Saturday, September 19, 2009

Couples therapy, one episode at a time

Last week during a discussion (read: argument) with Remi, he said I was acting like Lynette. One of the “desperate” housewives played by Felicity Huffman who is always jumping to conclusions and is sometimes overly suspicious. Having anticipated this, I quickly retorted that if he remembered last week’s episode, Tom, Lynette’s husband, apologized for not realizing how his actions might be hurting his wife.

I know it’s just a show and maybe not even the best-written of all time. But, it does highlight some husband-wife relations that just about anyone can identify with (ok, maybe not the part about your pharmacist poisoning your husband or your husband being an ex-con). It’s just fiction and in the space of 40 odd minutes, the larger-than-life couples are able to resolve their problems with witty banter. But sometimes it makes us feel like we’re not that far off the mark from other couples with their silly problems. I think of it as free therapy.

For a while I’ve been wondering which of the wives I resemble the most. And in fact, like most women, I’m probably a mix. Uptight with perfectionist tendencies: Bree Van de Kamp. Though my house and cooking will never be as exquisite as hers, I often have Martha Stewart aspirations and certainly am too strict with myself sometimes. Protective of her family and yes, a tad suspicious, that’s the Lynette in me. But I’m probably most like Susan in that I often say the wrong things, am clutzy and am overly worried about pleasing other people. I’m perhaps the least like Gabrielle, but at times I can be sassy and straight-talking. I probably should be more often.

So for any other DH fans out there, which wife are you?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The King of Pop and the Queen of Hip-Shaking

Here Juliette pays tribute to Michael Jackson. If you look closely, it's really her moving, not Remi. Just before that she was dancing next to the TV so Remi went on youtube to find the song and get the same effect.

As an aside, I can't really say I was that moved by his death. He was a talented singer and dancer in the past, but he'd become a sad shell of his former self. But that's just me...

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And here you see her getting down to Shakira's new song. These songs must have the universal baby rhythm.

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Have we got a baby Ginger Rogers on our hands?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ginger whingeing and September blues


I had a revelation last week. I ran across a thing on the BBC (actually intended for English learners) about redheads and why they apparently complain a lot (that’s the whingeing word; I’d never heard of it before). The reporters said that it’s Scientifically Proven (!) that redheads need on average 20% more anesthesia during surgery as their pain tolerance is lower than people with other hair colors. And that more redheads avoid dental appointments than others for the same reason. I’m not sure if they mean we complain more about pain or just life in general. In my case it would be the latter, but perhaps that’s just this particular strawberry blond. For a moment it made me feel a bit better about myself. Could this explain why I’m so damn sensitive? Why I get tears in my eyes when someone starts telling me a slightly sad story or the background music gets melodramatic on TV? Why some days I’d rather stare out of the windy gloomily than get up off my duff and do something? Hmm, I don’t think it can explain everything, but maybe parts of my personality. But it might explain why I fainted when they gave me the epidural.

In other news, September is here and despite some bright and lovely blue sky days, I can feel change upon us. Remi’s mother said she doesn’t like the months that end in “re”: septembre, octobre, novembre and décembre. Since I’ve lived in France, I’d have to agree with her. But it wasn’t always the case. I loved the nip in the air that September brought when I was an Alabama resident because it meant relief was in sight from August’s dog days of summer. I still feel nostalgic for the crispness in the air and how it’s connected to going back to school and falling leaves and plaid skirts. But now that I’m in France, autumn, my once favorite season, is not as cheerful as it used to be. Too many gray days and rain and soon driving to work in the dark are probably around the corner. The winters are mild here but just cold, gray and long enough to make me dread them. So every nice day we’ve had this month just reminds me it might be the last one for a while. It’s not all doom and gloom though. I’m really trying to count my blessings and keep looking forward to the little things. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Doubting Thomasina

After hemming and hawing about whether to take Juliette to the doctor, I called Tuesday morning to see if they could see her for her low-grade fever. Dealing with fever in France means having to rewire my traditional or empirical measuring system. It seems I was born knowing that 98.6 was normal. In Fahrenheit, sure. I learned that the Celsius equivalent was 37 in school. But what’s a real fever and what’s just a little “temperature”? Apparently 37.5 or 38 is just low-grade here. 38.5°C is the turning point. So after a few days here and there with a bit of a fever in the evening, plus a little runny nose and sometimes crankiness and appetite change, this ever-worrying mommy decided to err on the side of caution again.

Never mind that just about everyone in France has been telling me that teething babies often run a small fever and have a runny nose. My American medicine boxes clearly stated that fever was NOT a teething symptom and neither was nasal congestion. Dr. Spock’s baby book seconded the motion. Despite all that I still felt the need to justify myself to Tata Marie, who was on the fever-goes-with-teething side. Besides, the pediatrician is the same one who visits the “crêche,” or day care, so word would have gotten back to her. “You know, I just want to get it checked out all the same,” I told her. She sort of smiled to the side resignedly and said, of course, you do what you want. I should have told her I even tend to doubt my own very informed mom, so not to take it personally.

I debated on whether to drive or walk on this September day with a little breeze. If I walked, Juliette might have the wind in her face. But there was the hassle of driving and getting home traffic. So in the end I bundled up sweetums and strolled down to the pediatrician’s office.

As I entered his office, I chattered apologetically to the doctor. “I’m sure you’ll say I’m an over-worried mom and it’s nothing at all,” I said. He was just all business-like and asked me to undress baby on the examining table as he asked about her symptoms. And (luckily!) as I expected, after his examination he gave her the all clear. Ears, lungs, throat all seemed fine. Watch out for high fever and spikes over 38.5°C. And if everything else seems fine, we can attribute the fever to- what else- teething.

I took advantage of the visit to ask him about vaccinations. Why is it that American babies are vaccinated for chicken pox and not French ones? Of course, I asked a bit more diplomatically than that. He said something about the French medical commission not deeming it a priority at the time. I’m wondering if they just don’t want to seem like they do everything like us. The normal flu vaccine isn’t necessary for healthy kids, he said, but you can have it if you want. And concerning the big bad H1N1 virus, he didn’t think it would be given to healthy kids either. Later on the news I saw that it may in fact be given to kids from six months to two years old. What are they saying in the US about this? Frankly, we folks who aren’t in the know don’t feel so comforted by all these conflicting reports.

So I left the office and we strolled back on home as thunder rumbled in the distance. Sure enough, we started getting splattered and the bottom fell out, as we like to say in my family. As we took shelter in the overhang at the post office, I thought that if she hadn’t been sick before the visit, the downpour wouldn’t make things better. Ah, well, at least I had the best of intentions.