If youve never lived abroad, you probably wont really understand the following post.
No matter how good the reputation of the food of said location, the honest truth is, it aint never like mama made it. For example, last night, Callie and I went to a "Country Western" restaurant in Chambourcy for dranks. We took a gander at the menu which featured among other things, snails, fois grois, frog legs, etc. COUNTRY WESTERN, people. If youre going to have mostly French food, lose the cowboy hats and dont tease me....
Anyway so today for lunch, L and I had fried potatoes and scrambled eggs. This was all completely on a whim, I had no food goals ahead of time. Originally, I planned to eat rice, but as I was checking L's food to made sure it wasnt too hot, I accidentally got a taste of the eggs mixed with the potatos.
If anyone here has seen Ratatouille, theres a scene in which the super creepy food critic goes to take a bite of the Rats ratatouille. As he does, hes suddenly taken back to his childhood. The scene shows him falling off a bike or something, coming in for lunch and being served ratatouille by his mom...
This is exactly what happened with lunch today. I dont remember the last time my mom made me fried potatos and eggs, but its been a while. I was suddenly reminded of Christmas day, after we opened presents, sitting around the dining room table eating loads of eggs, potatos, challah bread, and sausage. I think thats the first time so far that Ive felt really nostalgic for the States.
I went out with a Frenchman last night, well Algerian Frenchman at least. His name is Hachemi and his English is only slightly better than my French, still, we had a pretty good time.
Hes been calling me for a few weeks, so I finally decided to cut him a break (aka, REALLY needed to get out of the house) and told S and G that I had plans...Well, S started to get really worried that he was coming to get me, etc. So after trying to cancel my plans I finally went out, but to ease S's mind ( that I wasnt going to get raped and left in an ally in Paris) she met him and said that "Its ok he seemed nice." It was funny because he has an accent in French, like I would notice, and S turns to me while on the phoen and says, "Hes not French!!" I think she was concerned that he was some North African thug trying to sell me into slavery...But fortuntately for Hachemi hes pretty nice looking and, if not a bit awkward, very sweet.
Anyway, so other funny story-We get to Saint Germain and go looking for a bar (Hachemi doesnt drink, but I wanted to get a beer). See some girls on the street flag them down, and ask for directions. I realize theyre American and start being friendly and asking what theyre doing in France. (Theres an international high school in Saint Germain, so these girls were like idk, 17?) The one American girl was basically a bitch and pretty rude. Whatever. I tell Hachemi, who understood nothing, that the girl struck me as very impolite, he shrugged and we go to the bar. Show up there, and these girls come in a little later. So Hachemi and I have our dictionary out and are having a nice little conversation, and I hear this girl start talking about me in another language----SPANISH. I thought about saying, hey puta, hablo espanol mejor de frances, but decided it was better to just ease drop, they changed the subject after a few minutes. But Hachemi noted that when we were playing pool she was "looking at me weird"(like she didnt like me).
The whole situation struck me as odd, because all the girls that Ive met so far have been, well, nice! I guess it must be an age thing, but I dont understand why you would go out of your way to be rude. The other thing that I found annoying was Hachemi and I waited after the first group of people, then a whole bunch of high schoolers kept asking to play before us, so finally I was like, NO, weve been waiting, were going to play. Anyway, this group of kids just kept talking to me, and giving me advice on pool. I kind of miss the States where everyone just minds their own damn business!
Day three of "full" week. Les enfants are on vacances, so that means I work like 9 to 9, everyday. Currently, Chubs is sleeping and the oldest three are with Mom and Dad in Paris. G's birthday was yesterday, and I was supposed to have most of the day off while L was in daycare and the kiddies went to Paris, but whatever it is they're doing was closed...So A, F, and I went grocery shopping, then made lunch, then went to see the Princess et le grenouille...Thats supposed to say the Princess and the Frog. Funny that grenouille was the first animal I learned in French (arguably the only animal I know)....I think I read about it at a book at Jons house, and its just stuck....
Soooo Sunday. Went to Paris at 1230 to meet up with Amanda for a drink and some Olympics. She didnt get there until after two, so we wandered until we found The Great Canadian and ducked in for a beer. One pint turned into six and next thing I know, Callie arrived, I had met an Israeli (SCORE!) Denis came to hang out, we found a bunch of Canadian guys (including one man who was 46 and trying to make it with Callie, and bought everyone roses), got free shots from a bartender who made out with one of our friends, found a bunch of Canadian GIRLS, watched the Russia Czech game, missed my train back to O-town (had to call home and make sure it was okay that I had the car, came back inside chanting "MOM AND DAD SAID ITS OK!!!") and stayed the night at Deniss apartment....woke up at 7 am and hightailed it back to O-town to work 11 plus hours on little sleep.
