It’s called ‘Only Child’

only child scott

As you know, much like Scott Disick, I’m an only child. But unlike Scott Disick, I don’t behave like a stereotypical only child very often. I don’t believe that I’m selfish, and I was taught how to share, even though I had no siblings to share anything with. I don’t really correspond to the image that people have of only children, and yet not having any brothers or sisters shaped my life and my personality in many ways.

First of all, when you’re a kid, being an only child is not the norm. At school, I was the only one who didn’t have any siblings, and my little classmates always found it completely bizarre. Of course, when you’re a little kid, standing out is one of the worst things that can happen to you, so it was never very fun.

rogelio.gifThanks for your support, Brogelio.

My friends would constantly ask me what it felt like to be the only kid at home, and would ask if I missed the feeling of having siblings. Which of course, I couldn’t, because how could I miss something that I’ve never known?

So yes, I disliked being different, but ultimately, I really enjoyed the feeling of having my parents to myself. (And yet I said earlier that I knew how to share. Clearly, I don’t know how to share my parents.) Being the center of attention in my nuclear family was mostly fun, and reassuring when I was younger, because I knew that my needs were heard right away, and I could always count on my parents to focus on them a hundred percent, even if they obviously didn’t give me everything I wanted. I never had to fight with anyone for the right to speak up at the dinner table when I wanted to tell my parents about my day, and there was never any scheduling conflict with my extra curricular activities. My toys and clothes were mine, and I had tons of privacy as a kid. I was never afraid of my diary being opened, or my Barbie dolls being destroyed.

In fact, I loved being an only child so much that I had actual nightmares about my parents having another kid. I would wake up in a sweat because in my sleep, I dreamed that I had a brand new sibling who basically ruined my life. Those recurring dreams eventually stopped (maybe my subconscious realized that chances of having a sibling got considerably slimmer as my mom got older…) BUT about 6 months into my life in the US, my 21-year-old self had another one of those nightmares right before flying back to France for the holidays. I dreamed that upon landing, I found out that my parents had adopted a little baby without telling me, and dream-me decided to fly back to Philadelphia immediately. I woke up really embarrassed; I thought those silly and immature dreams had disappeared over the years, but apparently I hadn’t grown at all; I was still the same old self-centered brat. But only in my subconscious. That’s what I tell myself so I can sleep at night. Needless to say, I never ever told my parents about those bizarre nightmares, or they would probably force me to get help asap.

As much as I love being an only child, the situation has a lot of drawbacks, which I was oblivious to at the time, but can see much more clearly now.

glee omelet.gifRachel Berry and I are two peas in one only pod.

First, there’s the obvious drawback: I don’t have any siblings. Sure, I didn’t have anyone to play with at home when I was little, but I had cousins my own age, and I had friends over very often, so I don’t think I felt any void then. But when I see my friends getting closer to their siblings as they get older, I sometimes feel slightly envious. The idea of having a little brat at home who would steal my things and read my diary wasn’t fun, but the idea of having another adult to share family memories with is more attractive. Because, not having to share my parents also meant not having anyone besides my parents to reminisce with, but I didn’t see that at the time. I also don’t have anyone to bitch about my parents with. We all know that we may criticize our own parents, but if anyone else dared to, we would never forgive. That’s why sometimes, I wish I had someone that I could talk to about my mom’s crazy cleaning habits, or my dad’s annoying moods.

Being an only child is also a lot of pressure. My parents are very nice about this, but in theory, I am the only way that they can ever have grandkids, and yet I’m not planning on having children anytime soon. I know there are some parents who don’t hesitate to pressure their kids into having kids when they turn 25 or older, but luckily mine aren’t like this. But I can still feel the pressure from other people in my family. Also, I realize that I’m basically the a-hole of all only children, because I moved VERY far away from my parents and don’t intend to move back. I am essentially depriving my parents from seeing their only offspring. So, I can’t really blame them (read: my mother) for occasionally making me feel guilty about my living so far away.

mom-call-down-kendal-jenner-parents-wrongDon’t we all, Kendall. Don’t we all.

On a more gloomy topic, I am starting to realize how tough it is to be the only child of an aging parent, or parents. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are still young, they are still together and have a great support system. But what about in 20, 25 years? My mom herself is an only child, my grandma lost her husband 35 years ago and lives on her own at 89 years old. My mom visits her 3 times a day to make sure she eats properly, takes her medication and is generally in good health. She has the full responsibility of her aging mother, and I see how it affects her. She is constantly stressed out about my grandma’s well-being, and I know that someday I will probably have the same kind of responsibility with my own parents.

