Friday, November 30, 2012
...or at least my children do...Zelda woke up this morning and told me she had a nice playdate with Johnny Cash. They played the guitar and sang together. When I asked her what they sang, she responded "Flesh and Blood." - Then she asked if Johnny Cash could play at ACL and she could have a playdate with him, Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline. They could all sing "Crazy." I am really excited about this next playdate! WWJD - What would Johnny Cash do?
Saturday, November 10, 2012
...sometimes I try too hard to explain things to Zelda. It has to do with thinking she has to "see" things the way that we see them. So, the other day as we drove to school, the fog was as thick as pea soup. Crossing the South 1st Street bridge, we couldn't even see City Hall sitting 100 yds ahead. We talked about fog and how we could feel the tiny delicate bits of moisture in the air but it didn't feel like rain. I tried to compare it to reaching for something and having soft cotton get in the way so that you couldn't quite feel the object - that explanation was too vague and complicated. Creed even said "what are you talking about?" Well, I was trying to relate vision to a tactile experience. Finally Creed would say, "Zelda we can't see the City Hall from here." And then, "We can't even see the water In the river." Zelda replied, "Oh, I know there is fog. I can see the water because it's under the bridge. And our car is on the bridge. And my seat is in the car." "I am sitting on the water." Touché...
Sunday, November 4, 2012
...but I live in Austin. I have for over 15 years now. Before that it was Washington, DC, before that years in Paris, but I was born and raised in New Jersey. When people in Texas ask me if I am from here, I respond, "I 'live' here, I am 'from' New Jersey." When Evan and I decided to dive into getting pregnant in our we mid forties, we chose a fertility clinic in Morristown, New Jersey. I like to tell people that the Toxotwins were born in Texas but built in a factory in New Jersey. So, I have been thinking a lot about my home state and the surrounding areas after the abominable hurricane sandy hit the east coast last week with so much devastation. I don't want to capitalize her name, for that would just give her more strength and recognition of power. My memories of the Jersey shore are good ones. I can reference my age as I remember my parents taking us to Atlantic City as kids to see the horse dive off of the Steel Pier. My dad hated the ocean, but we went as a family and have the old black & white photos from the late 50's and early 60's to prove it. We had many trips to Island Beach State Park on weekends and high school skip days. We would drove to the shore for dinners with my shellfish eating family to a dive near the beach while I ate a hamburger. There were afternoons at Point Pleasant and Sandy Hook. My friends and I had college weekends in a rented house on stilts in Ocean City. We have those lovely memories, I haven't lost them. It's poetry, past reality. The loss now is without compare for those in New Jersey. They have lost their homes, their possessions, their businesses, their lives. The ones that still have their homes are without food and power. Staten Island is in ruin. Breezy Point in Queens succumbed to fire. My memories are nothing compared to this loss. If you can help, please do...we have friends driving supplies to people, cooking meals, housing the homeless, not sleeping in order to assist those in need. So, my sunny Saturday of a sunburn in the sand seems meaningless, almost guilt ridden that now I can't be there to help...please hold them in your hearts and thoughts.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Further Illumination Rounds (with apologies to Michael Herr): "Un petit canon" translates directly to "a little cannon" but might more accurately be taken as "a little shot" since it is how the old men in the cafes take their tiny morning draught of red wine. As I do now. ...... Creed has, in exile, and much to my surprise, developed some skill at "Angry Birds": firing upon Goliath structures with a slingshot, adjusting trajectories and velocities and burst intervals. So I should not have been surprised when, atop the majestic military mountaintop that is the Arc de Triomphe, Creed occupied one of the brass telescope emplacements, found his range through the small sighting telescope, and prepared his angle for an artillery attack upon the Eiffel Tower! While Zelda was knocking over the barricades and distracting the gendarmes down below, on the Place de L'Etoile, with its commanding access to Hausmann's axial consensus of avenues. The twins are the latest occupying army to take this gateway to the