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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Au Pairstituion Part 2: Can I be Bought?

Another interesting situation that we deal with in this choice of employment is the level of intimacy that is created between yourself, your job, and your bosses. If your like me, you are the kind of person who cant live without a sense of comfort, that is, you are required to create a pretty close relationship with the family you live with. For me, I was lucky enough that this was not particularily difficult. G and S are friendly people, they have a sense of humor, and are easy to talk to. Which is why I am in a difficult position.

In any other job, if you were offered something that was a better living situation and higher pay, there would be no question of whether or not you would take it. Unfortunately for me, I face leaving behind a group of kids I know well, and a toddler who has me wrapped around her little chubby fingers.

So, I have an opportunity to move to a different family, with less children, in a place more conviently located with better accesibility to Paris. The pay is significantly higher as well, so instead of living by the skin of my teeth, I would have more flexibility to do the things that I want to.

But its an emotional issue. They dont want me to leave, and I cant pretend like this is easy. What makes it worth is G and S are not passive. They actively campaigned for me to stay, and really made me feel guilty about choosing something different.

It sucks. Mainly because if I try and make everyone happy, I know that I will be upset with myself. I will be angry every Saturday I work, I will be angry every Friday I spend chained to my house with L, and every Sunday night I fight fate and SNCF trains to come home. I will be mad when my bank takes four days to transfer my pathetic salary, and I have no money. But I will also feel bad leaving behind four kids that I know well, and a two year old I am obsessed with.

What to do?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Greve-Striking the French Way

Alright, for those of us who are not at the least bit aware of what's going on in my current country of residence, here we go.

At this current moment, the unions of France are striking to prevent the government from changing the age of retirement from 60 to 62, also something to do with the pension and stuff, but this is the gist.

As a developed country, most French enjoy a long life. The natural presumption to the government (who is trying to alieve their debt) is that French can work longer, a whopping two years longer. Result? Chaos.

The youths who are striking from high school, are doing so because someone is telling them that these old geezers, I mean workers, will be taking the jobs that they will be trying to get. Let's stop, what 61 year old is doing a job that you would WANT as a 20 something year old? I would assume, that these younger people would enter the job market in entry level positions, but I clearly underestimated the French.

How does this affect me? Didn't really, until I realized that unions strike with other unions, even if they don't necessarily agree. Is the sindicalist version of empathy. Anyway, gas is not being moved from the refinieries, so basically, its like the Oil Embargo of the 1970s (or was it 80s?) on the streets. Closed gas stations, long lines, the whole deal. The trains around are still wacky, and I have no way to get gas for my car, so there's a reeeally good chance I will be staying in this weekend, and to be honest that's the last straw.

Can I strike against the strike?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


L went to bed tonight before her Daddy came home. She wasn't sleeping though. I knew this, because I could hear her little voice yelling from her jail cell (crib) for Papa. She was like a little inmate, whom everyone was ignoring.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Phonetics-Why I don't bother pronouncing names the French way.

So, I play the French speaking game. I make a genuine effort, and demand that people talk back to me in French, as they so often do. (Antoine used to tell me that it's them being polite, but I think it's condescending). I play hard, I play well, and I play all the time. Except for one tiny aspect of French----The names.

About fifty percent of the time, I come across a name that I can't pronounce in a manner that any other French speaking person would understand. Best example, Charles. In English, its hard ch, hard r, and "les". Piece of cake. You can clearly hear every letter, I know, ENGLISH speakers can, but shove it. In French, its sounds like "shrl," and thats a French r, so its guttural and the back of the throat. What? Unfortunately for me, A's best friend is named "shrl," so I've very Americanly regressed back to calling him Charlie. He responds, no problem.

Other examples are "Mathilde," F's friend who came over for lunch on Friday, I called her Matilda. "Agathe" is a three year old who chats with me every time I see her. Her mother is very sweet and speaks excellent English. I call her Agatha. "Eve" is "Ehhv" in this country, in my mouth, its "Eeeve."

I get this gift for nonpronunciation from my mother. Antoine and I were jokingly (jfklsdjq, is how I feel about that) talking about children and what we would name them. We decided that if we had a kid, we would name it two names, one super French, one super Anglo. Like Olivier-Bob. As we were discussing child's names, he mentioned the name Aurore for a girl. When he said it, it was so full of vowels and r's I nixed it immediately, explaining that I couldnt name my child something my mother would never be able to pronounce.

Now, with the children I watch, this isn't a problem, because I have so much practice screaming their names in different volumes and intonation. Despite the 38 year old French man and friend of S and G who mocked me for saying T's name, I think I do a pretty decent job.

Now the question becomes "Should I feel guilty for not trying?" I don't. Why? My name, when pronounced the French way is "Roban" and VERY distinctly masculine. It'd be like being Robert, instead of Roberta. So, I introduce myself to people as Robine. In Spanish, when read as is, is also pronounced like that. Tatiana calls me Robine. She knows how to say my name, but she doesn't bother, and I never noticed until she commented on it one time. I'm so open minded about this, on the first day of class, I introduced myself as "Robin, Robine Roban, comme vous voulez" Whatever you want to call me.

And to be honest, I like it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lasagne a la Madame Francais

Have you ever seen that show, I can't remember the name, but Bobby Flay basically follows people around the country who have dedicated their whole life to one particular dish than attempts to one up them in the name of competition? Well thats kind of like dinner time at Chez Francais. I see something made, and I have to recreate it. Usually it comes with instructions which I promptly forget.

Today, I made lasagne a la S. APPARENTLY, lasagna on this side of the Atlantic is done differently (NO ricotta!!) I tried it once the Irish way, and quit because the damn noodles are too hard to use, and now am attempting it the French way. Because I've never had lasagne a la Mme Francais, I had to roll with her giving me instructions. Which is basically like making a new recipe, except with no measurements and having 5 picky eaters manging it.

Instead of the whole meat sauce followed by ricotta situation (or maybe its just in my house) we make a sauce with milk, creme fraishe, emmental, and tomato concentrate. Or in my case, we dont make nearly enough (because we are afraid that the consistancy is too thick and it will not cook the noodles, thusly ruining dinner, which is why we are glad we have a pizza as back up).

Anyway, the lasagna is sitting around waiting to be put in the oven. So, let's hope I did it right.