May 30, 2010

Sex and the City 2 -- A Review

Friday night, S (our aupair) and I went to see our old friends Carrie, Miranda, Sam and Charlotte. For non-fans of the show, those are the four girls of the HBO hit show 'Sex and the City'. After 2 whole years of marriage, Carrie is in crisis again, this time it's the 2 year itch. The 7-year itch is so 1950s in this age where 1/2 of marriages end in divorce and 10-years is the new silver anniversary. Not that I don't believe in divorce, it's just that I wonder about the state of society where like Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte, they waited until their 30s to get married and the have a crisis after just 2 years... Carrie wants to keep going out every night and be fabulous in her mid-40s, while her hubby, probably 10 years older than her, just wants to stay home...So what's wrong with a home cooked meal, every once in a while?? Well according to Carrie, that's boring. Then the girls head off to UAE for a fabulous Middle Eastern vacation. While the decedent vacation is just what the doctor ordered for the girls, Sam's radically libral sexual behavior gets the gang in trouble... Carrie, meanwhile, plays with fire in the form of ex-boyfriend, Adian, but quickly remembers that she spent 6 years lusting after Big and now that she finally has him, is she willing to throw that away over a few nights a week out?? Well I do identify more with Charlotte than Carrie, so maybe I am just not fabulous enough to understand;)

All in all, this movie is like a bag of Doritos. Once you open the bag, you just can't stop because their so good... But be careful if you think too much about the ride when it's over, you could give yourself a tummy ache. Just enjoy the ride b/c their are some really funny parts:)

In case any of the HBO executives are reading this, I have lots of ideas about a show about grad school...

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May 27, 2010

Bikini Philosophy

I recently decided that it was time to give up my too big bikini for something that well 'fits'.  I can't say that I have had swimwear that I have absolutely loved before.  Each year, I try to find something that (1) stays on (2) keeps everything 'in' (3) doesn't look horrible and (4) is functional.  Today's woman has 3 options to start -- A) One piece.  Can be modest and hold things in place.  But for a long day of swim wear wearing, the one piece just isn't functional -- potty breaks...

B)  Tankini.  Certainly over comes the problem of the one piece in many ways.  But when you are swimming, you can easily get tangled into the part of the swim that covers your stomach.  I can certainly slow you down if you are doing laps.  I guess that's why you don't see tankinis on the speedo website.

C) Binkini.  Not really modest, but no swim suit is truly modest.  In Europe, this could just be a bikini bottom for a woman.  But that woman,  is usually overweight, pale, and over 50.  I might be a law that she also probably had 10 children and spent way too much time in the sun.  In this country, I think that every woman must wear a miracle bathing suit, given that when I went bikini shopping, I found that most of the suits supported so well that they even provided shape and padding for excess cleavage.  I don't really see the point.  While most men will say that they are 'boob men' most are happy with anything.  Given the opportunity, they aren't as shallow as we think they are.  Besides, I am married and don't care for 15 year boys to be ogling over my cleavage.  The other thing that I really hate about most bikinis is that they use your neck as an anchor.  Not cool.

Time to give a shout-out to Speedo for actually selling something that I would actually buy.  Thanks Speedo.  Can't wait til it arrives, maybe I actually bought something that I will like???  I hope so!

May 26, 2010

A tale of 2 backspashes

In 3 weekend afternoons, we were able to complete the backsplash in the kitchen.  Hooray!  On the 4th day we did lights and fans.  The kitchen already had lights and fans, but there was one fan that was in the wrong spot.  I define wrong, as strategically place so that it hits the cabinets as it spins.  So we have to move the fan to the location of one of the lights and vice versa.  Viola.  No more hitting cabinet problem.  We also installed a fan in the dining.  So not French.  Ceiling fans.  That's so American.  But I live in a country that is hot and we need air movement.  We were to install the shelf I got at Ikea, now I am wondering what did I actually want to go there. 

So the backsplash behind the stove is this 'faux-metal' thing that we got at the Home Depot (Leroy Merlin) and it was super easy to install.  I did it myself.  The other backsplash is multicolor slate tile, that we also got at the Home Depot.  We installed that together, although A made all of the cuts.  I really suck at cutting and always cut the wrong thing, each time!  I measure 6 times and still somehow it is wrong.  I have to say that I am really pleased with the outcome.  

