very bad trip.

winter blues.
We don't get out much. Well, at least not at night. Once the sun sets, it's as if we have to rush back in before the cast of the Thriller video come out for a flesh-eating dance-off. With the exception of dinners hosted by other parents who have small beings, or hosting for said parents, our social life since 2015 is not as fluid as it once was. 

I used to think new parents only wanted to spend time with other new parents just so they can sit around and talk about being parents. But no, that's not it. We gravitate towards new parents so we can actually socialize while tricking our kids into thinking the evening is about them. "Do you want to play with Marcus tonight?" is code for "Mommy and Daddy want to get drunk with Marcus' parents tonight." And the only way the deception is effective is with another child, an out-of-the-way playroom and a Netflix account on standby once the kids start fighting over a toy your child hasn't touched since he was 9 months old. 

Case in point: We had one of Aurélien's colleagues over for dinner the other night and Georges treated him like a science project. With eyebrows pinched with suspicion, I could see Georges wondering two things. One: why was this guest not accompanied by a child? Because according to Georges' experience, all adults come with tiny counterparts. And two: what could he get away with since this lone wolf clearly did not know what a child was? The evening was more action-packed than usual with the playroom neglected since Aurélien's colleague proved to be much more interesting. Poor guy. I don't think he will be accepting any future invitations chez nous. 

When we received an invitation to celebrate the PACS (a civil union)of our two good friends, we decided to switch it up from playdate dinner parties and party like it was 2014. Back in Paris. With our friends who either don't have kids, don't want/like kids or left their kids at home. Fitting into the third profile, I grew giddy at the prospect of actually engaging in an unabridged conversation complete with follow-up questions and genuine interest! "What are we bringing to the party again?" Aurélien asked me the day before. "I told you," I shouted from the other room, "A bottle of Champagne and genuine interest." 

The plan was set. At exactly 16:30 Central European Time we dropped Georges off at Mémé's (much to the light objection from Aurélien's mother, this is the name Georges has chosen for her, which is the seldom-used sobriquet meaning Granny), our car had gas, and I had sequin jogging pants on. Before Mémé could even get an au revoir out, the car was screeching like Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell II out of her driveway. 

To tailor the words of the late Biggie to set the scene: we were going going, back back, to Par-ee Par-ee. I then put my damn hands up.

In the car we talked with great passion about where we'd grab a bite to eat before going to the party. Did we want to go up to Belleville for Chinese? Get a pulled pork burger near Bastille? Mexican in the Marais? As we fancied ourselves with the diverse culinary delights of Paris, we saw a car ahead of us swerving in and out of his lane and into ours. "I don't like the way this car is driving," I pointed the obvious out to Aurélien. "He's probably texting. Let's get away from him." Aurélien agreed and we moved a lane over to steer clear of the car's path in order to pass him. As we glided passed, I looked over to see if I was right about the texting. Instead of finding someone's head hovering over a phone, I saw a young guy, early 20s with a hooded sweatshirt over his ears looking around with twitchy eyes. Our eyes met and I motioned for him to pay attention to the road. He nodded in acknowledgment, we left him safely behind us feeling satisfied that he had learned his lesson from my little hand gesture. Hand over heart, I guess parenting never ends, I thought as I glanced back at the rearview mirror with pious introspection.   

So here's when I jump in and note that setups like these, whether in writing or in film make it obvious to the observer that these two characters are going to interact again (otherwise why would the twitchy driver be cast in the first place). But in real life, these random interactions are common and fleeting and don't usually develop into a life-altering event. Real life, regrettably, doesn't flag these foreshadows. 

Fifteen minutes later, "twitchy eyes" was already forgotten and we were still talking about food (He's French, I'm Italian. We just can't help ourselves. It's always going to be about the food.) As we entered the densely populated section of the A6, the highway stretched out to seven lanes with cars pouring in from several mergers, fusing the journey from the countryside of Seine-et-Marne to the southern banlieues (outer city neighborhoods) of Paris. Despite the increase in traffic, we noted how well it was moving, and considered and stopping at the Leroy- Merlin hardware store to pick up picture frames before dinner. We were just that unstoppable that night. 

