Monday, February 23, 2009

I'd like to thank the Academy...

Before I start my long (yes, sorry) episode of blah blah blah, I just have to say how excited and happy I am to see that Sean Penn won Best Actor for "Milk" and that his speech was wonderful and touching and bone dirt true. Prop 8 peeps can suck my dick. I can't believe those fucking hatemongers protested.

Moving on before I get vulgar *snicker*...

Wow, it was a long week. As you know, Ryan was on vacation again all last week. I love that little fucker. No matter how many times I tell him not to get up in the middle of the night and climb into our bed (have I mentioned that I'm a morning coitus girl? it's the only time I don't have to be coaxed psychologically into horniness... the only time when I don't have to be convinced to get it on... the only time I'm not your cliche woman, but only need a little rubbin' to be persuaded to do the Ol' In And Out...), he does anyway. Every night. And every morning, rain or shine, he sits straight up in my bed and says, "Mama? What are we going to do today?"

I should be ecstatic that my son greets each day with a fresh mind and ready to tackle all the adventures that life has in store. And believe me, it does make me grin with satisfaction that he seems to be so much like me in his optimism and spirit. But I have to admit that I do also roll my eyes at this question because I hate to tell him the truth: "Nothin'." I mean, that's the answer when he's on vacation.

What do I do every day? Well, nothing exciting to a five year old. But I did make an effort this past week.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I was telling you that Sam and I made this beautiful and exciting new connection, right? Well, since reading Animal Vegetable Miracle to him was such a success, I figured we should start reading something else together. I have this book, "Being the Parent You Want to Be" and I think we tried to start it once before but Sam wouldn't bite. Well, this time (last Sunday) while he and the kids were a captive audience, I began reading it to them. This book has such a non-threatening (and not at all preachy like that Love and Logic bullshit I read this summer) approach that it reminded me of reading AVM. And in the four chapters we read, we found so much truth (and so many things we agreed we were doing "wrong") that this book was instantly the one for us.

Basically, it tells you to watch your kids. Watch 'em. Don't jump in and interfere all the time, just watch. And then it says to try to guess why your kids are doing what they're doing? They're all such little scientists when they're little (before puberty), always trying to figure things out--life, limits, possibilities--and you can try to see what is motivating them. THAT one thing can help you deal with them when they are doing things that you see as wrong, dangerous, selfish, etc. The book said that a lot of the reason we get pissed off at our kids when they do something wrong is because we sort of blame ourselves. When we react to what our kids are doing, our parents are there. Not physically, but they're there in how they reacted to US. Since we emulate what we've learned through our own experiences, our parents are there. And then, there's the blame thing. We blame ourselves and then we project that onto our kids. So, when Ryan does something "wrong" or "annoying" Sam and I both react harshly with him when really it's a time for us to take a second and try to think about WHY he's behaving the way he is. What's motivating him? What's he trying to figure out?

Okay, granted, it's not always easy to stop and think about it--especially when you're in a hurry--but I'm finding that after a couple of slow days, you start to get the hang of it and almost do it reflexively. Before, it wasn't rare for me to snap at Ryan (and I admit, I'm not completely healed... I'm just not used to him being here all. the. time. like he was last week); but, now I'm finding that if I try to understand WHY he's doing what he's doing or WHAT he's thinking, I am more apt to treat him like a PERSON (imagine that!) than an annoying pet. I'm finding myself to be more understanding and slow to anger than before. And that's something for which I thought I was going to ultimately need a happy pill.

Another HUMONGOUS thing it talks about is evaluative language. Praise. When our kids do something we consider good, we say, "Good job." When they are polite, we say, "You're being so nice." These are evaluative statements. The problem with this is that if you can be good and nice, you can also be bad and mean. So, children who are praised all the time become dependent on it for "good" behavior...

I'll give you a minute to let that sink in because it took me a few beats...

So, instead of praising your kid when he does something "good" or chastising when they are "bad", we should use more DESCRIPTIVE language.

For example, when Lily brings me something she's colored, instead of saying, "Wow, that's pretty! Good job!!!" I should say, "Look what YOU colored. There's lots of green and black and blue. Lots of circles!" And that's all. I can't TELL you how fucking hard it is not to say "Good job!!!" Sam told me that it was one of the first things he noticed when he got to the States. The constant praise. And how Americans seem to be addicted to it. How if we're not praised, we don't feel like we're doing something good or we don't feel liked. *eye bulge* And the more I think about it, the more I see that that is exactly right!!!!

So, when Ryan is walking in the mud, I shouldn't say, "Get your ass out of the mud! You're going to ruin your shoes!" I can say, "Dude, you're walking in the mud." I know you think that this simple descriptive statement might not immediately change his behavior but it did. The book said that when you do things to make the child stop the immediate behavior it's like alleviating the symptoms instead of curing the disease. If you can get to the root of the "problem" instead of going for a quick fix, you'll have longer-lasting results. So, when I say, "Dude, you're walking in the mud." Ryan says, "I know." And I say, "Well, did you notice that it's making your shoes muddy?" He says, "Yep." And I say, "What are you going to do about that when we get home?" He says, "Wipe my shoes on the mat."

WHAT? You mean I just had a CONVERSATION with my kid instead of yelling at him to get out of the mud? Yep.

The strange thing is that, my reflex reaction--to yell at him about the mud--stressed me out. It was impulsive and there was no real thought behind it. But when I turned it into an examination of his thinking, it made the mud no really big deal. So what if he has mud on his shoes? Is that the end of the world? We don't have carpet in our apartment. We have tile. And if he DID track mud into the apartment, I could ask him to clean it up. That way, he'd learn that when he walked in the mud, he'd have to clean it up later. But the crazy part was, that after we had the conversation, the mud seemed not to be that much of a fun place anyway. Like he had been doing it to see how I'd react and when I didn't yell at him, it wasn't any fun anymore. In fact, I was able to say, "Or, you could wipe your shoes in the grass right now, if you want, so that you don't have to do it later." And he was able to see the logic in that. DUDE!!!!

