Day 139: It's Friday. Respire.

This week has been way too long to say the very least. Too much has happened and unfortunately it's things that I don't even want to recount with you dear readers in my effort to move on from an otherwise frustrating situation (Hint: Katie the crazy sublet). One day I'll open up about it, but certainly not tonight. I'm beat. I need to focus on what the point of this whole blog was, being positive and exorcising all b.s from my life. I've done it before and I'll do it again.

Moving on from that, I received an e-mail this afternoon from my second cousin Vinny (yes, I really have two cousin Vinnys) saying that he is going to be in Paris. Tonight. TONIGHT!? He was in London on vacation and decided to spend a few days à Paris! A little crazy Italiano time would be exactly what I need in order to jump start the autumn season, my favorite season. He's coming along with his friend Paul from Ireland and I have offered them my flat to camp out at while I stay at Séb's for the weekend. Ahhhh! I now need to tidy my apartment, look less stressed and get ready to kick my heels up. Watch out Paris, a real Queens boy is coming to an arrondissement near you.

If I never write on this blog again it's because we got into some New Yorkers gone wild mischief here in Paris. After a week like this, Ella needs a cocktail. Cheers et bon weekend.

Day 138: Almost Get Arrested in France.

Last night Aurélien had taken my mother and me out for dinner during her 36-hour layover near her hotel in the 13th. It was unexpected that he'd pick up the tab because we had invited him, and me being used to deadbeat boyfriends figured either me or my mom would foot the bill, so it was a lovely change. When is he going to turn and stop being so fabulous? His amazing qualities are starting to scare me. My boyfriends would have shown their true colors and would pretty much suck by now, but Aurélien continues being a wonderful person, at the risk of sounding trite. Maybe this is the way it's supposed to be? Who knew? Certainly not me...

Aurélien, being a bit shy and my mother being, well, my mother I thought would pose somewhat of a challenge over dinner where I anticipating having to keep the conversation flowing to balance out the French and English. Dinner with my mom and Monsieur Flâneur was always kind of easy because he flat out didn't speak English (which he made no apologies for) so translating was expected of me and I got quite good at quickly bouncing back and forth between the two languages. With Aurélien, he does speak English and I don't want to insult him with translations, but there are moments when I don't know if his silence means that he doesn't understand or simply doesn't know how to respond. With my mom who says absolutely what's on her mind, both possibilities are conceivable making dinner a bit tricky. I can tell my mom likes him or at least wants to like him because she proposed dessert and coffee at the hotel restaurant before Aurélien and I vespa'd back to the Marais.

We walked into the chicly decorated hotel restaurant bar and sat on a plush velour couch to peruse the dessert and cocktail menu. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a small congregation of servers closely discussing something while looking over at us. Having been a server myself, this discussion looked far more intense than the typical server chat of who would take the table. There seemed to be some anxiety in their body language and facial expressions. Aurélien and my mom didn't realize this and were chatting lightly about the menu and laughing at my mom's French pronunciation. I then saw the manager go to the circle of servers and was intently listening while also looking over at us. What was going on? Was there something on my face? No. Was my mom underdressed? No. Were we sitting at a reserved table? No. A server then came over and asked to speak to my mom. My mom who as we all know doesn't speak French looked at me. "What's the problem, sir?" I politely asked him. "The problem is that you and your mother did not pay for your check the last time you were here," he said sternly with several servers and the manager behind me like a waitstaff mafia. I looked at Aurélien whose eyes widened at hearing this. Naturally, he was horrified. His new girlfriend and her mother were accused of dining and ditching. Oh. my. god.

To be honest, there is an element of truth to this accusation but please allow me to explain. And no, I'm not trying to pull a fast one where my sublet thief's actions are rubbing off on me, there is a valid explanation here. I swear! The last time my mom and I were at the hotel, which was last week, and for 45 minutes, we could not get the server's attention to give us the check. My mom needed to sleep before working another eight-hour flight the next morning. Having waved him down several times where my requests went ignored, I walked over to the busboy and asked if he could just print out the check for us. The busboy who didn't speak English or French just looked at me. I pulled out the post-it pad that I keep in my purse and wrote "Chambre 505" for him to give to the server to charge the room. Unfortunately, the server was nowhere to be found so I couldn't point at him to clarify the request. 

"Did you tell him?" my mom asked on our way to the elevator. "Yeah, but I don't think he understood, so I wrote it down," I responded. "Ok, it should be fine, they have my card on file. I just want to go to sleep." my now groggy mother said. It's sad but my mom is getting older and these transcontinental flights are beating her up more and more. As much as I love seeing her here, what I really want is for her to retire soon. I know she is going to kill me for writing that but it's the truth. I want her to stop smoking and to stop working, even if it means I'll have to start paying full fare for plane tickets. I don't care.

The following morning at check-out, my mom realized that our dinner was not on the bill and my mom being an honest person (A pain, yes. A schemer, no.) told the reception what had happened and if they had the bill. The receptionist said that nothing had been reported from the night before and that it's fine. Being in France where customer service has yet to be invented, the receptionist obviously didn't feel like investigating any further and just handed my mom the incomplete bill for her to sign. Okay. My mom informed her that she would be back the following week and to keep the card on file to charge her should the bill come to surface. The receptionist nodded and smiled. You'd think we were asking them to do us a favor with how unwilling they were to look into the situation.

"It's for them, not me! I'm practically begging to pay that bill!" she said while loading her suitcase in the employee bus going to Charles de Gaulle. Since my mom comes to this hotel once a week she wanted this settled one way or another. Can you blame her?

Clearly, nothing was communicated or settled and the server ended up having to pay the 20euros check and was looking at my mother and I like we were low-class thieves. He even mumbled something about the police. The police?! That, my mom understood! "I'm going to French jail over the theft of the Quiche Lorraine?" she cried. "Well at least let me order another glass of wine before dealing with this!" What the server actually said was that he could call the police not that he was going to. My mom understands French nouns, preferably cognates, so she reacted to the one word that is internationally understood; the police. 

This was supposed to be the official meeting of my mother and new boyfriend and it was just horrible. I explained to the unsympathetic server what had happened last week and to please bring us the bill where we would sign for it. Aurélien didn't seem terribly phased by what had happened, either that or he has a good poker face but as soon as he excused himself to go to the men's room, my mother grabbed my arm. "I'm mortified!" she said completely embarrassed by what had happened. "Me too," I said with my hands rubbing my temple. Aurélien returned and the rest of our evening was extremely awkward. My mother and I felt like blue-collared criminals as we guiltily ate our strawberry crème brulée.

My mom is terrified of her hotel now and doesn't want to come to Paris for a while. I don't blame her. Although it was an honest misunderstanding, it felt horrible to be accused of stealing, even if it was just for a quiche. I don't know how some people live with themselves...

Day 137: Root Your Friends On!

This blog is in dire need of a positive post that has nothing to do with home invasions, parties and panties. Let's put the sublet drama aside for a second and focus on something more constructive, say, the release of friend's book? I couldn't think of a better way to turn the tide. Today I am so proud to announce the release of my dear friend Brett Sills' first novel "My Sweet Saga", his love letter to Sweden or even chick-lit written by a guy. God bless. And yes, I am shamelessly plugging his book because I love this guy.