We are almost done with the kitchen.  Hooray!
Ok maybe now A can build the brickoven of his dreams;)

May 20, 2010

The Damsel in Distress or the Ballsy Woman

There are so many ways in which woman have it a little tough.  We are either weak sappy messes or we are b*tches.  Walking the tight rope between those is often tough.  In an episode of Desperate Housewives, Susan's MIL declared that a woman should be 'a chef in the kitchen, a maid in the house and a whore in the bedroom'.  But I wonder, does that also mean being a 'doormat at the entrance'?  Can you be all of those things and still get the tile you want in the kitchen and not be label as being 'b*tchy'?  How about at work?  Does not wanting to be belittled and walked all over by your coworkers make you 'a control freak' or a 'hurricane'?  What if you have ideas too?  When woman exhibit the same behavior as a man there is a negative connotation.  But the for man, when he is a 'go-getter' or being 'aggressive', those attributes are positive and rewarded.
I have to say though, that working for men is A LOT easier than working with woman.  In woman circles, weak woman are eaten alive.  Professionalism means being stoic, solid.  No place for weakness.  The competitiveness is suffocating and in the end there is only one survivor.  It's like playing basketball with Micheal Jordon, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, etc.  Dream team or not, no one will pass the ball.  While there may not be an 'I' in Team, why does that matter?  Modern woman should do it all.  Take care of the children, clean the house, make the dinners, work 16 hours days and be a whore in the bedroom. 
Time to get back to sisterhood.  While I can play the part of the 'Damsel in Distress', please don't tell me not to 'worry my pretty little head', good ideas are all around us.

May 12, 2010

Great American Railroad

I had the great pleasure of riding the Great American Railroad recently.  I often wonder why people in American don't take the train.  I now know.  The first problem is that it's expensive.  It cost $200 round trip to get from Baltimore to New York and took 2.5 hours.  That's about 300 km, so it averages about 120 km/hour and about $0.33/km (round trip).  Wow that's great.  Really.  It is probably actually cheaper to fly and faster.  No wonder people don't take the train.  In France, on occasion I would take the TGV from Marseille to Paris.  That is 776km.  The typical cost those tickets were about 80 Euros and the trip would take about 3 hours. That trip averages about 250 km/h and 5 centimes/km.  So in short it costs 6 times more to go 1/2 the speed.  Awesome.  I think I would take the train everywhere if it were faster or cheaper.  The nice things about the train (now) is that there is less hassles than at airports AND it can go downtown to downtown.  Usually connects to things like metro...  But at that cost/time I wonder why Amtrak finds that their service is so great.  Is it because European countries subsidize their rail more than we do in the US?  Is it that they have to charge more because they have less business?  The trains I was on had plenty of available seats.  If they lowered their prices would they fill up the seats?  The other super annoying thing was to change my ticket.  In France you can change your ticket at a machine.  Here in the US, you must stand in line and they get charge a gigantic fee for the change...  I tried to change my ticket and they wanted an extra $100 for a train leaving in 30 minutes.  Obviously the train wasn't full...  So why should I have to pay that much $$$ for a seat that is going to be empty anyway...  I just hung out at the station for an extra hour, watched TV on Hulu and took the next train....

Come on AMTRAK, you are the future, time to step up.

May 11, 2010

Doctor Bills

I recently went to the doctor for a regular visit.  The visit cost me about $30 and it cost my insurance $190.  Was the doctor's 20 minutes really worth $220?  That's like $660/hour.  This same examine in France costs about 45 Euros.  The gov't reimbursement is about 17 Euros, making it about 28 Euros out of pocket.  With an even exchange rate, the costs are about the same for me, but for my 'insurance' the costs are about 11 times more.  Was the doctor 11 times more helpful?  11 times more knowledge about, did she use 11 times better equipment or was 11 times more gentle?  No.  She wasn't any of those things.  But she did have 11 times the staff that the French doctor had and probably pays 1000 times the mal-practice insurance.  Only some French doctors even have staff.  Most just have waiting rooms and come get the next patient when they are done with the last one...  No multiple examination rooms.  Sort of like a psychiatrist office...  Not that I know anything about that.  You pay the doctor directly.  No need for billing people.  The way that it usually works is that the govt reimburses the patient directly through direct deposit and you don't have to file paperwork since the everything is electronic via your "health card".  Although I guess if we did that in this country we would lose more precious American jobs...  Viva privatization of insurance.

Herding Cats

Well I wish I was actually herding cats....

May 5, 2010

Am I insane or what?

