Saturday, May 27, 2006


For the first time in over a year I actually used our gym at home and did a bit of a workout.

Desney had completely redid the gym over the past several months and it's quite a setup.

I was able to use the running machine for a good 20 minutes (6 kmh) and felt good and exhausted afterwards as well as worked up a good sweat. It's been a long time. The biggest problem, as always, was keeping myself hydrated. This was already a necessity when running or rollerblading. But it isn't more necessary now and requires more attention. I was practically running with the water bottle in my hand a lot of the time.

I had originally planned to use the computer I have set up just above the running machine. But I soon realised that, althgough the computer actually works, I had not finished actually setting it up for my use (music playlists, video selections, ...). I therefore plugged my new iPod Nano in and ran with my rollerblading playlist. I soon got real annoyed with my wired headphones but I had not charged my wireless Bluetooth headphones as I had not actually planned on doing this. Next time I'll hopefully use the computer...

After running I lifted some weights and did some pushups. I realised just after doing my pushups that it probably wasn't the best of ideas. I still have my port-a-catheter (PAC) in my upper-right chest. The pushups stretched my pectoral muscles and really pulled on the two sides of the PAC and pushed it up towards my skin as well. I don't know how Lance Armstrong coped with this sort of situation. Myself, not being an athlete already, I did not find it "comfortable" at all.

It was a very very good feeling to be able to exercise a bit and I'm sure I've overdone it as always.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Towel Day

I know it's been a really very long time since I've written. Lot's happened...

I'm in the middle of the second part of a two-part consecutive business trip (Monaco and then London) before preparing for a third business trip next week (Scotland).

But I just had to add this as it struck home:


X-Men 3: The Last Stand

For the first time in over 20 years I went out to the cinema in London.

X-Men: The Last StandX-Men 3 opened yesterday in France and it opened today in the UK. I know perfectly well that Desney and Alex went to see it together last night and Jessica went to see it with her friends as well. I therefore had to see it myself or I would be completely out of communication with the rest of my family.

It was quite interesting to go to the cinema in London. I ordered my tickets online from the Odeon theatre. After work I dropped everything off at the hotel and I walked to Marble Arch to the cinema. It was actually the first time I've gone left of Park Street on Oxford Street and the neighbourhood is amazingly different from that point forward: junk food shop after junk food shop. The cinema itself was absolutely enormous. The place where one gets popcorn and soda and such is actually an enormous store not too unlike a supermarket. The theatre itself was huge with lots of leg room and a place to put your soda on one side of the seat and your popcorn on the other. I remembered from when Alex and I went to the cinema that I can no longer eat popcorn so I thought I'd try M&Ms. Better... but not there yet.

The one thing I didn't know was that the cinema seats were numbered and your assigned seat was on one's ticket. I showed up a good half hour early and found a great seat in the center of the third row. I sat there throughout the previews and about 5 minutes before the film started a couple showed up, very upset, and announced that I was sitting in their seats. I didn't understand but I got up anyway as the film was about to start. I looked at my ticket and found that I "should" be in seat K1. That's the far right corner of the 11th row. I sadly moped to my seat and in the process the entire row K had to get up to let me through.

The film was as to be expected. It was basically like the first two... but it wasn't. A new director, Brett Ratner, had replaced Bryan Singer and it showed. The film was fun but not as fun as the others and the plot was just an excuse for the effects and the action. There was much too little of the story of the mutants and the difficulty of being "different" from others and such. The man who brought us the Rush Hour films was basically bringing us more of the same.

A shame in that one felt it could have been so much more... But a lot of fun just the same.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A day out of the city

One of the things Sharon absolutely wants to see while she's here is the Chartres Labyrinth which is on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral.

One of the things we wanted to show them is the Loire Valley Castles. If you recall from our family web page we had a great family trip to the Loire back in 2000.

We decided to offer to try and mix the two in to one day and they accepted...