Cité. ...... When Madame Gail Antoinette has reached the end of her rope, out in the streets, and the little peasants are revolting (literally and figuratively), and all seems lost, she reaches into her bag (Comme des Garçons) for her Secret Weapon, and deploys it: she lets them eat ... Cake! ...... King Evan XIV is distracted from the Revolution around him by the images he finds on the street and in the Metro, of an idealized culture (where women are colorful sensuous models, and men are gray stern statues) that is tattered and crumbling at the same time that it is being papered over and reborn and critiqued daily. Missives broken into shards and fragments: advertisements, mostly, placed in antique frameworks and then torn and "modified" by the street denizens. Words untranslatable appear and disappear in these contexts, and he (Evan XIV) dreams and schemes how to bring the whole experience home and render it into paintings and constructions. While he is thus transfixed, Zelda has wandered up the platform, and Creed has run up the escalator in the opposite direction. ...... Nothing so focusses the mind as traversing a dark apartment in the middle of the night, guided only by the antique ivory streetlight staining some of the walls, seeking the added-as-an-afterthought toilet near the front door, telling oneself it is better then the old system of walking out into the staircase naked to find the closet with the hole-in-the-floor à la Turque ... when one steps barefoot onto a tiny Lego landmine. Trying not to scream and wake the sleeping combatants. ...... We, the family, had dinner on the terrace one evening. Creed came up with a new version of his patented, but not necessarily popular, cut carrots and ham shreds, by adding bananas to the mix: carottes, jambon et bananes. Zelda, of course, stuck to her Cheerios diet. Gail made a salad of lettuce, salmon, dressing, and a little French soil or sand (we couldn't tell which) that snuck in somehow. Evan served everyone their drink of choice: Creed had nectar de pomme, Zelda had lait, Gail had inexpensive rosé from the market, and Evan had bière brune. All was quiet, all was well. The setting sun lit the variety of chimney pots across the street. "I don't care what it cost," Gail whispered to Evan, "I would do it all again for this meal together".
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The French Revolution, fought door to door and street by street, in the catacombs of the Metro and on the ornate balconies of the past. Red wine. Not my usual weapon-of-choice. But they drink it for breakfast here, and I am trying to follow suit. We have carried out all the empty bottles, down the five flights of stairs -- Creed prefers the antique spiral staircase to the modern ascenseur that threads the stairwell like a needle through DNA. There's a basket in the apartment with 28 wine corks in it: the empty cartridges of our ongoing fusillade. Our French friends helped, of course. Dinner parties on the narrow terrace, overlooking the apartments and rooftops across the way, and rue Rambuteau far below. We pick the tiny tomatoes as they ripen, courtesy of the landlady, and dry our laundry in the cool sunlight. We eat what we buy from the bakery and the market across the street. At night you can hear the occasional siren, and the clatter of high heels through the Marais. By dawn it is quiet, with only the pigeons making noise at the windows open onto the streets and the outside air. The kids stay up till midnight and sleep until nine. As do we. Creed spent this evening finishing the "sculpture" he began last night for his "art exhibit" along the apartment's outside wall. The crowning piece was the scrap of poster he liberated from the metro while Daddy was photographing the tattered remains of another such. We want to believe that his "work" is influenced by the street art we saw displayed yesterday at the Palais de Tokyo, which claims to be the largest center for emerging/contemporary art in the world. But the fact is, the art there wasn't very good. Creed was more impressed with the skateboarders who have occupied the dead fountain plaza outside the building. Daddy was more impressed with the human excrement "installation" he saw on one of the landings en route to that plaza, suspiciously close to the skateboarders. Mommy was more impressed with her mojito at the outside cafe, as a slight refuge from the demands of Zelda, who wants access to Everything and Everywhere ... NOW! The demands of six-year-old twins against the monarchy of Mommy and Daddy. We can already feel the guillotine blade whispering to the hairs on the backs of our necks, We have determined, through non-scientific experimentation, that the kids can only handle short jaunts