Again, I have to say that I'm not a pro at this new style of parenting. When I'm tired or moody or busy, I slip and I yell. But the strange thing I've noticed is that somehow, because I've been listening to him more and trying to be more patient, well, when I'm impatient he seems more affected by it and more "sorry" for the behavior. Like, well, recently, my yelling hasn't seemed to have much of an effect. Like he sees that I'm upset--emotionally affected by his behavior--and he sees that he's somehow won a sick battle. But now that I've made an effort to relate to him more, the times when I'm not-so-patient, he seems to feel more remorse than anything.

Funny, huh?

At first, Sam laughed at me. I mean, he saw the sense in what we were reading, but, he's not a read-the-instructions-and-apply-them-immediately kind of guy. Just after finishing the chapters, I put the things I had learned into practice. I spent the day saying, "Yeah, you built a Lego tower!" instead of, "Wow, good job!" Or, "You finshed all your food!" instead of "Good girl!" And Sam laughed.

"What's so funny?" I said, a little defensive.

"Nothing. It's just, you don't waste any time."

"So? I want to see if it works or not, that's all."

"No, no. That's good."

And then, whenever he'd see me do something "successfully" with the kids, he'd laugh again.

"What's so goddamn funny?" I'd say with a snicker.

"Nothing. I'm learning from watching you. I wouldn't have been able to handle it that way."

My eyes nearly popped out of my head. He had just paid me a compliment. Awesome. But then, I realized--again--just how addicted to and dependant on praise I truly am. *sigh* Still, I also realized that if we are going to change our way of parenting, it's going to depend on my taking the first step and modeling the behavior. Or at least a little scaffolding. I have on a couple occasions so far seen Sam change what he was going to say. He'll start out by saying, "Good--" but then change to, "I mean, yeah! You did it!"

So, this "complex connection" to which I referred in my last post is that... well... since we're spending less time yelling and being annoyed, and more time actively making an effort to be upbeat... well... it's sorta reparing our marriage a little. *gasp* I don't want to say too much about it and jinx it, but when he's really making an effor to "plug in" (to use a Dr. Phil-ism) to our life together, it makes me... happy... and strangely.........horny. *shrug* Go figure. You never know what'll be your own little aphrodesiac, eh?

Okay, interesting things....

1) Being a vegan truly rocks. I found a kcik ASS website called where this dude does sorta what I like to do (blog about food and then include pix). And I have found a LOT of great recipes that have uber-empowered me. Example: I made my own vegan lunch "meat" the other day and Sam went out and bought me an electric slicer (because it also slices bread) to celebrate!

2) I went to D's house to hang out and she has three really beautiful fancy rats, all with japanese food names (Maki, Sashimi and Sushi). It was nice to get out of the house. I went there to write, but we ended up drinking rum and mango juice and just gabbing for a few hours.

3) My friendship with Flavia is getting stronger every day. She's a LOT like me and Gilles is a LOT like Sam. They came over on Sat night to play board games again and Flav and I have gone to a couple of movies (after one of which we sat and drank "just one beer" which turned into three and Flav went to work drunk that night, *snicker*). We've talked about possible excursions to Spain and Ireland this summer. I'm ECSTATIC about that possibility. I'm even thinking of seeing if Sam's sister might wanna keep the kids for a week while Sam goes WITH me to Spain (and/or Ireland). It'd be a backpacking/roughing it sort of vacation... Just what we need to get the blood flowing, you know?

4) Sam went on-line to the UGC (a brand of cinema in France) and found that they have a card called the "Illimite" (unlimited)... What it is is that you can go see as many movies as you want, any time you want, for just under 20 Euros a month!!! If you go twice, you've paid for it. But I go to the movies at least once a week!!! It's AWESOME! You walk in, you go to a special "Illimite" machine, you pick your movie, you swipe your card, you ticket prints. Took 30 seconds. No lines, no bother. I went and saw Revolutionary Road in English last night!

5) Did I meantion that Sam bought me a slicer? *snicker*

6) Sam spent the afternoon in the kitchen with me making pasta. That's freakin' HAWT, y'all. I love when he helps me do stuff in the kitchen. I got to use the knew pasta drying thing he bought me for Valentine's day! And you know what? Vegan pasta is even easier to make than non! For some reason, without the eggs, the pasta isn't as sticky and hard to work with!

7) I still haven't finished that damn Obama book. It's really good and I'm glad I get to read it in snippets, but DAMN. That (and getting my MS in order to send to the AMD) is my goal for the week.

I feel like there's more, but, well, a) you're probably sick of reading by now, right? and 2) my back hurts and I need to get started on another chapter of the Obama book before the fat kid wakes up. Y'all take it easy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I defeated the cheese!!!!

Let me just start by saying that vegan really is the way. It really really is. I know it's going to be a bitch sometimes but I also know that it's 95% nostalgia. Read on...

So, on Friday, since both girls were going to be at daycare all day and since Sam had the day off and could stay with Ryan, I made a few plans. I was going to spend the morning cleaning the kitchen/living areas while Sam took Ryan up into the mountains close by so they could play in the snow (while it snowed pretty much all day on Thursday, it never does more than just powder sugar the roofs for an hour or so, but up in the nearby mountains--Les Domes--it does collect enough for Sam to hold a snowball seminar for Ryan). Then, I was going to find the raw foods resto I saw a few months ago while looking for organic restos. THEN, I was going to meet my friend D down at The Smoking Dog for drinks and writes. The only thing that didn't happen was the cleaning (and well, we went to a different resto).

Speaking of the resto... So, I go online looking for that raw foods place. I'm sorta staking it out because I gotta buddy back in H-town who's into that stuff and wanted to use this resto as a way to woo her ass over here (heyyyyy NJ!). But, for some reason, I can't find the place anymore. BUT, what I DID find was a 100% organic, 100% seasonal resto who caters to vegetarians and vegans!!! I go to their website and find out that we'll prolly need a reservation (I'm figuring cuz it's prolly small and whatnot); so, I call Sam and after a bit of bickering (and me finally retreating to bed out of depression caused by Sam's lack of support and enthusiasm--a pattern in our relationship have you noticed?), he finally calls me back and with a reluctant sigh asks me for the number so he can call to get the reservations. I didn't tell him that had he not called me back, I probably would have just gone there by myself. I don't WANT to go there by myself. I want to find some way for the two of us to connect on this. I don't need him to go vegan, but I want him to see that it's not some sort of alien diet. That it only means eating veggies and not eating animals. That it doesn't mean I'm gonna start frying up tofu for the family, yo.

