vendredi 28 novembre 2008
Is 5 years old.
Yep, there is another female totally smitten with my husband.

When these drawings started showing up on a regular basis, I started to get suspicious.

-How old is she? Five.

- How did you meet her? She's in my twice-weekly karate class.

She is, apparently, "folle de lui".
While I don't exactly blame her, I made it quite clear to him that 5 was my other-girlfriend age limit.
We now have a growing collection of pictures of: hearts with eyelashes; flowers; princesses; and princesses along with hearts with eyelashes.
Little girls seem to adore Alain- Manon (who is also five, hmmm...) adores her uncle.
jeudi 27 novembre 2008

Woke up this cold Thanksgiving morning, got dressed, went to my car (which I had parked illegally last night- hey, no choice sometimes). As I passed all the other illegally-parked cars, I got a bad feeling- each of them had a ticket tucked merrily under their windshield wiper.
Uh oh.... I guess the cops came by last night.
Got to my car- yeppers. Happy Thanksgiving!\

The most annoying thing is that I would LOVE to be able to buy a parking spot or garage but there JUST AREN'T ANY FOR SALE. Talk about supply and demand.
A parking spot can go for as much as 15,000 €, and a garage for twice that. Those that have them hang on to them like gold.
It is a strange feeling to have the money to buy something, but not be able to because there are none on the market.

So you have to expect a parking ticket every now and then.
Actually, it isn't too bad. In the two years we have lived here, we have only gotten about 5.
As long as I get less than three a month, it is worth it not to rent a parking spot, which is 100€ or more per month.
A few months ago we had an opportunity to rent a spot- back in February I had put our name on a waiting list for a nearby garage. Months went by and we hadn't heard anything, so we pretty much forgot about it until one day they called and said a spot was available if we wanted it. We hemmed and hawed for a weekend, and finally decided not to take it. It wasn't particularly close by and I am usually able to find a not-so illegal parking spot. I have classified parking spots into three categories:
1) an actual legal spot
2) an illegal spot (on the sidewalk, on a crosswalk, etc) that the cops will usually overlook unless they are looking to raise some cash for the city
3) totally illegal which will most likely get you towed- in front of a garage, double-parked etc.

I am usually able to find at least a Category 2 parking spot. It is strange because only a few streets over is a Category 3 area- almost all the cars are double parked. The owners usually leave a piece of paper on their dashboard with their phone number. Supposedly, if you are blocked in, you are supposed to call them and ask them to come move your car. Which is usually faster than calling a tow truck.

If we lived in a Category 3 area I would definitely have gone with the parking garage.
Alain has it somewhat easy, since he can put his motorcycle anywhere he wants. Of course, he is freezing cold in the winter and soaking wet when it rains, but hey, he wanted the motorcycle.
The city really needs to do something about the parking situation, yet when they come around for opinion polls, all the elderly people (who do not have cars and do everything by foot) vote against new parking garages, underground parking, etc.
samedi 22 novembre 2008
Today, while doing my weekly grocery shopping at Casino, the first thing I saw was the big conspicuous Beajolais Nouveau stand. I have been trying to learn about wines, and bought an Eyewitness Companions "French Wines" book. It is part of my 101 things to do list.

Well, I am still pretty much at the "A wine is a wine is a wine" phase, where pretty much all I can taste is "um, I'm going to with grape here?"

There was an embarrassing moment when I exclaimed to Alain "Guess what!? There are different TYPES of grapes!" Uh, yeah, didn't you know that? Well, no, I thought it was pretty much limited to red grapes and white grapes.

And Cabernet and Merlot are actually, get this, THE NAMES OF THE GRAPES.

Amazing how much we can learn when we read.
So really, when you think about it, I have come a long way in my wine education.
Being pretty much a wine novice, when faced with the large number of different Beaujoulais Nouveau bottles to choose from, I did what any self-respecting woman would do when faced with such a dilemma,
and after a careful reading of the descriptions, chose the one with.....

The pinkest, prettiest label.

Wine aficionados everywhere are screaming in pain upon reading this blog entry I am sure.

The wine itself you ask? Very purply-red and best drunk after about 3 glass of some other wine.
In other news, today is my 3 year blog anniversary. You poor people.
mercredi 19 novembre 2008
If there is one thing I cannot stand, it is listening to other Anglophones speaking french. Argh! I know I sound like that (more or less) and it is awful.
At least the english-speaker's accent in French is considered by the French to be rather charming/upper class, but sometimes I just want to blend in. I suppose I can get away with mono-syllabels - "oui" "non" - but anything more involved than that and Bam! they know I ain't french.

The worst is the Rs. I just cannot pronounce them correctly for the life of me. I have sometimes had to resort to spelling the word I want to convey the meaning of.

Once, I was speaking on the phone at work and was saying four. (think I was ordering four of something)
Un, doo, twa, catruh!
He finally understood. My officemates just laughed.

When I was taking my french courses, I tried to record myself reading texts in French, then listen to myself. That lasted all of once. I just could not bear it. Ah! Turn it off! Turn it off!

Other Things I Have Learned:
1) Thou, as a foreigner, shalt not use slang terms. Ya just sound silly.
Imagine someone with a heavy German accent saying
"Yo man, I'ma gonna go rollin in my bangin' ride to hit on some chicks."
Doesn't work right? Makes you just want to laugh right?
well, same for Americans speaking in French- mec, truc, bagnole, flic, etc.
Stick to the normal words.

2) Thou, as a foreigner, shalt not swear.
You can be upset, but Putain merde! just doesn't quite have the same effect.
You can maybe get away with a "mince" or "bon sang" but that's about it.

