Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Grand Steeple-Chase of Paris

On Sunday, we went to see the most prestigious race in the world for horses who love to jump. I don't think I would have normally gone, but Maylin loves horses and I'll do anything to encourage any of her interests. There were several races which were exciting, but short, and unfortunately were spaced 30-40 minutes apart. It felt like a lot of waiting, and there weren't enough other attractions or distractions. Maylin got a carousel ride and cotton candy, and we all saw the horses up close by the stables. These were not big horses, muscular but lean. They weren't bulky at all since bulk would not be helpful when jumping over various obstacles and running as fast as you can between them. What awesomely beautiful animals. No wonder Maylin likes these things.

There was a little bit of entertainment during the event, including crazy Spanish-style horseriding with the riders clinging onto their fast-moving horses while upside-down or at strange angles, or bounding from one side of the moving horse to the other, or even swordfighting with other riders. Some of the same horses did a little dance to some dramatic music unimpressively sung by a woman who looked like an over-the-hill, artificially-enhanced (breasts and face), washed-up former star. Other music was provided by a band that wandered around the front of the stands playing a mixed batch of ethnic music, from Mexican to Slavic. It was upbeat and Maylin liked it, but I couldn't help being disturbed by the three trumpets, at least one of which was often out of tune.

Maylin liked the horses very much and was entranced by the men fighting or standing on horses, which she has already recreated at home. But she was even happier when she made a friend, an older girl who didn't seem to care for the horses at all. I felt like the horses had to compete with the girl for Maylin's attention. It was tough -- I wanted Maylin to have a good time, but I didn't want her to miss seeing the races and the "horsing around" (eww, that was bad).

By the end of the afternoon, we had all had enough and just ran around on the biggest lawn I had ever seen. John and I took turns chasing Maylin, and then I made the mistake of showing Maylin how to do a cartwheel. Ouch -- it had been about twenty years since the last time I did a cartwheel so my body felt and probably looked really clunky. Don't try this at home, moms and dads, unless you want to risk tweaking something.

Creating like crazy

I've sewn a simple teddy bear out of fleece and felt for Maylin, and plan to do simple bags and purses in addition to more stuffed toys. I'm sewing by hand right now (my very nice sewing machine is in the States, its motor protected from the different voltage we have here in Europe), but I did purchase a mini-sewing machine here for under twenty euros! I hope it works! I was inspired to start sewing again after going to a showcase of jewelry and fashion designers. I saw these really beautiful bags and purses by one Parisian designer and thought, these are simple enough to make -- I'm going to make my own. Then I saw some stuffed toys there, too, that reminded me of the website,, which is a marketplace for amateur and professional creators to sell their original, handmade jewelry, clothing, toys, artwork, etc. Again, I saw some cute toys on the site that looked simple enough to do, so here I am, doing it!

My other project, completely unrelated, is a music composition for voice and piano (could orchestrate for a band). Yes, after a dryspell of several years, I'm composing again. I'm writing lyrics, too. I guess the style this time would be alternative/new age? I don't have any dreams of ever performing this piece, but if it turns out well, maybe I'll share it with some people. It's so nice though to be working hard at something without feeling the pressure of a deadline or the need to satisfy a certain audience. This is all for me. Totally selfish -- so it feels very liberating. My inspiration for this project? Another website,, where you can listen to and learn about different genres of popular music (I confess I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to popular music).

Other projects in the back of my mind include decoupage (decorating objects by basically glueing pretty tissue paper or decorative napkins onto them) which I've done before but want to get back into, painting porcelain dishes, mugs, etc. (inspired by a display in the French art store, CREA), and mosaic (inspired by trip to Barcelona). My jewelry's still happening, but at a much slower pace.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The French embrace the natural look

I just read a New York Times article online about the French's aversion to too much makeup. The article definitely confirms what I see day to day. Of course, there are some women with their entire faces done, usually the older ones, but the majority of women, from young to old, have a very fresh look -- often no lipstick, no foundation, maybe a little subtle touch-up with the eyes. I seem to fit in here, since I've hardly ever worn more than a little lipstick, which disappears by the end of the day. But I wasn't aware of all the skin treatment women go through here to tighten their pores in lieu of wearing foundation.

In America, many women can't leave the house "without their face on." I've often thought of too much makeup as a mask that hides the true beauty of a woman underneath. According to the author of the article, the French think that too much makeup makes a woman look older or like a prostitute.

