Living cable-free

Last night was the premiere of the Walking Dead (no spoilers, I promise!) and we absolutely wanted to watch it live. However, due in part to how bad/confusing the customer service for the internet was, we’ve decided to go without cable for awhile longer. We bought a digital antenna for 30 dollars that gets all the main networks, so that my husband can watch American Football. And we already had Hulu and Netflix, so it seemed like that would be enough for our entertainment needs.

Until October rolled around and we started freaking out about waiting to download TWD from iTunes in case people at work/on Facebook decided to spoil it. So when I saw that Playstation Vue offers a week free trial, it seemed like a good solution.

Except it took us over two hours to watch it, because it kept slowing down, buffering, and stopping completely. I assume it’s because so many people were trying to watch it at the same time. The other channels we tested while AMC was buffering were working fine. We ended up restarting at least five times, which took some of the suspense out of it. But we saw it! Live(ish)!

It was included in our cable package in France, just 24 hours after it aired in the states. Watching premieres was always a little stressful, since we had to avoid the internet until we could see it. It was pretty cool to watch it at (almost) the same time as everyone else.

We cancelled the free trial on Playstation Vue as soon as we were finally done with the episode. For the rest of the season we’ll just watch on iTunes the next day. There’s nothing else we really need to see live, so I don’t think we’d want something like Sling TV. Besides, having a small child does not really give you a lot of time for vegging out in front of the TV! With a newborn, TV vegging is essential. You’re tired, they just want to eat and sleep, and they don’t care what you’re looking at while they do either. It’s bing-watching heaven. A two-year old who can’t be near a screen without screaming for Elsa is not quite the same. So it stays off as much as possible. And in the hour or two between his bedtime and our bedtime, we can either do absolutely nothing while watching a few episodes of “The Office,” or we can try to have a life outside of parenting and work.

I’d definitely say that for now, we’re doing pretty well without cable. I encourage anyone thinking of “cutting the cord” to give it a try. Just not with Playstation Vue!

Bébé’s future royal wife

For a few days in July of 2013 I was glued to the television and live feeds online to catch the first glimpse of Prince George. My husband put up with it because a) he loves me and b) while waiting to find out the gender, I made both blue and pink cookies to take to work and he got to eat the pink ones. While my husband’s own birthday celebrations yesterday meant I couldn’t follow the coverage in the same way this year, I am currently in the middle of making pink cookies for work tomorrow.

I unashamedly love all things royal. Being at the right age that I could have theoretically married either English prince probably helps. You “grow up” with them, but in a different way than pop or movie stars. They didn’t spend high school on a tour bus, or in exotic locations filming movies. They actually went to high school. Sure, it was a private, expensive one, but you know their lives were probably much closer to “normal” than Justin Bieber or Britney Spears.

So as we all grow up, it’s fun to note when things in my life sometimes seem similar to William and Kate’s: I studied art history at college, my husband is a few months younger than me, we got married on the 29th of the month, our baby boy was born in July . . . Okay, so maybe that’s it! Though tere’s also the whole “outsider coming into a situation governed by rules that are hard to adapt to” that I could compare to being an expatriate, but I’m pretty sure Kate had to deal with slightly more complicated things than bises and apéros. (But still, the stress over behaving correctly at the first family dinner had to be similar, right?)

Having had my baby boy in the intervening year between royal babies, it was interesting to see how my reaction had changed this time around. In 2013, I remember thinking “Gahh, whyyy is this taking so long?? Why isn’t she coming out yet?? Where is he?!”

Yesterday afternoon, it was more along the lines of “Holy cow, the baby was born less than three hours after getting to the hospital? She must be relieved it didn’t last ages!” and “What?! They’re leaving today?? Doesn’t she want to rest with someone else to clean and cook and . . . oh, yeah, she already has that.” And while I am maybe a tiny bit jealous how good she looked, despite knowing she has a team of people to help, I do feel bad for her, that she had to face the world so soon. I remember being a little annoyed when my mother-in-law came by the hospital the same day bébé was born, because it meant having to look fairly presentable and not do anything too embarrassing that showed her I didn’t 100% have things under control. (Basically Sunday lunch at her house, but with a lot more pain in unmentionable places.) So I imagine Kate maybe felt like that, just multiplied by a thousand.

She does give the impression that giving birth is easy, and maybe it is for her. Mine was certainly far from horrible, though it’s not something I’d want to do every day. With all the tests and stuff new babies have to do, how much they sleep the first few days, and a helpful husband on hand, there totally would have been time for me to see a team of stylists, had one been available. Plus, this is her second time around so she knew what to expect, what to pack, which clothes would feel best . . . There are plenty of other people who will tell you the horror stories of birth, but sometimes things go really well and you feel great, and that’s fine too!