Brett isn't just a flash in the pan friend, a bar buddy that you only find things in common with once you get drunk (he actually doesn't drink - I know, what do we have in common?). Brett is the real deal, one of my oldest friend, up there with Kitty, who I love and has a way of pissing off this feisty Italian with flawless finesse.

Brett and I date back to 1996 when kids our age were experimenting with bong hits and beer pong at suburban house parties. Us on the other hand could be found on Friday nights, nerding out in AOL Indie Rock chat rooms where heated debates on whether the (at the time) newly released album of Pavement's Brighten the Corners was better than the indie darling album Slanted and Enchanted and if Sleater-Kinney was selling out because they were featured in Spin Magazine's 'Top 10 to Watch' were had. Along with Brett, was musician Adam Green, tv/radio personality Jake Fogelnest, Yoko and other friends who have since gone on to becoming successful artists and photographers. Within these cyberwalls, The Indie Rock Brat Pack was born.

Discussions in these chatrooms were taken with as much seriousness as a political debate. While the boys got away with letting their teenage opinions run free, me being one of the few token girls allowed in the Indie Rock Boy's Club, had to choose my words gingerly because these guys were a tough crowd. My shy 15 year old girl indie rock commentary would usually get lost in one of Jake's multi-lined rants about a cute girl he had seen at the show at Tramps that evening and asking us if we thought she dug him. Of course she did, they always did. Jake was a babe magnet who had a show on MTV that he filmed out of his bedroom. Major points, especially at 15.

1996, a gilded time where there was always a faint taste of blood in my mouth from the wires of my braces scraping the back walls of my gums, Delia's catalog pastel colored sparkle gel eyeshadow crusting up on the lids of my eyes and life's decisions were deciding whether we were all going to meet up at Other Music or Ray's Pizza on St. Marks. Life was good. The 90's was a lovely time to be a teenager, good music was easy to find, MTV played videos, the economy was booming and text messaging didn't exist. Paradise. Anyone who knows me knows that I think that text messaging is the downfall of social interaction and proper communication. In short, I absolutely despise it. 

Once college came, the group slowly dissipated where Brett and I remained in touch and both went off to the Pacific Northwest for school. Him, Portland, Oregon at the renowned liberal arts school, Reed College and me, Olympia, Washington to the "festive" liberal everything school, Evergreen State College. To the present, where he is now a successful writer living in Los Angeles and me, a starving blogger living in Paris. I'm the crazy watered down version of him.

Brett, 15 years after meeting on-line has just released his first novel and I couldn't be prouder. Since it's not available in Europe yet, I'll have to wait until I go back to The States to get my hands on it but for those of you who are there, it's definitely worth checking it out. He's got a sharp wit, is brutally honest, tells a great story and has a likeable voice. Isn't that what we're all looking for in a book? Now I just have to get his cul over here in Paris to write the sequel.

Ok, Now I'm off to try to sneak into Paris Fashion Week shows where I'll just end up being the fat girl on the sidewalk. Hey, no one said living in the most glamorous city in the world was easy.

Day 135: It Keeps Getting Better.

Illustration from FFFFound!

Kindly sense the sarcasm in the post title because we're about to launch into another shady sublet story. Will it ever end? I think I am going to be dealing with this miscreant for the rest of my life. Is this punishment for being single and broke? I swear it is. And Paris, while you're worth the trouble, you're starting to push the envelope a bit.

Batch two of my belongings that she claimed that she "just found" was delivered after I sent another scathing e-mail looking for my wide-legged jeans and perfume. Batch two? There shouldn't have even been a batch one but that was her chance to come clean with everything which she failed miserably to do. So once again, I had to get people in New York involved to get my things, because she couldn't follow instructions the first time around.

Not wanting to put my mother through that again, I had asked my dear friend Paul to retrieve the "remaining" items from her. He agreed to have her drop them off at his apartment on the Lower East Side yesterday afternoon. Paul and I met at Alliance Française in New York and never in my wildest imagination did I think he would be collecting stolen goods sloppily taken from my Paris apartment a mere 3 years later. Life is certainly funny. Ha. Ha.

After receiving a cryptic message from Paul on Facebook saying the crow flew at midnight which in Paul code meant that their hand off was complete, I called him via Skype to thank him and to get brief run down of the exchange. My crazy sublet who is crying poor rolled up in front of Paul's apartment in a sleek white Mercedes and handed him my things from the driver's side window. "She seemed surprisingly nice." Paul noted. Of course she's nice, she's a sociopath. They all appear to be nice. I'm sure if I had a drink with Casey Anthony she would seem sweet as pie too while she fed me lies about her life and swiped my wallet out of my bag. That's part of the illness. I would much prefer to be confronted with a raging lunatic than a sociopath, at least I'd know what to expect. They are harder to detect and come across like your best friend as they are plotting ways to royally screw you over. Unfortunately, this hasn't been my first tryst with this sneaky disorder.

On the phone, Paul and I went over the inventory together. The expected items were there, jeans, perfume, teddy (still can't accept that one) and then some unexpected items like shorts, a mini skirt and a bag full of panties. What? Not just one article of lingerie was stolen but a bag full? And panties, no less! There is something deeply wrong with this girl. I went from thinking that I had a party animal Pete Doherty maniac living in my flat to now a used panty-sniffing Buffalo Bill psychopath dancing around my apartment in used lingerie. Did she not think that I wore them the way all girls do? In the same spot? This takes feeling creeped out to new heights.

"Ok, so there are ten pairs in here," Paul delicately confirmed. I take back what I wrote earlier, never in my wildest imagination did I think that my Alliance Française classmate would be doing a headcount of my panties out of a ziplock bag. Sorry, Paul.

This girl is going to have a lot of problems in her life and I feel sorry for her family and who ever crosses her path next. Hopefully this story has gotten out before she gets to her next victim because I doubt this girl will ever learn. She doesn't feel sorry like she claims she is in her e-mails, she's sorry because she got caught and I'm not as sweet and gentle as I come across (a rookie mistake). I mean come on, look at who my mother is, of course being feisty is going to rub off, especially when provoked and robbed! I'm talking to you too, Paris!

Why do I feel like this isn't the end of the shady sublet? What's next? All I know is that I will never forget this experience as long as I live.

Day 134: Surprise Date! Part Deux!

Peas Pass the Salt and Pepper Shakers
Available at

Aurélien loves the surprise date. He texted me with the proposal of a secret date advising me to wear flats because we would be outdoors. With full confidence, I accepted because the last surprise date we went on was a success where I didn't end up doing something ridiculous like hiking in high heels and had faith that it would be something that we would both enjoy. He showed up at my house at 6:30 pm to pick up his mademoiselle and because he rode his bike over, he was wearing these horrendous tight, mustard colored, rolled up bike pants. Half-joking, I suggested that on our way to dinner to La Candelaria, that we would stop at The Kooples to get him suitable pants for the evening where he kissed my head at my snide comment. 

Walking up rue Vieille du Temple and passing the closed Kooples boutique, I couldn't believe what my eyes saw. The same exact pants he was wearing were displayed in the window and modeled on the mannequin rolled up at the ankles. Seriously? "They copied my look! he faux-tested with a pumped fist in the air. "I'm going to sue!" 

