Thursday, September 22, 2011

Settling In

I'm struggling a bit with the adjustment to having a part-time nanny.  Joyce works for us about 20 hours a week, for most of which I'm currently in French class.  When I'm not in class, I'm trying to get my work back on track, which means I'm in the "office" (aka bedroom) in our apartment.  I'm finding that its easier to have someone else care for your kid when you aren't actually in the apartment.

I've been feeling guilty about the nanny - guilty that I'm not with my son, guilty that I have the option of having free time while Mr. Oil is at work, guilty in general that I have this luxury of paying someone else to care for my son.  The guilt comes in the afternoons when I have some work, but not so much that I can't take an hour or so for myself - that's when the guilt really sets in and makes it difficult for me to enjoy doing anything on my own.

I recently received a pep talk on this subject from a friend back in DC, who even pointed to actual studies showing that happier moms lead to happier kids.  Oh the power of statistics. Keeps me employed AND makes me feel better. So I did my best to repress/ignore the guilt, and decided to enjoy this lovely September afternoon in Paris. 

Class ended at noon. I walked from school to the Louvre, allowing me to walk around the shmancy St Germain de Pres area.  I finally got to use the special "Amis du Louvre" entrance to the museum, and hit up the sculpture section for a bit.  There are many amazingly beautiful sculptures in the Louvre (yes, yes, understatement of the century) and having a few solitary moments to appreciate how artists create movement and emotion out of stone - well, it was more than a little nice.

I grabbed a quick lunch after, and before I knew it, I was back at home. I had successfully spent 3 hours doing nothing but enjoying Paris, and even managed to (mostly) not feel bad about it.  Perhaps this all comes off as whiny or even nonsensical.  It seems connected to the question I receive most often from friends and family at home, "Is life in Paris very different?" My response is that of course it is different. But so much of what is different is a result of raising a child for the first time - so I'm not always sure if the difference is Paris, or parenting. The two will always be intertwined for me, but I also think that each will enhance the other. 

But enough of my angst about spending an hour in Louvre.  Back to what's important - les macarons. And cheese. After my macaron blitz in July and August, I wasn't sure if there were remaining patisseries that required a visit.  Then Mr. Oil read about Victor & Hugo (love the name, of course), which is conveniently located up the street from French class. 

Victor & Hugo wins for most intimidating patisserie experience.  The employees are dressed in all black, in quite a chic manner - the man helping me was wearing an open black blazer over a black button-down shirt with subtle light stripes, black pants, and requisite Parisian pointy shoes.  Everything looks pristine, as though you shouldn't touch it - which is an odd experience for a store in which you are supposed to eat everything.  There was a small kerfuffle between this man and another worker, in which she expressed concern that he wasn't placing my macarons in the container in the appropriately careful and specific manner required. So even the employees are afraid to touch the products!

In the end, I can't decide whether the macarons are spectacular, or overdone.  We specifically wanted to try the mango macaron, which is actually mango and assorted spices.  One bite was deliciously exotic, the next was all spice and no mango.  In theory I would consider trying another batch of the mango, but in reality I think I'm too scared to go back there!

Not far from Victor & Hugo, I found a delightfully charming and not-at-all intimidating fromagerie.  This place just beckons you to come inside - it is literally wall-to-wall cheese.  I left with half a round of reblochon and a good-sized chevre - the woman said this chevre in particular was simply magnifique.  (Okay, so actually I really didn't understand anything she said about the cheese, but she seemed quite excited. And I think magnifique was thrown around.)

Yay happy fromagerie


We have a quiet weekend ahead.  Should be nice after all the gallavanting about in the Loire.  So we'll stay home, and eat our delicious cheese!

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