connect!

Day 265: Share Ma Vie Française.

Greeting Card by Anna Bond

So how did this whole French thing start? Why did I decide to learn French? Why did I move to Paris? C'est quoi cette histoire?!? 

Don't you want to know even more about me than you already do? In the event that you do, my first article as a contributor on Ma Vie Française is hot off the press (feel the steam rising off the printer)...

Paris, that sweet monster

Day 263: Get a "Placial".

 

Greeting Card by Anna Bond

It's no secret that I'm a gal who has done her fair share of traveling. Being the daughter of a flight attendant, how could I not? Through the years, I have been asked by whomever has picked me up from the airport, how do I look somewhat together when coming off of those gruesome red-eyes.

This wasn't always the case. You see, back in my early twenties, I used to board these overnight flights with full make-up to wake up eight hours later with raccoon eyes, clumps of powder on my cheeks, dry, crusty wine-stained lips and flakes of skin falling off of my nose. Why did this grossness happen? Because there is nothing more dehydrating than flying...especially after several glasses of wine with a full face of makeup!

While I can't change the nature of flying, I can make it work in my favor and over the years have come up with my own DIY Plane Facial, or to be cute...a "Placial".

1. Go natural! Don't board the plane with make-up on and keep your hair in a tight bun or braid. Unfortunately, me being someone who wasn't blessed with flawless skin, I do need some powder. So if you need a little somethin' somethin', apply a LIGHT layer of powder but really, who cares what the TSA think. They see thousands of people per day and you're not Creepalina Jolie where photographers are popping out of Hudson Newsstands to snap your photo. So keep it light or if you can, nonexistent. 

2. Drink! I bet you thought I was going to say not to drink, right? Well if you can help it, don't but if you're like me who thinks that the whole fun of traveling is having a cocktail or two in the friendly skies then have it! Just make it up with water. For every drink, make it up with two glasses of water. Try not to exceed three alcoholic beverages. I know, it's hard...trust me.

And for the love of God, do not, I repeat, do not eat the plane food. My mother loves to remind me of how much sodium is packed in one meal. If you're flying first class, have the first course (the salad, smoked salmon, asparagus, etc...) and nibble on some of the cheese that is offered on the dessert cart and if you're in coach, eat a meal before boarding and pack snack bars (I love Fiber One 90 chocolate peanut butter brownies), fruit and unsalted nuts.

3. Cleanse! Once the flight crew has turned off the cabin lights, sneak off to the lavatory with your cosmetic bag and wash and tone your face. Always pack a wash cloth to properly pat dry your face. Floss and brush your teeth and if you brought “sleep aids”, take them now.

4. Hydrate! Once you are back in your seat, apply a generous layer of moisturizer. I like Cetaphil because it doesn't contain dyes, perfumes or SPF and has been recommended to me by my dermatologist. When I say generous I mean a layer fairly thick that if the lights were on you could see it. Also add a thick coating of lip balm to your lips and the corners of your mouth, I like Smith's Minted Rose Lip Balm but any drugstore quality chap stick will do.

5. Relax! Take your scarf (preferably Cashmere because it's softer) and lightly lay it across your face leaving room for you to breath and close your eyes.

Your minty breath will serve as a natural moisturizing steam that will absorb the cream and hydrate your skin, covering your face  will also protect you from plane germs that are being recycled throughout the cabin. When you wake up hours later, the cream on your face will have been completely absorbed into your skin, leaving soft, silky and hydrated skin. If you have someone special picking you up from the airport or like to flirt with customs officers like I do, go ahead and enhance your beauty with a little makeup.

I use (my secret weapon) Clarin's Beauty Flash Balm to brighten and tighten my skin (as the packaging says), Benefit's Rose-tinted lip and cheek stain for some color and add an extra coat of lip balm for extra soft lips. Take down your bun or braid and tousle your hair using the remaining lip balm you have on your fingers as a pomade. Emerge from the terminal and work it.

For extra drame: I finish the look with a pair of cat-eye sunglasses, skinny jeans, ballet flats and slouchy sweater for the real Hollywood effect. Hey, no one said that I wasn't a diva. 


Bon voyage!

Day 262: JFK ✈ CDG

7ème arrondissement
September 2009

I took this photo my very first night in Paris. If someone would have told me what lied ahead of me, I'd probably have packed up and fled the next day!  

Like this photo, these past few years have been a blur but I wouldn't give back any of these experiences - good or bad - for all the New York pizza in the city.

Here's to more memories and adventures in The City of Light. 

It's good to be home...

Day 260: Missed Connections. Part 2.


Back when I was living in Brooklyn, my roommate Ivanka and I used to send each other cryptic messages on the missed connections boards on craigslist. We'd write things like "What does wine + Bret Michaels equal? Us...tonight..VH1. See you on the west end of the couch." This was how we entertained ourselves for most of 2006 at our jobs that we hated. She, a receptionist at a headhunting firm and me an associate at an iconic fashion house. 