through the crowded streets and the maze and rumble of the Metro before they begin to melt down, usually upon arrival at some particular stimulus which we had intended to be our final destination. Thus today we survived the lines and the climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, only to have them whirl into screaming fits when we reached the famous carousel at Montmartre later this afternoon: "I want to ride the black horse the bouncy horse the bench the sleigh the spinning car again again again!". The attendant didn't seem to care how many times we rode, and the Sacre Coeur pigeons were eager to eat the Cheerios Zelda flung out headlong in her frustration. It got no better when we tried to break free and delve into the nearby fabric district, so that Gail could fortify her supplies for her next collection of clothing designs. Fortunately there were dozens of stores for the kids to weave in and out of, feeling the scraps and bolts of cloth. But they fought us every inch of the way. And of course, the real saving grace of Paris that there is a cafe every fifty feet, in case you need a break from the battle. And an endless supply of parks, museums, and monuments. The water fountain at the Citroen Gardens, with a hundred wet screaming children running through it. Followed by fruit sorbets served from the custom-fitted wooden bed of a 1920's Citroen convertible pickup (probably not a coincidence that the make of vehicle matched the park's patron). The Pompidou, its distinctive rooftop visible from the apartment windows, just two blocks away, where Zelda circles the gypsies playing their antique fiddles, camped on their blankets on the cobblestones. The Museum of the Hunt, a few blocks away on Rue de Archives, with taxidermy specimens including a talking boar that Creed thought was burping, and firearms so intricate that they resemble the plumbing and electrical harnesses of these ancient buildings. And I am studying those harnesses as a guide to solving our own architectural challenges at home. At the Marches aux Puces we bought an antique brass faucet, as heavy and industrial as a sledgehammer, and intended to serve in our master bathroom in the Bough House, back in Texas. If we can survive until Friday, that is.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012
...since the kids were in pre-school - French immersion Montessori pre-school, that is...we have had a tradition that we call French Fry Friday. It meant that I didn't cook dinner (not that I do anyway) but that either Evan or I would pick the kids up at Ecole and we would do the french fry drive thru on our way home. More often than not, it is at P Terry's, a fine Austin institution with properly made "frites" etc. - all very PC and supposedly not bad for you. So, this week Creed asked: "Mom, please can we do French Fry Friday and go and get frites? And pleeeaaasse, can we eat there?" Well, this summer, living only a mere 3 long blocks from last year's apartment, we returned to see "Les Turques": two turkish brothers and an old woman who sits guard at a little shot gun, hole-in-the-wall experience with a pass thru window to the sidewalk outside. Last summer they got used to us sitting out front and Zelda rearranging the furniture as Creed ate his brochettes de poulet avec frites. So tonight, on Creed's insistence, and my fatigue, we headed over for French Fry Friday now known as "Frites avec les Turques." Once there, we placed our order and took a table outside, as two gentlemen - and I use that term loosely - finished their meal. As always, distracted by Zelda doing her tour of the tables, I hardly noticed the debate that ensued. It all went something like this: big man with accent stands up and starts rustling tables as older Turque tries to hand him money. Other man with accent starts yelling. Big man picks up chair to crash it on table and cracks me in the elbow - yeowwww! Creed runs to kiss me, I shuffle the kids inside with the old Turque woman and another customer. Turque brothers are in heated argument with men with accents - tables jostling, threats of destruction. Police station happens to be right across the street. Someone gets them and three officers arrive about the same time as our food that pretty much had been forgotten by the Turques. Now men with accents are arguing with the police, screaming is involved, something about not getting a receipt (?) - really?! Everyone is blocking the exit. Creed thinks it's an actual "case" and wants to call his (imaginary) guys onto the scene. We get our food, distact the younger Turque by throwing 10 euros at him, dump the food in a to-go bag and escape down the street - French Fry Friday was never like this in Austin...and my elbow is still throbbing...
