Sunday, June 27, 2010

What the French do well, and not so well

Jeremy and I made this list on the last day of our trip to France.

What the French do well, in no particular order:

1. Safe sex. In tourist shops, it is commonplace that condoms emblazoned with "I ♥ Paris" were for sale. Also, in the Metro stations, next to the automatic ticket dispensers, were condom machines. Not quite as large as candy vending machines, but right out there, conveniently located and priced.

2. Health care. Of the seven or so prescription medications I had to bring, I forgot one: progesterone. The dosage was such that, in the US, with my insurance, it cost $60 a month. In Paris, and the cities we visited in the south, there were pharmacies on almost every block. Panicked about not having the progesterone with me, I went into one. I ended up getting, without a prescription, the same dosage, with no insurance. Cost? 5.60 euro.

3. No chain stores. We were surprised by how pleasant that felt. No chain restaurants, no chain supermarkets. . . everything was unique. It was refreshing.

4. Body confidence. I'm talking about the beach. Topless is acceptable. I expected the 20 year old women to have body confidence. But was surprised, again, at the 80 year old, and 70 year old  women we saw, a few of whom changed from street clothes into bathing suits just two feet away from us. They didn't care that there bodies weren't perfect. Nor did the quite overweight 20 year old woman wearing a bikini with her hot, cute, fit boyfriend at the beach. No shame. When we say in the US someone has no shame, it's an insult. I mean this as a statement of fact, and a positive quality. You know what I loved best about the older women? That when they were sunbathing on their stomachs, they'd hike up their swimsuit bottoms to thong status. Tan lines are ugly, I guess, even at 80.

5. Cafe life. I now know what that means. It means no to-go cups of coffee. Can you imagine not seeing a Starbucks coffee cup for 2 weeks? If you wanted coffee, you sat down, and shared one with a friend. Not on your mobile, doing 10 other things, but sitting, sipping and contemplating. It was almost meditative.

6. Coffee. Oh my god.

7. Wine. Yes. I had a few glasses. And also, oh my god.

8. Public transportation. Paris Metro, the TGV train to the south, and the trains running along the French Riviera. All accessible to people with limited or no French skills, always on time, and cheap.

9. Outdoor living. Most apartments have balconies of some sort, and if they did not, the windows opened. And there were no screens. A little thing, but an uninterrupted by a screen flow of air is markedly more refreshing. And in the cafes, even in cold and rainy weather, people were outside.

10. Food. Obviously the food. Jeremy: They have perfected the art of the omelet. We were silent every time we ate for the first few bites, with our eyes closed, savoring. Our palettes were not used to the. . . . delight.

11. Food part II. Jeremy and I disagreed on this part. Jeremy likes a lot of stuff in his salads and sandwiches. "Stuff" is what Brody calls anything that is not the pure thing he wants to eat. For example, a pizza with everything has "stuff" on it. For me, I like "stuff" except for sandwiches and salads. In France, the sandwiches you buy don't typically have lettuce and tomato, let alone onions and artichokes etc. Just meat and cheese, and butter. Same with salads. Salade verte, green salad, is literally, just lettuce with exquisite dressing. My idea of heaven.

12. Food part III. When people buy those sandwiches, they are always on baguettes. And instead of wrapping them in paper, a la Quizno's or Subway, they put them in long brown paper bags, like homeless alcoholics drink their liquor in the US. It's delightful.

13. Carousels. I counted six, SIX, carousels inside Paris. And not ones we were looking for, just that we happened to come across. Right outside our metro station, a carousel. TWO-tiered, thankyouverymuch. Usually pretty full regardless of date and time. I wish you could just turn a corner in Denver and there was a carousel. Two blocks later, another one.

14. People. The French have a reputation for rudeness. We did not encounter this at all. AND we had a 3 year old with us.

Example (a): I was struggling to understand how to work the automatic metro ticket dispenser. A Frenchwoman came over, spoke English, and helped me purchase our tickets. And if that wasn't enough, she said, "Don't worry. It's hard even for French people to do with zese macheens."

