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In the Dark.


 Illustration by Vaida Sirusaite


Yesterday was Friday, December 21, 2012....

Do you know what this meant to me?

It was an extremely important day...

December 21, 2012 meant one thing and one thing only: I start vacation!  At 5:30 pm Paris time to be exact. Do you want to know how pumped I am? I doing my own version of the Gangnam Style dance, that's just how excited I am to be off for two weeks. Yesterday was supposed to be the end of the world, but I refuse to accept that malarkey. Yesterday was the official day that the holidays start! Who's with me?

I am truly looking forward to a little break from my kids who have been passing colds and creepy crawly germs back and forth to each other, including me, for about a month. I may no longer have the flu, but I'm still coughing and blowing my nose. A full two weeks away from them for full recovery is exactly what I need.

But...my vacation can't just start without something happening, can it? On Thursday, something really freaky went down. Before we get into that, allow me to set the scene for you. On Thursdays, I do an after-school tutoring program for four of my kids who are not related but live in the same area. I pick them up at their school and I basically play school in the playrooms (complete with a little chalkboard for me!) of their huge apartments. 

I pick the tots up at their school around the corner and bring them home. Basically, it's glorified babysitting but hey, I'm getting paid. As we were walking down the street hand-in-hand, we passed a Franprix that was completely in the dark with customers still inside and the door open. As we continued down the street, we learned that the entire block had lost electricity. Shop owners and staff from the local offices were all out on the sidewalk shrugging to each other and lighting their cigarettes. Stay calm and light up always seems to be the French way. Whatever works.

I wasn't terribly concerned that the power was out because we still had another hour of light should our building be included in the mini blackout. My nonchalance quickly dissolved once we arrived. I hadn't noticed it before, but the building where I teach my Thursday kids is probably the first building that I have been to in Paris without windows in the hallway.

This was going to be fun.

Have you ever walked four three-year-old kids up six flights of spiral stairs in pitch black darkness? That's an experience I do not wish upon anyone. To add to the trepidation of the situation, the looney who lives on the second floor who calls me "Miss America" decided to open his door and "for fun" started growling and evil laughing at us. Sir! If I was terrified, you can imagine how my kids were handling their real-life version of a carnival spooky house. Within seconds, sheer pandemonium broke out. They all started screaming, some started crying, and some were just plain bored. If you remember precious Franc who I sent into time-out a few weeks ago, who took this as an opportunity to destroy our Christmas projects and slide them under the door for me to see? Well, he couldn't be bothered with the state of hysteria that was taking place in the hallway.


"Oh là là, it's not worth saying both mama and papa!" Franc let little Thomas know who was wailing that he wanted his parents, "Just say mama. If your parents communicate well, she'll obviously tell your papa that you were scared. Franchement, c'est pas la peine." This enraged Thomas even more, encouraging him to scream louder. Once again, thank you Franc.


We got to the door and of course, it was the wrong one. Somewhere between the howling Hannibal neighbor, Franc's comment and not being able to see, I had lost count of the floors. I wasn't sure if we had gone too far or we needed to go up another flight. My cell phone didn't provide much light with its dim pink screen, but it was just enough to highlight the plaque informing us that we had one more floor to go.

After feeling for the keyhole, then the correct key on my 4-pound key chain, then turning the key just so because the door gets stuck sometimes (of course it does), we were in the apartment. Finally!

Unfortunately, entering the actual apartment didn't offer much relief. Because it took so long to get in, it was already dark out and we only had the street lights bleeding through the living room's heavy wooden blinds to illuminate the space.

Jesus.

Sometimes I wonder just what would I have thought before I moved here. Had I been able to see into my future, snippets of some of these scenes of my French life, would I have moved here?

Eating framboise apple sauce squeezers (cleverly named "Pom'Potes" here) and madeleines goutés in a dark apartment on a couch that probably cost a year salary, with French kids who thought just because the lights were out they can say fart and poop over and over, was not exactly what I had in mind for my new Parisian life. 'Tis the unexpected twists and turns that is life. 

Minus the creepy neighbor, this is what I love about living in Paris...every day still is such an adventure.

Bonnes Vacances!

20 comments:

  1. You know, I'm beginning to love Franc, in a twisted, at least he'll liven up the party kind of a way ;o) Have a fab holiday!

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    1. Hahahaha me too! The kid is a riot. I have more stories...to be shared. : )

      Have a fabulous holiday as well!! xo.

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  2. Bonnes vacances to you!

    Going up the stairs in the dark with a group of kids must have been really scary! The lights in our building used to be on a timer and would always switch off as I climbed the 5 floors to our apartment. I got an app that turns my iphone into a flashlight and used it to make my way to the light switch. Now they've installed motion detectors so all's good...at least until there's a blackout.

