In Paris (c) Kristin Espinasse
                                          Recently, in Paris.

claquer (klah-kay)

    : to slam

Audio File: Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the following sentence: Download Souler or listen to the Wav file

Ils n'arrêtent pas de claquer les portes et de hurler. Ça me soûle! They don't stop slamming the doors and shouting. It's driving me crazy!


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

(Click on the following numbers to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this story)

Pulling into the hotel parking lot I recognized Jean-Marc's voiture (the only one in France with an Obama sticker on the back). I was alarmed to see he had taken a place in the guest parking, one of two slots reserved for short-term stationnement. Ever since checking into the motel and receiving the 5 % discount, I had struggled to keep a low profile—and now here was my better half about to sound an alarm of indiscretion!

I hurried into the hotel, Jackie following close behind. Arriving at room 229 I recognized my husband's voice and understood that he was already on the phone, complaining to the front desk! This was a very bad idea given that there were only supposed to be two people in room 229 (earlier, I had requested a standard "chambre pour deux personnes"). Would the hotel now tack on a supplement for the extra person who just showed up? Worse, would we be accused of aiding and abetting a freeloader?

I would need to explain again our unusual situation to the hôtelier: we were in fact, the three of us—husband, wife, child—demeuring at the hotel for a short while. Some of us (Jackie and I) would stay the night, while others (it appeared) would appreciate a short reprieve from the noisy festivities going on back at home, where our 17-year-old was about to kick off his first all-night fête! Many of the teens had already arrived and a total of 35 would show up in the night.

Bon, no use worrying about our unofficial status any longer: my husband was now in charge (indeed, the room had been charged, in part, on his card!), so now HE could deal with the hôtelier, for he was now, officially, un client payant!

Time to put my mind at ease—if we were ever to get on with this weekend retreat! I set down my shopping bags and consulted, in my mind's agenda, my earlier plans :

...after the shopping, Jackie and I would stroll back to the motel for a swim, this after a nap and before an early dinner (just a few healthy snacks we’d pick-up at the supermarket), after which we'd tuck in early—one of us with a good book and the other with reality TV... what a mother-daughter mini-vacation this would be!

Some mother-daughter vacation! I watched, unbelievingly, as my husband settled in to my side of the bed—where I was to have my nap!—to watch the tennis match. Apparently Rolland Garros was underway. Jean-Marc grumbled about the statical TV (his reason for complaining to the front desk manager), but soon he was absorbed in the game.

I crawled over Jean-Marc, propped my pillow (minus the one he had snapped up!) against the headboard, and cracked open my book. That is when the solicitations began.

"Pousse-toi!" Jackie said, arriving with some just-washed strawberries. I did as my daughter ordered and scooted over, but not without reinstating my authority:

"Go and get a bath towel to put those on, or else those strawberries will stain the sheets!" I couldn't stop thinking about our duty as model hotel guests. How ironic it would be for our room discount to turn into a bill for damages!

Sandwiched in, now, between my daughter and my husband, I tried to concentrate on my book in spite of the noisy tennis balls and the drippy fraises. But when Jean-Marc asked me to pass him the snacks, I began to tick.

Tossing my husband the sack, I watched him dig in to my bag of chips and gulp down my bottle of water!

Well, if I had known he was going to crash our mother-daughter party, I would have bought snacks for all three of us! And I would have brought another pillow, too!  And now, what with the drippy strawberries, that makes only one towel to share among the three of us! 

No use muttering about it, it might hurt Jean-Marc's feelings... speaking of which, just what was he feeling and thinking before he left the house and the revelers?

"So what are your plans for tonight?" I casually inquired. I didn't want my husband to feel unwanted--even if this was mother-daughter territory onto which he had trespassed! Besides, he was partly paying for the room....

But a deal was a deal! Jean-Marc had agreed to chaperone the all-night party and had gone along with the idea of my taking advantage of the occasion by inventing the mother-daughter getaway vacation which was, presently, turning into a mother-daughter-father flight from the farm! 

"I thought I would take you to dinner," Jean-Marc explained, "then get a little rest before going back to the house."

"At what time?" I hoped not to sound unwelcoming or pushy, but I was curious to know just when our girls getway weekend would commence again.

"At one a.m."

One a.m.?! But Jackie and I had planned on getting a good night's sleep (hadn't we left the noisy  house for this very reason?) and tucking in early... and now we were doomed to hear the sounding of an alarm after midnight!