Alexandra took the day off to join us and we were in front of their hotel at 09:00 ready to head off and out of Paris. We drove straight to Chartres and made pretty good time. We got there at about 10:30. We hit the tourist office first to ask the basic questions and get any maps or brochures they may have. They gave us the worst news they could have short of announcing that the cathedral itself was closed. Apparently the labyrinth, as it is on the floor of the cathedral, is always covered by chairs. The only day of the week that they remove the chairs is Friday. There are quite a few web sites which discuss the labyrinth and I don't recall seeing this rather vital piece of information on any of the sites. But there wasn't much we could do at this point. We visited the cathedral, which is breathtakingly beautiful and enormous, and contemplated the labyrinth on the floor through the chairs. However we couldn't actually walk the labyrinth which was quite frustrating.

After that relatively short visit, and many photos later, we visited a couple of gift shops and headed off for the Loire Valley.

As it was already quickly approaching the lunch time hour I decided we couldn't wait to eat until getting to the Loire Valley so we stopped off at Orleans. We got there at about 13:00 and, as I was quite hungry, I sped through town indvertently driving along the tramway tracks until I could get off them. We had a pleasant lunch at a café outside under a bunch of trees which kept shedding their flowers providing us with a bit of extra vegetables in our meals.

We got back in the car and headed off to the Loire. The castle I wanted to see this time was Château Chambord as this was probably the biggest one I hadn't seen yet. We got there at about 15:00 and walked around the grounds for quite some time, taking photos, before actually entering the castle. We then spent a couple of hours touring the insides of the castle. I was amazed at how well Alexandra participated without complaining too much especially after all the walking we had been doing. I personally particularly liked the dual spiral staircase, which was apparently designed by da Vinci, and which has the very fun effect of being able to look across at those who are on the parallel staircase.

After climbing up and down and all over the castle we stopped for a bit of ice cream before getting back in to the car. We drove straight back to Paris, without hitting too much traffic, and the Hartmans were in their room by 20:30. Alexandra and I headed home. Alexandra had a quick microwave meal, and I filled in an excuse in her cahier de correspondance as to why she had missed school. I felt we had an educational and historical excuse so I didn't feel too guilty. But she had to head off to bed as she does have school tomorrow.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyI picked up a very quick pizza up the street and settled down to watch The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I have tried to watch this on Friday nights and the rest of the family just never agrees. I was going to wait until father's day to oblige them but realised it might be a disappointment for everyone involved. As predicted it was certainly a disappointment for me. I had read all FIVE of the books in the totally incorrectly termed trilogy several times. I had also read the radio scripts and Douglas Adams' other books such as the Dirk Gently series. I have the BBC Radio Series on cassette and I have Douglas Adams reading the books on my iPod. I have the original TV series on VHS (and soon on DVD). I have read, listened to and watched all of these repeatedly. I believe I can refer to myself as a fan.

As was to be expected I was utterly disappointed in the movie. They had cut out several characters, several bits from the other scripts and radically changed many characters. How Ford Prefect, one of the two or four central characters, can go from being an incredibly English character (book, radio and TV series) to suddently being portray as a black American is left mysteriously unexplained. Actually quite a few of the parts suddenly were portrayed by Americans, including Arthur Dent's love interest Trillian. It was just too commercial, too trite, too commercial and utterly unlike the original concept formed, developed and evolved by Dougals Adams. I'm hoping they don't do a sequel.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A family dinner

I woke up early in case the Hartmans did as well and would be coming 'round.

But I definitely paid the price for my excesses (non-stop talking and then hours of shouting). My throat felt about the worst it's felt since the end of the treatments. I knew there was one simple solution which was rest, water and not talking. I couldn't do much about the rest part. I filled myself with water and kept it coming which helped. I did my best to not talk. But, as most people on this planet are aware, I am a lifelong sufferer of verbal diarrhea and just have great difficulty turning off my vocal chords.

We finally heard from the Hartmans a bit after noon. They had slept in and had a relaxing breakfast at the hotel. Both was good news. They were heading out to get lost in the city, which they did quite well {g}, and we would see them in the evening for dinner.

I went round and picked them up at about 18:00 and we drove home going through the Champs-Elysées so they could see the Arc de Triomphe and other tourist sites.