After I had asked Ben to leave when he referred to our two months spent together as a casual sex arrangement, I wrote an anonymous and vague note on missed connections gently voicing my confusion about the neighbor sex buddy debacle. I'm not sure why I did this, perhaps to serve as a cathartic way of expressing my disappointment, or maybe I was foreshadowing this blog, or maybe I was just 25, bored and dumb? I really don't know why but I did it. I published the simple two line post and went to sleep, not expecting much from it. 

The following morning at work, I found an e-mail waiting for me from the missed connections post. I expected it to be from some creepy internet troll looking for a desperate girl but when I opened it, I was shocked to see that it was from Ben. Ben?! I had never talked about this message board with him before and couldn't believe that after he had left my apartment, he went on to craiglist, read and responded to a post that could or couldn't have been from me. It was all too weird.

I opened the e-mail and this is the gem that I found: 

From: b@douchebag.com
To: anonymous@craiglist.org
Re: Neighbor Disconnect!

You wanted more and it was never that serious between us. Move on. Don't get all psycho...

B

What a little punk. I wanted more? "More" is not wanting to be labeled a sex buddy? How demanding of me...and don't even get me started on the psycho remark. Once again, this is why I don't date American men anymore. 

Since my boss hadn't come in yet, I called Kitty at her office and quickly recapped what had happened. "What a loser," she said while slurping her coffee, "No, really, when I met him he thought he was hipster hot stuff. How annoying, ok I'm going to take care of this." I forgot that I had introduced Kitty to Ben one night in the hallway and he was aghast because Kitty didn't know who the band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were. Give me a break. The girl came out of the wall at her wedding, dancing to Rhianna's "We Found Love". There is no way that she was going to know the band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. That guy was such an ass.

"What are you going to do?" I asked her, worried yet intrigued what she had up her sleeve. "Just forward the e-mail to me and let me handle it." I've known Kitty since we were 12 so I trusted that she wouldn't embarrass me and sent her the e-mail.

A few hours later I received a forwarded e-mail correspondence from Kitty that read: 

From: kitty@scaryfinancejob.com
To: ella@infashionhell.com
Fw: Neighbor Disconnect!

This guy is a douche. Call me later.
You're welcome and please...don't ever do this again! 

--Forwarded message--

From: stacey@idontexist.com
To: b@douchebag.com
Re: Neighbor Disconnect!

Hi...

Is this Brad who lives in Gramercy Park? 

If it is, I'm really hurt by your e-mail but I guess I have to accept it. I'll see you around the building. 

Best,

Stacey

From: b@douchebag.com
To: stacey@idontexist.com
Re: Neighbor Disconnect!

Oh, I feel kind of dumb. I thought you were my neighbor Ella who I guess wasn't sweating me much as I thought. I hope everything works out with you and Brad. Sorry for the mix-up. 

Ben  

Upon reading the e-mail from "Stacey", I almost choked on my Pret-a-Manger sandwich. Staring back at her handy work, I had never laughed so hard at work in my life. She knew that I'd never go through the trouble of making a fake e-mail to put him in his place but since it wasn't tax season, she had some extra time on her hands to mastermind this. It was genius.

Up until this weekend, this was my last correspondence with Ben. He had moved out of the building a month later without telling me, never to be heard from again. A few months later I was transferred downtown to work at the corporate office of my favorite designer where I met my French bosses and Georges, the IT guy from Normandy...this was when my life completely changed. 

Day 258: Cocktail Taste Test 1

The prep...

For the upcoming birthday of Gilles (Séb's father), I have been on the hunt for a special bottle of liquor to bring to him from the States that he couldn't find in France. 

The quest is to find something fun and quirky but still drinkable. Him being a cocktail connoisseur who takes his elixirs quite seriously, I want to bring him something that I had sampled myself. Over the course of two weeks, I've been facilitating taste tests with the few bottles that have caught my attention at the liquor store (or rather sucked me in with darling packaging). My sidekick Kitty had no problem in joining me in creating the perfect novelty cocktail. 

This is what we came up with for our first taste test using Pinnacle Cotton Candy Vodka.

Cotton Candy Cosmo
2 oz. Pinnacle Cotton Candy Vodka
4 oz. Perrier or sparkling water
A lime wedge
Splash of cranberry Juice
Squeeze lime wedge in cocktail shaker to make pulp. Add vodka, soda and cranberry juice. Shake well and pour into a nonpareil rimmed martini glass and enjoy!

The cocktail.

The verdict: The Cotton Candy Cosmo is a bit on the sweet side, even with the mild sparkling water mixer. The lime balances out the flavor but I'm not sure if Gilles - who is adventurous - would want his dessert at cocktail hour. Nibbling on the nonpareils added a nice crunch and certainly would be a conversation sparker but I think this is much more suited for a themed girl's night. So the search continues.... 

Day 257: Missed Connections.

Illustrations by Cécile Mancion

Yesterday I spent a long day in the slushy, cold city. Freshly fallen snow when you have nowhere to go is lovely. Day old snow, after it's melted to black slush, and has been driven over by dozens of cars and trucks is the reason why winter really is my least favorite season. I wouldn't have trekked into Manhattan if I hadn't made an appointment last week for a facial at Mario Badescu, using the gift certificate given to me for Christmas by my cat, Charlotte (or rather, my mom who thinks that she's pulling the wool over my eyes by drawing Charlotte's paw print on the card.). 

