Sunday, March 29, 2009

It has sprung!

Monday, I spent the WHOLE DAY researching for the farm. I read this book called Hobby Farms and it was a nice preview of all the little things I know nothing about. So, I broke out an old journal a writing buddy gave me back in the day (Thanks, Warburton!!!) and decided that it would finally have a purpose--the Farm Journal. As I read the book, I made lists... Lists of the fruits and veggies we want to grow. Lists of what animals we eventually want to have. What buildings we wanted. What machines. And then I made a long (10 pages?) list of things to further research. Every time the book mentioned something completely unknown, I noted it. I have my work cut out for me but I am trembling with excitement.

Tuesday was a pretty good birthday. Before I even rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, Sam said, in a groggy voice, "Happy Birthday, Mama. You want a gift?"

What kind of question is that? But I knew he couldn't be talking about messing around because Ryan had snuck into our bed and was lying next to me snoring.

"It's in the vacuum closet," he said.

I jumped out of bed and ran to the closet. I threw open the door and found a huMONgous box there. A dehydrator. A food dehydrator. The joy was almost physical. Piles and stacks of dried produce appeared in my imagination. Yes, I know I'm a weirdo and I've come to terms with it--isn't it time you all did? I took it back to bed with me and read the operating instructions in three different languages.

A few weeks prior, I had set up a casual interview of sorts with a local English school. Since Tuesdays are my only child-free days, I scheduled the interview for my birthday and hadn't even realized it. But Sam trumped that, he actually made me a DENTIST APPOINTMENT for after lunch, forgetting that it was my birthday. *eye roll*

Anyway, I went to the interview with no real expectations. He had said casual, so I wore jeans and sneakers but just to be "presentable" I did wear a sweater and scarf instead of my usual Ohio State hoodie (which has become like a uniform to me... Thanks Daddy!!!). But when I got there, he was all suited up and what not. I said, "You said 'casual' and now I feel like I've shown up in a flannel shirt." The owner laughed and said, "I have a business lunch after this. I own a couple of flannel shirts myself!" He was a really cool guy and it was nice to meet him and swap a few culture shock stories, but overall, the job is just not really what I'm looking for. I was attracted to the company because they did cultural prep for Frenchies going to live in the States, but what he seemed to do more of was high-end linguistic training. Not my favorite cup of tea. I could do it. I have the credentials for it. But it just doesn't seem like a worthy activity for my time.

What the interview did do was remind me of my focus. Ironically, even as he shook my hand and told me he'd keep in touch, he said, "Good luck with your book." The sentence kept echoing (and does still) in my head all day.

I met up with Sam afterwards and we went into the kitchen store across the street from the interview... this is one of my FAVORITE places in all the world because it's a ma and pa store where restauranteurs buy their paraphenalia. I went in there looking for a cast iron pan and my sexy husband bought me TWO of them. One an egg pan and the other a 28 centimeter "big" pan. I'm going to make a clandestine trip back there in May to buy their cast iron crepe pan. Mwah ah ah!!!

We walked toward the part of town where my dentist appointment was supposed to take place. Let me stop here and inform you just how afraid I am of mouth stuff. The mouth is a kingdom of sensitivity in my reality. I'm an "oral" person. It's why I miss smoking. It's why I have a tongue ring. It's why I bite my nails. It's why I eat so damn much and why popcorn is like Ambrosia. Not to get too, ahem, but it's also my favorite sex organ. So, let me make you understand that going to the dentist for ANY operation at ALL is more uncomfortable to me than going to the gynocologist. Instead of "scoot down" my terrifying phrase is "open up."

To top it off, I was STARVING and we'd have to eat RIGHT before the appointment. But, though we walked around the neighborhood and stopped at every resto we could find, none of the menus would accomodate a vegan chick. As we were about to cave to a kebab (in which I could at LEAST eat a french fry sandwich) I noticed a little crepe place that boasted a "buffet de crudites" (a SALAD BAR--not a common occurrence here in Frogland). We walked closer to investigate and even though a good third of the salads on the bar (because you misunderstood if you thought it was a salad bar with stuff you could use to make your OWN salad... no, no... the salad bar here is almost ALWAYS a bar with already mixed salads) had some form of mayonnaise in them, there were at least five things I could throw together to accomodate my diet.

A new problem was that the buffet by itself was a little pricey (especially if I was only gonna eat five things). But, if you got the buffet + a dessert, it made it worth it. BUT... most deserts involve dairy. The menu touted "sorbets" but while they are about 90% fruit, there is some cream involved (verified by asking the server). I told her I'd just take the buffet (at which point she reminded me that it was "a volonte"--all you can eat) and have a coffee afterward. Sam ordered the buffet + crepe formula. I ordered a cafe-creme out of habit (drank a lot of them last week when Shannen was here) but then remembered I'm vegan and asked if they had soy milk. Negative. It would be espresso for me... and just before the dentist... shame, shame, shame.

It wasn't bad at all. There were shredded carrots, a mayo-free chick pea salad, a pile of tabouleh, some tomatoe-y mushrooms and some floppy, but slick cold green beans (good luck finding lightly steamed veggies over here). It wasn't sock-raping, but it was good and filling. Though, as usual in France, because there was only one server for the entire establishment, we had to skip coffee in order to make it to the dentist. The server did come back over to my table to tell me that they had never had a "vegetalienne" client before and that she had spoken to her supervisor (who said they would make an attempt to put more animal-free items on the bar, find new animal-free desserts AND to stock up on soy milk for animal-free coffee... DUDE!!! YAY!!! That has NEVER happened to me in France before!!!!!).

I swished some cidre (not your grandma's pulpy apple juice, folks, the bubbly fermented 'hard' cidre of old) around in my mouth in an attempt to dislodge all traces of cilantro and bulgur from my teeth before heading out across the street to my doom.

Lately, my entire mouth has been hurting. Even when I brush my teeth, the toothpaste seems to get trapped in a few places and it feels like a thousand tiny icepicks jabbing my nerve endings... and did I mention how orally fixated I am? So, I expected to go in there and hear him gasp and wail. He had me take out my tongue ring and open my mouth. "Hmmm."

He sent me for a digital x-ray.

By the time I got back to his room, the machine had emailed him my mouth. I sat down and waited for my sentence.



"Nothing big to be worried about here. I don't know why your mouth hurts. Maybe you should just change toothpastes."

My eyes bulged. "REALLY?"

He shook his head and then did a double take on the screen.

"Oh, wait. Yep. Okay. I see it now."

My heart dropped into my stomach. "What?"

"Yeah, number 35 is going to need a little filling. I see it now," he nodded. "But other than that, I don't see anything too worrysome."


"You'll probably need to replace that front tooth in the next couple of years since it's been dead since you were about 16, but that's nothing urgent."

He's good. He's REALLY good. How did he know I had my first root canal at age 16?

"So," he said, "you wanna go ahead and take care of the detartrage today?"

I didn't want to spend my birthday with half of my mouth dead. I could hang on to my tartar for another week or so. "It's my birthday."

"Ah, I see. Well, we can't have you eating your lip on your birthday." He set the appointment for early April.

Then, he complimented my French, saying that Sam had more of an American accent than I did. He shook his head and said that he was amazed and had never seen that before. I blushed and beamed and said a silent happy birthday to me.

Afterward, I kissed Sam goodbye and ran to catch the bus. I did NOT go home. I did NOT pass go. I took the bus straight to the movie theatre and got a ticket (with my unlimited card) for the next movie (one I wouldn't have actually PAID for) and went to the show. When it was over, I saw that there was another one (one I had actually planned on seeing) playing so I grabbed a ticket for it, bought a humongous popcorn and relaxed. It wasn't that great and only reinforced how happy I am to have that unlimited card... now I can see all the bad movies I wouldn't want to pay 9.50 for. Mwah ah ah...

I went home at six, helped Sam get the kids fed and hosed down and then I hooked up with Flavia and Gilles. I had wanted to find a Moroccan resto somewhere because I had a crazy craving for tajine, but Fla kept suggesting a Chinese place. But after further Facebook chatting, I discovered she was actually talking about a sort of Mongolian BBQ (you know, those places where you pile what you want into a bowl and they stir fry it for you on an enormous grill... but at this place, they do it in a wok). It ended up being AWESOME. Though a single plate is supposed to include two types of meat, the cook dude let me substitute with a huge ass second portion of veggies. Oh, let me back up here to inject that this was the first place I've ever been to in this country where people actually greet the customers with a smile and a somewhat genuine "welcome." It wasn't your usual lackluster "bonsoir." It was a "bonsoir et bienvenue" with a smile that looked like they meant it. The waitress was cute and funny, the food was delicious and filling. The wine left a LOT to be desired, and it was all sort of pricey, but it was an awesome experience.

There are two experiences duking it out for the "climax" of the evening. One is when they came to wish me a happy birthday--they turned off all the lights in the resto and put a spotlight over my head, the entire weight staff came out to my table playing maracas, clapping and weaving to music blaring over the speakers... they put a sombrero on my head and brought out a huge dish of ice with an enormous sparkler next to a shotglass of some alcohol... "Cul sec! Cul sec! Cul sec!" they cheered as I took the glass in my hand. I don't know why "dry ass" should mean "shoot it!" but it does. I downed the liquor (which was sweet and firey just like I like it) and screamed along with the cheers. Awesome.

The other experience in the running was the bathroom. Gilles had mentioned how cool it was and told me I HAD to go there even if I didn't NEED to. I rolled my eyes and went with Flavia.

