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jeudi 24 septembre 2009

Home free!

As in, my HOME is now FREE of guests! And it is bliss! And I'll be able to sleep in my own bed at last tonight (even if it means changing bed sheets for the 8th time (certain of those times involving changing the sheets on TWO BEDS AT ONCE) in less than a month. And oh! all the laundry this has involved... Martha Stewart eat your heart out!).
To be fair, my dreaded MIL's visit was probably OK. We didn't even actually argue, although I came close this morning when she came out with the sweeping generalisation that "when I was a child (i.e. in the 1940s and 50s) everyone went on holiday in the summer for a month, and with my mother we always went for much longer" which is such bourgeois crap that it made my blood boil - my grandparents, on both sides, were barely making ends meet at that time, and certainly didn't have the money to own a holiday home in the country, and I'm pretty sure most people here in wealthier France didn't either. The woman is so completely clueless about life that it drives me batshit.
But as I was saying, the visit probably went OK if I'm truthful.
And at least we won't have to see her for quite a few months now, if I play my cards right (didn't have the heart to tell her we're going to my dad's for Christmas, though she was with us last year so it's only fair).
To make the day even better, summer has returned with a vengeance and it's now really hot here again - FABULOUS! Even if I have shitloads of work and 2 more sets of sheets to wash...
Really, this evening, I feel as free as a bird!

mardi 22 septembre 2009

Here; oh, so very much HERE

Yup, you guessed it. My MIL arrived last night (thank God I had a PTA meeting till 10.30 pm and then had to come home and work) and is already driving me TOTALLY BATSHIT CRAZY. Nothing "bad" has happened (yet), but I've never met anyone who takes so long to do things, who feels the need to provide you with a running commentary of everything she does (yes, and that includes bowel movements. TMI, I know, but if I have to put up with it, I feel it's only fair that you should too), who spends so much time thinking/talking/preparing and eating food, who finds a way to criticise just about everything (the blanket on the bed, the temperature...), and who just bugs me by simply being.
I'm becoming bitter and twisted, I know, but THAT'S THE EFFECT SHE HAS ON ME.
Roll on Thursday, that's what I say.

dimanche 20 septembre 2009

She's done it again

You know who I mean. Yes, my MIL from hell.
Her holiday plans this year were devised (so I believe in my paranoid little corner of the world) solely to bug me shitless.
We specifically told her not to come in the first two weeks of September because it wouldn't be convenient for us. So when did she arrive? Yup, 5 September. And no, it wasn't convenient because my dad was here. But we survived.
Then there's the fact that no return-to-Paris date was mentioned. Then she casually dropped it into the conversation that her friend (a nice lady she spent the first two weeks with) was going back to Paris on the 19th (yesterday) but that she "hadn't decided what she'd be doing next". Grrrr.
She then spent last night with a friend who - of course - just happens to live here in Montpellier, and she said she'd stay there till Tuesday, before going to Barcelona to see family. Her plan was then to come back here next Friday, spend 3 nights (because of course we said she could spend NO MORE than 2 with us) with us and head back up to Paris on Monday afternoon (28.09).
Then she phoned back an hour later to say that in fact she's too tired (from what? She's done nothing for 2 weeks...) to go to Barcelona and will now be arriving here, with us, TOMORROW night.
The only plus points to this that I can see are that a) the ordeal will be over quicker as a result and b) she'll only be here till Wednesday, which is actually only 2 nights.
On the down side are the fact that the girls will be in bed too late with her here, I'm not prepared and have had to wash yet more sheets, I'll have to make and remake beds all week again and tomorrow just isn't convenient for me as I'm teaching and have a PTA meeting in the afternoon, followed by the PTA general assembly all evening.
I swear, this woman is enough to drive anyone to drink.
I'm hoping, of course, that we have a major argument (yes, I'm evil) so that we can be rid of her for a few months.

