaint. At night I played for the first time in my basketball league,
and it was really fun. The level was perfect for me. I met a bunch of nice
people including a very nice American guy named Jeff, who helped me get in
and thanks to his perfect French, kept me in the loop of what was going
on. Jean and I also went to the police station today but it was a wild
fois gras chase, as they sent us to this other place where we have to fill
out something and then come back to the police station again.
Tue, 9/8/15. Dance.
Today was my turn to take it easy and recover from the cold everyone else
had already got.
Jean took Max and Gemma to their first dance class after school, and they
both really liked it.
Gemma had another existentialist quote today, something like "This is the
strangest life I've ever lived." I pulled a Carol Steele, listening to
tennis radio since our tv cable still isn't installed. It was surprisingly
Tomorrow Jean and I are going to the prefecture de police to register,
which is our last major step toward getting our feet on the ground here.
Mon, 9/7/15. L'hotel Californie.
Today Gemma was getting over a little cold, so I took Max to school while
Gemma stayed home, and we thought we'd take Max out early, like 130pm,
just to make sure he took it easy too, but the school Directrice said
"Non." We either had to take him out all day, or let him stay for the whole 8 hour
day, so I left him there, poor guy. He seems to be making a friend there
named Timeo. After school we made it up to him by giving him a crepe au
nutella and letting him watch videos.
In the morning I went to the electric company to give them our Banque
Paribas info and to change the names on the account from Frederic and
Barbara to Frederic and Jean, and it went well. Gemma's feeling a lot
better now. I love the corner of Blvd. Saint Germain and Rue Monge, just a
couple blocks East of us. It seems everything is there: a great fish shop,
a delicious cheese shop, a terrific boulangerie, a patisserie, and knick
knack shop, and lots of other stuff too. For some reason the fish shops
are all closed on Mondays though. Is it because the fishermen are all
praying on Sunday? Or maybe it's because the fish are all at church on Sunday?
for the week of 09/06/15.
Sun, 9/6/15. Bibliotheque Pompidou.
We had what Julie and Jennifer call a post-Disneyland hangover today,
sleeping in and feeling very tired. While Jean and Gems rested, Max and I
went to the Pompidou and discovered the awesome library there, with tons
of computers, books, and video games. Max and this Chinese boy played
Star Wars for a while, with Max having no idea what he was doing or which
character he was controlling, but that didn't stop him from trash talking
and saying "I got you baby" and stuff like that. Max does a good imitation
of the sounds
the street posts make when the lights change. I saw some graffiti that
said "If Greece were a bank, it would have been bailed out already."
That's pretty erudite and sophisticated for graffiti, don't you think?
Tonight our landlord made a huge improvement in our internet connection,
which is really nice for us.
Sat, 9/5/15. Regular French people of the Carribbean.
We went to Disneyland Paris
and got annual passes. I know, it's
ridiculous, being from LA and given all Paris has to offer. But we wanted
to reward Max and Gemma for doing so great in the first week of school,
and the annual
pass is worth it if you go more than twice, and we just know we will, and
also it's much cheaper, more manageable, probably less crowded, and easier
to get to here
than in the U.S., so we thought we'd go for it. Even though it was a
Saturday and was kind of crowded,
we had a great day, did lots of rides
including the Frozen singalong which ends next month, and had a great
time. A highlight was Pirates of the Carribbean which the kids loved and
we did it twice. The pirates were lazing around, drinking,
telling jokes, playing music, dancing, womanizing, and hanging out, so we
noted that they're basically just like regular French people.
Fri, 9/4/15. Lockdown.
Ok I gotta say there are a couple things here that make no sense to me.
See how French you are by taking this little quiz.
Question 1. Your school's paperwork says you need to bring in a "photo
d'identity de votre enfant." Which of the following is acceptable?
a. A photocopy of your child's passport page.
b. A photo of your child from a photomat, which by the way does not even
say your child's name on it anywhere.
Question 2. The school also says you need to bring proof of your
child's registration with the city. Which do you bring?
a. Your bill for registration and your receipt for paying the bill, both
of which show your children's names and your name.
b. A letter of attestation from the city, which says only your name and
not the names of the children.
In both cases I went with a, and was given my forms back and told to come back with b.
If you chose b, you belong here in France. Anyway, today we were on
lockdown as our landlord told us he needed to change our front door locks
at 10am, and it took him til almost 1pm. After school Max and Gems were in
great moods and it seems they are getting used to it. Max made a friend
but doesn't know his name. Gemma said her favorite part of school was when
the teacher read Cinderella, and her least favorite part was when they had
recess and Max wouldn't play with her because he was playing with his
friend. Meanwhile, Gemma is making friends in her class, including Auri
and her friend Angelina with whom we went to the Notre Dame
school. Eva asked what I thought of Paris and French people so far, and I
was very positive about both, and felt that they get a reputation for
being rude but really aren't. She moved here last year from Finland and
said she felt the same thing the first week or two, but then started
to get the feeling that people were cold and closed off. She said most
French people just drop their kids off, say "Bonne journee," and go on
their own way. I guess it's kind of like New York that way. She also said
that she gets annoyed at how people always yell "Doucement" at their kids,
girls, even on playgrounds, and she wishes they would let the kids be more
wild once in a while. We totally feel the same way, and I added how it can
be kind of annoying how quiet everyone is in the restaurants, and there
are never any kids, so we always feel like we are the only ones making any
noise. Angelina's Dad, Rafael, was at the parc too, and didn't hear us
talking about French people. I wonder what he would have thought, since he
is French but seems atypical, as he was pretending to be a vampire and
running after the kids, who loved it. Gemma kept trying to climb a tree to
get away from him. Jean is kicking butt in Jay's US Open rotisserie while
I am trying and probably failing to make it back into Serie A with my
almost all French player team.
Thu, 9/3/15. Banque Paribas.
Today while the kids were at school I signed up for a bank account. Jean
and I were deciding which bank to use and Jean thought Banque Paribas
because "they advertise at the French Open, so maybe they might be more
used to international customers." It turned out to be a great choice, as I went
in and got incredibly great service. The woman at the entry told me to
wait for a representative, and then after 5 min, a man and woman came over
and the man spoke to me in English. I responded in French, and then he
said "Oh, you speak French? If you'd like to speak English, you have to
wait til this afternoon to meet with me, but if you can speak French you
can start with her now." So I started with Madame Konte, who was extremely
helpful and started my account in one sitting. I thought it would take a
week. After that and getting the million sheets of paperwork ready for the
school, we had lunch and picked up M and G from school. They were
surprisingly in a good mood, though Max was really sad when we dropped him
off in the morning. Afterwards he said he loved it. On Thu they stay late,
til 430pm, and to reward them for being so good all day we took them for
crepes au nutella after school.
