⪧ We left our life in New York City to make a new one in Provence ⪦

November 29, 2011

Xavier.

Work on Monday was plain awful. 13 hours of sheer, unceasing intensity - with a short deep breathing session (could have involved tears) in the privacy of the copy room. Helicopters gone wrong, translations needed all over my desk, Broadway tickets amiss, incorrect lists of guests for events, invoices needing immediate approval, 87 unread emails - that sort of mixture. When my rather fervid boss questioned (an irrelevant) something in a demeaning way and I felt my pregnant belly contract in response, I think he saw a look of panic on my face and backed off. The next morning he told me it was impressive that I had survived the workload the day before.

That is the context for what blissfully came Monday night. When I walked in the door at 8:45pm, Xavier was there to fold me into his arms and coo and murmur softly. He never does that (murmurs softly). Then he drew a bath, scattered bath salts, brought in a speaker to play Rachmaninoff, lit a candle and served me dinner in the bathtub on a perfectly arranged tray. I had never eaten dinner in a bathtub. He took my phone and hid it. After one hour I was back on planet earth, where you don't need to hold your breath in between tasks due to stress. Dream husband.

November 27, 2011

Paule et Vincent



Xavier is très beautiful. So are these photos. They are his parents circa 1970 taken by a talented photographer, Claude Jourdan. Xavier's mom pulled these out this summer when we were in Baugé with his family. I love the temper of the photos, the lighting, how he plays with and spotlights certain features and lines in their faces. These photographs make me wonder what features our little human will fall heir to...















November 25, 2011

November 24, 2011

Great start.



Marc and I got up and had a turkey adventure this morning. The recipe we were using for the turkey called for a divided bird - for a more evenly cooked result. Less traditional, better taste, apparently. Well, who knew just how tricky butchering a turkey is. Marc does (I called out the instructions from the sidelines). We began with turkey yoga - I called out the postures (here performing shoulder stand with split legs) and Marc was the turkey trainer. The bird was decidedly more flexible and relaxed when we began the real process.

November 23, 2011

Franco-americana update.

When we first moved to Paris, this blog was chalk-full of my perceptions about the French, Xavier as a Frenchman, French women, realizations about Americans and on and on. Cross-cultural observations (whether they are in adoration or condemnation) meet many rebuffs. Someone can always find a counter example, a better example, a contradiction, an exception, etc. Absolutely. And I love that. I love that people can't be snugly fit into their cultures and their iterations always prove general observations inaccurate and misfigured. At one point, I wished I were one of those die-hard francophiles - the kind like so many American women I met in Paris - positively dripping with praise for every aspect of the French, even when contradictions were fierce and meeting them squarely in the face. Now I find that a pretty boring assessment of any culture (your own, or one you want to adopt or into which you'd like to be adopted). But my relationship with the French remains complicated - I still find myself criticizing, bum-cheek clenching and adoring them all in the same moment.

I've actually taken so much heat for my observations about Frenchies that I've all but stopped commenting. You can't imagine the fights that have occurred in my house about my Parisian observations and the fact that I am not intrinsically a francophile. Nonetheless, the commentary runs on in my head when I observe Xavier and Marguerite in wonder. I can't help myself. Living in France for three years and being with an incorrigible Frenchman (pronounced in the best of humors) and his adorable daughter have just given me a lot of exposure.

We will likely return to France one day soon or far into the future. Regardless of where we reside on the map, the cross-cultural analysis is about to inflame. A baby is to be born and this baby isn't going to be on one clear side of the line like the rest of us. The baby will be both French and American and our sometimes divergent approaches will be in competition (to be fair, the competition part might be Xavier culture more than anything else. Xavier loves to check in with me regularly to review/keep tabs on who is better at computers, bricolage, everything else). In any case, co-parenting in a culturally mixed relationship will provide lots and lots of entertaining stories to be sure.

I've addressed my cultural concerns about birth in the United States (because if I am critical of the French, I am at least equally so of my own) and recently, Xavier and I were talking about differences in birth culture between France and the US. Refreshingly, in France, midwifery is a strong and healthy practice. Most babies are delivered by midwives, with the recognition that births, for the most part, are natural affairs without a whole lot of medical intervention required. That said, most French women still use epidurals and give birth lying on their backs. One interesting hospital practice that differs between France and the United States is the treatment of the baby as an individual once it is actually born. While babies are often whisked away in both countries immediately after they are born for analysis, cleaning and appraisal, in France, hospital workers often react in a more proprietary fashion. When parents in the United States insist on keeping the not yet cleaned baby with them and ask workers to hold off on weighing the baby, etc - they often yield. In France, however, babies are often treated like state property - because, in fact, they are seen this way. I've touched on how the French view of citizenship as being primary takes precedence over other forms of identity (think of laws in France when it comes to religion, veils, sexuality - other forms of identity that get trumped by French-ness) and how French citizenship is often viewed as the keystone piece of anyone's identity. Well, this plays out even in a hospital room when the French citizen is born. The state's interests are professedly as strong as the parents'. Infant mortality rates are low in France and the medical profession will whisk a baby away to ensure its chances of being a strong Frenchman or woman. It is fascinating how views of citizenship affect practices in medicine, education - in all institutions.

Hopefully we will return to France while we are still having babies. I would like to opportunity to experience such a life event in another country.

November 20, 2011



Back at Stephen's apartment, mother hen is clucking with the new time machine hovering.



The relinquishing sun ensnares - can't help mulling over compressed days and their slanted light.



November 19, 2011

Brecht.

