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lundi 30 novembre 2009


The month of words is coming to an end and I've succeeded in the two daft (given how much else I had to do) challenges. I'm both proud and very surprised - I failed NaBloPoMo very early on last November!

That said, today has been zombie-day - only managed about 3.5 hours' sleep last night, had to teach all day and then pick up the girls before finally passing out for a couple of hours. Now, I'm supposed to be working but have been catching up on my favourite blogs instead...

This "month" of words is actually going to be prolonged by about a week or so - I have two big texts to deliver on Thursday, then a shorter one next Monday and a shitload of student translations to mark.

But the holidays are getting closer, closer, closer. And my excitement levels are rising, rising, rising...

The tree will be going up on Wednesday, I'm planning on doing some Christmas cards really soon, presents are being bought (mainly for the girls, of course, but am working on the rest, too), and the Advent calendars will be brought out tomorrow.

Roll on December!

dimanche 29 novembre 2009


Am feeling quite positively smug (and no, it has nothing to do with my "novel", about which I promise I won't be writing for ages, if ever again). Despite going to bed horribly late again last "night", I still managed to get up reasonably "early" (bear in mind, people, that all of this is relative) today and go out with D and the girls and a few friends for a late morning-early afternoon walk/picnic. It wasn't really warm enough for the picnic part, plus none of us were really prepared, so that was a little random, but still. Me. Out. On a Sunday morning.

Don't get me wrong, I feel like shit now and am dying to go to bed. Except of course that I have craploads of work to do, as well as all the usual evening stuff (including all C's homework... aaaarrrgghh) and - don't forget - the unmissable Zorro on TV.


I have actually managed to get some work done this afternoon, and will continue till D brings C and L back from their respective playdates.

A productive day, and boy, do I feel smug!

Lucky number


OK, not the actual story - still need about another 10,000 words, I reckon - but the challenge. I'm at just over 50,000 words as of 3 am this morning! I can't quite believe it, actually. I really did manage to write a "novel" (I'm still very hesitant about using the word - it's very short, in fact, 50,000 words, and I suspect much of what I've written is unadulterated crap) whilst working and teaching-working and being a maman and doing Christmas stuff and all that. I'm really, really going to try and finish the story (i.e. the first (very rough) draft) before we go away on holiday. Then, maybe in January or February (whenever I don't have too much work) I'll start editing. And then, who knows? To be honest, I don't have the least idea what to do with once I'm finished, but maybe inspiration will hit...

Anyway, in case you didn't notice, I finished my "opus" on 27 November. Not only is that 3 days ahead of schedule but hey, whaddya know, 27 is my lucky number (remember, I'm Magic27!)... My favourite, and much, much missed aunt was born on a 27th, both my daughters were born on a 27th (and one was conceived on a 27th too), D's father was born on a 27th... That number just keeps on coming up... And now, it's the date on which I finished my first novel... Maybe it will bring me luck, make it a best seller and me debt-free at last (cloud-cuckoo land, I know, but we all need dreams!).

I really am inordinately proud of myself! And I'm shouting it out because no one IRL has any idea that I even set myself the challenge...

Yeah me!

vendredi 27 novembre 2009

Temptation not resisted

Not just once, but twice.

If you've ever ploughed your way through my tedious archives, you might remember one of my confessions - Hello, my name is Magic and I am a stationery addict.

I just love to see nice piles of new notebooks, racks of new pens and pencils, art supplies, binders, folders, pencil cases... Hmmmmm

So, today, I had to buy a birthday present for a friend of C's and, as I didn't have much time, I went to a sort multi-store (books, stationery, cards, art supplies...) and picked something up there. And just went "to have a quick look" at the art supplies. And came out with a tube of paint and some gold ribbon to make candle holders for the school Christmas market plus the beginnings of the girls' Christmas present for my father.

First temptation fail.

Then, on my way to catch the bus to go pick up the girls from school, I walked past my favourite stationery shop in town, the Papéthèque. And that siren song lured me in yet again (the pretext being, "I wonder if they sell party invitations" (to which the answer is "no"). And though I didn't come out with any invitations, I did come out with the cards and envelopes I'll need to make my own (yeah, right, like I absolutely have time for that...).

Second temptation fail.

But oh, that just-bought-art-supplies high!

I still feel all tingly just thinking about my goodies. And of course getting down to work has been tough ce soir because I want to do my candle holders... or C's party invites... or even my Christmas cards...

Oh, and by the by, I'm just 1,500 words short of my 50,000 for NaNoWriMo... I may even finish tonight (not the story, I'm probably going to need about 60,000 for that, but the challenge). go me!

Forward planning

I'm just starting to realise (yes, I can be slow on the uptake sometimes) that C's 8th birthday is looming large - one month tomorrow, in fact. We'll be in Scotland for the Big Day, but every year we give her a party. Nothing fancy (no "Acrochats" stuff for us - it costs a fortune and isn't (in my opinion, though it has to be said that kids love it) that great), usually just here at home. Not huge numbers of kids, either (L's birthday this year excepted).