Just as we were deciding if we were getting ahead of ourselves— I mean, hardware store, dinner, and a party? Who were we?— Aurélien looked in his rearview mirror and said, "Look at this guy—" and before he could complete the sentence, we were launched forward in full force from our car being plowed into from the back. Because we were already driving at 70 miles per hour and the car behind us was clearly moving much faster (the police report estimated he was going about 90), we lost complete control on the busy highway. Our car made several 360-degree turns while smashing into objects, with each impact being louder and longer than the one before. With each collision that felt like the metal was crunching in closer, I remember waiting for the impact that was going kill us. 

Once the thrashing finally stopped, we sat in a thick of smoke unable to see in front of us. Although I couldn't see him, the sound of Aurélien's coughing gave me great relief that he was still alive. I waved the smoke away to find him and together we sat hand-in-hand absorbing the aftermath; blood dripping down his face; the four deployed airbags drooping listlessly with exhaustion from doing their job and the highway still bustling around us. With the car beeping in panic, it began to fill with more smoke, the thought then occurred to me that it was on fire. 

Terrified we would burn to death, I hurriedly unfastened our seat belts. I then reached for the door handle to my right, only to realize it was above me, which was how I learned that our car was on its side. Once I kicked the heavy car door open above us with my leg, I crawled out to our next unpleasant discovery: we were hovering on the concrete highway divider with the traffic whipping past us in both directions. 

What no one tells you is that car doors are really heavy to operate when they are not in their upright position. Getting this thing open was what I imagine pushing open a sewer grate would be like. The door resisted my foot's attempt at keeping it open by pounding against my ankle and once I was able to turn around, just for good measure, it got me again against my back. I hopped down from the car, with just a second to allow my fingers to escape the door's path of fury before it slammed shut in Aurélien's face. 

Helplessly I stood outside the car, tears streaming down my face from having to leave Aurélien to free himself when who comes walking up along the highway? To the surprise of absolutely no one was "twitchy eyes". 

I knew it. 

"Are you okay?" he asked us in what I will grant him was sincere concern and fear. 

Are we okay? Well, let's recap here: I warned you earlier of your irresponsible driving and you almost killed us, so no, we're not really okay. "et toi?" I asked. Yeah, that's right. I was pissed so I was not going to speak formally and vousvoyer him. It was tutoyer from here on, buddy. I wasn't playing around here. 

Aurélien who is like Thomas Jay and can't see without his glasses made it out of the car and was wandering dangerously close to the moving traffic. Aurélien ordered the boy to go in the car and look for the glasses as we called for help. 

The traffic began to back up with all lanes congested, some cars kindly offering to help, and some cars distastefully filming us with their phones. As we waited together, the driver confessed to having not slept in five days and fell asleep at the wheel. When rehashing the events the next day to my brother on the phone he didn't buy the story the kid gave us of not sleeping from studying all week. 

"Studying all week?" He echoed skeptically. "I call Crystal Meth." Maybe. But I didn't want to believe it. "You don't get to call Crystal Meth," I said, feeling like I always do when I talk to my brother, an 11-year-old with braces. "Plus, they don't even do that here." My brother, now the expert of French drug statistics and habits sealed his theory with, "There are labs."  

As the night grew darker and colder, Aurélien and I huddled to protect against the cold January air and car exhaust we were breathing in, while the other driver sat awkwardly next to us on the concrete divider, cuddling no one. 

Once the disbelief wore off, the physical pain began to set in. My neck and entire left side of my back grew stiff and throbbed with pain, which after an MRI and two X-Rays were results of whiplash. And Aurélien's chest became immobile from his diagnosis of a cracked sternum. On the highway that night, we cried in relief that Georges was not with us, which was an anomaly because he is always with us. The what-ifs and could-haves continue to haunt us and have kept me pale ever since. 

When the pompiers and police arrived, we were taken away on stretchers. Aurélien in his wool coat destroyed from airbag burn and me still in my sequin joggers, which were now just ridiculous since our evening was going to be spent in the Emergency Room. Before we parted ways on our stretchers, I reached my hand over to Aurlién and said, "So I guess this means we're not getting that dinner, huh?" Because, like I said, it always goes back to the damn food. 

Thank you all for the kind notes many of you have sent via e-mail, text and Instagram regarding this accident. We are still in recovery with Aurélien having had to take the month off from work and my whiplash unleashing residual problems that will take time and sessions with our fantastic ostéopathe to heal. We are told by all of the doctors and specialists that we've seen that we are lucky to be here. We truly do feel lucky, loved and looked after by some higher power. 

bonjour again.