When I started to plan my summer vacation, I was looking for one thing.  Quiet, book reading in the sun.  Sounds perfect right?  Well then I realized that I actually couldn't take a month off of work.  No problem, I will work the first 2 weeks in France and then go on vacation the last 2 weeks.  So I bought the ticket.  Me and the boys will arrive the 1st and be there almost 4 weeks.  A will come for the last 2 weeks.  Although A really wants to spend time with the fam and after 2 weeks of the ILs, I am like no way.  Maybe I should spend some time with all of my PACA friends?  So I looked into it and will probably go to PACA toute seul for the 3rd week and come back the 4th week to spend some days by the pool in Bordeaux -- or maybe at the beach on a coast where they actual have waves (but the water is nearly frozen)....  So I started planning this fun, relaxing trip in the southeast.  But wait there is a geek conference in Lisbon -- can I fit that in too??  Oh and the baptism of Z, which I will have to meet with the priest sans A, who only speaks French.  Yay.  So here is what it looks like.  1) Go to France with Kids -- spend 10 days on West Coast.  2) Abandon kids to MIL for one night and go to Lisbon (A arrives the next day) 3) Spend 3 days in Lisbon 'working' 4) Go to PACA (Provence, Alps, Cote d'Azur) to see friends and read on the beach. 5) Return to West coast, baptize Z and spend some time by pool/beach.

Am I insane?  Is that too much?  BTW, I still need book ideas.

May 3, 2010


I bought my first pair of Clarks 6/7 years ago. They were a classic clog. I can't say that we fell on live instantly. It was one of those relationships that look time to develop. He had to strech a little and mold around me. I now have 5 pairs of Clarks. I got 2 yesterday. I have flirted with other companies, Dansko, Teva, asics... But there are just more occassions to sport Clarks. Some of you reading this (D) might think that I am insane. Shoes should be about fashion and not comfort, but I think my new Clarks are both:) At least I don't have hammer toes or bunions...

Now I just need to find a good pump for dancing... Leather sole anytime soon Clarks?

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May 1, 2010

Books and La fête des Mères

Mother's Day in the US is next weekend.  In France, they celebrate the last Sunday in May.  Last year we didn't celebrate Mother's day anywhere.  We were in France for the US Mother's Day and in the US for the French Fete des Meres.  So this year, we should probably celebrate both just to be sure. 
Sure, I am not Mother of the Year or anything.  But the last year was tough.  New baby, potty training L, moving to the US, starting a new job...  I feel like I need an extra fete, just for surviving.  I told A that he could get me books.  I plan to read one book every day or so when I am on vacation in August.  That's means I will need 7 books minimum.

I like Ina Caro's 'The Road from the Past: Traveling through History in France', it is such a great book about traveling through France and gossipy monarch history, like who married who and what mistress they had and how when they died, how who took over.  

So please, I am looking for book suggestions.

Cheating -- is that a cultural definition??

Americans have this idea that the French are more tolerant of cheating, not just tolerate really, but totally accepting.  If a man decides he needs a mistress, no big deal.  In Suzy Gershman's book, C'est La Vie: An American Woman Begins a New Life in Paris and--Voila!--Becomes Almost French, she has an affair with a married 'Count'.  They meet for drinks at a local hotel and he asks if she wants to be his mistress.  This scene is replayed in the film 'Le Divorce', where Kate Hudson's character, gets asked by her sister's uncle-in-law if she wants to be his mistress.  I am not really sure why though, while Kate has a great body, her hair is horrible in that movie.  Then there is that French politician whose mistress and illegitimate children were very publically accepted as his funeral.  
So recently, I had heard through the grapevine that a friend from college had cheated on his wife and now they are getting a divorce.  How horrible, they have a small child, I thought.  But then I found out the 'cheating' consisted on some suggestive IMs.  Divorce and custody battles over some 'suggestive emails' with an ex-GF.  Well maybe he was no longer interested in his wife and wanted a little excitement.  When I need some excitement, I search for pictures of Matthew McConaughey shirtless;)  So anyway, our American friends have confirmed: thinking of or being suggestive with another human being is cheating as long as it is exciting to you.  French friend though well it you are going to be called a cheater, you might as well have had some real fun.  
So I thought, well typical,  Americans are prudes.  But then I was talking to 'S', the au pair living in our home, and she is of the American school of thought on this.  Well she doesn't like Chevre, mushrooms or shellfish, so I am not sure of her 'Frenchness'.  She had explained that once she had a boyfriend that was on an internet dating site while they were together and that it was cheating.  She is pretty sure that he didn't go out with another girl, but could have gotten or sent message from/to them.  Well after 11 years together if A really wants to put his picture on Craigslist Casual Encounters, as long as he isn't actually having any, why do I really care.  I guess I am of the 'It doesn't matter where you get hungry, as long as you come home to eat' stance.  I think 'woman' who answer though ads are just hairy obese men anyways;)
I am not sure if this makes me more French or more American.  More conservative or more liberal.  What is conservative anyways, a high divorce rate or letting some mild chatter slide.  There is not even a base to reference on 'suggestive talking' and 'thinking', would that be a strike, a foul ball, or maybe an 'injury' that causes the person unable to play?

Suzy and Kate can have their Parisian Hotel encounters.  The fantasy with Matthew McConaughey shirtless will never let me down;)