for the Paris journal from 2016.
for the week of 09/13/15.
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.
for the week of 08/30/15.