Before getting my face exfoliated, extracted, massaged and being told by the Ukrainian esthetician that my skin was dry, broken out and not luminous, I spent the afternoon downtown to visit some of my stomping grounds in my hometown.

I had lunch at one of my favorite East Village spots, the eccentric Yaffa Cafe where I woofed down a sunshine burger with sprouts and tahini on a whole wheat pita while indulging in a Plum Sykes novel. I then stopped at the St. Mark's Bookshop to kill some time before my appointment uptown. While pursuing the autobiography section, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Startled, I turned around quickly where my coffee spit out of the spout of the to-go cup and on to my white coat and found Ben staring back at me. Oh God, no...not Ben. I can't stand this guy. Ben was my next door neighbor in Brooklyn whom I thought I was dating because every night for two months we'd go out to dinner, out for drinks on Bedford Avenue, go to see bands, have movie night and well, have sex. Isn't that dating?

Apparently not, at least not in America. It wasn't until one night he told me one night that he loved having a sex buddy as cool as me that I realized that we weren't dating. How disgusting. After escorting him out of my apartment, I stood up against the closed door and reflected on our past few months together. While I was certainly annoyed, I was more confused. Had I been delusional? Were we really not dating?

Ben was my last American "boyfriend"...and I'll tell you why.

Only in the States have I found dating to be so complicated where there are all these rules, games and unclear levels. There's "hanging out", "talking", "hooking up", "seeing", "going out", "sort of dating" and "being casual" where each stage means something completely different. It's ridiculous.

In France, and I assume the rest of the Europe, this method of courting (if you want to call it that) simply does not exist. Everywhere else, dating is pretty direct where there is no mystery as to what's going on between you and the person you have been rolling in the hay with for the past month.

My French guy friends who have lived in New York, confirm that they got away with acting like total jerks because men seem to call the shots where they can play it cool, date multiple women at a time, wait days for follow up communication, make last minute dates and relish over how this heinous behavior is tolerated. There's a reason why Sex and the City was a success because dating in New York is a nightmare.

I'd love to hear your opinions on this, especially from all my expat girls. Do you ladies find dating to be easier in Europe than in a major city in the U.S? I'd also like to hear from my French male readers who have lived in Manhattan, I invite you to share your experiences. Am I on target with my observations or did I just have terrible luck?

Back to Ben, after getting the rug pulled from underneath me when he referred to me as his sex buddy, I reacted really strangely and did something I had never done before...and I wasn't even drunk. 

To be continued.... 

Day 253: Network Your Love?


During one of Aurel's last dinners here in New York, we were out having dinner with Kitty and João at the ultimate American restaurant chain, Friday's (which is a whole other story in itself) and the topic of Facebook came up. Kitty was telling us about when her and João where first dating, they weren't sure when to change their statuses to "In a relationship" and debating on when is the right time to do it. They, of course, asked us at what point did we finally announce our "everlasting love" on Facebook.

We looked at each other with a chuckle and broke it to them that we were in fact, not "friends" on Facebook. There was silence followed by a look of confusion on both Kitty and João's face. How are we not Facebook friends? Absurdity! How shady!

João who knows me better than he knows Aurel felt comfortable to jokingly ask me what I was hiding from my boyfriend. "Nothing," I told him, "I'm not hiding anything. I just don't think we need to add each other on Facebook if we talk every day." Aurelb who only uses Facebook to promote his blog has never been concerned about our Facebook non-status and jumped in and told them that it was never addressed it because it never mattered. "So you're both shady!" João said while taking a swig of his Corona. "Honey, they're an artsy couple, the don't care about that kind of stuff!" Kitty said to him, trying to justify our perceived stance against social media with our love of indie rock and street art. "Ok, I'm not artsy," I said while popping a waffle fry into my mouth, "Beyoncé's "Video Phone" is one of my favorite songs and you know that." I said trying to defend us and that we weren't elitists who were too good to add each other on Facebook. We were in a Friday's restaurant for crying out loud.

The thing is that I've been down this road before and ended up regretting it. I accepted Monsieur Flâneur's request (something I had initially resisted), a person that I thought I would be spending the rest of my life with and it ended up being a mess when we broke up. I remember avoiding Facebook like the Champs-Élysées in June because I was terrified that I was going to wake up one morning and see that he had changed his status to single, something that would have ripped my heart out at the time - especially before my first sip of coffee. To this day, I'm constantly reminded of my former life because I'm still friends with his brother, his cousins, his best friends from high school and his customers from his restaurant where our Facebook friendships are the pink elephant on our news feed.

I intend on keeping Facebook and Twitter at a distance with Aurelb for the time being. Should we take our relationship to the next level, we can revisit this, but for now, I'd like to keep this part of our lives a mystery.

What do you guys think? Does withholding your Facebook "friendship" with your partner communicate a lack of trust in your relationship and your future together as a couple?

Day 251: Tangled Up in Blue.