The snag is that the Christmas holidays are also looming, which means the invites have to get done beforehand. As in, really, really soon. Along with the stuff I'm supposed to be making for the Christmas market.


Also, C's teacher will be celebrating all the December birthdays in class on 15 December, which means baking a cake or something...

I mean, I enjoy all this stuff, it's just that I have so much work stuff on my plate that I don't have time to enjoy it all like I should... I like making cakes, and making invites, and organising parties and what have you. I like handicraft activities, I like doing school stuff (oh, yeah, the school newspaper is looming, too). But really, I'm typed out right now (6,500 words today, which is MAMMOTH). And that pisses me off.

But. I'm going to try and work my arse off in the next few days (big translations all due next Thursday) and then try and ease up a little so I can prepare for Christmas like I want to!

Christmas preparations are such fun!

jeudi 26 novembre 2009


I guess, given my feelings for my MIL, it was only natural that today, her birthday, would be a crappy, frustrating, stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off kind of day.

Don't worry, I don't intend to go into the details (way too tedious, even for this blog), but yeah, crappy day, really.

mercredi 25 novembre 2009

Words, words, words

I haven't started the 17,000 words I have to translate for next Thursday, but only because other, more "urgent" work keeps coming in. I've also just done a quotation for the translation of a really technical economics text and am kind of hoping it gets refused, just because it's so technical...

As for my "novel", well, I'm well over 45,000 words and actually have days to spare, which is great given how much else I have to do. I'm so proud of this achievement, even if it isn't actually finished yet. I'm hoping to hit 50,000 this weekend, and the end of the story at about 60,000. After that, who knows? I reckon I'll take a break in December then come back to it in January. We'll see.

I also have to start working on making something for the school's Christmas Fair. I'm not sure yet what to make - last year I made really cute tree decorations, but almost no one bought them (my sweet daughters did, though, bless them!), so I'll have to try and find something else. I wish I had more time - this is just the kind of activity I love!

Oh yes - I bought L's much-desired Lego Christmas present: it's a soldiers' fort with attacking pirates and a crocodile and a monkey and a little boat and yes, I know she's a girl, but she loves pirates and I'm sure she'll be thrilled. I'm excited as hell myself!

And Tom, well, Tom's being Tom - lying on the sofa, waiting for me to go and give him a cuddle. And once I've finished my remaining 800 words for today for NaNoWriMo, that's exactly what I intend to do!

mardi 24 novembre 2009

(This) woman's best friend

I went to bed late last night (hardly a scoop, I know) and was up horribly early this morning. I had to teach 6 hours of classes in the course of the day, then come home, check e-mail, make a couple of phone calls, that kind of stuff and then head back out at 4.45 to pick up the girls from school. Then it was a seemingly endless game of "Mille bornes" (for once, we all played together and, after a very slow start I managed to come in second, after C. Yeah!), supervising C's homework, preparing the girls' stuff for tomorrow, dinner, story, bedtime routine, bla, bla, bla.

Halfway through dinner, D went out to a conference so, once the girls were in bed, I was on my own. I had work to do (still do, as a matter of fact) but was sooooo tired that I lay down on the sofa and slept for over an hour and a half.

The sleep was much needed, and much appreciated. But what I appreciated even more was when my beautiful cat, Tom, came and curled up next to me, his large, furry body filling me with warmth. He feels so nice, so soft and cuddly; he smells so warm and furry (yes, furry is a smell, and a damn nice one at that), he's so unbelievably affectionate, sensitive, intelligent (OK, and greedy too, but we all need at least one failing, right?). I can't imagine life without him...

Seriously, people: is there anything on earth better than a cat? Or, more specifically, better than my cat?!

lundi 23 novembre 2009


My word, Zorro was exciting stuff this evening! The suspense is fever-pitch, but there won't be another episode till next Saturday... Sergeant Garcia even killed a man, saving the life of Don Alfredo... Don Diego and his family (and all their friends) are in trouble, serious trouble, and the "Aigle" is obviously willing to fight to the death... The girls were on the edge of their seats!

Pretty frustrating day, apart from that. Tried to get all sorts of things done, but didn't actually finish anything. And I still haven't started my Christmas cards. And it's 12.30 am and I have to be up in 6 hours. And I only found time to write 630 words of my "novel" today (but it's OK, I'm well ahead of schedule, I'm over 42,000 words already). But still. Gah.

But - I did see a pretty cool Lego set (the soldiers' fort in the pirate theme) which I think would be great for L for Christmas... I'll have to get D to have a look and then I'll go ahead and order it. Amazingly, it's about 10 € cheaper (plus there's free delivery) to order it from Amazon UK and get it sent to my father's house than to buy it on Amazon FR and get it sent here. I'll maybe try and see how much it is in a toyshop, but I suspect it'll be more...