First of all, the stalls have a clear glass on them that goes opaque when you lock the stall. Flavia went in and said, "Here. Gone. Here. Gone" locking and unlocking the door. I thought that was super cool but couldn't see what was SPECTACULAR about it. But then, as I'm peeing, I notice this little key pad near the toilet. I press a button, warm water squirts on my stuff. *eye bulge* Ever felt anything really soothing and really freaking weird at the same time? That's how this felt. I pressed another button and the same feeling happened to my OTHER stuff. Another button turned on a dryer. *eyes bulge*

With all that silliness over, I went out to wash my hands and saw a pair of jeaned legs at the bottom of the mirror. I turned around to see who was behind me and there was no one. Then, I realize that there IS no wall there. The jeaned legs I saw were men's legs in the men's bathroom on the other side of the wall. Between the two bathrooms, there is one shallow sink, with big smooth river stones in it and two motion-sensored, fountain faucets. There was also a HUGE bowl with incense and dry ice in it. Just rockin' awesome.

The other cool thing was that on Mondays and Tuesday nights, they have a private masseuse who gives back and shoulder massages in a little space partitioned off from the dining room with oriental screens. You can get a little massage while you wait for your drinks or desserts to arrive. There was also a henna artist (though I think she used press-ons) to decorate your hands (and I assume they worked for tips). When we left, we got genuine "good night"s that matched our welcomes in warmth. I was dazzled. What a great birthday.

So, Wednesday, the glitter wears off from the day before and I'm struck by the reality that I am not doing everything I should. Oh sure, things are coming along fine with the farm research and such things should be done slowly anyway so as to allow me to soak it all up, make it permanent and what not. I'm talking about the book. For years now, I have been up and down with this goddamn memoir. The first one. The one about France. I'll work on it feverishly for several months to a year and then I'll get sick of it and put it away. I'll dabble in revision but the sight of it makes my stomach lurch. Then, I'll pick it back up with new fervor... I even pitched it to an editor at the same conference where I met the AMD. And I guess it's just time for a new cycle to start because lately I've just been feeling "called" to get this piece of shit sent out. I guess I figure that at least if it's out THERE, it won't be hanging around to nag me and distract me from my other projects, right?

I went to the AMD's website and saw that now that it is launched, there's a line that says, "The AMD (okay that part's a paraphrase) does not consider adult work." Wellllll, when I pitched this memoir to the AMD in Austin, he told me that it fell into the "MTV" age category... Not quite YA (teen) and not quite adult. Problematic for the booksellers to categorize, but not unpopular with readers. When I asked him back then if he'd consider representing it (and then I pitched the story) he said yes. So, when I saw that on his website, I wrote his assistant an email and asked if I should even bother. Then, with the email sent, I began to research other possible memoir representation. I found a LONG LIST of ones who like memoir but only found a small handful I'd consider (and among those, only two I really liked based on their websites).

Undaunted, I decided I'd let that part of it work itself out. My job was to get the manuscript (and proposal) ready for submission. I asked a few friends if they'd read the first five chapters, just for some basic feedback--first impressions. There's one friend I know would have all the answers, but we've had some sort of inexplicable falling out or something. I don't remember WHAT happened, but we just seemed to abruptly stop talking to each other. Don't get me wrong, I'm not downplaying the importance of other peoples' opinions and critiques... it's just that this one writer person seems to really know how to light a fire under my ass. I miss her.

Anyhoo, so I started working on stuff. Re-organizing, taking advice that Boudy has given me and really trying to rework at least the first five chapters. It's GRUELING work because I don't have ANY direction when it comes to this projects. I just wish my AMD would see something he likes in my writing and then take my hand, showing me exactly how to organize this crap.

Then, I get an email. It's the AMD's assistant. He says that the character's age does make the situation a tough call, but that they'd be willing to take a look at the first 30 pages. I emailed him to see if he wanted me to send it through the site (because the "submission guidelines" say that they'd erase ALL submissions sent to their personal emails), but he writes me back to say I can send it directly to him. *dance of joy... and run to the toilet to vomit* I ask if he wants a synopsis and query and he says a synopsis would be nice.

So, that's what I'm doing. I'm working feverishly on the synopsis. It's really hard, too, because I have to peek into the chapters to see what happened in there and it only takes a few lines of reading my last revision for me to get all panicky and stuff. But it has to be done. I can get this synopsis done, get in all the critiques I've sent out, make a few changes and aim to send this to the AMD's assistant by no later than Wednesday. Then, I can pull all nighters working on the actual final revision just in case they want the full MS. If they don't at least it will be ready for the next submission, right?


So, since my birthday was during the week and since the only people I can rope into doing things with me at the last minute are my partners in crime, Gilles and Flavia, I decided I'd have a bona fide bday party on Saturday. I'd go ahead and have that TexMex fiesta I've been talking about doing since November. Of course, it's not tomato season, so things wouldn't be local, but I could make sure to get them as close as possible to local (Spain/Italy are closer to here than Cali is to NC) and hopefully organic.

I did some shopping here and there and I already had some of the stuff, but Friday night I took the tram to Auchan and shopped by myself for a couple of hours for the more obscure things. Sam came to pick me up in the van when I was done. Though I had recipes (and most vegan) for everything, I bought back-up jars of salsa and back-up packages of tortillas.

I worked all day Saturday. I boiled the pinto beans I had left soaking from the night before and then I smashed the shit out of them to turn them into refried beans. I made a fajita marinade from scratch (YAY!!!) and put the chicken and beef into ziplocks in the mixture out on the balcony where it's nice and cold. I roasted three different colors of peppers, some onions, some garlic and some tomatoes to puree into my homemade salsa. I sent Sam to the organic market for cilantro and in search of jalapenos (which, sadly, we never found... so though we substituted green Tabasco for the flavor in the salsa and the guac, we had NO pico de gallo... *sniffle*). In the end, there was seasoned ground beef, beef fajita, chicken fajita, refried beans, homemade salsa and guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, roasted peppers and onions, sour cream (well, creme fraiche), shredded cheese and funky looking homemade vegan wheat tortillas. I love taco salad so I also saved some beans to season with the taco sauce and built myself a plate full of salad on tortilla chips. I made myself a burrito of beans and fresh veggies.

Earlier in the day, before beginning the TexMex prep, I was reminded by the smell and fruit flies that I had better peel and use those damn apples my sister in law gave me a couple of weeks ago from her orchard. I took some vegan pie crust I had made the week before and rolled it out, pressing a glass into them as if making biscuits and pressed the thin circles into my twelve-muffin pan. I put some sliced apples in there, sprinkled it with a cinnamon/clove/nutmeg/sugar/vanilla mixture, dabs of vegan margarine, and then closed them all with the rest of the pie crust. I brushed them with soy milk (since egg wash is NOT vegan, LOL) and popped them into the oven. They turned out PERFECTLY (if not a little TOO sweet since the apples were so ripe). They looked like a little muffin, but with a pile of whipped cream (don't worry.. not for me), the guests gobbled 'em up. I quartered and cooked down the rest of the apples and am planning on turning them into fruit leather with my new dehydrator... Right now, they're sitting out on the balcony in a big pot, waiting to be smashed and run through the food mill. Waiting in line behind the blog and a few pages of synopsis. *grin*

We also had tequila sunrises to stay with the TexMex theme, but the grenadine syrup was too thin and didn't have the sunrise effect it was supposed to have. *frown* but they were yummy anyway. *shrug*

Everything went off without a snafu other than Delph SEARING her hand on the cast iron skillet while she was making tortillas (I still feel bad, D!!!). Iva's hubby David raved about how spoiled we were to have our view, their son Vlad played well into the night with our kids. I was sad to see they couldn't stay for the grown-up games, but I have kids and completely understand. Delph and Sylvain (YAY!!! WE GOT TO SEE SYLVAIN AGAIN!!!) brought over a couple of games--one called "Il Etait Une Fois" (or Once Upon A Time) where you have to make up stories based on the cards you have... SO MUCH FUN... and another game that really was a little too optimistic to spring on a bunch of tipsy people. So, we ended up playing Around the Corner and laughing until my gut hurt at all of Gilles' antics as usual. We made plans to sneak away to the Tuesday Night Trivia at the Dog this week (except AS USUAL, Sylvain will be out of town... bleh...). Everyone left around 2am (which, because of the time change that night was really 3am).

I got to eat TexMex leftovers all the next day and even discovered that I could use plain soy yogurt as sour cream (the one thing I had found "lacking" in my meal the night before).

I'm excited about the week. I've got lots to do. And Lolo made things even more interesting by showing me this morning (as I write this) that she has now learned how to climb out of her bed when she has decided that her morning nap is over. That may mean the end of the morning nap... that's two to three hours of freedom to which I have become accustomed... It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Also, Grumps arrives here on Thursday!!! woo HOOOO!

I looked at land in Lynchburg yesterday and found the PERFECT house on the PERFECT piece of land. BUT it was about an hour outside Lynchburg. In other news, I have been reunited with one of the most amazing female figures of my lifetime, a major force in the mentoring department... someone to whom I'll owe a large part of my success. And get this, she reminded me in a Facebook message yesterday that she was BORN in Lynchburg and that her own mother went to high school with Jerry Falwell (that last part was more shocking and sympathy-provoking than anything)!!! Born there!!! And get THIS, said mentor has her OWN family farm (NOT in Lynchburg)!!!


So, all in all, things are busy but I'm zen. I'm sure I've left things out... Probably lots of frustrated stories and whatnot... but you're all probably a little tired of drinking my whine, eh?