I don't usually have conversations about makeup with men, but from what I've heard, men often don't like makeup. It's artificial, it comes off on clothes, etc. I can see it being kind of messy, depending on the situation.

I don't dislike makeup or the women who wear it everyday. If it makes you feel good about yourself, that's fine. Just don't let it become a substitute for working on what you are on the inside because that's what truly lasts and is truly yourself.

Article link:

Friday, May 26, 2006

Indecent proposals

This morning, as I stepped out from the grocery store, encumbered with about fifty pounds of life's necessities between my rolling cart, backpack, and shopping bag, I was accosted by a young man who was selling some sort of journal. I said my usual, "non, merci," with no eye contact and expression, but he continued to follow me very close at my side down most of the block murmuring in my ear. I tuned him out and kept repeating, "non, merci," but I caught a few words that surprised me -- "l'amour" (love) and "ce soir" (tonight). Goodness, he was trying to sell more than reading material. He finally let me go at the end of the block when he realized he wasn't getting anywhere with me.

I think it was last year when I bought lunch at a little Greek sandwich stand near the Opera House. I chatted with the friendly proprietor, who was very curious about me and eventually found out I was married and had a kid. Despite this, he proceeded to ask me for my number. Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.

Things like this don't just happen in Paris. In Barcelona, I ran into a scary situation. Our first morning there, John, Maylin, and I enjoyed the hotel buffet breakfast and were greeted by a young staff member who verified our names and room number so he could charge the meal to our account. He was very nice and kept smiling at me, and to be polite, I smiled back, naively. I definitely would not have smiled if we were in Paris because a smile is often interpreted as an invitation, but for some reason, I thought, "Hey, this is a different country -- I can go back to my American ways because I'm a tourist." After breakfast, John went out to move the car from the public garage to the hotel garage, and Maylin and I went up to our room to wait for his return. A few minutes later, the room phone rang. I thought it was going to be John, but it was the young man from the hotel restaurant. He told me I was beautiful, tried to confirm that my husband was out ("he'll be back really soon"), asked if he could come up to see me ("of course not"), and then asked for my mobile number ("I don't have one"). Thank goodness he respected my wishes and did not come up. And we also didn't see him again until our last day at the hotel.

Okay, no more smiling at male strangers until I'm safely back in the States.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Print and play

If you're a pianist and interested in playing the Schumann piece I mentioned in one of my previous postings, "Soundtrack for my grief," "In der Nacht" is on page 11 of this PDF file.

Feel free to browse

for other free, downloadable works by many, many composers for many different instruments and arrangements.

Donkeys, and horses, and pigs...oh my!

On Monday, I accompanied Maylin and her class on a school field trip. We all arrived at school at the usual time, 8:30 am, and an hour later, took a 40-minute bus ride outside of Paris to a delightful goat farm in Rambouillet where we saw and petted mommy and baby goats, tasted goat milk, learned about the different stages of goat cheese production, and enjoyed some incredible cheese of various ages (Maylin had thirds!). What lucky kids! Afterwards, we drove to a larger farm with all your typical farm animals. First, we lunched together in the "salle pique-nique" on the site. I was hoping for a real picnic outdoors, but we just sat all the kids down on the floor and served them their sandwich lunches. Three kids tipped over their water bottles and I ended up being the spill-recovery lady. This way, I got to meet some other kids from another class. It was so cute -- they'd ask me whose mom I was.

There was no time or place for a nap after lunch, but we had a few minutes of waiting before our tour of the farm. The kids were getting a little restless, so I rounded up a few of them and did a few French and English nursery songs. They taught me some French songs, and they learned "Ring Around the Rosy." I must have given Maylin's teacher an idea because before long, we had the whole class in a circle singing a French song about a rabbit who hops and has to find someone he loves to take his place in the middle of the circle (the "rabbit" chooses another child by kissing him/her on the cheek -- very French!). It was very similar to an American song I learned in my Kodaly music education program at Holy Names University, except for the kissing part.

It was a very long day for the children, so they did not pay attention very well during the tour when the guide was trying to teach them about the animals. There were goats, sheep, horses, a donkey, rabbits, and pigs. They got to pet the littlest lamb, the donkey named Madame Gigi, and a bunny named Caramel. I took a quick survey of Maylin and her classmates, and it seemed the rabbits and pigs were the favorites of the farm.

