Bird of Prey.

 Illustration by Jessica Durrant

I was such an idiot when I first moved to Paris. I didn't realize how desperate I was to make friends and to create connections that I was accepting some real low-quality people into my life. Anything to feel like I truly lived in the city I was so in love with...

I was watching yet another episode of a television show that I have to stop mentioning in fear that you will all grow suspicious that the network is paying me to plug them. Rest assured that there is no network, and certainly no paychecks coming my way. I'm just a loser who watches shows years after they go off the air. I'm mentioning it again because there was one episode that absolutely terrified me. The episode that shook me to my core wasn't about murderers, ghosts, devils or spirits, it was about a young girl who falls prey to a predatory sociopath. 

I saw myself staring back at myself.

I have somewhat of a history with sociopaths. I have some in my family, some who are long lost friends, and shady sublets. I tend to attract these kinds of people because I'm a trusting person. Not so much these days, but I was, especially when I first moved to Paris when my defenses were low and I assumed that people had better things to do with their time than focus on, and attempt to ruin the lives of others. Call me crazy.

So whatever did happen to Phil? You know the 55-year-old retired American professor living in Paris who was such a dominant character in my earlier posts. Why did he drop off the face of my blog never to be heard from again? Because I suspected he was a predatory sociopath, preying on my vulnerability.

I met Phil at an art show in the Marais right after a short stint of light stalking from Lucien because he wanted to get back together after deciding that he could live with my "hips fats". So that alone tells you that my head wasn't screwed on straight. From the get-go, I should have realized that something wasn't right. The first red flag should have been when he befriended a former friend, Adelle mere weeks after I met him. Adelle, a French girl with a four-year-old son was excommunicated from our expats in Paris group of friends for trying to find her son a replacement father...with all of our boyfriends. I also found out that she had sabotaged my employment at a huge French fashion house where she also worked. After several interviews for a position that I was more than qualified for, she contacted HR to falsely inform them that I was using drugs in the bathroom of a party we were all at. It wasn't true at all because there wasn't enough to go around! I kid, I went into the bathroom to gossip. I can't resist bathroom girl talk, especially after several glasses of champagne. I honestly didn't know that my current company had brought party favors. So you get it, this girl is evil. Well, Phil was aware of all of these horrid stories of this demon in Dior and still pursued a friendship with her when he was supposed to be my new friend. I woke up one morning in my first apartment in the 15th, logged into Facebook, and what do I see? Phil at Adelle's birthday party? How was that even possible? I should have just let those two have each other, but I didn't and continued my friendship with Phil. Don't you want to just kill me? Yes, I was that dumb.

Once Phil realized that Adelle was a weak link in our group and nobody was bothering with her manipulations, he dropped his focus on her and moved on to someone stronger in my life: my new boyfriend...MF. I'll never forget his first attempt at driving a wedge between us. 

Picture it. The Marais. Early 2010. 

Phil and I were heading to MF's restaurant on a cool winter's eve. We walked in to find MF and his father talking to an American girl; a customer who had just eaten dinner and was on her way out. It wasn't until MF's father told me that she was American that I was aware because of how well she spoke French. She was slightly standoffish to me as I asked her where she was from, what brought her to Paris, and all the questions you ask someone in another country who shares your nationality. I wasn't sure if she was blowing me off or if she was just shy, almost reminding me of the female Garth in Wayne's World 2. Either way, her lack of interest in me was apparent. I blew off her perplexing response to me and helped MF's brother Petit Flâneur close up.

"Garth" excused herself as she was running late to go see Sexy Dance 2, the French title for Step Up 2 at Châtlet. No comment. Phil took this opportunity to escort this complete stranger to the theater. I didn't think much of it, I figured he was bailing out of offering to help the guys close up. When he returned from his walk with Garth, he looked at MF, and with mischievous eyes said, "That girl likes you." MF politely smiled at him and quietly went back to wiping down the cafe tables. I knew Phil was trying to get a reaction from me so I ignored him, which only made him push the envelope further. "MF, I think you're going to see that girl again," he said nodding his head in a way to imply that my boyfriend was about to get lucky with some random chick. "I told her that you know the Marais really well and she should come back, so you could show her around." MF looked at me, looked at Phil, and then back at me to confirm if he understood what was going on. At this point, I stepped in. "What are you doing, Phil?" I asked with exasperation by his childish attempts to cause friction between MF and I. "What?" he looked at me as if it was me who was overstepping major boundaries. After unnecessarily explaining why he was being inappropriate, he stood up and said, "Not everything is about you, little princess. This is about MF and that girl." And then he stormed out. It was between MF and some random chick? This guy was truly deranged. I then translated the entire interaction to MF who then called me dramatic for questioning Phil's motives. I felt like I was losing my mind.