Basically, being an only child is all fun and games until you realize that it is probably one of the reasons why you have deeply rooted anxiety about everything.

8e6ef2cd-90dd-431d-b6d6-367752433805.jpgI feel bad about ending on such a depressing note, so here’s a picture of my future kid to turn this frown upside down.
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I am Francis

youths.jpg

I’ve already talked about my actual age and how I’ve enjoyed the privilege of annoyingly lecturing younger twentysomethings about life. Today, I will tell you how I am, and have always been, an old person at heart.

  • Much like Schmidt in the picture above, I have the ‘get off my lawn’ attitude figured out. It’s not that I will overtly complain about people being noisy, or children being too rowdy at the pool (a situation I literally JUST experienced about half an hour ago). But I will make little throat noises to signify my discontent. I might even frown at your kids, if I feel like they shouldn’t splash everyone like that. I have learned The Frown from my dad -Happy Father’s Day Papa!-, who always makes little kids go from out of control to perfectly quiet, with just one look. Once, I was in a department store with my dad and a little kid was terrorizing everybody by sliding under every changing room curtain to creep on people. His mom wasn’t saying anything to him and he just kept going from curtain to curtain, shamelessly sneaking a peek at everyone while they were trying on clothes. My dad was in a changing room himself, to try on a shirt. I saw the kid venture under my dad’s curtain, and I KNEW my dad was gonna do The Frown. Lo and behold, two seconds later, the kid comes back out crying to his mom ‘the man was so mean, he made a scary face!’, and he stopped terrorizing the whole village. I aspire to be more like my dad.

 

  • I LOVE telenovelas and anything resembling a soap opera. (I know, I know, you already knew that about me. But I bet you didn’t know I liked Devious Maids, huh?) I am easily amused and I completely relate to grandmas who watch their ‘stories’ while ironing their husbands’ shirts. Except that I hate ironing.

 

  • Here’s something you don’t know about me: I am amazing at crafts. I feel completely at home in a Michael’s or a Jo Ann Fabrics store, and I’m great at sewing. Seriously, I can repair clothes, decently hem pants, and I recently made an iPhone belt for my boyfriend for when he goes on a bicycle ride. My grandmother was a seamstress when she was younger and taught me how to sew when I was a kid, and she was a real hardass about it. If I didn’t stitch a straight line, I had to start over until it was pretty. (All jokes aside, she is not a monster, she’s an adorable old lady who is probably half my height) My other grandmother taught me different kinds of crafts, the ones that involve glitter and making paintings with cool colored sand. So it happens, she was also a hardass, but with coloring. She would make me start over if I colored outside the lines. (That being said, she is ALSO adorable and totally not a monster. It should also be noted that I used past tense for both of them to signify that they WERE hardasses because they are no longer hardasses, but they are both still alive, thankfully.) My favorite craft of all is knitting. I’m obsessed with knitting, and I’d be surprised if I didn’t dedicate a future post to knitting only. It started out because I thought it was cool to make something from scratch, and my mom taught me how to knit and purl (the basics). Then I taught myself more complicated stuff, and my boyfriend’s mom (Jane Fonda), who is a knitter herself, started sharing her patterns with me and giving me little kits to knit cute animals. I am now the weird person who knits a ton of cute animals. But I also knit blankets, hats, scarves, you name it. I am a knitting bandit.
9cb2ae7b-9931-4466-bc5e-1a77ae30bd86I made this. And this is my hand.

 

  • Alright, this one is a little embarrassing. All my -young- life, I have made fun of my grandpa Francis because whatever he is watching on TV, wherever he is sitting (couch, uncomfortable chair, bed of nails, you name it), he WILL fall asleep after 2 minutes of watching. This condition of his has contributed to dozens of pranks, thoughtfully conceived by my cousins and myself (Francis once woke up to his fingernails painted red, for instance). Well, now, I am Francis. I don’t know what it is about my life that has changed, but I now fall asleep in front of the TV, even when I’m watching something incredibly suspenseful. Last year, I insisted on watching the How to get away with murder Season 1 finale with my boyfriend and one of our best friends. I made sure everyone waited to watch it together, and I got super excited about it. And then, right before the ‘who killed Lila’ revelation, I fell asleep. Not for long, probably for a minute, because I was woken up by the guys’ gasps, but I couldn’t gasp: I had no idea who had killed Lila. And boom, the season was over, and boom, I had no idea what happened. I didn’t want to be made fun of, so I sneakily googled it so I could be able to talk about it with them, but it was a bummer. And yesterday, as my boyfriend and I were binge-watching the 4th season of Orange is the New Black, I fell asleep and missed the mouse thing (see how I’m coyly calling it *the mouse thing* to avoid spoilers?). When a character re-told the story in the next episode, I gasped and was completely outraged, because I had never heard or seen the mouse story before: I was asleep. My boyfriend looked at me like I was a weirdo, because he already knew about the mouse thing. But that’s my life now. I’m Francis, and I fall asleep.