Wed, 9/2/15. Austria backfires.
While the kids were at school for day 2, I went to Electricite De France,
EDF, to try to get the electricity bill in my name. I need my name on a
utility bill for both the school and in order to get an account in a
French bank. I went with my Austrian passport and my Mom's Bank of Austria
details, as well as the details about our electricity meter which EDF
previously said I needed. The reason for the Astrian account was that the
previous representative had said I need an IBAN number of a bank, and
European banks have IBAN numbers but US banks do not. After waiting 40 min to meet with a
representative, I said I'd like the account to be under the names Frederic
and Barbara Schoenberg. The representative then took very little info from
me, but typed in, and I'm not exaggerating at all here, about 500
keystrokes and clicks on her computer. I was cracking up, as it took maybe
10 or 15 min of me just sitting there as she typed. After all this, she
said that it wouldn't work, as it must be a French bank, not Austrian.
I told her that the French banks need a utility bill, and she said "Yes,
it's a circle," but not to worry, as she started my account and gave me a
printout that she said would work for me when starting a French bank
account. So I have to do that and then go back to EDF to complete my EDF
account. The problem now is, I put the names Frederic and Barbara on the
account, so I should change it, and I'm not sure what the justification
should be. Jean joked that she is actually Jean Paik Schoenberg but goes
by "Barbara", while I maintained that I changed wives over the weekend.
Anyway, I guess we are getting closer to resolving this.
On Wed school gets out early, at 11:30am, and when we picked up M and G
they were in awful moods. Max snapped out of it but Gems was so whiny we
couldn't go into a restaurant with her so Jean ate with Max while I took
Gems home and ate gyros with her at a nearby stand. In the afternoon we
went to the park right across the street and met a woman named Eva there
with two daughters, Auri and Iris, and we recognized each other from the
school. Auri is in Gemma's class. The family is from Finland, and the mom
speaks 5 languages fluently, Finnish, English, French, Swedish, and
Italian. They seem very nice and live right up the street from us. Auri's
birthday is in 2 weeks and Eva said she's gonna take her to Disneyland but
Auri doesn't know it yet.
Tue, 9/1/15. Mme Gentil.
Today was Max and Gemma's first day of school. Jean and I had been joking
about how all French names seem to be one of like 10 first names followed
by a French 1 word, like our previous landlord Michele Petit. So it seemed
perfect when we saw Gemma's teacher was Mme Gentil. Max's is Mme Laurent.
They both seem really nice. Gemma said she only said one word today, her
name, and the rest of the time just kept her mouth shut. Max said he said
15 words, but when we asked what they were he said jibberish. Jean saw him
talking when we picked them up though. They were separate from each other
except at recess, when they threw a ball back and forth to each other, and
at lunch they saw each other but weren't allowed to sit next to each
other, which they seemed ok with. They both said lunch was good, with
chicken, carrot soup, rice, and cantaloupe. Gemma said Max was super
hungry and drank like 11 cups of water while waiting for his food. Both of
them said they liked school, though Max said he doesn't want to go back
tomorrow. Gemma said she made 3 friends already and she described what
color clothes they wore. She doesn't know their names yet and hasn't said
a word to them but clearly they are best friends. Max said he hasn't made
any friends, and his favorite part of school was when the teacher read
books in French to them, including one about a fox who tried but didn't
successfully eat some pigs, and his least favorite part was when the
teacher told them the rules. Gemma said there was no part she didn't like
and her favorite part was resting on the couch. Gemma said a teacher got
angry at her when her coat got stuck on a pole while she was going
downstairs, and another girl tripped on the stairs and a teacher got
really mad at her.
At night I read Harry Potter to them, and before turning the page Max
usually tries to guess how the sentence will end, but his guesses are
usually violent and ridiculous, and often are simply the word "dangerous"
or "danger". For instance, I might say "the book looked old and ..."
and he would say "dangerous". Once he cracked me up because we are only
like 1/3 of the way into the book, and I said "Harry smiled and ..." and
Max said "died."
Mon, 8/31/15. Pompidou, Pompidont.
I signed up the kids for school lunch, and then we went to the Pompidou
and signed up for a year pass. Jean thought she saw some "Real Baron
Randenakis" but I thought it was way too complimentary to the Baron.
Max looked at the outside of the pompidou and said,
"are you sure the building is finished and we can go in it?"
Gemma got a gourmet $12 hot dog for lunch and the first thing she did was
take a napkin and wipe off the mustard from the hot dog and bun.
In the afternoon I looked in 3 or 4 different stores for prepaid cell phones but they were
all sold out. Jean did yogo two doors down for the first time. Tomorrow is
the first day of school for Max and Gemma. We still have no phone, tv, and
very, very limited internet signal so these posts will probably be brief
for a while. It takes several minutes just to get our emails so uploading
photos and videos would be hard.
Sun, 8/30/15. Birthday.
Today is my 44th birthday, and it was a great one. We slept in, went to le
Jardin du Luxembourg where I played basketball while Jean took Max and
Gemma to the playground, and then came home and watched Spirit in our air
Sat, 8/29/15. Medicaments and Jardin d'Acclimation.
Today we went early to our old apartment to try to track down the woman
who runs the apartment and see if she would let us in to check on Jean's
allergy medicines, and it worked. As soon as we got to the apartment
saw her and sprinted up to her, and she let us in and the medicines were
still there. So we took em back home to our new apartment and felt very
relieved, because they are very expensive and it is impossible to get them
in France, we have heard. We then went with Elijah, Tony and Margaret to
le Jardin d'Acclimation in the Bois de Boulogne, and it was an amusement
park to our surprise, with tons of rides and fun things to do. We went on
roller coasters, boats, bumper cars, and all kinds of things.