I was a little ashamed at the unwelcoming impulse which was revealing itself from deep within my soul (a selfish soul, after all?) Nevertheless, I pointed out a particularly threatening inconvenience:

"But there is only one bed here!"

"We'll make room." Jean-Marc was unconcerned. He reached into the bag for another handful of potato chips, before I snapped up the remainder.

"Give me that!"

So much for an evening spent reading beside the cozy table lamp! My place just got moved to the middle of the bed!

After a greasy all-you-can-eat dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant, we retired early so that Jean-Marc might profit from a few hours' sleep before returning to the party to chaperone the rest of the evening.

By now I had resigned myself to sharing our cramped quarters with my husband, to giving up a quiet evening of reading and snacking in bed (the snacks quickly disappeared during Rolland Garros, and there was no use trying to read without a table lamp nearby!). So when Jean-Marc switched out the light, I tried to find a comfortable position between two notorious bed-hoggers. At least no one would steal the covers tonight, for I would be in the middle! With a bit of luck, the warmth might induce drowsiness and soon I'd be off to dreamland... just as soon as Jackie quit fidgeting and Jean-Marc quit grumbling.

"That is the last time I will eat at a greasy buffet!" my husband complained. It seemed he had a bellyache.

Quelle idée to go back for thirds and fourths! And bright idea to sample the Chinese wine! Maybe stick to a Rhône wine next time! I kept my opinions to myself, concentrating, instead, on the calm and peace that would come—surely a reward was in store for this patient martyr! Only, no sooner had Jean-Marc nodded off than a distant thundering began. 

It wasn't Jean-Marc's snoring, for it lingered beyond my husband's noisy breathing. The sound grew louder and louder until I could begin to recognize voices. Foreign voices!

A couple of tour buses had just arrived.

Soon the hallway was alive and kicking with Indians and Russians. Trampling up and down the hall, they searched for their rooms, jammed their credit-cardlike keys into the doors' lock boxes. 

 "Good night, sweet dreams!" The Indians wished each other, over and over and over, again. Funny how they were dabbling in English, here in France! Normally I would have found their gestures and accents endearing—if it weren't all so unnerving at this time of day. Nearly midnight!

Jean-Marc snored through it all. Jackie began to grumble. Ils n'arrêtent pas de claquer les portes et de hurler. Ça me soûle! 

I startled each time another door slammed... and then the music began! What on earth? The laughing and merrymaking continued until my mind came to grips with the invasion... and gave in. I fell to sleep.

When Jean-Marc's alarm sounded at 1:30, I woke up to a quiet room. The tourists had finally gone to sleep! After a noisy exit of his own (Jean-Marc had to slam the door—not his fault, as every door at the motel requires a good tug shut as evidenced by the tourists' slam-fest we endured earlier!).

Alas, I patted Jackie on the back, our mother-daughter rest had commenced! We drifted off to sleep, so nearly at peace.... When every alarm in our wing of the motel began to ring. It was now 5 in the morning!

Jackie and I listened to the tourists' wake-up calls, one of us amazed by her poorly executed plan to get away for the weekend—the other complètement dégoutée!

"Mom," Jackie cried. "We would have been better off at home in our own beds!" 

*** THE END! ***

 (Click the following links to read  Part 1 and Part 2 of this story)

Post Note: Max enjoyed his party. Jean-Marc drifted off to sleep at 4:30 a.m. (after Max turned down the music). Braise and Smokey received a special pass to sleep upstairs, in a room farthest away from the noise. Jackie and I checked out of the motel by 10, feeling a bit jet-lagged but happy to be home again! 



French Vocabulary

la voiture = car

le stationnement = parking

une chambre pour deux personnes = a room for two people

un hôtelier, une hôtelière = a hotel-keeper

une fête = party

bon = right

un client payant = a paying client

pousse-toi! = scoot over!

la fraise = strawberry

Ils n'arrêtent pas de claquer les portes et de hurler. Ça me soûle! = They don't stop slamming the doors and shouting. It's driving me crazy!

complètement dégouté(e) = completely disgusted



Exercises in French PhonicsExercises in French Phonics is... 
" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.



Outside Shakespeare & Company bookstore. 

