Friday, May 30, 2014

J-Minus 12

This blog has been neglected for far, far too long, and I have missed writing--almost certainly much more than anybody has missed reading.  ("Echo....echo....echo....")

Which is to say that this is more of a catch-up post than a humor post--just a few notes about what has been going on for the last, uh, many months, related to subjects that I hope to talk about in more detail soon.

When we left off, I had a couple of precocious boys who were tearing it up in their small-town elementary school.  That has continued.  Ignoring my concerns about the boys possibly being too attached to one another (everybody ignores my concerns, this is nothing new), they were put into one of those small-town-school "combined" classes notwithstanding the fact that they are technically in different grades.  It all evened out in the end, because Secondo blew the roof off of enough of his subjects that he was booted to the next class up for half-days.

Thus creating a new problem.  Here in the Heart of Darkness (coeur foncĂ©?), the local school only goes one more year past where Secondo is now.  After that, it's a one-way drive of AT LEAST a half-hour.  I work three jobs as it is, not to mention the existence of many other siblings.  Would it be possible to be driving this kid back and forth, back and forth, all the livelong day by the time year-after-next rolls around?  NO THANK YOU.  Consequently, thirteen days from now, The Great Escape will commence.  I found a house (a house!  with a yard!) in a major city.  Practically downtown.  Where people live.  And it doesn't take a half an hour to drive to the grocery store.  I would have kissed the landlady the moment she said "yes", but she doesn't seem as though she's really into that kind of thing.  Do I know anybody there?  Not really.  But after three years, I still don't know anybody HERE.  So it's six of one, half a dozen of the other.  And more importantly, the new town has a new school (a 10 minute walk from the new house) that goes from "petite section" (3 year olds) up to high school.  ALL THE KIDS WILL BE DROPPED OFF AT THE SAME PLACE.  At the same time.  Be still my heart.

What do the kids think?  Well, they are kind of.... conservative souls.  When I first mentioned the idea, the sentence was not out of my mouth before Secondo said "NO!"  (Like he gets a vote.)  But then I said those three little words:  Your. Own. Room.  And the rest of THAT sentence was not out of my mouth before Secondo said "YES!"  Good times.

Overall, this is a happy ending to a terrible year.  Last year, two family members passed within a month of one another.  This year, my grandmother and my mother passed within 2 weeks of each other.  During the intervening week, I was mugged.  The isolation-compounded grief makes me want to just leave all of this behind, to forget this town, the countryside, this little old brick house, everything.  Maybe this move is a geographical cure.  But I can't hide in the fields any more.  This move feels like the real emigration, like a door is opening to a France with people, with life, with possibility.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Humblebrag of the Year, But I Promise That There Really Is a Punchline


Secondo:  "MOM!"

Me:  "Yes?"

Secondo:  "I won the lecture rallye!"  [Note:  this is like a reading contest where the kids get various numbers of points for reading books, according to the difficulty of the books and the number of questions about the books that they answer correctly.  It went on for about a month.  Apparently Secondo blew all the other kids out of the water.  Yay him.]

Me:  "That's great!"

Secondo:  "HEY!  You know what's funny?"

Me:   "Not really."

Secondo:  "I am NUMBER ONE in my class, and I got the HIGHEST GRADE on the national exams for my grade, and I WON THE LECTURE RALLYE.  And guess what is funny about that?"

Me:  "I really don't know, but it's great!"

Secondo:  "I'm the YOUNGEST in my class, too." [True:  he's a year ahead in school.]

Me:  "Secondo?"

Secondo:  "Yes?"

Me:  "You're not going around saying this to the other kids on the playground, are you?"

Secondo:  "Why?"

Me:  "Well, number one, because it's important to be both smart AND kind, and bragging like that could hurt other people's feelings.  Number two, it's a good way to get yourself beaten up on the playground.  So I am TOTALLY proud of you and I can't wait to tell all this to Daddy, but you might want to tone it down at school."

Secondo:  "Oh."

Secondo, continuing to talk:  "But it's still funny, though."

Aargh.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I Really Am A Tool: A Scene From the La Rochelle Immigration Office

Yesterday, I made the very, very, very long drive to the immigration office in beachy La Rochelle to officially apply for French citizenship.  During the very, very long appointment, this happened:

Immigration Official:  "Your first name is CRAY-danss?"