It was scorching hot today but we had a great time. Tonight Tony and
Margaret babysat Max and Gemma while Jean and I had our first
time away from the kids since we've been in France. We went to a
souffle restaurant, La Cigale Recamier, which I think is my favorite
restaurant in the world. We both ordered the same things,
a mushroom souffle for dinner and a chocolate souffle for dessert. It was
scrumptious. They give you a little spoon-fork combo for the souffles, and
we called it a soufflork.
After dinner, we shopped around a little for something for
Margaret and Tony to thank them, and thought it would be funny to get
Margaret a Monoprix tshirt because she loves that market. However, they
didn't have one, and in Monoprix I suddenly had to go to the bathroom,
probably the worst I have ever had to go both ways at the same time. Of
course the bathroom in Monoprix was closed, and I even tried to sneak in
but it was barricaded and I snuck past the barricade but it was locked, so
I went outside and just in time found a hotel around the corner that was a
Fri, 8/28/15. Directeur.
Today we met the Directeur of the ecole maternelle, and he was really
nice. He spoke only in French and tried a little French on Max and Gemma
who did not understand at all, so we were a little worried he would deny
them or something, but he said it was ok. He said twins are separated in
school in France though, and he thinks it is good for their development
and their learning of French, so Max and Gemma will be in separate
classes, though they can play together at recess and have lunch together.
Lunch is 2 hours by the way, from 1130 to 130. A lot of the discussion was
about lunch actually, and I had to run to la mairie to set up an account
to pay for lunch, after our meeting. Another thing we learned at the
meeting was the new directrice, who will start Sep 7, has boy girl twins
of her own, who are 20 years old! After I signed up for lunches for the
kids, we raced off to meet Elijah, Margaret and Tony at a Korean
restaurant and were about 20 min late due to my wonderful sense of
direction, but they were ok with it and the lunch was delicious. Jean then
cleaned the old Bellechasse apartment and then I met with the proprietress
and gave her the keys, but only tonight did we realize we left some
important allergy medicine of Jean's in her fridge, so hopefully we will be able to
get it from her before she throws it out. The kids have been making up a lot of
knock knock jokes on our trip, inspired by the movie Home which we saw on
the plane here. So far the main one is
On. You're all wet.
Shh. I'm thinking.
Thu, 8/27/15. d'Orsay.
Today we went to the Musee d'Orsay with Elijah and Tony. It was great.
The kids had a lot of fun playing with the audio guides. Max said his
favorite part was "the channel selected is unavailable" or something like
that. Max said the last photo above was someone saying Help. I'm stuck in
a block of cheese! In the afternoon we cleaned our old apt, skyped with
Mima, the kids
napped, and I set up an appointment for tomorrow with our school. At night
we had another delicious meal with Elijah and Tony, at a delicious place
Ellen recommended on Rue de Bellechasse. We had tried to go there before
but it was closed all month. It was delicious, and not exactly kid
friendly but there was one other kid there, for I think the first time
ever in a restaurant in France, and it turned out to be an American family!
Wed, 8/26/15. Ecole and moving day.
Today I went back to la Mairie to try to beg them to let Max and Gemma
into school without an EDF bill, and they agreed! So, we are in school.
Elijah, Tony and Margaret came in to town last night, so while Margaret
worked we met Elijah and Tony for lunch, and then while the kids napped I
went to our new place on Rue St Jacques and got the keys, and in the
evening we moved in. Max had to say goodbye to his beloved elevator but
the new place seems to be going over well as they each have their own bed
now. Max says his favorite things about Paris are the elevator and putting
the ticket in the turnstile on the metro.
To celebrate moving in, Max had a nutella crepe at our old crepe place
from 11 years ago which is fortunately still here and still delicious, and
Gemma had a crepe au nutella et banane .
It feels great to move in and unpack. However, we won't have phone,
internet, or tv service for another 7 to 10 days. In the meantime we have
very limited internet signal from another apartment.
Tue, 8/25/15. Rodin.
Today we were gonna go to the musee d'Orsay but it was too long a line so
we went to the musee Rodin, which was not too crowded and very fun and
nice. It was our first art museum here really. The main building was under
construction but the whole outdoor grounds were available and we had a
great time. Max and Gemma were a little rowdy at times but in general were
very good and liked it. Max's favorite part seemed to be looking through
the binocular thingies they had outside. Gemma liked taking photos of
everything on Jean's camera, and sitting outside drawing. I had a step
backward in my efforts to get Max and Gemma in school, as I went to EDF
and tried to get some kind of bill or statement or contract and got
nowhere with them. After I first started saying what I wanted,
the woman I talked to said, "You can speak English if you'd like" and
she spoke perfect English so I did. But now I think it was a trap. I feel
like the word they are most comfortable saying in English is "no", but
somehow when I speak French, they are a lot more constructive.
They said I need a French bank with a IBAN number to
set up an account, so I looked into opening a French bank account and
online they all seem to require a utility bill, so it seems like we are in
a Catch 22. Jean and I had heard of this problem before. Maybe France
isn't so brilliant after all. I'm gonna go back
to la Mairie and see if they can take some other kind of bill instead, or
some other kind of verification that we live in our apartment. If that
doesn't work, I'm thinking maybe we can keep the electricity bill in our
landlord's name and add my name to the account, or something. Tomorrow we
move into our new place, which may or may not have electricity, and also
Elijah comes into town tonight and we will see him tomorrow at
le Jardin Luxembourg.
Mon, 8/24/15. le Buffet and la Mairie.
Today it rained and we looked for restaurants for lunch but kept finding
ones that were closed, til we found a Maison Pradier with a delicious buffet
and ate there. It was awesome. We gorged on their salad of cantalope, shrimp
and broccoli and then ate 8 desserts, namely 2 chocolate eclairs,
millefeuille, lemon tart, charlotte, chocolate cream
cake, raspberry tart with marzipan, and chocoate tiramisu.
Their lemon cake was the sourest thing we'd ever had.
It was somehow more sour than just biting into a lemon.
The whole shabang was pretty incredible. We're not sure they will let
us back in there after the amount we ate. In the afternoon, I got dressed
up in my best clothes, shaved and showered, and went to la Mairie, the
town hall. I had heard they were rude and difficult, but the workers there
were so nice. It is hard to imagine them being any more nice and helpful.
They patiently waited for me to finish my slow French sentences, spoke
slowly back to me in french, and were in general extremely helpful and
considerate. I was all ready to get super mad, because when I called them
in Spring, they said they could not accept documents from me by email or
fax, and I had to come in person, and could do it in Aug when I arrived.