I love Christmas shopping!

dimanche 22 novembre 2009


It has been said (by D and many others) that I have "dodgy tastes" in music, films, books, etc.

When it comes to music, I would prefer "eclectic" - I like classical, some jazz (not fusion though, drives me batshit), rock, pop, new wave, others 80s stuff, disco, indie... plus loads of others. Some of my favourites (and I'm proud to admit to all of these, nah!) incluse Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, Neil Diamond, the Smashing Pumpkins, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cesaria Evora, Patty Smith, Adam and the Ants, and oh, I could go on forever - this is just CDs I've been listening to recently.

For films, I happily admit to loving musicals, from Gene Kelly and Bing Crosby (not so much Fred Astaire, but yeah, I'll watch them all the same) type stuff, to Howard Keel type things, right up to modern ones like (of course) Hairspray and Mamma Mia! The only "modern" musical I've hated, really hated, was "Dancer in the Dark", but that had a lot to do with my loathing of Björk and the ridiculous casting of Catherine Deneuve and the horribleness of the story.

For books, I like novels. Modern novels - funny ones, like Carl Hiaasen and Jasper Fforde, serious ones like Jodi Piccoult, detective ones like Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwell, and "chick lit" stuff like the Shopaholic series.

But now, a new addition to my (very, very short) TV show list is one that is unanimously appreciated in this house: the 1950s Disney version of Zorro with the delectable Guy Williams. D loves it, and C and L are obsessed with Zorro - they're totally absorbed in the storylines, biting the nails at the "suspense" moments, fearful that Zorro will get caught (they're little girls, they haven't clicked yet that Zorro never gets caught!). They sing the theme song, they dream of Zorro and everything has to stop every Saturday and Sunday at 8.10 pm - missing an episode is unthinkable! I was pretty indifferent at the beginning, but now, I'm as hooked as they are! Guy Williams is perfect as both Zorro and Don Diego de la Vega, Sergeant Garcia is hilarious and Bernardo is both hilarious and very sharp... Yeah, it's a fantastic series! It's just a shame that so few episodes were made (we're up to episode 35 out of 39... I fear that weekends will soon no longer be quite the same!).

I stand by my "dodgy" tastes!

And oh, if you've never seen any other Zorro than Antonio Banderas, I heartily recommend you get your hands on the Guy Williams version!


samedi 21 novembre 2009


I have a crick in my neck and I find it hard to believe it comes from "sleeping funny" because this week I don't have the impression that I've slept enough to "sleep funny". But my horribly rational self admits it's a possibility. As, of course, is the fact that I've typed so many goddamn words this week.

Oh, those words! Blog words (20 days done! Only 10 to go for the NaBloPoMo challenge!), professional words, authory words. A week of words in a month of words that is far from over. Sure, for my "novel", I'm at almost 39,000 words, so there are "only" 11,000 to go, but for work, I have a shitload to do (not to mention correcting the words of my students - I'm woefully behind with that). And this weekend is going to be tough - we have friends coming for lunch tomorrow and have done exactly nothing about it (no housework, no shopping, no meal planning), so that's my morning covered, plus the afternoon I guess.

Lord help me.

We leave on holiday in exactly one month and I CAN'T WAIT!

vendredi 20 novembre 2009

Logorrhoea (or however you spell it)

This is going to be known as the month of words, I think...

For my "novel", I've almost reached 37,000 words, which is more than 5,200 ahead of schedule. I'm kind of sure where I'm going, but not totally, and I'm really starting to believe I'm going to finish... Only 13,300 to go (minimum - I'm actually aiming for a little longer now).


People keep sending me other people's words to translate. I'm not complaining, because we really, really need the money, but still, I'm in overload - I have 5,750 for Sunday night, then 17,000 for 3 December, plus another client will be sending me about 10,000 or so on Monday for "as soon as possible". Gaaaaahhhhhh

The month of words, indeed.

jeudi 19 novembre 2009


Nearly forgot to post this evening, I was so excited about hitting 34,280 words (did about 2,200 today, as well as translating over 2,000, so I'm pretty bug-eyed it has to be said).

