Archive for August, 2015

the glass castle, by jeannette walls

Everybody said Dad was a genius.

It took me a while to realize that just being on the move wasn’t enough; that I needed to reconsider everything.

the internet of garbage, by sarah jeong

What Gjoni was doing was both complicated and simple, old and new. He had managed to crowdsource domestic abuse.

…the Internet is experienced completely differently by people who are visibly identifiable as a marginalized race or gender. It’s a nastier, more exhausting Internet, one that gets even nastier and even more exhausting as intersections stack up. It’s something to keep in mind, particularly since media narratives of the “worst” kinds of harassment rarely feature people of color.

People will never stop being horrible on the Internet. There will never not be garbage. But in a functioning society, someone comes to collect the trash every week. If private platforms are to become communities, collectives, agoras, tiny new societies, they have to make a real effort to collect the garbage.

hashtag humblebrag

Re-entry has been tough, because apparently all I really want in life is sunshiney France, steak frites, gelato and endless hours with my kids to swim and read frivolous novels.

Now I am back to my mundane life of sunshiney Northern California, high-stakes venture finance and show-jumping.

over figgy toast

Me: Heather wants to borrow Little Poppies so she can paint Big Poppies. Yay! Go Big Poppy!

Alain: Is that a sports thing?

Jeremy: Yeah, maybe baseball?

Alain: I know as much about baseball as you know about cricket.

Me: What, nothing?

Alain: We lost the Ashes!

Jeremy: That was careless! Where did you have them last?

Alain: Not me, the Australian team.

Me: Can they retrace their steps?

Alain: By the way, you have leprosy.

Me: Sunburn.

Jeremy: From when we went bike riding.

Me: I was pulling off these sheets of skin and offering them to Jeremy.

Alain: Ew!

Me: He said: “Thanks! I’ll make a – No, I won’t say it.” I said: “What? A tiny me? A tiny penis?” He said: “I don’t want to say.” I said: “I will love you no matter what!” He said: “A lampshade.” I said: “EW NO BAD NO UNSAY IT.”

Jeremy: So now it’s been said again.


Alain, to Jeremy: You should have gone with the Mini-Me.

Jeremy: A tiny wife!

Me: Poor Little, Poor Little Rachel.

Jeremy: Like Keira Knightley. Remember what Patrick said about her?

Me: “She is so wee!” You could keep her in your pocket.

Alain: Lose her in your pocket lint.

Me: How careless! Can you retrace your steps?

the tragedy of the macarons

Opinions are divided over who left the five remaining Laduree macarons in our beautiful little apartment on Rue de Seine. Certain people have held the contentious position that I am principally at fault; I, contrariwise, maintain that the responsibility for commonly held macarons is itself collective, and that everyone ought to have done their part.

However the disaster came about, the fact remains that the macarons were left behind, and the Pole Sud macarons purchased in Lezignan, while undeniably delicious, were considered no substitute for the real thing.

We caught the TGV back to Paris yesterday and there was some talk of ducking out for replacement macarons, until we established that there were Laduree outposts at CDG itself. As we checked in this morning, our gate agent told us there was one such outpost just inside security. Jeremy dashed all our spirits when he reported that Google said it was closed.

Fie upon you, Google! It wasn’t, and almost our last act in Paris was to replace the Earl Grey, menthe, vanille, abricot and yuzu ginger macarons that had been so tragically lost. Since this story has such a happy ending, technically it is now the comedy of the macarons. Goodbye, Paris, we love you and hope to see you again soon.

the separation of church and state and the tour de france

A busy week! We are in Villerouge with the girls’ grandmother and uncles. On Saturday, Christopher and Alicia drove up from Barcelona with their puppy, Tosia. We walked the puppy up to the ruined castle and ate blackberries warm off the bush. We had a lovely dinner together (tomatoes and basil from the garden, grapes warm off the vine) but our visitors had to leave the next morning. We see Chris about once every five years for 24 hours. It’s not enough. I didn’t cry when they left but it was a near thing. Afterwards we all went to Annette’s for a swim.

On Monday I was hell-bent on visiting Carcassonne at last. It was extensively rebuilt in the 19thC by Viollet-le-Duc, who also restored Notre Dame. Carcassonne is only thirty-odd years older than the Eiffel Tower but the Tower looks forwards and Carcassonne looks backwards. It’s a gaudy, inauthentic fantasy that is said to have been an inspiration for Disney. Visiting felt like I imagine Disneyland, which is to say crowded and hot, until we got through to the old keep itself and the crowd thinned and J and I looked at each other and heaved a sigh of relief.

On the way home we visited Lagrasse, a village nestled in a wild limestone gorge. I needed a bathroom, Claire wanted ice cream, J hoped that there might be cassis sorbet and Julia wanted to swim in the river. Lagrasse granted all our wishes in our first five minutes there and has thus endeared itself to me for life. Like Cacassonne, it is a funny melange of old and new. Half its famous Abbey belongs to the state; monks restored and moved back into the other half in 2004. You have to pay to visit both sides but it was worth it – the state kept the spooky medieval parts, but the monks got the cloister and the garden. The garden was fragrant with rosemary and thyme and I missed Skud very much.

Tuesday we rented bikes and rode the Canal du Midi, another thing I’ve wanted to do since I first came here in the ’90s. We rode an 18 mile round trip and the girls were magnificent throughout, each winning their own private Tour de France. Me to Jeremy as we set out: “When did we become the sort of family that does this kind of thing?” J: “About ten minutes ago.” For dinner I roasted a chicken with parsley and rosemary and thyme from the Villerouge garden, and we were all so hungry that we ate up every scrap.

Wednesday was supposed to be a quiet day but the markets in Lezignan were even more crowded than Carcassonne. I bought hats and sundresses for both girls and we went to Jill’s for a swim.

Today J, Claire, Barnaby and I had a road trip out to the Millau Viaduct. Good lord.

All of which sounds frenetic but there have been long quiet spells, driving through the red-earthed vineyards under the limestone cliffs, sitting in the garden listening to the cicadas and the cuckoos. There are moths here big as your thumb, with long probosci to sip nectar from flowers. The insect version of hummingbirds.

les enfants du paradis

au revoir louvre!