APPARENTLY Callie and Amanda didnt even make it to the door, and stayed until 4 am to watch the whole USA Canada game!
Last night I went for my little night walk, and found an amazing spot in O-town. L's daycare is on a hill and you can see all of O-town and some villages, it was really beautiful. I think Ill go sit out there more when the weather gets nice.
On that note, its been like 10° C here, so like 50, and Im lovin it. No one can talk about anything except how much we all want Spring to get here! I saw a few flowers the other day, and I cant wait for them to start blooming.
Me-"Hey S, do you have any neosporin or something that I can use? I have this awful looking cut on my hand." S-"Sure, what happened?" Me-"Uhm, I fell." S-"Wow, that looks bad, how did you fall?" Me-(mumble something unintelligble) S-"Oh, haha, I get it you were drunk and fell down somewhere in Paris!"
Im shamelessly stealing this from Callie because it is that on point
"I could give you a methodical, wikipedia type answer on the definition of an au pair; but no. I think this will explain better. (this is a joke, made by me, and actually doesn't represent my totally awesome host family, but rather, au pair life in general, including real experiences from my fellow au pair friends here).
French family seeking English-speaking Au Pair Girl to be part of the family!
French family is looking for a native English-speaking female au pair to continuously take advantage of while she works for peanuts watching our unimaginably ill-mannered children.
Family consists of one obsessive compulsive father, working in international business and making loads of money while managing to maintain steadfast stingyness, whose hobbies include yelling excessively in French, spouting claims that France is the greatest country in the world, and propelling acient ideals of male superiority to his children, or anyone in earshot. Also, one mother, complete with a Prozac-worthy case of guilt over having a job rather than staying with the children and a complete lack of disciplinary abilities with said children, but, of course, outstanding fashion taste. Also, three children, aged 4, 6, 10. Four year-old boy attending French school 30 hours per week, however, seems unable to speak coherently, and instead prefers communicating through a never-ending stream of cries alternating between dog whistle-like shrieks and vomit-inducing faux sobs. Older children both attending school full time, needing to learn English, and will enjoy regarding you as a house servant not deserving of any respect.
Family is willing to pay 70 Euros per week, plus room and board, in exchange for '25 hours' a week of help. However, in reality, family will expect non-stop, 24 hr assistance should the need arise, including surprisingly regular requests for housework. Also, included in wage is 4 nights per week of babysitting, usually on demand and with no notice, regardless of your previously made plans for your free time. Additional work will be paid at 5 Euros/hour, although frequently, best attempts will be made to avoid paying this, through strategic avoidence and/or awkwardness.
If you are interested, please don't hesitate to call/email us. We ensure we will sound totally welcoming and friendly right up til you get here!"
O-townian definition- Walking chubs (L) crammed in her stroller to daycare on roads with limited sidewalk on streets plagued with French drivers.
O-town doesnt really have sidewalks. Also, the streets are just big enough for (I would imagine) two horses to pass by side by side, barely. Anyway, as you may or may not know, the French are erratic drivers, and go around blind corners going AT LEAST 45 mph. Im certain the only reason I havent been mowed down yet is because I hear the cars coming and dive out of the way....
Ailie and I booked a hostel in Madrid! Apparently its in the dodgy part of town, but Im hoping it goes well....
This weekend was much needed. Went out to a Canadian bar with Ailie and met up with some internationals doing training in Paris, someone from Barcelona so I got to parler espagnol. Denis, a friend of my sisters ended up showing up too! Long story short, ended up staying in South Paris with Denis and had to come back into the city Saturday morning to retrieve Ailie. I then convinced her to walk around in the ridiculously cold weather.
We started off I think in Gare du Nord, and I guess ended up by the Louvre. We walked around the courtyard but never actually entered the building. Finally, after several hours we were so cold we got on the metro and rode the 1 for like a half hour(later learned that the 1 is the oldest subway in Paris, circa 1900)...Ended up texting Jon Steffee and headed over to his apartment by Chatelet and drank espresso and chatted about French.
I had to go back to O-town, thinking I had to work, really long story, but I ended up coming back to Paris and meeting up with Erin, finally! We went out and I was exhausted, but her friends were nice. They spoke mostly in French, but I cant complain too much. I stayed at Erins that night and left her place on Sunday around 12.
Original plan was to go to Sacre Couer alone(Im sure thats spelled wrong), but I ended back over at Jons, and talked more about French, etc. We walked around his neighborhood for a while and stumbled upon a bunch of Asians and dragons. Turns out yesterday was Chinese New Year so the streets were croweded with the French Chinese associations. It wasnt particularily interesting, and by the time we saw our 5th dragon, we turned down a side street and dipped.