My French was better this time than when I accompanied the class during their first field trip in September, so I felt like I fit in a little bit better with the other moms and could communicate more with the children. I also learned a few things during the tours, even though I had to chase around one of my charges who never wanted to listen to the talks. A goat produces three one-liter bottles of milk a day, while a cow can produce 354 of them -- daily! It's unfathomable! Several of us mothers gasped in shock. The very large bales of straw that are used to help clean the animals' stalls weigh 150 kilos each (worth the weight of ten kids)! It was an awesome sight to see these bales stacked in towers of four looming over us.

I think the field trip was run pretty much like a field trip in the States except for one thing -- the number of trips to the restroom! They had the opportunity to go to the bathroom five times -- before we left the school to get on the bus, after we arrived at the chevrerie, after the cheese tasting, after we arrived at the other farm, and after lunch. Maybe they do this in the States, too, but someone will have to confirm this for me. Are little kids' bladders that small? Maylin only had to go once during the school day.

I enjoyed making some new little friends that day. It's funny how the kids who like Maylin were drawn to me, too. One pretty girl gave me a beautiful drawing, and a precocious boy, who wasn't in my designated group, chose to sit next to me on the bus back to school and talked to me for a good while until he fell asleep. I also finally got to meet the special boy Maylin is always talking about. Maybe she has a crush on him. He was pretty cute -- and one of the tallest boys in the class.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Looking: a quiet, safe place to sleep

I have two choices: John's bed or Maylin's bed. Maylin's bed is very comfortable, but Maylin talks in her sleep, screams or cries if she has nightmares, and can rotate ninety degrees, landing her feet in my face. Fortunately, John doesn't scream or cry, but he does talk in his sleep, too, and has one of the loudest snores around. I can usually put up with the snoring, aided by guiding his head or his body to one side. But lately, John has had some very violent dreams involving wild physical movements like thumping his feet on the bed. A few months ago, he even punched me in the jaw during one of these episodes. It is no longer safe. Help.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Not all croissants are created equal

When my parents visited this time last year, I still hadn't discovered the best croissants in the neighborhood -- mostly because I thought I didn't like least, I didn't like the croissants in the States. And I knew I didn't like the croissants that they make in the bakery downstairs. No real butter flavor, and almost bready. But, in January, when I had a friend staying with me, I discovered the ultimate croissant. And it's only two short blocks away! The flavor is amazing. They obviously use the best butter on the planet. They also have the best technique, too. The outside is light and crisp, and the inside is moist, flakey, and airy. You could roll the soft interior out like a rug. That's good croissant form. I have to admit, these tasty guys are mostly air, so it's even more satisfying to eat two. I could probably eat them everyday (which would be evil), but I somehow have the self-control to eat them once a month. I know, the trick is to not let yourself be hungry when you're out of the house. You might end up doing what I did one time when I was starving after a voice lesson -- eating "une grande portion de frites" (a large order of fries) on the metro.

Early morning ramblings

I think I've been up since around 3 am. Anyone awake besides me? I fell asleep just fine and I think I slept deeply, but I think I awoke to Maylin coughing a little bit and now I can't settle back down. I guess I'm back to my old ways, but at least I'm getting to bed earlier so I'm getting more sleep in before the two-hour wakeful period from 3-5 am.

Nemo seems to be alive and well. I think his missing scales have grown back. The only thing is that his water is getting cloudy quite soon after we change it. It's already next-day cloudiness. He's gasping at the surface right now, the poor guy. He's quite a survivor. Maybe he deserves a real aquarium and a filter. I know the bowl isn't good for him -- it's turning into a real toilet!

The weather is finally perfect -- sometimes. One day it's sunny and warm, next day we have thunderstorms. Gorgeous morning followed by drizzly afternoon. Drizzly is frequent here. You can't call it rain -- you just call it something you have to put up with if you live here. Crazy Paris weather. At least I can safely take my wool coat to the drycleaner's now.

I am not a very good housekeeper, I have to admit -- but I put on a good show when visitors arrive (with advance notice). Currently, our place is the cleanest it's been in a long time. I finally have the energy to get nearly everything done (including reorganizing our bathroom closet). Now I don't know what to do with myself when Maylin's at school.

Actually, I'm planning on finally taking that walk on the Left Bank today, after the sun rises. St. Michel, St. Germain. Oh when the saints come marching'll be great!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Strict French lunch timetable puts travelers in a bind

Most restaurants in France are open for lunch from 12-2 pm. Few restauranteurs will stretch their hours beyond that. The French don't seem to mind that since they all seem to get hungry at the same time.

