Victoria Jelinek


The Alpine Museum Chamonix

“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?” Percy Bysshe Shelley

Alpine MuseeI went to the Musee Alpine in Chamonix yesterday. I had been reluctant to go, given that I don’t like the cold nor winter sports and figured this is what the museum is composed of. But, I went, and it’s good that I did.

The guide enunciated throughout her tour, was charming, informed, and a bonafide Chamonard to boot. What I discovered is that the name of Chamonix had changed perpetually due to boundaries being re drawn and small disputes between nearby communes. For example, St. Gervais had attempted to ‘claim’ Mont Blanc rather than Chamonix, despite its being miles away. And Turin had been a part of the Haute Savoie.

What is particularly interesting to me is how the village evolved over the last two hundred years. It was once solely inhabited by a very rural, agricultural people who were afraid of the mountains, believing them “cursed” by demons. I understand this – at the top of the mountains in the winter the howling of the wind is akin to what monsters might sound like. The residents scratched out a living during the six months of temperate weather with agricultural pursuits, then spent six months making garments out of wool, fur and wood. Now, it’s a place in which most of the residents capitalize on tourism, making it their primary source of income, from becoming mountain guides, ski instructors, and certified sportsmen, to the many shops and restaurants (only really) open during the winter and summer seasons. Additionally, many of the Chamonards have sold homes that have been in their families for generations to the wealthy French, Italians and Swiss who like to holiday in Chamonix.

Indeed, during the turn of the 18th and 19th century, Chamonix was much like Biarritz in that European aristocrats visited in droves, and as a consequence huge, grand hotels were built to accommodate them. These were later destroyed or turned into something else when the same aristocrats went elsewhere and France passed laws to give all French people the opportunity to go on holidays themselves.

From the late 18th century, Chamonix’s mountains also became a site for scientific study during a type of ‘enlightenment’ age. The stories of climbing Mont Blanc are astounding in their arduousness and danger. It’s no wonder the grumpy Jacques Balmat, who made the first ascent of Mont Blanc in the mid 1700’s, wearing wool and leather, is so famous around the valley. This eventually led to the arrival in droves of Victorians to Chamonix for ‘the mountain cure’ and glorious retreat for alpine sports, further cementing its designation as a tourism hot spot.

The culmination of the museum visit is a room that holds a series of paintings of the Mer de Glace, created by various visiting painters over the epochs. What one observes while looking at all of these paintings of the same subject, is that despite each of the paintings being almost identical in their vantage point, each of them looks slightly different. This is arguably not only a matter of perception, but also a metaphor for the dynamic aspects of the mountains and nature itself.

 

 

 

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Entreaty to Herbivores WITH ADDENDUM
June 15, 2016, 6:32 am
Filed under: From the Soap Box | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Addendum to the piece, below

“Only I can change my life, no one can do it for me.” Carol Burnett

I actually began doing research on the environmental effects of eating meat shortly after writing this piece, and in September of 2016 I reduced my eat consumption by 90%. In essence, while I still am hurt and irritated by the people who were combatively proselytizing (& just being plain mean), I have since evolved and changed my ways…

That said, I will keep this post up as evidence of my previous ignorance and petulance on the subject…

To my recently converted vegan eating friends,

plaice_16x9Congratulations on your vegan diet! I’m glad that you’ve found something that you want to do to help the environment and your general health. I’m pleased that you’re contributing to the overall welfare of the collective. Really I am.

But even though I’m super happy for you, I get upset when you talk about your vegan diet and put down meat eaters as barbaric dimwits. I’m a meat eater. But you know that – we’ve had Sunday Roasts together. While it’s arguable that I’m a dimwit, I don’t believe I’m barbaric and cruel. And what about the golden rule? You’re treating animals better than I may, but you’re putting me down in the process of justifying your diet. I might evolve from my place lower than you on the evolutionary chain, but your lectures and accusatory tone may prompt me to crawl right back into the water, leaving my shell on the shore.