Be good and I'll see ya's in a week. *wink*

Sunday, March 22, 2009

In the saddle...

Whew, *wipes brow* THAT was fun!!!!

I'm not going to go into EVERYTHING because who really wants to read about other people's vacations, eh? But I will give you the quick run down of my week with my sister.

Sunday: She got here, looking all fresh and French with a scarf looped around her neck. She fit right in at the airport. Almost didn't recognize her. I had spent the day putting finishing touches on the guest room and apartment so she'd feel like she was on vacation (even though the damn shower curtain fell the second she tried to take a shower, hee hee). The main change was that we finally got Lolo moved out of the guest room and into the kids' room! WOO HOOOOO! Thank the Universe for daycare--going there has taught her how to sleep in an environment other than her room. So, we pick up sister and decide that since she seems to be so awake, we'll drive around Old Lyon for a bit. To our delight, she oohed and ahhed over everything. I HATE it when you have those guests who shrug and say, "Mmm-hmm. Pretty." Bullshit. Lyon isn't pretty... it's breath-taking. And it was fun and rewarding watching Shannen have that reaction.

The kids were SO happy to see her. They "Shannen..."-ed her for the next couple of hours, showing her all their toys and movies and tricks they could do. When things settled down a little, I asked her if she felt like going to the movies later that night, that there was that Julia Roberts/Clive Owen movie playing. So, after a quick pasta dinner (some of my homemade stuff that I really should have cooked a teeeensy bit longer *blush*), followed by quiche (I didn't eat either... I had green beans and broccoli cuz even though I knew I'd have to go off being vegan for the week, I wouldn't do it in my own home where vegan food was available), we hopped on the bus and went to the movies.

As we sat down, I noticed that the movie was starting. But, no, it wasn't the movie. It was a preview of the movie we were about to see. "Huh," I say, "the French are so weird. Putting a preview of the movie we're about to see." We laughed.

The movie started. Clive Owen in all his hotness was, well, hot. And serious. So, a few scenes in, I'm thinking, "where the hell is JR?" Then I think about it. During the preview of the Julia Roberts movie, I see that the movie is called "Duplicity." But I remember that at the beginning of our movie, it said, "International." I roll my eyes.

"Shannen," I whisper. "This isn't the Julia Roberts movie."

"I was wondering where the heck she was."

I start to laugh. "This is a DIFFERENT Clive Owen movie."

We snicker. And then every time there's a super heavy part of the movie, I lean over and say, "And cue Julia Roberts!" or "And now Julia Roberts shows up and makes this whole heavy movie a romantic comedy."

I didn't feel too bad for having picked the wrong movie (especially since the JR movie doesn't come out in France until Wednesday) because 1) Clive Owen is hot, and 2) It gave us something to joke about all week. We pretended that Julia Roberts HAD been in the movie but that because she was such a good actress, we just didn't notice her.

When we got back to the apartment, we stayed up until past ten talking so she would adjust to the time difference quicker.

Monday: We got up and helped Sam get the kids ready for school and daycare. I made a pumpking pie while Shannen was getting ready and we headed out the door. We walked down the river to the Hotel de Ville and then took the pedestrian street (Republique) down to Place Bellecour. Then, we took another pedestrian street all the way down to the Perrache train station. Shannen took pictures of almost every side street. It made me SO happy to see her so excited. Early on, we realized she had a thing for doors. She likes to take pictures of doors. I totally understand because the French make fun of all my pictures of windows. LOL.

At Perrache, we walked down near the Saone and back up-river, planning to meet Sam at our favorite Lyonnais resto on St. Jean. We were late because we were still taking pictures of side streets and doors (LOVE it). Sam even hid behind a wall and jumped out and scared the shit out of me. I seriously thought I was mugged. We took her down a few traboules that happened to be open and then settled in for lunch.

We each ordered something different so Shannen could try everything, but I felt bad that my dish was too "fishy" for her, Sam's blood sausage was just grody and her own steak was so tough (the flavor was really great, but I tried her steak and it was like chewing leather). So, while the scenery took her breath away, the food didn't really impress her. And that's okay. French food is sort of an acquired taste (in my experience/opinion).

After lunch, we kicked Sam to the curb and started walking again. We walked up the Jardin de la Roseraie in front of Fourvierre, taking pictures and talking about spirituality. Heavy shit. But I tried to make it not so heavy by peppering the conversation with inappropriate jokes and profanity. Hope it worked. We went inside the basilica and took pictures (being further inappropriate and obscene) and then took the funiculaire back down the hill. We got near home and then, instead of taking the bus to pick up the girls from school, we just walked.

That night, after playing with the kids a little, we turned in early to prepare for our trip the next day.

Tuesday: Forgetting it was St. Patty's day, neither of us wore green. We got up early, stopped in the train station for a quick breakfast and then caught our train to Paris just in time... running up the damn ramp to get to the quai. Little did we know it but Sam had booked us two seats on a "silent car" in first class (because for some reason, it was cheaper). After a few mean stares from the other passengers, we decided to go to the dining car for another coffee. We loitered there for awhile, staring out the window at the passing castles, little villages and other scenery before finally moving through second class to find two seats (which we finally did).

When we got to Paris, we grabbed a map from the change/info kiosk and headed out into the wide world. But not before a homeless dude tried to sell us one of those Sans Abri newspapers. Sadly, I didn't have even ONE coin on me to give him. He asked if I could buy him a sandwich, so I did since I can use my card at the sandwich stand. A lady who saw me said, "It's really nice, what you're doing." I said, "I've been hungry before." Shannen said she saw the guy later (while I was looking at the map and trying to get my bearings) and that he had cut the sandwich in half and shared it with one of his homeless buddies. Good.

So, seeing that the Pere Lachaise cemetery was closest by, we went down into the metro, bought day passes and headed out. We did have to go sit at a nearby cafe and make our way through a HUMONGOUS cup of coffee in order to have change to buy a cemetery map, but dude, I wouldn't just try to find my way through that thing without a map. We visited a few graves, but I don't think Shannen was much interested in most because she didn't know all those old dudes. Actually, it was cool that she was more into the cemetery's aesthetics than the celebrities buried there. She took pictures of rows of graves, the statues and the old rusty gates. The two people's graves in which she was interested were Jim Morrison (happy to report they didn't exhume him for not paying his plot rent) and a Paris DJ named SexToy. I stopped by Henri Salvador's grave and sniffled a little. I've seen Chopin, Balzac, Delacroix, Modigliani and the rest of the Pere Lachaise crew, but seeing someone who I REALLY loved in life was different. I'm so pissed but didn't realize until after we were already gone that I forgot to stop by Marie Trintignant's grave. It's probably for the best since I would have probably spent the rest of the day in a deep depression.

After Pere Lachaise, we went to Sacre Coeur... my favorite place in Paris. Sadly, the place was overrun with Kenyan immigrants conning people into buying little hand made "hakuna matata" bracelets *eye roll*... We fell for it at first, but I ripped mine off when they asked for ten euros apiece. NO FRIGGIN' WAY. Shannen did end up paying four euros for both of ours. I wouldn't have paid THAT much even and was prepared to give mine back to them, but I didn't want to ruin it for Shannen. I remember my first couple of episodes of being conned and how I felt so worldly having something hand made and sold to me by a charming dude.

We sat in front of the basilica and looked up at it. It's so strange. I remember really loving it ten years ago. I don't know what has happened. Maybe I'm old and crusty. Maybe I've lost all my potential for being romantic. Maybe it was just because I was hungry. I don't know, but my favorite place in Paris seems little more to me now than a tourist trap... a stop on the tour. *sigh* Still, it was cool to go back and roll around in the nostalgia.

After the pope's hat, we went shopping. Tee shirts, shot glasses, keychains, etc. They're all super cheap at Montmartre, so we went ahead and took care of that.

Then, we hopped on the metro and went to Cluny near the Sorbonne University. when we came out of the metro, I took us a couple of blocks in the wrong direction. Oops. But it was the only time I got us lost and it really was only a five minute detour. However, we were STARVING so it probably seemed like a year out of our way. At least she got to see part of the Sorbonne.

On the way to our lunch spot, I called Sam who in the most asshole-y way possible told me that I needed to take my phone off "silent" so he could reach me if he needed me. I didn't and don't for the life of me know why he wants to be able to get ahold of me. What the fuck? It's not like I could DO anything if he needed me. It's a two hour ride back to Lyon from Paris! Secondly, Sam has a penchant for always calling me at inappropriate times. TWICE during job interviews he has called and called and called, my phone vibrating in my bag over and over. He has also called me during movies for crying out loud. The reason I leave my phone on silent is because I don't want to be called at inopportune or inappropriate times. I hate imposing my phone calls on other people, so when my phone does actually ring in public, I feel like a nuisance. He was so pissed off that I didn't want to leave my phone on that he hung up on me... like a CHILD. I took my phone off silent, but I vowed that if he fucking called me during an inappropriate moment, I was putting the thing back on vibrate.

So, we went to Cluny, found a falafel/kebab joint and had lunch. The falafel was soggier than the way I like it, but it was not bad at all. Shannen really liked her kebab and scarfed it down without much conversation.

Afterwards, we dipped in and out of the little Shakespeare bookstore on the Rive Gauche, just long enough to wish I had time and energy to haul books around France, but I didn't. So, we moved on to a little cafe near the rear end of Notre Dame (another favorite place). It's sort of a tradition to go there since I went there several times with my buddy Erin (in gay pareeeee!!!) and have taken every American who has ever visited me (which is around 20 or so now) to the little cafe.