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Along Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, I saw this window display and thought of my daughter's room: wouldn't this be a neat way to hang pictures? Notice the horizontal bar at the top. Next, all Jackie needs to do is hang strings--then attach the frames! I thought my design-savvy mom would appreciate this one. Speaking of Jules, here's a cool accessory she found on-line:

Metro cuff
Paris Metro Cuff! It also makes a wonderful conversational piece -- to wear on your wrist.  A wonderful "conversation piece" for your wardrobe. Order one here.


Something tells me Mom would like this one, too... maybe it's that Frida Kahlo cape of hers that has me thinking it? No, it must be the wonderful cross!


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I had some good laughs reading this three part story. I am a worry wort and you worrying about the hotel room sounds exactly like something I would do.
ps until recently, Jean-Marc wasn't the only one in France with an Obama sticker on his car, I had one too :)

Robyn France

Kristin--this is without a doubt the funniest story you have ever written. I was laughing out loud--and boy, you are one sweet wife--I would have clunked Al out of the bed in similar circumstances. This has to appear in a newspaper column somewhere--it's the best--still have barely started on your painting but I will.

Eileen deCamp

Bonjour Kristin,
I was laughing while reading today's post. You shouldn't have told him where you were going. It made for a great story though, didn't it? I hope you and Jackie had fun anyway! When I read the word claquer today, for some reason it brought back memories of the old clacker toys from the 70's.

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

This was a joy to read. In fact I did so over and over again - laughing just as hard the 3rd time as I did the second. Very, very well done, Kristin.

Hotels are notorious for keeping ME awake all night and it's no wonder you got a little discount ahead of all of the ruckus.

The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
(Robert Frost)


The best laid plans.......Those crazy Russians. Glad that the party was a success. Mary



'YOU HAD ME AT HELLO' to quote an old Tom Cruise movie. How you were able to fill me up this morning with so much laughter and love and wisdom - your writing is starting to sound like our phone calls three times a week. Yes - I am bragging a little, I get to hear this great storytelling on the phone each week. I have told Kristi many times we should tape our phone calls because they are so funny.

Great idea Robyn - maybe all of us 'out here' could send this great story off to different newspapers for Kristi - I have said for years she should have a column in the newspapers. Personally I think Kristi has surpassed Erma Bombeck - we just need to figure out how to spread the word of Kristi's wonderful talent and gift of pure entertainment.

So much to say about your post this morning Kristi, I know you felt a lot of stress having put yourself into a deadline/promise to all of your fans, but Honey what a great piece of writing came from this commitment. It seems that pressure always presses out a finer product - kind of like what God does to us when we get sanded down every once in awhile.

Of course I love the dress you found for me to drool over in Paris - I must work on creating my own sets of 'Angel Wings' - I could wear them on my birthday when I arrive in France. I can't thank you enough for your photo's today, I was so inspired to walk the streets of Paris with you in our future. By the way, did you hear our precious ANN MAH is leaving Paris...I was just sick when I heard the news, although they have purchased a small apartment so she can continue visiting and participating in the Paris writing scene. For any of you who don't know Ann, she wrote 'KITCHEN CHINESE' and also has the most beautiful mother in the world. Wasn't Ann's mom on the cover of Time mag. or is that just my own daydream of this magnificant woman.

Back to your story - did I say that I laughed all of the way through your descriptions of JM's visit - you should send a copy of this post to the manager at the hotel.

I'll come back later, I can't see everything I have written in this little blue box so I might start repeating myself....but the most important thing I have to say is GREAT STORY - one of your best.....



Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

Me again. I was just thinking that I never would have guessed in Part 1, that the reference to being driven crazy by doors slamming would have been from the hotel!! :o)


I always love your photos!


Could you tell me where the Journaux presse in the top picture is in Paris?


You sure are one sweet wife, Kristin! I would have given my husband short shift - pronto. A deal is a deal and after all, Jean Marc gets to have his away time quite often! And - with the tourists to boot - it doesn't rain but it pours! Made for a good story so there's that!


There's no place like home. There's no place like home!

Jan Anderson

I think you made a mistake by writing that your husband has an Obama sticker on his car. (One would assume that you support him too.) It's not wise to inject politics into your writing. This story made your husband sound like a selfish bully and a chauvinist, and you seem to be the meek, subservient wife.