Last week alone I suffered three separate people in Chamonix Valley who have recently made this lifestyle change, proselytizing to me about veganism. Each of them explicitly and implicitly told me that if I continue to eat meat I don’t care two shits for the environment, about other living creatures, or my own body. I didn’t engage in argument. I mean, I don’t really care about my own body, and I should given that I’m aging and that’s a horrendous process…I tried to let it ‘roll off of my back’ and not to let my eyes glaze over, attributing their antagonism to early zeal, but the third novitiate made me angry (and hurt, if I’m to be honest): I ran into this friend in the parking lot of the primary school and excitedly mentioned that my husband and I are replacing our very old car with a hybrid. He told me in a flat, contentious voice, “You should become a Vegan if you really want to help the environment.” While I stumbled a bit with a reply, muttering “Oh, gee…um…” he immediately suggested, “You could stop commuting to Geneva for work.” As I scratched my head to figure out a polite way to stop this conversation, he rapid-fire-suggested, “You could stop visiting your family and wasting jet fuel.” I spluttered a “Oh. My. Well now…” Without hesitation, he went on to tell me that the “best” thing I could do (in addition to the aforementioned) was to keep the old car on the road and not cause the industry and subsequent pollution that happens with the creation of a new car. That I wasn’t serious about the environment if I’m unwilling to do the previously stated things. Awkward. I think I said something innocuous and superficial like, “Oh…well…okay. Then I’ll see you around,” and drove off with the belt of my coat stuck in the car door.

These interactions prompt me to write this letter now. I feel that I must justify my existence as a meat eater. And while I risk being a hypocrite ‘cause I’m now exhorting you, the reader, to my cause, and being defensive to boot, I’m also brave for defending my meat-eating ways which may, in the end, just reinforce the idea that I am a selfish, negligent nitwit who would sooner sacrifice kittens than give up something that pleases me.

So here goes:

My name is Victoria. And I’m a meat eater.

I wasn’t a big meat eater to begin with. We weren’t rich when I was a child and so we ate all kinds of awful meats that I wouldn’t touch, such as plaice, beef tongue, liver and pig’s feet. As a young adult in charge of my own dietary acquisitions, I found that I preferred to spend my money on drugs and entertainment. Granted, I did eat the odd slice of pepperoni pizza, but I can most definitely not be called a savage meat eater through most of the late 80’s and all of the 90’s. As a bona fide adult (meaning I pay my taxes, got married – again – am responsible for raising a child, pay my bills on time and don’t piss off my employers) I do eat more meat. But that’s primarily because I’m eating

three squares (or at least two) and it’s hard not to eat meat whilst still having a relatively diverse diet. Also, my son would never eat if he didn’t eat meat. Or at least he’d only eat starch and carbohydrates. (And don’t say that’s ‘cause we’ve allowed him to eat what he wants. That we’ve spoiled him. That we haven’t starved him enough. Short of tying him up with gaffer tape and administrating vegetables and fruits intravenously, we’ve tried everything).

I’m still making excuses for my addiction, I know, but we don’t consume a lot at home. And what we do eat is locally sourced. I know the animals I eat are still hung upside down, scared, and killed and that’s horrific, but I do spend the money and take the time to buy the meat in which the creature was at least allowed to enjoy their lives to that point. And, hopefully, in their nicer environments they were also spoken to softly and humanely as they were slaughtered. But I don’t think it’s fair to say I’m cruel to living creatures because I eat meat. I sign petitions to stop cruelty to animals. I support The World Wildlife Federation and National Geographic with annual cash donations. I pet wet, smelly dogs, including my own. I’ve taken in the neighborhood stray. But there I go justifying my behavior. The fact is, I like it. Especially the salty ones that originate from pig. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but it sucks to feel judged and admonished about my meat eating ways and I don’t like it one bit. Please let me hit my own ‘bottom’ and reach the decision to stop eating it (and the rest) on my own.

This does not mean I’m not concerned about the state of the world. I’m deeply troubled by the world today, to the extent that it makes it hard for me to be happy at all with the myriad of global problems. My predisposition to neurosis is on overdrive these days, what with Trump, Brexit, Turkey, the Middle East, French strikes, mass shootings, environmental calamity, desertification, unfair wealth distribution, terrorism, human trafficking, the body’s resistance to antibiotics, etc. etc. It keeps me up at night. Seriously. Unless I take a pill (but now they’re prescribed, so that’s okay, right?).

