mercredi 15 avril 2009
Why do you love ironing so much?
Or, if you don't actually love it (which seems to be the case from how much you complain about it) why bother doing so much in the first place?
I mean really- do the sheets really need to be ironed?
Aren't sheets, by definition, for sleeping upon?
I swear, if you are so nice as to put me up in your home, I won't be criticizing the non-ironedness of your sheets. And believe me- ya ain't gettin' ironed sheets Chez Moi.

{Actually, chez moi you should count yourself lucky if you can find the pull-out couch between the tools, but that is a sidetrack.}

I have heard many times Frenchwomen say something along the lines of "I have a huge pile of ironing to do, but I just don't feel like it."
Guess what? I never feel like it.
There has not been a single time in my life that I have said to myself
"Hey, I think I would like to iron instead of eating chocolate while watching TV."

There are people who outsource their ironing. If I am going to outsource anything, it would be
1) mopping the floors
2) scrubbing the mold out of my shower (but that's another post for another day) or
3) actually cooking meals that take longer than 10 minutes to prepare
{I guess I have now ensured that we will never have visitors}

The only things that get ironed around here are white linen shirts that absolutely must be ironed or are else unwearable.
This hence means that they don’t get worn much.
Alain complained that I didn't iron his white t-shirts.
I laughed. Then I realized he was serious.
"Sure honey, put those in my 'Ain't Ever Going to Get Ironed' Pile over there right next to the 'Only When I need more Good Daughter-in-Law Points' Pile."

So, Frenchwomen, please tell me: do you actually like ironing or do you feel a cultural obligation to do it and are thereby obligated to complain about it?
And to any non-French (men or women) reading this: have your ironing habits changed since moving to France?

Also note that I didn't pose the question to Frenchmen: I am quite sure that they do not do their ironing. This seems to be one of those "straight from the mother to the female object of affection" things. This may cause problems if their female object of affection is not a Frenchwomen. For the first few head-bashings at least.
dimanche 12 avril 2009
Alain's family decided to celebrate Easter on Easter Monday, instead of Sunday.

Saturday was an Epically Lazy Saturday.
Here is what I did- got up, went to the grocery store, and got mentally lost several times while perusing the aisles. What am I here for? Oh yeah. Yogurt. Wake up Megan.
Came back home, and we watched three episodes of Lost (season 3). Ate lunch. Then I napped on the couch for about four hours while Alain watched various Jean-Claude van Damme movies.
Woke up around 5, went and rented a movie. Came back, ordered pizza, and then ate said pizza while watching the movie ("The Happening"). Went to bed at around 10 pm, exhausted.

Sunday- more Lost, then spent the afternoon putting our medium-sized bedroom back together. We painted it white a few weeks ago. This is another room that defies the "painting is easy" mentality.

ONE DAY after painting, there were cracks in the paint. So incredibly frustrating. Alain sanded and repainted. There were more cracks. We gave up.
Also, it turns out that Ancient Egyptians were better builders than French Workers in the 1950's (no comment upon the present-day French builders, someone else with more a recently-constructed dwelling will have to fill us all in).
Nothing. Is. Straight.
Looks like they just guesstimated about all those darn silly angles.

In honor of Chitlins & Camembert, I am posting our own
Bare Lightbulb Hanging From A Rosace Picture.

Sunday afternoon, after removing all the tape, cleaning the paint off the window, and putting the furniture back, we replaced the World's Ugliest Plugs (brown and beige- ergh) with the new ones we bought. Managed to not get electrocuted, which is always a bonus.

Didn't put up the light we bought, mainly because we didn't have a lightbulb for it. Also need to go buy a curtain rod and curtains (my favorite part!).

One more room sorta finished. Not perfect but moving on.

jeudi 9 avril 2009
Alain and I have decided to have an Emergency Chocolate System installed in our apartment.
Actually, it is required as part of our Husband Life Insurance Plan.

For those of you, in particular men, who don't know what I am talking about, I will explain it to you.
All the women already know what I mean, and don't need to read any further.

Gentlemen, are you married? Do you have a girlfriend?
If so, then you should really consider having one of these installed in your home.

I've heard that there is bill before Congress that will make it a law in a few years.
Ladies, write to your representative.

This is how it works:

1) Wife buys a chocolate bar and brings it home.
2) She gives it to Husband.
3) He confirms that he has received the chocolate bar. (A log book can be used for this, with the date, event, and signature of each party)
4) He then proceeds to hide the chocolate in a secure location, unknown to Wife.
5)When an EMERGENCY situation arises, Husband retrieves chocolate bar and gives it to Wife.
Obviously, this insurance policy is null and void if Wife hides the Emergency Chocolate herself, because it will not be available when the emergency situation arises.
7) Once the Emergency Chocolate has been consumed, the process repeats.