We crossed the bridge, passed a few street performers and went inside Notre Dame. I cracked inappropriate jokes and muttered profanity to add levity. Shannen had already seen two pretty amazing cathedrals in Lyon, so Notre Dame was basically "just another church." We walked down onto the island in the middle of Pont Neuf and took a few shots.

Now, we come to an interesting situation. We were walking along the banks of the Seine, on a sidewalk, and we came across this bent over, ancient beggar woman with a cane and a cup, asking for money in several languages. I asked Shannen if she still had that two-euro coin on her. As she was putting it into the cup, a guy pulled up next to me on the sidewalk on a motorcycle and came within inches of hitting me. He said, in English, "Ah, that's nice." I don't know WHY I reacted this way (maybe just tired feet?), but I said, "Well, it IS called a sidewalk. And we ARE walking."

He gave me a funny look and then I realized he had been talking about Shannen giving the old lady money. He wasn't being an asshole. I felt like such a douche. I apologized profusely and walked away blushing. What the hell is going on with me? I think I was reacting more to Sam than anything.

We crossed the street and went into the back court of the Louvre (which used to be a palace for those of you who didn't know). We took really mature pictures of Shannen pretending to pinch the cock-n-balls on a naked dude statue, our sides cramping from laughter. Then, as we rounded the corner near the pyramids, a dude said, "Hi."

I said, "Bonjour."

In French, he continued to ask where he was from, his friend next to him smiling. I answered their questions warily. I really don't know what has gotten into me. These guys were cute and probably just flirting because they knew we were American, but dude, I wasn't even given them a bone. I felt so embarrassed as we walked away, trying to figure out why I was being such a bitch. Maybe it was that I was having so much fun with my little sis that I didn't want to be interrupted. Sort of how I felt about Sam wanting to be able to call me whenever he wanted.

We took pix at the pyramids, then in Tuileries garden, then at the Place de la Concorde where the Obelisk is. Then, when we tried to cross the street near Matignon, there were guards everywhere deflecting even sidewalk traffic. I looked up to see a flag with a cypress or cedar tree and was like, "Isn't that the Lebonese flag? Or is it Iran?" Shannen shrugged but was as interested as I in what the hell was going on. I remembered that Obama was supposed to be in town that week and wondered if that was him in one of the huge speeding black cars that passed us.

I called Sam to see if he had heard anything, but he didn't answer. One time the phone went straight to voicemail. Another time, it rang and rang. I got PISSED. How DARE he pull his little girl circus that morning about MY phone being on silent if he wasn't going to answer HIS goddamned phone when I called him. I just kept calling and calling and calling. Probably called about 12 times.

On the other side of the street, once we were allowed to cross, Shannen talked me into asking a cop what the deal was. Turns out I had it right. The president of Lebanon was in town and had been at the Elysee palace with Sarkozy. Cool. And dude, they went all out for that guy's visit, yo. There were Lebonese flags EVERYWHERE (even on the stamps Shannen bought for sending out her post cards).

We strolled up the Champs Elysees and Shannen went into a Disney store to get her girls a Mickey Paris magnet. I finally got to talk to Sam and chew him a new asshole about not answering his phone. Turns out he was on the house phone with his sister. That made me even MORE mad so I really laid into him and told him that if he couldn't answer his fucking phone, I was putting mine back on silent. Childish, yes, I know, but I was tired, my feet hurt and I was pissed off at his antics.

Then, because the sun was setting and I wanted Shannen to see the hunk of metal before dark, we took quick, middle-of-the-street-running-through-traffic pictures of the Arc de Triomphe. We hopped onto the metro, jogged to the Trocadero and started shooting pix of the tower. It was a little anti-climactic at first. Mainly because we barely caught the tower in the fading daylight, but also because we were BOMBARDED (even moreso than at Sacre Coeur) with dudes trying to sell us trinkets. The kind of dudes that don't take just one "Non, merci" for an answer. It did put a slight damper on the scenery.

After a few silly pictures of each other and us together, we walked down the steps toward the tower as it began to light up. Near the bottom, as we limped on aching feet, we tried to decide if we were going to see the rest of our stops. We were just down the road from the Pont de l'Alma (where Lady Diana and Dodi al-Faed died in that horrible accident) so that was a must-see, but we couldn't decide on whether to skip the Moulin Rouge (which must be seen at night) for a sit-down dinner, or to hike over there and just eat a sandwich. After the Alma bridge, I looked at our metro map and found a way we could make it to Pigalle (the sexy end of town where the Moulin Rouge is) in just a few metro changes, so we decided to go for it.

We were "coo-coo"ed and bothered a little from the Pigalle metro stop down the road to where the Moulin Rouge is and that's exactly why I like to see it at dusk. The sun goes down, you take the pic and then you get the hell out of dodge because of all the dodge-y-ness. But, I'm glad we went. We did take turns watching the door for each other on one of the spaceship-esque public toilets before crossing the street and eating another kebab (I got the merguez this time... BAD VEGAN, BAD VEGAN... but I wanted her to be able to try it).

While we sat there, a dude who couldn't speak English OR French very well, tried to pitch me his pyramid cosmetics scheme. I listened politely and nodded and hmmmed and huh-ed, but mainly because he had a huge scar on his cheek as if someone had knifed him in a back alley somewhere and I didn't want to piss him off. He gave me his phone number and a DVD of his products *eyes bulging* and we bid him goodnight.

We RAN through the metro, laughing at how silly we must have looked, and then made our night train with ten minutes to spare.

As we waited for the train to take off, we thanked the Universe for being able to take off our shoes (which felt like tight gloves by then) and cursed one of our cabin-mates who stood in the doorway looking out the window and farting INTO the cabin (grody motherfucker). That fucker farted ALL NIGHT. I guess you haven't experienced the joys of traveling across France in a sleeper car until you've coughed and sputtered someone else's noxious gasses. *shrug*

We didn't really sleep well on the train. I don't know if it was excitement or fear, but just when I would fall asleep, the train would lurch or tip and wake me up. I did catch a few winks here and there, but had to get up in the middle of the night to cover up. I will say that I was impressed with the little sleeping bags they provided, as well as the free bottle of water and the little box of amenities like mints a moist towelette and a tissue. They came in handy.

Wednesday: I woke up around 5:30 and couldn't sleep anymore. I didn't want to miss the sunrise on the coast. But when I got up and tried to open the door, I found us locked in. I had to use the light on my cell phone to find out how to get the damn thing opened before I peed my pants.

After a quick trip to the pisser, I stood in the passageway and watched the countryside pass by my window. Shannen got up, freshened up and changed clothes (something I didn't plan on doing because I wasn't about to haul all that shit around with me for two days.. the world would just have to deal with my stench). And then, she stood with me in the hallway watching the coastline as the sun came up. Though it hurt our poor feet (who had been working hard for two days already) to stand there, it was worth it to see the coast.

When we got to Nice, we went to the tourism bureau and got a map and headed out in search of breakfast.

My memories of Nice are exciting and exotic. They're of bumming around. Of eating what I could find cheap. But this time, things were different. Shannen wanted to try yummy French pastries but the only place we could get the good ones were in the bakeries. But the bakeries didn't serve coffee. The places that DID serve coffee wouldn't take my debit card. So, we went off in search of an ATM from my bank. After a little old lady told us where one was, we discovered that it wasn't the right bank. For some reason, I couldn't get ANY signal on my cell phone in Nice. I don't know what the hell was up. But at that point, I said, "Screw my miser old man," and just went to the closest ATM, fuck the fee!

We went back up to a place we had scoped out earlier and stood in line to order our breakfast. Okay, pay attention here cuz I'm about to get really pissed off.

An older lady greeted us. I said, "She would like the small breakfast menu."

The old lady put her hands up and said, "Stop, stop, stop. First of all, what nationality are you?"

I said, "American."

"Well, you need to know that you should never, never, never start a sentence with 'she'... It's horribly impolite."

I rolled my eyes and say, "Fine. Mademoiselle, would like the small breakfast menu."

She said, "That's better. Never, never, never."

I could feel my face heating up because I knew this bitch was scolding me because she thought I didn't know anything. It's my own fault, I guess, because I don't make any effort to look French, so most people see me and think that I'm American or Canadian and prepare themselves to treat me as such. But then after a few sentences, they see that I am half French and they back off. I like the anonymity of being able to look un-French. To be able to be left alone and taken for a tourist... But sometimes it backfires.

"What part of the States are you from?"

"Mademoiselle," I said, with sarcasm, "is from Texas and I'm from North Carolina. But I live in Lyon."

She tsked. "I just don't understand why! Nancy, Paris, Lyon! Why do you students always choose those places for schools. Nice is so much better!"

"You don't understand," I said, "I LIVE in Lyon."

"Why do you young foreign students pick a crummy place like Lyon to do your studies."

"I LIVE in Lyon," I repeat. "I'm not a student. I'm a mom. I have three kids. My French husband and I live in Lyon."

She looked taken aback and said, "Oooooh, I thought you were a young student."

Through my anger and annoyance, I feigned flattery. "Well, THANK you for that!"

Then, as she's getting the coffee ready, she says, "Three kids, huh?"

I can see it's starting to sink and I can see she's beginning to back paddle. But she stops and says, "I still don't like Lyon. Nice is better."

"I adore Lyon," I said, brushing off her comment.

The other chick next to her says, "Ugh. Lyon sucks. Too much traffic."

"I don't deal with traffic," I say, "I take the metro." I know this is a blow below the belt because Nice does NOT have a metro. They have a few busses and a crappy new tramway that doesn't really go anywhere. But it works and they shut up.