With regard to the environment, I may not be a vegan, but I do many small things throughout every day in an effort to help save our planet:

  • We never dry our clothes in a dryer even though I really miss soft towels and jeans.
  • We don’t run water while we’re brushing our teeth, and my husband is a total soap dodger, so that’s water saved, too.
  • We don’t flush after each pee, adhering to the saying, “if it’s yellow, keep it mellow…”
  • We recycle, and flatten all the boxes and bottles.
  • We car share to the school most mornings (and we’ve attempted to involve two additional neighborhood families whose children go to the same place at the same time, to no avail, and despite their lamentations about environmental calamity…).
  • We don’t use harmful detergents and cleaners, even as I really miss the smell of Ariel.
  • As mentioned, our new car is a hybrid, and despite the fact that it’s just weird looking.
  • As mentioned, I didn’t eat much of anything through my childhood and into my adult years.
  • I spent most of my adult life without being the owner of a car, living in cities with true mass transit capabilities. That counts for something (How many of you can say the same?).

Yes, I’m flawed. I eat meat. I like it. I also eat gluten. And I eat dairy. I suffer a cheese belly due to my penchant for the stuff. I love milk in my coffee. I enjoy omelets and quiche (I’m getting hungry). Even as I’m still adapting and shaping my philosophy of the world, it’s not likely that I will convert to veganism anytime soon. I would like to do more to help. To have a big garden in which my husband grows vegetables and fruit, perhaps he’d even keep a few bees, but he’s busy at the moment earning money to put some kind of food on our table.

These recent conversations with these vegan disciples have left me disturbed and suspicious. Each person’s eye had the shine of a zealot. The imparting of their vegan information the air of proselytizing. The sudden popularity and timely coincidence suggests a fad. Growing up on the West Coast of the USA in the 1970’s, I met all kinds of charlatans who were apostles of Buddhism, Lao Tzu, Pluralism, Karma, Chakras, and astrology, with various accompanying diets, revered stones and/or crystals, yoga practices, and exercise regiments. Later, they became dot-commers and venture capitalists that “do” yoga and Pilates as part of their social role and follow folks on Twitter who practice “mindfulness” and positivity. These recent conversations with these vegan followers here remind me of home and those good old days…

But let’s get back to my central point – what’s up with the preaching and shaming? I have many old friends who are deeply devoted vegetarians. And a couple of vegans are among them. They don’t attempt to persuade me to their ideologies or make me feel bad about my own lifestyle choices. Perhaps they’ve lost their enthusiasm and it’s just a way of life. Perhaps they’ve ascertained that I’m a lost cause. Perhaps it’s ‘cause they know that I’m not a conspicuous consumer. That I’m not one of the bad guys.

Before my dad died, I used to frequently call him up after I’d watch the evening news (from any time zone), crying over the state of the world. In addition to the news, I’d be upset with the broadcasting itself, too, and what it implied about the world and its state of affairs also. My dad, a political activist, would always tell me: “Model the life you’d like. Try to live faithfully to your spirit and your values. Believe that the micro will affect the macro. Remember humor. And live and let live with critical insight, but not fast judgment.”



The Baby Diaries 24

“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.” Victor Hugo

Boy-George-001A friend invited me to go and see Boy George in Chamonix last Friday night. Yes, that’s right – Boy George of the Culture Club fame, the iconic girlie-man in the pop band of the 1980’s – was in this wee village DJ’ing, or ‘spinning.’ When I remarked on how bizarre it was to have Boy George in town to my husband, he tried to give it the ‘big un’ about how Chamonix is a cosmopolitan place, a destination for many, and that I underestimate its appeal…that Boy George probably saw it as an opportunity to go snowboarding for the weekend, hang out in a “cool French Alpine village,” and do his DJ’ing. Hmmm. I later found out he was paid 15k, which makes more sense. Curious to see what he looks like now, and a little anxious to prove to myself that I’m not only a rapidly aging mother, I agreed to go. Then I found out that he wasn’t scheduled to begin till 1am. If I’m up at 1am these days it’s cause my little tyke has wet or pooped himself, had a ‘night terror,’ is hungry, or has indigestion. Moreover, if I’m up at 1am these days, it means that when my day inevitably begins at the crack of dawn, I’m going to be even more fatigued than usual. Not wanting to disappoint my friend, however, or myself, I decided that on the night of the show, I would go to bed at the same time as my son (shortly after dinner), then wake up at midnight and go to the gig. All went as planned, I got a few hours of sleep, got dressed, made a coffee for myself, took an ibuprofen, (god I’m lame), and set off for the nightclub.