 

  • Just like an old lady, I ask people to repeat very frequently -is it because my hearing isn’t very good? Is it because I don’t understand? Is it because I am absent-minded and a bad listener? No one knows, no one will ever know. But I also repeat myself a lot. I am a broken record about many things, and mainly, I just tell the same stories over and over again. If you have known me for over a couple of months, you probably have heard my story about meeting Aziz Ansari on a plane.
aziz(Was this all a ploy so I could sneakily tell you that I once met Aziz Ansari on a plane? No one will ever know.)

 

Squirrel creeper

squirrel

I’m staying with my boyfriend this summer. I don’t have any classes, except some online teaching, so I decided to spend some time at his place. His upstairs neighbor is an adorable old man from Europe, who is having problems with a herd of ferocious animals. Squirrels.

night at the museumPicture the ‘fearsome’ squirrel from Night at the Museum.

The little critters are especially rampant these days, and keep destroying the neighbor’s plants on his balcony. Every morning, when I go out to get in my car, he complains about the squirrels to me. I nod and smile, and sometimes add something like ‘OMG yes, they’re crazy!’, in order to be neighborly and agreeable. But deep down, I am hiding a terrible secret.

I LOVE squirrels. We don’t see them very often in France, so when I moved here 5 years ago, I was in awe of their cuteness and took way too many pictures of them. To this day, after many years of proximity to squirrels, I still squeal when I see one. When I see a squirrel, or a chipmunk, or a little raccoon, or any type of bird that does not live in Europe, I become an animal creeper and I follow the little creature around like a weirdo. I hope the neighbor never sees me do that to a squirrel, or he will find out that I am a traitor.

Like I have repeated it many times on this blog, I am not ‘stereotypically’ French -whatever that means- and many people occasionally forget that I am not from here. When I first meet someone, unless it’s at work or they know my last name, which is really French, I never advertise my Frenchness right away. I’m sure they detect some kind of accent, but they are never able to place it, and when I end up giving my origins away in a random conversation, they are always mildly surprised. I rarely act like a ‘tourist’ and I feel like I really belong in this country. The US is now my home, and my daily life.

But I still marvel at some things. Like squirrels. Or being able to find absolutely everything I want at Target.

patriotic-pug-photo-u1

 

Fun facts

673546752670421539This picture was deemed ‘representative of the French’ by my students. I don’t know whether to cry or…cry.
  • I am French, so you would think that I’m a good cook. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not. I can bake well -coming from a long line of bakers, it would be a shame if I couldn’t- but I have no idea how to cook meat, and I mess up plain white rice more often than common sense should allow it. However, I believe that I *could* be a good cook, if I wanted to be. I just think it’s extremely stressful to calculate precisely when to start cooking the vegetables so they are ready at the exact same time as the steak. I think I was traumatized by my two years as a hotel receptionist/restaurant hostess. Anytime I had to enter the kitchen to talk to a coworker, or to grab cheese puffs for newly arrived guests, I felt like I was entering hostile territory. I had never heard so much yelling in my life, and the stress level seemed to be through the roof. To me, cooking by myself in a private kitchen feels very similar. Thankfully, my boyfriend is a great cook and as long as I can pretend that I’m completely hopeless with a skillet, he will keep cooking for me.
older-sister-4.gif*evil laugh*
  • Again, I am French, and I do love wine and bread. But I have never eaten snails, or anything equally gross that people associate with my country. When I was little, my grandma used to ‘hunt’ snails (which is not very hard because they are slow) and before cooking them, she trapped them in a wooden box for days. No one realizes that the process of preparing the snails is even more disgusting than the idea of eating a snail itself. The poor little creatures have to be starved for a few days so they can drool. Yeah, you basically force them to spit out all the drool they have in order to make them less slimy. I’m still traumatized (and always refused to eat them).
marcelWho could eat that little angel??? (Ok, my grandma’s snails did not have shoes on and were not obsessed with dogs, otherwise she would not have trapped them in a wooden prison to make them drool)
  • I am an only child -I will probably tell you more about this later-, but I am not selfish. I am happy to share, and I believe that being an only child taught me how to be independent, but not self-centered.
only child.gifIf you didn’t know yet that I’m a trainwreck, here is a Glee gif to prove it.
  • I am a woman, and I do not need my boyfriend’s help to check the fluid levels on my car. In fact, I pretty much know where everything is in my car, and I am able to diagnose simple things like leaks, for instance. When I lived in France, my dad did all of that for me, but ever since moving to America, I had to teach myself how to do those things on my own.
do it fierce power I am woman, hear me roar.
  • Ok, this one is very obvious, given what you already know about me, but here it goes. I am a literature grad student, but I do not read Sartre for pleasure. I love watching crap on TV and I am not really ashamed to say that I know everything about the Kardashians.
tumblr_nmdajmUNLG1qk08n1o1_500.gifI feel ya, Kris.

