So we have my grandfather’s official (24th) and fake (26th) birthdays, my sister’s name day (25th), and my brother’s birthday (29th) all in the space of 5 little days. Phew.
If you are wondering about the deception behind my grandfather’s birth – it’s simple: he was born on the 24th, but his birth was only registered officially at the town hall on the 28th – since by law in France you have 2 days only, his birthday was conveniently reshuffled to the 26th. And his names were reshuffled too: his godfather on the way to register his birth decided to switch his middle name with his first name because he liked it better like that (that’s grounds for murder! How mad would you be?)
My sister, well, has the best possible name suited to her personality (it’s Sophie – and she is also amazing).
And finally my brother. Who was called Nicolas for the first 3 days of his life before my parents decided on Bruno instead. Who has a sweet tooth like crazy. Who has an obsession with little fingers and loves (LOVES) to pinch them. It’s a wonder mine are not flat given the years of pinching they had to endure. My brother is also a triathlete – and I get puffed after 1 flight of stairs (are we really from the same gene pool?). I love my brother (and he still pinches my little fingers when he sees me). He may even be doing it in this picture, who knows (it’s from 1981 or 82 – my best guess).
As with the November birthday cluster, I’m miffed I missed it all. I love them all so much (even those who pinch my little fingers… You know who you are).
*You can read about the first one here.
I am getting all the rare side effects of a medication I’m taking at the moment – and that includes violent (and I mean violent) motion sickness at the drop of a hat. And by drop of a hat, I mean turning my head – or looking up, or looking down – or turning too quickly in bed – or driving my car.
I was trying to remember if I’d ever felt this motion-sick before, and one memory imposed itself: a fateful car trip back from summer holidays in Italy when I was 6 or 7.
I grew up a serial vomiter in the back of our Peugeot 504. The little I remember about car trips is either, well, vomiting – or being passed out from strong anti nausea tablets distributed by our Maman.
That particular trip might as well have been called the perfect storm. There was a fire just off the freeway which caused huge delays – and my father to have to stop really suddenly. I woke up, vomited (and missed the bag). Which started a chain reaction and caused my siblings to follow suit. Nasty.
I can’t find any other way to describe how I’m feeling at the moment. As bad as during that ‘Return from holidays vomit fest’ – except I don’t have the pleasure of my sister’s and brother’s company (feeling sick in concert can be strangely comforting).
It also may or may not have been during the same trip that there was a small explosion under the hood of the 504 and a poof of smoke came out of the steering wheel – along with a strange mushroom smell (as described by my sister). I don’t remember, I was passed out. But according to her the look on my father’s face was priceless.
As for me, I can’t think of that car without feeling very very queasy – on current medication or off it.
(Image is from here – I ingested spectacular amounts of this as a child, apparently to no effect during that trip)
Every French child looks forward to 4PM as a treasured ritual (a daily mini Christmas if you will). That’s because typically you’re not handed an apple. Think cake, biscuits or chocolate and bread instead – ‘du pain et du chocolat’ (not to be confused with ‘pain au chocolat’ which you buy from a boulangerie – and while still a legitimate goûter, not an everyday thing).
When I was little I definitely didn’t have anything against chocolate, but I usually ate my bread first. Which meant I often didn’t have room for the chocolate after that. A lady from a day care centre I stayed at actually told my mum she’d never seen this before – or had to utter the words ‘Now eat your chocolate’. Ha!
I still have goûter everyday. And if 4PM comes around and I’m not hungry, I’m genuinely disappointed. And if by 3:30 my stomach is rumbling, I do a little victory dance in my head and start thinking about what I’ll be having.
Even if it’s not that exciting some days (yes, I do eat apples for goûter now) it still feels like a treat and it stirs some very strong memories.
In the gorgeous ‘Le goûter‘ blog (written in French), a lot of other people feel this way and share. Read about their goûters, you will see what I mean.
Le goûter, it’s not snacking between meals – it’s a way of life.
(Image from ‘Le goûter de Damien‘)
It started with a simple phone call, for someone to come and change the filter of our spiffing vacuuming system (plugs around the house – filter in the garage: impressed me every time I used it).
I have to spell my name (normal), but then out of the blue I’m told I will get an ETA tomorrow.
What now? I am starting to think someone in a balaclava is coming to fix my vacuum.