If Husband wants a back-up insurance plan as well as extra Good Husband Points, he should secretly buy another chocolate bar, and hide it in a second secure, undisclosed location.
(These secure locations are preferably rotated on a regular basis. If wife discovers a secure location, either by accident or by intentional Search and Rescue of Chocolate Bar, then the secure location must be striken from the list.)
Here are some suggestions for secure locations where the wife is guaranteed to never find the Emergency Chocolate:
Within the sack of cement powder
Under the lawn mower
Between weights for weight lifting bench

Emergencies depend upon the peculiarities of the wife, and include but are not limited to the following:
- That Time of the Month
- Bad Day at Work
- Yet Another Question of "When Will You Have A Baby?"
- Spent All Day at the Prefecture Because of My Darn Carte de Sejour
- Dealt With French Customer Service
- Your Mother Stopped By Without Warning
- Laundry Machine Stopped Working and I Had to Wash Everything, Including Your 20 White T- Shirts, By Hand, Then Wring Them Out in the Sink and Hang Them up to Dry

If desired, Wife and Husband can agree on a Secret Passphrase, which when uttered by the Wife, the Husband is obligated to surrender the chocolate.
Here are some examples of Secret Passphrases:
"Give it to me NOW!"
"I can either bite the chocolate or your arm. It's your choice."
"I've already torn the house apart and can't find it."
"No, I don't care that your favorite football team is playing. I need my Emergency Chocolate."
"I will self-destruct in five minutes and I will take you with me."
"I will give up the chocolate if you take on my menstrual cycle in exchange."
"You deal with your emergency situations by yelling at the soccer coach on TV. I eat chocolate. Deal with it."

A Home Security Alert Warning System can be implemented, akin to the National Security Level.
Orange- Husband knows he had better watch what he says.
Red- Sirens go off, flashing red light, the works.

Further suggestions?
mercredi 8 avril 2009
I am sure that everyone has horror stories of French customer non-service.

Whenever this happens, I try to remind myself that bad customer service happens everywhere, and it is not just because they are French, but really, honestly, I think that the "The customer is wrong 95% of the time" attitude is more prevalent than say, in the US.

Sure, in the US you might get a cranky customer service rep. around Christmas present return time, but that is about it. (not talking about service via the telephone, that is bad everywhere).

Last week I went into a store, which shall remain anonymous but it rhymes with NANGO and sells clothes and accessories, in Aix. I poked around for a while, and then found a belt that I liked and needed.

Was a bit staggered by the 25€ price, but bought it anyway.

Went back to my office, took the tags off (stupid! but I couldn't buckle it with the tags as they were) and put it on. Saw right away that it was not the size I wanted, so kept the tags and receipt. Didn't even wear it home. Total wearing time- about an hour.

Went back today to exchange it. Picked another belt, same model and price but different color and size. Went up to the front desk and said I would like to do an exchange. She took the items, including the receipt and the tags, then looked at the belt and said "Oh, I can't accept it- it has been worn." Uh yeah, but just for a little bit so I could tell whether or not I wanted to keep it.

Sorry, can't accept it.

For goodness sakes- it is a belt, not underwear.

Nope. No way no how.

I was so mad I stormed out and proclaimed I would never shop there again.

To her cheerful MERCI!

Thank goodness I don't really like the store, so I can stick to my declaration to never shop there again.

I need to work on my reactions to typically bad French customer service so that they come out automatically when confronted with such a situation.

Step 1: Get out a pen and a piece of paper.
Step 2: Smile and ask for their name.
Step 3: Write it down.
Step 4: Smile and ask for their manager's name.
Step 5: Write it down.
Step 6: Thank them and walk out.

Even if you don't follow up on it, you will probably give them the scare of their life.

If they refuse to give you the information, consider a) taking their picture or b) writing down as much identifying information as you can. In this case, definitely write a letter.

I looked online and tried to find a Lettre Type for this type of occasion. The French love Lettre Types- they have them for everything. Want to send a letter to your neighbor complaining about their barking dog? Purchase and download the appropriate lettre type, fill in your name and address, and presto! Ready to go, complete with "Je vous prie d’agréer Cher/Chère Madame/Monsieur X mes salutations distinguées".

This is another thing I love about the French. You send off a fiery letter basically saying "I hate your guts you idiot." and end it with "Please accept my most distinguished considerations."

At least in the US we aren't hypocritical about complaints about poor service .

Anyone else want to share their tales of bad customer service?
vendredi 3 avril 2009
Maybe some of you didn't know this, so that is why I am informing you here.
March was International Have A Baby Month.
Yep. If you missed it, then you are just out of luck.
Seriously, babies have been popping out all over like it is their job.

New French in the world:
Alain's coworker's wife had a baby girl
My coworker had a baby boy
Alain's cousin's girlfriend had a baby boy
Alain's sister had her baby, a little girl they named Anna (making this our second niece)

New general babies in the world:
My cousin's wife had a baby boy

People who missed the March deadline:
Another blogger whom we all know well, shall be having a baby soon. :)

At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if women who weren't even pregnant started having babies.

So anyway, a great big welcome to all the new humans in the world.

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