But it has already soured our morning. Our coffees don't taste as good and our bread is limp and cold.

Determined not to let it get us down, we go in search of a grocery store to procur a picnic lunch for later. After two stores, we finally find one that has a corkscrew. We buy a bottle of rose and a pile of junk food and make our way down to the beach. We sit there for awhile, talking and whispering about the little naked boy with his uncircumcised penis running back and forth in front of us, bragging that he's gonna go swim naked and that he's gonna piss in the sea. I couldn't quit laughing at the little fucker and thinking about how much Ryan would like him. But he WAS getting on our nerves because you can't really get a good picture of the beach if you have a butt naked kid running around flashing you.

So, we uncorked the wine and dug into the junk. We split a jar of olives (good idea, sis!) and shared the wine. I gulped most of the wine, being a little more used to eating it with meals. We both took turns getting up and wading,but there was a weird oily sheen on the water and some trash floating in the surf (thanks fucking cruise ships!!!), so we put away dreams of going much further in. Plus, the water was really freezing (even for me) and the sea pebbles cut into our feet.

When a few other kids came down and started throwing rocks, we knew it was time to go. We packed up and headed back to the train station, giving up on Nice and stopping only to take pictures of statues (some of them nude and ridiculously perfect-bodied... see ass pictures below).

We purchased tickets for Italy and hopped on the next train. Tipsy from the bottle of rose (strangely familiar since that's exactly how I spent my LAST trip to Italy, ten years ago), we decided to make a mad dash down to the beach. We waded, took some pix, limped back up the pebbles, threw our shoes back on and headed back up the sidewalk to get some gelato before catching the train back Nice-wards.

We got off the train in Monte Carlo, strolled down a few side streets, bought a magnet, climbed the stairs to the palace, took some pictures and ran back down to catch the train again. When we got back to Nice, we had just enough time to grab some Chinese food before catching our evening train back to Lyon.

We were BOTH ready to be home. Exhausted and smelly, I dozed off here and there, waking up with a start every time the train lurched and looking protectively at Shannen's bag. I finally comfiscated it because the only way I could nap was knowing I had her passport securely away from passersby (and there WAS a stoner dude roaming the train (probably without a ticket).

We rolled into Lyon and I was surprised to look out the window and see the airport outside. Our train wasn't supposed to go that way. It was supposed to go to the downtown station.

When other people started getting jittery and talking about how the train strike was supposed to start that night, I started to get nervous. The train strike wasn't supposed to start until the next morning (that's why we had taken the evening train on Wednesday... to avoid being stuck all day Thursday in Nice). Our train's final destination was Dijon. If they would have come on the speaker and told us that we'd have to go all the way to Dijon and find our way back, I would have jumped off the moving train. We went into a tunnel and stopped as the conductors reported an electrical problem (bullshit... SOME mother fucker took a wrong turn south of Lyon and had us on the way straight to Dijon). We changed tracks and headed back to Lyon.

Shannen and I could have kissed the ground. We got on the bus and made our way home, never happier to walk in the front door. Shannen jokingly said, "Hey, you wanna go catch a movie? I hear there's a really funny Julia Roberts one playing."

We went to bed.

Thursday: Because the strike was a sort of "general" one in which people of all professions were invited to strike, the busses weren't really running. Neither were the workers at Ryan's school cafeteria. So, though Sam had the day off, and though the girls were both at school, mine and Shannen's day of tourism was going to be cut in half by our having to pick up Ryan and A (neighbor's kid) and take them to lunch.

We got off to a late start. I wanted to take Shannen down to the chic-chic chocolate store so she could have a hot chocolate and I wanted to go to the wooden toystore so Sam could see some of the toys Shannen and I had talked about getting for the kids. But it didn't work out that way.

I had put my fued with Sam on hold for my sister's vacation because I didn't want to drag her into the conflict. I had overestimated Sam's ability to be mature, however, and that morning, Sam was being a dick. Since we got off to a late start, Sam wanted to argue about whether or not we would have time to do the chocolate thing, stop by the toy store and make it back in time to get the kids and kebabs for lunch. I'm an EXCELLENT manager of time and I knew it could all be done. But because Sam likes to argue about every little goddamn thing I do or say, he sulked and whined until I gave in. But, THEN, he changed his mind and said, "No, we'll do it YOUR way, isn't that what you want?" But this was after we were already headed in the wrong direction.

In the end, I became overwhelmed by a wave of hatred and could barely hold back tears. I told Shannen to go with Sam to buy her chocolates and that I would catch up with them. I went to the toystore, bought what I wanted and then made my way back toward them. Since Sam was already being a douche, he DIDN'T get Shannen a hot chocolate. I was pissed and embarrassed for Shannen having to witness the bullshit. Since Shannen wanted to see Ryan's school, I told Sam to take her with him to get the kids and that I would meet them at the kebab place.

When he got there, with the kids, I was numb. I figured we'd have to discuss custody agreements later that night. But then, I kept thinking about the farm. And how if I don't stay with him and make it work, my kids won't grow up on a farm. So, I just crawled back in to myself and put up my screen. Let him have his way. Let him have whatever he wants. I'm just biding my time until we get the farm.

After our kebab, Sam took the kids to the park while Shannen and I went back to the house to pee. We met Sam at the playground and took the kids to see the animals, and once again, I loved that Shannen was so impressed with our little park, taking pictures of the zoo animals and oohing and ahhhing over how cool it was to have a free zoo next door.

Sam walked the kids back to school and Shannen and I went back to the apartment to get ready to go to the Roman ruins near Fourrviere. When we got up the mountain, Sam insisted we go to the resto next to the basilica to have a coffee. If you've been reading this blog the whole time, you'll know that I fucking HATE (with a seething passion) that cafe/resto. We sat down and waited for service. Twenty minutes in, Sam got up to order the coffee, but the server said, "We're coming, we're coming" in a rude tone. And then he didn't come. "Fuck this,"I said, getting up as Sam sighed in protest.

"Yeah, let's go," Shannen said.

"I'm not ever giving this place another centime of my money," I said walking to the door. I looked at the barman and shrugged at him. "Tant pis."

We told Sam we'd walk down to the ruins while he picked up the van. Again, I tried to put out my burning passionate hatred of him as I kept picturing the spot SMACK dead in FRONT of the ruins he had passed up so we could go up to that fucking rotten resto.

Shannen and I started our tour of the ruins and for some reason, they were actually a thousand times more interesting this time than any other time I've ever visited. I mean, Sam and I used to picnic there and be all in love and shit. But this time, roaming around with my sister, was more fun. *shrug* And when Sam showed up, I had to hold my tongue from telling him I wished he'd have just gone to work instead of putting a dark cloud on our day.

When our visit was over, Shannen and I concurred that Sam needed to climb back UP the stairs to get the car and meet us at the bottom of the hill. After he picked us up, we stopped down in Old Lyon to buy Shannen an apron from that cool place next to the Laurencin--the place with all the essential oils and stuff.

Afterward, we picked up Ryan and A and headed to the mall (the last thing on Shannen's to-see/do list). Shannen and I took the older kids through Carrefour and went perfume/cologne shopping and then met up with Sam and the younger girls fresh from school and took them to the toy stores. When everyone was completely exhausted from playing and running around, we loaded back up in the van and headed home.

Though Shannen and I had talked about going to the movies, we were just too exhausted to do anything. We ordered our favorite pizzas and just went to bed.

Friday: We let Ryan skip school and asked Sam to go to the bakery for goodies. After breakfast and showers, we loaded up the kids to head for Haute Savoie where we had plans to have a Raclette with Sam's parents. It was my job to bring the salad, so we stopped at an outdoor market and bought three types of lettuce (and it was an excuse for Shannen to get to see the market).

When we got to Haute Savoie, we did a quick deour into Switzerland so Shannen could say she had been there. It doesn't really look that much different other than the fact that it's a leeeeetle bit cleaner because they have more money. Since it was so cold, we didn't see any reason to go to Geneva since the fountain wouldn't be running.

We went to Pepe and Meme's house and Shannen got the tour of the house and attic (or as Shannen referred to it, "the trophy room" where all of Sam's winning cycling race cups are), while Pepe and I finished getting lunch ready. Then, we sat down to a fabulous raclette. Okay, listen, I know I'm all vegan and whatnot, but there's something nostalgic and wonderful about melted cheese and white Alsatian wine. I'll admit it, it was LOVELY. I paid for it that night and the next day, but it was nice to touch base with the in-laws again in a language we all can understand--the language of cheese. We had coffee and a digestif, but Shannen wasn't very impressed with the homemade "eau de vie" that is supposed to burn a hole through all the cheese you just ate. She did, however, get TIPSY on the Alsatian wine.

After we ate, Pepe showed us some cool historical books of the Chable and stuff like that. We thanked them for lunch and loaded up in the van, making our way up the Saleve so Shannen could see the Alps. We stopped a couple of times to take pictures (of the castle where Sam and I spent our wedding night and of the Mont Blanc), but it was just too damn cold to spend much time outside the van.

We headed back to Lyon, where the family ate a dinner of leftover pizza and quiche while I patted my poor belly recovering from lunch.

Shannen came into my office after dinner and we gabbed while Sam bathed the kids. She said she was going back to the States a "changed person." I tried to get the speicifics out of her, but she didn't seem comfortable elaborating. I assume she means that she has gotten to see another part of the world where things look similar to our own country but are just enough different to be a completely different perspective.