Happy families

Had a real "family" day today. OK, D wasn't around (doing a training course that we can't afford and which is unlikely to bring him any work, but what the hell), but the girls and I did a lot of "nice" stuff.
We were out quite early (by our standards) and took the tram into the city centre. We ordered some photo prints for my MIL (my good deed for the day) and then we bought a birthday present for one of C's friends and, at the same time, I bought a couple of books for the girls (no special reason, we almost certainly can't afford it and, although they've been behaving pretty well recently, there's no "deserve" involved, it's just that I'm a sucker for buying things for them). After that, we went and had lunch at a cafeteria place they really enjoy, before heading out to the city centre play area for half an hour.
At 2 pm we headed off to the cinema and saw (at last!) "Up", which I really enjoyed, although both girls were really scared (I know, I know), with L sobbing quite hysterically for a good part of the last half of the film. I don't know why they're such scaredy cats, but it's really getting out of hand... Still, once we were outside, they both claimed to have enjoyed the film, so go figure.
And finally, after the cinema, we rushed off to the other tram line, caught a tram to a park just outside the city centre and spent 3 and a half very nice hours at the aforementioned friend's birthday party.
I have to say I'm not wild about this kid. She's not at the girls' school, and is actually a year younger than C, but they've been friends since they were 2-ish. It's just that this kid is bossy, domineering, physical and yet a crybaby at the same time. She's not a bad kid (not like you-know-who), but too different from my sweet C.
However, I do like her parents, so we maintain the connection and they really are pretty good friends of ours.
So, quite a good day, I'd say. I didn't lose my temper much, I wasn't particularly snarly or impatient, I don't have much work to do so I wasn't overly stressed... An OK day, even quite a good one!

vendredi 18 septembre 2009


Guilt is high on my list of feelings right now - I don't have many readers (slight understatement!), but my most reliable one is upset that I don't write more often. Phooey, I would have said, until she pointed out that I've only produced two posts since my birthday. Two posts in four months. That is, I hate to admit, pretty pathetic, even by my standards.
So here I am, back again.
My dear, kind dad has gone back to Scotland after 3 pretty nice weeks here "with us" (only actually 5 days altogether, with two weeks in his rented flat down at the beach), whilst my MIL from hell is still here, with no return ticket bought and no clear cut ideas of what she's doing from Sunday onwards. God help me. She's angling to come here, but we (D and I) have said "only 2 nights" and "only next weekend", mainly to put it off as long as possible, but also to let me try and get all the goddamn sheets washed from the my dad's visit.
More guilt where my MIL is concerned. Apart from the "no return ticket" crap (which bugs me shitless but is hardly unsurprising as she does this every time), everything's been OK with her, but I've now got to the stage where just seeing her or hearing her voice is enough to get my hackles raised and all my deep-seated aggressiveness bubbling out of me...
Maybe I have "issues".
Of course, my stress levels are through the roof because we owe so much money to so many people, and my clients are all dragging their feet about paying me and I'm overdrawn just about everywhere despite my dad giving me money and oh, it's all very depressing.
Don't really know what to do to get myself out of this ghastly financial hole. The ideal solution would be for D to actually start earning some money, but that seems as likely as his mother turning into a nice person, so I'm pretty much at my wits' end where money is concerned. Work is quiet at the moment, but I'm sure (hoping) that won't last and the reality is that I really can't work that much more than I already do.
Holy hell, I hate having to worry about money all the time!
At least the girls seem happy. Back to school has been good, we've met their new teachers (who seem pretty nice), the girls are both happy to be with their friends, their activities are all starting up (L's doing dancing and circus, C's doing circus and swimming).
I am feeling pretty frustrated with myself. I feel fat and bloated and ugly, I feel like I've failed pretty miserably professionally speaking, I feel out of place amongst the chic and elegant mothers at school. Our flat is still - surprise, surprise - a total mess, and I just get the impression that I can't ever get my life in order. I have so many good plans, good ideas, lists... and then end up doing nothing other than eat crap, stay up till ridiculous hours and play endless games on Game Duell (don't go there, it's hopelessly addictive, even if (like me) you only play the free games).
Every year, in January, I say that I'll get my life sorted once and for all. And then don't. Then I say the same thing every September, and it looks like I'm going to fail yet again.
And I don't even dare look at my somewhat rash "40 things before 40" list to see how many of those I failed.
I need help, I need to see my friends, I need to win the lottery (not much chance of that as I don't play).
I feel lonely and ashamed of my failure and, yes, guilty, for letting everyone down, starting with my parents, then myself, my teachers who had such faith in me, and now even my beautiful daughters who really do deserve someone better than me.
So, there you have it. Yet another moan-fest from the south of France.
I really do hope that one day I'll be able to write something utterly cheerful and frivolous!