Bullet points today, I'm afraid:
- L spent the afternoon with a friend and had fun, despite being tired and snarky all day. She really seems to feel that we're always telling her off; it's not true, but she will keep on doing the same stupid things (not sitting still at the table, not going for her bath even when she's been told about 15 times...), but still, she was so miserable this evening after D yelled at her for taking 25 minutes in the shower... Sometimes, she's just so little, my baby...
- C made me a beautiful "6-month-day" card to celebrate my half-birthday. It's really cute and I love it but oh, she put so much glue on it! I'm almost high from the fumes!
- Feel pretty crap today, don't know why. My tummy aches (though that might be from all the crap I eat) and I'm exhausted, but still have so much to do!
- Can feel my "novel" really taking shape, even though I'm pretty sure the writing's crap. But I'm still in awe of how much I've written already. I only have to write 1,300 words a day and I'll still be on target (I've been doing about 1,000 in 30 minutes recently). I'm very excited!
- Wish I could just find the time to get on with my Christmas preparations, though I'm glad I've already done a fair amount (though only for the girls, nothing for D, my father, my cousin and his wife or my MIL from hell...).
- Keep finding sad stories in the net and panicking. Empathy overload.
- Read Amalah's post for today and it made me feel old - I didn't understand the half of it! I've never "Twittered", I've only ever sent 2 SMS in my entire life, I barely understand the one mobile phone we have (D and I share it, though I rarely have it with me)... I'm not really a technophobe, but mobile phone stuff has totally passed me by...
- OK, that's it for tonight! Bedtime!

mardi 17 novembre 2009

Soup of the day

This evening, I feel very pleased with myself! I made soup tonight, "from scratch", using a recipe I found in December's "Glamour" magazine. And it was delicious!

Gently fry an onion till it goes transparent, then add 400 g of tinned tomatoes and mash it up a bit. When the mixture starts to simmer, add 250 ml of tepid water and 2 cooked chicken breasts (cut into smallish strips). Season with coriander and cumin (I had to use ready-to-use curry powder (it has coriander in it) as I had neither) and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Then add 400 g of rinsed and drained tinned chickpeas and simmer for a further 2 minutes.

Soooo good! And easy! And almost no effort! That's my kind of recipe!

The rest of the day was pretty dull - grey weather (though still unbelievably mild, it's hard to believe it's mid-November already), boring administrative crap, nothing of any interest.

My list of things to do is horribly long, and I'm seriously wondering why I got myself into the "novel" thing as it eats up a fair amount of time. But I'm enjoying it, my story is coming along nicely and I "only" have 18,000 words to do...

But even if you ignore all the rest of what I've written, go try the soup! It's healthy, nutritious and absolutely fucking fabulous!

One of those days

You know, the ones where you think you'd have been better off staying in bed (especially as I didn't get to bed till 1.45 am and had to be up at 6.30).

On Mondays (till 14 December only) I teach at the Economics University. They have a photocopy department and you have to submit your requests 5 days in advance. As I'm only there on Mondays, I always submit my stuff a whole week in advance. When I got there this morning, the stuff I submitted last week wasn't there. I teach from 8 till 12, on the 4th floor. The photocopy department is on the ground floor of the next building along, is open from "about 8 am" (I hung around till 8.10 but it was still closed) until 12... I was pretty mad!

Then, the students themselves, hadn't (for the most part) prepared what I asked them to, so all the activities planned for this morning, between the photocopied sheets and the spoken tasks based on what they'd prepared, were un-doable. It was a truly crappy 4 hours, I can tell you.

Things improved a little after that, but still, not a great start to the week. And I'm really tired, so I'm struggling to hit 30,000 words on my "novel" tonight - it's already 2.30 am but I'm determined, I need to bash out another 1,200 words and I'll be there...

How do I get myself into these ridiculous situations?!

dimanche 15 novembre 2009


Busy day, so got almost no work done and only 550 words of my "novel" (but that's put me over 28,000 words - my target is 30,000 tomorrow night, which will have me 2 days ahead of schedule), but we did get to visit the new house of some very good friends of ours.

First of all, it should be known that the flat they lived in before was already considerably bigger than ours (and there are only 3 of them), and was always impeccably tidy (not in an uptight kind of way, just stylish and tidy).

The husband, S, has been talking about moving to somewhere "bigger" and "with a garden or something" for a couple of years. His wife, P, was more reluctant, but finally came round to the idea and so they bought their new place, not that far from their old and still quite close to us (years ago, before we moved, they were our neighbours, their son and C have known each other since they were 2 years old!). They moved in about 2 weeks ago, but today was our first visit.

Well. What can I say? They've only just moved in and already the place looks lived in (we, of course, had cardboard boxes everywhere - including right in the middle of the sitting room - for weeks, if not months). And it is HUGE! The main part has a surface area of 226 m², plus there's a further 80 m² in the attic (though it needs work done). The garage is 60 m² (you could fit 4 cars in it) and there's also a cellar and a two-room flat (50 m²). It's like something from a magazine, it really is.

And there's a small, but cute, garden, too.


That said, they haven't sold their old flat so they have a bridging loan that is essentially costing them 1,200 Euros a month, their new place must have cost a fortune, the council taxes and stuff are monstruous and the two-room flat (which could if need be be rented out) isn't actually inhabitable (no kitchen, no bathroom, lots of bricked-up windows) and they have no means whatsoever to renovate it, so it's basically a white elephant. It wasn't initially included in the sale, and although I think they've made a good choice, I do believe the two-room flat was a mistake. They don't need the space, and they could probably do with the money...