However, now on their website it says school registration must be done by
June 1. So I thought they'd just say "non" and I'd have to get mad, but
instead they seemed to be ready to accept my application. They even were
willing to accept photocopies of Max and Gemma's birth certificates in
English, though I'd heard they sometimes need things translated in French
and I fully expected them to want the original, certified copies. But they
were super cool. The only problem was they need a utility bill from me
verifying our new address. However, they even helped me figure out how to
get such a bill from EDF, the electricity company here, and gave me
directions there. So now I am much more optimistic that we will be able to
get them into school here and be able to settle our visa issues, and I'm
much more positive about France in general. Before this it seemed like
everything was so difficult, and we were wondering if we were gonna be
able to work things out, but now it seems like we will. In fact, it seems
like a lot of American tourists here are kind of bratty, and while the
French may at times be rude, they really can't be blamed. If you're a
waiter in a nice cafe, it just is not part of your job description to give
every American tourist who passes by polite directions to the Louvre or
whatever, in English. If anything, I think Americans should be more
respectful of French culture and not the other way around. The French also
seem to really think about things. Like just the way their traffic works
is kind of interesting. You can jaywalk if no cars or bikes are coming,
but if cars come, you have to wait til it's green or get your butt out of
the street. That's a great system, and it must be incredibly difficult to
get a whole society to agree to it and pull it off, but the French do it.
In general they seem like as a society they have often really thought about
things that others just don't think about, and they remind me in that way
of our friends Doug and John, which makes it all the more remarkable that
Doug also finds the French rude. But, maybe he will change his mind. Or,
maybe he's right and I just got lucky today with a nice Mairie worker.
Sun, 8/23/15. La Defense.
They say la best Defense is Le good Offense.
Today was the last day of a 6 week festival with
in front of la grand Arche de la Defense. There is also a big mall there
and a merry go round, plus lots of games like badminton, solo tennis, huge
chess boards, a huge fussball table, and other stuff. We had a really good
time. Max and Gemma tried to play badminton but quickly got frustrated and
instead Max tried to make it baseball and he would pitch the ball over the net
to Gemma and she would try to hit it. Max turned to me
and said "You be the vampire. You decide who gets a point." We move
into our new place Wed and are quite excited to do so.
Sat, 8/22/15. Housecall.
We gave Max and Gemma a robot zombie and an Anna dress for their birthdays
and they were very happy. Can you guess who got what?
I realized I left a key to our current place in Saint Tropez and wrote
the landlady in Saint Tropez who confirmed it. She's gonna mail the key to
our new place here in Paris.
After eating a delicious lunch in a cafe near la Tour Eiffel, we walked to
the nearby American Library and contemplated
getting a membership there,
and then walked back along the Seine. Max saw the steel gates surrounding
the trash cans along the Seine and said "That's a jail where you if you
are very unlucky. You have to eat trash for breakfast, lunch, and dinner."
Then he proceeded to explain how you also had to eat the key to the jail.
There was a rock climbing wall set
up near the Seine and Max and Gemma spent a lot of time climbing it.
Max's throat was sore and very swollen so we called a doctor who did a
housecall! He charged us 90 Euros which was totally worth it as he came
within 20 min, took Max's temperature, checked out his ears, throat and
nose, and gave us some prescriptions to get at a pharmacy. Max is already
doing better now and it was reassuring to know the doctor thinks it's
Fri, 8/21/15. Buses, trains and automobiles.
We packed up, cleaned up, and tried to get back to Paris.
The plan was to take the 11:10am bus
to Frejus which is 30km away and the bus was scheduled online to get there at
12:45pm, then we'd have an hour to get to the train station which is 5 min
walk away, and our train from Frejus would leave at 1:47pm, stop in Les
Arcs Draguignan for an hour where we'd change trains, and then arrive in
Paris. It all sounds reasonable, right? Just to reiterate, we
were taking the 11:10am bus for 30km and had to get there in 2 and a half
hours. The bus was on time when we got on, but there was so much traffic
it took til 1:45 to make it to Frejus. 2 hours and 35 min. People on
bicycles seemed to be speeding by us. People
casually strolling on the beach seemed to be speeding by us. When we got
there, we ran to the train station but were too late. We weren't sure what
to do and asked at information and the woman told us to taxi to the next
train stop which seemed crazy, so we ignored her and wisely took a taxi
to Les Arcs Draguignan and made it there with plenty of time. We are now
on the train
to Paris, where the train stopped in the middle and the
conductor explained that the train before us had an accident and we would
be delayed at least an hour. He then said
"Mesdames et messieurs, this is the conductor speaking. The conductor
will be giving us information soon" which made everyone laugh.
We started going backwards for about half an
hour, which I didn't even know trains could do, and now are going forward
at full speed again. We finally made it to our apartment in Paris at
10:40pm, meaning it took door to door almost exactly 12 hours. It feels a
lot like you'd feel if it took 12 hours to go from LA to Mammoth. When we
got home, Jean looked on her computer and noticed there had been a
terrorist attack on a French train North of Paris. The attack was
disrupted by two American marines and I don't think anyone died. They said
many trains were delayed in the wake of the attack. I'm not sure if this
is why our train was delayed, but maybe. It kinda makes me feel stupid for
complaining about the delay.
Thu, 8/20/15. Jellyfish attack!
Today we went to Club 55 beach
which was nice but not nearly as nice as Plage des Salins, surprisingly.
We had heard this was where the billionaires go and was extremely
exclusive, with the restaurant charging $100 per person minimum, so we
thought it would be extremely ritzy, but it was just ok, very rocky and
wavy and not calm and plush and sandy like Plage des Salins was. It was
also quite crowded, though we found a spot away from the traffic and
were nearly the only ones swimming. Margaret got stung by a jellyfish, and
it started bubbling up on her wrist. We weren't sure if the rumored
antidote was true or not, but Elijah peed on her wrist and immediately it
went away, so I guess it is true after all. At night the kids watched
Oliver and Company on the DVD while Tony gave us psychological personality
tests involving asking us about our favorite animals and why we like them.
Tomorrow we are back to Paris and the Elijahs are back to Ireland, but
will see them again next week when they come to Paris.
Wed, 8/19/15. La plage des salins.
