connect!

pretty good year.


Every year around this time when I look back I so desperately want to play Tori Amos' "Pretty Good Year"...but never really can. There was always something that just made the year god awful and painful that it didn't warrant Tori's "pretty good year" stamp of approval.

But not this year...

Despite a few bumps that I have learned to quickly smooth out by moving on, this year wasn't just pretty good, it was fantastic. I learned so much and have so much to be grateful for; a new home, dynamic and interesting new friends, a healthy relationship, job security, and enough creative juices pumping through me to light up Las Vegas!

I'm proud of where this year has taken me.

Here are a few highlights that made 2012 a damn fine year...


Introduced the French to the New York brunch.

...but this time with the right guy.


Visited places I once called home.

LA January 053






 



Got my two seconds of fame
via a New Yorker moves to Paris episode of



Voted overseas as an "expat".
I wasn't allowed to keep the little American flag.



To be continued...

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

Here's to 2013!!

A Christmas Tradition I Hate.


 

Christmas came and went this year and for the most part, it was a success! I loved having my mom here for her 36 hour layover. She came stocked with American goodies, fashion magazines, wine and her contagious laugh. As predicted, she sang the Jefferson's theme song when she saw how well our apartment building is maintained, we danced to Dominick the Donkey and The Waitresses, and in true tradition of my mother on the streets of Paris, she managed to annoy passengers of the metro; including (but not limited to) the man across from her who covered his ears to protect her Long Island accent from permeating into his soul.

I guess he didn't appreciate my mom's announcement that the posters advertising Liza Minnelli's upcoming concert in the metro looks like Angela from the nail salon's daughter. Every time we passed the poster (there are a ton up), she would point and say, "Look! Angela's daughta! It's Angela's daughta!"

Or Judy Garland's, but hey, small details, I guess...

One tradition that I forget rears its ugly head every holiday is my annual bout with the stomach flu. Almost every year, it's been something. At an impromptu post-Christmas sleepover with Kitty in 1992, it was the attack of the garlic knots. The delivery boy, instead of sending us six, he sent us 6 orders, and the only logical thing for two 12 years to do was to keep on eating. Poor Kitty was forced to hang out out with my brother and watch a Chicago Bulls game while I slept on the floor of the bathroom. 2004 blessed me with the "who told you to eat duck after being a vegetarian for 5 years" catastrophe. That was a mess as duck isn't the lightest of meats. And of course, 2009, the famous dinner where I announced to MF's family that I'm allergic to..., was the foie gras overload. I didn't realize how heavy it was...until the next day.

I eat fairly light during the year that when the holidays roll around, I let myself indulge forgetting the dire consequences of ignoring my sensitive stomach. The last few days have been spent watching our feast, well..come back up. It's been just awful.

The culprit? A thick lobster bisque that just didn't agree with me, bringing the entire cornucopia of our holiday treats with him on this journey to pure hell.

I'm so disappointed. This really is not the week to be bed bound. The week between Christmas and New Year's is always so busy for everyone! I have my mother coming back in tomorrow, Aurel's family coming into tonight from their London trip to show us pictures and have dinner that I won't even be able to look at, Christmas dinner part 2 is on Saturday out in Fontainebleau....and I'm meeting my very first reader Duchesse in two hours and to be honest, I look just awful. Pale, skinny and sunken eyes from sleepless nights doesn't really go with my whole Italian girl in Paris look. I skipped on Heroin chic in the 90s.

I don't know how I'm going swing it, but I'm going to have to. It's not often that I have such incredible people in Paris at the same time and I simply have to get out of this apartment! Good thing I have good make-up, powerful American toothpaste, a scarf over my mouth in the event that I'm contagious, and a good attitude.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and that you didn't make the unfortunate mistake of over stuffing your face like I did!

Now off to meet the Duchesse....

Like a Kid on Christmas.


You guys! It's Christmas! I'm so excited! How about you?

I know. What am I, 10 years old? What is it about Christmas that makes some of us so happy? As a kid, it was all about the presents, but as an adult, that's not at all where my glee is coming from. I haven't received a Christmas present in years and don't imagine any coming my way this year...well a gift that's not edible. That was the rule this year: all gifts must be edible.