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    1. Thanks MK!!

      I just realized, you don't have windows in your hallway either, do you?

      I totally know that feeling when you're halfway down the stairs and the lights turn off. It's freaky. Good thing you had your handy app! Every day I'm realizing that really do need a smartphone. I would have been better equipped last week, that's for sure!

      Happy Holidays! Enjoy your much-needed time with your kids!!

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  3. You are one brave missy, that is all I have to say!! I would have paraded the wee ones in the streets until finding a McDo with electricity. ;)
    Have a well-deserved break, dear Ella and a very, Merry Christmas!!!
    Bisous,
    H.

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    1. Hhahaha thanks! I didn't feel very brave. I was pretty nervous that something was going to happen.

      I thought of taking them somewhere but the power was out everywhere and it takes like ten years to get them to walk down the street, that it seemed like more of a risk to have them out and about in the city. They're a little wild.

      Thank you. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a most fabulous New Years!!! xo.

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  4. Love Franc's comment, so cute!

    Power outages are rare in France, can't remember ever having one! They are more common in Canada in the winter with the crazy weather we are experiencing.

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    1. Franc IS such a cutie! I always wait for the next thing to come out of his mouth. He never disappoints. : )

      Yeah, I want to say that this was my first power outage here. We get them all the time in NY, but in France (well Paris at least), it doesn't happen too often.

      Stay warm and happy holidays!!

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  5. It's funny you should think that "Pom'Pote" is a clever name, because I always hear "Pol Pot" in it... Most unfortunate :-S
    Merry Christmas!

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    1. I really do think it's clever! Pom = Pomme (apple) Pote = friend/buddy which is a play on Compote = apple sauce. (explanation for my non-French speakers) and there is picture of fruit with smiley faces (presumable the "potes" that we're about to eat). Love it. Hahaha!

      See you tomorrow!!

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  6. Yay for holidays vacations that last more than a few days! WOOHOO!!! I am off for almost two weeks as well since the woman I nanny for is a teacher. I haven't had this much time off since... I don't know when but I plan on doing nothing but complete relaxation (and driving to STL to visit family for most of the week/holiday).

    This is a great story though! And the creepy neighbor? Really? What. A. Weirdo.

    Merry Christmas!

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    1. YEAH!!!! Vacation!! Woo Hoo!!!! I'm loving this time off. I can know focus more on the wedding which is in 5 months! AHHH!!

      Hahahah the neighbor is super weird. When I left, I took the elevator down because I didn't want another run in with him. I do love that he calls me Miss America though. It makes me feel pretty.

      Merry (belated) Christmas to you and enjoy your week with the fam!!!

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  7. Franc sounds like a riot. What 3-year-old says stuff like that? Too funny. I think he'd appreciate a potty-mouthed Santa, a la your last post. :)

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    1. I love Franc. He's a handful but he's the only one out of all my kids that I actually speak to like an adult. He gets it.

      I'm not sure if he knows the word pute yet, he's still pretty young but I'm sure that's about happen sooner than later. He catches on quick.

      Happy Holidays, Heather! Any news on your HHI episode?

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  8. Ha ha, at least Franc's starting early with that impeccable French logic! At least you could get in, there seemed to quite often be power cuts when I was in Chamonix, and I couldn't open the electronic front door to my building if the power was out!

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    1. I couldn't believe what he said, I figured I had misunderstood so I made him repeat himself. But no, I heard it right the first time. : )

      Yeah the front door of the apartment building was opened by the guardienne which I was grateful for otherwise I wouldn't have known what to do with kids! The streets of Paris with wild kids vs. a dark hallway...the dark hallway was a better option.

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  9. LOL Franc sounds like he's going to turn out to be the perfect young man. So sorry that you had to go through this!! I can't imagine a building without any windows in the hallways. Crazy!

    Well, enjoy your well-deserved Christmas holidays!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance!

    x Milsters

    (http://www.littlepiecesoflight.com/)

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    1. Franc is actually awesome. I have so many stories about him. The stuff that comes out of his mouth is really impressive!

      Yeah, the scene is the hall was super freaky and I was just hoping that the lights come back on...but they didn't..

      Happy New Years to you too, and I hope you had a lovely Christmas!!! xo.

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  10. What a weirdo that neighbor is! I think he deserves some form of payback when he least expects it ;)

    And if I had seen some snippets of my life here before I moved here, I don't think I ever would have believed it! But at least we never run out of blog fodder x

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    1. Hahaha the neighbor is super weird. I hate running into him. The kids actually love him (he gives them specaloos cookies) and they didn't connect that it was him making the scary noises.

      Hahha never a dull moment, being an expat, eh? Love it!

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