I have a confession to make. It's something that I should just come forward with...

This is really hard for me but I thought you all should know that I am a digital hoarder. If my computer could somehow be projected into my apartment, I'd have stuff everywhere because I save everything on my hard drive. Whenever Séb sees my desktop, he shakes his head at the clutter of icons that are scattered across the screen like cockroaches in a Lower East Side studio apartment. 

The fact remains that I simply hate dragging documents to my trash bin in the fear that I may need them again at a later date. I also chronically e-mail myself photos and word documents as "back-up".

In an effort to kick start 2012, I did a laptop deep cleaning where I spent half the day creating folders, filing important documents and "throwing out" quadruples of the same photo of parties and fashion weeks past that I swore to myself that I'd look at again for inspiration.

During this digital extermination, I came across a batch of photos that I haven't seen in a year. I shot them while taking on a long winter's walk through Paris, contemplating if Monsieur Flâneur was the one for me because things had gotten so vile between us.

I guess I was feeling kind of blue (and apparently fantasizing about a haircut)...








With a sparkling clean desktop and not wanting to clutter it up again, I have since moved my addiction to Pintetrest. Come hoard with me over there!

Day 250: Move Like Jagger.

Illustration by Cécile Mancion

As predicted, watching the Golden Globes on Sunday did exactly what I thought it would: made me feel lame and fat but what it also did was inspire me to run that extra 15 minutes on the treadmill and stay for the "Thigh Melt" class when I so wanted to go home and make a soy café au lait (au soja?). So I guess some good came out of watching celebrities dripping in diamonds and haute couture doing that annoying thing where they cock their heads back and fake laugh once they realize that the camera has panned on them.

Watching the pre-show red carpet footage, I was surprised to see Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine in his little tuxedo at the show since the Globes are exclusively for film and television. But because I have been living under a rock France for the past three years, I miss out on all the "top news", one being that he is apparently the host of a hit television show, hence his appearance at the Golden Globes. Every time I see him, I can't help but blush from embarrassment, remembering the time that I met him.

Picture it. Casino de Paris. March 2011.

It was almost two weeks after MF ended things and I was staying at my (now former) friend Karoline and Gabriel's apartment near Bastille until I sorted out my situation. My nights were sleepless where I was kept awake from the sound of my own thoughts bouncing through my head as well as the sound of crying mice who were caught in the mouse trap behind the loveseat that I was sleeping on. I look back on these days as living in a cold, sad and well, unsanitary haze, except for one night.

Karoline had come home from work and handed me a ticket that her boss had given her to see Maroon 5 the following week at the Casino de Paris. She was unable to go because her mother was coming in from Michigan and we both thought that it would lift my spirits to go see an American band in Paris, so off this heartbroken girl went.

Looking forward to my date with myself, I got as dolled up as I could, trying to merchandise the few things that I grabbed in haste from my apartment with MF and arrived at the Casino de Paris in the 9th long before the show started. I regretted not bringing my book and wondered how I was going to pass time until the show started. It wasn't until I saw the holy grail, the solution to everything, that I knew I was going to be just fine for at least an hour: a champagne bar. That's what I love about France, a glass of real champagne is always a reasonable request. If I asked for a glass of bubbly at a New York rock club, I shudder to think what would be served to me - white wine with a splash of club soda? Most likely. 

I took down two glasses of champagne on an empty stomach and saw absolutely nothing wrong in escorting myself backstage. In French, with my thick New York accent, I told the bouncer that I was with the band and can only assume that he just didn't want to deal with me because he let me in. Liquid courage at its finest.

What? I was in? How was I in? I felt like Penny Lane in...ok, that's exaggerating, I felt like William, the little boy in Almost Famous. The spirit backstage was alive with roadies and managers who were breezing in and out of walkways and talking in headsets to get ready for the show. I planted myself at the backstage bar before anyone noticed that I didn't have a pass and sipped on a complimentary glass of red wine. 

After burdening the bartender with my heartbreak woes, he was quickly rescued by the excitement of the band who came in with an entourage to take photos with sponsors, guests, and VIPs. Laughing along with the crew as if I was so "in", I suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder. This was it, now I was going to get kicked out, I thought. I gulped down the last of my wine before turning around to see their tour manager looking at me. "Do you want your photo taken with the band?" he asked. Oh, well I wasn't expecting that. "Yes," I responded, scared that if I had said no, he would ask to see credentials. I jumped down from the bar stool and realized that I was a little drunker than I had thought and stumbled towards one of America's biggest bands staring back at me.

"Bonjoooooooour, Maroon Cinq!" I said holding up my wine glass like an ass. I didn't know what else to say or why I was speaking French to these Southern California boys. I guess heartbreak makes us do mysterious things. There was silence from the band who just stared back at me, so clearly, I continued. "Les américains sont arrivés!". Silence. Hmmm, ok. "My boyfriend dumped me and I'm heartbroken?" I finally surrendered with, which then triggered a round of cheers and we all huddled in for the least cool photo in rock history. Their "groupie" had one eye open, purple teeth from the red wine and was inching close to Adam like a total nerd, as if we were friends from way back.