I was REALLY impressed by how sponge-like she was. She really wanted to soak up everything. She wanted to see the grocery stores. She wanted to see the inside of Ryan's school. She was awed by the smallest things we take for granted over here, and it was ADORABLE!!! It reminded me of me ten years ago. She was the perfect guest and the kids are still going into "her" room, looking for her and staring, sulking at her empty bed, wishing she was still here. *sniffle*

So, I guess I ended up telling you all EVERYTHING after all, huh? You know how I am. *shrug* If you really thought you'd get away with reading the Reader's Digest version, you must not know me very well. *grin* So much for the "quick rundown."

As for me, I'm in a strange kind of limbo. The microvacation has both awakened me to some truths and put my life in turmoil. I see clearer that I fuel this fued between myself and Sam. And part of me wants to modify my own behavior to help keep the peace. But the other half of me says, "FUCK HIM! Why do I have to do all the goddamn changing around here?" And I guess the answer is, "the farm." Do I want it bad enough to do my own growing and changing and let Sam just be what he is and hope he follows? I guess the answer is yes.

The happy thing is that we spent the rest of Saturday and most of Sunday (except for a four-hour period we spent at a birthday party for Iv's son (friends across the river) researching farm stuff. I researched land, equipment, organic practices and Sam researched agripreneurship and tax specifics. If he can just keep at this same path, we can make it. Maybe if I can just HOOK the mother fucker, we can have just one more thing in common. If he can help me raise this farm the way he helps me with the kids... if we can just meet in the middle as if it's a baby we are having together... we might just make it. Might. Maybe.

We'll see. Cross your fingers.

Guess what? Tomorrow's my 34th birthday. *eyes bulge*

Here are some vaycay pix...

From my phone:

On the bridge above the highway where Diana died (there are messages written all over it in Sharpie).

In bed on the train.

From Shannen's camera:

Sacre Coeur

Being dorks on the banks of the Seine near Pont Neuf.

French and Lebonese flags.

Fountain and Obelisk at Place de la Concorde.

Hunk of metal

Arc in the Triumphant middle of the road.



Monte Carlo, Monaco

The palace in Monte Carlo.

Stay tuned for more pix...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

No time...

... Just wanted to say.... YAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!

My sister's here!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's mental... funda-mental...

It's not there. He just doesn't have it. I'm so befuddled. How is it possible?

I asked him last night if he has any overarching goals.

He said he wants to take care of the kids.

I say, "No, I mean, OVERARCHING goals. Something you want to do with your life. Something you want to have accomplished by the time the sun sets on your life."


"Are you thinking or ignoring?"


I sigh.

"I guess I want a house."

"What for?" I say.

"To live in. To take care of," he says.

"What are you going to do with your house?"

"Take care of it."

"So, like, sand it and paint it and repair stuff all the time? Sam, what do you see yourself doing when you are your father's age?"

"I don't know."

"I know you don't KNOW, but do you have any ideas?" I'm exasperated.

"No. I just want a house in the country."

"So," I say, "you're just gonna have this house and live in the country and maintain your house?"


We talked for another couple of hours but the same thing kept happening. He DOESN'T y'all. Nothing. No goal, no direction, no purpose. No passion.

He's a floater. He just sort of bobs up and down on the waves and waits for shit to bump into him because that's the only way he'll move anywhere.

I, on the other hand, am a swimmer. I see what I want, and I move. Sometimes slowly, sometimes lightning quick, but either way, I move. Usually forward.

What has happened is that he has gotten snagged onto me somehow. Maybe I hooked him, if you want to follow with the analogy. He's been hanging on for the ride. And NOT because he came toward me. Not because he swam my way, but because I went out of MY way to snag him. Cuz I thought he could swim. I thought his silence was depth and mysterious. Silent like a blob of jelly, but with a pearl of wisdom and adventure inside.

But, I've cut him open and found no pearl. Took ten years.

Look, I can make myself be okay with someone who has no goals. All the more for me. But, I think that should mean that I'm the boss. And that he should either hold on and enjoy the ride or de-hook. Because... he's slowing me down.

You wanna know what my overarching goal is? Steady now.... To help people.

Sounds corny eh? But it's 100% true. Everything I do is to make the world a better place. Not just my world. Through my books; through my librarianship; through my farming, my baking, my cooking, my teaching, my parenting.... It's all with the ultimate goal to have left this fucking planet better than it was when I got here.

And Sam says it's not normal. He says that people don't have overarching goals to change the world. How would he know? He doesn't KNOW any people. He doesn't have any friends. Says he doesn't need them. The relationships he has at work are all superficial. He doesn't KNOW any of those people because you have to actually TALK to, or LISTEN to someone else in order to get to know them. And then once you've known them for a long time, they tell you about their overarching goal (or in my case, the first five minutes or so you know me *grin*... look, we can't all be quiet and mysterious.... some of us don't want to waste the time)...

I think HE'S the one who's not "normal" (not that I believe in such a thing). Most of the people I know have SOME kind of goal. Or even a list of them. I mean, at least most people have a bucket list of some sorts, right? I mean, am I really that much of an oddball?

I don't know what to do. I mean, part of me is glad to finally have the answer. To know that he is seriously and fundamentally different from me and has no plans or desire to change or grow in that way. So, do I just forget the farm? Do I ride out the France thing and wait until we get home to deal with logistics?

He said, "See? I think you NEED to be with someone who has no goals. That way you won't have any opposition."

And I said, "No, what I NEED is someone who sees the value of my goal and wants passionately to do it too. Who applies himself on his OWN time... without my constant goading and coercing. That's what I need. That, or to do it by myself."

The thing is, I feel like if I do it, I'm going to be doing it by myself anyway. The main difference is, if he really ISN'T there (as opposed to being there and being a limp, whiny, negative, NOODLE), I won't have to deal with his constant complaining and resistance. I love constructive advice. I LOVE having someone there to problematize. But that's not what he does. What HE does is hammer away at my positivity. And he uses BULLSHIT to do it. He has nothing to support his criticism. He speaks in declarative statements like "we can't do..." or "that's not how it works..." and it's all based on nothin'. Pulling it straight out of his ass. Based on NO experience or research whatsoever, only his inexperienced, uninformed opinion.

Come ON!!!! If you're going to come up with reasons I should revise my plan, at least back that shit up with some legitimate evidence other than "I know these things." Bullshit. He doesn't know ANYTHING. When I met him (he was 28), he still had a room in his parents house!!! They still did his laundry!!!!!! He went home every weekend!!!!! Can you believe that shit? I should have known better. I should have seen by the way he appreciated me cooking for him. I should not have been flattered by that. I should have looked for a guy who said, "No babe, don't cook tonight. You know I LOVE your cooking but that's four times this week you've cooked dinner. Why don't we let you have a night off and go out?" Where was THAT guy when I needed to find a mate, eh?

Dude, even now. While we were in the States. He let his father fly us over once or twice a year. Sam was making almost six figures and still let his dad dip into retirement money to fly us all over to France. And get this. Every Saturday, he would call his parents and let them call HIM back so it would be on their phone bill. *sigh* I didn't argue at the time because we really were saving our pennies, but when I look back on it now, I'm ashamed. And it's not like I didn't tell him to cut the cord. I did. I tried to guilt and shame him out of doing it. But I guess I didn't nag hard enough. There's no reason any adult male over 30 should have to call his parents EVERY Saturday.

Guess what? We're an hour and a half away and he STILL does it.

I'm over that part. I get it, okay? He was the baby of the family. His parents love him, he loves them, kum ba ya and all that shit. Great. Whatever. I just don't understand how you can continue to sponge off your parents. Why not cut it down to every other Saturday?

It sounds like I'm nitpicking. I am. And I'm okay with that. But the thing is, is that all these little things he does are indicative of the greater him. The who he is inside. He lets people pamper him because that's all he knows.

When I asked him who his little country house was supposed to benefit, he said, "Me."

And that's where it is folks. That's where it is. It's about him.

Everything is about him. I'm here for him. The kids are here for him. The job, him.

I told him yesterday that there are a million guys on this planet who would think he was a lucky bastard for having me. A woman who doesn't give a shit about make-up and jewelry and $50 hair styles. Who doesn't spend money on clothes and stupid shit. Who doesn't care if you play hookie from work to come home and watch a game or a cycling race. Who cares about making herself better. Who wants to be athletic. Who is smart and determined and independent.

You know what he says? "You're lucky to have me, too. I mean, I let you go out whenever you want."

He doesn't know how close to spontaneous combustion he just came.

"Let? You LET me go out? Look, Sam, I go out. Fact of life. Fact of nature. You can find a babysitter and go with me, or you can stay at home. But you don't ever LET me do anything, dear. Ever."

And beyond that, 1) I wouldn't go out by myself if he wanted to go with me... if he acted like he wanted to go..., 2) I wouldn't have ever married the kind of man who thinks he decides whether or not his wife gets to go out, and 3) I "let" him go out, too. If he means by "letting", staying home and watching the kids, I "let" him go out several times a week. We take turns going to the movies. My friends want to go out, he has a choice. He can help me find a sitter and come with me. Or, he can be the sitter and stay home. Since he doesn't really LIKE to go out, I don't see what the issue is here.

In fact, to press a little further, I make sure that the kids are taken care of before I go anywhere. I make dinner for everyone and have it waiting for them before I ever do anything. AND because I don't fall asleep on the couch at 9:30 like some OLD MAN I know, I even sometimes let him go to the movie first and I go to the 10pm show. How's he "letting" me go out if he's at home asleep in bed?

What the fuck ever.