 

I am terrible at sports

liz lemon.gif

I have never been athletic. EVER. I don’t think I can stress that enough. Unfortunately for me, French middle schoolers and high schoolers are graded in PE class. Yup, we get grades for gym class, and the rubrics are pretty tough. If you’re not fast enough a runner, your average will go way down. As a perfect little student, I found that completely unfair. I think that’s why I always tried my best in gym class, even when it was really hard. I became lazier later in life, when I stopped being graded on everything. My gym teachers kept telling me that it was great, that I was trying really hard and that my efforts would be rewarded. Which was true, to some extent, because in my last year of high school, I chose tennis as the sport I was gonna be graded on, and trained so much that I became *kinda* good at it -but now I’ve forgotten everything.

But besides that, I was always the last one during a race, or while swimming -more on that later-, and whenever it was about throwing something, my whatever-it-is-that-I-was-throwing always ended up an inch away from my feet. But, even when everyone was done running their laps and I was the one who was only halfway done, I still finished. It didn’t help that I had asthma, but I never let it get in my way. It was probably annoying to teachers, because they always had to wait for me, but it was okay. No one ever made fun of me because, like I said in an earlier post, I had a good amount of friends -even though I wasn’t the most popular kid around- and despite my shortcomings, I was never the last pick when people formed teams. (And, probably to make up for said shortcomings, I was a funny kid, so I always kept everyone entertained.)

i have friends.gif

There is one sport that I had a lot of trouble with, and that it took me a while to ‘master’ -although I am still far from having mastered it. Swimming. Having grown up in Normandy, I was surrounded by water. So, you would *think* that I learned how to swim at a very young age and was basically a mermaid. WRONG. I always had a love/hate relationship with the water, because even though I *really* wanted to dive and swim and all those fun things, my mom passed her phobia of water down to me, along with a handful of other phobias and general anxiety. (Note to self: write a post about my mother. Or anxiety. Or both.) So, as a little kid, I  was really scared of swimming. I was fine in the shallow end, but hated going under water, and was a terrible swimmer. My mom took me to the beach and the pool, but she remained safely on land and watched me from afar, with a look of fear on her face, which didn’t help make me confident about swimming. At some point, she realized her mistake and asked one of her best friends to take me to the pool every day and teach me how to really swim. This woman helped me understand the fun of it, and I became a more confident swimmer because of her.

swimpug.gifThis is one of my best moves.

I am still not a great swimmer, and I am probably the slowest you have ever seen, but I love it. Sure, I still get anxious when I’m  swimming in the ocean and I still don’t dive, but I’m comfortable enough. A few years ago, I went on a vacation with one of my best friends, and we visited the Amalfi Coast in Italy. We decided to take a day cruise and visit Capri, Positano, and all the neighboring coastal towns. Our captain stopped the boat in the middle of the Mediterranean and told us that if we wanted to get to Capri, we would have to swim there, because he wasn’t allowed to approach the coast (I have no idea what kind of scammy cruise it was, but obviously it was cheap). Now, when I said we were in the *middle* of the Mediterranean, I’m exaggerating. We could see Capri and it wasn’t far. But it was still scary. My friend being an excellent swimmer, she didn’t bat an eye and was the first one to jump in. The beauty of the scenery made me overlook my fear, and I ended up jumping too. The view we had, the sun shining on Capri, the still waters of the Mediterranean glistening in the light, all of it was priceless. It took me a while to get to the island, but I did it. And I swam back when it was time to get back on the boat. Now, I know that this is not what one might call an adrenalin rush, I know some people go paragliding, bungee-jumping, and all sorts of dangerous sports. My little jump in the Mediterranean is nothing compared to other stuff. But to me, it was daring. And I didn’t regret it. I was proud of myself, for not letting my anxiety get the better of me.