Je t'aime! I've never met a striped shirt I didn't like.

Well, bonjour there! It's me. Hi. 

Long time, long time. I know. A lot of has happened since we last caught up. A lot. If you follow me on Instagram (if not, you can catch me here or here) or have followed my posts with the The Expat Mom Experience on HiP, you'd know that we left the bright lights, big city of Paris and moved the Michaud crew out to the Seine-et-Marne region. Located only an hour by train from Paris, which doesn't seem so far, kind of like Long Island (Long Island, France, anyone? No? Okay.) but an hour away culturally-speaking, we might as well be in the deep countrysides of France. And I couldn't be more thrilled. So our neighbors have chickens, the cobblestones have a vendetta against my stroller, there are two restaurants (although, rumor has it, but you didn't hear it from me, that another one is opening), our supermarket takes an afternoon sieste and I pretty much see the same people every day, but it works. So much in fact that we moved out of our rental townhouse and purchased a home. So now with a 20-year mortgage, this better effing work. 

In the fall, I came down with the chicken pox. And it was pretty much fresh hell. I was out of commission for a good two months with aches, soul-crushing exhaustion and nasty blisters. Scarf season came in handy because I needed it to protect the population from my face. No one assumes in your mid-30s that you have the chicken pox, they will assume, however, you are faces of meth who probably shouldn't be pushing that stroller. I was often asked, and still am when the subject comes up, the same question: "Didn't you get it when you were little?" Apparently not. I even got vaxxed for them in 2012 when I was working with kids, so how I got them is truly my mystery of 2017. No, I take that back, for me the mystery, or perhaps the scandal of 2017 was how Omarosa was working in the White House, frighteningly involved in making policy and no one, including The View seemed to notice until recently. Omarosa, people. 

Moving on....I receive emails and messages on why I haven't been writing as much and if it's because I've lost interest. Or is it because I'm a mom now and have moved on. No and no. I actually do write when I squeeze a moment in, but nothing I've been confident in sharing. After taking some time off, I'm a little shy but I'm taking small steps back in.  

Going back to early 2015, when I found out I was pregnant, I felt like I had to rush and get "everything done" before life as I knew it would be over. I breathlessly sent unpolished manuscripts to agents thinking I could publish —what I now recognize in retrospect—a pretty awful book in 9 months. Some of this communiqué included spelling the agents name wrong, sending attachments like an embarrassing to-do list and meditation mantras, along other mistakes that illustrated a lack of focus. 

Excuse me while I slap my forehead in disgrace. 

I used to stare at the computer screen hoping to produce compositions of gold, or even a coherent grocery shopping list, but an hour of trying to will with Jedi might for my blank word document to manifest into Buy Buy Baby would go by with no words, just more distractions. After months of trying to force myself to be more interesting, I decided to concede to my current reality and buy the damn onesie. 

Some, perhaps most, women can do it all. Or maybe these are just famous and poreless Instagram people giving me a false sense of ambition? These enviable women who can really "lean in" and push forward, start or manage companies, host TED talks, have always fluffed throw pillows, make money without child care and be present at home while pregnant or nursing. I am not one of those people. After an honest conversation with myself, I've come to the scientific conclusion that I am shit at multitasking. And I think I'm just going to own it. To put it into context, in high school, you see, I could never get across the board good grades. It was always just one, maybe two subjects that would stand out as jewels on my report card, as my thumb strategically covered the other grades settled lower on the alphabet. Every semester I'd pick which subjects to be "good at" and math usually got snubbed because, well, math. 

What I learned when my son arrived was that life as I knew it was and is not over. It's just different. For the first time since Facebook I'm present, as I observe and participate in these first years of Georges. The transition to real time means never knowing where the hell my phone is, my computer battery always on low, the few moments I have to myself is spent sleeping or reading a paragraph in my book before sleeping, or preparing things like chicken stock from scratch because you can't buy it here pre-made in a carton. For some reason, this last one makes my mom laugh. Imagining her daughter who thought putting onions in her scrambled eggs was a culinary effort is now making freaking chicken stock, which prompts her to say every time, "My daughta the chefette!" 