Example (b): Outside the Louvre, we stopped at a touristy shop for souvenirs. I saw a Christmas ornament of Santa climbing the Eiffel tower. Showed it to Brody for approval; he loved it. I let him hold it. I know I know. Stupid. Well, to prove it, Brody swung it, lost his grip, and it broke after hitting the floor. I told the cashier, who spoke perfect English, "thank goodness for glue" so he wouldn't think we wouldn't pay for it. His co-worker handed me another one and said, "No, here is a new one. We tell za vendor zis one is defective."

Example (c): Went to an upscale restaurant in Villefranche-sur-mer. Like any parents of small children, we bring toys for Brody to occupy him while we wait. Of course, Brody drops things, including one of his "guys", on the floor. Our very handsome, and very French waiter retrieved it when he saw it and, handing it to Brody with a smile, said, "Is zis yours, monsieur?"

15. No tipping. Awe.some. We still did, if the service was good (or our waiter was cute).

What the French do not do well:

1. Clean up after their dogs. In our hood, if you don't pick up your dog's poop, it's akin to a crime against humanity. Having seen so many dogs in France, I'm sure some people are picking up. But a LOT of people aren't. It's just there, on the sidewalk, probably already stepped in a little bit. (gag).

2. Coke is more expensive than wine. We adapted.

3. No free refills. Ah, we are so entitled in America.

4. Skimpy on coffee condiments like sugar and cream. Jeremy and I will clear out a creamer thingie at IHOP on the weekends just  between the two of us.

5. Driving. I could say that the French actually drive well, because most French people have driven and have not died. However, I'm going to conclude otherwise. Jesus CHRIST. That's what we kept saying in the cab ride from the airport to our apartment. I think there are traffic laws, but I don't think they are followed by anyone, or enforced by anyone. It's a free-for-all: drive as fast as you can, do whatever you want, and hope for the best. I mean, cab rides in every city are harrowing. But our cab drivers were no less crazed than the rest of the drivers in France. Motorcycles, for example, regularly went between speeding cars and trucks, not in their own lane, but literally between them, at high rates of speed. The French made New York drivers look civilized. When I started to count how many near-crashes we had by the number of inches by which we missed the other cars, I began to hope that I never had to drive anywhere in France. (It's just as bad in the south of France as in Paris).

That's our take on France. One of these days, now that our monitor at home is working, I hope to get the pictures up.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Brodyism: Grandpa Ed.

My dad died when I was 18.

I think all the time about how he would be with Brody. What they would talk about, I envision my dad hugging Brody, or having Brody sit on his lap.

And how extraordinarily happy he would be with this pregnancy.

I have a picture of my dad on the bookshelf in our bedroom. I put it on the next to the bottom shelf, so Brody can see it.

It's a photograph from World War II, my dad in his dress army uniform, smiling. He's very handsome. In the picture, he's around 26 (I think). He had written "Love, Ed" on the bottom of the photograph.

Sometimes we talk about my dad. Brody knows I have a mom (Oma) and that Oma is always with Jacques (her husband who we love).

Last night, I was in the room and Brody walked in, right up to the picture.

Brody: Is dis yer daddy?
Me: Yeah, that's my daddy.
Brody: I would like to meet him.
Me: He would like to meet you too. He would love you.
Brody: Would he be nice to me?
Me: Of course he would.
Brody: Den I will be nice to him..... He's a police man.
Me: Well, he was actually a soldier.
Brody: But he's got a police man hat on.
Me: I guess he does.
Brody: Where is he?
Me: He's in heaven.
Brody: But I wanna see him!
Me: I know. .... Me, too.

And then I didn't know what else to say.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Still here

Sort of quiet. Not much to report.

Waiting waiting waiting.

For July 1. Next appointment. I'll be 18 weeks, but it's not "the" ultrasound.

Missed the first trimester screening because I didn't realize I was farther along than I thought.

Dr. Beer's office. They are lovely. Working with us on billing. As of July 1, I get new flex spending account (new fiscal year/insurance year at my work).