I'm sick of the shit. Yesterday I was sad. Today I'm angry. I like angry better. Angry is swimming. Sad is floating. And I think I've already said which one best describe my nature.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Imagine that...

Usually, my doubts about my marriage come about a week BEFORE my hormonally challenged week of the month. Not near the end of the actual week itself. So, either my issues with the marriage are, in fact, valid *gasp* OR, I'm going through some freak hormonal imbalance.

It'll be ten years next month. Ten years since we met. Since I gave up my dreams of going to Africa. Of my double major and double minor. All those plans and projects I put aside for "love." And I don't miss those things. I'm excited about what I have planned. And look at my sweet, adorable babies. Look at my two Masters degrees. Look at all the work and stuff I've done. All the growing. I don't mourn the projects, hopes and dreams of my youth.

Except one.

I dreamt that I would spend my life with someone who adored me. And whom I adored. We were never a chocolate and flowers kind of couple. The first gift I ever got Sam was a small microwave (what dude lives alone for seven years with no microwave? That should have been an indication of how clueless he really was... Not simple and frugal... but clueless.). One of his first gifts to me was a vacuum cleaner. I LOVED it. Asked for it even.

So, this mourning I feel is not the mourning of some "romantic" (in the classic sense) affair. I miss eye contact. I miss being listened to. I miss connecting with someone. I'm not sure we ever really did. Maybe he just pretended to listen. I do a lot of thinking out loud. Maybe I misinterpreted his silence as reflection instead of what it really was--ignorance. Ignorance, his not knowing how human communication works; ignorance, my not knowing just how unreachable he is; and ignorance, his just plain, well, IGNORING me.

I looked back over it this morning. One month tomorrow makes ten years. TEN YEARS. A decade I have spent being ignored. Me. I never thought that would ever happen. Before, when I had boyfriends, if I found something I didn't like about them, I gave them another couple of months (and then, there were almost surely other things that I'd consider deal breakers that would come out of the wood work).

I want out. I don't love him anymore. Not that way. Not in the way where I want to grow old with him. For nearly the entire life span of our son, I've felt imprisoned. Stuck with him because of the child. And then there were others.

I'm not attracted to him physically. Probably because I have such little respect for him. Probably because if I met him today as a stranger, I wouldn't even consider having coffee with him.

He swears he still loves me, but he can't tell me why. The sad part is, I'm okay with him not loving me. Because I don't love him that way anymore, I have slowly devolved into someone he probably shouldn't love.

I stay for the kids. And a little for the money. I feel like he owes me. I have put up with it. I have done the major work in the relationship, the marriage, the parenthood. I have provided the energy, the direction and purpose. I have essentially become his babysitter, maid and cook. And I feel that I should be compensated for it. So, I don't feel guilty that he's paying my credit cards off (and when I say "my" I only mean that it's because they're in my name... We BOTH used it... how else were we supposed to pay for the new AC unit in our house? how else were we supposed to get a new roof?... it's not like we charged frivolous things.). I don't feel guilty that he's paying off my school loans. Those were my attempts to keep us afloat. Getting those degrees were my attempts to find SOME direction for us. SOME way to keep us together.

I grieve for the farm. My precious farm. Part of me stays with him for the farm, but I don't know if I can do it. I could do the farm on my own. Sure, I could. But it'd be a little plot of land some where in butt fuck Arkansas. If that. Because I can't pay for AND run a farm while working full time to pay for it. And then, what about the kids? Can't do it all by myself.

But I don't want to do it with him. I don't find him worthy. It's MY dream. Not his. He doesn't really want it. Not like I do. He wants a bit of grass for the kids to roll around in. He doesn't have any projects for bettering himself or the world around him. That disgusts me and I won't share my diamond with him. Blech.

My other option is to wait. Until the kids get older. Until they don't need my constant presence for parenting. Until Lolo is in high school (when kids don't like their parents anyway and wish they would go away... with email and Facebook now, there's no need for tucking in... advice can travel farther and faster over the internet)? I could work and save up until then. And then, I COULD move off into the Ozarks and have my little lonely compound. Probably by then, there won't be the same need for it. People will have learned that the only way to stay alive is to grow your own food. So, my farm will be for me. Or, I could just join the Peace Corps after all and go build schools and libraries.

But all that--the thought of not having the farm--makes me mourn for the kids. I really wanted them to grow up on a farm. But, in all reality... they wouldn't grow up there anyway, would they? Because Sam is so slow and reluctant, we wouldn't be able to actually HAVE the farm for at least another five years. By then, Ryan will be 10.

The only REAL solution in all of this would be to sell the house, split up everything and me buy a small plot of land somewhere near a city where I could be the evening/weekend farmer and the daytime librarian. I thought that city would be Charlotte, but it's looking like even a small piece of land is just going to be too expensive.

OR, I could just look at it as a compromise. I let Sam come with me. Let him pay for the farm. Let him help take care of the kids so that all of us can have some fresh air and tall grass.

But I don't think this will happen in Charlotte. I think it's probably going to end up happening in Lynchburg, Virginia.

I know, I know. What's a queer chick like me gonna do in Jerry Falwell country? I guess I'm gonna plant some seeds and watch 'em grow. The project Sam's working on now has an office in Lynchburg. The land is half price. The town is small and republican, but hey, I've been there before, you know? I'll just have to reign in my gayness... That way, I could have it all. The farm, the kids, the freedom to stay home and write in my "spare" time and still get to work closely with the local library. I could have it all right away. My kids could grow up on a farm.

Of course, I'll still be alone. I'll still be Sam's mother, too. I won't have a love partner. Won't have a fellow. An emotional equal. But, that's the sacrifice I guess I'm gonna hafta make. I'll just let him love me in his twisted deficient way. And I'll take my happiness where I can--those moments where the kids are cute and amazingly smart and miraculous. Sam will look at me and say, "Mama, look!" And I'll look. And then I'll be glad that we're both there. That there's at least one place our minds can meet.

And then, we'll see what happens. When the kids grow up and move off. When the farm has done its job. I'll drop it all and join the Peace Corps (or some such organization) by myself.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

MAN, I suck!

I NEVER thought I would go more than a week without gabbing on here! Wow... where did the time go?

To the movies, that's where. Since I've had this unlimited movie pass, I have been UNSTOPPABLE! I mentioned the movie pass last time, right? The one where you pay about 20 Euros a month and you can see as many movies as you want in ANY theatre in France (and maybe in Europe, but I haven't really needed to check).

Okay, so here's some funny shit. Tuesday before last, I got both D and Flavia to meet me at the Dog for trivia night. We all got there about the same time (7-ish) and found it already nearly packed. So, we kicked some dudes out and staked our claim on the corner table. I bought the first round--D a Tequila Sunrise and F and I a couple of pints of Leffe--and we sat down to catch up. Half-way through that first pint, F starts telling us about a book she wrote when she was in Brazil. And AWESOME story idea that I won't divulge here for proprietary reasons, but let's just say that it's pretty fuckin' awesome. She said she never finished it because she never thought anyone would read it. ...



So, I spent the rest of my pint trying to talk her into finishing it (and hopefully re-write it in English *grin*). I didn't know that Flavia was a writer. I wish I had known. I'm glad I now do. Because I'm gonna spend some time trying to talk her into getting into it. I remember how I felt when I was all, "I'm not a writer" and whatnot (as I still am sometimes).

Flavia got up and got us a pitcher of Leffe this time. The rest of the night is a drunken blur. I remember "The Gaffer" handing us out our trivia sheets and it being about "football" (soccer). Probably because they had two European cup games going on in the bar--one in one room and the other in the other room. I remember that one of the trivia sheets was a black and white photocopy of a bunch of soccer jerseys and we were supposed to guess the country. Give me a goddamned break, y'all. A black and white PHOTOCOPY? SERIOUSLY??? Anyway, and I remember some British chick spilling her drink on Flavia and not saying she was sorry and Flavia wanting to kick that skinny Briton's ass and talking so loudly about it that the Briton turned and apologized. I remember that one of the trivia questions was how old Yoda was when he died (like 900 or something like that.. I guess 700, so that was close). I don't remember the other questions. I remember taking pictures of the football jerseys with my phone so I could send them to Sam and he could help me cheat. But it didn't work. I remember it being WALL-TO-WALL people in there and having to literally smash my breasts and butt against all of them to get to the bathroom (I can't imagine I would have survived had there been a fire). I remember myself buying a second pitcher and having a conversation with a cute little British guy at the bar and me going on about how I was buying a pitcher because of my Irish blood needin' a fix. Look, he started it. I remember we didn't win our trivia (I'm not sure we got even one answer right). I remember going out for food afterward and eating a cool vegetarian wrap thing with deep fried broccoli in it and drenched in spicy Harissa. I remember that that wasn't enough to soak up the pint-and-a-pitcher I had had on an empty stomach and that we went next door to buy a French fry from the kebab place but that D and F said they didn't want any but helped me eat them anyway (making me need even more fries but not getting 'em... I figured I'd just buy some more on my way back to our bus stop). I remember Flavia saying that Gilles was on his way to pick us up. And that D said, "I think I lost my gloves" and me insisting that we go get 'em. And us coming back and Gilles being hopping mad and him saying something insulting about me and D. And I got pissed at being insulted and jumped out of the car at the red light (even though Gilles had attempted to lock me in) and started walking back toward my bus stop, thinking mainly of the fact that now I would be able to buy my French fries!!! I remember looking up and seeing Gilles there and wondering how he got BACK that far on a one-way street... fast enough to hop out of the car and walk up to me on the sidewalk and ask me to forgive him and let him take me home (which I did, begrudgingly thinking about my lost French fries). I got home and begged Sam to go to the kebab resto down the street and buy me some frites. He called them and they said they were closing. In my drunken stupor, I didn't believe him, so though I had already put on my nightgown, I put my jeans back on, my Ohio State hoodie on over it and my Asics and RAN down to the resto. Sure enough, he was closing and had already turned off the fryer. So, I walked even further down in search of frites... From ANYWHERE... I swore out loud about how I hated living in the rich old lady neighborhood because it meant I couldn't get decent frites after a night out. I walked around after midnight in the freezing cold, completely bombed out of my mind. And then, I took a seat on a bench to think about it. I considered going back down town, but then I looked down to see my nightgown around my denim knees, whipping in the breeze, so I got up and walked home. Cussing at Sam. I said something really mean because the next morning, he was all sad and asking me to cuddle with him. He said, "I need a hug." So I snuggled with him and told him about my night. When I heard his breathing deepen, I said, "You're falling asleep. You don't even give a shit." And he said, "I only wanted a hug!" We both laughed and used it as a joke for the rest of the week. Any time I would offer a hug, he'd put up both hands and go, "No, no. I don't think I have the time." LOL!