Going to La Candelaria was my idea because we wanted something casual, easy and (somewhat) quick before launching into our outdoor "surprise date" that he had planned. To be frank, this isn't one of my favorite places in Paris. Yes, I know, I know it's all of the Paris bloggers' darling hotspot but I just have never been terribly impressed with the food. Living in Southern California for 5 years and my father was half Mexican makes me a drop picky with my tacos. In Candelaria's defense, they serve Mexican food by way of Spain giving the cuisine a different flavor which is probably what's throwing me off. And for this ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm not a food critic, I tend to always miss the point. They do get major kitch points because there is no place like it in Paris and for the most part we both enjoyed our hard shell beef tacos at the counter that we washed down with 'international' Dos Equis beers that boasted international prices. Being early, 7pm which is like sunrise by Parisian dining standards, we weren't stuffed in there like my ass in my grandmother's vintage skirt therefore we were able to enjoy our feast in peace and quickly order seconds as we all know having just one taco is not even close to possible.

After dinner, we took a leisurely walk through the Marais and across the bridge to rive gauche on our way to secret date time. He took me to The Seine along the 5th arrondisement where he pulled out a bottle of Bordeaux to enjoy before we challenged ourselves with Brazilian dancing on the water. Trop mignon! Forro en Seine organizes community dancing every weekend along the water where it's a mixed bag of dance levels. Aurélien and I were certainly on the lower end of the talent spectrum, but we were there to have fun which the Forro en Seine team encouraged; "A child can do it! Allez!" to quote one of the enthusiastic staff members. At one point, Aurélien and I switched partners where I was teamed up with I swear, the French Charlie Sheen. He looked exactly like him, the resemblance was uncanny. 'Charlie' was a dance pro and had me flailing around the cobblestone dance floor like his little rag doll. I was terrified of falling into the non-guarded river's edge and having my head sliced off by the many tourist cruises going by. Morbid, yes but completely possible.

Once 'Charlie' had found a more appropriate dance partner and my life wasn't an inch away from the edge of a major river, I gratefully found my way back to dancing with Aurélien, someone equally as inept as me. Dancing on a cool September night made me feel like a star in a movie shot in Europe. The music, the dancing, the aforementioned boats that made the river sparkle as they sailed by and being surrounded by jovial Europeans who were drinking wine, laughing and enjoying life. This is why I came to Paris in the first place and for the first time in a long time, I was one of those people again. Moments like these are few and far between, but when they happen, it's well worth the heartache that comes with being a foreigner trying to sort through a poorly shuffled deck of cards that she was dealt with.

Bon Dimanche, tout le monde.

La Candelaria
52, rue de Saintonge
75003, Paris

Day 133: Coffee Talk with Mom.

Illustration by Tabitha Emma

Nothing is more stressful than meeting the parents of your new significant other. I had somewhat passed the first meeting with Aurelien's parents last week but there's always room to change their opinion down the line. Never get too comfy with the family, you'll never be 100% 'in'. So, let's just say I passed part 1. Like everyone else on this green earth, he has heard so much about my mom that he was very much anticipating on meeting her. Unfortunately for Séb, he didn't get the one week heads up that I did before I met his parents and my mom showed up at my door in Paris at 8am while we were less than dressed in bed. For those of you just jumping in, my mother is a flight attendant and gets sent to Paris at the last minute where I am "delighted" with her unexpected presence.

"She's coming now? She's here?" he asked in a panic while putting the brown Mad Men thick rimmed glasses her wears before putting his contacts in. "Yes, here! Get up!" I said and smacked his behind for emphasis on the urgency of the situation. I cracked open my door where I could hear my mother breathlessly huffing up the stairs. "Why isn't there an elevata?" she could be heard asking herself. "What's wrong with this place? After a long flight, I have to walk up 6 flights of spiral stairs. Utterly ridiculous." My mom has been to Paris a million times and knows that an elevator in a building is a special feature and most buildings don't guarantee one. "I can hear you, Mom!" I shouted out to the empty hallway. "Good!!" her voice echoed up the stairs.

I greeted her at the door without a stitch of makeup revealing my ghost white skin and my hair half up with frizzy curls framing my face. "You look like Howie Mandell," she said as she pushed her way past me and going straight to the bathroom, "And it smells like sex in here." Mom! "No, it doesn't," I said defensively as I securely closed the bathroom door behind her, "You're a liar." It's true, it really didn't. A bit stuffy? Yes, but it certainly did not smell like fits of passion. Aurelien who understands English perfectly well, looked terrified and rushed over to open the window before making coffee for the three of us.

As refreshed as she could be after working a 7-hour flight, my mom emerged from the bathroom smelling like my Marc Jacobs Biscotti body splash mixed with Lily of the Valley hand cream. She extended her hand out to Séb and introduced herself. "Bonjooooooour! I'm Madame Coquine." she said with her hand extended. Séb who is not naturally accustomed to handshakes and was slightly leaning in for a kiss prompted my mom to accuse him of thinking she didn't wash her hands after her bathroom trip. "What?! They're clean!" she snapped at him. "I know, Madame. I'm sorry." he responded nervously and extended his hand to shake it. "Don't apologize, she's being a pain." I assured him as I set the table.

I gestured for us all to sit for breakfast in the west wing of my apartment which is located a scenic 2 inches away from where were standing. We sat cramped at my tiny kitchen table, eating packaged Belle France pain au chocolat and drinking our coffee in bowls. (No, I'm not trying to be all French, my mugs also went missing during the sublet scandal of 2011. I swear, she probably tossed them out because she just didn't feel like washing them. Connasse.) Aurelien starting rolling a cigarette and tried to spark up conversation with my mom who interrupted him as she zeroed her eyes in on his cigarette. "What are you, smokin' a joint ova there?" she asked. "No, Madame," Aurelien said in his extremely thick French accent, "It is a cigarette. Would you want to try some?" he offered knowing that my mom smokes. "No, I have my own. Thank you," she said while holding up his little baggie of filters. "So, do we look alike?" she asked Aurelien while pressing her cheek up against mind and staring back at him with wide eyes. "Well, I hope I don't look like that, when you make that ugly face!" I pulled back. "Yes, very much. I would say so. Not with the face, like Ella said but when you are normal, yes." Aurelien didn't know what the hell to say. My mom and I are like a tornado and it's hard to keep up. He was smart to stay quiet. 

"Oh!" my mom said abruptly breaking the silence, "I have some things for you." She went to the door to fetch her bag and pulled out 5 FedEx shipping bags. I had recently placed a used book order with Amazon and had them shipped to her house in order to avoid paying the international shipping and they had all arrived last week. Like Christmas morning, I ripped them all open in excitement. I love getting book deliveries! It's like when the book club books came in 3rd grade, pure bliss! "Almost French" by Sarah Turnbull, "The Heart of Love" by Dr. John Demartini, "Little Birds" by Anais Nin, an autobiography of Serge Gainsbourg and "Cool Baby Names" by wait, what? Cool Baby Names? I did not order this. Because it was used there was no packing slip and according to the back, I had paid 75 cents (plus 5 dollars for shipping) for it, so disputing it would be useless. Aurelien looked over, read the title and his eyes looked as if they were going to pop out of his skull. It was awful. "I swear I didn't order this!" I pleaded. With a lit cigarette in her hand, my mom said, "Is there something you want to tell us?" No really, I didn't order this! I have no idea what was supposed to be in place of this. I must have clicked around too fast but I certainly didn't order this. Besides, I already have my baby names picked out therefor I don't need a book called Cool Baby Names.