As I was about to exit backstage and watch the show with other concert goers, I figured I had gone this far and wanting to channel my newly acquired inner Band-Aid status, decided to watch the show from the side of the stage in the hopes of blending in with the other Victoria Secret models. You don't need me to tell you that I stuck out like a sore thumb. 

After jamming out to "Misery" - the official song of my break-up - like someone who has nothing to lose, the tour manager who at this point grew suspicious at who this weird girl was, came back wanting to know who I was there with. I knew it, now I was so going to get busted, kicked out and arrested. I was ready to confess to my ruse but before I could, my alter-ego for the evening blurted "Sara Bareilles!" "she," said, "I'm with Sara Bareilles!". I lied and told him that I was with the opening act, singer/song-writer Sara Bareilles who I then had to hide from behind the "sound guy" when she was hanging out at the side of the stage before her duet with the band. 

I made it throughout the entire show without getting kicked out and/or arrested and did what all girls do when they've just gotten their hearts broken and dragged through the mud - got drunk and had fun! Even if I was alone in Paris...

On my way home on the metro, I texted the photo to Kitty in New York who at the time was growing worried about me but grew less upon seeing me with my new "friends" Maroon 5. "Only you would get dumped and a week later sends me a photo with you hanging out with famous people," she wrote back "You'll be just fine." She then took the liberty to post it on facebook. Within minutes, I got a nasty text from MF who saw my tag, asking what the hell was I doing and accused me of moving on from him too quickly - with Maroon 5. What an idiot.  

It was the first time I had laughed in weeks and at the time, I had no idea that it was also going to be the last time in months but I got through it. Looking back, I couldn't imagine a better way to spend those first heart-wrenching weeks. And all I can say, ladies, is posing next to Adam Levine to show your ex that there are other fish in the sea and having him respond - just priceless.



Day 248: Hustle (and hopefully flow).

Illustration found on Paper Taste Buds

Aurélien's New York trip has come to an end and I'm truly sad to see him go. When he first arrived, I was a bit concerned; spending this much time together (especially with my crazy family) can either make or break a budding relationship. In our case, I can say that it only confirmed our compatibility. Me being someone who is easy to get along with is finally with someone who mirrors my (20 days out of the month) fairly temperate manner. Apparently, this harmony resonated because he received nothing but wonderful testimonials from my family and oldest friends.

During this time, being in such close proximity, we learned a lot about each other. He learned that I need to be alone when getting dressed in order to think, calculate and mix and match together looks. After 60 years of marriage, my grandfather has still never seen my grandmother get ready and she has always taught me to present the finishing product without giving away your tricks. Perhaps it's a bit old-fashioned but I think some things should be kept a mystery. For example, me stuffing my juicy thighs in a pair of air-tight Spanx is something that I would prefer Aurélien to not see. As for him, I learned that he does his best thinking while doing the dishes in silence and that the Apple store is to him what Anthropolgie Home is to me - pure consumer bliss.

Last champagne toast together in New York.

Last night I took him to JFK to bid farewell to our well-spent vacation. I'm not sure why I teared up, but I did. Perhaps it was the airport, saying goodbye, the two glasses of red that we had at the terminal bar, but the tears just started flowing which is ludicrous because we're going to see each other in two weeks! Why the drama? Because that's just me, I guess...

My walk back through the terminal was melancholy and absurdly cinematic. For starters, I was wearing a long black chiffon skirt (à la Stevie Nicks) that billowed with each step in my platform suede booties. Seriously, who wears that to the airport? And because he took the last flight out of JFK, by the time I walked back, the airport was desolate. I stood on the moving walkway, along with electronic ambient that was streaming through JFK (I swear it could have been Sigur Ros - kill me now) and black and white flashing video scenes of cities were playing on both walls...Milan, London, New York...and Paris. It was just awful.

So now the big question. Why was I not going with him? Why was I not going home, to the city and the man I love? Because I have paperwork to submit, like my visa. So, this means that I will be dividing my time between Paris and New York, for the next few months, which means I'm going to be broke but if I've learned anything in my years of travel and adventures is how to pinch a penny and enjoy life on the cheap. Let's see what happens...

Don't worry, you guys will be with me every step of the way...I can't keep things from you for that long!

Day 246: Cure the Winter Blues.

I so don't look like this in the winter...
...not even in Paris.
Illustration by Cécile Mancion

The holidays are long gone and over, award season is here which always makes me feel poor, unaccomplished and ugly, not to mention that it's dreary and cold - everywhere (except L.A apparently). Is it just me or is anyone else feeling a winter funk creeping in? 

Not being someone who copes well with the change this time of year as winter depression gets the best of me, over the years I have had to come up a solution. I've created the perfect three-part combination to cure the winter blues.