But here I am. Hi. With Georges at la crèche a few extra hours a week (!!!), I get to do things like Yoga with Adriene, go to the bathroom with the door closed, look for work, and step a baby toe back into the pool of writing with purpose. So here I am now. I hope to entertain you.

One more thing before I go: A few weeks ago, Aurélien and I got into a near-fatal car accident on the autoroute A6 heading into Paris. We thank the higher powers that Georgie wasn't with us and that he is not an orphan right now. As I wrote on Instagram, charging through the French ER on a stretcher was certainly not one of the experiences I ever imagined having almost ten years ago when daydreaming about living in Paris some day. But it happened and I plan to elaborate more on that next week. Thank you all for your messages and strength! It was really touching to hear from people from all walks of my life from old readers to fellow bloggers to high school friends to Evergreen friends to L.A friends to Paris folks and beyond. Thank you. Just thank you.    

Until next week's post, here are some tidbits I've had published since having a baby:

AirBnB Paris Local Content Curator (link soon)
HiP The Expat Mom Experience
Global Living Magazine All Roads Lead to Paris
Narratively Surviving Postpartum Anxiety in the Age of Terror
Shut Up and Go Feature Locals of Paris
Bonjour Paris (online) and France Today (print - this was exciting to buy at my mom's local Barnes and Nobles! At the register, after letting the page just magically fall to my feature, the clerk asked, "Wait, how are you, like, in the magazine??" Now I know how Tavi Gevinson feels.) Paris Favorites

my new paris.

Image via my Instagram

Being a new mom in Paris I feel like I'm seeing the city afresh. New experiences abound! I've seen the city through the eyes of a tourist (cue in my silk floral scarf, bonjour la France!), as a new resident (cue in being broke, bonjour baguettes for dinner!) fast forward seven years to being someone's mother (bonjour, holy shit.) I find myself doing things I have never done before like taking the bus since my métro doesn't have an escalator, clipping diaper coupons only to be told by the clerk after I paid that it was expired who then instructed me to stand on another line for fifteen minutes in order to correct the 20 centimes discrepancy and a newfound aversion to my once-upon-a-time afternoon glass of wine. 

It was my third week being a mom. Aurel was back to work after his two-week paternity leave and my mom who was in Paris to help me had returned to New York, so it was just me and my little Georges. I remember looking at him that first day alone and saying, "So, now what to we do?" 

It was a sunny late-autumn day, so I figured I'd take him for a walk and if ambition struck, we'd go get a drink at the corner brasserie. Dreaming big.  

In the past, a trip to a local brasserie usually involved enjoying a cheap glass of wine with a book. But having little interest in wine these days and with it being my first trip out with my freshly born son I was, of course, going to order something else, but what?

I don't drink that bitter Café Richard espresso, I think paying 5€ for a small bottle of Perrier is ridiculous, and even more ridiculous is paying 6€ for a pot of hot water and an 8 cent bag of tea. So, what do I get? I wondered, looking at the menu before deciding on a chocolat chaud. I was a maniac that day, let me tell you.

Pleased with my choice, I got settled into the tiny little chair my thighs were dripping over because the booths were for parties of two or more (apparently my son hadn't reached human being status yet) and looked down at my baby who was compact like a little cornish hen in the Bobawrap. This mommy thing isn't so difficult, I got this, I thought as I looked out the window on this gorgeous autumn afternoon in Paris. Then I realized that I didn't order a chocolat viennois. A hot chocolate with whipped cream...the best part. Fuck. 

My hot chocolate shortly arrived in the nude without his fluffy whipped cream coat in a wimpy little cup. Boo. 

One thing I try to avoid here in France is having conversations with servers in brasseries (not restaurants...brasseries) because they're mean. I like to just order. Have it arrive. And eat it. Anything beyond that in my experience becomes a situation.

So, what to do? Do I let the whipped cream go because my fat ass didn't need it? (I didn't like that idea.) Do I send it back and order the chocolat viennois? (Ha. Ha. Yeah. Right.) Or do I ask for a side of whipped cream? Asking for a side of anything isn't really done here, but I thought it was the most reasonable out of the three. 

"May I have a side of whipped cream please?" I asked the server who  I had to practically lasso back over to my table.

"But you ordered a hot chocolate."

"I know, I forgot that I was supposed to order a chocolat viennois."

"Well, yeah, that comes with whipped cream."