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
...so, I was one of those kids growing up on the east coast that started taking French in school in 5th or 6th grade. My teacher's name was Barbara Baker - she was tall, had a teased bouffant like a Shangri-la and wore Jackie Kennedy-like sleeveless, smart dresses (it was the late 60's) and...she didn't shave her armpits. She was an amazing teacher but as middle class, white, suburban kids, we were all struck by her underarm hair. She also had the same name of a major Roller Derby star of the era and I would watch her namesake, racing around the track on Sundays on NYC metro TV as she would obliterate her competition. Now that I think about it...they could have been one in the same. Madame Baker taught us to speak and ask questions in French by addressing "La Souris Mickey" - that is: Monsieur, the one-and-only Mickey Mouse. "Dites à la Souris Mickey que vous avez faim..." and she would point to one of us with her arm raised as we tried not to stare and coyly would respond: "J'ai faim!" I want to say that she even had a small plastic model of Mickey Mouse that sat in front of the classroom...She drilled into her adolescent heads that speaking French, hairy armpits and talking to Micky Mouse was really, not a choice but a requirement. So, by the time I got to high school - in the early 70's - I was thrown into the world of the hipster, recently back from France-educated bi-lingual duo of Madame Sardella and Monsieur Castaldo. Mme Sardella wore short skirts, had a reverse flip hair-do and told funny stories about living with a French family and making mistakes in translation and M. Castaldo had a goatee, was très sérieux, carried a man purse and said "Ouais!" instead of "oui." They would switch levels every year so we had our full dose of each of them. So chic, so French, so 70's...I wanted to live their lives, speak their French and be like them. When the opportunity arose to take "their" trip to France, the devotées were ready...3 jet-lagged days in London (only my friend Debbie cared about London as she was on the hunt for Ziggy Stardust) and then we were there: on French soil. My friends Pam, Ellen and Karen cried when we stood before Notre Dame at dusk - beautifully lit with the sun setting behind us. Versailles, la Tour Eiffel, Sacre Coeur - you name it, Monsieur Castaldo and Madame Sardella took us there. And then, they took us to Vouvray...We had been in the Loire valley, Chateau-seeing, and as we drove along the river, a stone hit the front window of our very "modern" tour bus and the entire glass blew out. No one was hurt - especially not the driver, but we stopped at Vouvray - the vineyard. We took a tour down into the caves and left with bottles of wine tucked under our arms. And then our teachers performed magic: took us to a hillside on the side of a French country road, opened the wine and a baguette and some cheese appeared. That was it. That was all it took. I have a photo somewhere. Did we really drink the wine as students in high school with our beloved teachers? That's not really the point but in my mind we did. And the memory remains. It was the perfect afternoon... And I think of this often - it becomes the ex-patriot, all-is-right with the world scenario. I was 16 then and I have kept coming back: for undergraduate university in the south of France, a Master's degree in Paris, school for clothing design, living, working and hiding out in my atelier in the 13eme arrondissement for years and now teaching. Soooo...do I want my kids to love this country? Of course I do. Will I force them to? No - not possible. Can I at least give them this experience, this opportunity, these memories before they start to complain that they are forced to summer in Paris? Ah, ...oui, yes, of course... SUNDAY AUX JARDINS DES TUILERIES: Creed on the giant toboggan...
Saturday, July 14, 2012
...all is well. I was yelled at by the boulangère today. I was beginning to think that everyone was being too nice to me here because they secretly knew everthing we were experiencing in terms of theft, prescriptions, the undelivering postal system, migraines, doctors appts, etc. And especially when you walk around with 2 beautiful blond kids - one of whom is blind - and who willingly say "Bonjour, merci, et pardon" in the métro and everywhere else; one tends to be treated gently. For example: the people that work the guichets (behind the glass and are supposed to give information) in the métro are notoriously curt and unresponsive. Amercains often have trouble buying tickets or a carnet of ten through the machines with a credit card because our cards often don't have the assumed electronic "puce." So last night, running late, trying to buy a carnet for the kids at tarif reduit - they get a discount - I was busy cursing at the machine that wouldn't read my CC. Absorbed in my own drama, there's Zelda standing beside me but repeatedly pushing the big red button that calls the information person out from behind their glass cage. Believe me - just like in America - one shouldn't press the big red button. By the time I had fought with the machine and finally convinced it to take my CC and la dame had come out to see the elfen Zelda yet once again push the big red button, la dame and my daughter had become fast friends. They knew each others names, were exchanging kisses and la dame had a smile on her face that I had never seen coming from the behind the glass of a guichet in the métro. So this morning, Bastille Day - le 14 juillet - I snuck down to the only open boulangerie on the street, to buy 2 croissants beurre ( you always want to buy those made with butter), 2 pains au chocolats and une baguette - pas trop cuite (in other words: not well-cooked) as I like my baguettes served "rare". A line had formed and la boulangère (whether she was actually the baker or not) was curt, unresponsive and un-smiling. Hurray! She handed me a bag filled with croissants and pains au chocolats and one baguette. The girl working la caisse charged me 11+€. So, I said, "Madame, there must be some mistake, I asked for 2 of each and une baguette pas trop cuite." The neighbour behind me verified my request. Oh, la, la...the world had exploded!! "Non, Madame! Vous en avez demandé huit!" (She thought I had asked for 8!) She continued to insist on her point, the girl working la caisse smiled at me knowingly and sheepishly returned some euros as la boulangère waited for me to agree with her mistake. "Je suis désolée, Madame, mais je n'avais pas dit 8!" (Nope, didn't say that!) French stand-off! Hurray, all is right with the world! Paris is normal - as long as I don't leave the appart with the kids...