Today all 9 of us crammed into a huge taxi and went to la plage des salins,
about 15 min away, which is the northernmost of a famous strip of
beaches near Saint Tropez. It was really beautiful and we had an
incredible time at the beach. The water was really shallow, like waist
high for an adult, for about 100 feet, and then dropped off suddenly and
became deep. The sand was very crowded and mostly filled with adults who
seemed to be staring at us and possibly frowning when we arrived and put
our stuff down, but we were mostly in the water which was close to empty.
Elijah's grandpa was talking about bananas at one point and asked Max if
he liked bananas, and Max said yes and Elijah's grandpa said "Who wouldn't
like bananas" and Max said "My Dad's brother doesn't like bananas." I
thought it was a pretty good sentence. I didn't even realize Max knew
Randy didn't like bananas but I guess so.
Bank of America is making it hard for me to transfer
money to our new landlord's account, which is a little worrisome but I
think we will get it figured out with a little help from our friends and
Tue, 8/18/15. Happy birthday!
Max and Gemma turned 5 today! In the morning, Max looked at his hands and
feet and said "Are my hands bigger? Are my legs longer?"
The Kims were a little hung over from their late night out last night at a
restaurant where Carl Lagerfeld was also eating.
For their birthday, we took the Super 3 as they call themselves on the
merry go round, then Jean took Gemma to the butterfly museum while the
others went to the farmer's market, which was really more like a flea
market, and then we had lunch and bought little birthday cakes. Jean and I
wanted to cook fish but went to two supermarkets, neither of which had any
fish, and when we asked, multiple people informed us that you can only buy
fish in the morning here. So we got frozen shrimp and made a shrimp stir
fry, which actually seemed to go over quite well, as did the delicious
cakes. At night we watched some of Fantastic Four and played with Max and
Gemma's new presents, including big pencil sets and cute shirts from the
Kims as well as a cupcake set for Gemma from us and a weird stretchy toy
and car for Max from us, where according to the instructions you are
supposed to put the car together, then throw this rubbery guy at the car
and brake it into pieces. Max loved it and he and Elijah fought over it.
Walking around town today, Max did a little more of his
Maxie language . It was a
great birthday all in all, and before going to bed, Max and Gems both said
they wanted to have a similar day tomorrow.
More photos from Saint Tropez are
Mon, 8/17/15. Lazy day.
We went to Pearl Beach again, which today was sunny
and windy, so windy that they didn't rent out umbrellas at all because it
would be too dangerous. So we played in the sea and basked in the sun for
a while and then took a nice long nap at home. At night, we just sat
around watching tv, eating, and
reading Mr. Jelly
and the related books which Elijah had brought. I've been reading Harry Potter
to the kids at night and before naptime. They really like it and I think
understand it pretty well. Elijah's reading is amazing. He can read
cursive graffiti on the buildings on the way to the beach. He can be
stubborn though, like Gemma, and wild like Max, so Tony joked he's a
combination of their worst qualities. It's not at all true though. He's a
very sweet kid and he is getting along amazingly well with both M and G.
It can be hard for 3 people of any age to all get along all the time, but
these guys are coming about as close as you can get. One thing Elijah does
not share with Max and Gemma is their love of food, and tv. Elijah is
quite indifferent about both actually, and it was funny hearing him say
"Let's turn the tv off now" and hearing Margaret urge him to "finish your
cheerios!" You would just never hear either of those sentences in our
family. But otherwise, in many ways he does seem just exactly like Max and
Gemma, and the 3 of them spend a lot of time laughing together. In the
water today we were playing Octopus, which is a game where you try to find
some seaweed or something in the water and pretend it's an octopus and
throw it at the other people. Then we played Fish Market, where I would
say I need salmon, or cod, or whatever, and Jean would pick up one of the
kids and throw him or her to me. The water is a strange temperature. They
say it is 77 degrees but it seems really cold when you first get in, but
then when you are in it feels warm somehow.
P.S. Jean says Fish Market is the greatest game ever invented.
Sun, 8/16/15. Pearl Beach.
Le petit souris left Gemma a note in french and a spirograph in exchange
for her tooth. Gemma was very happy about the transaction. Today we found
beautiful Pearl Beach and had a wonderful time there. Elijah had been not
too crazy about the water yesterday but today was swimming and splashing
around with Max and Gemma with full gusto. The water was really shallow
for a long, long way so it was really easy to just let the kids play. We'd
heard the water was 75 degrees here and that seems like an
exaggeration as it is cold at first, though once you are in you get used
to it immediately.
We tried to make the kids nap yesterday but they didn't so as a punishment
they didn't get any dessert. So today we told them they needed to nap in
order to be able to get ice cream at night, and they did it very
obediently and are eating their reward as I type.
Sat, 8/15/15. Toothless in Saint Tropez.
Gemma's first tooth fell out today! She was eating strawberries and it
just quietly, bloodlessly and painlessly
fell out .
She then put it in her room where le petit souris, the little mouse French
equivalent of the tooth fairy, will grab it in the night and leave her a
present. The last photo above is Gemma's note to le petit souris, stating
her name and age.
We had a fun day at the beach in Saint Tropez with Elijah and his
family, and at night Tony and Margaret cooked a delicious feast of
bruschetta, garlic bread, and pasta bolognese. There was a lot of What
Time Is It Mr. Fox and Hide and Go Seek played as well, and the running
knock knock joke is Knock Knock, Who's There, An Interrupting Shower, An
Interrupting Shower Who?, On and you're all wet. If you don't get it,
don't worry, neither do I. The house here is so great and Saint Tropez is
very picturesque and a lot of fun so far. It's a little strange that they
apparently don't believe in screen doors or windows, and you're supposed
to leave your garbage in the middle of the street at night, so I'm not
sure what the bug situation is here exactly but we haven't noticed many.
Gemma was at one point feeling a little left out of the lovefest between
Elijah and Max but it seems to have mellowed out. Saint Tropez reminds me
a little of a combination of a Greek Island and Beverly Hills. There is a
level of glitz and opulence that is kind of annoying, but it is also
charming and beautiful and just exploring the town we came upon some
really nice and fairly empty beaches where we had a great time.
Fri, 8/14/15. Elijah!