Aurelien being laid back didn't seem to really care about the book (as he shouldn't!) and seemed only slightly scared of my mom. She really is harmless and somewhat easy to impress, but like me, she too felt a little burned by Monsieur Flâneur as she treated him like her own son and is taking her time before opening up to the next boyfriend. With good reason, Mom.

She's only in town for 36 hours but will be back next week for a proper dinner meeting with Aurel. Later that day, I spoke to my French guy friends who lectured me that I'm moving too fast and to be careful. Parental introductions are huge and while I appreciate their concern, I am taking it as slow as I can. It's hard to keep my mother, a huge part of my life away for that long, especially when she comes to France several times a month and shows up at my front door unannounced. Bringing him to meet my family in New York would be moving too fast, I did that two times already and it blew up in my face. I'd say that our impromptu meeting was a success and my mom thinks he is just "adooorable.....but we'll see..." We'll see indeed.

Day 132: Have A Mini Dinner Party.

I'm finally getting comfortable with my flat and recently just started sleeping at home alone again. I reserved an entire day to disinfect and too deep clean where I moved all the furniture, conditioned the rug, pulled out the vacuum and got in all the nooks and crannies of my humble abode that was abused by a pute. Upon cleaning, I discovered rolling papers, condom wrappers, empty water bottles, a helmet that I've never seen before and more of my clothes crumbled up and stuffed in corners. My favorite part of my crazy summer sublet's e-mails have been when she claims that she left my apartment exactly the way I did. Is this girl out of her mind? I certainly did not leave it in squalor with trails of debauchery and madness, you crazy broad.

Throughout this whole sublet brouhaha, Aurélien has been amazing. Monsieur Flâneur would have yelled at me, told me it was all my fault (perhaps), that I have too many articles of clothing (partially true) and would blow off my feelings calling them dramatic and irrational (what a jerk). Aurélien, on the other hand, was calm, helpful and looked for solutions by not adding more to my problems with annoying side comments. Why was I engaged to MF again? The more time that passes where I am able to see the relationship from a distance, the more I realize what a jerk he was and how I had the patience of a saint. Bon débarras is all I can say.

With my sparkling clean apartment and to say thank you for being so amazing, I invited Aurélien over for dinner. Arriving promptly at 7pm, he was welcomed with a plate of smoked salmon accompanied by a yogurt dill sauce, a bowl of Terra chips and a chilled bottle of champagne for a little pre-dinner apéro. Dinner was a simple herb marinated chicken breast, lemon honey glazed carrots, rosemary roasted potatoes, a bottle of Bourgogne and a warm baguette that we enjoyed to the soundtrack of my new favorite TSF Jazz station

We ended up staying up until 1 in the morning talking, laughing and playing our favorite game of English and French slang hangman where we teach each other obsolete expressions in our native languages. The hit of the night was chanmé which I roughly translate to "that's off the hook", a truly ridiculous expression in both languages. We finished the bottle of wine, were delightfully toasted and collapsed into bed by 2am. My relationship with him is easy. He lets me focus on my life and what I need to do and doesn't smother me, overwhelm me or make me feel anxious and stressed. That's what my life with MF was like; difficult. I'm too old for difficult, life is hard enough.

We woke up this morning an hour before the alarm went off to my phone ringing. It was from an out of area number. It was my mom. She was in Paris. Paris as in downstairs in front of my apartment. Oy! "Let me up, I have to pee." she barked into the phone. You would think that I live in Queens by the way she pops in on me. Pressing the intercom buzzer, I alerted the half-awake Aurélien about our visitor. This would be his first time meeting the legendary Madame Coquine. So how did our little Français do? On verra demain!

Day 130: Make An Ass Out of Yourself.

Illustration by Cherry Bam

With all of the mayhem and madness of my return back to Paris, I have been emotionally exhausted and stressed, making going back to the gym a major non-option - I just haven't had it in me. But since I'm paid up for the year, I need to justify the fee by going at least several times a week, plus I'm having a French food appreciation resurgence leaving my clothes a bit on the "snug" side. So off to the gym my expanding butt went.

I needed to force myself to go to my Body Attack class where I burn up to 1000 calories but was feeling sluggish as I was pulling down my sports bra, and then it hit me! My motivation jolted! It was Tuesday which meant that the class was being taught by Antoine! Antoine, the deliciously cute instructor who would make anyone want to work out. At the risk of sounding totally cheesy, this guy is sizzling.

I arrived ten minutes early to watch the step class he teaches before my class, where he is like Fred Astaire on his step. I have never seen anyone float, glide and pirouette on a Reebok step before. Clearly, on top of his Adonis duties and being God's gift to France, I'm assuming Antoine is also a dancer. Not having seen him in a few months, he looked even better than I remember. Mind you, I was also in a deep depression and a gold lion like this can only be fully appreciated and understood with a focused mind. My mind was certainly on track last night - this guy is delicious.

Probably feeling watched and/or lusted after, Antoine sharply turned his head to the left where he saw my little face peeking between the schedules taped on the glass door of the fitness room. Busted. I tried to look casual but when I try to look casual I do this weird thing where I pretend to be chewing gum and squint at something in the distance like I'm deep in thought. Unfortunately for me, my face probably spoke volumes, as it always does, so he knew what I was up to no good, with or without the pensive fake gum act.

Antoine is tall and muscular with chiseled facial features, short brown hair, olive toned skin and frankly, I just want to climb on him. Really, he is a wall of man. I generally go for more compact guys who are short and petit (think Ben Stiller's build), but every so often a beefcake tickles me fancy. Aye!

The step class ended and as the step students were leaving through the backdoor Antoine came and opened the front door for us waiting for Body Attack. Being at the front, Antoine and I made lingering eye contact. The heat of the room from the previous class wafted on my face as he opened the door intensifying our reunion. I swear I heard Prince's "When Doves Cry" playing somewhere, probably in my head. "Bonjour, I see that America is back." he said in a husky low voice with a smirk. Being in an Antoine haze and having been thinking dirty thoughts sprinkled with Prince lyrics a mere seconds before, the only breathy words that came out of my mouth as we stood face to face were "Miam." 

It's official, I. am. disgusting. 

For my non-francophone readers, I just said "Yummy" to him. Yummy? Who says that? Ever. I have serious problems. Antoine looked at me, uncomfortably looked left, looked right and broke the silence with an enthusiastic "Ok, Allez-up!" he said with a clap as he gestured the waiting students to come in.

Feeling ridiculous, I avoided all Antoine eye contact and focused on my fitness. Having not gone in two months, the class severely kicked my ass and was dripping sweat by the end of the hour of pure torture. I tried to sneak out before Antoine could get to the door where he says goodbye to everyone, but I couldn't gather my things fast enough by the time he was already there. Maybe he forgot my weird comment, I mean the class was intense and all of those endorphins charging through our system, I doubt he remembered what the weird American girl said an hour ago. Before reaching the safe haven of the lobby, in my ear I heard "Bon Appétit America" as I walked past him. Ah! Shocked, all I could reply was "Okay, merci. Au revoir," and shuffled out practically pressing my weight on the person in front of me who wasn't moving their ass fast enough. So, what do you know? Antoine is just as sleazy as me. Ok. I don't feel so bad but I may have to avoid his class for a few weeks.