It was still yet another nice day out so we had dinner out on the terrasse. Desney had prepared some foie gras for starters which went down well with a Château le Fagé 1998 (Monbazillac). The foie gras wasn't Desney's own as it wasn't the season. But it appears to have went down well all the same. I personally found that the bread gets in the way for me. Jerry doesn't drink wine, which I knew, and Sharon wasn't having wine this evening so there was a lot more for the rest of us!

Desney had prepared a raclette which was delicious. It was the first time we had ever done this outside and it worked very well. Often when we do this in the kitchen it gets too hot too quickly and a bit smokey from the cooking cheese and frying meats. Outside it was great. This too went down well with an Ehrhart Riesling Grand Cru 2001. The GC Riesling, more than slightly sweet and biting, cuts through the cheese very well and makes digestion much easier. After two potatoes I realised that I was going to have to experience raclette without the potatoes from now on. It's much lighter which means I can eat more. But I just can't eat more than a couple of potatoes without them sponging up just about all the saliva and fluids I may have in my mouth making it difficult to eat, speak and even breath.

It started getting a bit chilly so we retired to the kitchen for salad, continuing with the Riesling, and then on to dessert. Desney had made her apple crumble which we accompanied with more of the Château le Fagé which we had not finished with the foie gras. The crumble went down well but I can eat much more of the apples and the ice cream than the crumble itself which quickly gets dry as well.

Over coffee we offered Jerry and Sharon a bit of an excursion for tomorrow...

They accepted!

I drove them home where they could get some sleep in order to be ready for a relatively early start tomorrow...

Jessica's first prom

I got home from the hotel and started getting ready for the big dance.

I got Jessica's printer from upstairs, my new photo printer from my office, my laptop computer, a whole bunch of extension cords, USB cables, multiplugs and other sundry wires and loaded everything in to the car. I then went up to the ground floor and got the coat hangers and tons of food which Desney had prepared and put that in the car. Finally I got dressed.

This year I did not wear a tie. I haven't worn a closed neck shirt since my operations and I still don't feel ready to do so yet. My ORL (ENT) doctor said I should be able to after the one-year mark (September) but that it's up to me. The longer I leave it the better.

I got to the school at about 18:00 ready to get started setting up all of my equipment (computer, two printers, note pads, ...). The salle des fêtes was in a pandemonious uproar as usual. Nothing was quite ready yet. The girls who were painting a beautiful venetian backdrop for the photos hadn't even finished painting it yet let alone hung it up. People running around lost not know what to do next. This lasted at least another hour and it wasn't until around 19:00 that I was able to get started setting up my part of the stand. It also wasn't until about that time (18:45) that Jessica was able to leave to go home and get ready for the dance.

I spent the next half-hour rapidly preparing the stand and testing what I could. Of course the inevitable had to happen. Something had to go wrong. I had brought two printers this year, a new photo printer to replace the one that got broken at the last end-of-the-year market, and Jessica's Deskjet printer from her bedroom in order to hopefully increase the time it takes to print the photos. I had bought and brought extra ink cartridges for both printers, extra cables, extra camera card readers and lots of extra photo paper. I printed fine on the new photo printer which I had tested at home. However Jessica's printer was bust. The top cover which closes on to the rest would not stay closed. This stopped it from printing. I don't know if the printer was already bust and Jessica hadn't mentioned it to me or if it got bust in the move and preparations. I'll never know. However I now found myself in the same old position of having one printer to print all of the photos at the end.

We all had agreed that we would stop taking photos at 22:30 and I would print from then until midnight. I would also print, whenever possible, in between transferring photos and getting the students' choices, up till then.

I hadn't prepared a sign. I was going to do that on Jessica's printer actually at the school. With that bust I had forgotten. For the first hour or hour and a half practically no one came to get their photos done. Richard, who is a professional photographer in real life and was taking the actual photos, made a hand-written sign "Photos 2 €" and next thing you knew there were crowds. Richard, being a professional, took way too many shots per group and it would take quite some time to go through them. But he took really great looking shots, with no red eye whatsoever, and the final result was worth whatever it took to get there. I had difficulty getting him to stop taking photos at 22:30 and at 22:45 it was obvious I was never going to be able to print everything in time as has happened so many times before. I printed like a maniac right up until after midnight but at least half of the photos hadn't been printed. We quickly worked out an arrangement where the students could come collect the photos at the same time as we would be selling the yearbook in about 10 days.

