Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I miss home.  But perhaps if I was home, I would miss Paris.  No, I think what I actually miss is my Union home.  I remember exactly where I was and I how sad I felt when I left Lincoln for the last time.  My mom, her husband John, and I were all driving back from visiting my brother after graduation.  Their little hybrid was packed to the brim and we were making the long journey across the US back to Idaho.  We were on the freeway.  I saw the capitol building, the outskirts of town, and Lincoln's almost-too-flat-to-be-real landscape.  And now, almost exactly a year later, that moment comes back to mind.  Because I miss that place.  I put down roots in Lincoln.  I made family there.  I went from frighteningly religious to anti-god to I-think-maybe-my-beliefs-and-values-coincide-with-God-after-all at Union.  I found my best friend at Union.  I was happy at Union.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm happy to be living in Paris.  I'm happy that I get to work with two amazing little girls and their parents.  I'm happy I have the privilege and opportunity to learn both German and French.  And yet, at the end of the day, my heart is missing something.  The thing that I see most glaringly right now, though, is that if I was at home in Idaho, or here in Paris, I believe my heart would still be missing something.  We as human beings desperately need connection.  Even Jesus had his group of twelve disciples to fill his need for human connection.  I've done a lot of things alone in my life.  And the most depressed I've been in my life was when I was the most disconnected from close friends and family.  There is something to be said about being with close friends, with people who understand you and you them, and being with people you trust.  I think it helps bring me back to center.  Back to contentedness.  Back to peace. 

Keep me in your prayers as I try to create and be open to meaningful connections with people here in Paris, no matter how short the exchange. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Day in the Life Take 2: Afternoons with Jaz

Melis starts first grade this upcoming September.  She is super excited.  It is adorable and nostalgia inducing.  I remember the excitement of going to school: buying new notebooks; picking out the best, most colorful, Liza Frank folders; and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and rubber erasers.  But for now she goes everyday to Kindergarten.  So I pick her up first before we go together to pick up Aylin from school.  I try to get to the Kindergarten at least 15 minutes before 1:30 p.m. because they usually open the door a little before 1:30.  And there are always a bunch of parents waiting outside the gate beforehand which can be fun and intimidating all at the same time.  It's nice though to say hi to people, exchange small talk in German, and try to figure out who's French and who's German.

I wait for Melis' teachers to see me and to send her on out.  There are these horrible steep stairs that the kids have to walk down and it always worries me, these adorable little 3-5 year olds clomping down the stairs with their top-heavy balance, coats in arms, backpacks over shoulders, and pictures in hands clutched.  I envision just one missed step, a tumble, and then I usually just focus on making sure that I'm close enough to snag Melis up if she does miss a step.  I squat down and give her a hug, try and plop a kiss on her forehead, and ask her how Kindergarten was.  She usually just says good and then more spills out along the way to pick Aylin up.

Once we get to the school there is always the search to find where Aylin is.  There are always so many kids running around in the large front terrace area.  Melis and I, holding hands, weave our way through the maze of children and try to find the Aylin in amongst them.  Having found Aylin, my arms are usually subsequently filled up with coats, jackets, and maybe a sport bag, and we meander our way back to the car.  The girls have a favorite kid's CD that is loads of fun that I try to remember to bring with me in the car for the ride home.  I keep forgetting currently, though.  

There is always lots of hunger on Wednesdays.  I make lunch on Wednesdays.  When we get back home there is usually a grand pile created in the middle of the entry way, a quick taking off of the shoes, and then a Jaz attempting to get two plates with food as fast as possible all ready for two very hungry girls.  And then the food is scarfed.   

Wednesdays I find to be quiet fun.  Mainly because the girls have piano lessons starting at 2:30 until 3:30 with Chantal.  She is French and speaks the most wonderfully horrible English.  Now, understand me, I do not hold this against her by any means.  I mean, my French is purely greeting oriented and exists no further beyond that, so I truly appreciate what she knows because it means we can at least communicate with more than hand gestures.  What's really great is that she will use English words sometimes with the girls, like somehow they will be more effective than her French, which may be true and may not be.  I think the girls probably understand more French than they do English, but I'm not positive.  Either way I find it hilarious because I usually will then say what she said in English in German. 

After piano, and after Chantal has asked for Bisous (kisses) from two reluctant and I'll-only-offer-you-one-cheek-to-kiss girls, we have the whole afternoon to play!  If it's nice outside the girls will inevitably want to play Football (and, no, not American Football, come on, you really think I'd play American Football?).  And they always whoop my butt.  We usually play me against the two of them and I always end up in the beginning giving them a few free goals, ya know, because it's not cool to be too hard on kids in a game.  But then what happens is after a couple of freebies they start actually whooping my butt and the score's somewhere around 8 to 0 and I'm thinking to myself, man, I gotta stop being easy on these guys!

If it's not nice outside, we draw, or play card games, or make something.  The girls have the coolest things downstairs, in our basement, to make stuff with.  We have mosaics, beads, felt, finger paint, and all these other cool kits to get creative with.  What is great is that Melis will usually choose to make something with our empty plastic water bottles or with paper, scissors, and tape.  She is the queen of making the most random, wonderfully taped-up things, ranging from paper gloves and glasses to paper beds and fairies.  Aylin is my other little artist.  I love the things she comes up with to paint and draw, fantastical things with their own child/Aylin flare.

After playing, I try to get the girls to take a shower before supper happens.  Of course, as any parent knows, getting kids to take a shower when they could be playing instead is a bit hard.  Sometimes it is as easy as getting a cat out of water and other times it takes a bit of persuading.  Or maybe we'll just play outside longer because, heck, it's just too nice to go inside yet.  Once Demet and Roland get home we all have supper together.  You know, I was thinking the other night at the dinner table how awesome it is that they share breakfasts and dinners together, without a television, sitting down, sharing real conversations and laughter.  It's pretty awesome, really.

When my tummy is all filled up, I help clean up and then head upstairs.  To try and write a blog.  Just for you.  That's right, feel special.  You should. :)


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weirdest Thing I've Ever Eaten

I ate fried squid last night.  Unwittingly, I ordered a calamara taco from the most delicious Spanish food place in Paris, thinking that I would be getting shrimp, or something.  You know, the problem is that I just assumed calamara was a French word and that it wouldn't be little, fried squid creatures mixed all up together with a little bit of lettuce and guacamole staring back up at me on my plate.  I was with a bunch of other au pair girls and felt my ego shrinking from the idea of letting these 10 strangers know my ignorance concerning what calamara is and thus pushed a few tentacles back onto the tortilla and took my first bite.  My stomach turned.  The taste reminded me of when I used to eat the dried flakes we'd give my cousin's fish.  I felt a tentacle, twisty-turny and far to noticeably squidy.  And then I just started scarfing it and intensely attempting to listen and interact with the conversations around me.  I ate that whole taco, 15 little squid creatures and all.  And I will never do it again.