It gets worse...

The following day, I was having coffee at Au Chat Noir, my neighborhood cafe in Oberkampf and who walks in? Garth and she appeared to be looking for someone. Our eyes met and I waved to her. At the sight of me, she started back-stepping towards the door, about to leave. This is when the New York girl in me came out. I got up from my seat and I approached her. "Hi there," I said looking at her as if she was absolutely insane, "I met you, like 12 hours ago, hi." She looked back at me and said hello while nervously gripping her bag. "What brings you over here?" I asked, remembering that she had said that she lived by Trocadero. For those of you who know Paris know that Trocadero to Oberkampf isn't exactly a short trip, in fact, it's quite a hike, especially at 9:30 am. "That Phil guy told me this was a great café, and that the nice guy from the restaurant in the Marais lives around here." Her eyes glazed over in a dream-like state at the mention of the nice guy from the restaurant.

I am not a jealous girlfriend, I generally let this kind of thing go, but the fact that she had crossed town to come to find my boyfriend because Phil guided her there needed to be addressed. I had to get a little Blair Waldorf on her and let her know that this kind of behavior is frowned upon, especially with me. Looking back, perhaps it was wrong to be sharp with her, and she really didn't know that MF was my man, it was Phil's fault for leading her there under the false pretense that he was single. One of the traits of a predatory sociopath is to isolate the victim from the people they love so they rely on them. And he was only getting started...

I have since Googled him and found his Linked In the page that included links to his manuscripts and dissertations on strategic mind control and its influence on others, consumer persuasion through physiological tactics, and the psychology of controlling others.  I felt sick. Sick because I was used as a guinea pig to aid him in one of his studies, and lending a hand in destroying my life was just a minor casualty in his research.

Before seeing this episode, I thought I was the only one who has dealt with this kind of personality. Unfortunately, it took me longer than a 43-minute episode to cut him off, and based on some of his growing aggressive behavior like lighting napkins and letters on fire in my mailbox (which he admitted), it could have escalated. I'm lucky to have ended it when I did because he was after my relationship with Aurélien. By September of last year, I was on to him and he wasn't going anywhere near Aurélien.

I'm sorry that this post is so dark (and long!) right before the weekend, but this experience has rattled me, and I have never been able to address it out of fear. I have to be brave, if I can save someone from going through what I went through, then a less than "Coquine" post is worth it. Always remember, if it doesn't seem right, it normally isn't. I now have to stop beating myself up for not listening to my instincts screaming at me to get the hell away from this guy. But I guess we live and learn, right?

My Milkshake Brings All the Boys to The....

I was never really sure what those lyrics meant but I couldn't resist using it as the title.

So I have never been someone who is embarrassed to eat at a restaurant alone, for any meal. I never understood why people (well, mostly women) feel extremely uncomfortable breaking bread in public all by themselves. I'm not judging, we all have our quirks, this is just one that I never got. I always figured that if another patron in the restaurant is judging me for spending some time alone that their current company must not be all that exciting.

Planning on an early dinner date (or late lunch) with myself, I wasn't exactly sure where I was going to go. Luckily in this town a reservation for a dinner before 6 is not necessary as this is a major Parisian faux-pas. Whatever. I wandered through the 11th making random turns down side streets, allowing myself to get lost. I made a final turn down rue Mont Louis and a little restaurant called The Yard presented itself, beckoning me in. 

Walking into a stark restaurant because when I go on dates with myself, I'm on my American clock. None of this eating dinner at 10pm malarkey. I have thighs to keep in mind! I sat myself at a quiet table in the corner, pulled out my - okay, this is what I'm actually embarrassed about - so eating at a restaurant alone in Paris at 6pm, no biggie. But reading volume, not one, not two, but four of the Gossip Girl book series? The horror! My hero, Mr. Charles Bukowski is turning in his grave right now.

Nestled in with my book with its cover bent back to conceal my literary shame, I ordered a big glass of red, The Yard Burger, and fries. Apparently I'm not that concerned about my thighs.

Although my priorities are currently focusing on finding a new flat, a job and renewing an extremely expired visa, the search for a venue to host our PACS dinner is also on my mind. My ears perked up when I overheard the staff discussing an event happening in the adjacent room that evening. After woofing down my delicious burger that was bursting with fresh local vegetables, and covered in a creamy dill sauce, upon my request, the restaurant's owner escorted me next door to show me the room.