"I know. May I have whipped cream on the side?"

"You have to order chocolat viennois for the whipped cream."

"I know now."

"That one is with whipped cream."

"I'm not French."

"Oh, okay."

He returned moments later with an embarrassing martini glass filled about a foot high with whipped cream. There I was: sitting in a tiny chair. Wearing my child. With a glass filled with whipped cream. He then plopped a new check down on the table...for three. extra. euros. The additional check brought my hot cocoa trip to a whopping 8€, more than the price had I just ordered the chocolat viennois from the start and more for a pot of tea.

To my left were smug teenagers who side smirked each other at my apparent overall discomfort. To my right was an elderly woman who eyed my Bobawrap with obvious disgust because my child wasn't in a proper pousette. By now I'm used to getting scolded at by French old ladies on the street about everything I'm doing wrong as a mother, but that day being the first time, I just felt like I had royally failed our first time going outside and wanted to cry.

I wanted to leave. I just wanted to get out of there. I was annoyed, embarrassed, getting hot and still kind of wanted my whipped cream but not like this. So, I called Aurel to complain and to threaten to him that I was going to leave.

"You can't leave. You ordered it."

"I didn't touch any of it," I whined.

"Now we know never to go back there but since this is your first time out with the baby, it's complicated as is. Just pay and go." 

He was right. Adding the hysteria of a "dine and ditch" on top of everything else would be just asking for it.

As I was cumbersomely pulling my wallet out of my bag, which set off another grunt from the woman because I had to ever-so-slightly lean over, Georges began to cry. But not because he wasn't in a pousette, but because he was too hot. Now dine and ditching was really off the table, as I couldn't stealthily slither out of the restaurant with a screaming baby.

To comfort him and get him to some air, I pulled him out of the Bobawrap, but the fabric of the wrap got a hold of his little baby sweatpants and a sock. So, the new image of us in the café was me holding up my three-week-old son. In October. Wearing one sock. A bear coat. And no pants.

Before the comment even escaped the woman's mouth, I turned to her and said, "I know, madame, my child should be wearing pants," slapped the money on the table and booked it to the bathroom as one hot mess.

This is my new Paris: I'm externally pregnant with my Bobawrap, I order hot chocolates, I look kind of ugly these days, and I bicker with elderly woman out in public. Paris may be a city steeped in its historical past, but for its inhabitants, it's a continuous evolution. Bonjour, my new Paris.

is paris always a good idea?

No, you haven't reached a different site. It's me. I just got a little bit of a facelift over here. So, bonjour! 

As I start to tick things off my to-do list...from 2015, I'm realizing that it's going to be a busier year than it was set out to be. Because last year was devoted to creating tiny life and feeling either hungover or stoned, cleaning up my blog and organizing years worth of essays got steamrolled by doing more important things like eating bread and sitting on my couch while staring off into space. Like I said, stoned. 

But it's 2016, my little guy is starting to develop a social life with Sophie the Giraffe, and my energy is slowly starting to return. Thank. God. I've turned back to light blogging to get back in the habit of writing again, (which for me was really difficult last year) and have picked up some writing assignments to warm up the writing muscles that stayed somewhat dormant for a good part of last year. 

With this renaissance, I wanted to come up with a new name since my pen name no longer made sense. The question was how can I convey my experiences in Paris while staying true to the theme of the blog? This blog has always been a peek into the Paris we don't read about on style blogs or the Paris that isn't depicted in perfume ads. But rather the humorous side of Paris for the single girl who dates guys who think she's fat, the broke girl who can't afford well...Paris, the nanny who sort of hates kids, the Fashion Week fatass whose boss was born in 1989, the heartbroken girl who can't seem to get it together, the new wife who still gets zits, and now the new mother who gets her and her baby kicked out of places.

This is the Paris I know. This is the Paris I love. And these are my stories. 

So, is Paris a Good Idea? Hell yeah, otherwise I wouldn't have gone through half of this shit.  

Thank you for reading and stay tuned! There's definitely more to discuss...

both sides, now.

Me. Circa 2003.
In the throws of dating in my 20s. 

Having had a mild holiday season, last week we finally got that bone-chilling, stay-at-home, gloom and doom January that sweeps through town every year. While it is nothing compared to what the east coast got this past weekend (I hope everyone stayed safe and warm indoors), with the exception of today, which is mild and sunny, it's been, well, January in Paris. 

