Monday, December 24, 2012

The Annual Christmas Never Ending Email Parade Extravaganza





Nothing is quite as festive on Christmas than sitting in a Chinese restaurant and eating fried rice and making jokes about the cats and dogs that might be in it. So, this year, after a flurry of emails, this is what my family decided to do.  It only took two weeks and three thousand reply-all emails to put this brilliant plan into action.

But today, sadly, there is a hitch. One of my sisters, in a passive aggressive attempt to ensure that everyone shows up on time (some of us lack the intricate time management skills it takes to arrive at a destination without being an hour late) suggested that everyone go to the online menu, choose their dish and email back with their choices. That way, the first person who arrives can order for everyone, then we can gobble down our food and pay the check before the ultra important part of this joyous holiday.....Nap Time.





One of my other sisters, who doesn't have to worry about Nap Time, didn't appreciate the true meaning of Christmas, the lord baby jesus christ, being shoved to the side on his big day in order to accommodate two toddlers Holy Sleep Schedule, and decided that the adult way to react was to refuse to come to dinner.

I can't believe I didn't spend 12 hours on a plane so I could be there! This is the family I know and love. This is the drama and bullshit that was so lacking this year at Thanksgiving. It's nice to know, even when I am too far away to stir the pot, things are back to normal.


I'm staying home this year. Whether I like it or not, this is where home is. As much as I secretly wish for it to be somewhere else, somewhere warmer, somewhere where they speak english, somewhere closer to my family, I can't keep running to the US for every "last" holiday I will get to share with my Mom She is still sick, but I can't fix that by hopping on a plane. And all this back and forth was exhausting, financially, emotionally and physically.

Luckily, I didn't make this decision until December, after a conversation with a friend that helped me realize I didn't *have* to go to California again for Christmas. By that time it was too late to invite anyone to come to our house. Everyone already had plans. And we turned down all invitations by saying we wanted to stay here, since we have never celebrated Christmas in Paris before.

So it's just me, David, Maza and piles of cheese, bread, wine, foie gras and champagne.




Merry Christmas mes amis!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thanksgiving


This year was extra interesting because my Belle Mere came along. So the first week I was in California, I was asked constantly to translate words like "yeast" and "zest of lemon" and all the other back and forth conversation between my Mom and my mother in law.




Thanksgiving was unusually calm this year. Each and every one of my sisters showed up (usually at least one has to go to their husbands side of the family). Everything ran so smoothly that it felt strange and unfamiliar.





I was watching Charlie, but got a little distracted filling up my wine glass, and when I found him, he had gone up stairs and put himself in the dog kennel and shut the door and was playing with a bone. Makes me wonder what goes on at my sisters house.


We went to Monterey Bay Aquarium








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The aquarium is full of really big stuff

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and really small stuff

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Bought some crabs for dinner




And on her last day we went to the gun range. She had always wanted to do this, and I never had. It was really fun.

soon to be explained useless dog can be seen in the background


So, after getting home from dinner, David and my step dad sat down at the table in front of their laptops, and I gave the dog a treat since we had just enjoyed a nice meal and I felt sorry for him. My Mom and my mother in law were still outside talking, but I was tired so I decided to go to bed. I walked past the couch and did a double take.

There was a drunk, snoring man sleeping on the couch. I asked Rex who it was and he said he didn't know. I looked at the useless dog curled up in his bed two feet away from the stranger on the couch and shook my head in disgust. By then my Mom and mother in law had come back inside and we all stood there staring and laughing while Rex tried to wake him up. For me, this was just something I was used to after living there for two months during the fall. The house just has a crazy aura. Nothing surprises me.

Eventually the guy woke up and stumbled out the door and disappeared. I shrugged and thought it was good he had ignored the computers and the gun case full of guns which were all in plain view and only took a nap on our the understandably comfortable looking couch. But my poor mother in law took the guns, locked her door and couldn't sleep all night.

After another week spent with my friends in Sacramento, I put on my lucky socks and flew home. 


Oh, one more thing, remember when  the Mean Parisian Pregnant Lady lady told me this apartment was  lucky for getting knocked up? Well, my friend who stayed here in September and my friend that came and checked on Maza while I was gone are both pregnant. Strange.

Friday, November 9, 2012

3 Countries in 2 Days


In less then a week I went from California





Free lending library  








To Paris




To Lyon




it snowed

frog legs and morels

David and his brother both did the same thing with the bones




I was jetlagged and pms'ing and had a nasty cold. Lyon was cold and rainy all day, and my plans of wandering around the city while David was in work meetings quickly turned into me wandering from cafe to cafe trying to stay warm.

I thought if I could just be at our apartment instead of living out of the same suitcase I've been using for the last two months, schlepping it from hotel to David's brothers house, to another hotel, I would feel better, but even there, with my cat and my own bed I felt restless.

The only time I was calm was when I was moving, walking to the store, taking the metro to Gare de Lyon, the taxi to the Orly airport. Sitting on a train. The awkward, uncomfortable feeling I had during my first year here, never confident if I was doing things right, came back. I felt unsure about everything I did. Certain that I stuck out like a sore thumb. I didn't even want to get bread from the boulangerie. I stumbled over my change and struggled to understand what the cashier was saying to me.

When I was in California, I wanted to be in Paris. And now that I'm in Paris, I want to be in California. And neither place feels like home anymore. I don't care about finishing the kitchen or the rest of the apartment. Even Maza looked small and dull when I finally saw her after being gone for so long. She looked at me, and then looked at David like, "Who the hell is this person and why is she in our living room". Or maybe I'm just projecting.


Four days later we were in the Pyrenees for David's birthday.





 The most exciting thing we did was go to the roman baths. There was nothing else to do but hike, and we didn't bring hiking shoes.



I tried to take a picture of it empty, but it looked pretty ghetto.









Our cell phones kept beeping to let us know we were out of France and roaming. Which is how we discovered the small country of Andorra (which was just one big duty-free shop) 


3 different languages



spanish Coke




and an enclave of Spain Llivia. Both of which we could see from the car while we were driving around.
















Four different languages




But looking over those three countries, instead of being grateful, all I thought was that there was a sea of people as far as the eye can see who can't understand the words coming out of my mouth.



Instead of just French, now I was surrounded by three languages I didn't understand. It made me feel more alone. More isolated. And I felt guilty that I was traveling and seeing the world and I wasn't even enjoying it.


A few days of doing absolutely nothing but driving around, soaking in hot springs, walking and eating, I was finally able to relax and unwind. I was so tightly coiled I didn't even feel the tension until it was gone. It was just me and my sweetie and that was nice. That was home.