1. Cocktails (you knew that one was coming)
While red wine is my drink of choice, when I want an invigorating cocktail, I like to play with flavored vodkas, fruits and herbs. Here's one that I whipped up one night:

Garden Greyhound
3oz. Pink Grapefruit Belvedere vodka
3oz. Pink Grapefruit juice or Blood Orange juice

Add a tiny pinch of salt for complexity
Shake well and serve in a martini glass or highball
Top off with a splash of Perrier or Champagne 

(to make it a royale)
Add a sprig of basil for garnish

2. Facial
I love a good homemade remedy whenever I run out of my masks. My mother taught me that a great beauty elixir can be made with things already in the house. I remember sitting in our living room in Manhattan side by side wearing robes and homemade natural beauty masks while she sipped on Sauvignon Blanc and I drank ginger ale...in a wine glass. 


This exfoliating recipe is the cleanest and easiest:

Homemade Lemon Sugar Scrub
Take 1 lemon and roll it on the counter to soften the inside of the lemon so that it will be easier to extract the juice.
After it's been rolled and beaten into submission, cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a bowl and add a splash of water to dilute the lemon juice. Add a tablespoon of white granulated sugar and a drizzle of honey into your mix and stir. Test the ratio between sugar and water until it's a paste that won't slide off your face and end up all over your apartment. Once it's on massage in upward circular motions for 10-15 seconds, then sit back, sip your Garden Greyhound and leave on for 10 minutes while listening to...

3. Playlist
I hope you weren't expecting Enya or zen chimes. If so, shame on you! You should know me better by now. Instead of comatose New Age music, I have hand selected songs that without fail will make you laugh (isn't that we need in winter?)...especially after a cocktail or two. Why? Because the lyrics are absolutely ridiculous.

Micheal McDonald - I Keep Forgettin'
Wham! - Everything She Wants*
Billy Ocean - Caribbean Queen
Hall and Oates - I Can't Go For That
Serge Gainsbourg - No Comment
Tina Turner - Private Dancer
Atlantic Starr - Always**
Anita Baker - Caught In the Rapture
Jennifer Lopez - You Belong to Me***
PM Dawn - Set Adrift on Memory Bliss
Steve Perry - Oh Sherry
Phil Collins - Sussudio****

To listen to this playlist in its entirety, click here.

* Please listen to these crazy lyrics. It takes ridiculous to the next level.

** "Let's go make a family"? What producer thought that was a great lyric?  Even as a kid, I found it odd and pushy.

*** I absolutely love the original version by Carly Simon but the J.Lo version is just so stupid that I had hers to the mix.  

**** What the hell is a Sussudio? 


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Day 245: Find Francophile Fun.


Don't think that just because we've been on Long Island for the past few weeks that I wasn't going to brew up some French fun. While I have been offering Aurel an authentic New York experience, I needed a little taste of my adopted culture. For one of our last meals together in New York, I took him to my favorite (perhaps the only?) French restaurant in the area, Citron in the historic old village of Roslyn. (Sidebar: This restaurant was featured in an episode of Gossip Girl when they were in "The Hamptons", for those of you who might be interested...no names.)

One of the things that I miss while living in Paris is the option to dine at the bar which is something that hasn't quite trended in French dining culture. I like sitting at the bar for several reasons: it's so New York, bartenders tend to not judge you when you want that extra glass of wine, they're quicker, more interesting and more often than not, give away freebies after you strike up some good conversation. In an effort to allow our cultures to collide, we enjoyed our French feast at the marble top counter while watching Jeopardy! on the bar area's flat screen.


It was the perfect date for a quiet rainy weekday night in January. I was with my beau sharing a bottle of Bordeaux, a plate of oysters from the raw bar, and watching American trivia. Who ever said I was a difficult date was misguided, I'm really am quite easy to please. Aurel blew me away when he answered not one but three Jeopardy! questions correctly. Was it Teen Jeopardy!? No. College Jeopardy!? Nope. But real Jeopardy! with real brainiac contestants! I always knew he was smart and that his English was amazing but I didn't think he was quick thinking Jeopardy! smart (Ok, how annoying is it that I have to keep adding the exclamation point each time I write Jeopardy!). The trick with Jeopardy! is that you have to be quick which is what always takes me out of the winner's circle where Aurel, on the other hand was right on top it, Rose.. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement, I've only been able to answer one question on the French trivia show Questions pour un Champion and the answer was Alanis Morrisette - hardly rocket science.


The bartender, who came over to fill our wine glasses overheard us speaking French and asked me if we had come in before. I told him that while I had sat at the bar several times for dinner, this was Aurel's first trip out to Long Island. The bartender said that he could have sworn that he recognized us, especially me, an Italian New Yorker who speaks French with her French significant other. I told him that every other time that I had come in, it was with my mother who I certainly do not speak French with. Perhaps I have a nemesis wandering the suburbs and if that's the case I want to find her to see how the subjunctive is working out for her.

And then it hit me...of course. I came here last year with Monsieur Flâneur. How could I forget? He was such as ass that night. He accused me of drinking too much, which is obviously true but his accusation was solely based on my one mimosa that I had at brunch earlier that day. One! How absolutely annoying. Much to his dismay, we sat at the bar (which I got secret pleasure out of) because there weren't any available tables in the dining area. We were sat next to a group of Pinot Grigio slurping Long Island divorcées who wanted to practice their high school French with him. He loved the attention.