 

 

Of cats and kids

angelaWell no, Angela, I cannot.

So, you probably gathered from my overuse of pug pictures that I am a dog person. Like, I’m obsessed with dogs. Cats, not so much. It’s not that I hate them or anything, but I never got the opportunity to hang out with them long enough to appreciate them. Because you see, I’m super allergic. So allergic that if a cat is in the room, I will stop breathing eventually because my throat will close up.

But cats are complex creatures. They refuse to be pet by overeager people and needy cat lovers, but they somehow always end up jumping on my lap, because I don’t give them any attention.

I like to think that babies work in the same kind of way. I’ve never been a fan of babies, and yet they always seem to find their way to me, whether it be to drool, puke, or simply to get me to play with them. Now, I’m not a monster, I don’t act like a dragon around those little bastards, and I even find them cute *sometimes* *from a distance*. But like I said, I’ve never been a fan. Just like cats, I’ve never really had the opportunity to get to know babies.

I’m an only child, so I never had to take care of baby siblings, and I had cousins my own age growing up. I had a couple baby cousins when I was around 10 years old, but I was too old to enjoy playing with them, and too young to babysit. Come to think of it, I don’t think I would have said yes if my aunts had asked me to watch them. I mean, I liked them fine, I found them cute and all, but the minute one of them cried, peed, or worse, I was out the door.

Therefore, I have never changed a diaper in my life, and I have no clue how to successfully hold a baby/tiny child.

rachel-holding-ben-like-a-football-friendsAnd just like Rachel, I don’t know how to hold a football either, so here we are.

Three or four years ago, I was visiting my parents in France, and their friends came over with their toddler. This little kid was probably 3 years old or so. Like most people, my parents’ friends assumed that because I’m a young woman, I must be good with kids. So, they left me with their toddler while they went outside to take a look at the garden or something of the sort. My mom looked at me with worried eyes, as if she were leaving me to meet my doom, and mouthed a slight ‘are you gonna be ok?’. I nodded quickly, because I didn’t want to embarrass her in front of her friends by coming out as clueless. The little kid was quick to demand something to drink, so I asked her what she wanted, and I gave it to her in a plastic Hello Kitty cup. She grabbed it adamantly and I gloated, proud of myself. ‘Wow,’ I thought, ‘people make a fuss about toddlers, but they’re easy. If they talk, you just talk to them like adults, and they will feel respected and everything will be alright.’ I was basking in my glory, ready to start writing a book about parenting, when I heard a small ‘boom’ noise, accompanied by a ‘ploc, ploc’ sound. The kid had dropped the cup and was now playing in the juice, like she would in a puddle. Yeah, I had filled the cup to the brim, and *forgot* to supervise the child while she was drinking. I quickly cleaned up before everyone came back, and gave her another plastic cup. I watched her drink without even blinking, afraid she might manage to slip and fall if I averted my eyes. It was the most stressful 2 minutes ever.

I later told the story to my mom, and she reassured me saying that I had at least thought of giving her a plastic cup instead of a glass one. I’m glad my mom doesn’t think I’m a *total* screw-up.

The kid grew up to be a cool little child, and last Christmas I taught her to color inside the lines and thus redeemed myself for letting her spill her juice and play in it like an irresponsible babysitter.

I don’t come across many babies in my life, so I couldn’t tell you if my skills have improved over the years or not. But I’ll tell you this much: today, the neighbor’s baby -probably around 2 years old- saw me across the hall and ran towards me screaming ‘Mommy!!!’. Instead of saying ‘Oh hell no’ with a disgusted face like I would have a few years ago, I chose to ignore the mistake and complimented him on his toy giraffe instead. I think the word you’re looking for is *growth*.

Older and wiser?

personality

Last night, my boyfriend, who is about 9 months younger than me, asked me how it felt to be 26. My birthday was a few months ago already, but I guess he’s trying to prepare himself for his in October -insert evil laugh here. Our age difference is practically nothing, but he LOVES to remind me that I’m the ‘older woman’, because he knows it grinds my gears.

I turned 26 in the middle of a weekend-long snowstorm. My boyfriend and I had been cooped up in his apartment for many hours when midnight came, and he gave me a beautiful, heartfelt birthday card. And I cried. A lot. It was a mixture of ‘Oh my God he’s so sweet, I can’t believe he loves me this much’ and ‘Oh my God I’m closer to 30 than to 20’. But the next morning, when I woke up to clear skies and a whole bunch of snow on my car, my new age inspired me to become more independent and I proceeded to shovel the snow myself, making me the only woman in the apartment complex performing this task herself. This empowered me somehow, and kind of erased the midnight crying that had occurred a few hours before. (I know shoveling snow is not exactly a huge deal, but if you knew how ridiculously weak my arms are, you would be proud of me too.)