He gets home and after another bout of bickering over whether or not we're going to get the van back out (to drive to a place to which we can essentially WALK) or take the bus and metro since 1) it's the "right" thing to do and 2) Ryan is with us and LOVES the mass transit adventure--the holding of the ticket, the validating of the ticket, the asking at EVERY SINGLE stop "is this it?" Ryan and I finally win and we take the trolley bus to the Hotel de Ville and take the Metro up the hill to a very steeeeeeeep stop called Croix Paquet (why am I giving you this info? because I want you to know where this place is if you ever get over this way and I'm not the one taking you there.) From the metro stop, it is a short--but incredibly steeeeeeeep--hike up to the resto--Toutes les Couleurs (which means all the colors... this is a garden reference but it also may be a reference to the sexual orientation of the ownership and staff, this judgement based on my first encounter *wink*).

I learned two things at this resto: 1) Vegetables can be turned into the most delicious, colorful, creative and flavorful dishes with the right amount of know-how and 2) there IS a word for vegan in French: vegetalien. There is vegetarien for vegetarians, but vegan is vegetalien. Sounds like an Italian (italien in French) who eats veggies, but WHATEVER.

There were both kinds of food but the vegan stuff was marked on the menu with a little clover leaf. The menu. That's another thing. Instead of having paper menus covered in plastic, they have a big chalk board that they bring to your table and set up on a make-shift easel (a chair) because their menu changes so often--if you're working with seasonal veggies and you can only prepare what you find at the market, that's what you get, right? Personally, I find this AWESOME because it means that whatever I eat there, I can come home and try to replicate myself.

When asked if we wanted something to drink, Ryan took a fresh organic apple juice, Sam stuck with water, but I tried an organic spelt beer. I don't know what the hell spelt is (epeautre in French), but it's some kind of really healthy grain that makes a damn tasty (and potent *hiccup*) beer. When she brought us our drinks, she brought a small bowl of mixed seeds (sunflower and pumpkin mixed with raisins).

As a starter, Sam ordered the saurkraut and curry "terrine" which is supposed to be like a loaf sorta thing. That wasn't vegan cuz it had eggs in it. So, I chose a celery tartare... Let me explain again that the French eat the bottom of the celery plant more than they eat the branches (the thing that we Americans put peanut butter on... well the thing that YOU Americans eat that way... I don't eat that shit unless it has had 95% of the bitter nastiness boiled out of it (soup)). So, this was a celeri-rave chopped into miniscule pieces and mixed with raw beets (I think) chopped into miniscule peices and soaked in a fresh orange juice. I had a severe mouthgasm.

By the time we were done with our starters, my beer was gone. So, I asked her to bring me one of their other beers. She told me they had a BIG some kind of beer and a smaller bottle of chanvre beer. I said, "I'm American and a little linguistically challenged." She smiled and held her fingers to her lips and said, "joint." My mouth dropped open. "Hemp beer?" A light went on in her eyes and she reached for the English menu, "Yes. Hemp." She pointed at it, obviously excited to get to use her English (which is ADORABLE sometimes you know?).

"Um, absolutely. AB.SO.LUTELY, I want a hemp beer." I couldn't be any more emphatic.

Seconds later, she brought me a yellow bottle with a big pot leaf on it. Eyegasm. She noticed and told me that I could take the bottle home with me if I wanted to.

Let me tell you... this beer was AWESOME. The hemp flavor wasn't overpowering. Just enough to be there and be delicious. And I DID bring the bottle home and I WILL put a pic of it up here for you to see (but, ahem, later... be patient with me, my five year old is on vacation). To tide you over, here's the company's website:

For our main dish, we all three had a tajine d'hiver aux fruits sec. A tajine, if you don't know, is a Moroccan dish... not just the food IN the dish, but the actual DISH (it's like a flying saucer with a sawed-off funnel on top of's an image I found on Google: It is traditionally a sort of runny stew served on a bed of couscous. Well OUR tajine, though not served in an actual tajine, was a "winter" dish with carrots, fennel, lentils, rutabaga, celery branches (with the crap boiled out of 'em), some other kind of green stuff and a stewed prune (that was actually the only fruit sec or "dried fruit" in the dish *snicker*) and it was served on a bed of organic pollenta instead of couscous. That shit was DELISH. I mean, I could have eaten three times the amount we were served but that's the American in me. Don't get me wrong, I was FULL by the end, but I wanted MORE.

For dessert, Ryan had the fondant au chocolate (like a choco-brownie-cake thingy), Sam had the plateau de fromages (it's a platter of cheeses they bring to your table and you choose a slice from whatever cheeses you like... this is a very typical French thing... some people eat cheese AND dessert, some people eat cheese AS their dessert... either way, the platter was one of purely local and organic cheeses), and I had this kick ASS thing they called gateaux coco-datte avec compote panachee, which was basically a ball of coconut and dates that had been finely chopped, formed into a ball and chilled (this, I suspect wasn't as "local" as I'd like (probably Spain or the islands nearby... or Northern Africa which really is pretty close to here comparatively), but I wasn't gonna complain as it really was delectable) accompanied by a small ramekin of freshly made pear-apple compote (apple sauce with pears in it). We opted to drink our coffee at home, since I don't drink milk and wasn't sure at that point whether I'd wanna drink soy milk in my coffee (plus, I've really taken a renewed infatuation with herbal tea (yummy Yogi Tea usually)).

I came home, grabbed my computer and jumped on the bus to head downtown to write with my friend D. When we got to the pub, there was no one there, so we had our choice of tables!!! I got a pint of McEwan's and she got a fruit juice. I guess I'm just more anglo-saxon... She wanted to start out doucement (slowly or softly) whereas I just wanted to get my drink on. *grin*

We spent our first drinks catching up (another part of going doucement... instead of opening up our laptops, we made conversation... not a normal thing for me and my writer friends--we usually pepper our writing time with little micro-breaks of conversation--but a welcome change nonetheless). After my second pint, I pulled an "American" and interrupted her writing by saying, "I have a dilemma."