The dance itself appeared to go well. It took quite a long time to get started. Perhaps it was just too nice a day outside as the students seemed to spend most of the beginning hours outside... minging and schmoozing. Finally everyone started dancing and it was going full blown when, of course, the music system blew. Yet again they had not actually hired a professional DJ but someone who plugged in to the school's antiquated sound system. The cables never fit, the amps never adjust, and it always fails us eventually. There was no music for a good 45 minutes! Finally it came back on but they were very careful what they played afterwards. A group of students did a 2-song rap performance that was quite enjoyable and during the music blowout one of the kids played a piano solo for a while which was more than enjoyable.

The students looked amazing this year as every year. I have quite a lot of fun checking out the who's wearing what as quite a lot of these kids I've seen growing up for the past 3-5 years. For some it was their third and final prom and I can still remember taking their photo at their first prom two years ago. Some of the outfits were pretty incredible while many were just plain beautiful. They all looked great!

At the end of a long night of pretty loud music, bright lights, screaming over the music so the people picking their photos could hear me, dozens of dancing adolescents and such it was time to pack up and crawl out of there. I got home at about a quarter to one and passed out in bed. Unfortunately I could already feel that my throat was going to pay the price for this long day of non-stop talking throughout the morning and screaming for at least 2 or 3 hours at the dance...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Uncle Jerry is in da house!

Their plane was supposed to arrive at 07:45. I therefore sent a car to pick them up from the airport as there was no way I was going to be there in mind, body or spirit at that time.

We checked on the Internet and the plane was late to land. We kept checking every 5 minutes or so and then we saw that the plane had landed at 08:12. We therefore nervously paced around the house waiting.

At about 09:00 (Uncle) Jerry calls me from the airport. There was no car waiting for him; his mobile phone doesn't work in Europe; his credit card wouldn't work in the pay phone and finally a nice information desk person let him call us. After getting rather upset about the car I told gave him our address and verified my phone number with him and had he and Aunt Sharon get in a taxi and we'll take care of it when they get here.

I then called the taxi company and gave them a right bollicking (excuse my French). The taxi driver had waited the regulation 30 minutes and then had left. No one called me to check first or to inform me. I had given my home and mobile numbers to the company the night before when I reserved the car. Either the man who took the reservation didn't note them or the taxi driver didn't. But in the end my aunt and uncle arrived in France, for their first trip ever to Europe, and were stranded. I went ballistic on the phone...

They arrived not that much later and they spent the next 20 minutes taking the tour of the house. They had been sitting down for so long and were tired that we felt we needed to keep them moving for a while, to get the blood flowing, or we were gonna lose 'em.

They spent the next few hours on our couch listening to me chatter, chatter and chatter to keep them awake and (hopefully) interested. They were absolutely shattered from the trip and their main thoughts were basically upon sleep. They got to meet Alexandra who got home from school a little after 11:30 and finally we left at about 13:00 and I took them to the hotel. The hotel was actually quite nice and is right next to La Madeleine. I left them there to get some sleep and to get on with my preparations for tonight... they were in good hands.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday night at home

Although it was a short week technically, as Monday was a holiday here in France, it actually turned out to be quite a long week for most of us and we were glad it was Friday. We were mostly glad that it was the end of the week and tomorrow would be a very special day for several reasons.

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal EngagementWe didn't get to dinner until late and ordered out from the Japanese. I had rented a couple of movies from DVD Fly and they were thrown in to the pile for selection for this evening's showing. Unfortunately the kids one and they chose The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. We had already seen the original The Princess Diaries and Jessica has read quite a few of the Meg Cabot books including the 1-800-Where-R-You series.

The film was so bad it was laughable at times. We had fun, giggled a bit and were all glad when it was over...

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I had a parents' association meeting which went on till late on Tuesday and then I had another, but different, parents' association meeting last night which went on even later. We haven't been able to properly celebrate Alexandra's achievement.