Honestly, it’s just like Facebook, where new moms meticulously scrutinise which post-birth picture to post first. As silly/superficial/whatever people may find it, it’s actually a good thing to care so much, because it means everyone is healthy and you can focus on the superficial, silly stuff. (Whether or not it “should” matter is an entirely different conversation I am not in the mood to discuss while my pink princess cookies are baking!)

While I don’t intend to be a copy-Kate and give my husband a little princess anytime soon, it will be fun to see our kids “grow up together.” And who knows, maybe bébé’s future wife was born yesterday . . . After all, the Middletons didn’t start their business until Kate was a few years old, so we still have some time to work on getting a coat of arms!

Super Bowl in France

Though we don’t get ESPN anymore, the Super Bowl is shown live in France on a regular channel, so my husband still got to have some fun on Super Bowl Sunday (though with the time difference, it’s more like Super Bowl very-early-Monday). He spent the afternoon making a few recipes from the NFL cookbooks my dad sent him for Christmas. Then we had a few friends over to eat and play Madden while waiting for the midnight kickoff. I say “we,” but I was in bed at 10:30 and have very little real interest in football, since my family was more into baseball. My husband definitely knows way more about the game than I do. The first game he ever saw six years ago (on TV) was between Seattle and San Francisco, and since Seattle won, it’s been his team ever since. So he was even more into watching the Super Bowl than previous years, and actually took Monday off work to recuperate.

While it wasn’t quite the same as a lazy Sunday afternoon hanging out with people and watching the game in primetime with all the commercials, it’s nice that he was able to watch it here and that our friends are interested as well. I’m sure in big cities there are bars that show it and large American expat communities that get together to have all sorts of Super Bowl fun. And if next year we happen to be in one of those cities, we’ll definitely try and experience it that way.

I like creating our own mix of French/American traditions surrounding these types of events. Despite time differences and language barriers, I’m happy my husband is able to experience a tiny bit of the American lifestyle. (I hesitate to say “American culture” when talking about football, would you say watching the World Cup be a part of “French culture”?) The plan is still for us to live in the states at some point, and given how really into certain American things he is, like football, sometimes I think he’ll have less culture shock than me!

Weekly American TV nights

While I have all sorts of amour for my cher husband, sometimes I don’t really mind when he works late. It depends on his schedule for the week, but usually he has two days when he can go in later (and sleep later!), then he stays until everything is finished. As silly as it may sound, I look forward to these evenings because it means I can watch whatever I want on TV.

We pay 5€ extra per month to get a few English language channels like E!, Style, and the Travel Channel. There used to be ESPN (my husband is really into American football) but not anymore, so these channels are all “mine” now. But I feel bad watching my celebrity news and trashy reality shows when he’s home and we could be watching something we both enjoy or doing any number of productive things like play with our cat.

He does have a surprising fondness for “How do I look?” on Style, which I take full advantage of whenever it’s on. The wedding shows however, he’s not so into. He likes to ask me why I need to watch them, since we’re already married. But it doesn’t stop being fun and pretty and fascinating just because you’re not planning your own! A football game only has one possible outcome: one team wins, the other loses. With wedding shows, who knows how it could end! The matron-of-honor could give birth at the ceremony! The dress could get lost or ripped or stained! The flowers could show up dead! The anticipation! The stress! The emotions! Way better than professional sports, right?

The Travel Channel shows “House Hunters International” which I consider research for our future, because who knows where we could end up living one day. 10 years ago I never thought I’d be living in France, and his job could, in theory, send us somewhere else. Also, it’s kind of hilarious that every single American on the show will say, at least five times, “this is much smaller than I’m used to” and “oh, that’s kind of strange.” So while part of my love for my TV nights is to feel a connection to American culture, I do like to be reminded that I have all these life experiences that make tiny bathrooms and rentals that come without stoves not seem so weird.

I have no such “logic” for my love of Tia and Tamara. Well, I have a sister who is close so people used to think we were twins. But mostly, I just kind of wish I could hang out with them and live in LA/Napa Valley.

Of course, all the American TV in the world can’t replace my cher husband. Once or twice a week is fine, but more than that, like when the rest of the week is unplanned lateness, I get grumpy and sad. We usually make up for it with a super introverted weekend where we just hang out in the apartment and read and watch movies and don’t see anyone else for two days straight.

And watch as much “How do I look?” and he can stand.