June 2007 Archives

Of dresses and demurity


I've been looking for the perfect dress for my sister's wedding for ages, something not too formal (because it's not one of those sorts of weddings), but obviously not too casual.

I found myself in a shop yesterday, trying on a bunch of different dresses, but not finding anything just right. I slipped the last one on and studied myself in the mirror. I liked it a lot, but with my bra peeking unbecomingly over the edge of the lacy top, I whipped it off and decided to try it on braless. Despite being rather well-endowed, I figured that the way it was shaped and the ribbon underneath the bust would keep things in place.

I peered through the curtain and, with no one around, I slipped out to check myself in the long mirror. A little risqué for me, I thought, especially since the girls are usually kept firmly in place by a system of ropes and pulleys, but I thought that given the style and cut, I might be able to get away with it, especially if I wore a stole over the top.

I was about to slip back into the fitting room when, out of nowhere, a sales lady appeared. Within the blink of an eye she had cupped my bosom in her hands and exclaimed, "they're marvellous! What you've got, most women would pay to have! Let's put them out there for everyone to see!"

Too gobsmacked to respond, I stood there dumbly as she tightened the shoulder straps (if such a moment was immortalised in comic book form, words such as "hoik" and "yank" might come flying off the page). She then patted her work (ie. my breasts, which were now almost up around shoulder level) with a pleased look on her face, and exclaimed "they're marvellous!"

Despite being stunned over the forwardness of The Sales Lady, My New Best Friend Forever, it goes without saying that I bought the dress.

But as well as having to find myself a stole (just to demure it up a little, so I don't look too scandalous at my sisters wedding), I may have to hire some sort of catcher to follow me around, just in case something falls out.

Vous et tu : you and you - Volume 317


As much as I have gotten used to some things, with others, I still struggle.

That awkwardness when I meet someone new, especially at work. The formal and informal French. I vousvoie them, they vousvoie me, then after half an hour they say, "we should tutoie each other", then I inevitably mix it all up and slip between the two and get all flustered and babble a million excuses and my French deteriorates completely and it's all so horribly messy and I feel like I'm four years old and just want to hide under my desk until they forget I exist.

If you need me, I'll be under my desk.

Of normality and bends in the road


Unlike many of my fellow expats in France, I was never a francophile - I'm here uniquely for the love of a Muffin Man, not for France itself - but still, the very idea of being in another country was terribly exciting for me at the beginning. And I was thrilled to learn about this new place, to accept the challenges of learning a second language, and most of all, to understand the culture of this person for whom I had moved to the other side of the world.

But after five years of living in France, things are no longer surrounded by the mystery and excitement of everything that is strange and new, and there are a lot of things that have become somewhat "normal" to me : buying baguettes from the "good" bakery, opening the fridge and being overcome by a wave of stinky cheese, laying my head on square pillows, kissing people All The Time (but no hugging, never hugging), typing on an azerty keyboard, saying "bonjour" the moment I walk into a shop, the water swirling down the sink in the other direction, going out of my way to find udon noodles, speaking French all day, every day, grabbing a dose of English here and there...

Stuff that surprised, delighted, destabilised and sometimes annoyed me at the beginning are now just par for the course. I'm getting used to this life here in France, probably helped along by that worldwide rhythm of work and play, play and work. The days and weeks go by, wherever you are in the world, and I think it's what you do with your time that makes the difference.

But sometimes, when I stop and think about my life here and what might have happened had I never met Sylvain, as I listen to the church bells in the morning, pass underneath the Eiffel Tower at night (the dame de fer in her twinkly dress), or after I've spent half an hour on the phone chattering all in French... I still feel that little thrill and smile to myself, "Who'd have thought? I'm in France".

Life isn't a straight line that you can plan from beginning to end. And that's kinda cool.

Oh, and check out the latest episodes of the podcast. There's more France in that there internet radio show than you can poke a stick at!

Boy in red velvet.
He sang for me. Just for me.
Still my beating art.

Especially for Rhino.

Looking up


Last weekend, Sylvain went off to Germany with a couple of his friends, to watch a car race and celebrate his birthday whilst they were at it. They had planned it for months, but if I thought it would help my cause, I would have gone along and smiled graciously the whole time, not saying a word about how boring I would have undoubtedly considered it to be, but Sylvain is possibly the most wonderfully forgiving person on the planet and told me not to be silly.

Instead, feeling terribly guilty about my forgetfulness, I partook in some flagrant debauchery on the weekend (check out the video evidence or the podcast roundup). Forget about chicken soup for the soul, there is nothing like a little flagrant debauchery to make one forget the rest of the world.

And when Sylvain got back, I looked and nodded and smiled at all the photos of the cars going around and around in circles. Because that's what a Good Wife would do. A Good Wife Who Doesn't Forget Birthdays.

In other news, things are looking up in my world. I broke a pair of shoes today and had to buy some new ones. And I was clever enough to wear black today instead of the white I was thinking about wearing, so when I got caught in a sudden downpour on my way home from work tonight, my top didn't become entirely see-through. Just semi-see-through. And although Nouvelle Star is ending tonight, at least I have some new cds to look forward to buying in a few months.

