Archive for April, 2009

Ok, here’s a quiz for you all: What does the following picture mean?

My stash...

My stash...


That’s right, a huge grab-bag of meds like this can only mean one thing — someones been to see a French doctor!

Not that I’m complaining in this particular instance, but I do find it funny how many different prescription meds French doctors prescribe for their patients. This stash is the result of four different prescriptions. All of them cost a total of 53 euros, which, while not cheap, is no doubt quite less than what they would cost in the USA.

So on Friday, I started feeling really tired and worn-out and it got worse over the weekend, to the point where I really just stayed in bed and slept all day on Sunday and Monday, and I hadn’t eaten much of anything (except for a baguette slice or an orange) since Saturday morning. I’ve had a fever and chills since then, too, and a sore throat, earache, throbbing headache…So finally last night I decided I had to see a doctor. D and I are supposed to leave for Portugal tomorrow, and I was worried that I might have some sort of ear problem or something that would make it dangerous for me to fly.

I called the doctor this a.m. and she told me I could come in during her “open hours” of 2 – 4 p.m. I got there and only had to wait about 15 minutes before she saw me.  She took one look at my throat and said something that resembled, “ooh la la!”

She tested me for strep, but it came out negative – this was no big surprise to me, since I believe I am actually immune to strep throat. Seriously. Even as a kid, I would have sleepovers with other kids who would get strep the next day and we would have shared food and drinks and all, and I never, ever got the illness. My mom’s the same way. Weird, huh?

Anyhow, Doc decided it was just a really, really bad throat infection and gave me a bunch of meds (could it possibly be a remnant of the throat infection I had in Mumbai? It’s weird, because I’ve never had a “throat infection” before and now I’ve had two in the span of four months?).

Anyhow, I’m all drugged up now and finishing my packing and I hope that I can just relax the first day in Lisbon and send D. out exploring.  Hopefully, later on — especially with the help of my lovely prescription-strength painkillers and the spray that makes my throat numb — I’ll be able to enjoy, too!


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The list

The list

Remember Harriet the Spy? She was the protagonist in a series of children’s books that I used to love reading. Harriet, as you probably can figure out, loved to spy on her family, her neighbors, anyone around her. From picking through notes they left in the trash, to hiding out in a dumbwaiter (I think these were old books, now that I think about it) she was constantly trying to piece together the lives of strangers around her.

Every time I would read one of those books, I’d go on a week or two phase of copying her moves. One of my favorite activities was picking up notes or lists at stores and trying to figure out what the people were like who would leave such notes on the ground. Big surprise I become a journalist, right?

Anyhow, apparenlty I haven’t grown up, because on Monday, I went grocery shopping with a friend and, as I returned my cart, I saw a bright pink post-it note on the ground – and it was a grocery list!

Eager to figure out what “real” French people actually want from the large grocery stores, I checked to make sure no one was around to see the crazy American pick up trash, and then shoved it in my pocket. Once safely inside my car, my friend and I started reading through it.

* Strawberries

* Bananas

* Breton butter

* Brioche bread

* Pain Pelletier (no idea what type of bread this is)

* Charcuterie

* 12 eggs

* liptonic (Huh?)

* Cake

* Danette (?)

* Marron Suisse (My computer tells me this is a chestnut dessert)

* PQ fins (?)

* Nicolas bonbons

* Petit pain (Ok, I get it, you like buying bread)

* Pate

* (Sesame) rillettes (this makes no sense. Maybe two separate things? Rillette is sort of similar to pate).

She also has several items listed under “Pharmac” but the list is cut off there.


Who is this woman? And why is she buying so much dessert and bread? Perhaps more importantly, how come I’ve never eaten Marron Suisse???

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Well, my husband may not have a Pulitzer or anything… but  he did get two awards at INSEAD earlier this week.

Each section of students in his class held an end-of-the-period- BBQ and they gave out “awards” to their classmates, which they had voted on earlier in the week. The awards ranged from the complementary, as in “Most likely to become a saint,” to the other side, such as “Most likely to go bankrupt.”

D. came in second-place for “best answer to a professor’s question,” but I’ll spare him the embarrassment of telling you what that answer was.

He was also voted “Most likely to win a Nobel Prize.”