Suggestive naughty girl comments aside, the last time I took Antoine's class, I remember being in a heartbroken fog where I thought he was cute but no one was as cute as Monsieur Flâneur, no one was as funny as Monsieur Flâneur, there was no one but Monsieur Flâneur. But you know what? There are guys out there who are cuter, funnier, smarter and more importantly...nicer than Monsieur Flâneur - and I happen to be dating one. Antoine is for hoots and hollers and for all I know is probably gay but it was a perfect return to the gym. 

Every day I feel a drop more recovered from my break-up where it's turning into a distant memory and am shedding myself from that sad little girl from last spring. I'm falling back in love with Paris, life, myself and seeing how fortunate I am in so many ways. Miam, miam? No, it's still not appropriate...

Day 129: Channel Lauren Hutton.

Autumn is here! Time for sweaters, scarves, knit, boots and hats! This is the time of year when I treat myself to vanilla lattes, a splurge at Wolford for a pair of chunk knit tights and an afternoon off to finally read the September issues of Vogue and Elle (American and French).

Today I wanted to channel one of my favorite 70's style icons Lauren Hutton and wear a button down shirt, my favorite wide legged high-waist jeans, a floppy hat and a leather messenger bag to carry the pounds of magazines. Taking a break from my admissions essays, I planned to sit in the park near my house and catch up on things that I can no longer afford. I jumped out of the shower and went to grab my jeans, hoping that I'd fit into them (which is always a concern with my fluctuating ass size). I love these jeans so much that I bought myself two pairs in light and dark denim at the now defunct Nolita boutique, 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly'. But wait, I couldn't wear these jeans because of course, they too have been stolen by Barbara Roy, the sublet from hell. Putain! No Lauren Hutton throwback for me. Damn this girl for robbing me of a good homage!

This blog should be called 'Surviving Getting Robbed in Paris' because this is taking way more of my time than it should. Every day I make a new discovery of what's been stolen. The new list is as followed: Tom Ford 'Black Orchid' perfume, knit knee-highs, 2 pairs of jeans and the grossest thing to find missing; a vintage grey silk teddy. I feel like a 'Golden Girl' for saying that I own one but I do, well did. It sounds much sleazier than it is but I used to wear this under high-waisted skirts and a cardigan. So she stole my socks, jeans, perfume and...teddy. It must have been Christmas morning in my apartment that day. 

I decided that I'm no longer dealing with this, I told her from the start that if she gave me everything up front that there would be no questions asked and that I would disappear but now I'm forced to put this in the hands of a professional. I have been very fair with her, somewhat patient but now this is going too far. Ça suffit!

Poor 22 year old Barbara is trying to get a job in fashion or beauty but unfortunately for her, people in fashion love to talk and this story has made it on to the desks of a lot of people. I can't imagine a grand larceny conviction being fun to explain during an interview. Hey, I'm not going to be the only one who has to learn a lesson here.

Day 128: Meet the Parents.

 Photo par moi

This day was bound to come. Meeting the parents at Sunday Lunch in the suburbs. Mon dieu. I generally love meeting the parents. In The States. Not to toot my own horn but parents love me. In The States. They think I'm cute, ambitious and interesting. In The States. Notice how I keep saying in The States? Because none of those are the case here. Here, I have to brush up on my vous and answer serious 'trick' questions on why I'm in France (Which decodes to: Are you going to move somewhere else once you get bored here?), don't my parents miss me (Are you a motherless orphan who has no family values?), what's my legal status (Are you using our son for a visa?) and for light and 'fun' conversation what do you think of the Obama administration? Yay, meeting the French parents. On y va?

I've met the French parents several times and this is generally how it goes so I wasn't wrong to be a little nervous. My mom knew that I was heading out for Sunday lunch and on her trip from New York, she brought me over a reserve bottle of my favorite California white La Crema to offer the parents. "Hooch always eases the tension," she said as she pulled out not one but two bottles out of her roller board to give to his parents. That takes care of the motherless child problem.

Meeting the friends last week went really well. I got stellar reviews and I absolutely adored them in return. It was obvious that Aurel talks about me quite a bit because they didn't interrogate me instead they asked follow-up questions to what Aurel had already filled them in on. They didn't pretend that they knew nothing about me like Monsieur Flâneur's snotty and territorial friends (And I was 'the bitch' because I didn't love them). Aurel's friends were concerned about the sublet fiasco and wanted to know how job hunting was going. And vice versa, I asked them thoughtful questions based on what Aurel hold told me about them which made everyone comfortable and we had a lovely time eating foie gras stuffed in figs, drinking crémant de bourgogne and capping the night with l'eau de vie. Friends approval. Check! Now, time for the family's approval. Not so easy.

Sunday morning, we boarded on a 10:00am train to Fountainebleu from Gare de Lyon where we nestled into the train, coffee in one hand, dry brioche from Brioche Dorée in the other and my August Cosmopolitan with Kim Kardashian on the cover tucked under my arm. "She looks like you," Aurel commented as he looked at the cover of a gorgeous, busty and glowing Kardashatante. "Merci but you're a damn liar and you also wear glasses," I said with a giggle. Although I'd love to believe him, I by no means look like Kim Kardashian. If I did, I would not be writing a blog about getting dumped, I'd be looking at myself in the mirror all day, like Kim. Just as the train was pulling out of the station, two men who cracked open some beers sat across from us who felt that we all wanted to enjoy the traditional Eastern European music that they were blasting out of their smartphone. Aurel and I looked at each but both shook our head assuming that they would turn it off at some point. But no, that didn't happen, in fact, they made it louder which in turn made their conversation louder. I made eye contact with one of the men and gently gestured to please lower it. My request went ignored. 5 minutes passed, the music now reaching higher octaves and was completely inappropriate on a Sunday morning, Aurel had asked if they could be please turn the music off or put on headphones. They didn't like this. In really rough and broken French he said "What, man?". Aurel calmly repeated his request noting that it was Sunday morning. "You want me to turn the music off when?" the drunk man responded. "Now? Tout de suite." Aurel responded, this time a bit sharper as he didn't like that he was clearly being played with. A few passengers nodded in agreement. No one was enjoying their music. Sorry, fellas. "Demung." the drunky mumbled. "Comment?" Aurel said looking at me with confusion. "Demung." he repeated with a smug smirk. "Excusez-moi mais j'ai pas compris." Aurel said with sincerity, he truly didn't understand what he was saying and then it hit both of us that he was trying to say Demain (I have trouble with that word too), tomorrow he said he was going to turn off his m cacophonous music tomorrow. Oh, ok, Sir. He then continued "Why don't I turn the music off after I throw you out the window and your little girlfriend can watch." One, the window opens up like two inches and two, shut up. I'm not the girlfriend in the corner who is going to start screaming because you threaten my boyfriend. This isn't 1957. We both said nothing and I had to pinch my leg to stop from laughing at his cheese ball threat. His friend, who I assume was less inebriated took the phone and turned the music off. "Merci," Aurel said to less than intoxicated man.