Friday, July 13, 2012
...and no, I am not talking about cotton. I am talking of friends. I was always a loner - still am - but I went through a serious phase (starting even as a kid) of believing that I could survive without attachment to friends that really heightened in my 20's. Whether it was the rebel in me, the desire to have the utmost confidence in myself, or maybe just plain old insecurity - I pretty much shunned deep friendships. But much has happened since then. I lived abroad for years, made bad decisions in relationships, changed careers and figured out that although it's lovely to spend evenings alone and hide in a movie theatre with obligations to no one for 2 hours - life is so much richer with relationships. Especially ones that tend to be able to handle forgiveness, are made of loyalty without severe expectation or judgement and come equipped with an amazing capacity to exchange ideas and information, creativity and laughter. It wasn't my first rodeo in Paris - I had already studied and lived here before, but when I came in 1986, I was enrolled in school for clothing design at ESMOD. I met Elsa: she was short, had dyed black hair that was spiked up with pommade as her head was shaved on the side and a "meche" - one of those tiny braids longer than all of her other hair. She wore mens' jackets and trousers - and we listened to the same music. It was Goth for us - the Bat Cave had launched earlier in the decade in London: Bauhaus, Siouxsie, Nick Cave, Sisters. We would stay out all night at the Boucanier, falling asleep on the couches to the side of the dance floor until the first metro would open at dawn and then our merry band would disperse and make our ways to our respective homes, as the boulangers were already at work baking the first croissants of the morning. There were a group of us that only got stronger after we graduated: Laurent worked for French TV and spent all of his money on vinyl and clothes by Yamamoto. Sandra was busy booking our collections on Parisian TV shows and getting as gigs to show our clothes around France. Armelle lived near Versailles and would have us over to her parents' apartment for holidays when they were out of town. And Manu would smoke cigarettes and fall in love with a different girl every week. We would go to afternoon Tea Dances and party next to JP Gaultier. BOY of London and their followers were huge. We sold our collections in a Galerie for Jeunes Createurs aux Halles. In those days Les Halles was more friendly...still seedy, still sex shops, even our landlady of the gallery was a Madame with rooms upstairs, but the Costes brother had opened their cafe. Laura Todd had introduced a chocolate chip cookie shop and we would meet every day to discuss fashion "Au Pere Tranquille" when we weren't at home in our ateliers, on the road or working selling our designs at the Galerie. When I moved back to the States in the nineties, I would return to Paris at least yearly, often for business or just visits (and now for teaching) but also for special occasions: a long weekend for the wedding of Elsa & Laurent (he wore Thierry Mugler!) and we partied til 5am, the birth of Evaluna so I could present her with her first shoes by Baby Dior and a little hand-sewn black dress and bloomers, Elsa's surprise party for her 40th birthday at Alcazar with drag queens and cigarette girls, my 40th birthday in Oberkampf with a huge cake shaped like an American flag...they would move apartments and arrondissements but there was always a bed for me. Their son Vermeer was born a week before the twins...and now our kids are friends. And if the Sisters of Mercy were to come on right now, we would all get out on the dance floor, wearing black, with our heads down, not speaking and dance: First and last and always...