Of course, I could have complained about breaking my favourite pair of shoes, getting caught in a downpour, Nouvelle Star ending and all sorts of other petty shit that is surrounding me at the moment, but when the world seems to be throwing no end of crap at you, sometimes you've just got to take it upon yourself to put a positive spin on things.

And even if they're not gold and sparkly, the world is always brighter when new shoes are involved.

Confessions of a Very Bad Wife


I am not perfect.

Some people create a virtual universe around themselves that makes their life seem like it's all sunshine and roses, but I've never pretended to be anything I'm not - on or offline. I toyed with the idea of not talking on here about something that happened to me last week, but this is a record of everything that I've lived since I began blogging, the good and the bad. And I think this little episode can fall comfortably under the latter category. Hopefully I can look back at it in twenty years time and shake my head at the things I thought were important.

Last week I had basically the shittiest week imaginable.

A number of small catastrophes basically all built up into one final and horrible catastrophe that involved me forgetting my husbands birthday. His 30th birthday. The one we'd been talking about for months, and even just a few days before.

There is no other way to say this, but I suck. Big time.

I pretty much cried for three days straight because I felt so bad. And I absolutely should feel bad, because it is an atrocious thing to do. Married for four years, and I'm already forgetting birthdays. There is no excuse.

When he told me what I'd done, I stood staring at him in disbelief, because this is completely out of character for me. For a moment, I wondered if I was dreaming, but the churning in my stomach as I remembered writing the date on a cheque was Very Real Indeed. Then, after an hour of me flinging myself at his feet and begging forgiveness, he gripped me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye and said, "you are working TOO MUCH. You need to SLOW DOWN."

Working Too Much is the only explanation I've got for such a departure from my normal behaviour. Talk about a wake up call.

I try not to regret very many things in life, and consider everything a learning experience - but this is one thing that I do regret, and oh how I wish I could turn back time. When I asked him why he hadn't said anything, he just shrugged. And my heart broke into a million pieces. I love the man with all my heart, and I forgot his damn birthday.

I feel terrible. As my sister said (oh-so-consolingly), I'm a Very Bad Wife. And although Sylvain is a prety laid-back sort of guy and he wasn't horribly worried about it, I have no excuse for what I did, I am so so so ashamed, and I think I'm going to spend the next twenty years not celebrating My Birthday as a way of making up for it. At least a little.

So, despite the fact that he is perfectly happy with the idea of a "Birthday Month" and getting spoiled for weeks on end because I feel so guilty, I am trying to think of a way to make it up to him.

A Very Bad Wife, indeed.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for me to go do some more self-flagellation.

Saturday morning haiku


I pace the kitchen
where the bin sits, full, waiting;
Sylvain is not here.

Work it


When they're put in front of a camera, some people just have it.

Other people just don't. They blabber incoherently, laugh hysterically and act all super-excited as if they never get let out to play.

The second sort, as if anyone had any doubts, would be me.

The ever-charming Frog with a Blog had a video camera out at the picnic a couple of weeks ago, and for some unknown reason, pointed it at me. Whereas he just looks adorably intellectual, his brows furrowed in such a French fashion, I'm pretty sure that I've never looked so unattractive in my life as when you first go to his site and see me frozen for eternity, mouth half-open, mid-sentence, and my eyebrows trying to reach for the heavens. That said, if you want to laugh at me blathering over-excitedly and see what I'm like "in real life", you can go check it out (while you're at it, spot a fellow Australian and tell me who the animal is we're talking about with Rhino (who managed sneakily to stay out of shot)). But be warned, the rest is not pretty. I am surprised I didn't knock anyone into the Seine, the way I was throwing my arms about. Overexcitement is not a flattering look for anyone.

All I have to say is that I'm glad he didn't pull it out later that night, when I'd started singing Xanadu.

Although if you are not totally freaked out by the whole thing, you can listen to our regular only slightly less nonsensical blatherings on the Katia and Kyliemac podcast.

"I'm going to check what stuff we've got for an apéro... We don't have any port or anything! Only hard alcohol! Vodka, tequila, rum. So what does that say about us?"

"Ah yes, Symphony, she is our little chat de poche*." (pocket cat)

"Oh Degrassi, I loved Degrassi... And you guys saw Degrassi?! Really? And there was a chick! Who had a baby! And carried around an egg!... Yeah! Spike!"

"This is a rather capsicum-y guacaomole. See what I was talking about? English is an elastic language."

"Oh the stress of finding an outfit for your nuptuals... Sylvain has forbidden me from wearing black, cream or white and I'm having a serious case of the crankies."

"You should try to collect some more fireflies."

"My smoked mussels supply is running dangerously low!"

"I love Nokias. They're so reliable. I dropped mine in a glass of vodka once and it still worked."

"She could turn any woman into a lesbian."

"Cherries! I can't believe there are cherries already!"

"Which Aliens movie do you reckon is the best?"


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