On parents

Monday, 29 October 2007

no guilt jesus

Thank you, Jesus!


I went to my parents’ hotel this morning to say goodbye. That over, I wanted to run out the doors of the hotel and down the street proclaiming my renewed freedom. But one does not run on cobblestones in heels – far too dangerous. Also, I am not that publicly demonstrative about personal emotions. The point is that I felt an immense sense of relief, which I know will grow even stronger once I know their plane has actually left Czech soil.

I do not feel guilty for being happy my parents are leaving. As I rode to work on the tram, I analysed why having them here makes me so uncomfortable, and whether or not I should try a bit harder – an exercise I have indulged in before.

My conclusions were, as usual, all in my own favour. But really, it would be silly and counter-productive to end with a judgment against myself.

The thing is that I have developed my own life around my own routines and around a few carefully chosen friends. I like my life, but there is a balance to be achieved everyday – a balance between being selfish and being there for my friends, looking after myself and taking care of my professional responsibilities, having enough fun and getting enough sleep. And it’s not always easy.

Visitors disrupt my balances. Whilst a visiting friend that more or less fits right into my life is easy to deal with, my parents simply do not fall into that category. And whilst I can send friends off to do some sightseeing or shopping on their own, or leave them to lie in when I go to the gym on Saturday morning, I can’t do that with my parents. They are here exclusively to spend time with me. My dad even went to the gym with me. Twice.

I guess the biggest thing with my parents is that they make me feel that I am not in control of my own life. I chose the bars and I chose the restaurants, but I never felt free to say, “I don’t feel like going out with you tonight.” I had mentioned a trip to Plzeň and the Pilsner Urquell brewery there as a possibility of something different to do. But when they picked up on that and ran with it, I couldn’t say, “Actually, that sounds too exhausting to me, and I would prefer to spend my Sunday doing something more relaxing.” And I wouldn’t send them on their own because they are old and monolingual and because they are my parents and I can’t.

I gave my parents about 6 to 7 days in total on this visit. I wasn’t consistently the most pleasant person to be with, but they seemed to accept my moodiness. I cannot help that I find spending so much time with them difficult, and I will not feel guilty that I am glad they are going.


Max is away

Saturday, 20 October 2007

krakow rynek


Thursday, 19 July 2007

Prague has beautiful cobblestone sidewalks. I often notice them, but I don’t often speak of them. Asshole talked about them at some length when he was here a couple of weeks ago, and last night I was out with another visitor to Prague who also expressed admiration for our pavements. After we parted I went to walk by the house where Jono and I may be buying a flat to make sure there were cobblestones there. There were.

Here are some photographs that Asshole took while he was here.

cobblestones 1a

cobblestones 2a

cobblestones 3a

cobblestones 4a

* Thanks Asshole!

Max’s excuse

Friday, 13 July 2007


I am stupidly busy now.  Work is busy – today is another Friday that I am going to be working late while my friends are already in the pub.

Last weekend I had my Little Sister and Asshole and their two little kids here for four days.  I love them all dearly, but having two small children around me almost constantly has left me frazzled to a point where I barely recognise myself.  The kids just left on Tuesday, but it already seems ages ago (aside from the emotional damage and the sheets that are still waiting to be laundered).

The thing that is killing my blog and interfering with my social life right now is the extra job I have taken on.  I am teaching a course in law for business on a 4-week summer study abroad programme.  I had never taught law before so I knew this would be a challenge.  But it has turned out to be even more labour intensive than I had expected, and it is taking up all of my time.  I suppose that’s an exaggeration since I managed to throw together a dinner for myself and kd on Tuesday and I was out at a bourbon and cigar tasting dinner on Wednesday.  But still, I notice the difference.

My class is crazy.  I have 16 students and 15 of them are Kazakhs.  Thank goodness Borat is not quite an accurate depiction (although K, who has lived in Kazakhstan, swears he is).  The 16th is American.  As we went through English contract cases today, which I happen to find really interesting, I wasn’t sure if the kids were getting anything at all.  Their levels of English vary quite a bit.  Then I gave them an activity to do and they proved that they had taken in pretty much everything I had said.  That was gratifying.

The students read whatever I tell them to read, they all do their homework and turn it in on time, they ask questions and they seem to be taking their term project seriously.  We’ll see how it goes next week…


Thursday, 5 July 2007



I got some family news in an email from my mom this evening. She told me that my cousin Nick is going to become a dad in a few months, his girlfriend has moved in with him, but they have not set a date for a wedding, and the girlfriend is Hispanic and a year or two older than Nick. My mom also told me that Nick’s mom is “very upset.”

I sent an email to Nick straight away. I wanted to express my cousinly solidarity because his mom’s reaction made me angry.