Vicki, San Francisco Bay area

Great writing, Kristin! I felt like I was right there with you ~ the bed's getting a little crowded, but pass the chips, please! :)

Marilynn Gottlieb

I love your photos in this post. Reading this post, though, was a bit of torture for me! I could see you fretting over the guilt and obligation for that piddling 5% off! Then to let your husband walk right in and take over your mini-vacation with your daughter! And you not even standing up for yourself or reminding him of the deal. Not to mention questioning his leaving that many teenage boys at home alone!!! Wasn't that his responsibility? I'm sorry, I usually love your stories, but this one made it look like you have little self-esteem, and you let your husband's selfish whim trump responsibility. And you were setting a bad example for your daughter by not standing up to him.

Ken Scupp

et vous boiriez les vins de chinois- pourquoi?

Suzanne Dunaway

It may be a good story, but I would have moved to another hotel or told my thoughtless husband to bug off.



I am reminded once again of Bill Facker's wise words which I referred to in last Wednesdays comment.

Politics is a hot issue in the U.S. today - that is the number one reason I left 15 years ago - moving to Mexico. As the last 15 years have passed, only to find what I suspected then is to be found in all nations. I have a lot of buttons that could be pushed on this - but to see two of our readers attack Kristi for her pho-paw (sp?) is just too much. Anyone of her readers that truly know Kristi would know that she has never had a political thought in that beautiful mind of hers.

As for Kristi being a push-over - all wise people know when to pick their battles. I have learned not to cross Kristi over the years as she has shown me that she is capable of letting the air out of my beautiful ballons whenever I have overstepped her personal boundaries. In the end, as strong and wordily as I am Kristi has taught me many lessons that I would have missed had she not had the personal power and self esteem to stand up to her most prominent role model.

Jean-Marc does not sound like a selfish bully and a chauvinist to me - he sounds like a lot of people I know, myself included, that gravatates to the comfort of family when faced with a new mountain in their lives. After I looked at all of the photo's of Max's party I personally thought his party was much more innocent than I had imagined when I was discussing this event with my husband.

I am saddened that the entire 'beat' of Kristi's message was slaughtered by a couple of comments - which I am 100% sure has put Kristi under her covers crying her eyes out.



Linda Packer

You ARE a sweet wife, Kristin, but you do get your revenge! Either that or Jean-Marc doesn't mind that we all know what a blunderbuss he can be sometimes! Now we are all wondering about part 4! Does the Famille Espinasse simmer down to a gentler temperature, or are their more explosive times ahead? One can hardly wait for the next installment!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Hey Kristin, wonderful, 3 part story. I was disappointed that you didn't get the mother-daug getaway. But I don't blame Jean-Marc for the drop in. You handled it very well.

I do agree about the political comments. This is going to be a defining election -- people feel strongly on both sides. I can see the Obama sticker in France --- they just elected a socialist!

Enough of that. Thanks again for an interesting & funny 3 part story. Stay well.

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

J.M. - A CHAUVINIST AND BULLY!!??!! That's almost as funny as the story except the story was anything BUT mean-spirited.

I'm reminded of a line in Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibilities.: "If you can't think of anything appropriate to say you will please restrict your remarks to the weather."


I love your are funny and sensitive. And I love your mom. What a great supporter.

ken boyd

Concerning Jean-Marc's bumper sticker .......
Please advise him to relocate to California to enjoy our high unemployment, exploding debt,
dead last public schools, decaying culture, high taxes , brain dead media , but , the weather is very nice and lots of time to enjoy
it while looking for work .........
Napa Valley

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Ken, how true. I was born in San Diego --- came back to live in 2006. What a change, what a difference. Had to get out.

You are so right. But you have to blame the voters. They want the demo/socialists in the state senate and "moonbeam" Jerry Brown. They have ruined the state.

Kristin Espinasse

Mom is right, I dont have a political idea in my head and I probably should not have made a note in my story about JMs bumper sticker (a gift from a friend). 

My stories are a way to chronicle my familys life--what we were doing and thinking at a certain moment in time. Our opinions and situations change, and I am sometimes amused or amazed to look back and learn what I--or my family--was doing back when (like driving around France with a political sticker! I know I would not do it!). We live and learn and love and forgive--and we laugh!

Mom is also right about my NOT being a pushover. But I do believe in choosing ones battles :-)

As for Jean-Marcs behavior in this story, are we all so altruistic all of the time? When I look at our actions through the lens of comedy, I get a good laugh out of situations that I once took much too seriously.

P.S. Mom, no worries--Im not crying in bed :-) My skin is too busy thickening, which is good... just as long as the heart remains soft!