Saying that, today was spent "Christmas shopping" at our local open air market. Barbie dolls, make-up sets and Debbie Gibson cassettes have been switched out for oysters (we're opening them ourselves. If I don't blog in a week, it's because I sliced my hand off), crab claws, shrimp, scallops, real champagne, foie gras, escargot and lots of cheese. And instead of my mother making the holiday special for me, it's now me who wants to make sure everything is just perfect for her and I couldn't be more ecstatic. If you told me at the age of 11, that I was going to sleep out of anticipation for making mom a foie gras tower on Christmas, I would have said you were out of your damn mind! Plus, I hated foie gras as a kid...

I'm (im)patiently waiting for her arrival. The apple cinnamon candles are lit, the tree is twinkling, the champagne glasses are chilling in the freezer, KJoy; Long Island's Christmas radio station is steaming (the thick New York accents brings me home), and I have my plaid ballet house slippers and red ruffled apron on. I'm ready to get this holiday started!

On a side note: I also have a little bet going on with myself that my mother will sing the Jefferson theme song and do her "Twist and Shout" dance when she sees the Christmas tree that the concierge put up in the hallway. Our building is a little bourgeois, and I promise you that she will announce that we're "movin' on up" and "getting a piece of the pie" within seconds. I love my mom.

Just dropping a little note to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Eat and drink well, and enjoy every second with the ones you love. 

xo.

In the Dark.


 Illustration by Vaida Sirusaite


Yesterday was Friday, December 21, 2012....

Do you know what this meant to me?

It was an extremely important day...

December 21, 2012 meant one thing and one thing only: I start vacation!  At 5:30 pm Paris time to be exact. Do you want to know how pumped I am? I doing my own version of the Gangnam Style dance, that's just how excited I am to be off for two weeks. Yesterday was supposed to be the end of the world, but I refuse to accept that malarkey. Yesterday was the official day that the holidays start! Who's with me?

I am truly looking forward to a little break from my kids who have been passing colds and creepy crawly germs back and forth to each other, including me, for about a month. I may no longer have the flu, but I'm still coughing and blowing my nose. A full two weeks away from them for full recovery is exactly what I need.

But...my vacation can't just start without something happening, can it? On Thursday, something really freaky went down. Before we get into that, allow me to set the scene for you. On Thursdays, I do an after-school tutoring program for four of my kids who are not related but live in the same area. I pick them up at their school and I basically play school in the playrooms (complete with a little chalkboard for me!) of their huge apartments. 

I pick the tots up at their school around the corner and bring them home. Basically, it's glorified babysitting but hey, I'm getting paid. As we were walking down the street hand-in-hand, we passed a Franprix that was completely in the dark with customers still inside and the door open. As we continued down the street, we learned that the entire block had lost electricity. Shop owners and staff from the local offices were all out on the sidewalk shrugging to each other and lighting their cigarettes. Stay calm and light up always seems to be the French way. Whatever works.

I wasn't terribly concerned that the power was out because we still had another hour of light should our building be included in the mini blackout. My nonchalance quickly dissolved once we arrived. I hadn't noticed it before, but the building where I teach my Thursday kids is probably the first building that I have been to in Paris without windows in the hallway.

This was going to be fun.

Have you ever walked four three-year-old kids up six flights of spiral stairs in pitch black darkness? That's an experience I do not wish upon anyone. To add to the trepidation of the situation, the looney who lives on the second floor who calls me "Miss America" decided to open his door and "for fun" started growling and evil laughing at us. Sir! If I was terrified, you can imagine how my kids were handling their real-life version of a carnival spooky house. Within seconds, sheer pandemonium broke out. They all started screaming, some started crying, and some were just plain bored. If you remember precious Franc who I sent into time-out a few weeks ago, who took this as an opportunity to destroy our Christmas projects and slide them under the door for me to see? Well, he couldn't be bothered with the state of hysteria that was taking place in the hallway.