Personally, I’d rather he was  “most likely to cook a great dinner for his wife,” or “somewhat likely to put his socks away,” but I’ll take what I can get…

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Ryan - and, behind him, my former desk ;)

Ryan - and, behind him, my former desk 😉

I just found out that my former coworker, Ryan Gabrielson, just won an Pulitzer Prize for local news! I worked with Ryan at the East Valley Tribune in Arizona for several years before I left for France.
He won the award for his project, “Reasonable Doubt,” with coworker Paul Gilblin. The five-part article examined how a focus on fighting illegal immigration actually hampered public safety in the Phoenix Metro area.
According to the  article, the Pulitzer committee praised Gabrielson and Giblin for “their adroit use of limited resources to reveal, in print and online, how a popular sheriff’s focus on immigration enforcement endangered investigation of violent crimes and other aspects of public safety.”

Ryan is one of the hardest-working reporters I’ve ever met. He’s also a great person, when you can tear him away from his desk long enough to grab a burrito at Mango’s down the street from the newsroom.

He really deserves this honor.

As a side note, if you look at the photo in this article online, you can see my old desk right behind Ryan. I sat across and next to him. That’s about as close as I will ever get to a Pulitzer, so I have to make the most of it 🙂

Congrats, EV Trib!

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A helping hand…

Our nice bottle of wine -empty, of course

Our nice bottle of wine -empty, of course

Turns out that one of D’s classmates is leaving the country in a few days, and he had a problem – too many bottles of nice wine that he couldn’t take with him on the airplane.

It was a problem that D. and I were uniquely qualified to help solve — and, really, who are we to turn away from a friend in need?

This nice guy gave D. a bottle of very nice wine. As those of you who know us already know, we purchase really cheap wine – especially now that we are living on a “student” budget again. Therefore, it was a very nice treat to have something tasty to drink.

Of course, I’ve been the first to admit that I don’t have a great palette for wine. I like the big, bold flavors which are looked down upon here in France. This wine wasn’t what I would call “big” or “bold,” but it had a really nice taste — complex, I would say. You could really sit there and notice different flavors and aromas as you sipped it – I think that’s the hallmark of a really nice wine, as opposed to one where you just taste one overwhelming flavor.

Anyhow, D. told me not to get used to it, as we’re not about to spend 50 or 60 euros a pop on our wine bottles.

So, it’s back to our 4-euro bottles at the B.P. gas station. At least, until one of us gets a job, that is.

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For example: Our kitchen window

For example: Our kitchen window

My windows have no screens.

All throughout my house, there are these lovely, huge windows, some nearly floor-to-ceiling. They all open up like, well, French Doors (hmmm… I just noticed that).

The problem is, there are no screens.

The windows that face the street have some large bars over them, but no screens — meaning dust, bugs, or even pigeons, can all easily come inside. That’s really weird, right? I’ve only had my windows open for a few days, and already I’ve had to fight the flies, ants and bees that have come inside, as well as some really odd-looking roaches.

This isn’t uncommon here in France. In fact, none of my friends have screens on their windows. One is already waking up in the morning to big mosquito bites all over her arms. Another is worried about her cats jumping out of the windows.

The annoying thing about this is that all these problems could SO EASILY BE SOLVED if the French would just PUT SCREENS ON THEIR WINDOWS LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!

D. told me that he’s been told by friends that you just “don’t open the windows,” ever because your house will become infested with insects.

That’s fine when it’s 70 degrees outside, but what about when it’s 90 and humid? It’s not like we have air conditioning, or even ceiling fans, so windows seem to be the only option that will keep me from dying of heat exhaustion in summer.

What the heck? Could someone who lives here please explain this to me?

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Il grêle!

Our backyard, at the beginning of the storm

Our backyard, at the beginning of the storm

Last night, after coming home from my book club, D. and I sat down to watch an episode of “House,” on my laptop and… all the sudden it sounded like the entire world was crashing down on us.

I had seen some lightening as we were driving home, but I wasn’t really expecting a big storm — and I certainly wasn’t expecting to see gumball-sized hail falling out of the sky. Since our house is quite old, and we have some skylights upstairs, the noise was practically deafening up there, so I stayed downstairs and watched the hail as it pelted our plants in the courtyard.

Realizing my new mint and thyme plants were still out there, D. and I then quickly ran outside and saved my them —  but, wow – those little balls of ice hurt when they hit you!

Toward the end of the storm

Toward the end of the storm

 It lasted for what seemed like forever (maybe 10 minutes?), and when it was finally done hailing, we looked out our front windows to see a small river of water and dirty junk from people’s roofs flowing down our street in a swift current. In the middle of the street, there were large piles of ice.

Our car, too, was completely covered in hail balls, although it doesn’t look like any permanent damage was done.

Our courtyard still had ice in it when we woke up this morning.

This morning

This morning

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