Yesterday, to beat the Sunday early evening blues (that I honestly thought would dissipate after high school), the three of us decided to go to our favorite local café for a drink. 

Because it was around 5 o'clock on a Sunday, the place was empty with the exception of a couple sitting at a corner booth drinking tea. We chose a table at a respectful distance from them, only to be told by the server that they had reservations coming, and was asked to sit at the table right next to the couple. 

I usually don't love practically sitting on top of the only other patrons in a restaurant, especially these small Parisian cafés, but in this particular case, I felt bad for them, a young couple in their 20s. I imagined they didn't want a baby sitting right next to them, but they seemed super engaged in their conversation that thankfully they didn't to notice.

Upon minutes of sitting in the empty and not to mention silent café waiting for the menu, it took all of 30 seconds for us to realize that the couple who were so engrossed in their conversation next to us, next to us as in we shared the banquette, next to us as in my arm was rubbing against the guy's bag, was in the process of breaking up. 

Not awkward or anything.

As we sat there, the tension and hushed drama as the girl plead and negotiated in a frantic loud whisper for the guy to stay with her was just painful, as Aurel and I scrambled for small talk to mask the heartbreak that was taking place a mere foot away. At one point I heard her complain that he hasn't "liked" her photos in over a week, and then my heart really broke for her. For both of them actually. Dating in your 20s is already tough. Dating in the heightened age of social media sounds like it must be a nightmare. It is already rife with uncertainty and insecurity, but now you have to worry about "likes." Oy vey. These poor kids.

While it's been years since I've had one of those heart-wrenching breakup talks where the conversation just goes around in circles, I certainly have not forgotten them. We all have a file stored in our memory comprised of all of those breakups and people we've dated, where you just shake your head wondering why. Why was it such a big deal? Why the drama? Because it is a big deal at the time and I understood the pain this girl was feeling right then and there. Being married with a baby certaintly doesn't erase the memories of what I remember to be one of the most confusing times of my life. The pure torture of wanting to work it out with someone who you know in your heart isn't the right one for you while being all dramatic in the corner listening to Wilco's "I am trying to break your heart," sadly made up certain parts of my 20s. (I'm pretty sure I was humming that song in the above picture. I recall not being thrilled on that gorgeous evening on an L.A. rootop bar over ten years ago.) Maybe it's a rite of passage before entering your 30s, and by law of maturity, that you have to have at least one of those really fucked up relationships, sometimes with such an awful person, that when you meet the right one, you cherish them like the preciousness that they are. 

I wanted to scooch closer to the girl and say, "Hi there, you don't know me but I'm you in like, five, maybe ten years. Trust me when I say you will one day look back at this moment and feel empowered that you got through it, and maybe just maybe you will even be friends with this guy. You will bounce back from this." But as her tears dripped into her cold cup of tea as she was getting dumped on a Sunday evening (talk about Sunday night blues...shit), asking the guy on repeat why it wouldn't work out between them, I could see she was lightyears from this reasoning and probably wouldn't want to hear from some exhausted-looking lady who was wearing her baby that t'inquiète, ça va s'arranger! 

As their breakup continued to fill the room, Aurel and I quietly looked back at some of the past relationships we've had that resulted in one of these talks, nodding in recognition the exhaustion of it all. When our drinks finally came, before we took our first sip, we acknowledged our baby who began to squirm around in his sleep, oblivious to the life and experiences he will one day have to trudge through, and smiled with relief that those crappy relationships that you emotionally wear like a battle scar are long behind us. If it weren't for those tests in life, we may have never met, and if we never met we certainly wouldn't have met our baby Michaud. So with that, we clinked our glasses to being a little older, a little more seasoned and for having graduated dating in our 20s. Thankful for being able to look at it from both sides, now.

my best self. rewritten.

I know every new year we say this, but can you believe it's already 2016? How fast it all goes, right? I remember this time last year I felt a bit "off." I could not understand why I wanted to sleep 12 hours a day, felt disenchanted by pretty much everything especially my plan of "Chariots of Fire" slow-motion success and glory I had sketched out for 2015, had an irrational hatred towards lentils (seriously, they were really pissing me off) and a fondness for radioactively colored "foods" like imitation crab and Dorito's. Well, that explanation is sitting over on the couch entertaining himself with his newly discovered feet. With 2015 behind, where I look back at most of it with this wistful nostalgia of being such a special time in my life (forgive the cliché), I'm looking at 2016 and the new year with a different eye than I usually do and rewrote the script a bit. 