The cozy room fashioned a large dark wooden table that seats up to 20, as well as a counter running along the side wall which can add another 5 or so. The room has its own kitchen where the house chef prepares meals off the menu, a tiled bathroom located at the back of the room so you don't have to share it with the restaurant patrons, a sound system is provided for iPods (I'm already playlist fantasizing), and a dramatic dripping candelabra that will give the room a warm October glow. The room had such a hip, Vermont rustic yet chic feel, and just perfect for an intimate autumn dinner.

While we're keeping our options open, The Yard could be a possibility for the dinner we have in mind. If this is our place, I may even have to break out a booty-romp to "Milkshake" to justify the title of this post. Oh please, who am I kidding? I never need an excuse to booty-romp, do the running man, the electric chair (I made that one up), the choo-choo train or to head Danzig.

So I guess the ball is starting to roll on this. Oh God, I'm becoming an adult and it's freaking me a good way. I guess this was bound to happen at some point because let's face it, I'm no spring least Gossip Girl is keeping me young.

If you're in this neck of the woods, I highly recommend The Yard. I hear they do a great brunch. Bon'App!

The Yard
6, rue Mont Louis
75011 Paris
Métro: Philippe Auguste

What was happening a year ago today? I almost died!

The Only Exception.

Dr. Becky calls my taste in television shows painfully predictable. They must meet one or more of the following requirements: a Golden Girl cast member, something vintage such as - but not limited to - an antique store, period-piece taken place after 1930, and even a main character with bangs will do, as well as an addiction problem and/or paranormal activity. Specific, I know. I still have yet to find a show that contains all of my interests. I may be waiting forever...

Meeting my bangs, antique shop and paranormal prerequisites, my newest obsession as of late has been Ghost Whisperer and it's been driving Séb crazy. Not because he thinks the show is awful, well okay actually in the beginning he did, but because I have successfully managed to suck him into this drama forcing his latest concern to be that Season 3 isn't downloading fast enough. Recently I have been growing suspicious, wondering if his interests truly lie in the storyline of earth-bound spirits crossing into the light, or if it's Jennifer Love Hewitt's luscious cleavage exploding out of her vintage dresses that has made him a new fan. I realized just how out of control it has gotten when he referred to her as "Love", leading me to believe that he has been Googling her! Unfortunately, his new J.Love obsession is no ones fault but my own, and I regret telling him one story in particular that seems to be justifying his cream fest.

Picture it. Los Angeles. 2003.

I love looking back on my LA days. Besides my first fresh months in Paris, these were my glory days of naïveté. I was young, driving around town in an uninsured and unregistered beat-up Volvo, so clearly I was extremely stupid but I was genuinely happy. Life hadn't beat me up yet. My father was still alive, I hadn't experienced the throws of true heartbreak, my rent was cheap, and my metabolism was fast. What more could a 21 year-old ask for?

To pay for said cheap rent as well as my improv classes at The Groundlings, my chosen profession was "background artist" which really is just a fancy title for being an extra. I maintained this lifestyle of living on anorexic paychecks, and "performing" challenging roles such as Girl at Cafe #12 and Principal Drunk Chick at Seth Cohen's House Party for a little over a year before getting completely burned out. The early call times, the grouchy over-worked crew members, being treated like animals (on one show, a tin tray of tootsie rolls was put out as our snack), and watching the nauseating ass-kissing the principle roles received from everyone on the set got majorly played out. I was done.

Except for the pure kitsch factor of seeing myself every so often playing Black Jack on a rerun of Las Vegas, this experience was far from ideal....except for one show. If there was ever an odd job created just for me, this was it. For two glorious seasons, I was an American Bandstand dancer on Dick Clark's family drama American Dreams. This was one of the few extra gigs where you had to actually work which was why it was the least popular job in "the community", particularly with the younger set who came out to Hollywood to be the next Ashton Kutcher or Kate Hudson, and didn't want to be reprimanded about their "Pony" dance moves not being convincing enough. But to me, this job was pure bliss. It was my 1960s wet dream. I danced to Motown and 60s garage rock in vintage mini dresses, my hair was teased up in bouffants and beehives, and I wore pastel colored eye shadows complimented by dramatic liquid eye-liner and false eyelashes.

For one of the show's episodes, Jennifer Love Hewitt was guest starring as Nancy Sinatra, which at the time pissed me off because I didn't feel that she was qualified to portray such a fabulous 60s icon. Packed with my unfair judgmental thoughts, as fate would have it on this particularly busy day, I was sent to get my hair and make-up done in the main trailer where the principle roles were getting done up. Jennifer and I sat side-by-side.