While I felt ‘old’ when I turned 25 -milestone age, a quarter of a century-, being 26 actually has had a much more positive effect on me. Maybe because I’m ready to be taken more seriously. In fact, my boyfriend and I recently noticed that we never get carded anywhere anymore, and while I always thought I would be offended when that happened, I am actually relieved. While I was never a silly and careless kid per se, I feel like I’m finally coming into my own and becoming wise…-ish.

cynicismOk, I know I’m in my twenties, but I wanted to use this picture.

Another really cool perk of being 26 is the ability to be obnoxious about being wiser, and more experienced than some younger twentysomethings. I like to think of it as a pay-it-forward attitude.

Guilty pleasures (3)

GOIsz

So, I really like Desperate Housewives. I always have, and I still rewatch some episodes once in a while. About a decade ago, my friends and I were so into it that we had Desperate Housewives viewing parties -well, ok, we weren’t very picky…we also had Nip/Tuck viewing parties, and we gathered to watch the French equivalent of American Idol. 

But, for the first couple of seasons, it wasn’t that embarrassing to be into Desperate Housewives, because it was hilarious, and such an original concept. The one-liners were fabulous -see gif above-, the characters very intriguing, and the plots were oh so mysterious. Sure, the characters are not very nuanced, but they never pretended to be. That’s why I still nickname my borderline-OCD mom ‘Bree’.

I was SO excited when my dad ordered the DVD boxset of Season 3 online. First of all, I had never really watched it in English, so I was thrilled to discover the housewives’ original voices, but I was especially happy to know what would happen to the characters. I think that Season 3 was probably the last season that I did not consider as a guilty pleasure. After Gabrielle married this weirdo Victor -who, in my mind, will forever be the man who wanted to pee on Carrie Bradshaw-, everyone pretty much lost interest.

But I didn’t! I kept on watching but didn’t really advertise it, except to my friend Fanny, who was, like me, a ride-or-die fan. We discussed the new twists every week but we were also well aware of the many problems this show had. To name a few:

  • They never knew what to do with Orson. 

In Season 2, he was the guy who ran over Mike, and in Season 3, he was finally deemed innocent because he didn’t kill that bitch Monique, and everyone forgot that Mike ever got run over. In Season 4, Orson was an amazingly supportive husband who was willing to raise his stepdaughter’s baby as his own, and who did everything he could to stay with Bree, including turning himself in for the hit-and-run. I loved Season 4 Orson. But after that, it seems like the writers forgot what he was supposed to be to begin with. Was he a frustrated klepto? Was he a resilient handicapable man? Was he a supportive stepdad? Was he a CRAZY MURDEROUS STALKER? (yeah, I will never get over what they did with him in the last season, even though it kinda made sense)

  • They just couldn’t remember anyone’s age.

Was Juanita older than MJ, even though MJ was born in season 4 and Juanita off-screen during the 5-year jump? (Another thing I won’t forget: MJ’s real name is Maynard.) Also, what’s with Zach Young claiming he was older than John Rowland, when John was already 18 in season 2? (that could also be a lie for Zach to get in Gabi’s pants, but it really bugged me) And how old was Julie supposed to be? Wasn’t she younger than Danielle? This is all too confusing.

  • The slut-shaming is unbearable.

Sure, Edie literally stole everyone’s exes. But why did everyone call her a whore, a slut, and other charming epithets?

tumblr_m7v09xnhVO1rvs3tdo1_500 Even she internalized the abuse, the poor thing.

Whenever we saw Edie in a relationship, she really seemed to care -a little too much when it came to Carlos, if you ask me- and did not deserve all the hate. Did the writers think that every show needs a whore?

  • The whole Kayla thing.

Full disclosure, I just finished rewatching Season 4, so maybe I’m thinking about this because I just saw it, but it might not be that much of a plot problem. Bottom line, I love Lynette, she may be my favorite, and however wrong she is, I can’t help but be on her side. But this whole Kayla thing just bothered me. So, she promises to take care of Kayla like she’s her own. She seems to be doing a good job, until Kayla magically turns into an evil child and makes Lynette’s kids jump off the roof and stuff. Ok, that’s not ideal, but come on, the kid lost her mom, and it’s not exactly her fault if Lynette’s kids are gullible enough to think that an umbrella = a parachute. But most importantly, she doesn’t feel loved, and it is clearly stated in the scene with the psychologist. Lynette basically admits that she doesn’t *really* love Kayla, and the kid is not stupid, she knows. So, sending her to live away didn’t seem like the kind thing to do. Also, she seems to be forgotten pretty quickly, because Tom, her FATHER, never mentions her again after Season 4.