But I'm happy for them, and they really do have a beautiful home. No, I'm not even jealous - it's beautiful, but it wouldn't be what I'd choose if I had that kind of money. What I am jealous of is the fact that they have that kind of money - my financial status is still dire beyond belief and there doesn't seem to be any respite in sight...

And oh, how I long to get this place looking truly presentable! If only D would show some enthusiasm for DIY and home improvements...

OK, enough. Back to work!

samedi 14 novembre 2009

Taking shape

I can't quite believe it, but not only am I actually ahead of schedule for NaNoWriMo, but I've already passed half way and am aiming for 27,000 words by tonight.

I'm getting quite excited, because the story is starting to take shape, I have quite a lot of ideas to include and am really starting to believe that I'm actually going to finish this thing. It's a delirious thought, to be honest. And I'm unbelievably proud of my achievement (even if I'm nowhere near finished in reality).

That said, I've been finding it hard to concentrate today. My thoughts keep going back to Claire and her family, and the reports of Charla Nash (the victim of a horrific chimpanzee attack that has left her with terrible, terrible injuries - no eyes, no hands, no nose, no mouth...) haunt me too. I've always found news items like this strangely fascinating, but afterwards, I can't stop thinking about them, empathising with the people involved. It's hard to move on...

Added in to that is the fact that L is not well at all today - at 3 this afternoon she said she was tired and went to bed OF HER OWN VOLITION and has been there ever since. This, if you remember, is the child who NEVER SLEEPS. She coughed all night and has been really peaky all day (no barfing, though, I'd like to point out). I'm concerned, but not (yet) in full-blown panic mode because she doesn't have a high temperature, so I'm hoping it'll just disappear like it came.

But the whole is not particularly conducive to writing reams of pages of my "novel".

However, just thinking about all these pages of text brings a smile to my face, I must admit!

If you haven't tried NaNoWriMo, I heartily recommend it - it's made me feel invincible (up to a point)!

vendredi 13 novembre 2009

Life sucks

Not mine (though it has had its moments of suckitude), I hasten to add.

I'm a professional translator and, as such, I'm a member of a translation association that has an on-line discussion group. Today, I received a message from the group informing me (and everyone else) that one of our colleagues, Claire, a British translator living in Paris, died on Tuesday after complications during childbirth. Apart from her husband, she also leaves behind her a 4 year old boy, a 1 year old girl and a newborn baby girl.

I didn't know Claire, but her name was familiar to me through seeing it pop up every now and then on the discussion group.

I can't stop thinking about her, her husband, her poor children. This should have been such a happy time for her and her family, welcoming a their third child.

I didn't know Claire, but my heart goes out to her and her loved ones, because she was a colleague of mine, because she was a mother and because really, life sucks.


I never thought "writing a novel" could be so exhilarating. I'm not quite confident enough to not put that in inverted commas, but the fact of the matter remains the same.

You have to remember that my work consists in typing lots of words. My own words up to a point, but words that are the translation in English of other people's words written in French or Spanish. In subjects I know little about (enough to translate, obviously, but I translate a lot of medical stuff and I'm no doctor, believe me), some in subjects I dislike quite intensely.

But this, this "novel" thing, is only my own words, my own ideas, my own story. It's thrilling to see the pages pile up, the word count leap forward so much quicker than when I'm translating. When I write, I can spin out 1,000 words in an hour, sometimes more, and always probably about twice as much as when I translate (and, modesty pushed aside, I pride myself on being a pretty quick translator).

I'm not saying this "novel" is any good - I'm pretty sure it's probably crap, in fact, and I'm also fairly sure I'll never show it to anyone. But I'm enjoying writing it much more than I thought I would...

Yeah, I'm falling behind in terms of getting to 50,000 words by 30 November, but I'm not (yet) hopelessly behind. That might still happen - I've had relatively little work this week and stupidly didn't take advantage of that to get ahead of myself. And now work is starting to flow back in, leaving me with even less time to write...

But I'm determined. I want to finish this challenge, just like I'm doing my best for NaBloPoMo, too (12 days down, only 18 to go! And already better than last November when I fucked up right at the start). If you succeed with the 50,000 words thing you get a "winner's certificate", and if I manage to get that I'll be unspeakably proud of myself, even if I haven't told a single person "in real life" that I'm doing this (which makes finding time to write even harder - it has to be when I'm on my own, which isn't often).