They can send me the lab requisitions - completely willing to do anything they can to help us get this done.

It's nice they are so willing to accomodate. Such a different approach for a doctor.

That's all. I'm 16 weeks. Somehow, I'm a little down. Not sure why. I should be overjoyed. I am. I really am. I love feeling movement. I feel it almost every day. At least what I think is movement. I talk to her (although it might be a him I think) and Brody is learning he can't just climb all over my considerable belly. He says he will help take care of the baby and feed him/her and play with her/him. It's so cute how he gets this shy little smile on his face when talks about that.

But you know what?

I'm overwhelmed. Now, if anything goes wrong, it's not a miscarriage. It would be something worse.

And yes, something immunologically can still go wrong, something could just be wrong because I'm 39 and have old eggs.

I need a margarita, and I can't have one.

Have one for me, and I'll lighten up. Also, I'm sort of sick of intermittent blogging and only blogging pregnancy.

Monday, June 7, 2010


B: (from the other room) Mommy?

Me: Yes?

B: I wanna give you someting.

Me: (walking over to him) What is it?

He just leaned over and hugged me. A long hug. He started this routine on Saturday. He's done it approximately 8 times. I adore it.


I inject Lovenox twice daily into my stomach. I look like a junkie in that area. Huge, ugly, awful bruises. The kind of bruises that when people see them - my mom, sister, husband and obgyn - they cringe. (The bruising doesn't hurt)

Brody sees my stomach a lot, mostly because he accompanies me to the bathroom every chance he gets. I saw him looking at the bruises. I asked him if he had any questions about my bruises. He didn't. I told them they aren't owie. I said mommy didn't have owies. Still he didn't say anything. I said "they are kinda yucky bruises, aren't they?" He finally spoke. "No.....they're pretty, mommy. Look at all da colors..... (pointing) red and purple and blue and green and lellow...."


We were at the Farmers market Sunday. Brody wore his Spiderman shirt and Spiderman baseball cap. A very kind woman my age said to him, as he walked by, "Look! There's Spiderman!" Brody stopped, looked at her and said, "No, I'm Buzz Lightyear,"
turned around, and kept walking.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

What if this works? Like, really works?

The sugarplum wrote back.

I was driving to work yesterday, and I started gagging. Then dry heaving. Then all out vomiting.

Since it was 8am, I had on dress clothes, and full application of bare minerals. You know when you throw up, your eyes water? I looked in the rear view mirror - after I had pulled over to vomit in peace - and there were streaks of white going down my face. A couple of women saw me- I looked like a horror movie.

And I was nauseous the rest of the day.

So this afternoon, I was most happy when we saw the heartbeat again. It was the portable ultrasound, so we saw a giant head, two legs, two arms, and one determined beating heart. Jeremy was there too. It hit him, and now it's hitting me.

What if this works?

Jeremy has started planning. But, "We just sold all our baby stuff, didn't we?" he asked. Yes, yes we did. I just laughed.

I have no worries about baby equipment. I have worries about being given a life that I long ago thought was lost to me. How do I reconcile that? It's like the world I love is being eclipsed by a world I always wanted and never thought I'd be able to have and I wonder, why me? But for once, it's not this self-pitying why me, but a genuinely curious, really, universe?, befuddled.... why me?Why do •I• get the rainbow?

I asked Brody if the baby is a boy or a girl. He's pretty sure it's a boy. And he wants to name him Castle.

Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts and wishes. xoxox

Also, we have about 500 pics from France, but we can't download them and our monitor is dead. J and I also created a list of things the French do well, and don't do well. I'm hoping to post them for posterity.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A letter to the sugarplum

Dear Zoe/Sadie/Savannah,

Remember last week when (I think) I felt you moving around in there? It really reassured me, and I loved it. But, it's been a few days, and I'm getting nervous. I know this Thursday at 3pm is our next appointment, but I was just wondering if you could wave? Or somersault? We would all appreciate it. I'll get you Thai food later as a reward.


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