And I did. *sigh* Okay, if you're not interested in the writing process, if stuff like that bores you, you make want to skip ahead.

For all these years, I have been stubborn about the "plot" (you can't really call it "plot" in memoire because I'm not "plotting" out the course of action. It happened, I'm recounting it... but "storyline" sounds even MORE artificial, so I'm sticking with "plot") being linear. What I always wanted was for the reader to FEEL what I felt and discover what I discovered as I discovered it. I wanted them to feel my naivete in the beginning. I wanted my readers to WORRY about me and FRET when I got myself into stupid situations because I believed it would make them root for me all that much more when I found a solution to my predicaments. Right? Doesn't that sound like a good idea? Don't you think that that would keep you hooked, always wondering if I'm going to make it (even though you KNOW that I do make it because, ahem, I'm the one that wrote the damn story)?

Well, so far, this approach has worked well for my writer friends. They seem to understand my purpose. But other people aren't getting it. Well, it's not that they aren't getting it... it's that they aren't getting hooked at the beginning. The beginning is about my flight to France and how excited and scared I am and how I have all my eggs in one French basket... In setting the scene that way, I wanted to draw the reader in with me. Make him/her remember a time when they felt that way about something. But, for some reason, that flight just doesn't seem to be as riveting for most as it was for me. Am I not expressing myself well enough? Or is a flight to France really not that exciting for most?

I have been dealing with this dilemma for years. I have had several suggestions from writer friends, but they all seemed to be coming from a fiction-writer's mind and that just didn't mesh with what I am trying to do.

A few years ago, I had an idea, but I felt it so counter to what I had always wanted to do (make the memoire linear instead of retrospective), that I just dropped it. But the other day, while I was talking to Sam, just saying it out loud made it seem like the most obvious solution. Like a brainstorm. I sat down and wrote out a two-page chapter account of the "climax" (again, not really an appropriate word, but whattaya gonna do? *shrug*), so that I could begin the book in the middle, flash back to the beginning and catch up to the middle. But I wrote that chapter during a very grim day. As I wrote it, I felt catharsis, but afterward, as I reread it, I found myself blushing. It just didn't feel like me. I began to cut and revise and cut some more until the final product was less and less what I wanted to say. I found it poetic and skillfully written, but in the end, it was just way. too. "emo."

Still, I sent it to a friend (holla Boudy!!!) and checked my email every day thereafter waiting for him (he whose writing can be downright tangibly emo sometimes) to write me back telling me how good it was and how much he appreciated it (but secretly hoping he would call me out for my fraud... because really, that's what it was... me TRYING too hard to be dark... which I'm just not... even in the depths of my own depression, I'm only just a little gray, really... I'm never pitch).

And that's exactly what he did. He wrote me back and told me that it was okay but just not me. And then he sent me a link to a youtube video of Hank Williams, Sr. that fished me right the fuck out of my depression. Something about being So Lonesome I Could Cry and Your Cheatin' Heart that makes me smile.

But I digress.

So, I'm sitting in the pub and I think, "Shit, why not pitch this to D and see what she thinks? Get the French writer's perspective."

And she gave me some GREAT advice. And even though I got drunk (after three pints and the rest of her pina colada) I felt like I had gotten a LOT done even though I didn't get much DONE. The thing is, the story has been reorganized in my head and will soon be thus in my computer. I'm not gonna tell you the final verdict because I don't want you to know yet (plus, how the hell am I going to pay for the farm if I tell you the whole story here and you don't buy my damn book?), but let me just say that the Universe is at peace now. The struggle, I think, is over. Stay tuned.

Later that night, I was supposed to go out with Flavia and Gilles, but F texted me to say that she didn't feel well. So, when D and I parted ways, instead of taking the bus, I decided to stumble drunkenly along to my second bus. On the way, I stopped into a kebab resto and ordered a vegetarian sandwich (um, lettuce, tomato, onion and FRENCH FRIES... dude... I think I found my soul-sandwich) with NO SAUCE making it vegetalien. I walked and ate my way to the bus stop. Then, waited, drunkenly, but sobering up, for almost an HOUR for my bus. I got home LATE and still a leeetle tipsy but felt like it had been a pretty productive day.

Okay.... I know this one has been long and that I really should blog every day when there's shit a-happenin', but when there's shit a-happenin' they ain't no goddamn time to blog, yo. So, I'm going to put an actual PAUSE in this blog so that you can go eat, drink, pee, masturbate, watch some tube, read a chapter in that book, study, pick your nose and start another load of laundry and then come back for the rest. Here it is.

So... You'll notice the title of this segment is about cheese.

"Cheese?" You say? "But aren't you a vegan? A vegetalien? Whatever?"

Yes. Yes, I am. But you'll also note from the REST of my frickin' blog that I frickin' love me some dadblammin' cheeeeeeeeeese!!!! And I personally don't think that cow mind that much when they get milked gently and regularly (but not over-frequently, if that's a word).

So, as I'm walking drunkenly down the street away from the pub, my dear husband calls me to tell me that his father, whom we were going to visit on Sunday (yes, yesterday), is making us a RACLETTE. You remember what raclette is, dontcha? Yes, it's that freaking amazing, ass-smelling cheese accompanied by all sorts of meats and yummy potatoes, etc. Is that vegan? NOOOOOO!

"You told him about me?" I say, cringing.

"Yep. I told him."

I stop in my tracks and let my surprise and appreciation duke it out with the beer in my brain... Sam actually TOLD his dad? When he had been UBER embarrassed of my diet and told me not to talk about it too much with his parents and to please take a hiatus from being vegan just for the Sunday we would visit his parents?

"And what did he say?" I said in a near whisper.

"He said, tough shit." Sam laughed.

I laughed, too. "Yeah, I figured. What did YOU say?"

"I didn't say anything. I'm not getting any more involved in that. I told him and there you go."