Nick is around 37, I think. He has a couple of degrees and a good job, owns his own house, and is basically a responsible grown-up. Nick is therefore the kind of person that should have a baby if he wants one. I am going on the assumption that he does, and therefore this should all be happy news.

Nick’s mom had been thrilled when Nick’s older brothers had kids, but they were both already married and their wives were nice Jewish girls.

The reason I got angry was because I thought Nick’s mom’s reaction was idiotic. Imagine this: you are a mom. Your son calls you and tells you that he is going to be a dad and he is happy about it. You love your son and he is happy, therefore you should be happy too. Why would you look for reasons to be unhappy? Especially when those reasons are petty and immaterial.

As I wrote to Nick: Why can’t people just be happy about stuff? There is enough shit in this world without looking for something extra – and meaningless! – to piss you off.

What I did on my holiday

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

palais longchamp

Palais Longchamp, Marseille


My holiday was very good, but mostly not relaxing because I was with 2 small children for much of it. I don’t know how people with their own children actually cope. As Asshole said, “I hadn’t realised it would be so relentless.”

The relaxing parts of the holiday were anything I did without the children – for example, being out in Paris just with Jono on Tuesday night and Sunday night. And Jono had totally spoiled me by sending a car and driver to pick me up at the airport on Tuesday.


I took the TGV from Paris to Marseille on Wednesday morning. I spent the afternoon with Little Sister and the kids just wandering around the Vieux Port and old Marseille. Asshole and I went out after the family dinner for a couple of beers and an adult conversation that was mostly about guns.

I spent Thursday day with Little Sister and the kids at the natural history museum in Palais Longchamp and in the park behind it. In the evening, Asshole and I went out on our own to have a grown-up dinner. We decided to go for a proper bouillabaisse, a speciality of Marseille. That is food, so I will go into a lot of detail.


If you are not familiar with bouillabaisse, here is the wiki explanation.

We researched our restaurants and made our final choice based on location – only one of the recommended places was near a metro station. I booked an outside table.

Our dinner was very entertaining. We had about 60 different waiters, and I don’t think we saw anyone twice (except the maître d’). I ordered a pastis as an aperitif and the waitress had trouble with my order. “What kind of pastis?” she asked me en français. “I don’t mind,” I said in English. “I don’t know pastis, I just want a pastis.” She had to call over another waiter so they could discuss it. They asked me more questions. “I don’t care, you choose. Just bring me a pastis.” Eventually I got my pastis – no idea what kind it was, but it had been an awful battle just to get a basic drink. Asshole, because he is a cretin, had a beer.

We ordered the basic bouillabaisse with a langouste thrown in. As Asshole was going to be drinking beer throughout the meal, I chose a half-bottle of wine for myself. The waiter complimented me on my fine choice and assured me that it would be perfectly paired with the bouillabaisse. That made me feel rather smug, and it was a beautiful wine, but of course my fine choice had only been a lucky guess.

The bouillabaisse was served in 2 courses: first just the broth, which was very rich and flavourful, and then a huge serving of several kinds of fish + the langouste. It was accompanied by a large plate of toasted baguette slices and a bowl of rouille. More fish and a pot with more broth were placed on a side table, but Asshole and I could not even finish what was already in our bowls. It was a fabulous meal.

Fête de la Musique

The evening of the bouillabaisse, the summer solstice, was also Fête de la Musique all over France. Fête de la Musique is not about music at all – all the music we heard was crap: cheesy French pop, karaoke, and singing waiters (although thankfully not where we had dined). Fête de la Musique is just an excuse for street parties and, in Marseille, an excuse to keep the metro open past 9.30 p.m. There were soldiers with machine guns guarding the Vieux Port station when we went home.


We arrived in Paris on the TGV late Friday afternoon. We dropped our stuff off and then headed straight for the Eiffel Tower, which was at the top of the 5-year old’s “must see” list. It was pouring rain, but there was still a crowd, and the visit was a general ordeal. In fact, I remember at one time thinking, “This could be my hell.”

Friday night ended for Jono, Asshole and me much later at Banana Café. I had worried that Asshole would be uncomfortable in a mostly gay club, but he was all right and I was very proud of him.

A good part of Saturday was spent around Notre Dame and the gardens behind the cathedral. Nephew was pretty taken by the architecture, especially the gargoyles (including the one with the man’s face – thanks, Olive) and the flying buttresses that, I had to explain, don’t actually fly.

On Sunday I went with the kids (meaning also Little Sister and Asshole) to the Louvre. We headed straight for the Egyptian rooms, which nephew loved. It’s pretty fun seeing little kids get really interested in stuff.

Just before 5 p.m., I put all the kids on the TGV back to Marseille and nearly fainted with relief.



Max est partie en vacances

Tuesday, 19 June 2007





les calanques