Monday, July 9, 2012
When it rains it pours. Man, I need my Lexapro. Zelda shattered the glass door of the shower...it wasn't a good system anyway (do you hear the justification in my voice?). 2 broken goblets: those we can replace at IKEA - say it: EE-KAY-AH. But an entire shower door, BHV here I come! Thank the gods that Manu (one of my dear French bachelor friends of 25 years) was here for dinner...I felt myself cracking this weekend and invited him for pizza with the dynamic duo (Creed and Zelda - of course!) Creed insisted on wearing his full Mariachi suit out into the streets of the Marais to pick up our delightfully "couture" pizza. Creed had another migraine this morning; it lasted 1 1/2 hours, complete with vomiting and photophobia. I spoke with a lovely pediatrician and am trying to regulate his food intake, hydration and sleep. Why would almost 7 year olds want to sleep when it's light out until 11pm? Ah...summer in Paris. I remember living here and going to the movies, to an evening show and coming out of the theatre and having it still be daytime - in the nighttime. And then after a walk along the Seine we would go to see the midnight show of "Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill" that showed without question every night at 24h. So, who can explain nighttime that looks like daytime to a kid that wants to invite everyone over for a party? Sometimes Creed will ask: "Mom, is it breakfast time or lunch?" As for Zelda, she is having a full body experience...she is experiencing Paris with all of her weight of 40 lbs. She needs to push against everything, everyone and feel the pressure, feel things move, feel her power...she has become quite good at saying "Pardon" as she takes off ("Mom, let me do it!") on her own, down the streets of our neighborhood. But alas, not everyone or thing likes to be pushed against : old French women, kids on the playground, shower doors... But today was my last day of "freedom" before I start teaching tomorrow. Malou - our nounou - came and took the kids to the parc. I worked on my syllabus, went and made photocopies, took the métro to Barbès to peruse the fabric stores of remnants - and yes, bought a few metres (oh, there is one color I will present in the fall besides black!) and then, met another old friend of 25 years. The sunset was lovely from the terrasse and as Creed fell asleep to the Elvis special on TV, he remarked, "Why does this guy's voice sound like the Dad on Dinosaur Train?" (For those of you NOT in the know, it's a kids' cartoon on PBS). As for la petite Zelda, headphones on, she was "Rolling in the Deep" with Adele, in an instant...Bonne nuit de Paris...
Sunday, July 8, 2012
I feel as though I'll ramble so here goes. But first: we are in Paris, we are in Paris, we are in Paris...I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Yes, la vie est belle but this week anywhere would have tried the last nerves of anyone. I am beginning to realize that Creed gets migraines. I really don't believe that it has anything to do with his VP shunts or shunt malfunction or even his vision. Ever since he could express pain in a fairly directed way, he has been able to tell me about his headaches. They don't come often but when they do, he wakes up writhing and crying in pain...no loud noise - not even cartoons for distraction. He wants darkness and then there's the vomiting. It happened after the night of July 4th: too little sleep, too many bonbons, rain & sun, Coca cola...who knows but I am trying to track it all. And then suddenly he'll vomit one last time - after about 3 hours - he'll declare that he's better. Was it yesterday that I slipped coming in from our lovely terrasse as I pulled in the laundry when it started to rain? Yes and as I cursed in two languages, my shin bled and developed a huge swollen hematoma that put me in bed with ice for the afternoon. The twins are angels and devils in disguise. They do wonderfully for several hours and then sink into whining, demanding, complaining little turds. I couldn't leave the appart for arnica or painkillers because that would have meant readying the kids and going down 5 flights. Creed is doing well with his French but I still don't trust an almost 7 yr old to go down into the streets of Paris to the pharmacie - even if we can see it from the terrasse. The rain comes and goes in buckets. The weather today was in the 60's. The kids at the park were a friendly lot and latched on to the twins, despite Zelda being quite disagreeable. After the initial meeting of a blind child and their reaction of "Oh, la pauvre!" (oh, the poor thing), I had them close their eyes and they each tried walking with her long white cane. They asked lots of questions and when I asked them if they lived in the "quartier", they said "Oui, le Marais." Yes, they live in the Marais...is that cool I asked them? "Ah oui", they shrugged, "0n a l'habitude." - "We're used to it"... So, we are in Paris, we are in Paris, we are in Paris...I think I am getting sick, freezing under the blankets, looking out over the rooftops...