  • Katherine.

I always hated Katherine. She was rude from the very beginning and didn’t really form any strong friendships on the Lane -there was this frenemy thing with Bree, but they kept trying to poison each other-, so I never understood why they kept her so long. I was just really annoyed with her when she became obsessed with Mike in Season 6, and relieved when she left. And then, when she came back in the last episode, she managed to piss me off by saying that French women don’t shave their pits.

  • A bunch of unnecessary deaths.

I get why *some* characters had to die. But some others just seemed to be unfairly punished. Like Karl, for instance. I always liked Karl. Burgi’s chemistry with Teri Hatcher was undeniable, and Karl was, after all, a loveable character. The karaoke scene where Susan screams at him while singing New York New York is hilarious, and the whole love triangle with Edie in Season 2 is delightful. But from the moment he started sleeping with Bree, I wondered what could possibly happen in order to undo this. Well, a tiny plane happened, and it crushed Karl to death -it also left Orson paralyzed. It just seemed very unnecessary to me. They could have found a better way to break him and Bree up. Also, it might seem obvious but MIKE’S DEATH. Mike has never been my *favorite* male character, but come on. Why did you need to make Susan a widow? This just sucks.

article-2113948-12228C6D000005DC-829_634x365 Even though it makes an original headline.

So, this show has a lot of problems. I guess I wanted to list a few, as a way to show that I’m not following it blindly. Maybe I just wanted to justify my guilty pleasure by showing that I’m not completely stupid. But there’s also a lot of good things about this show, and there are many moments that make it a pleasure to watch. For instance, the friendship between the women, so intense that Bree decides to take the fall for Carlos in the last season. Or the romance and the strong relationships: Tom and Lynette who can’t stay away from each other in the end, Susan and Mike who fall back in each other’s arms after almost losing their son, Carlos and Gabi fighting adversity together. What I like most about the show is the humor. A lot of good scenes are based on funny or ridiculous predicaments. What is coming through my mind right now is the epitome of an absurd situation: Bree giving Orson a lap dance by dancing to Tchaikovsky. The intrigue was usually well thought, and I always enjoyed the mystery around the traditional newcomers each season.

I don’t feel *that* guilty over this. All in all, I think Desperate Housewives is a good show, albeit a little ridiculous at times. What’s more embarrassing is that I actually enjoy the ‘soap opera’ genre as a whole, and that I *sometimes* -shamefully- watch other shows of the same type. But, again, more on that later. I’m not gonna divulge all my secrets on the same day.

Nostalgia gives you weird taste

back umbrellas

I’m French. But I’m not super French. I’m not the kind who wears a beret, or rides a bike wearing ballerina shoes, with a bouquet of flowers in the basket. In fact, you probably wouldn’t detect much of an accent if you talked to me. I am being coy and modest; you would definitely not hear an accent, because I don’t really have one. But there is an area of interest that makes me French as f***: my taste in movies.

When I moved to the US five years ago, I had never thought of myself as a Frenchwoman. I mean, when I lived in France, there was no need for me to define myself as such. But after being shipped to one of the thirteen colonies, my identity was summarized by my nationality. The first few months were rough, it was hard for me to live life as a foreigner, and I was really homesick. There was only one cure for my homesickness: I had to wrap myself in some sort of nostalgia blanket. So, for the first time ever, I started listening to a LOT of French music. Some of it classic and amazing:

charlot Do yourself a favor and listen to La Bohème.

Some of it cringeworthy and terrible:

lavoine lahonte Do yourself a favor and never listen to this.

Apparently, this is a classic expat move: you start out as a Freddie Mercury-loving, normal person, and then you uproot yourself from your home and you start liking a lot of weird shit from your country. Everyone I know has done this and, like me, ended up feeling more comfortable about their expat status. Even better, I started feeling at home in America (and I still do). That’s also when I started teaching French. I wanted to transmit more than passé composé and indirect object pronouns to my students: I wanted them to be aware of my country’s culture.

