29 March 2006

Labor pains

Yes, I did have a good birthday yesterday ... but someone had an even better birth day! My cousin Lindsay gave birth to her second child, Marlee Grace, on March 28. Now, I'm not normally good at sharing, but I suppose I can make an exception for this. Of course, that makes three people in my family -- me, my Great Uncle Ben, and now my first cousin once removed -- who celebrate birthdays on March 28. Plus, we're all blood relatives of my mom! Go figure. Anyway, congratulations to Chad (dad), Lindsay (mom), big sister Maryn, and of course, Grandma Lee!

Fortunately, my birthday did not involve any pains or labor. Rachel was kind enough to take me out to lunch, where we got a chance to try a crêperie that I've been wanting to check out for a while. She also *made* me a birthday card, which is pretty impressive. :) On the walk back from lunch, Colin and I stopped off at the gourmet bakery Le Nôtre to get my birthday presents. I have been asking for a cake from this bakery for about three months now, partially because they have AWESOME desserts and partially because I wanted to try a new flavor. My creative boy went one step further and told me to pick out six mini cakes, so that I could try a bunch of different flavors. You can see my choices, as pictured to the left. From top to bottom, left to right, the flavors are: "Savarin Chantilly" (sponge cake soaked in rum, topped with cream); "Masai" (chocolate and caramel); "Schuss Fruits" (cream cheese, raspberry sauce and fruits); "Plaisir" (chocolate mousse, cream cheese and toffee); "Concerto" (dark chocolate cake and mousse layers); and in front, "Tartellette Citron" (a lemon tart). Geez, I can feel my waistline expanding just looking at the picture! But hey, it was my birthday ... I'm allowed to pig out. Right?

As if this isn't enough, we're having my birthday party this Saturday, with the theme of "dessert and wine." Fortunately, I will have a few people to help me celebrate (and eat), so I won't be quite as much of a mess. I hope.

Ah yes, as I previously mentioned, there was no labor on my birthday. Even though I'd like to say that I gave everyone the day off, the truth is that there was another massive countrywide strike yesterday. Aside from the protest parade, most businesses were shut down, too. That included most public transportation, all post offices, the media outlets, and even the Eiffel Tower. I can't say that I was inconvenienced, but the streets were noticably quieter yesterday. What really made me chuckle, though, was the night before when the reporters were interviewing people at the train stations, asking what they would do without the trains and buses. Seriously, every person started their answer with, "Well, like usual ..." That's just how common strikes are around here. No big deal!

The sad part was seeing more violence on TV last night. The police seemed to have better control this time, but what was abundantly clear was that the protestors are NOT the ones causing the violence. Instead, there is a group of youth that target the end of the parade route, where they start fights and do lots of property damage. It almost seems like they are purposefully doing this in an attempt to give the protestors a bad name. What a sick way to show your political differences!

The controversial CPE law goes into effect as soon as Chirac signs it, unless de Villepin withdraws or postpones it. Chirac is going to make some kind of a statement later this week about the whole thing, but thus far, he has said that he supports de Villepin. I don't think that de Villepin is going to back down, but I also think that the protests will continue indefinitely. They just aren't losing any steam - in fact, yesterday's protest was about twice as large as the one we attended about a week ago. But, our friend Muriel says that, if de Villepin retracts the law, he will have to resign as prime minister (that's the way it has always gone in the past). Both sides have a lot to lose by backing down.

Anyway, Colin and I are going to avoid "labor pains" of our own by staying away from the protests from now on. It's a shame that a small group of violent people can ruin a peaceful expression of free speech. Here's hoping for a resolution soon ...


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