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
...the twins slept this morning until the phone rang with a call from from Christian. "Rendez-vous au Palais Royal a 10h." So, finally we were up and out before noon and on our way to see "On aura tout vu" and their Haute Couture show under the shade trees of the Palais. Christian wrangled us seats in the front row, Zelda made friends with the DJ and got the show's mix of music and we enjoyed every minute of the short production. Women with elaborate headresses, men dressed as centaurs, and even a dog on the runway. Creed's swag included a black and silver fan by Caron who sponsored the show. We made a run for the Jean Paul Gaultier show but were too late. BUT, the icing on the cake came this evening when I met our next door neighbours: Matt, is a photographer from Toronto, his lovely friend is Andej Pejic - the infamous, stunning and captivating boy/girl model who walked for Gaultier today and Tracy who designs eyewear for Linda Farrow. They loved Creed and Zelda and vice versa. We were busy hosting our tribe on our terrasse for the 4th of July - hamburgers, Freedom fries, cupcakes topped with American flags and plenty of French wine...our fete followed a day of couture, buying a new phone card, replacing Zelda's sunglasses and Creed's hats that were stolen by braving the sales "Les Soldes" at H & M, the kids au Parc Villeman, and lovely afternoon cocktails at the cafe Beaubourg. What ever will I do when work begins?
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
I don't know why it has been more difficult for the twins to get through their jet lag this summer. Perhaps because they are more aware, more excited, they have more expectations? They remember friends. places and things to do? Phew...it's been exhausting. I finally resorted to Melotonin tonight - an old trick that we used on Zelda as a blind toddler getting used to her interior clock. They finally fell asleep before midnight. Christian and Manu were here for dinner this evening on our lovely terrasse. We have an apartment on the 5th floor in the Marais. Across the street, we play "Rear Window" aka "Fenetre sur Cour" - watching our French neighbours in a Hitchcockian sort of way as they leave their windows and shutters open until the sun goes down at 10pm or so. There's a woman with an amazing library across the way - she seems like an editor - always at her computer. There's a gentleman in a lovely "maison" - duplex in the city - with potted plants and always a guest for dinner on the balcony. Two full days have passed and the twins are adjusting - Creed remembers everything: every word, almost every nuance in French and when he doesn't, with frustration in his voice he says: "Maman, I don't understand you!" He has a sleepover this Friday with his "ami", Vermeer, the son of my dear friends: Elsa and Laurent. Elsa and I were in clothing design school together so many moons ago and have known each other for over 25 years. I spent the afternoon today with Laurent who I have known just as long - even before they were married. We have a tradition of doing the newest boutiques and streets in Paris where things are happening. Sooo...la vie. The twins have been sleeping in...tomorrow morning I will wake them and try to crash a Haute Couture show at the Palais Royal. Who could refuse them? More on that later. This morning we took the metro for the first time since last summer and Zelda went nuts. She loves it and hates it - at the same time. The love comes from the adventure, the sound, the movement. The hate...well, where's the train??? She is impatient and doesn't like unexpected transition. Thus, while waiting for the metro on the quai of the station Republique, she swung her cane and hit a woman in the eye. Oh yes, Zelda - making friends with the French. At least the woman was wearing glasses and was sitting quietly as she meekly scowled and smiled and accepted my apologies as Zelda refused to say "Excusez-moi, Madame...je suis desolee." So, then ... Zelda wasn't exactly through with her reign of terror...we went to Joue Club as I had unwittingly promised them the night before: Go to sleep and we'll go to Joue Club, Ha! Creed chose his Legos and Zelda played with keychains until the time came to leave the small boutique into the grand gallerie where the shops were gathered. Zelda ultimately threw a fit - the metro? Yes? No! Legos? No! Yes! As she listened to the echos in the gallerie, she again swung her cane and WHACK! into the knee of the security guard of Joue Club. "Oh la, ca fait mal!" - Yes, sir: it really does hurt! AND again, I apologized and dragged her off to the metro. Once underground and happy as a ... who knows what...we took two trains home to our station, arrived at the appart and waited for our beloved nounou, Malou, to arrive so I could escape into the anonymous streets, friends, cafes and rendezvous of this fair city that I adore.