Richard Harold Ainsworth

Dear Kristi,
Listen to your mother she knows what she is talking about.
Any successful marriage is based more on compromise than confrontation. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard the announcement "Change of plans!" (or "I've changed my mind!") during my marriage I could retire and move to the South of France. Part of living with other people is learning and adapting to change and change is usually a constant and ongoing part of life. I think we all know folks who have never figured this out. They mostly live alone.

Your picture hanging scheme is a good idea, but let me recommend a slight improvement. If you use lightweight chain suspended from the ceiling from screw-hooks and s-hooks to hang your pictures you can change and tweak your display without making any additional holes in the ceiling. Just be sure the chain links are large enough to accommodate the s-hooks.

It is sunny and 27c in beautiful Joliet.


Gwyn Ganjeau

Well, this got me a little riled up this morning! And i am trying to calm down and not practice the same judgmentalism that a couple others have. Kristin, I will not 'assume' you have the same political views as J-M--i know several couples who lovingly agree to disagree politically. and, honestly, i believe that's where the hope is--where people who care about each other take the time to truly hear and understand the place another is coming from. their truth is just as true to them as ours is to us.

I don't believe you should leave politics out of your posts any more than you should leave religion out. what we tune in for 'thrice weekly' is to be touched and changed by your absolute determination to share yourself with us with unflagging honesty. I doubt many of us are as honest and open. it is a gift and you let us learn and grow with you. you are not crafting an image of Kristin--you are flying her like a kite and we get to watch it soar--and soar along with it. i don't tune in because i share absolutely every view you have--i tune in because you make me think about and see things in a new way. how boring my life would be if i only associated with those who think exactly the way i do about everything!

As to dealing with the finger waggers, i am reminded of some good advice i was once given..."Accept what you can use, and with the breath of love blow the rest away." Poof.

Gayle Markow

Good on ya' Kristin,

Wonderful storytelling, kind, smart, observant, funny. Love your mom's comments and her support of you.

Sorry you got some mean, nasty comments. So unnecessary. So wrong. I know it must be hard to receive them, but you handle it really well and show us how we can also be wiser and kinder at the same time that we stand up for ourselves.


Judy Feldman

Kristin, I enjoyed reading these comments as much as your story! The "trilogy" was wonderful - made me remember my daughter's teenage years. I'm sorry you didn't get your mother-daughter night out, but then we wouldn't have gotten to read this funny story!

BTW, I'm sad that some people can get so riled up abut a bumper sticker. Just shows you how awful politics has become, n'est-ce pas?

joie/carmel-by-the-sea, ca.

I want to ask Jan if she has forgotten about "freedom" of expression here in the US. You were not making a political statement....just stating a fact. And besides I do beleive that "freedom" entitles you to make a statement if you wanted to. As for the rest of her comments, I doubt very seriously if you are domineered by JM. I have always felt that in order for a marriage to work eack party has to give in now and then. Besides, in your heart you were laughing at the whole situation.
The last photo of the dress with wings.....I think it is the wings that are your mother. If she had those she would fly to heights beyond the imagination.

joie/carmel-by-the-sea, ca.

ok, now I am riled up after reading ALL the posts. I would like to see some of those "nay-sayers" do the job that you do. They have freedom of speech also, but I don't feel that critizing someone who has taken on the job of not only entertaining people with their life in a foreign country, but who is taking the time to teach them some of the better nuances of the languge. MERCI BEAUCOUP;) xoxo

Jennifer in OR

OF COURSE the foreign travelers showed up in the middle of the night!! (Murphy's Law)

Hilarious and well-told story!

Have a great weekend, Jen


Our dear Kristin,
This post is WONDERFUL!
You have so mastered the art of the three part story, and made it worth every second to hang on to the finish!!
THANK YOU for both a wonderful start to the weekend, and the real privilege of sharing in your lives. Your words always manage to wrap themselves around my heart, and bring smiles to my face.
Love, Natalia XO

Leslie Sorensen-Jolink

You are generous to tell us as much about yourself, your family and your life in France as you do. Your readers, in turn, should respond respectfully, i.e., with posted comments about what you have written, but not judgments about you, your family or your life...or what you should write. That your husband drives around France with an Obama sticker on his car, moreover, was an important part of your story about him...not a political statement. Keep it up, Kristin; your blog is great!