We made eye contact in the mirror, acknowledged each others presence with a smile, and I quickly pulled away from our visual communication. I did the "look away and then check back to see if the person is still looking at you" thing we do when we're nervous. Well Jennifer was still looking. Damn, she was on to me! She was ghost whispering me before the show even launched, and she somehow knew that I thought she was annoying and unsuitable to play Nancy. I was screwed.

She then turned to look at me, and we were face-to-face. As slow as possible, I turned my head toward her which ended up looking more Linda Blair than someone uselessly buying time. Our bare, makeup-less eyes met. "Excuse me," she said as she reached her hand out toward my arm rest, "but you look like me! How funny is that!" Her eyes just sparkled as she made this discovery, as if I was the only person in Hollywood with dark brown eyes, and more touchingly as if I was the only person on earth at this moment. This made me feel just awful for judging her. She was so sweet and cheerful, and me? I was the little bitch for not having any faith in her. My guilt rendered me tongue-tied where I just stared back at her. To make matters more uncomfortable, the abrasive make-up artist who was annoyed that I was even in the principal's trailer told me I needed to go to the dermatologist as she was aggressively slapping foundation on a painful cystic pimple that was growing on my chin. I can still see that zit in the episode, by the way. I was mortified. Jennifer politely smiled and continued chatting with her nice make-up artist, and I just wanted to disappear. Jennifer did a wonderful job as Nancy, and learned to never underestimate the power of Love.

Omitting the embarrassing blemish part, I told Séb this story about J. Love saying that she thinks we look alike, and he has now been using it as an excuse to fawn over her. Okay. One, I do not look like her, I'm more Tomei than Hewitt, and two, I don't care if he thinks she's hot! She is, and he doesn't need to work me into the fantasy. It was this playful interaction of me teasing the hell out of him about his new girlfriend when it dawned on me...Séb has an exception list. Of course he does! You know that mental list we all have about someone unattainable that we want to sleep with and are allowed to should we ever meet them. Residents of Los Angeles excluded.

I guess this is my karma for thinking mean thoughts about J.Love, but really I'm not at all jealous of her being on Séb's exception list because guess what....home girl has her own list. There will be a major scandal if I ever meet Jason Schwartzman, Damon Albarn, or Scarlett Johansson. Miamsville! They don't call me Coquine for nothing.

Who is on your exception list? Is a hashtag Ryan Gosling necessary?

What was happening a year ago today? History!

Postcards from the 11th.

No one is calling me back. I want what I can't have. I'm an undesirable candidate. I have cellulite. Sounds like a bad chick flick, right? Or (except for the cellulite bit) apartment hunting in Paris! Anyone who has been through this can commiserate with me on just how awful it can be. This city does not make it easy.

Since Séb and I are PACsing and I'm currently homeless, the next logical step is to find a home together. This is what we have been up to these past few weeks, and I have to tell you, we're not having fun. We had one landlord tell us that we can live in the apartment for two months and then she will decide if she wants to continue renting. So basically she was proposing that we move in, and after two months we may or may not be able to stay. How does that even make any sense? Séb flat out told her that was the dumbest thing he has ever heard, which was then followed by an awkward silence amongst the three of us in an empty apartment in the 14th.

Deciding on a neighborhood wasn't too difficult. We choose our hood based on where we don't want to live. The Marais is out. I'm done with that chapter of my life. Indeed it's a fabulous neighborhood but it's too expensive, on the weekends the tiny streets are packed with shoppers, and I have way too many memories associated with it; bad ones as well as good ones that I have to let go of. The 19th and 20th are out because I don't want to get raped and/or robbed. Reasonable request. As is the 7th and 8th because we don't live large like Oprah and Karl. We are open to the 9th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 15th but we truly have our hearts set on the 11th. Yes, MF and I did live there together but he is always in the Marais and he lives on the other end of where we're looking. The 11th reminds me of the mildly gentrified Southside Williamsburg where there is some nightlife, great cafés, funky shops, diversity, and reasonable rent.

On a Sunday stroll through the 11th, here are some things that made us feel right at home....

Bon week-end!

Enough Street Art to feast our eyes on!

Séb, who is an urban planner was all up on this project.
We have about fifty photos that he snapped of this construction site.
We still don't know what's going up.

Remember when I saw a bath tub reincarnated as planter in New York and thought it would be a cool idea for Paris?
No? That's okay. Click on the link for a refresher.
Well my wish was granted!