"So what?"

"So, are you going to eat the raclette?"

"I dunno. I guess. I mean, I'm not a purist. I'm mainly doing this to see if I can, right?" My stomach growls at the THOUGHT of raclette.


"And taking a day off from being vegan won't KILL me, right?"




So, I get home and I don't remember the whole rest of the story because, as I said, I was still pretty tipsy--not that I-just-started-to-drink tipsy, but the I've-already-eaten-enough-to-soak-up-some-of-this-alcohol-but-am-still-officially-drunk tipsy, BUT, whatever was said, I went to bed in a huff.

In the middle of the night, I was awakened by my infant child screaming out in dental pain (she's cutting teeth) and in the midst of the struggle (read: her kicking me over and over in my back since Sam's solution was to bring her to bed), I had an epiphany: The cheese is a test.

"I'm not going to eat the raclette," I said allowed.

Sam grunted with a question mark.

"I'm not going to eat the cheese. I'm going to take a salad."

He grunted again and I could hear the eye roll in his noise.

In the morning, I asked Sam why after nine years of being with me does he still take everyone else's side.

"I don't." The eye roll was almost VISIBLE in his voice.

"Yeah, you do. Why are you embarrassed that I want to change my diet? Do you feel like your father's SOUL will be harmed if I don't eat his fucking cheese? I mean, I sincerely want to know why you want ME to be the one to make the concession. When someone is a guest in your home, you cook to THEIR tastes and THEIR needs. You don't make whatever the fuck you want and tell your guests to eat or go hungry."

"This is different."

"I don't see it that way," I said. "I'm gonna go make a salad."

I got up, steamed some broc, some cauli, some julienned carrots. I made a vinaigrette. I put some sesame seeds into a little ziplock. I even packed some stuff to make a pear-rice-soy milk dessert I wanted to try.

BUT... I also made two pear-chocolate pies for the family... Pies I can't eat because they have egg in them (and butter in the crust).

We went. And it was HELL... HELLLLLL I tell you. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that ASS would smell so fucking good. As they ate their bubbling cheese (cuz I don't really give a shit about ham, really), I chewed my salad with a vengeance. It was probably one of the hardest, most difficult things I have ever done (and I'll remind you that I've had four babies and slept in a tent, a car, a camper and a phone booth).

The good part is... Sam's father didn't react in a bad way. He made light-hearted jokes about it, but he didn't throw a tantrum. And then, when R&A, and M (these are my nephews and one of their girlfriends... all grown) came over, they actually APPLAUDED my diet. A said, "Yeah, I LOVE soy milk. I love OAT milk even more!" R (who is a professional cyclist) said, "Yeah and I LOVE rice milk because I'm allergic to soy and dairy." And then we talked about not shaving and not wearing deodorant and all their comments were positive and supportive!!!!!

Okay... I wanna keep going on and on about yesterday (because there's more... Sam and I made a new and very complex connection), but Ryan is telling me that it's time to go to the park (and he's gotten dressed all by himself--including shoes), so it'll have to wait.

Just one last thing. *shooting the bird* Take THAT ass cheese!!!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New fangled whatsitdosit!

Um, I tried to put the whole comarison thing down so you could see the Normal vs. Vegan but the format didn't come out right... I'll try again here in a differnt way.

Normal Breakfast:

Bread w/butter
and normal Nutella

Coffee w/steamed milk

Vegan Breakfast:
Bread w/ vegan Nutella-esque spread

Green tea mixed with dandelion, for urinary detox

Normal Lunch
Lentil/veggie/sausage soup w/shredded cheese


Leftover quiche

Coffee w/steamed milk

Small ice cream cone

Vegan Lunch

Lentil/veggie soup w/Tabasco


Handfull of olives, mushroom pate, hearts of palm with fresh vinaigrette

Yogi tea

Ripe pear

Normal Snack
Organic dark chocolate with quinoa crispies

Cereal bar

Vegan Snack

Organic dark chocolate with quinoa crispies

Handful of nuts and a couple of dried figs

Normal Dinner
Salad w/ shredded cheese and hard-boiled eggs and homemade vinaigrette

Vegan Dinner

Salad with cold beets, artichokes, leeks, etc. and homemade vinaigrette


Warning: I'm about to wax melodramatic.

As I sit here listening to Hank Williams, Sr. and contemplating life, I realize--as I do nearly every day at this time--that I am one lucky motherfucker. Usually, I'm up and jolly because we're living this awesome adventure, allowed to persue our dreams of locavoric eating, somehow financially unscathed by this global crisis, all in great health and prosperity. We have this ridiculous Disney-esque apartment on the Rhone and wake up to birds flying by our windows. Our kids are now bilingual, having survived integration (so far). And though my womb expelled our last attempt, we can conceive again (uh, in April sometime).

Yeah, great. All that stuff is super. Super duper. But the reason I am all teary-eyed and Hank-y today, is friendship. I'm really lucky to have the friends I do. I have a great big hoard of kick-ass acquaintances and I cherish them, but it's the friends... the gems who silently roll their eyes when I get all blah blah blah, but still order another beer, there for the long haul. Y'all are keeping me going, kids.

Wow, you say, you're really taking this miscarriage a lot harder than we thought you would. But, I say, that's not it, really. I'm actually VERY over the miscarriage. But the event of the drugs and the subsequent valley have allowed me to indulge in a LOT of self-reflection. In a lot of reflection in general. And in my musings, I have been hit in the face, time and time again, with the sheer intensity of friendship. Just punch drunk friendship with things said (even in passing) that are so dirty true that they stop me in my tracks, knock the wind out of me and send my marbles rolling around in my head.

So, I say... Thank you.

Okay, enough of that shit. Let me tell you a secret... Shhhhhhh... I've gone vegan.

Yeah, alright, that's not a secret, I've already mentioned a couple of times that I was gonna do it for detox. BUT... I think it might be permanent *cringe*. When I first thought about doing it, I thought, "Shit the bed, Fred. This is gonna be a bitch." I sure do like buttah. And I like me a big fat buttery omelette. Oooh, and I LOOOOOVE me some quiche, y'all. And you'll not be surprised to know that by the first evening, I was DYING for something dead and decomposing, fermented or churned, live or dead cultures, whatever as long as it's ANIMAL!!!!! But then, I woke up the next morning so empowered that I had survived it (mostly mental, yeah, I know), I was ready for a new day.