Monday, July 2, 2012
So, our Air France flight was lovely...it really was. That is until we arrived in Paris, got set up in our wonderful apartment and started to unpack. And then I began discovering that things were missing. We checked 4 bags this year and I shipped 2 boxes ahead as we are here in Paris for 2 months and I didn't want to have to buy everything here. As I unpacked the 2 larger bags, nothing looked disturbed, until I realized items were missing and I started to panic. First, where was my favorite Dries Van Noten bag that I have carried for years? I had laid it across my clothes and it was gone. My Rick Owens shoes - gorgeous stilettos - that I didn't pack with my other shoes in another valise. Gone. A ziplock bag of shampoo, body cream, toothpaste and brushes - gone. Another bag housed an unlocked cellphone lent to me by a friend - gone. Many other various pieces - a plastic box of Zelda's sunglasses - literally worth $15 - they took them! Creed had packed 3 of his favorite hats - they took those, too. But perhaps the biggest slap in the face was the meds...last summer in Paris, we ran out of meds and eventually Zelda had a seizure here. This year we contacted the doctors, the pharmacies, and the insurance company - we ordered double doses of Zelda's seizure meds as well as my Lexapro (a still necessary evil that I continue to take after cancer treatment & surgeries). We thought we were all set. But no....I packed the extra bottles in our checked luggage and thankfully took about a month's worth on board with me. Evan just informed me today that the insurance company and pharmacy will replace our meds for free...so much for Air France, they just asked me to fill out forms, and more forms and more phone calls. I fully expect to see my Rick Owens shoes on e-bay. And "Eh, connards! I will bid on them!!"
En route ... enfin... A hellacious delay at Austin/Bergstrom makes me hate Delta even more than ever but I stop to remind myself how thankful I am for this trip. We were delayed, on the tarmac and both Creed & Zelda had to pee at least 6 times - per child - and listen to Green Day, a lot. Finally in Atlanta, the amazing flight attendants put us on the big electric cart and whisked us off to our Air France gate. Phew...now Zelda knows everyone in the airport and on the plane and everyone else thinks Creed is on his World Tour - complete with costumed get-up (his choice), his electric guitar on his back and his Scoobie Doo rolling suitcase. Finally - in Premier Voyageur - and having a glass of champagne ( after 6 more trips - each - to the potty.) Creed is entranced by Lucky Luke, en français bien sûr and Zelda is singing above her headphones to Delta Rae. "Canard fumé" arrives any moment - it is dinner on Air France, afterall. A bit of Melatonin and then "dodo"...that's sleepy time. Fingers crossed...
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
So, on Father's Day - aside from serving breakfast in bed to Evan - he and Creed took off to Lockhart for a boy's afternoon of barbecue, neon and old signs while Zelda and I ran errands in town and went swimming. I told Zelda that we needed to go to Target - and she agreed: "Yes, Mom, I need to go to Target." "Zelda, why do want to go there?" "Because Mom, the Angels live at Target and I want to see them." Ok, then... As she busied herself, pushing the cart through the aisles, I asked her, "So, Zelda, have you seen the Angels yet?" "Yes, Mom. I did already." "And what did the Angels say?" "Mom, they didn't say anything they just made sounds." "Like what, Z? "Like shhhhh...." Pure magic.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
The first day of Kindergarten was a breeze compared to the last day. So many emotions, so much growth, so many stories, so much change...and here we are at the end of the school year - readying to spend another summer in Paris. I guess that I can only highlight the change and growth that happened within our family with these amazing twins: Creed: had the most wonderful teacher - Mr L. After 3 years of female teachers in French preschool, he was now in a classroom of 21 boys and girls with Mr L. Creed responded like a champ despite some learning difficulties. As yet undiagnosed, he is full of energy, creativity and imagination yet has trouble with retention, symbol recognition, and handwriting. He had a great tutor this spring and advanced by leaps and bounds but we have a long way to go in 1st grade. Creed-isms and pertinent questions: "Mom, do you love yourself?" "Why, yes Creed. I do. Do you love you love yourself?" "Yes, I think I'm pretty great." When his Kindergarten teacher was murdered this past New Year's he told his class: "I know we are all sad but let's think about all of the good times." Creed and Zelda both loved Miss Esme very much. When I told Creed that he would be spending a week at a day camp with a bunch of boys, he asked: "Mom, is this a sports camp? Because I am not really a sports guy." Creed is wildly imaginative, writes books, makes up stories and tells tall tails. He won the Energy Award at day camp and was definitely the "cool cat" of Kindergarten. He likes to be kind and helpful and his latest endeavor is cooking: the other day he created grilled cheese nachos with rosemary. Now as we ready for Paris again - in just 2 short weeks - we'll see what adventures he has in store.