"Oh là là, it's not worth saying both mama and papa!" Franc let little Thomas know who was wailing that he wanted his parents, "Just say mama. If your parents communicate well, she'll obviously tell your papa that you were scared. Franchement, c'est pas la peine." This enraged Thomas even more, encouraging him to scream louder. Once again, thank you Franc.


We got to the door and of course, it was the wrong one. Somewhere between the howling Hannibal neighbor, Franc's comment and not being able to see, I had lost count of the floors. I wasn't sure if we had gone too far or we needed to go up another flight. My cell phone didn't provide much light with its dim pink screen, but it was just enough to highlight the plaque informing us that we had one more floor to go.

After feeling for the keyhole, then the correct key on my 4-pound key chain, then turning the key just so because the door gets stuck sometimes (of course it does), we were in the apartment. Finally!

Unfortunately, entering the actual apartment didn't offer much relief. Because it took so long to get in, it was already dark out and we only had the street lights bleeding through the living room's heavy wooden blinds to illuminate the space.

Jesus.

Sometimes I wonder just what would I have thought before I moved here. Had I been able to see into my future, snippets of some of these scenes of my French life, would I have moved here?

Eating framboise apple sauce squeezers (cleverly named "Pom'Potes" here) and madeleines goutés in a dark apartment on a couch that probably cost a year salary, with French kids who thought just because the lights were out they can say fart and poop over and over, was not exactly what I had in mind for my new Parisian life. 'Tis the unexpected twists and turns that is life. 

Minus the creepy neighbor, this is what I love about living in Paris...every day still is such an adventure.

Bonnes Vacances!

Pute, Pute, Pute! Joyeux Noël!


Ah, Christmas really is in the air! Can't you just feel it? We're only a few days away! 

I have to be honest, I find that the Christmas season in Paris is a little quiet. In America, the entire month of December is jam-packed with Christmas parties, cocktails and dinner parties, whereas here that culture of getting together with friends and co-workers falls a bit flat. Has anyone else noticed that the holidays seem to be uniquely spent with families? In New York, by the time January rolls around, I'm usually fat and broke. Hmm, yeah, so I probably could without four cocktail parties a week.

This is just yet another cultural difference. Just how Aurelien (which some of you will learn tonight that his real name is Aurélien) doesn't understand how Dick is an actual name in English, he also doesn't get why our Santa says "Ho, Ho, Ho!". It took me a second to follow his thought process. Why wouldn't he say "Ho, Ho, Ho"? That's his tagline, right? "Doesn't 'Ho' mean slut in English?" he asked while popping a mini piece of toast slathered in holiday foie gras in his mouth. Oh yeah, there's that 'Ho' thing, but in English there isn't really a link between the two. We're used to it. "I guess," he said not at all convinced with my casual disregard, "In France, Père Noël would certainly never say 'Pute, Pute, Pute! Joyeux Noël!'"

No. He wouldn't. Although that would be really funny.

We appreciate the little joy that is comparing our cultures with each other, especially during the holidays. With me being in France, I admit that I do take on more of his customs than he does mine. But...as we celebrate our second Christmas together there is one of my traditions that has now become ours; a little ditty for all of those crazy Italian-Americans out there...

Hey, you can take the Italian girl out of New York but...

going glam!


Something recently just occurred to me: my wedding is in six months. Holy merde! I haven't started any of the preparations. To be honest, I don't know the first thing about putting together a wedding in France. I'm finding comfort in the fact that it's not going to be a big brouhaha that weddings have now become in the States, so this has been relieving some of the stress. The idea is to feel celebrated but not carry on as if I'm the first person in the world to get married. I hate that. With that said, this means that I will not be coming out on a jeweled elephant. Sorry guys.

Unlike my last engagement (I get a kick out of saying that), the dress isn't effortlessly falling into my lap like it did on an impromptu trip to my favorite vintage store on Sunset Boulevard. Like a novice, I actually Google searched "wedding dress". You can imagine the results: a fleet of floor-length, powder-white strapless dresses staring back at me, threatening the creative direction I'd love to go in.