When traveling through the country, this causes a bit of an inconvenience for tourists. If you've had a late breakfast and don't get hungry until after 2 pm, you're going to be out of luck when it comes to having a decent meal. You'll be stuck with eating at McDonald's or the French versions of fast food restaurants -- which can actually be a lot worse!

Here's my critique of two of these awful restaurant chains (remarkably, in the homeland of haute cuisine) which we experienced for the first time on our road trip down to Barcelona:

1) L'Arche

This is a cafeteria (often found near highway gas stations, rest areas, or commercial centers) and it doesn't pretend to be otherwise. Menu signage is awful so it's difficult to know what's really available, especially in the hot food section. Most of the hot food is inedible, except for the hot dogs (saucisses) and french fries (frites) which you can't really mess up. The gratins and spinach side dishes are really disgusting -- my cauliflower gratin was mostly bland bechamel sauce, tasting like flour and water, and very little cheese. I salvaged pieces of cauliflower out from the wreckage. The spinach that John got was, of course, previously frozen and overcooked, mushy, discolored -- primed for the trash bin. His main dish was even worse -- some sort of beef roll with unidentifiable beef parts. Traditional French food should stay in traditional French restaurants, not in cafeterias where these otherwise fine dishes are mass-produced unsuccessfully.

John is a daring person, and went to exchange his entire meal for something else. He came back with the hot dogs instead, but unknowingly got the cauliflower gratin, which I hadn't tasted yet. A French man sitting at the next table was unfortunate enough to also select the beef and spinach. He bravely finished most of his plate (he must have been starving) and sarcastically said to his wife, "C'est bon!" (It's good!) We knowingly smiled at each other.

Maylin's fruit salad was not fresh. If fruit salad is not made the day you eat it, it's not very pretty, but Maylin wanted it since she's a fruit fiend. Even she knew it wasn't good when she tried it. I figured the staff kept adding a little bit of fresh fruit to the salad everyday, but the older bits were just getting nastier and nastier. The pineapple chunks literally tasted like they came out of the bathroom.

John's strawberry tart was the best part of our meal. Thank goodness desserts are much harder to mess up.

2) Quick

The name of this French imitation of McDonald's implies the speed at which its products go through your system. It certainly does not have anything to do with how fast you get your food. At this particular Quick, I waited 20-30 minutes in line while the two guys in front kept looking at me and my enlarged chest, and finally took a picture of me with their camera phone! They were trying to be sneaky about it, but it was obvious to me what they were doing. I just quietly seethed with rage, as their wives came over with their kids.

I digress. This restaurant chain tries to do fast food, but does a poor job -- the French consumers don't seem to even realize it. Even though the quality of fast food is not high, the taste has to be way up there -- they don't have that. So what you have is just bad-tasting, low-quality food. Their seasoned fries weren't bad because they were actually seasoned! Maylin chose the hot dog over the fish nuggets, regretfully, for her children's meal. The poor kid. Why do they put spicy Dijon mustard on kids' hot dogs? I just don't understand. I had to suck the mustard off the weiner to the delight of all the males around me -- well, maybe it was just John that saw it.


There are other "fast food" establishments such as Flunch, another cafeteria restaurant (only a little bit better than L'Arche), and Speed Rabbit Pizza, which I don't think I'll ever try, assuming they put rabbit and Dijon on their pizzas. Just kidding. Let's let the French concentrate on their excellent "slow food." I don't mind the wait if I'm going to have something wonderful for my palate.

Monday, May 15, 2006

My response to a comment

Comment from reader:

From what you are telling here, it seems that you, your daughter and your husband are the only persons in your world. Wasn't there anybody in Paris to help and comfort you during this difficult period of time ?

My response:

Don't forget, in my world, there's also Nemo, the goldfish, and Leo, our beloved dog. But seriously, of course there were people available to help and comfort me locally. I did accept help from some of our closer friends, for example, for babysitting and dogsitting. And many more offered to help in any way they could, but I'm more of an isolationist when it comes to grieving. I don't want to burden others, and I don't like to talk about sad things since I'm generally a happy person. Blogging may not seem to some as the ideal activity for an isolationist, but it's my way of getting news out to friends and family without needing to get into too much detail, and without seeing the immediate reactions on people's faces, which would probably pain me.

