Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cockroach Chronicles: Part One

The paralyzing fear began in the summer of '87. There was an incident in my bedroom. This is when I found out....they can fly.

It was a hot, humid Oregon summer. There was a somewhat smallish roach on my bedroom ceiling. I had a friend over to spend the night. We stared at it, planning its execution. As if it could read my mind, it decided to show me who owned the ceiling. It did not jump. It did not fall. It flew right at me. Screaming, I ran the direction I was facing...which required an Olympic hurdle over my foot board. I didn't quit make it. I landed on the floor, and the roach thought it best to land in my dark hair...eerily a perfect camo for the nasty little beast. Had I been blond, they could have gotten it out sooner. They could have seen it right away and flicked it off. But I am not blond (even though that was the summer of Sun-In), and that night commenced my fear, loathing and paranoia of these nasty, repulsive little monsters.

I generally only had to worry about them in the summer and eventually my parents pulled the juniper bushes from the front of the house, which were rumored to be attractive to roaches. These particular roaches were small, didn't invade cupboards, and just basically liked to fly around terrifying everyone. They liked to live outside. But things were about to take a turn for the worse.

I got married (no, that wasn't the turn for the worse), and we moved into a very cute, "retro" if you will, apartment complex. They were vintage 1940, in an older part of town. Moving day went fine...but then the sun went down. We turned on a movie, watched for a bit, and then I decided to go into the kitchen to get some ice cream. I flipped on the light and there were about 30 roaches, frozen-mid-scurry, all over the floor. In point two seconds, they were just gone. I screamed.
The next morning, as new brides do, I got up at the butt-crack of dawn to make Hubby his lunch to take to work. As we weren't yet unpacked, I had to go into the living room and dig through a big box to find the sandwich baggies. I was pre-Lasik, so I was blind as a bat. As I was diggin through the boxes, I felt something cold on the underside of my poor, poor bare foot. I said to myself, "Gross! I hate when I drop lunch meat and step on it. Ewwww!" So I started kicking my foot to get the meat off, because who wants to touch cold lunch meat on a foot? What fell off my naked foot wasn't turkey-colored. It was black. And the size of a date. But dates aren't allowed in my house (nas-tay). I didn't know what that black thing was because I didn't have my glasses on. I bent down within 3 inches of "It" so my nearly blind eyes could tell me what it was. As it started to come into focus, I saw that it was a big, black, fat roach! Not the little flying kind, the robust-crawled-up-from-the-sewer type. Big, slow and shiny. (How do I type a retching noise?)

I screamed bloody murder, and started running in a manner quite reminiscent of Ferris Bueller's sister when she saw the principal at her doorstep. I ran straight into the bathroom, screaming and crying all the way, turned the water on to "scalding" and scalded my foot. After sufficiently sterilizing my flesh, I ran (screaming and crying still) into my room, jumped on my bed and curled up into a ball, and told my husband to call the landlord, we were moving!

Stay tuned for Part 2 ....

Friday, November 18, 2011

To Welcome You (or Welcome Back) to Cassoulet Cafe

Below was my very first story about France on Cassoulet Cafe Blog, a few years ago already!  I'm going to recommence my blog with this post for those who are new here...Enjoy!

I have so many things to write about, analyze and discuss when it comes to France but I feel that I can't begin unless I get a relate our first days in France as expats.

I still can't believe I had convinced my husband to move to France, without him ever having been there even for a visit. Dreaming of something is one thing, but when it actually comes to fruition, worry plagues the fairytale in your mind and then gets replaced by nightmare scenarios. Mine was that Hubby would hate France and then hate me. So naturally, I wanted everything to be parfait when we arrived.

We decided to fly into Paris and then take a train a couple days later to our new home. We had two nights booked on Rue Cler in the 7ième arrondissement. For those not familiar with it because they haven't seen the PBS program that has made it famous, it is the stereotypical image we Americans have of Paris. A cobblestone street near the Eiffel Tower, lined with cafés, crêpe stands, flower and cheese shops, boulangerie, ....you get the idea. Top it off with a violinist on the corner playing classic French-film scores just for you, it all seems to be saying, "You're dreams have come true! You've made it to paradise!" It would seem.....

...Until we actually got to Rue Cler, by way of Métro, pulling our 3 spring loaded suitcases containing all our possessions in the world (well, on this continent), two gigantic backpacks, and a small child. Lugging and tugging, over the cobblestones. After having pulled all of that up and down several flights of steps and platforms the previous hour. Using public transport is cheaper than a taxi ride from Charles De Gaulle airport, but leaning on the side of "nightmare scenarios".