And maybe, maybe, just maybe, if I find the time to edit the finished thing, I'll try and get someone to look at it (though I don't have the first idea who - a friend? a publisher? how do you find a publisher?). Who knows?

jeudi 12 novembre 2009

Wiped out

As predicted, yesterday was a killer. Our "Korean adventure" was pretty good (though the documentary - 10 interminable minutes, the whole film in Korean (!!) - and debate were pretty mindnumbing, it has to be said). The Koreans we met at the church place were great (except when they kept asking me about my faith - I don't want to lie, but I feel bad saying I'm a total non-believer, especially as they're all so enthusiastic) and our guest, Kan-won, was very nice: he seemed pleased to have been here and didn't make any horrified comments about the state of our flat (we did tidy up a fair amount, but it's still a terrible mess). The girls had fun, he taught C how to write her name in Korean, we took photos, exchanged addresses and stayed up far too late (2 am).

D and I had to be up at 7 to get breakfast ready so that D could get Kan-won back to the Theology University by 8.30. Of course, despite going to bed at midnight, C was up by 8, making it hard for me to go back to bed, but by 9.30 I couldn't take it any more, so D and I both went back to bed, where I slept heavily (and blissfully).

Spent the afternoon at the park with D and the girls, then supervised C doing her homework, then all the usual evening stuff.

All that to say that I got no work done till this evening, and am now very behind in my novel... And I'm still tired beyond belief.

But I'm really going to try and get my act together tomorrow night....

mardi 10 novembre 2009

Getting there

I feel like I've spent the whole day putting my coat and shoes on, rushing off somewhere, rushing back and repeating the whole shebang...

The "main event" hasn't actually happened yet - I'm just about to set off to pick up C and then take her all the way across the city for the buffet supper (that we'll have missed - D and L had better have saved us something to eat!) before bringing our Korean chum home.

Not very reassuring is the news on AOL UK today that North and South Korean warships have been firing at each other... War may be imminent and here we are, harbouring a Korean national in our midst... Sounds like something from a film...

Still, I got my administrative guff sorted out (more or less - still have one set to do, but I have until 18 November so I'm ignoring it for now) and we tidied up a little, so we're more or less done.

I even managed to get some of my novel done today, though not much, so I'm now behind again. I'm going to try and catch up tomorrow.

Wish me luck for the rest of this hectic, frenetic day!


Let's just say, tomorrow promises to be a total zinger of a day. I have a lot on my plate:

I have to catch up with my NaNoWriMo word count which, given that I've done bugger all today, will be way behind. I also have invoices and stuff to do.

I have to go to my "local" tax office (which isn't the one near where I live - a ten minute walk - oh, no, that would be far too practical. My "local" tax office is right on the other side of town, about 45 minutes away by tramway, bearing in mind my nearest tramstation is already a ten minute walk, so in all, we're talking almost 2 hours just for the journey) to pick up a certificate that proves that I have to pay "professional tax". I need this for the mindless paperwork at the university where I teach and if I don't get it, and all the other guff that goes with it (photocopies of my last three tax returns, of my passport, my social security card, my bank details...), handed in before Thursday (which basically means tomorrow because Wednesday is a public holiday and the university will, of course, be closed) I won't get paid in March-April (for classes I teach between September and December) but in August. Crap system? You bet.

I'll probably also have to go to the other university too, which will need basically the same forms. *sigh*

Then, I have to make a quiche (or something similar), tidy the flat (again), change sheets (putting ours on the sofa, clean ones on our bed), bla, bla, go pick up L from her dance class at 6, bring her home, hang out together for half an hour and then drag her to C's circus class to pick her up and take them to the Paillade (where I have to go in the morning - so, 45 minutes away) for some Protestant thing for a South Korean delegation that's visiting. We'll probably arrive too late for the buffet supper (supposedly at 7, we won't be there till nearer 8) but will have time to sit through speeches, a documentary about Korean Protestants and a debate (this will be the BEST FUN with a tired 5 and a half year old and a tired nearly 8 year old) before coming home with D (in the car, thankfully) and one of the Korean delegation who'll be spending the night with us. Just to drive the point home: D and C and L are baptised Protestants. Me, I'm NOT. I'm pretty much agnostic. So this whole evening this sounds like torture to me. I've got nothing against welcoming the Korean guy, but I could do without having to drag the girls all the way across the city at night...

I am not looking forward to tomorrow. Especially as it's nearly 2 am and I still have a few hundred words to write on my "novel".

It's a hard life, it really is...

dimanche 8 novembre 2009

Christmas is coming...

...And I just love buying Christmas presents! In fact, I enjoy buying them even more than I enjoy receiving them!

I love the whole thing: choosing, buying, hiding, wrapping, putting under the tree...

This year, despite dire finances, I've already done quite a bit and I know what I'm getting for just about everyone. This evening, I bought L's Playmobil vet's surgery and now have just about everything for both girls (just need to get High School Musical DVDs for C, a couple of really little things and, of course, her birthday present). I've got all my Christmas cards (though obviously I haven't actually written or sent any yet) and I'm itching to get the tree and Advent Calendars up...