Shelving the dress "sitch" until after the holidays, I figured I could at start my quest for the perfect coiffeur. Easy task, right? Haha! Silly me. I live in Paris. No task is easy. Over the course of the last few months, I had popped into several salons to talk hair. My "concept" of a simple flower-free chignon fell flat on confused French ears. They had no idea what the hell I was talking about...or I am just terrible at explaining. I suspect the latter. Feeling frustrated and deflated that I can't even manage these basic details, I decided to set aside all wedding decisions until after the holidays and like the mini diva I am went to get my hair done to start auditioning salons for the big day.

Despite my vicious cold that has kept me in bed for almost three whole days, pumped up with more meds than Neely O'Hara, I bundled up and got the hell out of my apartment to go on and get gorgeous. If was getting tired of my greasy pulled-back bun, red-nosed, leggings and over-sized Evergreen State College sweatshirt look, odds were so was my fiancé. I had to get my chic on. It's Christmas for pete's sake!

And this is the result...

I had no idea I had this much hair! I'm still figuring out styling details, maybe a splash of color? A hair bow? Cotton candy pink? Perhaps some feathers? An owl's beak? The options are endless! I have appointments with other salons before I make my big decision, but I think I am heading in the right direction...at least some decisions are starting to come together! Oy vey, planning a wedding is work, even a simple one!

Did I Say That?


Oh là là. I'm reporting to you live from my bed. It's day two of feeling like fresh-brewed hell. I've heard that when working with kids you're susceptible to all types of germs but good lord, this cold (perhaps flu?) is the mother of all colds. It's ripping roaring right through the medication, rendering it completely useless. I have a bowl of chicken stock to my left, a box of tissues to my right and 90210 Senior Year in the DVD player - I'm sorry but I still get annoyed that Kelly went to the prom with Dylan, and Brenda had to go with that D-list cast member with the mole. What was his name again?

Anyway...during my brief internet absence, the women's comedy website HaHas for HooHas published my oldie but goodie tale of my very first Christmas in France. For my older readers, you guys know the madness that is this story, but for my newer readers, enjoy the biggest blunder I have ever made with the French language! Woops!

Expat Tip: If you don't know the word in French, saying it in English with a French accent can work or also result in major damage. Here's what happened when I chose this method of "speaking" French.

Smells Like Teen Spirit.

 Illustration by Valfré

Once a week I take myself out on a broke girl's lunch date to my favorite Parisian dive in the Marais; Le Saint Gervais. I order my usual glass of Bordeaux, plain omelette with a green salad, and settle in a corner booth with a book. Besides La Panfoulia, this is one of my favorite spots in the MaraisIt's not chic - certainly not by Marais standards - but it's old Paris. By 2 pm, the lunch crowd is gone, the dining room is quiet; only chatter from the front bar that caters to locals and their late afternoon wine and coffee cravings, and I can take up a back table as long as I'd like.

Sounds just perfect, right? Lately not so much. On my past few trips to what I now call "the other side of town", my tranquility has been greatly compromised. No longer can I sneak in, grab a back table and read many chapters of a book without massive interruptions. I now just end up reading the same sentence over and over and over, trying to filter out the cacophony that overpowers this small place.

What could be so intrusive that I can't even read? Any guesses? Could it be construction out on rue Vieille du Temple? No - although that would also be annoying. A late lunch rush? Nope - this is Paris, remember? Tourists? I think tourists would be a little turned off by the place. When I say "old Paris", I'm not talking Edith Piaf, I'm talking more Les Rita Mitsouko. So what has been breaking my attempts to a quiet afternoon? I'll tell you. Teenagers. French Teenagers - a special breed of teen.

I don't mind them so much but when they pile into the booth behind me so impetuously that I get jerked forward, or when they take their coats off without any regard that they have whipped me in the eye with their scarves, and when they talk practically in my ear where even I jump during the action portion of their conversation, then I mind. They also seem to be immune to the French huff and puff face because my futile attempts went disappointingly unnoticed.