Wanting to avoid further questions from the bartender and more importantly from Aurel, I lied and said that it wasn't me who came in last year with another French man and changed the subject to how Vanna White never ages, which oddly worked. The bartender brushed it off after offering his theory about Vanna and while cleaning out a martini shaker I heard him mumble "I wonder whatever happened to those two, they were such a nice couple." If he only knew the half of it...

It was an honest mistake that I took Aurel to this restaurant. It completely escaped me that I had done the same exact thing a year earlier, just with another Parisian import. God, who am I? I had no choice but to blow it off as an oversight, I couldn't internalize it. Had I taken him to the now off-limits restaurant in the 11th, Les P'tites Indécises that would be a different story but a bistro on Long Island? This is my territory.

Our New York trip is coming to a close where we have been spending the most time we've ever spent together and I'm discovering more and more how compatible we are for each other. While I did have some great times with MF and even the gross Lucien, the disagreements out-weighed them, casting a shadow of irritating conversations and frustrations over our relationships. With Aurel, we get along peacefully where on top of being my boyfriend, he is also turning into a good friend. 

Day 244: Get Effing Creeped Out.

Are you ready for this?

I certainly wasn't when I opened this anonymous e-mail yesterday...


Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you my 2011 summer sublet, posing in my Paris apartment, holding up my house key right before she robbed me and trashed my home.

Seriously, are you guys dying right now? My jaw dropped when I opened this. I have no idea who sent this and can only speculate but regardless of the source, it speaks volumes in regard to what happened in Paris last summer.

"I jumped at the thought of wearing [your] designer clothes, and soon I was accepting the idea of beautiful fashions I could never afford...I thought you were leaving them there [locked and sealed up in boxes that read: KEEP OUT] to collect dust."

"Resenting others close to me who were given everything they dreamed [that seemed to come] so easy from their parents and taking it for granted, I had a personal vendetta [against these people] and [a] desire for these things to come easy [by stealing]."

Excerpts from her 2011 correspondence defending her heinous actions. 

Disclaimer: This story is not slander, harassment, defamation, misrepresentation or speculation. This is a report of true events that have taken place in 2011 in Paris, FRANCE. Written and verbal confessions from the thief as well as three trips of returning stolen goods have been documented and can be provided as proof of validity. At the time of press, there are still items missing as well as apartment damage costs that have not been collected by the thief.

Day 243: Be Versatile.


What a lovely way to wake up on a chilly January morning...today I was presented with the Versatile Blogger Award by the lovely Miss Laura whose blog The Everyday Life of a Young American Girl in France keeps me entertained with her adventures and observations of life in France as a foreigner.


The idea is to share 7 things about yourself to your readers, "fun facts" if you will.

While I certainly can't define myself in 7 compact little facts, here are some things about me that you won't find in my "About Me" section, to give you an idea of what level of crazy you're dealing with over here...

7. I'm a 90's pop culture/music junkie. For example, the Beverly Hills 90210 Soundtrack is one of my favorite albums and not in that hipster "I'm so ironic" way. I listen to it, like for real.

6. In 1999, I tried to be all bad ass and planned to hop trains and hitchhike from Olympia, Washington to San Francisco with a guy with blue hair. I wimped out and took the Greyhound down instead and listened to Tori Amos on my discman for the entire ride. So not bad ass...

5. I spent two years of my life as an extra "background artist" in Los Angeles and frequently see myself on t.v. reruns when I'm in the States. I'm still waiting on those residual checks since I clearly make the scene come alive.

4. In L.A, I once knocked on my next door neighbor's door drunk at 2:00 am and asked if I could sleep on his couch. He said yes.

3. I have three tattoos. Two that I love and one that I just hate - and no, it's not a butterfly.

2. I like to prank call ex-boyfriends. Unfortunately, I can't do this to the French ones...my accent would give it away.

1. I'm French by injection. If only my "hardwork" could get me my carte de séjour. With the 2012 elections coming up, who knows what changes will be in sight for La France...

Hey, I never said I wasn't ridiculous... 

Now, I must share this award with another blogger whom I feel encompasses versatility. For me, this was a no-brainer where Mary-Kay at Out and About in Paris was the first to come to mind. MK (as I like to call her) is one of my favorite ex-pat bloggers who has taught me more about my adopted city with her facts, photos and discoveries than I have on my own in almost three years in The City of Light. 

Thank you Mary-Kay for your incredible blog and Laura for honoring me with this award!

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Day 242: I Heart New York. Part Two.

As much as I love Paris where my life abroad is becoming a huge part of who I am in my adult life, I can never forget where I was born and raised. Being back in New York, I'm hyper-aware of my surroundings, reminding me of what these streets have taught as a young girl. It's good to see that this place is still nuts...

Humor.

Open-mindedness.

Honesty.

Humility.
(Clearly I was allowed in.)

 Survival skills.

Endurance.
 
Creativity.

 Beauty.

 Love.

And the most important...
Awareness.
Eligible bachelors really are few and far between in NYC. 

Day 240: Get Bashed.