Hence my newfound passion for French movies. Because, have you ever tried to get American students to listen to depressing French tunes?

je suis garbage

Spoiler alert: they don’t like it. But they do like movies. So sure, French movies are also depressing, but my students felt like they were grasping French culture, much more than when they were merely looking at a textbook.

Now, let me correct something. I said that French movies are depressing, and that’s somewhat of a shortcut. Yes, most of them *seem* depressing, and even the comedies are dark. But if you look closely, you will realize that it’s because they are honest, raw, realistic. I often joke with my students about how French comedies are all set up the same way: a group of friends are having dinner, and then shit happens. Someone starts talking about a long-forgotten secret, feelings get hurt, everyone screams, and then they stare at each other in silence. Boom, nailed it. But when you think about it, doesn’t that sound realistic? When does drama happen, in real life? A lot of times, drama finds you when you are amongst loved ones and someone says something they shouldn’t have said. My students like discussing that, and even if they (and I) still love American blockbusters (I am shamelessly stereotyping French AND American movies here, forgive me), they also enjoy the realness of a French dark comedy.

But there is a genre that I love, and that they LOATHE. I literally cannot get them to like it. I can’t even get them to see it as funny, even in the 23rd degree.

The French musical.

demoisellesparapluies

I love French musicals, especially the ones by Jacques Demy. I watched them countless times in my childhood, and rediscovered them during my nostalgia period. My favorite, Peau d’âne, translated to Donkey Skin, is the rewriting of an obscure and creepy fairy tale. It is the story of a young princess whose dad wants to marry her, because she is the closest thing he can get to his late wife -yeah, I warned you, it is CREEPY. So, the princess decides to flee, and disguises herself as a disgusting peasant by wearing the skin of a donkey. So yeah, the movie is weird, there is no question about that. But it’s also wonderfully witty, the music is gorgeous, the costumes are wacky and colorful, and it could be analyzed in a million different ways. My favorite part is when the donkey-skin-wearing princess is baking a cake for the prince and sings the whole recipe. When she cracks an egg, a chick comes out, and it’s so kitschy and cute that you can’t help but smile. But not my students, noooo, they just keep on hating it. They just stare at me and think I’m a weirdo.

peau d'ane Catherine Deneuve/Donkey Skin gets me.

Mindy is my hero

mindy

So, I said yesterday that I would tell you about my deep love for Mindy Kaling ‘another day’. Well, this day has come, my friends.

I have loved Mindy Kaling since I discovered her in The Office, and followed her faithfully when she created her own -amazing- TV show, The Mindy Project.  I originally wrote ‘I admire her confidence’, but I’m realizing that it’s kind of ridiculous to say. Why wouldn’t she be confident? It would be crazy if she wasn’t, because quite frankly, she’s the best. confidence

She’s a fantastic actress, one of the funniest around, in my opinion, and her delivery is always on point. Even her physical comedy is amazing. I don’t need to remind you of how hilarious Kelly Kapoor is even when she’s not saying a word, but here is an example:

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Mindy Lahiri, Mindy’s character in her own show, is a genius creation. As Kaling stated it multiple times in interviews, Lahiri is a flawed character and is never idealized, and yet the audience is drawn to her for being so great. She is simply amazing, and I am a little bit in love with her.

5fbb2dd2163d2f4df5ae9936f69d43b2 (This is why I refused to say I have a ‘girl crush’ on her.)

So I’ve remained faithful to her show, even when it moved over to Hulu, even when *SPOILER ALERT* Mindy’s endearing relationship with Danny ended, because, if we’re being real, Danny or no Danny, The Mindy Project is fabulous.

What made me fall even more in love with Kaling -note the absence of the term ‘girl crush’, I’m sticking to my/her guns- was reading her books. Yes, plural. I bought both of her books, Is everyone hanging out without me? in 2013, and, last year, Why not me?

Her writing is lively, intelligent, compelling, and many more positive adjectives. Sure, as she states it in her first book, the cover is mostly pink, so don’t expect a life-changing novel. But I loved reading about her childhood, her teenage years, which she talks about very candidly. I loved reading about her first steps as a comedian, and about her crazy life theories. If Mindy had a blog, I would read it religiously.

Now, why didn’t I title this post ‘Guilty pleasures (3)’? I mean, I think thrillers are a guilty read, so why don’t I feel a *little* guilty about her books? Well, I can’t explain it. As an aspiring academic, I cringe at the thought of my professors and mentors finding out that I adore Harlan Coben, but I remain very unapologetic about reading Kaling’s books. Maybe I’m subconsciously trying to channel her ‘entitlement of a tall, blond, white man’ after all.

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