We took a 5 hour train to Saint Raphael and then a 90 min bus to Saint
Tropez, to spend a week with Elijah and his parents and grandparents. It's
gonna be great. Saint Tropez is very picturesque and the house we're all
sharing is so great, just a short walk from the center of town and super
nice. Max and Gemma loved the train ride but didn't sleep at all. It was
pretty stressful trying to make it to the train on time after getting up
early and taking the metro in the rain with all our bags, and we made it
and stepped on the train immediately before finding our seats, which
turned out to be literally the very last seats all the way down the train,
which meant we had to bump into countless strangers as we climbed down the
crowded train. The Elijahs had a very similarly rough train experience.
But, once we got to Saint Tropez it was really nice, and we
had a nice crepe dinner with the Elijahs tonight and then ice cream and
went to bed. It's Max and Gems's first slumber party as they and Elijah
are all sleeping in bunkbeds tonight. The 2nd photo above is Gems's
sippycup. We bought Darth Vader thermoses, but Gemma found hers too scary
so she used stickers to make it into Dora Vader, which we joke would say
things like "Come on, Luke! Vamanos to the dark side!" and
"What can we use to get to the Death Star? Map!"
Thu, 8/13/15. Robot zombie.
We went to Lodgis to try to get proof of our new residence we will have in
a couple weeks so I can try to get the kids in preschool, but they
wouldn't give me such a letter yet since the owner hasn't signed the
contract yet, as he is out of town. We went to the nearby lego store and
toy store, where Max saw a
robot zombie he loved so we secretly got it for
him for his birthday, and Jean snuck off to get Gems the Anna dress she
wants. Maybe Max will be a policeman actually. In addition to cigarettes,
guns and motorcycles, he also is very interested in handcuffs and coffee.
Tomorrow we leave early for our 5 hour train to Saint Tropez to see Elijah
and his family. We are very excited about the trip. It's raining tonight!
Wed, 8/12/15. 9.1 miles.
While it's warm, we've been trying to walk a lot and do outdoorsy things,
but today was a bit extreme both in terms of how hot it was and how far we
walked. It was 93 degrees and we walked 9.1 miles!
In the morning we went to Parc Monceau, which was as picturesque
as we'd heard, and there was a little playground there where the kids
played for a while. In the first photo above, Max found a little stick he
felt looked like a bow and arrow and was very excited about it.
By the way, Max has some interesting proclivities. He has seen people
smoking and said "I wish I could smoke," and he also wishes he could ride
a motorcycle and shoot a gun. I'm not sure how we raised a redneck but it
seems like we got one. Anyway, then
we walked to the Champs Elysees and saw the movie
"Le Petit Prince" completely en francais, and then walked home, had
dinner, and then walked to the 6th for more ice cream at Amarino. Max had
a bad moment when his ice cream fell, so we got him another one. We
started implementing a system of just one dessert a day and if they get 5
whiny points they don't get the dessert. They cut it close today, with
Gemma getting 3 whiny points by like 930am but then no more, and Max
cutting it extremely close with 4 whiny points, all accrued at his
hungriest moments. They get whiny points not just for whining but for
general bad behavior like trying to not hold our hands when crossing the
street or kicking the table or each other while eating. So, actually 3
points in a whole long, hot day is not bad. The food has been incredible
everywhere so far, but I have to say the popcorn in the movie theater was
the worst I've ever had, stale and oversalted. It's surprising, since I
would have thought the French would have doted over each individual
Tue, 8/11/15. Monkeys.
Today we went to the Quai d'Anatole and played the monkey game again,
and then Max and Gemma played on these monkey bars that much bigger kids
were playing on, and Jean said she thought it should be their goal to be
able to go across the bars on their own by the end of the year.
About 5 min later, Gemma went all the way across
on her own!
They also played solo tennis and ate more crepes.
Is it our imagination or is the whole milk here 53 percent fat?
Max and Gemma love watching videos from Mima and Umpa and making videos
back for them, and especially watching their own silly videos to Mima and
Umpa where they say things like "Happy Goodnightday to poop."
Mon, 8/10/15. Patiner.
Today we went roller blading and roller skating at La Tour Eiffel. I
actually didn't do it but Jean roller skated while Max and Gemma did
rollerblades for their first time. They were surprisingly good at it,
especially Gemma, who said she wants to get good at it so she can put on a
show. She was referring to a roller blader who was doing a street
performance near our apartment the other day. Our landlady went to the
police today to put a cease and desist order on our neighbor. Although
he's annoying, it shows what
a tourist driven city Paris is that a guy could get in legal trouble just
for bothering a family of Americans and complaining about noise. We've
noticed some other "little differences", to quote Pulp Fiction. For
example, the sign on our fridge with emergency phone numbers lists a
Does that refer to emergency haircuts? Also, a carton of eggs
has 10 eggs in it here. I guess because of the metric system, again to
quote Pulp Fiction. Max thinks the big decorative doorknocker things that
are everywhere around la Seine are "handcuffs".
We found a delicious cafe called Crepe Mamy off of Rue
St. Dominique on the way to La Tour Eiffel and it was so good we went
there twice today. Max was in a terrible mood on the way home but I think
he was just hungry, as after lunch he was fine.
In French class back home in LA, Max and Gemma's teacher Crystelle used to
sing this song with them about "Un Elephant" and it goes like
this , and it's funny because
right outside our apartment is a big statue of an elephant.
At night we walked along
the Seine into the 5th and 6th arrondissements, had another delicious
Amarino ice cream, and saw the school where they will probably go on Rue
Saint Andre des Arts. Jean's favorite ice cream flavor so far is
grapefruit, mine is hazelnut, Max's is strawberry, and Gemma's is nutella.
Sun, 8/9/15. Champs Elysees.
Today we walked to the Obelisk and then almost all the way up the Champs
Elysees. It was super crowded but very cool getting a close look at the
Obelisk and a relatively close look at l'Arc de Triomphe.
Jean told Gemma that the Obelisk is from Egypt and Gemma immediately asked
if Moses is on any of the pictures on it.
We stopped in a boulangerie and ate lunch
followed by a delicious chocolate eclaire which Max called a chocolate
hot dog, and Gemma got a big chocolate macaroon.
I have noticed that a lot of times when trying to walk somewhere, say to
the NorthEast, I will plan on taking one big street North, and then taking
another big street East. On the way, I might see a small street going
NorthEast and try to take it as a short cut, and about 90% of the time it
turns out to be a mistake, as the small street ends or curves around and
changes name and veers back toward one of the big streets, and thus was a
longer route than if I'd just stayed on the big streets.