Yesterday, a normal ordinary day, was one of the best days of my entire life. I felt like a whole new person. Is that possible? I feel so energetic and awake. I hesitate to say the word, "clean" but that's the feeling that comes to mind. I feel clean. Like someone has sandpapered all the shit off my insides and this is only day three here, folks.

And get this... When I was making Ryan his turkey sandwich yesterday, I accidentally (a reflex really) licked the mayo-covered knife. It tastes like ASS. ASSSSSS I tell you. What the?

The even crazier part is that when I really examined my diet, I realized that I'm not really very meat much anyway. Now, as I mentioned in a paragraph above, I like eggs and I like milky products. But I can see the logic in the whole humans-are-the-only-species-who-drinks/eats-milk-as-an-adult-or-drinks/eats-the-milk-of-another-species argument. The way I see it, milk and its offspring are treats. They're no really necessary. They're like cake. We don't NEEEEEEED cake, right? We like it. It's yummy. It makes mouths happy. But we don't NEED it for survival, right? That's butter.

Oh, sure, you can throw the B-12 argument out there and I get ya. I'm nodding my head. And that's definitely a good argument worth considering and I AM researching it. But my body ain't lying, yo. I really haven't felt this awake in YEARS. I'm not sure I ever have. Now, this hasn't translated into anything other than lots of energy and plenty of housework getting done. This hasn't turned into pages and pages of brilliant, enlightened writing or anything. But it has definitely melted away most of the clouds. And it's definitely detoxing the SHIT out of me (I mean, and **TMI ALERT****TMI ALERT** I'm peeing all day long and pooping after nearly every meal). So, I guess I mean that literally.

You think I've gone bonkers? Let me give you a comparison of my normal diet vs. my new vegan one. (See above post.)

See? I'm not really eating that much differently. It's a really small change for me with super big results.

I'm sorry if I'm getting churchy about it, but you know how I am. When I feel good about something, I wanna share it with my buds, yeah?

Well, that's about all the time I have for right now folks. Sam is out of town today and I have all three kids here, so, renewed energy or not, I have to conserve it as long as they're all awake.

Taker easy, y'all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Not avoiding you...

Has it been over a week? Didn't I say I wouldn't let that happen? Ugh. You know how I hate to get on here and wallow, right? Well, let's just say that wallowing seems to be my new hobby. So, while I'm not avoiding you, personally, I have been avoiding sharing my new hobby with you all.

Oh sure, I get bursts of energy and motivation! They just seem to only last about 20 minutes before I find myself sitting at my desk staring out into the ether with no desire to do anything. I don't want to cook, don't want to clean, don't want to write, don't want to run, don't want to eat, don't want to watch TV. I can put it together long enough to read a little bit, but usually end up falling asleep.

I think I might be depressed.

And I fucking HATE depression. I thought I had finally gotten rid of that old hag! But here she is, twirling her smelly fingers into my hair, singing her old songs and playing her old instrument. I can't even get it up for Solitaire right now. How's that for shitty?

I did write some stuff down the other day to tell you. And I did have some things I forgot to mention. So, I guess I'll do it now. But don't be expectin' no pixie dust, ya hear? Cuz until I get some mental Viagra, I won't be doing my verbal striptease. The Joelie Show is on a sort of hiatus, I guess.

So, one thing I forgot to mention is how surreal things are sometimes over here. As if the OB/GYN answering his cell phone while probing my uterus with a wand isn't surreal enough! The first time we went to the hospital, when I was bleeding but the egg sac was still in there, we were walking up to the maternity ward and saw a chick standing outside smoking a cigarette. She was all punk and boots and black fishnet tights and whatnot and I made a joke about them having a smoking area right outside the doors of a maternity ward for all the young mothers who might need a nic break. Then, the chick, who we had only seen from behind, turns and evolves into this upside-down turtle--HUGE pregnant belly and a cigarette posed between two fingers. I was overcome with shock and judgement--so much so that I turned my head back to her and shot her a look. I'm NEVER judgemental. I'm always like, "Hey buddy, live and let live, yo." I've been in so many situations where I was making stupid mistakes cuz that was just the path I was on. But that chick standing there smoking, that just threw a rock in my chain, yo. I just didn't know how to handle it. Especially since I lost my little Sequel the next day.

Speaking of... So, when Sam and I were on our way BACK to the hospital, everything was intense and scary and sad because I was, in fact, having contractions and I knew that I was losing our little Sequel. Right then and there. Sam and I were all silent and tense and not moving, as if holding still would make it all stop. And as we were sitting at the red light in front of our building, a guy pulls up in a white Smart car (you know what those are? those little go-cart-in-a-shell cars with room for only two people? no purses, no briefcases, no lap-top bags, just two small people?) with his window rolled down. He had one arm hanging out, a cigarette in his hand and rap music blaring. He was rapping along with the music, making angry faces. I was holding my gut, and onto my last hope, trying to compartmentalize the horror I felt at what was happening and I looked over and saw that guy and was hit with such a wave of mirth I burst into peals of laughter. Like a Mack truck, y'all. I just couldn't help it. This little white dude, this Vanilla Ice, in his little pimped out go-cart with his music blaring and his angry little face, taking himself so seriously... You'd have thought he was a clown sent straight from Heaven to relieve the shittiness of the situation. I laughed all the way to the parking garage of the hospital.

So, I'm looking down at the stuff I had written down after my follow-up appointment (because all appointments must take place on Tuesday, the one day I have no children in the apartment...also the day my dear husband takes me out for lunch), but the list looks stupid and no longer funny today. See, if I'd just keep a Blogger window open and every time I thought of something, came in here and wrote it out to you... THAT might make for interesting times. Or not. It might end up totally random.

