My NOT to do during Summer list

For this week's writer's workshop over at Mama Kat's Losing it, I picked prompt #5: Your top 10 Summer Don’ts. You do know I love lists AND I also like telling others what to do -or in this case, not to do- so I think Mama Kat really thought of me there.

1- Don't fall in love with the bartender/surf instructor/lifeguard: he will not be Tom Cruise nor Kelly Slater nor any of those hotties from TV shows. Wipe off his tan, picture him in jeans walking in the grey city. There. Now listen to him speak. I don't think I need to add anything.

2- Don't go away on vacation in July: you'll just hate everyone when you get back in August. They will all be making fantastic holiday plans when you'll be losing your tan at the office. Chances are you won't have a tan at all, because we all know that it rains in July (especially in France, I know).

3- Don't go away on vacation in August: you'll just spend the whole of July envying those who take their holidays before you and chances are you'll see them coming back with a tan and this 'I'm just back from holidays and I am fine' look. Also, we all know it's too hot in August.

4- Don't buy ANY souvenirs. Those shoes look adorable ON THE BEACH. They'll just make you look plain stupid back home.

5- Dont you EVER have your hair braided. There is no excuse for that unless you are under 14 years old.

6- Don't go on a diet. Summertime was made for BBQs, rosé and cocktails. You'll be fat, but happy.

7- Don't go to parties on the beach. You'll just end up wasted and sleeping with a bartender/surf instructor/lifeguard (see point 1)

8- Don't follow any advice in women's magazines. They'll try and make you believe you can find true love (point 1 again), that you'll be thinner and that you will look fabulous with that green hat on.

9- Don't think it's the Summer until it's actually hot outside. Also, there is no excuse for flip-flops in the city. Just don't wear them. Please.

10- Don't think it'll last. We Parisians very well know actual Summer lasts for approximately two weeks. And that's if we're lucky.

Oh, one last thing. If you liked this post, would you mind terribly clicking on the RSS feed, here, or the Google connect buttons (top left), or by email at the bottom of this page? And if you didn't like it, you might still want to look around. There's three of us, you know, so you're (almost) bound to find something you like. And then, if you've still got time, you could share this post or stumble it, or both and get in touch with your local tv station to sing our praises. We'll love you forever.


The end of the pineapple

A couple of days ago, I was given a pineapple. Yes, the fruit. No metaphor or anything, just a pineapple. I love pineapples, and not just because they make delicious piña coladas. But I just cannot peel them or open them.

Last time I saw someone try and cut out a pineapple, I fainted. Twice. Now I just don't look whenever someone tries to cut one. I must have been 17 years old. My mother was making dinner and was preparing a pineapple. We were chatting in the kitchen and I saw the enormous knife cut into her hand instead of the pineapple. Blood started pouring (yes, pouring) over the kitchen counter.

Now, as much as I am into vampires, I hate blood. The mere thought of it makes me sweat and that's the main reason why I didn't become a doctor (that and the fact that I sucked at maths, but like the blood reason better). I calmy walked to the bathroom, opened the closet, pulled out everything that was needed, walked back to the kitchen, rinsed my mother's hand under the water and put a bery big bandage on the wound. It feels like yesterday. I actually feel quite dizzy just telling the story. I looked at my mom, asked her gently 'Are you O.K. now?'. 'Yes', she said. And I fell. As in, fell on the floor, unconscious. I woke up a few seconds later, looked at her hand, and fainted again.

I've always been scared of knives but now I'm also scared of pineapples. So when I was given one a few days ago, I panicked. There is no way I am doing anything to that evil fruit. So I stared at it, I posted about it on FB and now I'm blogging about it. It looks like therapy, doesn't it? I hope it'll work. In case it doesn't, I'm bringing the thing to work tomorrow. I'll find a brave guy who'll kill the thing for me. My kind of hero.

Bloody ridiculous, isn't it?

Oh, one last thing. If you liked this post, would you mind terribly clicking on the RSS feed, here, or the Google connect buttons (top left), or by email at the bottom of this page? And if you didn't like it, you might still want to look around. There's three of us, you know, so you're (almost) bound to find something you like. And then, if you've still got time, you could share this post or stumble it, or both and get in touch with your local tv station to sing our praises. We'll love you forever.


L'argent et les femmes

According to Le Monde on Sunday afternoon, after Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrest in NY on charges on rape, DSK, the potential (not any more!) future leader of the French left, has two weaknesses: money and women.

Some days, most days, I'm glad I'm no longer live in France because of shit like this. Some days, I wish I was still there so I could spend more time kicking the arses of bastards who write and think that stuff. As it is, I'm limited to virtual arse-kicking.

So let's have it. We, women, are not a weakness. We are not a treat that you can become addicted to, or that you need somehow to resist. We are not displayed, as in a shop window, to tempt you into having sex with us. In fact, if you're an old ugly bastard like DSK, we'd, very frankly, rather iron our tits than have sex with you.

Oh, but they say, French women are not like that. They're attracted to power. 