Basically the shortest path between two points is complicated because the
directions are uncertain and changing. Maybe this is why the French
invented BOTH measure theory and probability.
After dinner tonight we went to the Quai d'Anatole again and Max and Gemma
played on these tetherball
things. Then we shared a couple crepes but they didn't have sweet ones
so we got one with eggs and one with egg and mushroom
but Max and Gems were not impressed. In ordering the crepes, they asked me
for my name so they could call me when they were done, and I said Rick.
After asking me a couple times, the guy wrote down Bregue. I think I need
to go by Frederic here.
Sat, 8/8/15. Deux pains au chocolat s'il vous plait.
This was another very successful day. We decided on the apt in the 5th. In
the morning Jean went to the Musee d'Orsay gift shop to get postcards so
we could show them to the kids before we go to the museum and then they
could look for those paintings when we get to the museum, probably
sometime next week. Then we got a snack in a little coffee and pastry
place, and Max and Gemma wanted a pain au chocolat and Jean said they
could only have it if they ordered it in French. They were very shy about
it but ended up ordering "Deux pains au chocolat s'il vous plait" after
much practicing. The woman was very amused and gave them their order,
which tasted extra sweet having worked for it. It was their first time
really saying something in French here other than "merci" or "au revoir".
As we sat outside and ate
in the cafe, Gemma had a very existentialist experience, asking Max "Is it
tomorrow, or yesterday?" We then took our first
Metro, and wanting to do something off the beaten track while it's August
and crowded, we went to the Lego exhibit at this museum in the 15th and it
was pretty lame but the kids enjoyed it a lot. Max's favorite part was the
video game in the gift shop. At night we walked on the quai Anatole again
and listened to the street performers play guitar. The kids swung very
bravely on the jungle gym and we played this French game kinda like Jenga
where you try to remove sticks without having monkeys fall off. By the
way, Gemma has a very loose tooth and my prediction is it's gonna fall out
on her birthday, in 10 days.
Fri, 8/7/15. La Tour Eiffel.
Today was a great day. In the morning we went to see another apartment,
this one a more spacious place in the 1st, and then went to the Tuileries
where Gemma started playing with two 7 year old
twin sisters, Olivia and Emile, while
I talked to their Dad, a journalist who was also named Frederic. Olivia
looks a lot like Zoe, and as we were leaving I told Gemma, "Doesn't Olivia
look like Zoe?" and Gemma responded "Yeah. I wish the real Zoe were here."
There was a little well type thing in the park where you pump and water
comes out, and Max and Gemma completely soaked themselves in the water,
which was nice because it was sunny and hot, like 85 degrees. We looked
for this creperie but it turned out to be closed. Actually a good number of the
restaurants people have recommended to us are closed for August. After a
nap, we walked toward La Tour Eiffel, eating at an incredibly delicious
restaurant again recommended by Ellen, where Max and Gemma got
complimented on their good behavior. It was a very adult place with very
adult food, and Gems was not happy when her shrimp was served with "soap",
which was really a delicious foam. For dessert they got the most delicious
ile flotante and profitteroles, which went over very well.
Gemma asked "Do I have chocolate on my face?"
Then we went
right up to La Tour Eiffel
which they were both very excited to see up
and we played in a little playground there.
We decided we like the apartment in the 5th slightly more, even though it
is smaller and not as nice inside, because we like the neighborhood more.
By the way, we are up to like 7 restaurants now and in these restaurants
we have seen zero children other than Max and Gemma, and 1 dog.
Thu, 8/6/15. Luxembourg.
Today was pretty similar to yesterday. We got up around 730, ate
breakfast, walked to the Tuileries and went on a couple rides. We had
promised Max yesterday that we'd take him on the merry go round but ran
out of time so we told him he could do it today, and
he demanded that it be first thing in the morning, after breakfast but
"before getting dressed". We didn't honor the latter request but did get to
the ride right when it opened and Max had a blast on the motorcycle
while Gemma sat on Bonjour Kitty. We were up early enough for Gemma to be the
first one drawing chalk on the huge black chalkboard on Quai d'Anatole.
They played at the Tuileries park again and
Jean and I sat next to a couple of American women who had kids and were
pregnant and were both living in Scotland the past few years and
spending the month in Paris. One had a Southern accent and knew absolutely
no French, and it was comical hearing her interact with a French man. She
asked "How do y'all say 'what's your name'?" He answered "My name is
Patrick" And she said "No, I mean, how do you ask someone what their name
is?" and he took a while to get it. You can't blame him. It would've been
hard for anyone living West of Mississippi to understand her. Jean and I
were remembering a Saturday Night Live skit where these southern American
women go to France and are in a restaurant and one says "Do y'all have 5
Alive?" and the other says "No, it's cinq. Do y'all have Cinq
Alive?" The waiter then brings them wine, and they're happy. Anyway, after
playing at the park we again walked to Lodgis, stopping at the lego store
before talking to Manuela again about apartments. She set up a meeting
with us and the owner of a place in the 5th on Rue St. Jacques, and we
went there and saw the place and liked it a lot. It's smaller than our
current one, but the area is wonderful and it did not seem to have a crazy
man yelling at us. He said we can't move in til the 22nd or so though,
which is fine. On the way back we got delicious ice creams at Amarino,
which we remembered adoring last time we were here, and then went to the
Jar Luxe where they have a HUGE kids play area
where you pay like 2.50 to
enter and there is just endless stuff to do. They have a circular zip line
for kids 7 and older and Gemma really wanted to do it. Probably in a few
months she can sneak on but we told her not today. We stopped on the way
home into a cheese shop and boulangerie recommended by Jean's friend Ellen
and ate them for dinner. The fuzzy aged chevre was unbelievably good.
The kids conked out immediately at 8pm. Jack hasn't bothered us today,
perhaps because Mme Roset has insisted that he leave us alone and stop
harrassing us, and said if he wants to complain he should call her. And
unless we are misreading her French, we think she said she is going to
have him arrested on Aug 25.