Today I just had a meeting in town so I was back in time for dinner. It just so happened it was a beautiful day out so we were able to have dinner outside. We sat out on the terrasse, opened our favourite bottle of bubbley, and toasted Alexandra and her major achievement. Our thoughts are now to the future...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Alexandra's Great News!

Another long day of programming and such. I was nervous and anxious most of the afternoon which actually helped me with a boost of energy to finish another release on my database project.

Today was the day of the results. At 17:00 the admissions results for the Lycée Collège International Honoré de Balzac were to be posted in front of the school. We were obviously eagerly awaiting these results to see if Alexandra was admitted.

Jessica finished school at 17:00 and she hung around the front of the school in the rain, along with a large group of prospective parents and other siblings, waiting for the results to be posted. Poor Jessica was bombarded with phone calls, mostly from me, to find out what the results were. At 17:30 when the results still were not posted I called the school's international office. They weren't answering the phone. I therefore got a bit sneaky and (ab)used the headmistress' number, which I have as a parents' association President, to find out what was going on. Her secretary informed me that the international secretary, Mme Poitevineau, was still working on finalising the results and she would post them outside as soon as possible but she did not know when. As Jessica was part of an organisational chain I called her back and told her to come home.

In the mean time Alexandra had come home, at about 16:45, and was also desperately awaiting the results. Jessica left the school at about 17:45. She headed home where she was to go next door to baby sit. She is babysitting for Maija who is the secretary of our parents' association as we have our monthly meeting tonight. I was giving Maija a ride to the meeting so I had to wait until Jessica got to Maija's place and Maija got to our place before being able to leave.

At 18:35 Maija arrived at our place completely, and blissfully, ignorant of what was going on as regards the results notification. We jumped in the car and headed for the school. Although we were going to be late for our own meeting I had to stop by the school beforehand.Prioritiesies. I would have loved to have sped through the streets and have arrived in 10 minutes. But it was rush hour and we had to sit through traffic. When we got to the school I looked through to the front entrance and saw a few parents in front of the outside bulletin board. I assumed the results were posted and there was no way I was going to cruise around looking for parking. I did a U-turn in the middle of the boulevard, ran over the bus lane barrier, and pulled up in front of the school thereby blocking the bus lane. I ran out of the car to the board to see the list. I quickly scanned down the list of surnames for 6ème and there she was: Alexandra is admitted!!! I jumped up and shouted "Yessssss!" and looked back at the car. The bus wasn't approaching and I didn't seem to be blocking anyone. I therefore went back to the list to see if some of the others who took the exam the same time as Alexandra were admitted. Just about all of the kids we sat with at the café were admitted which was very good news for everyone involved.

Maija and I jumped back in to the car ready to go to the meeting. Unfortunately while we were looking at the results a police car had pulled in front of my car and was waiting for me. They had only just arrived so I was hoping I would be able to pull out before they got out of their car. My timing was off by just a few seconds. After a long and guilt-ridden discussion with the police officer who explained how my blocking the bus lane could mean blocking 50 people sitting in a bus and who were trying to get home. He explained that the normal fine was 90 euros and that I should think of others next time. I drove away feeling as though I had just cheated fate. I felt I deserved to cheat fate every now and then as I certainly feel that fate has cheated me more than once lately.

What the officer couldn't know was that all I wanted to do was to get the hell out of there and call home, and everyone else, to tell them the good news. We drove away and I called home. Of course now was the time that the damn cable phone decided to act up and not receive any calls. Maija was kind enough to call Jessica at her house. I spoke to Jess and gave her the news. She was obviously overjoyed and she called home, using the old phone number, to tell Desney. I kept trying to get Desney, of course, and eventually got through to her. Alexandra was in the shower but truly "chuffed".

We then headed off to our meeting. It was so unfortunate that I couldn't be home celebrating with my family this momentous occasion. Although we have always felt Alexandra would get in there has always remained that ominous doubt. We also truly had no other option planned. There is another international school we would have probably sent her to which would have cost us a fortune, which we don't have, but we didn't really think about it too much. All we knew was there was no way she was going to the local school. I would have loved to have been home to open the Champagne and share the moment with the rest of the family. Desney had gotten snails and a chocolate éclair for Alex, her favourites, to at least start the celebration.