I understand that some people would hate to be left alone at a time like this, inviting friends and family over for comfort regularly. But, I prefer being left alone until I feel I'm a good distance away, time-wise, from the situation and other people are comfortable enough to talk to me normally. I don't want to see the pity on people's faces. Compassion -- good, pity -- not good.

People who know me see me as a strong person. So here's another explanation for not enlisting more help from friends: I have a tendency to want to brave difficult things on my own. I am also fortunate enough to have the built-in ability to "bounce back," which helps.

I'm sure my blog can give a very skewed sense of my personality and identity. I don't divulge all the information in my life, but some readers seem to think that what they read is what they get when there's a whole lot more to me. I also don't often talk about the people in my life outside of my family nucleus, in case I might displease a friend or family member unintentionally. You may have noticed that I do not give out names of anyone either, to protect the identities of those who may or may not choose to be hidden.

I do know there are readers whom I don't know personally who take great interest in my blog and feel a connection to me. That's a remarkable thing about blogging that I didn't expect. It seems you need to be a kindred spirit to be able to understand me from just the few words I write.

Hope this helps everyone understand me a little bit better. This response is probably longer than it needed it to be, but I think I was reading into the reader's comment. Ah well, I feel better anyhow.

By the way, I wrote a lot about Maylin in my last entry because many people like to read about her and because she's such a big part of my life. John and Maylin are my life. They are my world.

And life goes on...

I just finished playing some piano -- got so much joy out of the Allegro movement from Bach's Toccata in D Minor (BMV 913). My digital piano is nothing compared to the baby grand I left behind in the States, but I can make it sound like a huge pipe organ -- perfect for my latest favorite piece. And it's lunchtime, so I'm probably not bothering any neighbors. I didn't feel guilty one bit by pushing the volume to nearly its max.

I have also gone back to my jewelry-making after a three and a half month respite. Somehow, I had lost the motivation to create anything other than my baby. Now, I feel the need to make things again. I did two bracelets with the best beads that I made out of polymer clay in January.

I'm trying to make as much happiness for myself as I can. Just having John and Maylin around makes me feel better, too.

John's had to step out of his comfort zone a bit by making dinners for us. He made rice and sausages one night, and had it easy two other nights with Indian take-out and frozen pizza.

He and Maylin have had more time together and I can see their relationship really blossoming. They do a lot of physical activities together (I usually provide the intellectual and artistic), such as tickling, "flying," etc. Maylin's demonstrated some amazing football talent in her tackling of her father and her perfectly thrown spirals (John reports the distance as being five to ten feet!). She is just awesome with balls. Her kicking is strong and well-targeted. She also catches very well, partly due to consistent coaching.

Even though I've offered explanations to what happened to the baby, Maylin seems to be either in denial or just doesn't get it. Since she's never actually seen the baby (besides on the ultrasound), I think it's hard for her to believe that it was real. By the way, she no longer thinks she has a baby in her own belly. She has also specified a strong preference for a baby sister. Another reason to try again.

Maylin's demonstrated more sensitivity than previously thought. She will immediately throw herself into a bout of crying if I get mad at her, which isn't very often since she's a really good girl. I might yell at her if I'm in a bad mood (usually a combination of tired and hungry). I hate when I do it and apologize right after with a hug.

She's never bad, but can be stubborn. You can never force her to do something she doesn't want to do. I am forced to think of creative solutions or bargaining strategies. The only thing I never succeed at now is getting her to take medicine. She's had high fevers which make me feel helpless because the fever reducer gets pushed away, spit out, etc. She's so strong I can't muscle the medicine into her mouth and make her swallow it. Fortunately, she always recovers from her illnesses quickly on her own. I always think the lukewarm baths are helpful for the fevers, but who knows. It's mostly her strong immune system. In France, every child has a "carnet de sante" -- a little book recording doctor's visits, immunizations, illnesses, etc. One doctor was shocked to see that her book didn't have a laundry list of childhood maladies. Maylin's a healthy kid -- she gets her occasional cold, but it's never been serious. One time, I did have to call the S.O.S. doctor in the middle of the night because her coughing was sounding really bad. He came to our home and diagnosed it as laryngitis -- the one item in Maylin's carnet de sante.