I used to start off every year with an exhaustive list of goals, resolutions and how I was going to make that year the best ever and be my best self. While I appreciate the sentiment of self-improvement and achieving goals, by the end of January I'd be burned the fuck out, and just plain sick of "my best self," because to be frank, she's really annoying. My best self doesn't always have a sense of humour because she's too busy being "the best," she sees setbacks as failures instead of experiences, she puts actual importance in the false self-validity that is social media, and she thinks one missed workout will determine her entire summer. In short, she kind of sucks. It's like, take it easy, you're not Madonna. 

For 2016, while I have goals I'd like to achieve, passion projects to continue, baby weight to shed, and places to experience, I'm not merely defined by this and if I don't get around to all of it this year, as the French say, ça va. I'm grateful for the present and what I have right in front of me. In the fall, I received a part-time job that I absolutely adore writing about France for a travel company, I live with my dear love and a mini version of him, I get to carve out time to write and to do some youtube workout video that I scream at, and we got a Vegetti to make those zucchini noodles. It's little things, but it works for me right now.

So I may be little chubbier where in some photos taken over the holidays make me still look pregnant (awesome), my interests may have shifted from Fashion Week to formula, and a high-five worthy goal lies in the proper execution of a goop meal (finding the ingredients I think are half the battle!), but it's just perfect for now, taking it not day by day, but hour by hour. Perhaps this is the evolved version of my best self, the rewrite, and I like this chick. She's fun to be around and definitely more flexible with what life throws her way.

So I wish you a very happy New Year and cheers to your best self! Whatever the script may be...

adventures in baby-raising vol. I: avoid getting kicked out of places.

my new ride.

Getting around Paris with a now almost ten-pound baby attached to me has limited my daily jaunts around the city, keeping me at home more than I'd like to be. It is also cementing the additional baby weight onto me where I feel like I will be in a perpetual state of stretch pants since nothing fits yet. Between the gray bone-chilling weather that is winter in Paris, it taking about an hour to get out of the house where I always forget something and having been recently reminded that we now live in a world where attacks have become a new norm, has made leaving the house increasingly undesirable. 

I look back on my early Paris days of 2009 and marvel at just how carefree life was. I had no attachments and felt safe from senseless acts of violence as I blithely lived out my Paris adventures as if I was Brigitte Bardot. Never did I imagine that I would be a matriarch to a household several arrondisements away from where I started, and living with the fear that I could be helpless in protecting my baby from this new world we live in. Unsettling doesn't even begin to describe how this feels.

When I do leave the house now, after days in when it starts getting a little too "Flowers in the Attic" as I watch the season progress from my window, it is usually for a good reason, like going to the market, the post office, or one day in particular getting my baby's passport photo taken.

I feel like in general getting passport photos taken is such an arduous task. Very few people look attractive faced front and center with their hair tucked behind their ears with their lips pressed together. Can't the standards be changed to something a bit more glamorous, or at least appealing? I feel bad for government officials who have to look at these terrible photos all day long. When I look at my official document photos (and well, photos of me in general at the moment) I wonder, "God, do I really look like this?" My photo on my French resident card is particularly unfortunate. My eyebrows are uneven from an ambitious plucking session where one eye looks like it has a caterpillar sleeping above it, and the other is in an eternal state of inquiry. It is so noticeable that the last time I was at Charles de Gaulle Airport, I was asked what happened by the customs agent who then advised me to always get my eyebrows shaped by a professional. Merci.

On the day of the baby's passport photo, I bundled him up in his Michelin Man puffy coat that sends him in such a screaming frenzy and stuffed him into the carriage, where all you could see was a little head floating in a sea of plush. While he doesn't love being constrained, the soothing nature of the stroller has him asleep within seconds. And thank God for that. I'm not an advanced enough mommy to handle walking down the street impervious to a wailing infant. 

It was a late autumn day where the city under the blanket of foliage looked like it had been gilded with a paint brush. I was wishing that the baby would wake up to see his first autumn; the leaves falling from the trees similar to the way that the first sprinkling of snow falls. 