Wish us luck! We're going to need it!

What was happening a year ago today? La merde!

Joyeuses PACS!

To PACS or not to PACS? That is a question that I am sure has come up at one point or another in every Franco-American relationship. Why not just get married? This is what Aurel and I have been asked ever since we announced this, well to be clear, ever since we announced it in America. It wasn't until a little get-together that we were invited to this weekend where almost every couple mirrored us (American gal, European man), we felt right at home as our decision to PACS wasn't once questioned, and in fact was encouraged.

Last week, on the radio show when I slipped and shared our plans to do this French version of a civil union, it came as a bit of a surprise to some of you, but in actuality this is something that has actually been in the works for months. I suppose it's now time to go global (“Global”. I know, how dramatic.) with it, as well as explain our reason for keeping it fairly quiet these past few months.

Aurel PACSposed to me when we were at Cafe Gitane during Easter, but because we were in New York during an unexpected family tragedy, it would be in poor taste to announce our good news. I was also getting a little frustrated with explaining why we have to stay simple at the moment. I understand that a wedding can also be simple, but let's be honest, they never are and I know that there are some details that I want that would perhaps be overlooked due to our current time and financial constraints. Maybe I'll want to descend from the ceiling to "Always" by Atlantic Starr wearing a white powder-puff dress in a catering hall. We can't do that at the moment. And finally, my blogaversary came up and I didn't want to give the impression that my life is better based on the fact that I found a man, as the point was to keep the focus on my personal growth.

During this life make-over, Aurel was nothing but patient. He allowed me time to myself, he never forced the meaning of the relationship in the beginning, never pressured me to be more present as I was sorting through a haunting past, and on top of being a boyfriend, was a true friend to me. As much as I wanted to stay single this year, how could I have refused a gem like this? As the old cliche goes, the best things always happen when you least expect it.

So the question that my family will be asking. Why aren't we just getting married? It's simple. We don't want to. PACS fits our lifestyle at the moment. It documents us living together under French law, keeps me in the country and will eventually get me out of student visa hell! As for the future? Who knows. One day at a time...

Now that most of the big questions have been answered, and it's officially out in the open, we are able to enjoy our decision. We are both really excited about it! We are shooting for an October date with a simple dinner to follow. Nothing crazy. Now for the big question....what to wear!

Have any of you had a civil union or have PACsed? Please share with me your experience!

What was happening a year ago today? This!

Street Art.

It's no secret that I am a huge supporter of Street Art, preferably the works that have taken over our beloved city of Paris. If I had a smart phone instead of my crusty, yet extremely reliable Nokia, I would totally download the Urbacolors Street Art App, but I don't. I rely on my clunky camera that I wear around my neck like a tourist, and snap whatever tickles me fancy.

Well today, something exceptional happened, absolutely exceptional! Not only did I see some new pieces up, but I captured the actual artists (who apparently are not in hiding) Fred le Chevalier and Rubbish Cube actually installing them alongside a building in the 11th! They drew in quite a crowd of other enthusiasts, whose ages actually surprised me. I expected that their core fans would be my age and younger, but Aurel and I were in fact minorities in a sea of vieille dames and older men who were filming, taking photos and of course, making comments. I guess Paris really is ready for this Street Art revolution. ça y est!

This city never ceases to surprise me. Even on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful day and remembered to call your dads (if you are able to)!

Fred le Chevalier setting up.

Fred getting to work!

 Collaborating other artists in his piece, 
as a part of the Collage Urbain Initiative.
The mask is an homage to artist Rubbish Cube 
and the diamond for Diamantaire.

 Rubbish Cube putting up his hand-cut piece.
Each piece takes 150 hours to cut.
Holy dedication!

 The finished product!

Check out the live video I captured of this event here!

The exhibit of the participating artists in the Collage Urbain Collective is at the Le Cabinet d'Amateur from now until June 24th.

12, rue de la Forge Royale
75011 Paris

Ain't It Funny?

I didn't forget that we have some unfinished business in regard to the follow up to the MF e-mail! With the excitement of the radio show, the warm weather, some unexpected personal things, and preparing to get back to P-Town, I've been a bit tied up. But I'm back, okay so where did we leave off?

"He wrote back a day later and this is when my heart just crumbled..."

Ah, that's right! Okay, so when I said that I crumbled which some of you really did not like, I meant that it struck a chord. It doesn't mean that I plan on recanting my decision to keep him at a distance, believe me when I say that I stand firm in that.