We got to the meeting late as our detour meant that we didn't even leave the school area until about 18:55 and then we had to find parking. We arrived at the meeting at about 19:35 which was supposed to start at 19:00. I was wondering if everyone had left as they couldn't really start without the chairman and the secretary. They were all there sitting on the sofas and cosy chairs around the table eating and drinking and partly ignorant of our absence. I so prefer meetings in France than the stuffy pompous meetings I participate in elsewhere.

The meeting went reasonably well and my voice held out. There were only a few moments when I could feel myself raising my voice and my voice not following me. There are many times when I feel I sound like a teenager who's voice is changing. However in reality, as my mother likes to repeat often, my voice changed sometime while I was still in diapers (nappies). The meeting was actually quite heated and vociferous and the discussions sometimes became argumentative. I was amazed at how much I had underestimated the impact of certain subjects which I thought were "no-brainers" and not even worth discussing. However we got through the agenda by 22:20 and I still had a voice. I had my trusty bottles of water under my feet throughout and pushed myself often to drink in between phrases. I have enough trouble trying to stop talking in order to eat. Trying to stop in order to drink seems to be just about as difficult. I forget my "situation" often and don't realise until it's too late and my mouth is as dry as cotton and my throat is starting to hurt. Luckily a bit of water solves the problem immediately. We got out of there late and got home late. I dropped Maija off at her place and picked up Jessica and took her home. Jess was obviously ecstatic that Alex had got in to the school and that the two of them would be in the same school. I hadn't expected that positive a reaction. It was quite heartwarming. I got home to find Desney in bed waiting and was able to quickly share in the wondrous moment of pride and pleasure that both of our girls had gotten in to the international school and would be getting the education we had dreamed of for them. But then to sleep... aye perchance to dream.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Saturday at the mall

We slept in a bit today where possible. Desney was up first, as always, and was off at the hairdresser's and then shopping. I went through my morning routine very slowly and finally headed off to the local market to get fish and food and such for dinner. The queues were amazing and it took quite some time. But that's my own fault for going so late. All in all though I quite enjoyed the experience as the aromas and colours are wonderful.

When I got home I did a bit of programming work, not much, and then Desney, Alexandra and I piled in to the car and headed off to the new shopping centre in Gennevilliers (Chanteraines). We spent the rest of the day basically strolling from store to store to see what they had.

Water: In the first store I had forgotten to take my bottle of water with me from the car. I just can't get used to having to carry this thing with me all the time. I tend to get the feeling that it's like being connected to an oxygen tank or something similar. By the time I got out of the store I couldn't speak and surreptitiously went back to the car and got my bottle. By the end of the second store the inevitable cause and effect relationship meant that I desperately had to find a toilet. Luckily this store had one, albeit normally for handicapped clients which I was starting to feel more and more similar to, and I was able to avail myself of their services. A few hours later and we actually hadn't purchased much at all. We finally got home a bit before 18:00 and sat down for a well-deserved rest.

I got to work on dinner which we ate at a little after eight accompanied by much complaints from the kids. I am certainly no longer a tasting expert and could not really contribute but it certainly appears as though this is the last time I will ever prepare this particular recipe (fish soup with saffron and cream) as it was totally lacking in flavour and consistency. Luckily Desney had prepared a wonderful Tarte Tatin for dessert. However I could only eat about half of the delicious dessert for as soon as I ran out of ice cream topping I couldn't eat any more as the rest was just too dry...

Pulp FictionOnce Alexandra had gone to bed, and Desney was off gardening and puttering around the house, Jessica and I decided to watch a movie which Alexandra couldn't watch. Jessica has only ever seen the first half of this particular movie so we decided to watch the whole thing this time. It's probably about the fourth time I've seen Pulp Fiction and I was truly pleasantly surprised to find that I still quite enjoy it even though I know quite a few scenes by heart.

In bed after midnight...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday night hustle

A long day of programming and going through e-mails. One of my clients is really getting on my nerves... but I suppose that's just part of the game...

Friday Night and no school for Alexandra tomorrow morning. We therefore could start late and not have to worry about time too much.