Nightclubs still smell like the teen spirit of my youth – sweat, alcohol, hormones, and the close, stale smell of an interior that never opens its doors for a spring-cleaning. This one is downstairs in a cave-like space below a two-story magazin. I couldn’t help but think that if there were a fire none of we club goers would be able to escape and it’d be a tragedy noted on the AOL homepage. Many of Chamonix’s expat ‘society’ were out for the gig – middle aged, middle class, dressed up in heels and ‘hip’ tennis shoes, already drunk in celebration of being away from their respective hearths-and-homes, in denial of the next morning and the demands of children and the household. Boy George didn’t come on until 3am (he must have been snoozing before his set, too) and he looked good: he had a sequined butterfly flower makeup design on half of his face, eyeliner, white foundation make up, and a pink, glittery fedora, with a simple black suit. Like the rest of us, he’s put on a bit of weight over the years. There was a charisma and energy around him – you could sense him moving through the crowd even before he entered the DJ booth. Immediately there was a tight knot of people around the little booth, which would have made me claustrophobic. Hyper-realistically, cell phones were over the heads of everyone standing around him as they took pictures and made videos. Boy George didn’t do much other than bob around while his partner actually DJ’d, then he, himself, started spinning. He chose ‘poppy’ riffs, which were good, and the music he chose had an energetic, non-aggressive beat, but after awhile, it was repetitious, and, well, boring. I wasn’t the only one to think so either ‘cause the club drained of folks pretty quickly. That said, maybe the crowd left because they were knackered in the small hours of dawn?



The Baby Diaries 20

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

pussy willow in winterClear, crisp air that feels like it’s cleaning your pores. The squeak of your shoes in the snow. Mountains on all sides rising so high against blue skies that they look false. Glacial run-off creating rivers that you can feel the cold emanating from when you walk near them and can hear in the quiet of the night. Little crosses and chapels dotting the hills. Chalets with snow logs on their roofs to keep the snow from falling on their inhabitants. Red shutters. Copper roofs. Darkened and aged wood on the older homes. Sunshine that tans the face even as you wear several downy layers. Pussy willow trees. Skiing and waffles and chocolat chaud. Beaufort and Tomme cheese made by special cows in the Alps and local farmers, sold at the market each Saturday. Men in thick wool sweaters smoking while driving their snow plows and tractors. Mountain lakes so clear that the colors range from dark blue to aqua. Population explosion in the winter and summer bringing big, fancy 4wd BMW’s, huge tourist buses and queues for the gondolas. Paragliders, climbers, skiers, hikers, bikers, snowboarders. Helicopters overhead. The sound of avalanches and the explosion of dynamite to set off controlled avalanches. The smell of pine and wood- burning stoves. Nights so brightened by the moon that you don’t need artificial light and your body casts a shadow. The single light on the mountains indicating the snow machine levelling the pistes (ski areas). Tartiflette, fondue, and cremeaux in the evening as Haute Savoie fare. Quiet nights. Starry skies. Snow and ice.



The Baby Diaries 14

If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you. Calvin Coolidge

French babyAfter putting my son’s name on the waiting list for the crèche (nursery) when I was four months pregnant with him (almost a year ago), and intermittently popping by to say ‘hello’ to the Directrice of the creche, show her my growing belly, then my new baby, and reiterating my desire for a place when there was one available – we have been given one! Hooray!

But in addition to keeping myself on the forefront of the Directrice’s mind, there’s an official process. I quickly had to go to my ‘fixer’ – an Irish woman who knows the French systems of bureaucracy like the back of her hand and gets paid by expatriates to delve into these waters on their behalf. In order to employ the services of the crèche, and an assistante maternelle (nanny), I must show that I earn income and, more importantly, pay taxes to the French government. So, she set me up as an auto-entrepreneur (self-employed). It quickly gets you into the system, which is why there has been a huge amount of criticism in France about this scheme and its supposed abuse by foreigners. But, for the moment, it exists. I must report income every quarter and then pay around 25% of my income, give-or-take.

For the crèche, my husband and I must produce an Avis d’Attestation (official breakdown of earnings) for last year, utility and bank bills proving we live locally, a letter from the doctor declaring our son is fit to be in collective care, as well as an ordinance, or prescription, for Doliprane in case of a fever, proof that we have supplementary healthcare (for that 20-30% not covered by your taxes and the state), official paperwork proving that we have gainful employment (the letters from the organisation that oversees profession liberales, or freelance and contracted workers), and duplicated pages from our boy’s Carnet de Sante (a health book given at birth in France that records all health visits, vaccinations, hospital stays, etc.) proving he’s had his necessary vaccinations. The French love paperwork, but I’m freakishly organised, so compiling this dossier and putting it neatly in a binder is actually fun for me. It’s perverse, but it’s also useful in this country.