Edie Kilgour

Chère Kristin,
Bravo for JM to put that bumper sticker on his car! Folks who put down Obama have very short memories as to what a mess we were in when he came to office. On top of that we have already tried "trickle down" economics under Reagan and Bush and they didn't work. Don't know why people want to support theories that actually hurt them if they are in the middle and lower classes economically. So...keep up the good work and tell your tales as they are without worrying about nasty comments. Some people just love to be negative. You, on the other hand, are a positive force. As for hubby - nobody is perfect all the time. You were a lot nicer to him though than I would have been. He would have been snoozing and snacking on the floor, maybe with a pillow.
Thanks for your continuing hard work.
Edie in Brunswick, Maine

Bill Facker

I dearly love the whiners
... the vitriolic few
Those who cannot create
... and thrive on nasty spew

Like wolves attacking baby lambs
... amongst the moving herd
They form a gang of cowardly beasts
... linked by negative word

I dearly love the whiners
... and all they have to say
Because like snot and potty waste
... words are easily flushed away

Please never stop, dear whiners
... I need your warm embrace
To etch the lines and steel my soul
... from fingers to my face

Jean(ne) P in MN

Oh la la and peuchere, as my French sister-in-law would say, what a fuss about rien. It's a good and funny story, so relax and enjoy. The Lanvin dress is a perfect ending for a perfect day.

Nancy,                     Cambridge

Ok, Kristin, I was just laughing out loud about J-M showing up at the hotel; the whole world knows that men process information differently than woman, and this was a classic (and very funny) description of a responsible male trying to find his comfort zone, and fulfill his manly obligations at the same time! This was a terrific (and entertaining) story by a talented writer (who is just starting to peak) who understands her man. And that first photo? THAT could be the cover of a future scored two big ones this are just beginning!!! (PS: I regularly choose to listen from my upstairs bedroom, to the bands and music my daughter plays at her infrequent all night parties; I love drifting to sleep amid the youthful enthusiasm and energy...we are so lucky to have it surround us!)

Marilynn Gottlieb

I would like to apologize to anyone who thought I was offensive in my comments about the post. It was not meant to be mean spirited at all! I am a HUGE supporter of Kristi and have followed her blog for years, have both of her books, and have helped edit many of her posts for both her last book and her upcoming book. Kristi was not crying in her covers; she is a seasoned, thick skinned writer who can take any comment or leave it. As a writer it is helpful to get all kinds of feedback and you realize that comments are just how that one person sees it, but she can also think - well, I can see why they said that and maybe I could rewrite or clarify. The fact is, if she were to submit this, as is, to a newspaper or magazine, it would (if printed) cause an uproar among women and the way it portrays her as the subservient wife. OR she can take into account that there were comments pointing this out, and she can revise it. She could show what is going through her mind when her husband unexpectedly shows up, that she is annoyed, but not going to make a fuss because just last week she did the same sort of thing...or that she finds it amusing and is happy to reschedule her mother-daughter excursion. But as it IS NOW, Jean Marc comes off as selfish for showing up, taking over the bed and asking for snacks, while Kristi says NOTHING (that we see). This is an inherently comic situation that could be a great story, if it did not come off as rudeness.

Robyn France

Good grief people--this is a story to enjoy--and if you don't feel you can do so without criticizing the author, there are so many other blogs to follow. Please---this is sheer unkindness to take what Kristin has shared so freely and take her to task for it.


Jean-Marc's voiture (the only one in France with an Obama sticker on the back).>>>Keep this guy!! Say what you want!! Ignore the bigots!!!When you have lived long and worked for what you have you know which party to vote for.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Ah you rigid Americans with rigid political views -- how do know it was not a sticker from 2008? Only shows he has an American wife, sells some wine in the US, and that Obama made a splash in Europe when he was elected. A funny way to know for sure it is her husband's car. Not color, not license plate, not a ding in the door.

That poem about
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
credit goes to Robert Burns in 1785

not the New England poet of the 20th century credited above.

It never occurred to me the hotel would be noisier than your home full of partying teens.

It also is new to me that teens get all night parties these days. Not a part of my life. Parties were, but they ended long before dawn.

Hoping to hear more how the party went! Now we know for sure that J-M is a man with his own mind.

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

I'm just getting around to reading the final installment and it was hilarious. Don't change a word. You write about family life and give us wonderful portraits of your loved ones. J-M simply sounded like most men in this story. The bumper sticker fact told us so much about your husband. Women are "helicopters" who huddle over ever episode a child's life. Men have a different perspective on how much "direct management" is essential. There is no doubt that you and J-M love each other and do nothing less than treasure your kids.