It's weird, as a (biggish) kid, I hated Christmas because I was an only child, surrounded by adults who, in the main, didn't get on with each other very well.

Now, I really look forward to it, simply because my beautiful girls look forward to it so much! We've been listening to Christmas carols, too, so they can learn them (they don't seem to have such things here in France, apart from "Il est né le divin enfant...").

It's all so exciting, plus this year we're going away, which should be good! Is it silly or childish to be so excited?!


I've officially "caught up" with myself for NaNoWriMo - I'm slightly over the basic minimum wordcount (about 12,000 this evening, and after 7 days the minimum is 11,667). It's actually quite exhilarating, producing all these words and all of them being my own, not just the translation of someone else's.

I'm not saying my "novel" is any good, or anything (though who doesn't dream of writing the next best seller?), and I don't have the least idea what to do with it once I've finished it (assuming I do finish it, and I really am giving it my best shot), but if I manage to get this story down on paper in a way that satisfies me, I'll be unspeakably proud of myself.

Did pretty much bugger all today (apart from write my 3,000 words, but that didn't take long). Got up late, faffed around, played games with L all afternoon, went back to bed for an hour. I lead a fascinating life.

Did one of my favourite vegetables tonight though: roast parsnips (thank you Delia for the recipe, which of course worked perfectly, though sorry, can't find it on line: it's from her first, basic cook book and is dead easy). Oh, they were all crunchy and chewy and yummy. And, best of all, the girls wouldn't touch them, so all the more for me!

OK, I'm going to try and write a bit more tonight (I should be working, of course, but can't be arsed, and this "novel" is obsessing me!) and then try and be in bed before 4 am!

samedi 7 novembre 2009


Yeah, so NaNoWriMo. It's hard. It's hard to find the time (and the ideas) for 50,000 words, when your "real job" is... errrr... typing words (though other people's) all day. And yes, I'm pretty far behind already - the end of Day 6 is supposed to be at least 10,000 words and so far I'm at just under 7,000. I'm planning on adding a bit more tonight, but it's not going to be easy.

That said, I think the story's OK, and it isn't just "any old crap", it's a story that's been wandering around my brain for months now.

And can you imagine the pride I'll feel, assuming I do actually finish this thing? I'm having trouble imagining how I'm going to fill up the rest of the word count (43,000 words to go!), but I have my ideas. I don't have an ending yet, but I'm working on it. I'm even starting to dream about this "novel". Well, dream about this "novel" and Playmobils - L somehow got hold of the Playmobil catalogue and has been talking about how much she'd love the vet's surgery - or, no, the pirate treasure island, or, no, the circus set, or perhaps the Egyptian pyramid... At least I know sort of what to get her for Christmas now!

OK, back to the storytelling... Another 3,000 words tonight, and I'll be laughing...

vendredi 6 novembre 2009


I read a lot of blogs. Really, a lot. I probably have about 50 or 60 in my "Favourites" file, though I don't read all of them every day (for one thing, many people don't post every day). But still, I read a lot of blogs.

Most of these blogs are written by parents. They're not necessarily "mommy bloggers" or "daddy bloggers", but most are parents all the same. And most are also in North America somewhere - the US is well represented, from Alaska to Florida, from California to Vermont, via Kansas, Missouri and more. There's also Canada - Montreal, Toronto, Alberta. There are also a couple from Australia.

So what's the conundrum?


From what I can gather, North American kids seem to come down with "barfing flu" type things ALL. THE. TIME. Nearly every blogger has written about cleaning up their kids' barf (or their own, even). And they get these ghastly bugs with unbelievable regularity. One of my favourite bloggers, Linda, has two kids and they've been passing round some bug or other for weeks now.

I just don't get it. Apart from when C and L were babies (when they barfed - particularly L - every day, but that was a valve problem, not an illness), I can't remember a single time either of them has ever had anything that could be referred to as "barfing flu". And the same is true for their friends, most of the time. Kids in general around us are rarely off school, no one's warned me of any vicious bugs going round... It just doesn't seem to happen here.

Is there something "barfing flu-producing" in North American food, water, air? Is there something that protects us against it here in France? I really don't know. Obviously, I don't know these bloggers personally, but most of them seem to have pretty healthy lifestyles, so it's not like they spend their time eating fast food, lighting up cigarettes all day and knocking back litres of alcohol... (not as far as I can tell, anyway). But their kids seem to be ill horrendously often, whereas mine really aren't. We get the odd high temperature, the odd cold, the odd hacking cough, but it's rarely enough to stay off school or even call the doctor.

Maybe I'm just remarkably lucky (though, as I said, other kids I know aren't ill any more often as far as I can tell), maybe it was all that formula milk (ha! who sez brest-is-best?!!!), I don't know, and I can't explain it. Even more weird is the case of an American blogger, Betsy (and her English husband) who have moved to France for a year with their two little girls. Who have been ill virtually non stop (at least one of them, taking turns apparently) since September.