Illustration by Angéline Mélin

Last night, I took Aurelien on a truly authentic New York adventure: dinner in the Bronx. I figured since he's seen Long Island, is familiar with Brooklyn, knows Manhattan, who cares about Staten Island, the Bronx was the last stone left unturned. He needed a true Boogie Down Bronx experience and no, not like those embarrassing FIAT commercials where Jennifer Lopez drives around (a sound stage in L.A) acting like she's so "down", a real one with current locals. I made arrangements to have dinner with my second cousin Ginger and her husband Freddie in their neighborhood to show him another side of New York.

Although I speak to Ginger every week (thanks to the plethora of social networks), the last time I went up to the Bronx to have dinner with them was almost three years ago - with Lucien. Lucien, the pseudo-intellectual who did nothing short of insulting them while they opened their home to him. To this day, when I'm on the phone with Ginger, I can hear Freddie's comments in the background asking about that "knucklehead". So here we go into another fun flashback from relationships past...

Picture it. The Bronx. Holiday 2008.

Ginger and Freddie picked Lucien and I up at the Castle Hill stop off Subway line 6 in the Bronx to have dinner at their house. After introductions in the car, Lucien thought this was an opportune moment to teach them a new French expression: "Qu'est-ce que c'est que ce Bronx?" Not being a French speaker at the time, I didn't understand and Ginger was excited that the Bronx made it into a French expression and was eager to know the meaning. While I now know that the meaning is something to the effect of "What's this mess?" Lucien, on the other hand, offered a far less flattering explanation. Perhaps it was his lack of vocabulary in English where he wasn't able to yet "flower" his words, or he truly was a jerk because he had no qualms in telling them that the expression meant that the Bronx is a trashy, dirty, low-class enclave of immigrants. May I remind you that he was telling them this as we were pulling into their driveway...in the Bronx. Ginger who always sees the good in people, cheerfully said, "Oh well maybe it's something that's just lost in translation." Freddie who wasn't so forgiving mumbled "I'll show you who gets lost".

In the words of Betty Davis, "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night."

We walked into their lovely home that Ginger, after two years of marriage, finally warmed up with her personal touches and with finesse de-bachelorized it. For about six months, every night Freddie came home from work there was a new "switch-out" where one day the apartment was finally null and void of his days as a single guy. His framed samurai swords and geometric mirrors were replaced with framed wedding photos and autumn in New York scenes, black Formica table tops were replaced with cherrywood tables fashioned with glowing candles and coffee table books, and the stark couch was reupholstered and sprinkled with decorative show pillows and throw blankets in jewel tones, making it a cozy home for newlyweds.

For dinner, Ginger made her signature organic turkey meatloaf, broccoli di rabe, stuffed tomatoes oreganata that we washed down with a 2000 Amarone. Freddie who was getting a terrible first impression of Lucien after he called his burrough a ghetto  still tried to warm up to him by asking him about Paris and telling him that he's always wanted to go there. This should have been a normal icebreaker; travel always keeps the conversation light, interesting and neutral. So you'd think...

Lucien's response to Freddie's dream of sightseeing in a the most romantic city in the world with his wife was that if he ever goes to Paris he will be bashed because of his lack of intellect. What. the. eff. I have never experienced a more awkward silence at a dinner - in my life. I didn't speak French at the time so I couldn't discreetly ask him why he would say such a ridiculous thing at a family dinner, so it went ignored and we moved on to talking about Paris' "exciting" metros which only frustrated Lucien more who so badly wanted to press his point. "No, you don't understand," Lucien said while pointing his finger at Freddie, "You will be bashed if you go to Paris!" Just as Freddie - who now put his fork down - was about to respond, Ginger stopped him and asked him to help her open another bottle of wine in the kitchen. As they were in the kitchen, I turned to Lucien and asked him what the hell is he was talking about because it didn't make any sense, reminding him that Ginger and Freddie weren't looking to go to poetry slams in Paris and shared with him an American expression that if you have nothing nice to say, shut the fuck up.

The rest of dinner was cumbersome with conversations ranging from Lucien telling Freddie that he doesn't agree with his "method" of having his family live in the adjacent home because that they are too close, hinted that we were all alcoholics because two bottles of wine were consumed over dinner (with him at the table, we needed it!) and at one point made a failed attempt at working The French Revolution into dinner conversation. It was a nightmare.

While Freddie was insulted by everything that came out of Lucien's mouth that night, the one thing that truly stands out three years later was him threatening that he will get bashed in Paris. He never fails to mention it when I see him. "All I was sayin' was that I wanna go to Paris, take some photos with my wife, see the Eiffel Tower, drink some wine and this guy is tellin' me that I'm gonna get bashed!" he explains in his thick Bronx accent, "What'd I do? Why do I have to get bashed? I'll send his ass down to East Tremont Avenue and let's see who gets bashed!"

Needless to say, last night's experience with the socially competent Aurelien didn't mirror the night with Lucien except when Freddie asked him about Paris and Aurelien said, "Well be careful, word on the street is that you might get bashed there." Ginger and Freddie who clearly understood that he was joking looked at each other and in unison said: "We love him". So do I.

Night in the Bronx: Success!