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:
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...