Listen, busters - I know there's many of you out there who think like that - I'm a French woman. And I know power is not really, of itself, an aphrodisiac. It can be, in the right circumstances, with someone attractive, some very clear rules, and a safe word. But when someone like DSK thinks he's getting laid by people who are not his wife because he's powerful, I think he seriously misunderstands the chain of causation that leads from his position at the head of the IMF to the women in his bed. Basically there's two ways in which it works.

1) As a powerful man, he has many people at his beck and call. If a woman says no to him, she can either be raped and no one will say anything, or lose her job, and no one will say anything.

2) In some very rare cases, a woman may choose to sleep with an ugly bastard because he may help advance her career. But, before we get all judgy here, I would like to exert some caution: it's often unclear whether a woman who sleeps with someone and sees her career move forward as a result really had any choice at all. The alternative may well have been what I describe in (1).

As to all those people who believe that,  like Assange, DSK was set up by bankers who want to keep the left out of their money - that's neither here nor there.
What, to my mind, is rather disgusting, is that these men were aware of DSK's 'weakness', i.e. his propensity to indulge in sexual harassment and rape, and only chose to use it when their money was threatened.

Am I under any illusions that the bankers and right wing politicians are less likely than the men on the left to abuse women? Certainly not. I reckon they go to the same orgies - the only difference being that when the orgy is over the right-wing men go to church and the lefties go home to cook with their wives.

Conclusion: there's way too many bastards out there who think that women are treats they can consume, with only one scruple: that having too many is bad for their political diet. So let's not be surprised if they don't stop dishing out sexist policies that disadvantage women in all aspects of life, any time soon.


The royal ticking bomb

I posted this yesterday on my other blog, The Forbidden Sister, but as the comments on that blog are broken, I thought I'd repost it here, and share it with you. Here goes.

We can now breathe a huge sight of relief – but ten days ago, unbeknownst to us, forces were at play to destroy us. Not only did they want to destroy us, but they picked a time when we were at our most vulnerable, basking in the glow of royal love vows and cartwheeling vergers. But the dark forces were very much at work, as we are now finding out.

There was a bomb. Not only was the wedding itself being targeted but it was done from its most vulnerable point – planted inside the bride’s womb! Top lifestyle/career blogger Penelope Trunk explains to us, step by step, how it came to be there and how it was defused. She tells us that Kate was indeed a ticking bomb but that her timely wedding was enough to defuse it, and that we should all be grateful to her.

Just in case the same terrorists decide to plant bombs inside of us too, Ms Trunk advises we follow the same steps as Kate.

1. Don’t bother about a career: it will only interfere with your finding a husband, and you’ll have to give it up anyway.
2. Have children young, before thirty, as otherwise they will have birth defects, and they will probably become terrorists.
3. In order to have children before thirty, you should be married by twenty-eight, which means that you must have found your prince by twenty-five. Ms Trunk links to ‘scientific research’ that proves this and quotes ‘zillions’ of books that back it up.
4. Relocate, relocate, relocate. Give up your career, if you were stubborn enough to start one, and follow your husband. It is a fact (scientific research, zillions of books, etc.) that women do not care much for their careers and that men do not care much for their family. Hold on, that’s not right. Of course men care for their family, it’s just that women care more. Or care better. Or are too stupid to say they care for anything else. Or whatever.

If you follow all these steps, disaster will be averted and the bomb will not go off.

I think we can all learn from this near catastrophe, and avoid making potential terrorists of ourselves by following Ms Trunk’s advice as closely as we can.


Social story for travelling by plane.

We're doing it again, attempting to take a holiday in the UK. Two years ago, it was a bit of a fiasco as far as Max was concerned. He had daily meltdowns because he wanted to go home. We travelled around far too much, to visit relatives, go to a conference, and even took the train to Paris for a couple of weeks. And we had a huge amount of trouble getting Max into a plane - he had to be carried in screaming a couple of times. Not fun.

Then, last year, we discovered social stories. Drawing things for Max before they happen really worked. He would know what to expect, would rehearse it in his head, and be prepared. We drew some when we were going to fly to the coast to holiday with Marianne and her family. Max wasn't reading yet, but he understood pictures, no matter how sketchily drawn, really well. We got him there and back without too much problem, and there were no major meltdowns while we were there. It was a good holiday for all. No mean feat.

Then last month we went to Cappadocia and I drew some very detailed social stories about travelling and being there. Because Max can now read I also inserted quite a bit of text, which enabled me to get more detail into the sequences. This was a success. Max loves going to Cappadocia, but he always gets nervous at various points during our stay and that means he's more likely to have meltdowns. This time, he was relaxed the whole time, enjoyed every moment, and was even able to take in small variations in the plans.

So now our plane tickets are confirmed, I'm beginning to get busy with the stories. That means asking the people we're staying with some very detailed questions about houses and habits and stuff, and of course, producing the stories is, as you can imagine, quite time consuming. One thing I've tried is to scan the pictures and enter the text with  a picture editor. This saves me having to draw the letters carefully enough so that Max can actually decipher them.

So, anyhow, here's what I've got so far.  Any ideas as to how I might make it better are welcome. And please fell free to download it and put in your own text if you think that would be useful (I've used Picnic, which is free and easy to use).

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