Thank you for your lovely comment. Kristi and I already resolved the stir of emotions regarding your comment early on this morning when she called me. You were right she wasn't under her covers crying her poor little old eyes out....but she was concerned that she had made a mistake when she wrote about the political bumper sticker. She told me at the moment she typed it into her story she had an erie feeling that something was not quite right....then I told Kristi I had exactly the same feeling when I read her post. Kristi and I like to spend hours going over all the little jots and tittles of her writing and today we had our conversation ramped up - and it is funny that in the mist of our conversation Kristi said to me, "Mom, Marilynn has made some good points." Of course this conversation was after I had fired off my second comment. Please let me now reach my arms out to wrap you in a big hug.

Also we must remember MAX is 17 years old, not a baby anymore. I know this is going to shock you but Kristi actually had her own apartment just a few blocks from me when she was 17. Oh the stories we could tell if we were inclined.

Now I have another story to share with you. A few years ago things were not what they seemed at the Espinasse house. After visiting for a month my precious Jean-Marc put me into the car for the drive to Marseille. Of course being the mother I am I took full advantage of the two hour drive to live up to all the tales of what a man has to put up with when he is trapped in the car with THE MOTHER-IN-LAW. Jean-Marc has born my wrath and my wisdom before so he was prepared - he knew it was coming. My bottom line was, "You must within every fiber of your being make Kristi fall in love with you again."

That's the one thing I love about Jean-Marc - he is smart. Kristi is now his little puppy-dog. Can I say puppy-dog, just kidding...but they have moved to higher level and the love that we all long for has taken up full residence in their life. So Jackie didn't see a weak mom that night, she saw a mom that had learned how to hold her tongue and stiffel her self-centeredness.

Once again Marilynn I would like to thank you for your words and all of the support and encouragement you have given Kristi over the past years - Kristi knew immediately you were looking at her writing as a fellow-critic.



Cynthia Lewis in Salisbury, Eastern Shore of Maryland

Dear Kristin,

I loved the three part series of this week's stories. They reminded me of the continued short stories which I looked forward to in "The Saturday Evening Post" magazines many years ago. At least you were snug and warm between J-M and Jackie....that made me laugh. And what man alive wouldn't think that his family would be anything other than happy to see him and share their snacks with him no matter the circumstances? It was hilarious and so typical of many forays away from "home sweet home". Mille mercis, Cynthia

Maxine Oesterling

Sorry, but JM showed no respect for your plans, your space, your time with your daughter. He may be a hunk but that does not excuse him from boorish behavior. I found nothing funny in his crashing your weekend, complaining about the TV reception, hogging the snacks you meant for yourself and Jackie and in general, showing a complete lack of caring for your comfort. Please tell me what is funny about a much-anticipated mother-daughter weekend being crashed by an uninvited "guest." As the mother of two daughters who has planned weekends or vacations with them, their father knows that crashing our time together UNINVITED would not have been a good idea at all. He's not perfect but he is respectful of me and our girls. JM should have tried this with a more Americanized American.

Lisa A.,Los Angeles, CA

All I can say is: "WOW"...very strong (très fort) fellings on this story. I loved reading your story and the part about "the Obama sticker"...made me smile "BIG!!!!" Way to GO Jean-Marc!! :) hehehe One of your other comments on here was totally correct: Regan, Bush and Bush Jr. made ALL the political problems the ENTIRE World is dealing with now. But, ALL that aside: Great Story!!!! Huge Hugs!!

Kate Dawson-Taylor

What a great piece of writing Kristin.I laughed all the way through it,and still have the laughter tears drying on my cheeks.
You have describe an episode with its sequence of events that I am sure many of us can relate to.
Love your sense of humour and your reflective consolidation process.I often light a candle and think about you when I visit the basilica at St Max,and there you are with your bright light shining under your mulberry tree.Bon Courage dear Kristin

Bill Facker

AND ... it was a stupendous bit of prose, Kristin ... great job! Measure your victories by the number of whiners you incite!

Gary Rodan, Austin, Tx

Re claquer; Je veux seulement additioner

joie/carmel-by-the-sea, ca.

First to Maxine a few people above. Your life seems to be lacking some humor. And as for the comment about J-M trying what he did with a more Americanized American....well, perhaps she forgot that this was in France and as the old saying goes "When in Rome......."
I would love somehow to send this whole thing to President Obama. Now there is a man who (and wife) who would have a chuckle over the whole thing....including the visit to the hotel!