Well, not quite. It turns out here people shorten everything in conversation (as much as they can) – so instead of the Basque separatist group I heard about growing up, ETA is an Estimated Time of Arrival. What a relief…
Some other learnt favourites:
ASAP (‘Ace what?’ I said)
SNAFU (which sounds like a sneezing sound effect)
I can’t think of any French acronyms right this minute – I guess we’re just not a people that does brevity. Personally that’s why I don’t Twitter.
(Image is from here by the way)
I am a tired, disgruntled, blog-neglecting medical mystery. I am also having bizarre random thoughts (I can’t get enough of Jon Stewart saying ‘Boom!’*), and eating a lot of walnuts and dates.
Maybe I should try and sell my story to the writers of ‘House‘. But then again, I don’t have any sexy festering wounds so it may not interest them all that much.
(Image is from here)
*Also in same league: David Letterman saying ‘What!’.
Anton Tang, thank you for making my morning.
More? Here you go then.
Today I found myself in a waiting room, having to wait for half an hour. I didn’t think I would have to so I didn’t come prepared (no book, no nothing). I looked around and had the choice between Vogue (nope), Royal Auto (nope), or The New Scientist – and not just any issue: their ‘Death issue’. 6 in depth articles.
Thinking ‘what the hell’ I started to read. About death. At 9 in the morning.
Since my experiences of death only involved relatives and animals that I loved, I had never really dwelled on the more universal and mechanical aspects of it. The dispassionate mundane side. So reading about death from a doctor’s perspective – someone who has worked in emergency most of his career and resuscitates people (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) was liberating in a strange way, and peaceful in an unexpected way.
Turning the next page brought me this: ‘How does it feel to die?‘ – the last of the six articles. Warning it wasn’t for the squeamish (which sounded like a dare to me), it walked me through several possible ways to die and told me what we know about them – in short, our best guess of how each feels.
Except I only made my way through half – I was called back in before reading everything. And this is what I thought when I had to put my New Scientist back down: ‘Oh no! I didn’t get around to Hanging and Falling out a window!’. Honest to god. Now those are words I never thought I’d say.
I could finish reading the story by paying $9.95, but I’m not feeling that curious right now. Maybe tomorrow at 9? Or maybe I should start reading Vogue or Royal Auto instead.
(Image from here)
My mother doesn’t like to cook; this means as long as she sticks to a recipe it’s fine, but the second she tries to improvise bad things happen.
As far as baking is concerned, no one can touch her trusty gâteau au yaourt, but any forays into freehand baking tend to be disastrous. So my mother earned a bit of a reputation: ‘the Michelin baker’. Not intended to reference the number of stars (or absence thereof), but the resemblance of her pastries and cakes to the texture and weight of actual rubber tyres. Or as my sister would say: ‘throw one of her cakes against a window and it will break the glass’.
I on the other hand like to cook, and while I have produced my fair share of shapeless unidentifiable meals (What? It’s polenta and lentils!) overall my success rate tends to be higher than Maman’s. Except lately… On Friday I tried to bake some bread (and substituted/skipped some ingredients I didn’t have, thinking it would be totally fine…) – and I instead produced a Michelin loaf. Dense and rubbery, squeaky when you try to chew, with unmistakable glass-breaking potential. I have been eating little bits of it since then (taking a good 10 mn to work through a single bite), probably out of guilt to have teased her all these years.
Add to this my recently developed habit of falling asleep in front of a film, waking up to see the credits rolling and immediately asking ‘What did I miss? What happened?’ (and failing to see why it might be irritating) – I have to come to the following conclusion. I am becoming more and more like my mother. Next thing I know I’ll probably start dancing doing her stretching pussycat move. Help me…
(Image from here)
PS: I love my mother to bits, Michelin cakes, pussycat moves and all.
After years of having to live without it (years I tell you!), why did my undying love and passion for pain viennois come crashing down on me this morning?
For some strange reason, pain viennois is an absolute rarity in Melbourne (or I haven’t been looking in the right places).
If anyone knows where I can get some, be kind and save me from my drooling madness.
(Image is from here)
People are ticked off May 1st fell on a Saturday: it’s Labour day and it’s a public holiday. So nuts when it falls on a weekend.
Florists everywhere are selling muguet left right and centre. And because every year of my childhood I went with my father to buy some, on every first of May I smell phantom muguet all day.
And today I learnt that muguet is one of the most poisonous plants you can find. Wow: and to think every May 1st I fell asleep with a little twig of it on my bedside table (and profusely stuck my face in it throughout the day). Lucky I never thought to taste one of those perfect little bells.
(Image is from here).