Apparently he did call her,
saying we never sleep and are making noise all hours of
the day. Whatever, crazy is crazy. It is nicer knowing we are moving out
soon. The irony is we are actually getting
over our jet lag amazingly well and quickly. We do have to get up to go
the bathroom in the middle of the night occasionally, but man, I remember
last time we were in Paris in 2004, and Jean and I for the first week were
up from like 2-5am every day. This time we have been close to normal from
the get go and I think by today already we're basically on a good
schedule. By the way, we have eaten with the kids at like 4 restaurants or
so, and are usually picking the most casual places possible,
and thus far we have seen a grand total of zero children not named Max or
Gemma at these restaurants.
Wed, 8/5/15. Tuileries.
We got up around 630am, had another delicious breakfast in
the apt, and walked around the Tuileries. There's some kind of carnival
amusement park thing
going on there, and Max and Gemma really enjoyed
playing not only in the park
but also on the rides.
We had a very nice
lunch at a Lebanese place, and also got an ice cream, with Max and Gemma
disappointingly opting for the bright blue candy flavor
instead of the
other delicious gelati choices. We walked to Lodgis, where we met with
very nice Manuela Falletta and told her we can't stay in our apartment and
want to move somewhere else. She showed us a place in the 15th, and we
told her about two we like in the 5th and 1st. She said she would look
into them and also would talk to Mme Roset-Petit. We had emailed Mme
Roset-Petit the day before, telling her we can't live like this with this
crazy guy under us, and she told us to call the police, which we have no
desire to do. Anyway, we felt it went well with Manuela Falletta and felt
optimistic we could switch. Max and Gemma were exhausted after all the
running in the playground and walking around in the heat, and fell
completely asleep in the office of Lodgis! Otherwise they didn't nap
though, and when we got back to our place at 730pm, Max conked out without
dinner and Gemma, Jean and I just ate a tiny dinner and went to sleep too.
Madame Roset wrote us that she texted Jack and hoped things would get
better with him, and sure enough it seems he hasn't complained tonight,
though Gemma just woke up crying at 2am and we are not sure but
it sounds like he cranked up his tv in response.
Tue, 8/4/15. Jack.
We all got up around 6am and had breakfast in the apt.
Around 7am Jack yelled at us to be quiet. We left and were out most of the
day exploring around our neighborhood
and trying to take advantage of the
last day of the solde. We thought about getting stuff from ikea like kid
beds and a dining table and chairs. We're currently using 2 chairs and a
bed and a little round table to eat off of, and Max and Gemma are sharing a
pullout couch. Instead though we walked to a department store called les
Galeries Lafayette and I bought some pants and underwear.
Max was hilarious, as I was asking workers there for help in
French and Max turned
to one and just started talking in jibberish. Also, in the streets when a
car comes close to him as he is crossing the street Max sticks his hand out
at the car and says ''stop''.
Max and Gemma seem to really like Paris by the
way, and Gemma said the city ''is so alive''. Here
is Gemma's Paris picture of the Eiffel tower, the lock Esmerelda gives the
hunchback of Notre Dame, l'Arc de Triomphe,
herself loving Paris, and a heart symbolizing our red apartment.
We spent a good amount of time
in a very nice toy store there where Gemma really wanted a music box
similar to one Jennifer has. Max and Gemma had their first crepe, both
deciding on nutella only. It went over very well. When we got back home
around 3:30, it only took til 4 for Jack to ring our bell and come over
again. He invited me in to his place for a drink, and I came in though
said I had to leave in a couple min. He kept trying to offer me a drink,
and rambled on and on about all kinds of things like gossip about Hillary
Swank living in this building and antisemitism in Paris, and how his
friends are moving to Israel and stuff. I kept having to cut him off. He
said the noise is terrible and this morning it was like living under a
racetrack. I repeatedly told him, I think 3 times, that we would be quiet
at night, like between 11pm and 630am, but otherwise could not guarantee we
would not make noise. Every time, he would say ''Yes, that's fine, normal
noise is fine,'' but then in the next breath he would say something crazy,
indicating that we were extremely noisy, like ''Just don't treat the
apartment like it's a racetrack.'' The weirdest part was that we felt we
hadn't been making any noise yet. All we'd done was sleep basically. I
left and went back to our place and we all took a nap. We ended up waking
up at like 830pm, and just ate a small dinner in the apt. I went on a
brief walk over the bridge with Max and Gemma and we looked at the lit up
Eiffel Tower which they loved. Max also loves pushing the buttons to cross
the street, even if we aren't crossing. We all went to sleep around 130am,
and as we were putting the kids down and then just lying in bed talking
about how crazy this Jack guy is, he started banging on his ceiling and
yelling at us.
Mon, 8/3/15. Welcome to Paris.
I've decided to start chronicling our days in Paris, partly
as a journal we can read years from now, and partly so we can remember what
day it is. The 10 days or so
before leaving, we put forth an enormous amount of effort into boxing and
moving our stuff to get ready for this trip. It was ridiculous actually,
with every day both Jean and me winding up completely sweaty and exhausted.
My bad decision was to get a truck, hire people to load our stuff into and
out of the truck, and use public storage in Colton, which was totally dirty
and dusty so we ended up changing to public storage in Redlands. We needed
two trips, the storage places closed much earlier than we expected and
traffic was awful, and it ended up being an extremely stressful and
exhausting thing. Even after moving most of our stuff out, we still had
tons of last minute things to get rid of or store, and again packing them
up in the last minute was really stressful and exhausting. We are pledging
never to do anything like that again.
We packed so much stuff, with
suitcases, 4 little backpacks and 4 carry ons. Navigating through
the airport was tricky. Max and Gemma were terrific on the plane, very
happily watching movies but hardly sleeping. The
flight was great and amazingly no one of us got sick. With all of our
luggage and a ridiculous line for the RER, we made a good decision to take
the bus to Paris, which was very convenient and nice, and then got two
taxis to take us to our apartment where the landlady
Madame Roset-Petit met us and was really nice and extremely classy.
She helped us pay for
one of our taxis who would only take cash and had no change. Then she
showed us around the apartment which was fine, with a great location, high
ceilings, sloped floors, and a beautiful glass elevator that Max and Gemma
loved to play with. Before she left, she said there's a crazy man
downstairs who always loves to talk and complain about noise, but just
ignore him. Then she left around 1pm. While Jean crashed and took a nap,
I walked around and had a delicious lunch with the kids, and then we
napped, walked around a little, got a light dinner, and I got some
groceries, and as we were getting ready for bed, sure enough the man
downstairs, Jack, rang our bell and said the walls and floors in the old
building are very thin and asked if we could keep it down.