When we entered our hotel lobby, just a few long, bumpy blocks from the beginning of Rue Cler, we were exhausted, moody and stinky. Suddenly, I realized just what I had brewed up and convinced my poor little family to do! I started to cry uncontrollably. What if this didn't work out? We were stuck anyway! It was a burden I didn't want anymore.

At that moment, an American family came into the lobby, exuberant from their morning of touring, and tried to befriend us. They told Hubby how wonderful Paris was and they were sad to be leaving the next day. I hated them. They got to leave! I was here stuck for the next who-knows-how-long not knowing how we would survive this situation. And this was only Hour One!

After I scared them off with my sobbing, my husband consoled me and said it would all be great, he loved it so far. Ok, tears dried up, our room was now ready, time to shower, sleep and get emotionally stable again.

But when I got into the tiny room, went to use the tiny bathroom and then saw the flushing mechanism on the foreign-looking toilet (for those who don't know, the flushers in France are usually buttons or pulling devices on the lid of the tank), I started to get hysterical again thinking about having to flush like this for the next year. Ok, if you don't get the picture by now, I was completely irrational from sleep-deprivation, not making any sense, because back in The States I had raved to everyone about how cool French toilets were, because of their flushers!

After passing out and sleeping the rest of the afternoon, I awoke to Hubby saying he was going to go across the street to get some juice and snacks. He was eager to use his French independently. I was amazed but terrified he'd come back ticked off because someone was rude to him. I watched from the window above as he crossed the street and made a successful friendly purchase! He came back jazzed and ready to explore.

Late that night after soaking up the dazzling lights of le Tour Eiffel, we chose a brasserie near our hotel to eat le diner and suck down some vin français. Things were looking up. Of course wine will do that to you.

And then, the people at the table next to us seemed to be staring at us and with judgemental looks. I've been know to be paranoid about this, but I swear they were making a scene. It was a middle-age group of French men who were staring at us like we had just destroyed their evening. (Line from Shrek coming to mind: "It's rude enough being alive when no one wants you...") Anyhow, I was really uncomfortable and infuriated at the same time that they were gawking at us like we were barbarians. My anxiety peaked when I thought I heard the word "américains" in their conversation. Ok, now I had the proof! Turning to listen closer, I heard (in French), "Oh, look at me, I am American, I need my ketchup!" one said, and they all laughed hysterically in response. WHAT?! I didn't order ketchup. I hate ketchup. I kept listening, hearing stereotypical-American one-liners. It went on for several minutes. When they saw my expression, they laughed even harder. I wanted to leave, to check out of our hotel and hop the next flight back home. I HATE FRANCE, I screamed inside, French people are so rude!

act French!) and placed our order. The waiter, astonished that he was receiving the order in his tongue, smiled very lovingly as if to say "You showed them!" I'll never forget the shocked, open-mouth expressions of the men at the table next to us when they heard their language roll off my tongue, understanding now they I had heard it all. Sweet victory!

It taught me a lesson as well. Don't be an Ugly American, even if someone is being an Ugly Frenchman.

Tomorrow I go on to Part Deux: The TGV Tragedy! Vomiting, tractors, accidents and more Frenchiness. Sure to appeal to all sorts.

PS. All photos on this post have been taken personally by moi, except the Rue Cler photo, because I did not have time to find mine today :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm Baaaaack!

Bonjour! I am baaaaaaaaaaaaack .....from a two year hiatus...wow, the blogging world has changed so much, and yet, is still the comfortably the same.

I see many of my old blogger friends are now published authors! I'm talking selling books on Amazon.com! (ie: Anna Lefler of LJKGW) Her hilarious book is called "The Chicktionary"...I rediscovered her in the middle of a sleepless night and as I read her preview, I actually had to wake Hubby (wait, my bucksnorting had already awoken him) to read out words and definitions from her book but I was laughing to hard to spit them out. When I finally did, Hubby was laughing even harder than me.

La Belette Rouge has since come out of hiding and can now be known by her real name Tracey, and is published in big-time things like Huffington Post and actual magazines that you buy in the store! :) I'm so amazed and proud of them and happy to say that I "knew" them when they just started out!

As for me, I've been holding myself up in that little restaurant in the Caribbean (pictured above). No really, I just took a much needed break from writing to take care of some family obligations. My family and I have gone through many changes over these two years of non-bloggin...I know, seriously, how can life go on when the blog is stopped somewhere in 2009? I've had some ups and downs, tears of joy and of sorrow, and some fabulous travels that made me think even beyond France. I have fresh perspective and am ready to blog some more funny, as well as more travel related posts!

I hope you'll rejoin me!

A bientot...