The weather was infinitely nicer than Saturday, as in there was considerably less snow icing in my face, so I feel kind of bad that I didnt spend more of the day outside. Its funny, I am really content to just walk around for hours in Paris, no matter rain sleet or snow. I guess considering how much time Im forced to sit inside I feel a bit desperate for (semi) fresh air....The other bad ass thing about Paris so far, is that I havent purposefully seen any tourist stuff, Ive just stumbled upon it.
Anyway, the bad end to my weekend ( and the reason Im sitting in the playroom in my PJs at 2pm) started during the day on Sunday.
(Im writing this after the fact to explain that it REALLY started Saturday night. Both Gand T were sick, and T ended up throwing up on his pillow. I was asked to bring down the laundry and put it in the washing machine. I guess that in the LESS THAN 5 MINUTES I had with the laundry, I contracted the stomach stuff....)
In Paris, on Sunday, I had a jamon, oeuf, and fromage sandwich at like 3, as soon as I finished eating all 12 inches of it (i know, I was reallly hungry) I felt nauseated, despite this, I stayed in Paris another few hours. I finally got home at like 930, and I was still really full from the sandwich, so I went to bed around 11. One AM rolls around, and I ended up puking up most of the sandwich, and anything else I ate this weekend.
Gross. I had planned ahead by bringing a (vomit) bowl down, but I had to get up rinse it out, and get back in bed. It sucks because this is the first time Ive thrown up (non alcohol related) since I was in high school! The only thing I wanted was a mom to come and comfort me, but I was on my own, cleaning up after myself, and putting myself back to bed :( Anyway, I woke up like 20 minutes later for round two, but was finally able to go back to bed.
My alarm went off at 7, and I decided that walking the kiddies to school was the last thing I should have been doing, so I told G and he told me to go back to bed. He sent Tdownstairs with some medicine, and T very kindly explained the dosage of each type of medicine.
I woke up at 11:45, and came upstairs. I had some toast and a little broth with some meat, and thankfully it stayed down.
So Im going to go take a shower, and I think I will go pick up the kiddies from school...
Its cold here, and I know I shouldnt complain, at home theyve gotten like 24 feet of snow, or something. Ive taken up wearing two pairs of pants, and the weather is DEFINITELY not good for my cold. Regardless, I am recovering, I woke up this morning able to breathe. Unfortunately, things arent quite as good for L...she apparently was up all night coughing (makes me glad I was in another part of the house.) She didnt go to daycare today, so S stayed home with her, she also offered to pick the kids up from school. This is okay with me, considering getting the kids from school is usually a long and very cold process.
I had class today (Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday in STG.) It usually takes about 45 minutes by multiple buses, but Ailie got to take the car today! We usually meet up at the bus stop by her house, but today happened to be the day that I had to run by the school to bring the two older kids their hats and mittens.
Okay so heres what happened-Alright so L is sick with this awful cough, S takes her to the doctor, asks me to vacuum and mop Leos room before I leave to drop off the warm weather garb. Its 9 45, the bus leaves the stop by the church at 1025. I haul up vaccuum, haul up mop, discover mold growing in room, clean, mop bathroom floor while Im at it, change laundry, throw everything where it belongs, RUN (in boots, on ice) to the kids school, ring the bell, stammar out French, RUN to the bus. My clock said 1024 as Im going to the bus. I get on waving arms frantically, reaching in my bag for my ticket, the guy looks at me and says in French (I think) Calm the shit down lady, Im not leaving for another 2 minutes. Anyway, I get seated, start to do my devoir ( that I didnt do last night) and text Ailie to tell her that I was already on the bus. Im hanging out, listening to Coldplay, as we pass the Tressencourt stop.
No Ailie. I look at my phone, realize shes called a few times ( this is a big deal, because cell phones are prepaid) and see a text telling me shes going to take the car. I literally got off at the next stop and waited for her to pick me up, and we drove into Saint Germain. It took us quite a while, but we did manage to find parking.
Extra plus of her driving, we were able to stop by the shopping area in O-town to get a card for S (todays her birthday) and some wine. We are going to try and have a tasting tonight, Ive been here for more than 2 weeks and have yet to drink and French wine.
Anyway, tomorrows Friday, and I finally have a night off!
I should point out that Im using a European keyboard, and also, I have yet to figure out where the apostrophe is located. Also, some of the letters are differnt, and I find myself typing , instead of m. And here, another example. I zill noa type on the keyboqrd qs if I q, typing on qn q;ericqn keyboqrd.
So, now that Im forgiven for my poor grammar/spelling/etc, Ill move on. I have this super annoying headcold, that Im sure is a direct result of child interaction (I figure taking care of kids who go to school everyday is like having unprotected sex, youre getting the diseases of everyone that theyve been with, graphic, I know.)