3) Thou, as a foreigner, shalt not get overly angry and yell in foreign language.
Getting red in face, searching for your words, combined with accent and slang terms?
Doesn't work. You can have disagreements, but that is it. Otherwise, nobody will take your little temper tantrum seriously.
"Aww, look at the funny American. They are so cute when they get angry and try to yell in French."
Putain merde!
mardi 11 novembre 2008
Question- why is "toilet" always used in the plural sense in France?

Où sont les toilettes?
Well, what if there is only one?
And I only want to use one at a time.

People use the plural sense even when they are at someone's house, when it is certain that they only have one toilet.

Anyway, I repainted the toilet room (another question- how many times can I repaint the same 5 m2 area?) with blue stripes. This decision was taken after yet another try of matching the paint to the tiles- I went to Castorama with one of the extra tiles, and the guy in the paint department custom mixed some paint that was supposed to match. I bought the smallest size, about a liter I guess. Nope, too purpely this time.

Turns out that the pre-mixed paint that I had originally picked matched the closest. Go figure. Anyway, Alain didn't want to repaint the bedroom and throw out all the paint we had bought, and didn't want to have the toilet room a different blue than the bedrooms and the hallway, so we settled on painting it blue stripes, using the blue that was already there, the blue I had bought, and white paint. It took me several days- marking the lines with pencil and using a level, using masking tape to cover the areas I didn't want to paint, painting a few stripes, letting it dry, removing and replacing the tape, painting with different shades of blue.
So voila. It is definitely unique. I feel like I should paint a blue frame around the white window above, to make it stand out. Or maybe there is enough blue already. Opinions?
As we have sortof a blue stripe theme (my painting below, blue striped pillows, tablecloth, etc), it isn't too out there. If we get tired of it we can always just repaint in white. For now, it is okay. That and I can't be bothered to care anymore.
For the first week I was surprised each time I went in. "Oh yeah, I forgot that I spent a week painting these blue stripes."
(before ->)
Still need to do: replace light switch (ugly brown and cream colored switch in picture above)
replace the light
buy some boxes or something to hide the cleaning supplies and toilet paper in.
redo the door (sand, paint white, replace handle).

lundi 10 novembre 2008
I always know that winter has arrived here once the first Marrons Grillés stands start going up. These are roasted chestnuts, which I had never tasted before coming to France. They are great in winter, to buy a cornet to share with someone while Christmas shopping...

Should we ever move back to the US, I will have to start doing this in the winters.

Sorry for the blurry picture.

Picture below on the Canebiere in Marseille. It is a small stand shaped like a train. There are numerous stands in Aix, but I haven't yet stopped for roasted chestnuts because the weather has been rainy and terrible.

Alain loves chestnut cream.

I haven't actually started Christmas shopping yet, these pictures are from last year.

dimanche 9 novembre 2008
This past weekend, we began working on constructing the closet in our bedroom.
Alain had already built the supporting walls in August, and we painted them blue when we painted the walls (oh that was fun!)

After some discussion about what kinds of boards to use and how to arrange the space (ie 2/3rds for me, 1/3rd for him naturally) we finally bought white particle board, 2.5 meters long.

It was suprisingly easy to mount the vertical boards. Well, except for the fact that while the bottom of the board touches at the floor, up at the top there is a 5 cm gap due to our walls being incredibly not straight. We discussed whether we should cut the edges at an angle so that they fit, but then decided we would only loose space and would never be able to get it to match exactly. Sigh.

Only had to do two extra trips to the hardware store on Saturday (thank goodness there is one fairly close by). On Sunday we went again to buy more 2.5 m boards, this time for the shelves. We need 7 total, and were only able to fit four in the car, so next Saturday we will have to go back and buy the rest, as well as additional supports to hold the shelves.

We still haven't decided on what type of doors we want. We need three doors, and they will have to be custom-made to the tune of an arm and a leg, because the standard height of 2.5 meters isn't enough- our ceilings are 2.90 meters. Why did we have to buy an apartment made before things were standardized? Even the highest custom-made ones will not be high enough- they only go up to 2.80 meters. We will have to use an extension kit that fixes to the ceiling. Super!

Anyway, I will be glad just to have a closet- keeping all our clothes in the living room is getting rather old.
jeudi 6 novembre 2008
Today I am going to talk about something very important and historic, that is very close to my heart....
A momentous occasion that just happened that has worldwide ramifications.
No, not the election.
I am talking about:
Happy Birthday to Me!

Yes, today is my 29th birthday. Goodness, I am getting up there.

Today is the saint day Sainte Bertille. Yuck. Thank goodness I wasn't named for the saint upon whose day I was born. Actually, I don't really have a Saint Day. I guess the closest would have to be Sainte Marguerite, November 16th. Close enough.

And tomorrow is Alain's and my 5 year dating anniversary.
We were office mates in graduate school (he was doing his postdoc) at the University of Virginia. When I arrived in the office, he was up in New York- he went every other month to IBM to do some experiments. Another student (playing matchmaker I know, she confessed) put me in his office.
I thought "I hope he is either really cute, or if he isn't really cute, that he isn't around much." Well, unfortunately he was both: cute and not around very much.
Anyway, I told him that my birthday was Nov. 6th and he invited me out for drinks the day after to celebrate. Wasn't sure if it was a date or not, but I tried my hardest and even if it wasn't a date to start with, it ended up one!
Five years later, here we are: five years older for one thing.
But also married, living in France, and owning an apartment (even if I want to firebomb it from time to time).
Also quite sick of questions of when little tadpoles are going to arrive, so don't even start.

Blog Archive


Favorite Posts