Jan in Monument, Colorado

Your mention of the Obama sticker brought back a favorite memory of Paris. We had just checked into our hotel and my husband went back out to park the rental car. He returned to the room laughing and insisted I accompany him back downstairs and out the door. There, parked in front of the hotel, was a French car with both a Denver Broncos sticker AND a Colorado Rockies sticker affixed to the back window. I now think it may have belonged to one of your readers! I felt right at home.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Gosh, what happened? I checked back to read some comments and I was like....whoah....I love your poem Bill Facker!!! GREAT! We all have different political leanings, religious beliefs, etc. but isn't that what makes life so interesting? Kristin, you should have told him you were going to Paris or some other place and he would have never found you! haha


Count me in as one more enthusiastic supporter! This was a BRIllIANT STORY - start to finish. I loved every word. And lots of us obviously identified with the change of best-laid plans and the hotel experience. I am all for choosing one's battles in our relationships with those we love.

I am also stunned by the reactions to the Obama sticker. As a couple of people commented, it shows sadly how divided our country has become. Perhaps that is not really anything new.

Keep 'em coming, Kristin. As I have said many times, you are a most gifted writer.

Susan Carter in Westminster, CA (for Kip)

WOW! I'm getting to this story very late - I loved every word and certainly never saw JM as selfish or Kristen as subservient. Marriage is 90/10 give and take on both sides and we need to always know, or hope we do, when to choose our battles or make our stands. I'm always amazed and strengthened by the wisdom,insight and support of Jules. She is an ideal mother! Politics are ugly and bring out the very worst in people (especially politicians) but I didn't even give the bumper sticker a second thought.

Marilynn Gottlieb

JULES, Thank you for your comment! I was about to unsubscribe to this blog, but the next editing assignment popped in my in-box and I had to read it, and I'm glad now that I checked back on this post and saw your comment. I really felt terrible - I meant nothing mean about Kristi or her personality - I was only looking at this from an editor's view of an independent story. Of course as Kristi's mom YOU are certainly justified to come to her defense anyway.
(I don't understand all the fuss about the bumper sticker either - it went right past me.)
Kristi is a good writer and now this is her profession and not a hobby. A good writer can take criticism without taking it personally, and learn from it or ignore it. I have the utmost admiration of her and her stories.

Kristin Espinasse

Marilynn, I am so happy you stayed!  I am sorry for any misunderstandings or hurt feelings that may have come up as a result of anything written here. I know Mom woke early with insomnia, so concerned was she about whether she had said too much. In the end we reminded each other that each time we open our mouths, we risk saying something we may regret. But I do hope this will not keep people from sharing their thoughts, or keep me from sharing mine. Now to cut each other some slack and trust that each of us means well.

Mike Armstrong

Kristin, wow-- a couple of your readers seem to be wrapped pretty tightly; I was amazed that they were getting all huffy about what you should or shouldn't have done here. I thought this was one of your best stories, and I've read every one for years. Self-deprecating humor is usually a hit and you hit the mark on this one. Some of these ladies need to lighten up. The love in your family always shines through even the misadventures. Bonne continuation.

Katherine Dumont in Palo Alto, CA

Thanks, Kristin! Couldn't wait for our weekend guests to leave so I could read the final installment! Nice pacing on this series--had me anticipating each installment, especially the last. And I was NOT expecting the twist that it was your daughter's complaint about the tourists' noise and not hubby's complaint about your son's party. Well done!
As to the 'best laid plans' aspect, it is HILARIOUS that first Jean-Marc shows up and takes over, THEN busloads of noisy tourists arrive! Of course, it's always funnier in retrospect than in the moment.
You guys seem like great parents: Both the mother-daughter getaway and the all-night party were wonderful, thoughtful gifts to your kids. Bravo.
And no, you shouldn't have left out the Obama sticker, because it described how you identified your husband's car. YOU weren't injecting politics into the story--the READERS injected the politics!!! You have no control over them/us.

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon

You tickle me! Love your account of your mother-daughter "retreat"! How could we know, the direction things will go, in spite of our best laid plans? Life is a magnificent mystery. I can sooo relate to your story!

Love the photos --- oh, those cafe chairs! I have finally found two (yellow) ones and am on the hunt for more! Oh, yes, I can see Jules lovely in that Lanvin dress with accessories!

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