Because I'm forced to the listen to them, now as soon as I see them bombarding in to order their one espresso or Coke each, I close my book and take out a magazine, something that doesn't require much thought like Grazia or Be for example. Well last week, I couldn't tune them out because for once they were talking about something that actually interested me: dating. This is when I perked up. Getting whipped by their Kooples scarves would be worth getting a bird's eye view to the new wave of French dating. So as it turned out, one of the fellas, let's call him Matis was saying that he loved this girl Esmeralda. How sweet. Well his pote Steve (American names are actually à la mode right now) didn't believe him and corrected him. Matis didn't love Esmeralda because according to "Steve" he merely "kiffé" (pronounced keef-ay) her. Geez, I haven't heard kiffer in years. I thought it went out of fashion like the inversion trend, like saying "Z'y-va", but I guess not...I also don't hang out with teenagers.

Apparently this is how the younger generation is getting around the je t'aime (that means both I love and like you - confusing, right?) debacle that the French language has been blessed with. I couldn't help myself but jump in (of course I did) to investigate further. I figured after disrupting several of my afternoons, these guys owed me this much. I turned around and surely with a red wine smile said, "Bonjour, les teens". The six of them froze and with wide eyes direct towards me, stopped their banter, and acknowledged my presence with a bonjour...madame. Ouch.

I told them that I couldn't help but eavesdrop on their conversation (I really am turning into my mother: the ultimate yenta) and if they didn't mind, could they elaborate more of this "aimer/kiffer" business to a curious American. Relieved that this was my request, they all spoke over each other explaining the meaning and its uses. Their enthusiasm as they vied for my attention was both really cute and flattering. They explained that the word is of Arabic origins which has been filtered down to the French language to mean like, and this is how they differentiate between loving and liking. Kiffer is less powerful than aimer. Perhaps a direct translation would be how us Anglos "dig" something?

To test it out, I tried to smuggle it into conversation with Aurelien this past weekend. Over our Saturday night apéro of winter cocktails and light munchies, I told him that when I first met him, I really "kiffed" him. He shook his head as he is now hip to my shenanigans and asked me what playground I had been hanging out in lately. Given my current profession, this wasn't a bad question to ask. Apparently this is expression is for the younger more urban set but hey, they won't be teens forever. I don't think as a foreigner over the age of 21, I'll ever get a pass to say that I kiffe something but at least there's somewhat of an alternative to that confusing je t'aime bien/beaucoup/plus que tu sais/plus que la glace/plus plus plus! madness that with pleasure - as I relish over these cultural and language comparisons - I obsess over.

Home for the Holidays.

Pop the cork!

It's officially that time of year again! The holiday season is certainly abuzz! With that, free time just doesn't seem to exist! Oh là là, you guys. Are you feeling it too? Between holiday soirées, travel planing, for those of us staying put; Christmas feast planing, shopping, fighting a reoccurring cold, guzzling champagne (or in my case, sparkling white) and getting in all of that end of the year work in, to say there is a lot going on would be an understatement.

To put it into perspective, we're hitting mid-December and despite my many attempts I still haven't watched Love Actually (let's be real, the only reason Mariah has become acceptable). But seriously, what kind of Christmas cornball am I? Is this some sort of joke? Love Actually is normally ready to go the second Thanksgiving ends as this is what kicks off the holiday season. Am I wrong here? This year, poor Hugh is still waiting to jump for my love, and Laura Linney is waiting for me to beg her to not answer the phone when she's about to get some good post-Christmas party lovins (the best kind if you ask me). 2008...ah, good times. I'm still allowed to think about that stuff now and then, just for fun...right? Right?

And the silences takes over...the cheese stands alone.

Not wanting the holiday to slip away as they had the past few transient years of my French life, I wanted to honor some of my favorite traditions that makes Christmas so special.

Here are some snapshots from my holiday spirit.

Ladies and Gentlemen, my first ever French Christmas tree that I couldn't resist cheesing up with mini Eiffel Towers that I picked up at the....wait for it....Eiffel Tower.


No tree is complete without a few goodies underneath it. Aurelien's grandmother stopped by with espresso chocolates from Printemps that I am insisting are Christmas presents. The wrapping and Dior sticker are so pretty and French that I want to enjoy its beauty all month.


Despite me not exactly agreeing with my family this year, there's no denying that I'm an Italian girl. Growing up, Christmas meant having Panettone and Nuona's thick Italian hot chocolate every morning for breakfast for the entire month of December. As an adult who fiends off of caffeine, I sub out the hot cocoa for thick espresso but the Panettone stays. To me, this is what Christmas tastes like.


