Monday, September 22, 2008

The thing is

I have some real things to blog about. Not the least of which is a very cool blog award I was given on Friday. From a very cool blogger (Uh -Oh Spaghettios). And an interesting encounter this weekend with a very old and interesting woman. And then the typical charming children things and then the bounty of fruits and vegetables from gardens I've been given lately.

But in order for me to be able to do any of that or, really, anything else at all, the whole ass kicking roller coaster thing has really got to stop.

My mother has lit a candle, which will help.

But on today, the first day of fall, I could really use some good equinox vibes.

So, if you've got any on hand and to spare, please send them my way.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A first

Because there must always be one.

I am to be published this month. Although it's not really my work, not as I would have imagined it.

It's a translation of some prose I had accepted to work with in one way and ended up working with in an entirely different way. But, as the author and I agreed - and said in that jinx kind of way - my work with that text was written to be otherwise.

As I said, it's a translation. Which is hilarious if you know me. I have so many issues with translation. I, obviously, see the utility of translation. But it's so complicated and so multi-layered. And, despite what you might think, the more comfortable you are in the second language, the harder it actually is to translate. Because you feel how close the perfect word is. You know how near to the truth you can get. And accepting anything less is like eating aluminum foil. It hurts your teeth.

And as much as I believe in and live everyday the quantifiable and qualifiable and reassuringly mathematical aspects of language, when you translate something that, in its original language has the power to move you or whisper to you or take you somewhere else, you are confronted with everything about language that is just the opposite.

Its unqualifiable color, its unquantifiable aura, its unmathematical harmony. Very hazy, all that. And I don't usually spend much time in hazy.

A hinge time

Une periode charnière.

Charnière - Hinge

Let's start with tangible.

A jointed or flexible device that allows the turning or pivoting of a part, such as a door or lid, on a stationary frame.

And let's finish with less so.

A point or circumstance on which subsequent events depend.

I'll just come out and say it. I don't like hinge times. They're hard. All that pivoting or turning, being jointed or flexible on something stationary is difficult, even in the best of times.

In the worst of times, it's quite nearly superhuman. Which is how you feel, no doubt, when hinge time is over.

Either that or like a piece of gum that's been chewed up and spit out.

What are you hinging upon?

Monday, September 15, 2008

The locks I follow

I'm living, again, in a river town. I haven't only lived in river towns but almost. And where there haven't been rivers, there's been water and always locks nearby.

You might be thinking, so what? And you might have a valid point.

But it doesn't feel like that. They are something to me. Not like friends I chose, but like family members that came with the territory. I currently live two blocks from locks, I walk or drive by them everyday. And when I'm paying attention to where I am and not where I'm going, they tell me things.

Things about that effort made to bring two elements together in a way that facilitates, allows even, the flow - the passage - being able to wholly and with integrity (and by that I mean not splitting apart or tipping over) move from one of those elements to the other, finding safety in the mix.

Again, so what?

Well, from where I'm standing, it looks like the physics of Temperance. Not temperance as in self-restraint. But Temperance as in the blending or synthesis of opposites. High mixed with low. Hard mixed with soft.

And I, as un-temperant as I am, have managed to live my whole life next to them. I was born to a father who built them, have always lived in places where I could see them, and now, am a neighbor to them.

Does this mean I'm getting closer to Temperance or just that I'm destined to live in water towns?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bedtime stories

I missed you this weekend my baby.

I missed you too Mama.

I love you so much.

How much?

To the moon and back, to all the stars and back, three laps around the whole universe and back, to all the other galaxies and back and then still some more.

Well, me, I love you 10 times around the university.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Look at me being all proactive

Remember the redevance audiovisuelle? It's the television tax you pay here every September. It actually comes on the same form as the taxe d'habitation which is a municipal renter's tax. I haven't received the form yet but I'm hopeful there will be a big box where I can put a big X to indicate that I don't have a television and will, therefore, not be paying the stupid television tax.

Apparently when you claim not to have a tv, and I say claim because when you tell people here you don't have a tv they look at you like you've got to be kidding, the television tax people threaten to inspect your home, looking for secret widescreen television hiding places.

How will I respond to such threats? Come on over, I'll say, chat with my kids, they'll tell you ALL about not having a tv. And then I'll tell you all about it too. How nice it is to see that buffet in the family room covered with plants instead of electronic equipment. How nice it is to have silence be the only background noise covering my children's voices.

I must be fair, the boys have actually adjusted quite well. They've taken to spending hours on end outside in our little front yard, inventing endless battles between dinosaurs and dragons, and doing whatever one does with duel master cards.