A friend, Katelin Wilcox's, one woman show last night, performed at Theater Row on 42nd Street in the United Solo Fest left me thinking thinking thinking. She was stunning in a brilliantly written piece she herself wrote of the tale of Bertolt Brecht (1989-1956), or rather, the tale of his women. She switched between the roles of five fundamental women in the playwright's life - their love, losses and perspectives. These women each not only fueled Brecht's creativity, but were often the literal composers of his work, only eventually to be discarded. It was a feminist tale and one that, unfortunately, could be told countless times across history. One of the women, Elisabeth Hauptmann, literally wrote the piece that launched Brecht's career (The Threepenny Opera) and received next to no credit for having done so. If you look up the piece, she is still often listed, at best, as a 'collaborator' - when 80-90% of the writing was hers. The women in his life were writers, actors, creative forces who were stunted merely because they were women (Brecht seized the opportunity to make use of their force and these women often saw the 'collaboration' as the only way their voices could be heard, having been rejected from publishers and industry heads repeatedly).

The performance and its story were such a great illustrative response to anyone who asks, where were women in history? Artists, writers, thinkers, philosophers - they were there. This sort of feminist historiography is so heartening. Particularly with a little girl growing inside of me.

November 18, 2011

November 13, 2011

Autumn.



One of Xavier's favorite cousins is visiting us in New York. He and his girlfriend live in Marseille. So we ventured out of the city for the weekend about 1 hour and 1/2 north. The place is on a big lake, surrounded by cliffs, trees and lots of nature. I want to swim in the lake, but alas, it is about this cold:





Nevertheless, we can swim inside and do yoga classes and maybe even get a massage. Pas mal.























November 7, 2011

Great city.



A New York City miracle. Reaffirmed my belief that people/places/things (nouns) are inherently good. I arrived at work, stuck my hand in my bag to retrieve my wallet to get through the security turnstiles and kept reaching - feeling all around. Nothing. Searched further, even started emptying things. No wallet. On another day I might have believed I had just left it at home. This morning though, I had had to buy a new metro card just before I got on the train. It could only mean that in between the D train and Park Avenue, it went somewhere.

I thought it had been stolen. It was there and then it was gone.

Even though I walked into a storm of things that needed to get done on the spot, I first wanted to call my bank to let them know I wasn't spending anything on those cards. I was on hold for at least 20 minutes and just when someone was about to finally take my call, someone on another line insisted that I speak to them about my wallet. Of course I picked up and breathlessly asked what it was. My wallet had been found by a person who works at the New York Times and she had called the building where I work because the address was in my wallet.

It turns out the person who found my wallet is not just some random worker at the New York Times, but one of the people involved in writing the little article written about our house last January. She recognized me from my picture on my id cards! What on earth are the chances? New York is a very very small place indeed.

Ça va quoi.


All is well. Woke up to Xavier still laughing at me. I was laughing at me too. The fix is easy though - with a headband - pas de problème! (The picture below was just too blue not to have some sort of reclamation).

November 6, 2011

Bang, bang. Shot me down.

I'm currently heavily into headbands. Thick ones.

Please note, this post is humorous. That is why I'm writing it. It is funny because hair grows back. It is also funny because out of all things that matter, hair isn't really one.

I went to get a haircut this weekend. Nothing major. A trim, shorten up the bangs a bit - that sort of thing. The back 3/4 of my head were cut nicely - the nice gentleman layered appropriately, nothing too short or cut with thinning shears. Then he got to the front of my head. He parted my hair and placed the section he wanted to cut shorter as bangs in front.

Then he moved in front - of me. In front of the mirror. What came off of my head seemed out of the ordinary - long and a lot. When he moved aside I looked in the mirror and immediately started to cry. He looked at me, back in the mirror, at me, back in the mirror and sort of fumbled with his tools, coming back at me for another go. There was nothing left to cut. The bangs he left me with were not even 1 inch long (too short to even clip back with a bobby pin). They almost stood straight out from my head. I was reminded of my haircut at 4 or 5 years old when I took the pair of scissors and put them almost directly against my head to make the cut. He was sort of shaking when he left me sitting there with other ladies in chairs around me, saying things like "poor girl" and "oh no."

The owner of the salon came over, brought me a box of tissues and said straight out, "of course you won't be paying for this cut," and then apologized profusely. She asked me to move to a different chair - what seemed like a totally futile action at that point. I sat there and just kept staring with big, round, teary eyes at the strange line of hair across the very top of my forehead. I couldn't understand. When the top stylist came to the rescue, I just asked her how anyone could cut hair like that? At first I think she tried to find an answer to defend her colleague, and then she could only come up with, "You're just going to have to let it grow - probably by Christmas you'll look better. Bangs grow fast." She showed me a few comb-overs with the longer hair from behind. I just stood up at some point and thanked her for the attempt.

On my way out, the owner lunged up the stairs after me to let me know that I "could come in every morning to have the bangs styled." I think she knew I would never go back there (it was an Aveda salon!). I was embarrassed to get on the subway. At home I looked in the mirror and my forehead and realized it was very comical. I look absurd and I am not about to explain the situation to everyone I see. Therefore, I will wear it like it was meant to be so.

I guess hipsters have bangs this short (too bad I work in a very formal, major financial institution - the kind hipsters generally avoid and camp out on Wall Street protesting). Scarecrows have bangs this short (similar concerns - I think they're down there too). Xavier came home and told me I looked medieval. I guess he would know better than most. He was cackling in between his attempts to comfort me. Xavier made comparisons with other occupations, telling me this hairdresser did his job like a pilot who crashes his plane.


State of shock. I'm sure I'll wake up and feel much better about the situation.

November 5, 2011

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