Christmas is in full swing chez nous with our milk chocolate candles burning, copious amounts of food and goodies bursting out of the fridge, a stocked wine rack and a cheesy American holiday classics played every now and then (read: every day). It feels good to celebrate my first Christmas in my new home...as I am now home for the holidays.
 
And you?
What makes Christmas official for you?
Is it decorating? Eating a lot? Or just getting drunk?

Les Enfants Terribles!


What is this? A five year old could have drawn that! Yes, or perhaps a 31-year-old teacher desperately trying to get her students to do something other than play cars or send text messages. This was my attempt at drawing Paris (look, I even included the chambre de bonnes!) for the kids since we have exhausted New York. Drawing in the tiny windows of the Empire State Building gets laborious after the third floor, so we had to move on to a "less exotic" locale. Less exotic for them of course...

Can you believe that next week will be my two-month mark of working as an English teacher glorified nanny for my little French tater tots? I honestly didn't think I'd make it beyond a week, as I'm not exactly the biggest enthusiast of kids. My viewpoint has never been that they get the automatic cute pass just because they're young. No. Cute points are earned through good looks and behavior, witty remarks and compliments. I know, I'm terrible. I must say though, my kids are pretty damn cute and keep me wholly entertained.  I really have never laughed so much on the job before.

Here are some vignettes of a typical day for me as an ESL teacher in France:

My older kids have a fondness for disco (I blame France's worst radio station Nostalgie Radio for that) and while taking a break from my shitty educational music that has been labeled as "nulle", we were shaking our groove thing to a CD called "Go Funk Yourself: Volume 2" reminiscent of when I went to Pride in West Hollywood. During our choo-choo train dance that I actually bust out at adult parties, a heated argument ensued between two of my students. The crisis was that Thomas was insisting to the skeptical Louis that everyone in America says that it's raining men when it rains heavily. I'm pretty sure he was confusing the "it's raining cats and dogs expression", but I had to stop myself from correcting him, as it surely would need a follow-up explanation. There was no way that I was going to explain that The Pointer Sisters want to get absolutely soaking wet by beefcakes falling out of the sky. I may actually be doing him a disservice as I picture him ten years from now in New York saying to his boss "Holy smokes is it raining men outside, we're going to get soaked, better grab my umbrella!".

While my older kids have a thing for Studio 54, the musical selections for my little ones are a bit more curious. Not only do these baby hipsters know how to navigate my iPod, but they already recognize the musical genius that is LCD Soundsystem and The White Stripes. Every afternoon they request a "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" break where they vibrate around the room on their tippy toes screaming "my house! my house." It may not be the most appropriate song but I have been able to get them to incorporate their English much more than the insulting "red light green light" tunes that I'm supposed to force upon them. One mother told me that her 3-year-old asked her, "On va my house?" He did me proud, my little one.

Last week I had to give my first "time out," something that made me feel just terrible, as I ignored a wailing child in another room. I wanted to hug him but I know he'll never learn that hitting his teacher because his name was written in purple is unacceptable behavior. After two minutes, the room where little Franc was left to cool off became a little too quiet. I ignored my suspicions and foolishly believed that he was learning his lesson, and I planned to let him back in the group in three more minutes. It wasn't until I saw our art projects being passed under the door, ripped up into tiny pieces, some of the with red x's and red marker splashes resembling blood that I discovered that precious Franc was not seeing the error in his ways, he was pissed. Each piece that was passed through got an enraged "et Voilà!". In short he was saying, "Look here bitch, you want to play? Voilà, let's play." The look of absolute horror poured down the faces of my kids who saw red x's on their Santa Clauses' eyes and mouths and blood squirting out of their little Christmas trees. Within seconds, I had a bunch of 3-year-olds crying hysterically because Christmas was dead. Thank you Franc.