Oh and hey, speaking of taxes, it was pointed out to me, while I was heartily bitching about the Republican Party, that I should zip it until I paid my back taxes in the US. Ha! I've looked into it and the good news is I only have to file for the past 6 years and during that time, believe me, I was either pregnant at home or with a toddler at home or working vaguely part-time and earning way under the tax exclusion limits. So, I've called Paris, I've asked for the forms and I'm going to officialize myself. So I can officially continue bitching about the Republican Party. I am so looking forward to that.

Monday, September 08, 2008

My list of things to do

or not to do this week:

1. Talk less. Seriously, you would not BELIEVE the kinds of trouble I get myself into by just speaking my mind too often. Note to self: everything doesn't need to be said. No, really.

2. Avoid drama at all costs. Seriously, you would not BELIEVE the kinds of drama I get myself into by, again, speaking my mind too often.

3. Get some work done. Seriously, you would not BELIEVE how completely not in the groove I am. I blame it on the trouble and the drama. No time left.

4. Avoid getting ass kicked by life, again. Seriously, you would not BELIEVE how many times I've had my ass kicked in the past 9 months. This at least has nothing to do with the speaking my mind thing. Between the repeated ass-kicking and the broken nose and the bruised forehead (you know, from banging it up against the wall endlessly), 2008 has left a serious mark on me. I'm very curious to see what kind of shape I'll be in by year's end. My guess? Either very good or very bad.

5. Yoga, everyday. My wrist is finally better. Guess what? Sometimes waiting works.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Random bilingual info

1. At dinner tonight (pasta with chicken breast, julienned vegetables, cream and goat cheese sauce - dessert was white peaches with chocolate allspice ganache) Boy1 said dinner was excellent despite the way it smelled. What do you mean, I asked him. He said, "Come on Mama, smell me this." Which is a direct (and funny) translation of sens-moi ça.

2. Boy1 has taken to using funky question formations like "Mama, is it we're going to eat chocolate sorbet?" Which is a direct translation of est-ce qu'on va manger du sorbet au chocolat?

3. Jertta brings up a good point. And she's a mind-reader. She's been on my mind for the past couple of days and voilà, here she is, on my blog making interesting comments. Anyway, about her point (see comments on last post). She may be right. I must be fair, the teacher in question was very pleasant and polite and tried very hard to frame her request so as not to offend. And I wasn't offended, just unyielding. And honestly, the people, teachers and parents alike, have been very nice at this school, very positive and interested in the whole bilingual thing. But, I have to agree with Jertta, most of the time I feel that people like me despite the fact that I'm American and never because of it. Americans who read this who don't live in abroad (because those of you who do or have lived abroad probably know exactly what I'm talking about): don't get offended. It's just that we don't have the best image in the world, for a variety of reasons, some justified and some not. And your stereotypically badly behaved American tourist certainly doesn't help things. You know the kind I'm talking about. The kind who doesn't travel to discover. But to reassure himself that everything really is better back home.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

So much for making a good impression

Today was the first day back to school for the boys. Boy1 is in CE2, which is the grade they're in when they're 8 or going to be 8 before the end of the calendar year. And Boy2 is in Grande Section, which is what they're in when they're 5 or going to be 5. So maybe kindergarten. Anyway, same school but different classrooms and teachers and all that. Plus the whole school supply thing which is incredible here. Ballpoint pens, blue and black and green and red for Boy1, each with a different purpose, a fountain pen, compass, right angle, ruler, colored pencils, markers, pencil sharpener, white board with markers, mechanical pencil, regular pencils, mutliple notebooks and binders and plastified sheet covers and I'm leaving some things out. Of course, everything had to be labeled with his name. Boy2's list was much shorter, but he still had one.

When I went to pick them up for lunch, Boy2's teacher asked to speak with me. That's never good on the first day of school. She tried to nicely preface things, but I saw where she was going long before she got there. We completely respect your choice to raise your children bilingually, we understand how important it is to you...BUT. I cut her off about a second after the but, which I didn't used to do. Interrupting is so constant here, I fear I've picked up the habit. Anyway, no matter how she framed it, you realize, Madame, it's for me, it's so when you pick him up and ask him what he did or how his day went, I'm included in the exchange, so there is a transition, if you will, from school to home. Call it whatever you want, what she was asking me to do was speak in French to my child, which I simply refuse to do. The thing is with bilingual kids, in many cases, if they see an open window to speak the majority language all the time, they will. And all of the research on bilingualism bears that out. I tried to explain that to her, reassured her that I would be attentive to the school to home transition, that Boy2 and I would translate our exchanges to her if they had anything to do with what went on at school that day. She looked doubtful and I probably looked like a militant.