Halfway through the ride, the drunken duo moved over and sat in the seats next to us and proceeded to take photos of us with the incriminating smartphone. So if you find photos on the internet of pissed off passengers on the RER, that's us. We moved cars at the next stop to avoid any further confrontation because they had cracked open another beer and their alcohol blood level would surely trump their level of comprehension and logical thinking and frankly, we didn't want to get our asses kicked by these hooligans. Aurel and I aren't that tough. I know, what a shocker.

We arrived at the station and his mother was already there waiting to pick us up. She was with Aurel's uncle. Yes! An uncle! Uncles love me no matter where I am. As predicted, Uncle Jean was easy to talk to, hip and funny.

We walked into his house and were greeted by his immediate family. They were warm and I presented my wine gift to his mother and step-father (which means I still have the father and step-mother to meet). Whenever I present the French with a bottle of California wine, they look at is as if a spaceship just landed in their front yard. They examine the bottle, read the label, hold it as if it's a specimen and make comments amongst each other. The mother eventually warmed up to me after I got passed the tough questions during apéro and lunch was a relaxing cultural event. They always are here in France. Did I win her over? Certainly not, she's French but I could tell she liked me as much as she could allow herself to.

Who I did in fact win over was Aurel's 14-year-old brother Pierre. We bonded over how annoying it is to get your braces tightened (I remember those days like it was yesterday...), how fun sleep away camp is and how bacon chips rule. Deep topics.

You haven't truly 'met the parents' until you've met the French parents. They're tougher than most but once you get their approval it was well worth the light hazing. I think I still miss Madame Flâneur, whose family I was once terrified of. French mothers just want the best for their sons and ideally would want them to be with a nice French girl just like my family would like me to be with a nice Italian-American boy named Tony. I think I represented myself well, the indicator being that Aurel was pleased. Happy week everyone!

Day 126: Get Your Stuff Back. Part II.

Illustration by Cherry Bam

The case of the shady sublet thief is now coming to a close. Thank god. The drama, stress, and anxiety are enough to drive anyone insane. Just thinking of that creep packing my suitcase exploding with my things makes me sick. I have certainly learned to never do such a stupid thing again in my life by assuming that all people are normal, somewhat trust-worthy and operate as I would. Having been a sublet myself, I have never, ever went through someone else's things. For one, other people's things skeeve me out and two, nothing is more violating than having someone go through your things with their grubby little paws. With that being said here is the less than shocking conclusion to the worst sublet story of 2011.

My brother Andy received a phone call from 'Nicolette' who was crying hysterically into the phone saying that she is sorry for the mistake she had made and hoped that we wouldn't take legal action. After 5 minutes he had to cut her off. "Look, I'm on the treadmill. Call my mom." Dial tone. Thanks, Andy. Always a help. An hour later while my mom was watching The View and simultaneously reading page 6 of The Post, the phone rang and it was 'Nicolette' who was pulling the same 'Poor Me' act. The 'Poor Me' act never went well with my mother. If anyone knows that, it's me. "Mrs. Coquine?" a weeping voice on the other end crying. "Yeah?" my mother responded. "Hi, this is Nicolette. The girl who took your daughter's things in Paris," she said nervously. "Oh, the famous Nicolette, Kat, Barbie or whatever you want your name to be today. Yeah? What do you want? Are you ready to act like an adult and give her back the things she worked hard for!?" she bit. "Yeah, I will, um - I" Nicolette tried to speak but my mother cut her off. "No, you listen here. People work for the things that they have, not to be robbed by some little girl. Is that how your motha raised you? To steal things that don't belong to you and to disappear making my daughta's life a livin' hell? While you're dancing in the desert at a drug festival? Yeah, my daughta told me about Burnt Boys!" Burning Man, Mom, Burning Man... "I know, I know - I would like to," Nicolette said, "Like to what!?" For the record, I had asked my mom to remain calm during the transaction but her hot-blooded Italian genes would not allow such rational thinking. 

'Nicolette' had arranged for her brother to meet my mom to give everything back. I didn't blame 'Nicolette' for not wanting to meet my mother to exchange the goods, I'd be scared too. My mother proposed to have the exchange done by her brother at our Italian grocery store Da Vinci's across the street from the Waldbaum's Shopping Center. "I have to get some prosciutto anyway and talk to Frank's son about a platter, so have him meet me there." she told 'Nicolette' like she knows who Frank is. Before ending the call 'Nicolette' told my mother that we should be thankful that she is giving us the stuff back. In a way yes but seriously? 

My mother dramatically showed up at Da Vinci's wearing big sunglasses, a scarf top and yoga pants. She almost had the undercover look down. Oh, mom... I would have totally done the same thing (minus the yoga pants)! I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. 'Nicolette's brother whose name went from Brian to Bill to now David called my mother on her cell phone. "Hi, Mrs. Coquine. This is David, 'Nicolette's' brother. I have your daughter's stolen clothes." he said with a monotone on the other line. "Ok, I'm waiting here," I instructed my mother to be nice to him. He didn't do anything wrong and felt that 'Nicolette' had already gotten a good talking to and that we should conduct this as civil as possible so we can all move on. He showed up in a navy blue Mercedes SLK and my mother was standing with stacked arms with a clipboard with the list I had emailed her. He parked the car, and an Asian man came out. Her name is not Asian nor does the name Nicolette Barrone. They sent in a fake brother to do the exchange who was certainly not the crazy sublet or 'Nicolette's'. But at this point, whatever.

David opened the trunk to his convertible and pulled out a gun. Ok, I'm just kidding! Although I was fearing that. No, he pulled out the large stolen suitcase and presented it to my mother where she had him open it in the parking lot and go through each item as she read it off on her list. "Marc Jacobs Fall 2007 Stone Joseph Bag!" she shouted militantly. "Here!" David held it up with fear. My mom dramatically checked it off the list. "Dior Cannage Quilted Hobo!" she yelled. David frantically looked around the suitcase while my mom peered at him through her big Jackie O's. "Ma'am. What's a hobo?" he asked meekly. "Oh, they're adorable," my mom proceeded to explain, "They're big carry-alls, not much shape but really perfect for day trips and city outings!" She smiled. "Oh, that does sound nice." David agreed. They stared at each other in awkward silence. The Hobo was not in the suitcase. My mother made a note "Not there - must have sold it." David saw her note and felt inclined to apologize on behalf of his 'sister'. "I'm sorry for all of this, ma'am," he said. "It's not your fault, David. You have been put in an awkward situation where you have to hand over hot items," she said emphasizing on the hot items with finger quotes, "It happens." my mother said not able to resist her natural maternal instincts. David gave my mother everything that he had which was about 95% of the missing items, they shook hands and parted ways.

My mother called me via Skype shortly after the transaction to relay the events and told me that there were vintage sweaters of my grandmother's that were in there that I didn't notice was missing because they weren't on the list but the Dior Cannage, Marc by Marc Jacobs strapless dress and Lola perfume were missing. Of course, the most expensive thing was not in there. The Dior bag. While the other Marc bags were expensive, being so avant-garde, they'd be hard to sell. The Dior on the other hand practically sells itself.