I just don't get it.

But boy, am I glad!

jeudi 5 novembre 2009

Writer's cra(m)p

You know me, never one to turn down a task... So, here I am, up to my eyeballs in work (long text all about malaria, admin guff to deal with, classes to teach, homework to mark, bla, bla, bla) and already committed to NaBloPoMo (and, so far, sticking to it, though obviously 4 days is hardly a major achievement, even I can recognise that), and I go and sign up for NaNoWriMo too. As if I didn't already spend enough time every day chained to my keyboard, I've now committed to writing another 1,667 every day till the end of the month. I must be stark raving.

Of course, I'm already woefully behind with "novel". I'm not even up at one day's supposed total and I've already "done" 3 days (I erased all my first day's work because it was unspeakable crap. I'm not saying the 1,500 words I did yesterday are any good, but I think they're less crap that what went before).

Strangely, though, I seem to thrive on this type of challenge. I've always wanted to write a book of some kind, and this is just the motivation I need (perhaps). The biggest problem, of course, is that I don't have a clear story outline. But I'm hoping things will fall into place as the days go by. I'm not sure I'm going to make 50,000 words by 30 November, but I'm going to give it a try and see what comes out of it.

What comes out of it other than sore wrists and a blinding headache, I mean.

mercredi 4 novembre 2009

Progress report

Believe it or not, the sitting room (the front half, anyway) is actually looking pretty good, though I say it myself. There's so much space all of a sudden!

Of course, the rest still looks like crap, but I'm really proud of all that I managed to achieve in such a short amount of time. And that has motivated me to keep going (except of course that I have a shitload of work to do, but I'm not going to let that stop me).

Next stop: the rest of the sitting room. I figure that if I can get our main room looking OK then the rest isn't as important because it's less visible. The trouble with this theory is that doing the rest of the sitting room (the office part) doesn't depend only on me - I need some DIY-type to help me get things done, like putting up wall lights, putting up a shelf, putting together some furniture (that I can do on my own, what I can't do is get the boxes down from the top of our wardrobe where D put them last year). But I'm really going to try and get this room done (and done properly, not just superficial, cosmetic stuff) by the Christmas holidays.

I know reading about my tidying up is utterly dull (especially without photos, but really, I'm too ashamed to put up any "before" pictures), but it helps me get my act together!

mardi 3 novembre 2009

Spring cleaning in...errr...November

I'm either really, really behing (probable) or really, really early (unlikely), but today I actually got down to some "spring cleaning".

Don't get too excited, though, as of course I ran out of time (and energy) and have probably only done about 50% of our sitting room (to be fair, if you take into account the disproportions of our flat, that is about 25% of the entire place, but still). But there is definitely an improvement, and the bit that I've done is the first part of the flat you see when you come through the front door, so I'm quite pleased.

The only down side, of course, is that it makes the remaining 50% of the sitting room (the office part, in other words) look infinitely worse. But I'm hopeful that now that I've started I'll actually manage to keep going and do some more.

My aim is to get the whole sitting room-office combo looking pretty hot damn good by the time we go away for Christmas. And, of course, if I can get more than that done, it'll be a bonus (next on the list: the kitchen, then finish the girls' room (nothing more's been done since we painted it, so it really looks unfinished. Which is normal, because it is), do the bathroom, tidy up the walk-in cupboard (that you can't walk into) and end with our room.

A huge task, certainly.

But at least I've started.

dimanche 1 novembre 2009

It's that time of year again...

Yeah, like I'm not already overwhelmed, I've decided to go ahead and do the NaBloPoMo thing again this year... And I'm not sure I'm going to make it, but I'm sure as hell going to give it a try. Add a little discipline to my life, if you like.

Nothing much to report here, of course. I took the girls to a Hallowe'en party last night (Hallowe'en is virtually non-existent for children here in France, but we have a Franco-American language school just around the corner and they put on a party every year) and was delighted when they both won prizes for their costumes (put together, home-made style, by yours truly): L won third prize for her adorable pumpkin and C also won third prize for her equally adorable cat. I was so pleased!

There were games and dancing and lots of sweets, so of course they both had a great time! I was chilled to the bone by the end of it, but enjoyed it too.

The half-term holidays are coming to a close (the girls go back to school on Wednesday) and it's been quite hard as I've had a shitload of work, but it's been quite good all the same. The fabulous weather certainly helps.

And as for my worries, well, they haven't gone away, but I'm hanging in there and am hoping to climb out of (some) debt by the end of the year. I just have to keep working, working, working...

Oh, and I've bought my Christmas cards and even done quite a bit of Christmas shopping - how's that for organised!

Now, if I could just get this place tidied up by Tuesday lunchtime, when a friend and her kids come to lunch, I might even feel happy...