So, I'm not going to go on about the food I cooked this week--nothing new, just the same recipes, but with a new twist of experience--and I'm not going to talk about Obama's first book--because of which I do now love him, just not in the same way as all you Members of the Church of Oblahma do--and I'm not going to talk about how excited I am that my Grumps is coming in April or that my Thither is coming here in March or that we are going to go to the States for a Farm Vacation in August. All that stuff would just bore you.

Instead, I'm going to sign off and wallow some more. And maybe read.

Monday, February 2, 2009


I've been wanting to write but 1) there hasn't been much to say, really and 2) I've lived in a pain-killer-induced fog since last Wednesday.

The miscarriage sucked, man. The first two days were REALLY hard because I seemed to be in CONSTANT crampy pain. AND I didn't want to take my anti-cramp medicine because I figured the more I cramp, the more my uterus is contracting, the more stuff will get out of there and the less of a chance I stand to have to get a D&C (surgical intervention for removing "debris" from the uterus). I did take the heavier pain killers to sort of lessen the intensity and take the edge off. That worked, like I said, for the first two days. Then, my stupid old drug-happy body worked up a tolerance. I found myself staring at the clock, waiting for the second hand to go around one more time so that I could finally take some more stuff and calm down the pain. I'm making a bigger deal out of it than necessary. I've delivered four babies and the cramps I was having after the second day were nothing compared to actual labor contractions (though those aren't really painful either... not really... I describe those as "productive"). The main difference is that in a labor situation, you know that in a few hours, it will all be worth it because the long ass journey of pregnancy will be over and you'll be holding a brand new little person who smells good and laughs in his/her sleep. In a miscarriage situation, all you get is organ-sized blood clots, the feeling that your vagina has exploded, and the knowledge that you'll have to wait a couple of months before you try again.

None of this is unbearable, I say again. It's just annoying.

Just like I kept forgetting I was pregnant, I keep forgetting now that I'm not. I guess I just barely got used to it. Just enough to be confusing. And then, every time I open my closet and see my new maternity stuff hanging there, I sigh and get antsy to wear it. My mind even says, "Dude, some of this stuff is long sleeved. I had better get knocked up again so I can wear it before it gets too hot." *eye roll* The shit our minds come up with, eh?

The bright side is that I can start exercising again. I mean really exercising. And mean it, you know? I wanted to start this morning, but the suck ass side effect of my pain-killers is this ridiculous insomnia. I stayed up until 6am last night, lay down for a nap and then woke back up at 7:30am, refreshed and ready to do housework. *eye roll* Whatever! Had I gone to bed at a decent hour, I could have done a quick half hour at the park and come back and ridden my bike or something. Oh well. Since I'm still bleeding, it might not be a bad idea to give it another week, huh? I know myself. As long as I HAVE the pain killers, I'll take them. I'm way too drug happy to let good pain killers sit around un-taken. So, at least I have another good week to get 'em gone and maybe even out of my system.

I think I might go vegan for a week and then go on a juice fast for a week or so afterwards. I want to get all that American crap out of my system (and probably not a bad time to get all the pain killer shit out of my body, too). I know this is going to sound all hokey and hippy, but I can actually FEEL all the toxins and crap I ate while I was there. Does that make any sense? Sometimes I HATE that I'm THIS in-tune with my body. And it seems like that six months of eating organic/local/seasonal has only heightened this sixth sense. *eye roll* I feel like I need to brush my insides... Like I wish there was some sort of Listerine I could take for my guts. Lol! It's weird. I've been eating just fine since I've been back (with the exception of that nasty ass "banana split" flavored ice cream cone I ate yesterday... blech! well... that AND all the alcohol I drank on Saturday... but that's the way that goes). But still, I feel like a detox is in order.

Then, once that's done, I'll go back to eating normally (with maybe a slight reduction to my animal products consumption... just a SLIGHT reduction... and a slight augmentation of my vegetable protein consumption). During all this (the detox and easing back in to normal eating) I'll probably walk, do some toning exercises and maybe some yoga, but I'll try to keep my heavy cardio to a minimum until I get back to my normal diet. My goal is to take back off this weight that I've put on, HOPEFULLY just in time to play around with pregnancy again.

I have been reflecting and analyzing all that stuff. The pregnancy stuff. You know, I never really felt strong. Have I mentioned this before? If so, skip ahead. But, you know, I was down from one cold/flu/other misc. microbe after another for over TWO months when I GOT pregnant. My body was already pretty depleated of minerals, immunity and energy. So, I never felt really STRONG and ready. During that whole time I was cognitively pregnant, I felt like I was trying to catch up with my body. Running after something. The only time I felt really strong and healthy was the morning of the half and I'm sure that a huge percentage of that was due to adrenaline and positivity (not to mention, the warm, balmy weather of Houston thawing me out and visits with one smiling friend after another probably didn't hurt matters one bit).

I don't like to be pregnant that way. I like to enjoy my pregnancies. I like to feel strong and ready and determined. Part of me is almost relieved to have a chance to start over from scratch. It's like if my new boyfriend's parents were to stop by unannounced and that was to be my first meeting with them. You know, the first time you meet your boyfriend's/girlfriend's parents, you want to have done your situps that morning, have taken a nice long shower, have slathered yourself with lotion, have chosen the right outfit, have brushed (or whitened even) your teeth and be READY when they get there. You don't want something so important and excited SPRUNG on you without warning. I know I sound like a spoiled, rationalizing brat, but I'm trying to see the POSITIVE sides of this miscarriage.

There are negative sides, too. Now, when I see babies and pregnancy on TV or in real life, I feel a twinge of, "Wait! Wait for me! I'm gonna get pregnant too! In a... couple... of... months." Like I noticed that a buddy of mine is going to have a baby in August. That would make her about the same amount of "pregnant" as I was. *sigh* We could have been preggo buddies. Our kids would have been born at the same time and would eventually probably be in the same playgroup and who knows? But nope. Not now. I mean, shit, they'll still only be a couple months apart. But a couple of months is nothing AFTER they're born. It seems like freaking FOREVER before they are. I have other friends whose kids are only a few months different in age than my kids and I think that's pretty close now. But when I think about all the chicks who got pregnant at the same time as I and how they're now going to go on and HAVE their babies... It's like getting passed and left behind in a race you started as a group. You wave politely and tell them to go on ahead, but you know you'll never really catch up.