Frustrated, I called Kitty who was getting fit for her wedding dress. Kitty is about to get married in 2 months but always has time to pick up my phone calls to talk me through my mini-dramas. God bless her. "Look if she doesn't come forward with the rest of your things, I will drive to Smithtown myself, skin her and make you a Dior bag and while I'm at it, a pouchette for me!" Gross. Just as I was going to indulge in more complaining, Kitty cut me off, "I have to go, I just got a text that one of my bridesmaids is pregnant. What's wrong with people? Can't they be horn dogs after the wedding? After the wedding people!" Click. Ok, bye, Kitty. Kitty is hardly a bridezilla, she just wants things done a certain way; simple, no pregnancies and no-nonsense hence why she planned, organized and managed everything herself because she didn't trust us (especially me!) to operate to her standards. Every bride has their own style and Kitty certainly has her own. 

My mom will bring my things to my minuscule Manhattan storage space where they will be safely stored until I am more settled in my life and feel comfortable having all of my prized possessions here. I thought I was getting to that point but apparently, I was wrong because I had to sublet to a crook. We live and learn and each one of these 'hiccups' as my grandmother calls them are life's lovely lessons. Can my 30's please be a little bit smoother? Or can I please be less stupid? One of these please...I'm flexible.

Thank you Momma Coquine for getting my things for me, you're the best Mom. Ever. And no thank you to Brother Andy for not helping Mom out! Tsk, tsk, tsk...

Day 125: Buy Your Grandmother French Panties.

Illustration by Garance Doré

My mother got into Paris for work this morning and being a professional traveler extraordinaire, she was hardly affected by jetlag and was ready to eat by 11am. Bonnes nouvelles because I was famished. Meeting her at her hotel where I know everyone because she comes to Paris fairly often, I was in the lounge chatting with the hotel staff when she came down. "You smell!" she said as she hugged me. I lifted my armpit and in fact she was right. I did smell. I had just purchased "Coco Glacée" deodorant without anti-perspirant and my armpits did not smell like iced coconut, they smelled like the métro (Line 8 at Opéra to be exact). "I'll leave my Degree with you because ugh, you smell just awful!" Normally I disagree with her but she was absolutely right. While I normally buy my toothpaste and deodorant in the States, because I like the harsh chemicals we use to shock our system into smelling good, I forgot to do this before I left and so French hygiene products were all that what was available to me. Sorry French hygiene products, you kind of suck.

For lunch, I took Momma Coquine to one of my favorite places in Paris for an omelette au formage and a glass of red, Un Zèbre à Montmartre in (surprise!) Montmartre. The weather being absolutely gorgeous, we sat outside and enjoyed the early Paris autumn weather. Although I see my mom fairly frequently here, I always stop everything to spend time with her. She is so much fun to be with in Paris!

After a leisurely lunch, leisurely because it took us an hour to get the check because the server was taking sexy photos of herself on her boyfriend's scooter with her iphone, my mom announced that we had an errand to do. She pulled out a ziplock bag filled with my grandmother's "unmentionables" as she calls them and in normal talk; underwear. "Your grandmother only likes French panties, so we have to pick her up a few pairs before Vincent's wedding." she said as if that wasn't slightly disturbing. Sensing my reluctance my mother added, "You speak French, so explain to the girl why we have used panties in a bag." she said while signing the check. "Mom, it sounds just as creepy in French as it does in English. Speaking French doesn't exempt me from the sleaziness of walking into a boutique with used panties in a bag." I said with a cringe. "They're clean! Just do it, it's for your grandmotha." Well obviously I was going to do it. In my family, I have no choice no matter where I am.

We went to Princesse Tam Tam and I approached the salesgirl with the ziplock and explained that we were looking for this exact cut, size and color. She was nice but I could feel that she thought it was a little weird. Who wouldn't think it was weird?! "Go try them on, Ella!" my mother instructed as she waved the neglige in her hand. "Mom, Grandma is like 80 pounds. I don't want to see my fat bulging out of teeny tiny panties that would fit a Barbie doll. Plus, eww." I pleaded. "Well if they don't fit, I'm going to have your grandmotha Skype you. She knows how to do that now, ya know." my mother threatened. The salesgirl took this as her queue to give us a minute and proceeded to pretend to organize things but was basically touching everything and doing nothing. When I worked at Anthropolgie when I was 18, they used to make us do that too when there was nothing to do. I hated that. Why couldn't I just look bored? 

We managed to find 3 styles for my grandmother and we hope that one of them will be to her liking. She has a tendency to be picky. "Get something for you." my mother offered. "No, it's ok. I don't need anything." I said not wanting to try anything on. "You have a boyfriend again. It's time to step it up, Missy! Ok?" She said as she was holding a gorgeous baby blue lace bra and nodding her head. I couldn't resist this itty-bitty. It was precious and I couldn't help but surrender to this tiny piece of dentelle. "Well, ok...!!" I said while clapping my hands with shopping glee. We walked out of the store with something for me, something for grandma and enough side comments from my mother to last me until the next time she comes to town. "I need a glass of wine." she said as we were walking down the hill towards Pigalle.

My mother and I had a lovely 36 hours together and she's now heading back to New York, but not to worry she will be back soon. She is very curious about Aurélien and wants to meet him on her next trip. I can hold her back for a few more trips but soon I'll have to bring him around. I'm taking this slow or as my Aunt Terry in L.A is saying "I'm gun shy." which indeed, I am. One day at a time...

Un Zèbre à Montmartre 
38, rue Lepic
Paris 75018

Princesse Tam Tam

Day 123: Get Your Stuff Back. Part I.

So the case of Katie, the shady sublet continues....I suggest you make yourself a cup of coffee or better yet, pour yourself a glass of wine because this one takes the cake. I promise that you will be at least mildly entertained at my expense. After several sent e-mails to my summer sublet demanding my things and finally a phone call to my family lawyer, I received an e-mail confession. It turns out that my things have magically appeared. I love how lawyers have a talent for making things happen.

The charges against her were stressing her out to the point where she was having trouble sleeping at night and couldn't eat because she was being 'falsely' accused of theft - poor baby. Before her anxiety got the best of her, a mythical character named 'Nicolette' came forward to confess that she was the one who robbed me blind and wants me to forgive her for her wrongdoings, wants to become a better person and will do whatever she can to resolve the situation. Excuse me while I gag. 

The story is that 'Nicolette' came to visit Katie, my sublet from New York and while Katie was innocently working at the job she pretended to have at The Great Canadian, 'Nicolette' took this as an opportunity to dig through the depths of my apartment and go shopping. To explain, my apartment is long and situated under the roof of my building with slanted walls like a teepee, leaving two rows of nooks on each side that are covered by curtains at the shallow end of the wall. This is where I store things. I told her that I had kept some things in boxes in the nook behind my heavy kitchen table and to just leave them alone because she had plenty of storage throughout the rest of the apartment.

While my sublet was fake bartending, 'Nicolette', instead of exploring Paris and going to the nearby musée Picasso or the Pompidou, she decided that my apartment was the best attraction in Paris. Who needs to explore the caves of Les Catacombs when you have a chambre de bonne to go through? An obvious choice...

Apparently 'Nicolette's curiosity for my things behind the kitchen table grew so much that she could no longer resist and just had to see what was on the other side like it was the  Chronicles of Narnia over here. She removed the lamp and the plant off the table, dragged the cumbersome and heavy kitchen table over the carpeted floor, pulled the curtain aside, slid a second table I had leaning up against the nook, moved a stack of about 100 magazines, pulled out a heavy box, took a knife and cut open the tape, fished through dirty laundry (panties included. Gross, right?) and found the fashion mecca. LVMH in a box. Dior, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, oh my!