Going back over a year ago, I spent one last weekend alone in his apartment in Oberkampf while my landlady was preparing my chambre de bonne that I was moving into that following Monday. That weekend in my soon-to-be former apartment was just awful. I spent it in bed, holding back tears, drinking wine, packing, and watching Dawson's Creek (Season One). It was also the same weekend that Phil's little masterminded plan to get my friends to turn their backs on me worked like magic, so I was truly alone. But as down and out as I was, I fought the urge to feel sorry for myself. I was in survival mode and wallowing in my own pity wasn't going to give me the strength and energy that I very much needed to excel. I saved those pathetic moments for the following pre-blog weeks. Before I left the apartment on that cool spring morning, I wrote MF a letter telling him that I love him and will always be there for him. I put the note in a yellow tin box that was under the sink in his kitchen, and left with half of my belongings en route to my new home.

Only as of recent did he find this note, and I believe him.

I figured he had found it last year and just ignored it, but I guess he really didn't have a need to look in that box, and it took him over a year later to receive it. This is why I was sad, not because I miss him but because today that letter is null and void. I don't feel that way for him anymore, and I'm not here for him. That's the job of someone else. Courage!

I told him on that final day standing on rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud waiting for my cab, to really think about this decision because I knew he was going to regret it. Now the moment has come and it's too damn late. I hate when the exes come around way after the fact. You think when you are in the throws of the heartbreak that it will be satisfying to reject them when this moment happens, but it's not, it's just sad. There are so many emotions that you struggle with. There's feeling melancholy for yet another lost love, validated that you were a good partner and the break-up was unnecessary, sorry for their regret, and proud that you have truly moved on.

It wasn't until I met Seb that I realized that I could be in a fulfilling relationship while still focusing on my own growth and progress. Who would have thought!? With MF, I was constantly trying to improve the relationship, so much that I was letting go of myself. I didn't realize when writing that letter that I was so much better off without him. Now spending over a year working on myself, it's as clear as day that there is no room for him. It's funny how clouded we are when we are in the thick of a situation. It is only when you truly step back from it, that you find clarity. That is why any break-up specialist will urge a 60 day no-contact rule, which should not be confused into tricking them to get them back, but rather to get yourself back.

While I feel sorry for the regret he is going through over his rash decision, there is still no apology. He simply cannot admit that how he treated me was wrong and this is why he will never be in my life again. After letting his words marinate a bit in my mind, I had to get out. It was all too heavy, and I admit that I was feeling terrible. When I got in the car, this song was on the radio...


How apropos! This just cracked me up! Seriously when was the last time you heard this song on the radio?! The spirit of Jenny from the block was clearly with me because if anyone knows what it's like to go through a break-up, it's this broad! I feel better already, thanks Jen! Yes, "Jen" we're like that's a New York thing.

Bon week-end!

What was going on a year ago today? This! This was an awful one....

Girls on the Radio!

I am so pleased to announce my guest spot on Doni Belau's show Girl's Guide to Paris on the Overseas Radio Network! I do slip and give up my real name, as well as share some big I guess some kitties are out of the bag! 

I wanted to touch on one thing before you listen. These are tongue-in-cheek observations based on my own experiences, not generalizations. I know that there are many different takes on comparing dating in the States versus dating in France, and these are just my stories. Yes, I have dated some real jerks in America but have nothing against American men. I'm related to a ton of them!

Click on June 11th, Hour 2 to hear, well my voice, and my take on Love in The City of Light!

I was so nervous, but had a blast! Thank you Doni for having me! Check out her site  Girls Guide to Paris for all things fabulous for les femmes dans Paris!!

What was happening a year ago today? This!

Don't Feed the Waterfowl!

Oy vey! My mom has been having a major problem with ducks setting up camp in her Olympic size blow-up pool, and we just don't know what to do! These little guys appeared last week, and for some reason they are incapable of leaving the pool, waddling, or doing any of other normal duck activities. I don't understand why....

Perhaps they are here to kick off summer, even though it has been on and off in both Paris and New York.

Duck problem solved!
Please don't report me to PETA.

I love Summer. Summer to me is teenage days of meeting up with friends in front of Other Music in the East Village to go to an indie rock show, sticking to the hot seats of my freon-less car on the 101 in Hollywood, fanning myself with a paper fan on the platform of the J.R Yomomoto line en route to Shibuya in Tokyo, biking to work over the Williamsburg bridge, and zipping around on the back of Aurel's Vespa in Paris...getting rained on.

Here are some songs that bring me back to some of these memories sous le soleil...