Then there’s the adaptation process. It is literally a period in which your child is adapted, or assimilated, into the crèche. If your child does not meet their expectations, for example, not eating and sleeping when they have that scheduled, then your child loses his place in the crèche and you must apply for a place in the following year. I agree with this in theory. I think it’s a great idea to slowly introduce your child into a new environment and its regimens and people and if it doesn’t work for all involved, so be it. But something in it also makes me think of the last person picked for a team during physical education in school. If you’re not accepted, then you’ve not fitted in, and regardless of what one may say about the entity that has rejected you, or the reasons for the rejection, you’ve been rejected.

The first day you go with your baby into the crèche and sit with him there for about an hour. The second day, you sit with him for an hour, and then leave him for an hour. The third day, you leave him for two hours, which coincides with either their eating time or their sleeping time. The fourth day, it’s three hours, which again coincides with their eating or sleeping schedule. The fifth day, he stays half a day. The sixth day, he stays the whole day. I found it exhausting and overwhelming, so I can imagine what my wee one thought. The women seemed nice enough, with the exception of one who was rather shrewish, though all of them would be coquettish with my husband and look me up and down with a cold, polite smile every time I came in. There are two or three women working on a given day, and eleven babies at a given time. I was amused to see that they have a wooden contraption that has four baby seats on it in a row, and they literally feed the babies a mouthful and move down the line at feeding time. The babies sleep on separate cots in a room together. They would let the babies cry rather than going to them- they’ll fall asleep on their own (or they should!). But dang! I was amazed and pleased when my baby came back to me tidier than when he went in – even his nostrils were cleaned!

At the end of the adaptation process, the shrewish woman told my husband that my son was ready, but she was not sure if the mother was ready (me!). She didn’t mention that to me when she told me he was accepted. But who cares? He’s in for two days a week (as the lovely Welsh assistante maternelle has agreed to take our boy three days a week!) and hopefully it will be the start of his French education and a great introduction to the best of its culture, to the lessons that have given birth to its auteurs, and its wonderful writers and philosophers, rather than the beginning of his training to be a clerk in a Balzac-ian society.



The Baby Diaries – 13

There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mama & baby ape asleepThe sleep situation with my baby boy has caused a lot of strife in our household. When I first came home from the hospital after having a c-section, I was unable to move in bed, and it seemed ‘safe’ and easy to let my baby boy sleep in the crook of my arm, which I laid upon a pillow to keep it level. Every well-meaning woman whom I know told me this was unacceptable and dangerous- my baby could be smothered by me or by my husband in our sleep! Websites confirmed this. But it also seemed as though most of this death-by-smothering was a result of a parent being intoxicated in bed next to them. And almost all of them were a result of the father. For me, it seemed natural, and practically speaking, it seemed to be the only way to get him to sleep.

After many ‘discussions’ with my husband, however, and his dissatisfaction with the sleeping arrangement, we moved the baby onto this little cot that was cut at an angle so that his head was higher up. On each side, there was a little velcro’d buffer to keep him on the wee bed. This little cot fit right in between the pillows where my husband and I rest our heads, and also seemed to work for awhile. I liked having the boy so close, because it allowed me to hear his breathing over the snores of my husband. Even so, my husband expressed repeated dissatisfaction with this arrangement and after many ‘discussions,’ we bought a ‘co-sleeper’ that we put on the side of the bed. To be honest, I never liked this situation because my boy seemed close but very far, too, and it seemed rather pointless to have him on my husband’s side of the bed, but he claimed it made it ‘easier’ for me to sleep. Finally, we put the boy in a crib in the corner of our room and hoped that this would be a fine option. The boy was able to sleep in the crib, but he woke up every couple of hours, anyway, to feed, and going over to the crib, picking him up, bringing him back to the bed with me or sitting in a chair to nurse him seemed tedious and I’d be wide awake afterwards.