Clearly 'Nicolette' had no other choice but to steal what she had found but was soon faced with a predicament, she didn't have enough room in her suitcase to carry all of my possessions across the Atlantic. What's a thief to do?! Ta-da! A large suitcase appeared behind the box that was stuffed with my winter coats. Winter coats be damned! 'Nicolette' took the coats out of the suitcase (a beautiful olive green Givenchy trench, a camel Marc by Marc Jacobs peacoat and a vintage Missoni) and left them rolled up in a ball in the corner of my apartment. She then packed herself a bag filled with all of my clothes and my "Joyeux Anniversaire" banner. 

So Katie comes home from 'work' and 'Nicolette' had this new huge suitcase with her and is carrying a new bag, and Katie asks where she got such a fabulous bag. 'Nicolette' replies "A vintage store in Paris." Yes, 'Nicolette' managed to find the cheapest, coolest vintage store in Paris to stock up on vintage luxury items because after all since it's made here it must be cheaper. In fact, this store was so cheap that she had to buy a new suitcase to carry all of her new and cheap 'findings'. Katie doesn't find this is weird or the fact that there are rolled up coats in the corner that wasn't there before but to give my sublet the benefit of the doubt, she was probably exhausted from a long day at her fake job. 

Shortly after the said incident, Katie couldn't be found when I try to reach her. She had erased and blocked me on facebook, ignored my e-mails and for all intents and purposes was simply gone. What was she hiding from if she had no idea that 'Nicolette' stole my things? Upon the departure of my flat, she was instructed to call Aurelien, let him do a walk through and give him the keys so he can lock up behind her, a standard practice that normal innocent people do when they leave apartments. When questioned, Katie told me that a man knocked on the door and told her to get out or he'd call the police and instead of calling me, Aurelien or telling him to leave, she told me that she just left and added that she was in fact inconvenienced by this. 

To recap, I get robbed by Katie or 'Nicolette', an unidentifiable man kicked her out of my flat, she deleted her facebook because she was trying to get a 'real job' and now she couldn't talk to me on the phone because it got turned off because she couldn't pay the bill and was writing to me from a rest stop on her way to the Burning Man festival in Nevada.

So now Katie is pulling a 'Cybil' where she only contacts me as 'Nicolette' and no longer responds to e-mails because 'Nicolette' did it. I still write to my sublet but make sure to CC the fictional character.

Should I have left such valuables in my flat? No. I take fault in my naive decision 100%. Did I know she was going to seriously dig deep through my apartment and find hidden nooks with taped up boxes and go through layers of dirty laundry before finding the holy grail? No. To add another layer of sleaze, my sublet 'liked' certain pictures of me on facebook where I'm wearing the items in dispute.
Have I learned my lesson from all of this? Absolutely. The lesson is: plan ahead and not wait for the last minute and have over the keys to your flat without a proper screening, give myself time to store things at friend's houses even if it means my stuff is scattered around Paris and listen to my gut, if it doesn't feel right, it's probably because it isn't.

Stay tuned for how I got my things back and 'Nicolette's' interaction with the worst person in the world to cross. My Italian mother...mon dieu!

Day 122: Be A Bombshell.

How amazing is this?

And this?

As Rachel Zoe once said "I'm not dying, but I'm actually dead right now. It's so fierce that I am literally in my coffin." Ok, while I'm certainly living and breathing, I'm absolutely loving this editorial. Being out of the loop of anything that doesn't pertain to Paris, the Parisian Fashion Heist, other people's weddings and jetlag, I had no idea that Michelle Williams was portraying Marilyn. I'm sure this news has been out for quite some time but humor me as I just get on board here. Her portrayal is either going to be totally amazing or totally awkward but either way, girl looks fierce in the October Vogue. Who styled this gem? 

This look brings me back. I bet you didn't know that I actually went Marilyn blonde once...and it was probably the worst thing on top of anyone's head you've ever seen. After donating 13 inches of hair to Locks of Love, I wanted to do something adventurous with my new short haircut and went to the beauty supply shop on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles for inspiration. I got inspired alright and purchased all of the accouterment one needs to double process and strip their hair of its natural color and turn it in to, as the box promised: 'Almond Toast'. Almond Toast my ass. A combination of my lack of skill, my dark Italian girl thick hair and the fact that a dye job like this should probably be done professionally, it came out looking like what I could imagine lemon cotton candy to look like. And on good days, it was more Rose from the Golden Girls. Either way, it didn't exactly go with my thick dark eyebrows and my olive tone skin. 

I knew it was time to throw in the bleach stained towel when one afternoon at a Starbucks on Santa Monica, I overheard a little boy say to his mother, "Mommy, the cookies are over there, in front of that old lady!". When I turned around, the mother was horrified to see a little 23-year-old face under a mop of yellow fluff looking back at her. She was embarrassed, I certainly was embarrassed and as maturity would have it, the little boy wasn't and stood there pointing and laughing at me. I went back brunette the following hour. The point of this is that you don't need to be blonde to be a bombshell and Italian girls who aren't Madonna or Gaga can't pull it off. You hear that Donatella?

Ok, so I'm sort of hiding in this girly post about hair dye, a more pressing matter. My boyfriend who now has access to my blog will probably be bored and sick of translating by the second paragraph and go back to reading so now we can talk. He is organizing an intimate dinner tomorrow night with his friends and their girlfriends who are all anxious to meet me. This scares me. More than you know. I mean, it's only fair that he would want me to meet his friends, he's met all of mine (in Paris that is), spoke English with them and was just overall fantastic. The difference between us is that I don't feel so overall fantastic, at least not these days. I'm my own worse critic. I know all his friends would and should only care about how I treat him and how we get along, it's not a job interview but I'm so competitive with myself that if I don't have anything outstanding to share with an inquiring audience, like family and your boyfriend's friends, then I'd rather not say anything.

Or maybe I'm just having flashbacks. I remember when Monsieur Flâneur and I started dating, I wasn't working at the time and his females friends picked at me like vultures saying that they didn't understand what I was doing in France with faux-concern while giving each other that French 'n'importe quoi' look. At the time, I didn't know what I was doing either but it certainly wasn't their place to call me out on it. It felt awful and I remember MF not really defending me and in fact correcting my French. Note to Frenchmen: Don't correct your girlfriend's French in front of other people. It's humiliating. Not that all of this would happen again, my past and present loves are night and day. I guess I'm just getting those new relationship jitters where you want his friends to like you because you like him so much. I mean, I don't do oddly inappropriate things in front of new people, I save that for once I get to know them and am generally pleasant to be around. That should suffice for the first meeting. Do you get nervous when you meet the friends for the first time? Or is this just me being dramatic? Which is not outside the realm of possibility...

Respire. Tomorrow night will be fine. I'll show up with a nice bottle of wine and do my own take on bombshell: a vintage cocktail dress (hopefully the one I have in mind wasn't jacked from my closet) peep-toe slingbacks, nude fishnets, hair (brown!) twisted in a side bun with vintage brooches tucked in and a smile. That's all I can do. Wish me luck!