Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And now

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Seriously. No, really, I swear.

I'll start with a story. Those of you who know me on facebook may have heard the beginning.

So. I was on my way out the door for a meeting. Boy2 asked if he could call me while I was out. I told him he could, if it was an emergency. He asked, "Is a bad mood an emergency?"

I said no, of course. Otherwise I would've gotten three calls during my meeting. At least. Not that he's given to bad moods, he isn't, not generally. But bad moods were in the air yesterday.

In the end, we found a solution. I asked him to hand his bad mood over to me. I told him I would keep it in my purse while I was away. He looked horrified. "I don't want it back - you should just get rid of it." He stood on the terrace and watched me toss it in a storm drain next to the garage as I left. We both agreed it would eventually make it to the river and be carried away forever.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

On being a woman

In France.

Honestly, in some respects, it's easier here. Less...nonsense. Really, I have no other word for it. And more good sense.

And any place that considers wearing nice lingerie a sign of self-respect and not just about pleasing the man who's going to see it is my kind of place.

I don't ever hear anyone talking about age-appropriateness. You either look nice or you don't. I've seen 60 year old women here in short skirts that look elegant and attractive. Their age is not a factor in what they choose to wear, although the shapeliness of their legs most definitely is.

And while I would not say that women have achieved equality here, far from it when it comes to pay, I would say that they have had to make fewer compromises on their way. Equal doesn't mean same here, it just means equal.

Decent maternity leave, parental leave if you want it, Wednesdays off to be with your kids - not everyone can manage the last two, but every woman gets the first. And ten postpartum physical therapy sessions, paid for by social security.

I like being a woman here.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Un stylo plume

A feather pen, which, obviously, is no longer really a feather pen, but a fountain pen. I have always loved fountain pens. I got my first one when I was in high school, maybe 13 or 14. It was a big and black and fairly messy but I loved it. I practiced calligraphy and discovered I was no good at it or that it required far too much practice so I just used it as a regular pen.

Then for my 21st birthday, I was given a beautiful fountain pen. A Montblanc. It absolutely lived up to its reputation, it was lightweight and a pleasure to write with. I carried it in my bag for years and used it on a daily basis until it was stolen. It was replaced by a Waterman, not quite as nice, but still nice.

When I moved to France, I got a couple more. And then I had some clients who worked for Waterman. They invited me to visit the factory, which I did and they very kindly offered me a high-end fountain pen at the end of the visit.

Over the years I've bought a few more - they kind of float in and out of my life, lost or stolen or just misplaced for a year or two and then found on a raining Monday in June. A Rotring, some Italian brand, several Waterman, two Pilots. I still miss my Montblanc though.

Anyway. I learned from Boy1 (when he was in 3rd grade!) that you're never supposed to let anyone use your fountain pen. They started doing certain homework and in-class assignments with fountain pens that year and they were told that the nib adapts to the user's positioning and pressure and becomes personalized. If you let someone else use your fountain pen it will never write the same. (I have to say that this gave me consider comfort when I think of my stolen Montblanc in the hand of another.)

Of course I believed him, Boy1 can be quite serious, especially about things he has been told at school. But I wasn't quite sure how widespread this knowledge was. Until recently. I was in a meeting, the person sitting next to me needed to borrow a pen. I opened my bag and took out the only two pens I had - both fountain pens. She laughed and said, "Lovely but useless to me Nicole. Don't you have anything I can't ruin?"

I'm quite certain this says something very interesting about the place I live.