Dude... Melodrama, right? I really should have gotten some sleep, huh?

So, after a sucky end of the week, my friends Flavia and Gilles came over on Saturday to eat dinner and play board games. I made a cold beet salad from beets Sam had bought at the market earlier in the day and that I had steamed right away. Those, mixed with some chopped schallots (?... scallions, maybe?... dude, what the hell are they called in English?) *shrug*, some mustard, lemon juice and a splash of white sauce made with vinegar and yogurt.

Then, I made a HUGE pot of lentil soup with organic lentils, potatoes, carrots, onions, cauliflower, garlic, chorizo and wild boar sausage. That shit was GOOD!!!

Then, I made a pear pie. I took the crust dough leftover from the quiche I had made Thursday, re-rolled it and put it in the tin. I melted a 200g bar of dark dessert chocolate (yes, organic/fair-trade) and spread it on the crust. I put pear halves down on the chocolate and then, I prepared a small amount of batter made of flour, salt, baking powder, an egg, a little yogurt and a splash of kirsch. I drizzled the batter over the pears. Half an hour later, we had pear pie. That bitch was one of those slap-yo-mama good situations. I didn't think of putting ice cream or chantilly on it until after my piece was gone. Dammit!

To drink, I had two big glasses of litchi liquor mixed with multifruit juice. I had water with dinner. But when dinner was over, I broke out the digestive liquors. The home-made one that Patrice gave me, made of plums and VERY strong--truly will burn a hole through your dinner and make room for more--and some Cointreau (orange flavored). Then, Gilles showed me how to drink rhum the way they did when he went somewhere in the carribean (can't remember where). You take a lemon, and quarter it, no, eighth (?) it. You squeeze an 8th of lemon into the glass and let the lemon drop in. You pour in some rhum. And then you put in about a teaspoon of raw brown sugar (orgaaaaaniiiic of course *grin*) and then swirl--not stir or shake or whatever--the mixture. If you have enough room in the glass, the lemon will help mix everything. The first sip tastes a little strange, but by the end of the glass, you're wanting more.

We played Sorry, during which Flavia won the first time and I won the second. For the first time in my life, I saw someone NOT move once the WHOLE game. I felt so bad for Gilles! And then, near the end, he was able to get out and he was HILARIOUS!!! Oh my god, I was laughing so hard, my sides, cheeks and head hurt. At one point, Sam held his elbow and said, "Aye! I hurt myself." I said, "Funnybone?" And Sam looked at me blankly and said, "No, I set my elbow down on a breadcrumb and it poked me." Gilles looked at him all serious and said, "Dude, that hurts, doesn't it? I've heard of dudes getting their arms ripped off by breadcrumb. It's dangerous. And get this... there are even people who have cut themselves with a sheet of paper!" Okay, so maybe it's not as funny in English, but the tone of voice, the look on his face and just the right amount of rhum in my veins and that shit was hilarious!!!! *sigh* Cracking me up just thinking about it.

Then, we played Yahtzee, which Flavia won. AND, I came in second.... That's just CRAZY because Sam usually rips me a new asshole when we play Yahtzee... this time, he came in last. And then, I taught them a dice game called Around the Corner. Gilles kept saying, "Je peux aller Around Zee Cor-nair?" really exaggerating the English part and nearly making me pee my pants!!! Dude! I really needed that. I'm so glad they came over. Laughter really is the best medicine. I'm hoping to be able to meet up with them and see Benjamin Button when it gets here. I'm really glad to have buddies to lean on.

Oh, crap, I just realized it's almost noon. I had better get scootin'. I uploaded some long overdue pix over the weekend, so I'm gonna put 'em up here (sorry that took so long, Grumps) real quick. Thanks for indulging my rambling. I needed to blabber.

Hope you enjoy the pix!

The set-up for the sushi party back in December:

Santa Lolo:

Sir Ryan:



My "chapon" (nearly wild chicken bought at the farmer's market... comes with head and neck... I had the honorable job of chopping that shit off.. *in my best Borat voice* Itsa niiice!):

Lolo's new hobby--climbing on stuff:

Ryan and Lily sharing the love seat while Mama was gone to Houston:

The following are pix I finally downloaded from my phone:

Sam at that hotel where we lived in the beginning--just got our new camera phones!

Lolo's appreciation for French bread.

Ryan and Lily in the carousel (or as Ryan likes to call it, the "miracle round")at the grocery store.

Never leave Lily alone with pasta... Never!

Drunken photos of myself with my camera phone (Ju, this was the night before you left)! I was cold without my green jacket, but happy that it would be with you!

Ladybug (mine and Sam's sort of relationship "talisman" if you believe in that hocus pocus (ahem, I kinda do, *cough*)) in my brand new office in my new apt. No furniture yet, but a ladybug is always a good sign.

Lolo in her cloth dipey taking advantage of the sensation of the cool floor on a full fat belly.

Grocery store Miracle Round again!

Miracle Round at the park... doesn't look as fun, huh? Looks like they clocked in for this one.

Airplane jungle gym at the park! (Ryan is lost because he still can't speak French.)

Lily in the stroller, marvelling at something.

Deer at the park.

Ryan and Lolo in the bike trailer.

GRAFITI BIRD on the wall inside the place where I did that Journee Civique (the class I took on French culture and whatnot... where I met Flavia). Remember I was all excited about it?

Tis the season... They always set up the Grande Roue (big wheel) in the yuletide.

Ice skating on Bellecour.

Cars at the Lyon airport... Already made me miss my kids before I even left. Felt weird sitting in an airport (and taking a plane) without them.

The kids making dinner.

Lily watching Ryan play his Aurthur game.

The middle ages (Ryan takes this very seriously, A poses EVERY time the camera comes out, Lily looks dumbfounded and Lolo just wants me to take the scratchy dress off of her).

We put a roof on the castle... only lasted a couple of hours cuz it kept getting knocked down, but it was fun while it lasted.

"I'm chock FULL of personality!!!"

That oughta do it for now, huh? See ya's tomorrow?