The B52s - Rock Lobster
Manu Chao - Clandestino 
Coconut Records - Summer Day
Jamiroquai - Seven Days in June
Serge Gainsbourg - Sous le Soleil Exactment
A Tribe Called Quest - Oh My God
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion feat. Beck and Mike D - Flavor
The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon
Sean Lennon - Into the Sun
The Cardigans - Gordon's Garden Party
Gal Costa - Que Pena
Pavement - Gold Soundz
Hole - Boys on the Radio

Listen to the playlist in its entirety here!

I hope you are enjoying your weekend!

What was going on a year ago today? This!

Why Can't We Be Friends?

Illustration by Inslee Haynes

There are a few random things in life that I just don't understand, one of them is why does the food packaging marketed towards children have happy faces on it? Why would anyone (children included) want to eat something that has a face on it? Another is why no one has ever questioned the absurdity of the opening lyric to Michael Jackson's "Bad", and finally the eighth wonder of my tiny world is why ex-boyfriends always want to remain friends, especially the ones who have dumped your ass. What gives?

Picking up where we last left off earlier this week, after a lovely week in Montauk, I came back to my mom's house to find this waiting for me in my Facebook inbox:

Salut Cocotte,

Are you capable of finally putting aside your precious pride and accept my offer to have a few drinks with me? Are you ready to be friends with me?

Bise. MF. 

Ça suffit! He has been pushing this damn friendship since the break-up in February 2011! At first, I thought it was a polite formality, something to say to soften the blow of him rejecting me. It wasn't until he was actually showing up at my apartment with to-go cafe noisettes from La Perle, and wanting to gossip about the Marais townies as if we weren't in a monogamous relationship weeks prior, was when I realized that he wasn't just being nice, he really did want to be friends. Hashtag what the eff. This recent e-mail only confirms that he still stands strong in his conviction to be my friend. So to recap: I wasn't good enough to marry but I'm good enough to be friends with. Oh joy, what every woman wants to hear...

What MF apparently isn't getting is that we didn't break-up with the understanding that the relationship had run its course, we both grew, and will now remain the dearest of friends. We don't live in Hollywood where the details of our break-up is a pile of b.s manufactured by our overpaid publicists. Don't you hate when you read about a celebrity couple breaking up and that they are parting as close friends? I'm sorry but when a break-up happens there is always, always, always one person who doesn't want it, and anyone who says different is lying, celebrities included. I'm not saying that you can't be friends with someone who has dumped you, perhaps years later it can happen, but right after? You're only fooling yourself to trick them back into the relationship. I know that because I tried that during the early stages of the break-up with MF, and found myself getting pissed at him for not wanting to cuddle...naked. Friends don't do that.

I thought about ignoring the e-mail, like I have his last three but there is so much that I have kept locked up that I wanted him to know, now that I have completely moved beyond the plausibility of reuniting romantically. And just to be clear about something, it wasn't so much the break-up that I am angry about, I get it, break-ups happen. It's what happened after, him forcing the friendship when all I wanted to do was sort everything out alone.

I constructed a well thought-out e-mail with bullet points targeting each reason why we can't be friends, and wishing him the best (which between you and I, I only half meant). After sending it, I felt good. I didn't once worry what he would think about me, was I too harsh or was I too nice? No. I sent it with no regrets. He should know exactly why a friendship isn't in our foreseeable future. To answer his question, why can't we be friends? Because if your friendship is anything like you in a relationship, I'll take a pass, mais merci.

He wrote back a day later and this is when my heart just crumbled...

Storming the Coast...

So I share a lot about my family and the madness that ensues when we are all together, but one thing I have never shared is that my grandfather was in fact an anchor baby. That's right, my great-grandmother gave birth to him and Uncle Leo in Brooklyn, and then fled back to Italy. Okay, they didn't exactly flee, as it took them over two weeks by boat to get back. But she left America to raise her children as Italians while giving them the option to make a life for themselves if they chose to in America. If it wasn't for Nonna, I may not have been an American citizen, and perhaps my life would have been spent as an Italian girl squashing grapes on the family farm, which also doesn't sound too bad. 

As we expats are reminded of every year when we pay our American taxes from France, being an American comes with responsibilities. So when my Grandfather returned back to the States as a young man, he was immediately served with papers that would take him back to Europe. No, he wasn't being deported, but because he was an American, he was being enlisted into the United States Navy where months later he stormed the coasts of Normandy to fight in World War II. I'm not sure he even spoke English at the time.