Kung fuWe ordered pizza from Pizza Hut and Jessica, Alexandra and I chose a DVD from the large pile of those waiting to be watch. In the end we chose Kung Fu Hustle which I had rented from DVD Fly. It was a lot of fun. I found it hilarious but I also noticed that quite often I was the only one laughing. The making of was particularly interesting as was a rather bizarre interview with the Director/Producer/Writer/Star Stephen Chow (aka Sing-Chi Chau).

Pizza: Another depressing discovery is that I can no longer eat my favourite sort of pizza. I have always been a deep pan man when it comes to pizza. The extra thick crust and bready bottom makes for a much sturdier pizza and comes in quite handy when eating slices. However, as with popcorn and potatoes, there's just too much starch for me and without enough saliva it's very difficult to eat and much less enjoyable. I am going to be stuck eating the more "classic" style pizza from now on...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Alex' Big Day

We all got up early this morning (Desney at 06:00 and Alex and I at 06:30). I took Alexandra to Honoré de Balzac for her written exam at 08:15. This was the beginning of the entrance exams our whole family has been dreading for months if not years. I was there as a nervous prospective 6ème parent like any other. However I had stupidly forgotten that I was also the President of the Anglophone Section Parents' Association who everyone had seen at the Open House. I was certainly not there with my President's hat on but rather the hat of any other prospective parent. I was obviously bombarded with questions about how the whole thing runs. Once the kids were in the exam, which lasts an hour for collège and about 90 minutes for lycée, we went to the café to wait. There I spent my time with the other parents, like any other prospective parent, but ended up passing the time answering questions and explaining how things work in more detail.

I was there outside the door when the collège children got out of the exam and Alex came running to my arms to tell me how easy the exam was. I was very pleased. They used Stig of the Dump as their literature choice which us old parents know from when Jessica was in 6ème. Apparently the exam went very well and Alex was able to give even more information than was requested.

After the exam we met Jessica quickly who was on her way to her 10:00 class and grabbed a quick coffee. Alex and I then hung out at the café to wait for her oral exam which was at 11:10.

At about 11:00 we headed up to the International Library in the collège for her oral exam. They were only running about 10 minutes late, which was a good sign, and Alex was in and out of there in about 5 minutes which was another good sign. This too apparently went very well.

Now that she had gone through all of the hard work we got in to the car and left. She was very happy and very pleased that it all went so well. Now is the time for the endless waiting to find out whether she was accepted or not...

To celebrate a bit we headed off to La Défense to go to the movies. We found the cinema, bought our tickets for the 15:15 showing and called Desney to see if she could have lunch with us. She works up in one of the towers and she came down and we had a very nice, long lunch at a brasserie-style restaurant. Alex rather enjoyed the ice cream sundae at the end more than the meal itself...

Mission: Impossible IIIDesney headed back to work and Alex and I headed off to the cinema. We went to see Mission Impossible: III in the new cinema at La Défense. It just opened today in France and it was the classic enormous action film, with a ridiculously unbelievable and flimsy script, which ran like a very long episode of the Alias television series. This was probably due to the fact that the director of the film was also the creator of that series.

Popcorn: I made the rather depressing discovery that I can't eat popcorn any more. Those who know me are aware that I find it almost impossible to watch a film without copious quantities of salted and buttered popcorn. There are certain fattening American childhood habits which die hard. We bought a big tub of salted popcorn to share. I had about half a dozen and realised that even with litres of water there was no way I was going to be able to eat this. First it just tasted like rolled up pieces of paper. Then the popcorn shells made me cough. I gave up not much longer after that and was amazed to discover, at the end of the film, that Alexandra had actually finished the tub by herself.

It was a long movie and we headed home afterwards rather exhausted. Today was an absolutely beautiful day outside and so we had dinner outside. We had carpaccio and salads and opened a bottle of Crémant d'Alsace from our favourite winemaker which we tend to prefer over Champagne.

It was a very long and very eventful day and the culmination of many months of preparation and many years of discussion of Alexandra going to this school like her big sister. She did an excellent job today and now it is purely the very difficult job of waiting for the school's decision...