And for those of you who wanted to see me as a blonde, little Philippe has whipped up a portrait of me (that hangs proudly on my fridge!) in my blonde ambition days (and for good measure he threw in a tan). Incidentally, the dress is very Marc by Marc Jacobs. I may have a mini fashion designer on my hands. However, he might have been a bit too generous with my hips...and my cleavage for that matter. He's 4 years old. Vive la France.


In Da House.


Hot news just in! Scorching hot off the presses! Are you ready? Wha!? I said are you ready?! The airdate for our House Hunter's International NYC to Paris episode has just been announced! Please tune in on December 19th at 10:30 on HGTV to see me squeeze into our new home (pictured above) and all the chaos we get into as we look for the perfect home in Paris. I knew space was a problem here, but our new home might just be a little too small. I guess my midnight munchie habit of baguettes smeared with rich cheeses, and washed down with bubbly crémant finally caught up with me!

Here are some episode fun facts:

- The first day of shooting in Paris, I had flown in from New York only the day before and couldn't jump on Paris time in under 24 hours (crazy, right?). If my eyes look bloodshot and are half open in some scenes, it's not because I'm hungover. I was beyond exhausted.

- In fact, I was so tired that when we were shooting a scene in Oberkampf, and I fell flat on my face. Like hands out to protect my face from getting bashed in by the pavement. A crew of firemen and a nearby elderly man holding a baguette came to my rescue. It was so dramatic. You can see the scrapes on my knees and ankles throughout the entire episode.

Aurelien and the crew surprised me on the last day at Parc Vincennes with a birthday sing-along and a box LaDurée vanilla macarons. Trop chou!

- My mother makes an appearance. Oh yes. I have no idea what was edited but she came out with some great lines. She had the crew dying of laughter. I think she said "Who gives a 'bleep'?" like 5 times in her thick New York accent. You can hear me in the background screaming "Mom! Language!"

- Watching some of the playbacks I couldn't help but think of the old cliche that the camera adds ten (or twenty!) pounds, but holy merdeAurelien who is a twig even looks full. Good thing this isn't Janice Dickinson's modeling reality show otherwise I would have been screwed.

- Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! Do not read on if you want to wait for the episode to air! My striped shirt makes an appearance in a scene or two. I couldn't resist "Frenching" it up a bit.

We're really excited to watch the episode but unfortunately, we'll be receiving our copy several weeks after the episode airs, which means a lot of you will see it before us! I hope you enjoy it and please let me know how it came out! We have a few weeks though, until then...

I wish you all a lovely first weekend in December! 
Let the holiday madness begin!

Metro Musings: On the 7.



Here comes another installment of what happened on the Paris metro! When we were last on the train together, we were on the line 6 and I was being offered a cuddly baby animal calendar. All was going swimmingly until my donation wasn't deemed sufficient, and the offer was immediately rescinded. Diss.

We've moved from the lovely line 6 that boasts one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower (between the Bir-Hakeim and Passy stops), and we are now roaring at high speeds through the metro line 7. 

Stationed quietly on the train, I was happily making my way to work with a bag full English textbooks, crayons and my Tami the Tambourine from Texas. I was fully armed to teach France's future finest about Tami, her Thanksgiving travels and the letter "T" (if you hadn't already noticed). You know, important stuff that will land them those high paying jobs in London or New York one day. Tami will definitely come up in a meeting about price points and liquidation. I just know it.

On this particular late morning on the metro, it was by no means packed, but it was full enough that I had to stand and hold onto the stationary pole in front of the sliding doors along with two other women. On our route, we stopped at one of my favorite metro stations, the star-spangled Cadet, when a woman in I'd say her 40's, wearing jeans, grey converse sneakers and a black jacket that could've use a lint brush roll (or five) hopped on board. She did the one thing that I absolutely despise on the Paris metro. Any public transportation for that matter, as I have seen this kind of defiance in subways in New York, as well as the tube in London.

Can you guess what ruffled and rumpled my feathers so much?

The woman with the shabby (and a little stinky) coat got on board, and placed her back on the pole that me and two other passengers were gripping onto.