The doctor told us that the baby can literally smell the milk of its mother if it’s in the same room, and this is why the baby was frequently waking up throughout the night. Consequently, my husband and I put together a sleeping schedule. Because my husband goes to bed early each night, anyway, I would be the ‘point-person’ to attend to the boy when he cried in the evening and early night while my husband would sleep in the guest-room and get several hours of uninterrupted rest. At about two am, after being awaked for another feeding, I’d nurse the boy, we’d change places, and I’d sleep peacefully until morning, and when our son next woke up, he’d be fed a bottle of formula by his father, the rotation manoeuvre completed!

To be honest, when I was in the room with the boy alone, I’d simply take him back to bed with me and feed him while I was lying down and then doze off at some point till his next revival. I could have gone on like this for a number of months, but my husband has badgered me to put the boy and his crib into a room of his own so that we can sleep in the same bed together like a ‘normal’ couple. Because I can’t think of a logical reason not to, and I’m really too tired to argue, I have complied. The first few nights that the boy was in his own room were hideous. He cried at an ear-splitting pitch and I nearly had to be tied down not to go to him. These last few nights, however, have been blissful. It seems to be true what the doctor said about his smelling me in the room, because he does not wake as frequently as he once did. As a consequence, I am feeling a renewed sense of energy and wakefulness that I have not known since I was seven months pregnant and could still sleep at night!



The Baby Diaries – 11

Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died. Erma Bombeck

071030 DVD SAGES FEMMES.inddThe sage-femmes (mid-wives) at the hospital were great. Through them, I learned to nurse and to bathe my child, as well as to take his temperature. They were also the ones who would come and relieve me, or check on us during the night, making me feel that my baby boy and I were tended to.

But the sage-femme assigned to me by the obstetrician for pre-and-post-birth care was useless. Before my boy was born my husband and I went into her office, and sitting before her little desk, waited for several moments to see what she would do because we had no idea what we were to do. She didn’t say a word. Finally, we asked some tentative questions about the care in the hospital that we should expect, which had already been answered by my good doctor, but we wanted to be polite. She would answer them as an adolescent might, with as few words as possible and giving no opportunity for elaboration. It was a struggle and that 15-minute appointment seemed to last an hour.

Post birth, however, one is meant to go to the sage-femme for ten visits in order to properly recuperate. It’s actually prescribed by the paediatrician at the hospital before you leave, and the l’Assurance Medicale, the health bureau, reimburses you for the visits 100%. This is a very good and holistic approach to the birthing process that I highly commend about the French system in theory, but I’ve gone to this sage femme a few times now, and I still find it useless. On one such visit she put a long towel, sheet type-of-thing around my lower back and near my pelvis, and pulled it tightly around the area. I asked what this was for and she told me it would help ‘reshape’ my womb. On another visit, she pulled out an appliance that looked like a combination between an electric razor and a vibrator and proceeded to put it into my vagina. I asked her what this was for and she told me that it sent out electrical currents that would help ‘reshape’ my vagina and womb. On another visit she had me practice getting down and up off of the floor and doing sit ups. I’d ask her questions that I thought she might know that were relevant to me, such as about the blood blisters on the breasts, and the left breast’s drying up, and the lack of sleep, and doctor’s visits, and she was not able to provide any answers. She doesn’t have children. I could be her mother. Oh! I did find the visit in which she took out the stitches from my caesarean very useful.

Perhaps finding a good sage femme is akin to finding a good psychologist? This is very American of me, the land of people who seek to discuss their problems (and why not? I think the world would be a better place if one could unload all their worries and problems on a person they paid to listen to them and to keep quiet about it all, and who then eliminated the need to unload on your friends and family). Anyway. Perhaps it’s like a psychologist in the sense that if you get a bad one, an incompetent one, then it will turn you off of ever going again to one. I would have stopped going to this sage femme, but at the end of every visit I had with her I felt bullied into making the next appointment, so I would make one in order to get out of the room. After several visits, I decided I didn’t want to go anymore and tried to tell her that it just wasn’t ‘my cup of tea’ and it ‘doesn’t seem to be working for me,’ and I don’t want her to ‘waste’ her time on me anymore. She gave me an angry lecture on how irresponsible I am being to my body by giving up the visits before they’re over! I listened to her quietly, and then suggested we call it ten visits, as prescribed, submit it to the relevant authorities for her to be reimbursed, and I’ll give her the co-pay in cash. To her credit, she immediately agreed.

As much as I’ve appreciated other medical care in France, I’ve found my sage femme visits the least helpful. I will presume that she is an anomaly.