Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Spotlight on France

Okay, I've saved the best topic for last: France!!!

Life in France
Now you may not know this if you're not a know-it-all parent, but in fact you're not supposed to do that. Fortunately, we were able to muster up enough will-power to restrain ourselves from telling them that they're not supposed to do that. This is mostly because we didn't want to get trapped in a discussion involving other people's wacky parenting theories. (Also because the guy was nice enough to help us schlep some heavy baby furniture up four flights of stairs.) After all, if we start telling them not to do this or that, then we run the risk that they might point out that you're not supposed to drink any wine at all (not even one glass occasionally with dinner) if you're breast-feeding your baby. Strangely enough, this couple is really negative about wine, despite not being adherents of any peculiar religious group (as far as we can tell). My question is, if they don't like wine, then why do they bother living in France at all? Maybe it's because they were born here.

Le Metro !: No longer car-dependent, I'm now part of the French underground
First of all, I can't stand exercising for its own sake -- it bores me to tears. I once went a good 10 months of faithfully doing a 90-minute workout three times a week because I had a car commute to a sedentary programming job -- and believe me, I was crying on my Stairmaster the whole time.

Bilingual Babies: How do you say 'ga-ga' in French?
So -- just as it happens with many parents -- our first child taught us all about what kids are like, and then the second one taught us that all that stuff we learned from the first one wasn't really so much info about kids in general, but rather was only relevant to that one kid. I think it was a famous mathematician who once said, "I used to have three theories about child-rearing and no kids; now I have three kids and no theories about child-rearing." I'm kind of like that myself, except that I have only two kids, and I hate to think I was ever presumptuous enough to imagine I had a theory of child-rearing other than "Love 'em lots, and good luck!"

Merry Noël!: Making it festive in France
Actually my husband is a pretty good sport about indulging my insistence on filling our home with a sentimental Christmas. Even though he doesn't like Christmas music all that much, he helped me make the 15 or so CDs I compiled, each with 20 or so favorites taken from my vast collection of Christmas CDs. And this year he even encouraged me to get out my collection of Christmas CDs in early December and start playing them for our little boys. I appreciated that a lot even though on some level I suspect he was mostly just hoping it would get me to stop playing Saturday's Warrior.

Adventures in Dental Care: French dentists put me at a floss for words
I was listening and nodding with a blank smile on my face, but my tiny brain was saying "Um, I came here to see a dentist. Are you a dentist or what?"

Those Wacky Health Insurance Companies!
You'll probably say "Well, sure the French can handle routine procedures like births, but if something really bad happened to you, you'd wish you were back in the US!" I can't really answer that charge either way since fortunately nothing really bad has happened to me.

Merde, Alors !: My least favorite thing about France
Actually, I kind of hesitate to tell fellow Americans about this problem because they're likely to conclude that things haven't changed much in Europe since the days of the black plague. But that simply isn't true. Since those days, France has managed to rid the streets of the poo of every species except dog, and I have high hopes they will one day eliminate this last one as well.

Weekend in Paris
Then I figured while I was at it I'd ask for P. G. Karamesines novel The Pictograph Murders since that's what I was reading at the time. They didn't have that one either. Man, it's hard to find Mormon literature in France! I'm starting to think I may be the only person in all of France who blogs about Mormon literature.

Freedom Avenue!!!
And here the American fast-food industry was working to mess up one of those points where Americans and French can join hands together in ganging up on those silly Brits, just like the question of which side of the road you're supposed to drive on! (You know, and like that whole Revolutionary War thing.)

Peanut Butter vs. Vegemite
So since moving to France, I've learned that the French don't eat peanut butter and they don't eat Vegemite. The Vegemite part didn't bother me so much since I'd never heard of Vegemite until my manager here was replaced by a guy from Australia. (Or so I thought -- when I told people I'd never heard of Vegemite, I found out that that line I never could understand from that one "Men at Work" song is actually "she just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich." Live and learn!)

I'm not fabulous...
Normally I think one of the advantages to living in Southern Europe is that you can wear "resort wear" all summer long. By that I mean it's socially acceptable to go around wearing a sundress that is really just a glorified colorful rag which will set you back about five bucks and which may or may not be flattering, depending entirely on luck.

Topless on the beach...
Now you may be wondering if these are these the same people that you would like to see with their shirts off, orientation permitting.

To me it seems to be more or less a cross-section. The decision to bear half seems to be more a function of the woman's own comfort level than of her hotness-or-notness. (Okay, I know that's not really a word, but you understood it, didn't you? So let's go with it.)


Freckle Face Girl said...

I'll book my flight there today! (I wish!) Miami Beach also has a fair number of topless chics and I agree it has more to do with their comfort level than showing off whatever they have or don't have.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't read the know it all parent essay - very apt! Believe it or not, I too have to restrain myself from offering advice and opinions....:)

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Freckle Face Girl!!!

Miami Beach sounds like a lot of fun!!! Of course if you'd like to come visit here in France, that would be fabulous too!!! :D

Hey Rachel!!!

The funny thing is that now that I have five years of parenting experience under my belt, I've totally given up on thinking I have any idea what I'm doing... ;-)