jeudi 3 septembre 2009


Gosh, well. 12 July was actually almost 2 months ago (and certainly feels like an eternity ago). I'm so crap at this blogging lark...
So summer's officially over (even though it was probably 30°C here today and sunny...). The girls went back to school today: C, my sweet little 7-year-old, started in Year 3 (CE 2 here in France), which seems very big and serious, and my baby, my 5-year-old L, started in her last year of kindergarten. They were very excited and delighted to be going back and had a great time, so all's well. New felt-tip pens and crayons and what have you were purchased, hair was brushed (a rare occurrence, especially in the mornings), friends were back together. They both have nice teachers this year, I have a feeling all will be well. And no, C is not in the same class as the dreaded A...
As for our summer, well: the weather's been fantastic (sorry for any Brits out there - I know you've had a rough time!), we've been to the beach (or a local, manmade lake to avoid the sardines on the beach) more times than I can count, our holiday in St Jean de Luz was lovely, even if I didn't get my thalasso day (we couldn't afford it, I made the sacrifice), we went to a funfair, saw friends, had picnics...
Of course, there's still plenty for me to moan about: I actually dislike going to the beach because I feel horribly white (undeniable), fat (frequently commented on) and ugly (my opinion, but rarely contradicted), meaning I never even put my bikini on because I can't stand my muffin top blubber. Plus I swim like a lead brick. So, I do the "helping with swimming costumes-blowing up armband-drying off-packing up" routine, watch over the girls while D swims and sit there feeling resentful of all the lithe, tanned women around me.
As a result, our holiday was a little frustrating as we didn't actually do many of the things I would have liked to have done, instead going to the beach EVERY DAY. No thalasso, no stroll around the old quarter of San Sebastian and pintxos, no trip to a cave and a mountain lake, no museums (except the lovely Biarritz aquarium), no "typical Basque" dinner out, no cafés... just up late, lots of DVDs, laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning and the beach.
I mean yes, it was a stunning place, and our flat was great, and the weather was glorious, and we did do a few things, but still. I feel like we missed out on quite a lot too.
Since we got back (a month ago), the mess in our flat has grown exponentially because we have actually managed to decorate the girls' room (stripped the wallpaper off - horrendous in 39°C weather - polyfilla-ed some of the holes, rubbed the whole room down, painted the whole thing cream), but we haven't found the time to put all their stuff back in it yet.
Also, my dad arrived here from 18°C Scotland last week, spent 2 days with us and then we took him down to the flat he's rented down at the beach for 2 weeks. The girls spent the night with him the day we painted their room, even if it still stinks of paint even now, 3 days later.
The girls and I took him to the lovely Alphons Mucha exhibition currently on at the Musée Fabre, and we're having lunch with him on Saturday.
The main problem is, as every year (third year in a row), my MIL from hell is arriving on Saturday, meaning they'll be in the same beach town together (though hopefully not really together - she is, at least, coming with a friend) for a week. My dad then comes back to us on 12 Sept (while my MIL is staying for "at least another week" - she never gives us a departure date, which is one of the many things that drive me BATSHIT CRAZY about her), will be spending the day with us at a friend's house in the country on the 13th (MIL can't come - our car only has 5 seats: HA!) and flies home on the 15th. As I said, God only knows when my MIL is leaving - her friend leaves on the 19th, so the last few days could be hellish as she'll be on her own...
What else? Heavens, so much seems to have happened...
Still no money, despite my wonderful dad's help (so humiliating to still have to rely on him to bale me out - I know it's D's "fault" for not having any income, but still. I really do feel as if I'm a monumental failure), not much work on the horizon except unpaid marking for my students from last year, still stressed as hell.
But we're planning on going to Scotland for Christmas, and I've got my eye on another translation conference in Lisbon, except that it's in May this time and I'd only get back late afternoon on Mother's Day, so I'll have to think about this.
I'm sorry - this feels very disjointed and incoherent, but I just wanted to get a post up before anyone who does actually bother to read this just assumes I'm dead or something...
I hope you all (hope springs eternal) had a good summer and that the Rentrée brings you all a happy, healthy and prosperous year (and for me, too!).