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.