The rest of the week a bit of a blur, too. Mainly because I've just been busy. Writing and trying to get things reorganized around here. I must have seen a kazillion movies though. I saw The Wrestler, which I LOVED. And I saw a movie that was set in Lyon (SO weird to see my apartment building in a movie, I'm telling you!) about a girl who moves here to study piano but gets sucked into a violent and imbalanced psycho-sexual relationship with her female roommate. The cool part was that the producer, director and one of the main actresses were all there. I got a free copy of the soundtrack, the actress' autograph and asked the director a question about the movie. That was cool. I saw Revolutionary Road. And something else, I can't remember.

Then, on Saturday, I went with Flavia and Gilles and a friend of theirs to a kick ASS wine convention of sorts. We spent the afternoon and early evening sampling wines from different regions. It was so cool. There's a whole science to it, you know? You start out with the dry whites, move to the reds, go to the sweet whites, the cooked reds and then the cremeux and champagnes. And these were GREAT wines, yo! I only spent like 60 Euro (because Gilles pretty much cut me a deal) for 7 bottles of like gold in a bottle yo, but the next one I'm going to, I'm going to REALLY bring some home. I was being conservative this time because I knew Sam would flip (and he did: "Why did you buy all of that? We don't NEED that. We don't even DRINK wine." me: "Uh, but we WOULD, if we HAD some, now, wouldn't we?" *eye roll*). There was a slight snafu when the sandwich place wouldn't make me a vegan sandwich. All they had there were meat or cheese sandwiches or meat AND cheese, or pate, or whatever. When Gilles asked if the lady could please just cut open a baguette, slide some lettuce in and sell it to me, she said no. Can you believe that fucking French cunt? I was ready to pay the price of a rotting flesh sandwich for a few fucking peices of lettuce, but she said no. And she said it with a huge smile on her face, shaking her head no. I CUSSED like a SAILOR in French as we walked away. And then, later, Flavia got pretty pissed when Gilles couldn't guide us back to where we had really loved this sweet white wine she wanted to get for her mother (she's going back to Brazil for two weeks... what the HELL am I supposed to do without F for two weeks?!?). There were a few insults thrown, some yelling and some cussing, but I found the guy and it was exactly where Gilles had thought. But, I think they made up with each other later that night (sort of a couple's goodbye for two weeks dinner).

The next day, we went to the movies to see Cyprien (a French comedy) and then drank beer at the bar afterward. On the way home, Flavia and I BEGGED Gilles to drive around and find us some frites, but once again, we still couldn't find any. *sigh* I think I'm going to just buy some frozen goddamn frites and bake the shit out of 'em whenever I get drunk... GOTTA be cheaper, eh? I was tempted to peel potatoes that night, but instead, I just ate a handful of chips.

All this past week, Sam and I have been tag team movie watching. One of us will go at 6pm and the other at 8pm. The one who goes at 8 has to feed and bathe the kids and the one who goes at 6 has to do the dishes. Then, on Tuesday, because all the kids were at school or day care, Sam and I went to the movies again as our little date. I make vegan sandwiches and sneak them into my bag but stop at the concession stand and WASTE money on OVERPRICED Pringles and drinks (to sort of balance out the dishonesty of sneaking in sandwiches--Look, I don't wanna eat popcorn for EVERY meal, you know?). And yesterday, after Sam left, I hung out with my friend Iv for about an hour or so (at the movie theatre cafe) and then went and watched ANOTHER movie. I was planning on seeing yet another one last night (one where the actors and director were going to be there again) but since I am a BONEHEAD and didn't reserve, they were sold out when I wanted to make my reservation. I thought about going to see a different one, but at that point, I was just tired. I think I ended up going to bed around 9:30 (after Sam got back from the movies).

Two movies surprised me this week. I really didn't like Gran Torino at all. Most of the acting sucked and I just couldn't figure out what the movie was trying to say. And I didn't like what I found it DID say. So, that sucked. But I was so pleasantly surprised by Miss Pettigrew. *gasp* I KNOW! I wouldn't have seen it had I not had my free movie pass, but I'm so glad I did. I also went to see a French movie yesterday that my neighbor told me she didn't like *eye roll* but I LOVED it (just another testament to how different we are), laughed like a toddler at all the jokes!!! So, there you go!

Writing... Heard back from Boudy with some great suggestions that I've been letting fester and bubble in my all day. Thinking about getting to work on some of that tomorrow... I actually feel a great urgency to do so today, but all three kids are here (it's Wednesday), so it'll have to wait, but I'm optimistic.

Reading... Finally finished that goddamn Obama book and have to say that I just absolutely worship him as a memoirist. (I'm coming around on the whole president front, too... we'll see how that changes--for good or bad--after I read the second memoir.) I also read Coraline by Neil Gaiman (FINALLY) and LOVED it and can't WAIT for the creepy ass movie. Then, I started a Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman book called Good Omens that I'm just rolling around in. I love their shit apart, so why wouldn't I worship it as a collaboration, huh? When that's over, Iv has offered to lend her copy of Nation by Terry Pratchett, so woo HOO! On the side, I'm working on a green gardening book.

Cooking... My vegan cooking experiments have been AWESOME this past week. First of all, I tried making a new kind of bread. The recipe called for soy milk, but I used a combo of soy and almond milks. I also added sunflower seeds to two loaves and sesame seeds to the other and they were AWESOME!!! They were "boules" (a ball-shaped loaf) and that was my first time to do that. I made vegan reuben sandwiches using vegan thousand island dressing (which I made myself), avacado, mustard and saurkraut and that shit was delicious!!! I also made this kick ass winter vegetable stew with a savory biscuit topping that I found on Vegan Dad ( I modified the stew adding broccoli, carrots, cabbage and fennel. The biscuit part was AWESOME!!! And though I didn't have marjoram, oregano substituted quite nicely! We're going to the in-laws' house this weekend for the Feb/March birthday party, so I think I'll make this and take it with me since I doubt very seriously they will prepare anything vegan.

I had a lamb's lettuce salad that had a vinaigrette using tahini instead of oil and that shit was AWESOME (especially sprinkled with wheat germ and nutritional yeast).

And then today, I had my first experience cooking with tofu. I know I've probably mentioned I wanted to avoid the whole overdosing on soy that many people do when they go vegan/vegetarian, but I figured that I'd need to speak from experience, so I tried it. I chopped up some fresh spinach and some blanched broccoli in my food processor. I put that in a big bowl. Then, I mixed about a pound of firm tofu, about 2 or so Tbsp. flour, about 1/3 or so cup lemon juice, about a Tbsp of olive oil, some nutritional yeast, some ground ginger, turmeric, paprika and oregano. Then, I added 200 ml of coconut milk and some crushed red pepper. I thinned it down with some oat milk (any milk alternative would have done the trick) and I added this creamy stuff to the chopped green stuff. Then, I threw in the two or three cups of cooked brown rice I had leftover in the frige. I mixed it all together and spread it out in a gratin pan. I put in the preheated oven at 170 C (Look it up, but I think it's around 350 F maybe) and let it warm up and solidify a little. It was AWESOME... The spinach and broc weren't overly cooked and the aftertaste was pleasantly spicy/coconutty like a thai dish.

Oh yeah, and... I made vegan pancakes this past weekend!!! I used three mashed ripe pears in the place of the egg and added a touch more baking powder than called for. I used almond milk instead of cow's milk and made sure to put in a splash of vanilla. It was a huge hit with the kids! I finally got to use my new pancake griddle!!!

I also made some more vegan lunch meat and then sliced it up on my slicer and put it in the fridge... I've been chomping on it all week.

Let's see... what else...??? I'm gonna refrain from discussing the psychological problems of my marriage since I'm PMS-ing. Anything I'd say would be uttered through a hormone-induced fog of crankiness and that just aint fair, is it?

Oh, my sister is coming!!! We got the tickets!!! woo HOO!!! I'm gonna take her up to Paris to stay the night and then maybe down near Marseille and definitely up to meet the in-laws so she can get a view of the Alps and maybe taste some good cheese. I'm so excited for her! I wish I had seen France with my own personal tourguide and translator!!! LOL!

And then, just a couple weeks later, my Grumps will be here!!!

Alright then, all the kids are up again and buggin' me... guess I had better go check what movie I'm gonna go see tonight! LOL!!!

Take 'er easy!