So for a change of pace, A and F had Cataclysm class....not sure what it is in English, but I guess like CCD? Anyway so I just had to get T, which was more fun because I could have more one on one time with him. We raced the (empty) stroller around the streets. I did have to get L from daycare, which was fine except that she was wearing a coat Id never seen before. Usually, L rocks a full length fluffy sky blue parka that makes her look as if shes as wide as she is long. Today, there was a little pink jacket Id never seen before. As a result, I had to pantomime questions to the care takers, who speak no English, my French, two weeks after arrival, is just slightly above non existant.
Anyway, coat was found and we made it home in one piece. So after I got home, I asked Fwhat she learned in Cataclysm, and she told me about Baptism, etc. The funny part was when she started talking about Paque (Easter). She told me, apologetically, that she didnt know the word in English, and was sure I wouldnt know either, because I wasnt Christian...Mildly insulted, I had to explain that yes, even us liberal Protestants celebrate Paque (keystone of the religion....), and I do indeed know the word in English AND French...
On that note, French is coming along. I understand some spoken, understand better written, can kind of write, but cant talk if my life depended on it. Literally.
Trying to plan a trip in a few weeks, maybe South France, maybe Ill just party for a week straight in Paris, who knows.
So, the baby shit her little brains out yesterday, which was an overall lovely experience. She managed to step in her poop, in the process soiling several towels, then, three hours later, she did it again (this time aiming for her onesie.) Some Friday....
Tally=Three towels, two baths, one outfit, two diapers, half a package of baby wipes. Did someone say birth control?
I went into Paris again last night, Ailie promised we would go out since the other au pair girls are all going out tonight, but I have to babysit, in about an hour actually. We met a Canadian girl, Shelby, who seems like a pretty good time. She lives on the other side of O-town across the tracks if you will. It was funny because Ailies family told her that Shelby was Australian, and that she had just arrived. We started talking to her, and I was thinking, man, she has NO Australian accent, thats really weird, but no, shes from Toronto.
We went to a club, which sucked, and DID not have free drinks, so we stayed, I drank a CubaLibre, which in France, apparently, is like a mix between a Long Island and a Rum and Coke.
We ended up at this Austrailian Bar, next thing we knew it was 4 am and we had to figure out how to get home, RANDOMLY, this French guy I was dancing with decided that he would drive us home. Interesting=he wad Algerian French, and Muslim. I was almost able to find out all of this using French. Anyway, he doesnt drink, since hes Muslim so that worked out. (I left the girls talking to some hot French guy and walked over to the car, after I left, the girls realized that they had just let me walk off with a stranger, but I had my phone) Out of the three of us, Ailie speaks French the best, but it was kind of fun to practice my (very, very, very basic) French. I think Im improving but I definitely need to practice more. Shelby ended up spending the night here (morning really) and I drover her to her car later. Its nice to meet more people in the village, because its almost impossible to get out of O-town during the week.
I entered the 21st century! On Thursday I went and bought a cell phone. Its prepaid, which is annoying, but atleast I am contactable!
Anyway I think tomorrow I want to go and actually SEE Paris, rather than bars.
I learned today, that T how to play chess. Not how to tie his shoes, but chess yes. Or atleast kind of. We played quasi chess that went pretty smoothly until I tried to cheat. He didnt like that much.
L and I are making progress! She recognizes me now, and allows me to pick her up. She even lifts her arms to signal stuff, and no longer cries when I bathe her. She also tried to take my lips off when we were making fish faces. Then, she reached in my shirt and tried to look at my bra. There was also no crying during the diaper changing process!
Number one success, I think her baby noises are sounding less French, and more American.
I realized today that Ive been here for a week now, and I havent even had a glass of wine. I think tomorrow Im going to ask the other O-town au pair over for a drink. Hopefully shell accept...
Okay, although I am exhausted and with much French homework, I will take sometime to describe the situation.
When I got back from Yellowstone, I joined an Au Pair Matchmaking site recommended by Britta Brown, an old friend of the family. I originally thought I would go to Munich, but due to extenuating circumstances, this did not happen.
On December 30th, 2009, (I remember because I was in Bethesda with Genevieve and Tyler, for a happy hour) I received an email from the family Francaise. This family of six was interested in speaking with me about coming to be an au pair. We talked, they sent an email with follow up questions, I responded, and they said Okay, we want you.
Fast forward two weeks, two visa trips, and one very expensive plane ticket later===Voila! Im here!
A=Age 10, confident, good English, creative. Came home sick today, then we played some sort of French capitalist game, that I never really figured out. Hes pretty active so hes at home the least of the kiddies.
F=Age 8, sweet, a little shy at first but pretty talkative. we have been chatting about lots of things, shes pretty curious, and I like talking to her
T=Age 5, FIRECRACKER, hot and cold. he can be very loving but also is, well, five years old. most problems listening
L=16 months or so. finally adjusting to me, babylike....
I am way to exhausted to write anymore, although I do have several pages of journal I plan to transcribe in here at some point.