Whenever my cousins and I moan and complain about trivial things like the DVR not recording the season finale of The Jersey Shore, my grandfather calls us Normandy, putting us in our place that our lives are charmed. "Hey Normandy over there," he screams from across the table waving a piece of bread in the air, "When I was your age I saw my best friend's head blow up on the ship when we were invading the Nazis e Francia! Now that's a problem!"Grandpa always wins arguments with his handy Nazi card, because really, what can you say after that?

No matter how cruel, or lame some of my French ex-boyfriends have been, each and everyone of them have thanked my grandfather for his service in World War II, particularly his efforts at the Normandy invasion. This has always made me feel proud. I'm proud of his accomplishments, proud to be his granddaughter, and grateful for his sacrifices that has made the life of my family in America easier. Tonight we're taking him out dinner to celebrate him and his achievements on the anniversary of D-Day.

At the airport yesterday, a flight heading out to London Heathrow was filled with veterans who have also fought in World War II, and were heading to Normandy to reenact D-Day. This was the official procession to the gate. 

 What was going on a year ago today? This!

The End of "The End".

Like the cliche goes, all good things must come to an end, and our lovely week in Montauk was capped off with a family lunch prepared by the one and only, Uncle Leo. His gentle and subtle way of letting us know that it was ready consisted of him screaming at the top of his lungs from the deck that his pasta waits for no one! In other words, get our asses inside, eat and don't even dare leaving so much as a single penne on the plate. Ginger who had her hands full with her in-laws, momentarily couldn't be found and Uncle Leo insisted that I call or fax her, whichever was easier because again, we wait for his pasta, his pasta waits for no one!

The original plan to get back to my mother's house was to take the train with Uncle Leo because he didn't want to sit in traffic on the L.I.E, and put him in a cab at Jamaica, Queens. As we were descending from the beach house with our bags ready to walk to the station up the street with Uncle Leo in tow, we saw his little face in the backseat of what appeared to be a getaway car, speeding out of the gravel stone driveway. We got ditched! He caught a ride with Cousin Victorio whom I had no clue was still even alive. The last I had heard, he was living on the decrepit family farm in the foothills of Puglia back in 1998 when he was already 77, but clearly he is still alive, kicking, and driving. Apparently the bumper to bumper traffic on the Long Island Expressway sounded like a much better deal to Uncle Leo than three hours on the Long Island Rail Road with Séb and I. Diss.

Honestly, I was so disappointed! I wanted one last adventure with Uncle Leo and his stories, even if they are a little offensive, and he still had no idea who I was, as we relived the first morning with him like Groundhog's Day for the entire week. Perhaps his equally entertaining and straight forward son Little Beppe was right when he said that, "the dog is cute, but the dog bites". So I guess that was it. No goodbyes. No I love yous. No more Uncle Leo. How sad.

After a total of four hours traveling on the train, we finally arrived at my mother's house where she was preparing a barbecue of grilled chicken, Italian sausage, ricotta salata and ice cold rosé. Before joining her, her boyfriend the Pilot, my brother Andrew, his girlfriend Francesca, and Séb who was helping her hang her summer backyard lanterns, I went into her office to log into my personal Facebook page to send Ginger, Angelo and Josephine a thank you note for hosting us this week. 

To my surprise, I found this waiting for me... e-mail from MF.

Now what....

What happened a year ago today? This!

Postcards from The End.

Happy June everyone!

So, it's official, Aurel and I are those European tourists. We snap photos of everything, mumble between each other in French, get excited over little things like surf boards and tackle shops, and when we heard other French speakers on the beach complaining about the sun hiding behind the clouds, we scoffed at them for being such tourists who don't understand beach living! In short, we're Montauk posers. 

I caught Aurel trying to be "all down" by non-nonchalantly referring to Montauk as "The End" to the unamused clerk at White's Pharmacy. Unfortunately, his thick French accent gave away the fact that he is not a Long Island native. Shouldn't that be a good thing? Now he knows how we Americans feel in Paris! I have to admit, it's slightly satisfying.

On our way to Cousin Angelo and his wife Josephine's beach house for an evening cook-out where they introduced us to dangerously delish mint iced tea vodka cocktails, we made some pit stops along the way to say coucou to the other family members who are also out here...

Here are some things that caught our eye...

Bikes at Surf Lodge.

Intersection before Ginger and Freddie's.

Sunset at Uncle Claudio's

 Baci Ball at Uncle Leo's.

"The Movie".
This has been making us chuckle all week.
Is it just us?

Washing our hands after our long walk...
...and feeling right at home.