Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Maylin has joined their ranks

There are a vast number of public parks and playgrounds in the city of Paris, but you'll have a very difficult time locating any public restrooms there. So what happens to the little children with small bladders? They have to go wherever they can. Usually, people are polite and take their little ones behind a bush, but they're not always very discreet about it. Today, I saw something that lacked any discretion. A nanny took her three year-old charge behind the bench and had her do it right there, practically right next to me! Thank you very much (did you note the sarcasm?).

Maylin did her initiation today and joined the ranks of the countless other children who must relieve themselves out of doors in public areas. It's certainly not the neatest procedure, but it's better than nothing. We went behind a big tree way out of the way of anyone else. Anyways, Maylin and I were both proud of her accomplishment. You know you're a parent when you're cheering after your kid pees.

Division of labor

I know why our place gets dirty so easily. Yes, we have a dog, and yes, we have a kid, but I never really knew exactly who was doing what chores in our household. I expected (or wished) that John would do some things around here, and he occasionally pitches in, but it's so inconsistent and I really prefer predictability. So, I finally spoke up after nearly four years of marriage and made a deal with John. I'd do all the cleaning if he did all the dogwalking. It's pretty much like that already, but now I know for sure who's responsible for what, and I can also reduce my chances of stepping in dog poop or pee.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A beautiful day

I somehow felt energized today -- ready to take life by the horns and make the most of the day. I woke up early, took Maylin to get groceries at 9 am (this has never ever happened before -- before 10 am and with Maylin!), shopped in the bookstore with Maylin, came home for lunch, walked Leo, and then spent about three and a half hours in the park so Maylin could play in the sandbox and enjoy our suddenly glorious warm, sunny weather (this has been not a real summer according to my French friends -- we would have one week of nice weather, followed by a wet week, followed by a cold week that required jackets!).

I spent all of Sunday cleaning the apartment (since I got pregnant, I really slacked off on the cleaning, and unfortunately, John doesn't really clean -- he's good at putting things away, but I believe he has an aversion to rubber gloves and cleaning fluids). So, you can imagine how filthy things were. I have a suspicion that my cleaner environment rejuvenated me. When I hang around my dirty house, the energy gets sucked right out of me. I'm determined to master this cleaning process -- I've always been horrible at regular maintenance.

So, an amazing thing happened to me at the park today. Twice. I made two friends! When I sat down at the bench, the older gentleman next to me started chatting to me in French, but I wasn't in the mood to talk. He noticed that my daughter was speaking English to me, so he started speaking to me in English. Surprise! He is a business professor at the Sorbonne (famous university in Paris) and teaches several of his global marketing classes in English. We had a fascinating discussion about the global business world until he had to leave his seat to attend to his grandson in the sandbox. Most of the seats on the benches were taken. An elderly woman comes by and sits down despite my telling her that she was taking someone's seat! She said something about there being plenty of room since this person whose seat she took left his things on the bench, meaning he could move the stuff off later and sit there. I couldn't protest with this old lady. I probably should've asked to switch seats with her so I could continue talking when my friend returned, but I didn't. We waited about 20-30 minutes and she finally left, and we continued where we left off. He's made me promise to discuss economics the next time we see each other at the park (I shouldn't have told him about my economics degree from Berkeley -- I've forgotten everything!).

My other new friend is from China -- a very nice lady watching her friend's most adorable two year-old girl. I felt bad I didn't know more Chinese, so we ended up both speaking in broken French (mine was better, but only because I had a head start with knowing the pronunciation before I got here and the fact that English is a little more closely related to French than Chinese is!). We filled in the gaps with a little bit of Chinese here and there. My comprehension of Mandarin is way better than my speaking ability. Everytime I tried to come up with the words in Chinese, I would just see the French words in my head. Darn it! She did compliment me on my pronunciation, so at least I have that! I think the pronunciation of Mandarin has always scared me. I hate sounding like an American speaking Chinese. When you get the intonations wrong, it just sounds so ugly. Mandarin, I think, is the most beautiful language in the world (French is second) because of its musicality which is mostly due to the different intonations (if I remember correctly, there are four?). People almost sound like they're singing. And since I'm a singer, I appreciate this.

I know I'll be seeing my new friends often if I continue to take Maylin to the neighborhood sandbox. That's another great thing about having kids -- you immediately have something in common with everyone around you at the playground. Everyone's a potential friend. Most of the time, I'm not in the mood to chitchat when I take Maylin to the park -- I think today I just met the right people and things clicked. It's wonderful when you're talking to someone and it's effortless. Don't you hate it when it seems like a struggle when conversing with some people. I've had conversations where it's like I'm running a steam engine. I have to keep shoveling in the coal by asking questions, being really interested...but if I stop shoveling, the train slows to a halt. Sometimes you "click" with someone, sometimes you don't. Doesn't matter what language you're speaking. You can even "click" when you're speaking your weakest language.

Okay, totally different topic. Have you seen the Pixar film, "The Incredibles" (known in France as "Les Indestructibles" which isn't the best translation, but sounds the closest to the English title)? Anyways, there's a villain in the beginning named "Bon Voyage" who is obviously French with an exaggerated French accent and personality. I don't know if there are other instances where the bad guy is French, but certainly here, in the children's cartoons, the bad guys, more often than not, speak their French with an awful American accent! What does that say about French-American relations? Why is the American always the bad guy in French children's cartoons? What is this telling French children? But I must say that if you want to mess up the beauty and fluidity of the French language, throw in an American accent. It'll do it all the time. I don't mind the Czech, Russian, or Portuguese accents at all when imposed on French. The Portuguese accent is actually rather cute (hard to explain).

Enough blog therapy for this evening. It feels good -- this writing seems to cleanse my soul somehow. If you don't write in a journal yet, try it sometime. A lot less expensive than a psychologist.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Future postings

I realize I'm too tired to do another blog entry, so here are some ideas for upcoming blog entries:

Boys! Boys! Boys! (Maylin's gravitation towards boys)

Bad guys in French cartoons

Trip to Provence (and what happens when you put the wrong gas in your car in Aix-en-Provence late at night when all the car service shops are closed)

Maylin and her first day at school

Our nightmare voyage back to Paris from the U.S. (August, 2004)

Our loss

Thank you to everyone for your support and concern during our difficult time. I had complications during my pregnancy and now our baby is no longer part of our world. It's been most difficult for me, going through life like a ghost, avoiding most of my friends, not answering phone calls, having days when I didn't want to leave my bed at all. I know life is going to slowly regain some form of normality. Doing chores and cooking has been healing. Caring for my family has been healing. I don't know what I would have done without Maylin. When I was really down in the dumps, all she had to do was show her pretty face to me and I'd be cheered up. I feel this experience has brought me even closer to her. And she's demonstrated so much care and kindness -- keeping me company when I'm crying, getting tissue for my tear-dampened cheeks. John's been very supportive and has helped me look forward to a more positive future. He's spent a lot of time watching Maylin while I took my many trips to the hospital to take my many, many tests. One of my close friends who feels like family to me even though we haven't known each other for long has given so much of her time to watch Maylin and make food for me when the waters were getting rougher. My family in California were very supportive and called me almost everyday to check up on me. I am so grateful.

I'm sure I will resume my normal blog entries soon. Why don't I start with one now. It's be great therapy for me.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I'm still here

I really appreciate that people are still checking in on my blog, but I'm going through a crisis right now. I can't go into details yet, but hope to in the future. I do intend to fully revive this blog when this is all resolved. Please send all of your positive thoughts this way. Thank you.