I hate when people do this. I hate it because it's an intentional disregard to others. I find it hard to believe that they are wildly unaware of the possibility that other people might also be using it to hold on to in a ferociously speeding train. In these situations, I usually either wiggle my hand out and find another spot of the train, or when it's busy I end up doing a bit of a pole dance, holding it elsewhere to avoid touching the stranger. But almost every time, the pole leaner shifts their weight, where I end up sliding my hand up and down the pole.  

Yesterday on the 7 was different though, I had a situation on my hands. Literally. Not only was the woman pressing really hard on my knuckles but her curly hair was getting tangled up in my fingers. As a fellow curly-haired gal, I get it. Our hair really does have a life of its own. I marvel at some of the situations, knots and mass confusion my hair gets itself into and where it ends up. I'm not a person who has an issue with hair. Nine times out of ten, it's usually mine so I've grown a resistance to being disgusted by it. That is unless, I'm being forced to touch a stranger's...and on the Paris metro of all places. Am I being a diva here? You can tell me if I am.

In an admittedly passive-aggressive gesture, I expanded and pumped my knuckles several times to create some space between her and I. As you can imagine, it didn't go over so well. She immediately snapped around as if I was the rude one and stared me down, presumably waiting for me to pardon myself. But I didn't. To heighten the tension between Curly Sue and I, I did probably the worse thing I could have ever done in the situation to express irritation. I made that "French face". You know the one where you widen your eyes, make a shrug, let out a huff and then dismissively look away. A classic French move that communicates in under three seconds that someone is wrong and whatever the problem, it's not theirs. Of course Tami the Tambourine decided to shake her buns during my triumphant moment, discounting any power I thought I had.

Well Tami and "French face" broke the seal and the woman began berating  me (in the informal tu, of course) that I don't own the metro, it's not my pole and that I'm a dumb connasse. I'm sorry but it's not my pole? Wasn't it her misguided claim of it that got us here in the first place? I calmly responded to her hysteria (in the formal vous) that I didn't feel like touching her hair and suggested that we could all just share it. At that point, the girl to the left of me verbally agreed while also adding her own French little huff and puff. 

Power in numbers!

Luckily, and I say luckily, a seat cleared up and Curly Sue took it, and continued cursing us both to hell and high water. Clearly she was unstable and probably would have ended up punching me in the face. Her need to exercise her power on the Paris metro ran deeper than the stupid pole on the line 7. I know that the Paris metro isn't the kindest of places and I like to say that I'm someone who rises above things like this, but I draw the line at combing a stranger's hair. Speaking of, I found a strand of her hair on my coat this morning. Curly hair strikes again.

Have you had any funky incidents on the metro? 
Of course, you have...share!

Expat Shmexpat!



expatriate:

v. ex·pa·tri·at·ed, ex·pa·tri·at·ing 
1. To send into exile. See Synonyms: banish.
2. To remove (oneself) from residence in one's native land.
v.intr.
1. To give up residence in one's homeland.
2. To renounce allegiance to one's homeland.

n. ex·pa·tri·ate
1. One who has taken up residence in a foreign country.
2. One who has renounced one's native land.
3. Or in Ella Coquine's case, one who meets the world's most insane and deranged people, gets tangled up in some major drama and somehow manages to stay in said foreign country.

Is it just me or does the official definition of expatriate sound like one big betrayal against one's homeland? I love the "renounce allegiance" and "See synonyms: banish" part. Coming to Paris, I hardly considered it a banishment from America, just a temporary leave of absence. I mean come on, most of us are still paying US taxes, are we not? It just goes to show that we're never too far from Uncle Sam.

Over time, I've gotten used to this word as the modern meaning is less exile and more relocating. That, I can handle so I take back the "shmexpat" remark. Apparently I've grown so used to this word to describe myself that I have recently been nominated for an Expat Blog Award

So, if you like what you read here on the ole Tales from the Chambre de Bonne, please feel free to leave a comment for me here. Thank you mille fois for those of you who already have. I actually teared up at some of your comments. I was truly touched. Thank you.

If not for me, then drop a note for any of the other talented and hard-working bloggers who are also participating in this fun contest hosted by the fantastic folks over at the Expats Blog

Bravo to everyone and good luck! 
I say we all deserve an expat on the back. Ah, I couldn't resist...

Also - for continued reading, check out my interview...