I arrived at the photography shop that I carefully selected, as they specialize in infant passport photos. Pushing the door with one hand and with the other stabilized on the stroller, it would not open. I tried again, but to no avail. A man inside the shop could be seen through the window watched me struggle, but did not offer much more acknowledgment of my presence than staring at me with indifferance. It was then that it occurred to me that the store was closed for lunch, something after all of these years in France, I still fail to take into account. With ten minutes left of his break, I politely nodded to him in a way that I thought communicated that I respected his break and would wait. I clicked the break of the stroller and took my phone out to do what all new parents do when they have a free moment: take yet another photo of their baby sleeping.

As I was snapping away, hoping that a fresh fallen leaf would find its way onto the stroller for his official "look! baby's first fall" pic, the door of the photography shop jolted open. 

"Qu'est-ce que vous voulez?" The man who had been staring at me through the window said with some force.

Sensing that I had somehow disturbed him, I didn't answer his jarring question asking me what I wanted, and told him that I was more than fine with waiting until he reopened at 3 pm. Since it was such a beautiful day, I had no problem hanging out for another five minutes. He ignored my sincerity and motioned with impatience for me to come in. Okay. Being a new stroller driver, entering the store consisted of a few thuds, bangs and cumbersome maneuvering of my new wheels as I tried to get up the small stoop. Watching the baby shift from side to side as I awkwardly handled his vehicle while the man huffed in my ear from my inexperience only made me nervous, not to mention really hot as I felt like my scarf was slowly trying to strangle me.  

I was asked again what I wanted but this time with a little more gusto, I told him passport photos. 

"French passport photos?" He barked. (Yes, barked.) 

I confirmed French, as well as a set of American sized photos. 

"We don't do that." He said pulling his head back as if my request was simply unheard of. 

I explained that the difference between a French and American photo is merely the sizing by a few millimeters. Surely a photography store is able to create different sized photos, right? 

"No." He insisted, shaking his head to underscore the impossibility.

Okay, no problem. I'll just get a set of photos compatible for French documents, I told him. 

He then peeked in the carriage and flung his arms up in the air.

Now what did we do? 

"Mais, il dort!" He responded to my thoughts. 

Well, of course the baby was sleeping, he was fresh out of the womb. That's what babies do, they sleep, I wanted to tell him. I also wanted to remind him this was my first time taking passport photos for a newborn and came to him because I assumed it was not his. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I don't have a quick tongue in French and couldn't convey a snippy response to his apparent distaste for us. Once he was done shaming me for having a sleeping newborn baby, I'd had enough and asked him to simply ease up. 

"Doucement, monsieur," I said to him, gently holding up my hands to press against the aggression he was imposing upon me. "Soyez gentil."

"You don't think I am being nice?" He turned to me with wide eyes.

"Well, frankly, not really," I admitted with a shrug. 

"D'accord, on a fini," he said, tripping over the stroller to open the door. "Cassez-vous, alors. Bon journée."

Not quite sure what was going on, as my brain was translating, I stood there frozen in shock. Cassez-vous? Wait, what was going on? He was not just telling me to leave his store but telling me to get the hell out. Cassez-vous! Who says that to a customer? A woman? A new mother? At least he was speaking formally in vous...and then it occurred to me that it was possible he was speaking in plural, which meant his rage was also directed towards a newborn who dared to fall asleep in his "studio." Seriously. What. An. Ass.

With my jaw literally dropped as he stood there holding the door open, he gripped on about how he opened the store five minutes early for me and that I was ungrateful. On the sidewalk I screamed, "I told you to finish! I was in no rush!" but before I could relay even a fraction of my point, the door had been slammed in my face leaving us on the sidewalk with my embassy appointment days away without official passport photos. 

I looked down at the baby whose blue eyes were starting to open, unaware of the mayhem that has just taken place, and was responding to his surroundings. He couldn't process the information fast enough as his eyes flickered to the sounds of cars and pedestrians on the sidewalk, the cool air, and his mother in mild distress grunting in aggravation over getting kicked out of a store. His eyes then followed an gold autumn leaf that trickled from above and fell on to the blanket he was bundled in. He laughed. And it was just perfect. In a world that can be so ugly, sometimes it's worth seeing it through the eyes of a baby's small scope where everything is new and simply beautiful. 

(But really, fuck that guy.)