Me, sighing:  "Yes."

Immigration Official:  "Do you know what that means in French?"

Me:  "I have absolutely no idea."

Immigration Official:  "It is that thing in the kitchen, the tile on the wall above the counter?"

Me, to Secondo, who has been sitting there the entire time playing DS like an angel:  "Secondo, did she just say that my name is BACKSPLASH?"

Secondo:  "HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA yes."

Immigration Official:  "You know, you are entitled to take a new, French name with your citizenship.  Here's the form."

Friday, August 9, 2013

Because You Have Totally Been Waiting For It: A Scene From the Bible Belt

Cugella:  Dad:

Cugella's Dad:  Yes?

Cugella:  Do you want to be just like me?

Cugella's Dad:  Uh, what?

Cugella:  I'M NAKED AND FAMOUS!

Sorella informs me that this is a lyric to some American song.  Color me dubious.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Totally Expected Irony: A Scene From the Breakfast Table

The heat has finally broken, thanks to a violent, four-hour-long lightning storm last night.  I have been up since 3:30 a.m. because who can sleep through that?  (Everybody else in the family, apparently.)  So although my house is real clean this morning, I might be a little bit cranky.  Which led to this exchange:

Primo (to Secondo):  "... You don't understand.  I have excellent hearing!"

Me:  "Then why don't you hear a damn word that I say, ever?"

Primo:  "What?"

If you have no idea who Primo and Secondo are,  you can find a rundown of the characters in our family drama here, on the right-hand side of the page underneath the headline that reads, "The Cast."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Can't Believe It's Come to This

For the most part, living in France has been a positive experience.  Our taxes are lower, yet we get more back in return than we did in the States.  The kids are thriving at school.  The food, oh, the food.  I can travel for pleasure thanks to the TGV:  no more stress about flying.  After a very long period of study (most of which involved improving my French skills), I have finally earned a French driver's license.  And the job situation is looking up.

But.  Every year about this time, I start to feel as though I'm spending summer in hell.  Although the winters here are pretty Oregonian in nature (think cold monsoon), the summer is dry and hot, hot, hot.  And in rural France, air conditioning is pretty much unheard of.  Now, I grew up in a pretty rural, poor area myself, and don't really have a problem living without air conditioning.  Except ...

Window screens are pretty much unheard of, too.  What's worse, I am both slightly allergic and incredibly tasty to mosquitos.  So my choices are to keep the windows closed and suffocate, or to leave the windows open, which to the mosquitos is the functional equivalent of a big neon sign saying, "FREE ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT BUFFET RIGHT HERE!!!!!"  Last night, I wrapped as much of myself as I could up in a sheet, mummy-style, and woke up with mosquito bites all over my face.  Oh, the humanity.

And then!  I realized that the solution has been in my attic all along:


What?  It has screens!  I am thinking of sleeping in this thing until the rain starts back up again.  Which should be sometime in late September.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

French Follies: More Rillettes, Please

The best thing about this very small village in which I have been inexplicably stuck is Remy the Butcher, the best butcher around, despite the fact that he can be a little bit bossy.  (How many times has he decided to sell me what he thinks would be best for my proposed recipe, rather than what I actually requested?  I have lost count.)  He got me a (tiny) turkey for Thanksgiving, his merguez "maison" is The Top, and he's the hardest-working man in town.  What's not to like?

Just one thing:  Communicating with Remy continues to be a challenge notwithstanding my efforts to study French several hours a day.  Unlike everybody else in the village, he speaks like a Parisian (i.e., veryvery fast).  Which leaves me wondering what he said to me today after I asked for my rillettes d'oie, and then foolishly decided to show off my linguistic prowess by adding "comme d'habitude."  Whatever his response was, he accompanied it with a smirk and a giggle.  And twinkly blue eyes.

What do you think?  Was it:

A.  "Of course I know what you're here for, my flaxen-haired goddess of love. By the way, may I interest you in some cornbread?"

or

B.  "How can you possibly expect me to remember your usual order?  Please leave my store, Fatty McRillettes, and take your unruly children with you."

Probably (B).  Sigh.