Maylin has a very good taste. The last two weekends, John and Maylin brought me flowers. Maylin has chosen them each time -- red roses once, and pink Gerber daisies the next. I love roses, but I adore those daisies! Her daddy wanted to get ten daisies, but she insisted again and again on just five. She was right. I prefer a few flowers than a big bunch because then I can actually see them better and appreciate them more.

She's so visual. Her latest favorite activity is doing mazes. I used to draw them for her, but she's really insatiable! I've resorted to finding websites where I can print mazes freely. She's done ten in a row, but I'm sure she could do even more!

Maylin's a very appreciative little girl. She thanks me for her toys and books regularly. Even if the book or toy is old, she'll ask, "What store is this from? Is this a present for me? Oh, thanks!" Then I get a hug! It's nice I don't have to buy things for her very often. Last night, she was very happy to have me make her a necklace of her design -- black leather cord with one homemade green bead hanging in the middle.

Today, I waited in a long line at the post office and picked up some groceries on the way back (heavier than I should be carrying). It feels really good to have a normal life back again without the constant anxiety. What happened in the last few weeks already seems like a distant memory, and I intend for it to be like just a bad dream from now on.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

He's gone now

Our baby has passed from our world into the next. The only way to cope is to just keep looking into the future. We'll be able to try again in about three months time. I don't know now if I'd want to try again so soon. But we'll see.

The baby suffered from a rare chromosomal disorder which, thankfully, is not genetic. One of my doctors recently told me that it was an accident that happened even before conception. Just pure bad luck. It is very unlikely it will happen again to us. That is good to know and should boost my confidence.

I am recuperating at home now with the help of John and Maylin. I am so looking forward to starting my life over again.

Thank you, everyone, for your kind and thoughtful comments and e-mails. They have all helped in the healing process. I love you.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Soundtrack for my grief

Distraction, distraction, distraction. I've been doing more reading than normal, mostly old issues of the New Yorker, and I've been playing much more piano than usual -- this time, limited to Schumann, Brahms, and Bach. The Brahms Intermezzos seem to lend the most appropriate mood -- earthly passionate yet also celestial, melancholic yet hopeful. Bach is my old standby. I play him whenever I can. The preludes and fugues from the two volumes of the Well-Tempered Klavier are my choices now. They're so intricate, but also seem deeply soulful to me. Their intricacy doesn't allow me any brainroom to think of anything else, so that's perfect distraction music right there. Schumann's another cerebral composer, but since he's of the Romantic period like Brahms, I get drama and lyricism, too. I've been focused on one of his pieces from his "Fantasiestucke" called, "In der Nacht," or "In the Night." It's very dark, but has its lyrical moments like the nocturnes of Chopin. At the end of the piece, Schumann even directly quotes a melody fragment from one of my favorite noctunes. A nocturne is a piece of night music after all.

[Added May 24, 2006]

I found a link if you're interested in downloading and printing a free a copy of Schumann's Fantasiestucke. This PDF file has "In der Nacht" on page 11.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Not meant to be

Fate has taken the upper hand and has knocked me down with another blow. The results from all of my last ultrasounds, blood tests, and amnio, have not been good. This baby, whom I've carried with me for over four months, will not likely join us in our world.

I think I'm doing okay now. I did my hardest crying even before the final results came in. I think I already knew. When doctors whisper to each other thinking you understand their French, or when they postpone giving you information, you get a little suspicious. Even back in February in California, when I found out I was pregnant, I was less than optimistic about how this pregnancy was going to go. I didn't bring back any of my old maternity clothes. I didn't bring back any baby clothes or supplies like I was originally planning. I don't think this is a confirmation of psychic powers, but I do have some premonitions once in awhile.

It's a horrible sound -- the sound of a mother grieving the loss of a child. I hear myself crying and I find the sound so different from any other crying I've done. It's a dark, soulful, agonizing cry from deep within me. It's a sound I never would have been able to create before my other pregnancy in France.

Two times. Some higher power does not want me to have a baby in France. One rare case after another. Completely independent of each other. Utterly unrelated. Why do these things happen? I'm only sane right now because I follow the same philosophy John has, "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst." I knew if I got overly optimistic, it would be a much harder fall if bad news came.

I do appreciate everyone's positive thoughts and e-mails. Just knowing that you're thinking of me and caring about me helps me considerably -- especially when feeling isolated in a foreign country.

After my suffering is done, I feel I'll need to start my life all over again. Maybe do something completely different. This place is beginning to hold too many bad memories for me.