Click here for the Paris journal from 2016.
Click here 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 parc after 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, especially the 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.

Click here for the week of 08/30/15.