connect!

In Da House.


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

Here are some episode fun facts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metro Musings: On the 7.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power in numbers!

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

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

Expat Shmexpat!



expatriate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caught in the Rain.


So I get it. There are tons of things in my French life that I will never understand or shall I say, will never fully sink into my thick American skull. For example, when do I spice up a sentence with a little plus-que-parfait action in place of the plain old vanilla passé compose? I don’t know, I just kind of wing it. And in the process of my cowboy approach to the French language, it's almost certain that I sound like an idiot. Aside from the language, as well as little things like getting used to the fact that when a repairman comes to my house, it’s almost always guaranteed that what he came for will not be fixed during that trip, and that it will take several more. There are a handful of distinctions that exist uniquely in my life in Paris that my brain just doesn't want to get on board with.

Here they are in all their glory:

Let's start with the washer machines. I'll never forget my first trip to a French Laundromat near my first apartment in the 15th. I happily dropped the clothes in the machine, put in my two euro piece and returned home. After watching an episode of the L Word (roughly 43 minutes), I hurriedly ran down stairs to retrieve my clothing fearful that they had been sitting in the machine for about 10 minutes past its cycle. Well, if being late is fashionable in Paris, I was last season's garbage bags because not only was I early, I was about an hour and a half early. I sat in a Laundromat on Boulevard de Grenelle in stained pink sweatpants and a grey thrift store sweater not realizing that the washing machine cycles in France run three times longer than they do in America. Having my clothes tossed and turned for 2 and a half hours in a machine is something that I will never, ever understand and almost always forget as I put in a load of wash an hour before I have to be somewhere.

After living in Paris for over three years, you'd think that I've gotten the memo that from time to time it tends to rain here and to always leave the house with an umbrella. Nope, I haven't and about once a week, I find myself stuck in the rain or worst, the mist that makes me look like disco days Diana Ross. I don’t have her bone structure or her ego to pull it off, so I just look sloppy and unkempt.

I love how proactive France is on recycling and going green, so much that the option of plastic grocery bags isn't even available in most super markets. The only choice one has is to purchase one of their reusable bags that are conveniently located at the check out (petits malins!). Do you know how many times I have left those little bags at home? It’s always halfway through my shopping experience that I realize that I don’t have anything to bring my goodies home in and am forced to buy the bags provided at a low cost upon check out. This has happened so often that I have a massive collection of those little reusable Monoprix bags in our kitchen cupboard. Why don't you just put on in each of your handbags? Excellent idea that my "brain" also won't let me get around to. Hey, since we're blaming it for everything in this post...

While we’re on the topic of supermarkets, let’s talk about my inadequacies of purchasing something as simple as chopped hamburger meat. I don't think I will ever remember which slab of steak haché is better; the one with 5% M.G or the one with 15% M.G. I'm often found standing in the meat aisle staring off into oblivion as I rapidly comb through past conversations I've had with French friends and exes who have tried to pound into my memory which piece is better. M.G stands for matière grasse which is just fancy French talk for “fat”. Therefore it should be obvious that I would want ground meat with only 5% fat over the piece with 15%. But not so fast! My brain then tricks me and tells me that M.G stands for "moins gras" (less fat) so I end up buying what I think is 15% less fat and return home proudly, wagging my tail with a packet of lard. Maybe after writing it out, I will finally get it. Doubtful...

And finally, the one thing in Paris that I can safely call the bane of my existence here, especially being a person without a smart phone, those damn door codes. Do you know that when you open my wallet, there's a mini filing system of tiny pieces of papers of apartment building Parisian door codes? Because apartment buzzers aren't common here (do they even exist?) I have been left standing outside of friends' buildings for tens of minutes waiting for a neighbor to come or go - who then suspiciously lets me in - because I mindlessly forgot to jot the front door code down. With a passion, I hate this system and buying a smart phone just so I can enter buildings in Paris to me seems absurd. I also don't have the financial flexibility for that kind of luxury at the moment, but that's for another post.

While I'd say that these nuances at times have become thorns in my side, I'm grateful that I even have the opportunity to experience them. Living abroad truly is living a second (or for some people a third or forth) life where even years after arrival, you're still discovering what makes living overseas so special...even if it means occasionally getting caught in the rain.

Bon week-end! 

Rose Trees Never Grow in New York City.

...nor do they in Paris. Good thing. These two cities can be thorny enough without the help of these misleading beauties.

So every Thanksgiving I play Elton John's "Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters", to me this is a song that sings of true gratitude.

While I will forever be grateful for the several chances of making the petulant city of Paris my home as well as the myriad opportunities I have been given, my gratitude goes beyond scenery, as we all know beauty isn't the key to happiness. People are.

My twenties had been a trial and error of faded friendships and acquaintances gone by. Only a handful of solid rencontres have remained, and have been handled like seashells collected on this journey. In the words of Elton John, "I thank the lord for the people I have found...I thank the lord there's people out there like you."

I'm thankful for the life long friends in New York who I count as my family, my "newer" (is 10 years still new?) friends out in Los Angeles, the people in Paris who may have not had their best intentions but who have challenged me and have unwittingly made me stronger, the fascinating characters I've met through this blog giving me a break from my own life, and you...dear readers. Thank you for checking in with me everyday, taking the time to drop me a note, sharing your experiences with me and well, for just being you.

But there are a few people that get an extra special thank you...


I may not be understood by most of the members of my family 
and you know what? 
That's okay.
 I'm thankful for my parents who have always believed in me, encouraged self expression and most importantly passed down...

..their biting sense of humor, contagious laughter
and ability to find the joke in even the 
most trying of situations.
What are they laughing at here?
Their little secret on their wedding day.
I'll give you a hint: my brother is somewhere in this photo.

I'm also thankful for finally meeting someone who understands and respects me.
What a concept!
And who incidentally wears the same white jazz shoes 
as my father and my hero Serge Gainsbourg did.

Be thankful for not just the food in front of you, 
but who you are sharing it with.

I know, I'm all mushy today, but hey, it's the holidays!
Yes, they have officially started...today.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving from Paris!
 

building relationships in paris.


I've always been fascinated by the idea of neighbors and their behavior patterns in apartment buildings, especially here in Paris. I'm not sure if it's just the buildings that I have lived in or if this is the norm around these parts, but has anyone else noticed the amount of notes that tenants put up in the hallway? I'm not talking about those polite letters informing the other residents that they will be having a party (a concept the neighbor above us pretends to not be aware of), but notes mandating other tenants to roll the trash bins out on Wednesdays, to not slam the second gate, to not  throw junk mail on the floor, and my personal favorite: lower iPods when entering the building after 8 pm.

In Brooklyn, even though the only neighbor I spoke to was the one that I was fake dating, I could never imagine our building manager who had an incredible resemblance to Jim Croce, or the homies on the stoop writing little passive-aggressive notes to each other about the troubling concern of supermarket circulars abandoned on the floor in the mail cove.

Lately, the exchange of words in our building has reached a new height of obsession where there's a constant rotation of communication. And according to my investigative handwriting analysis, I want to say that it's a mini war between two tenants, and from time to time a third wheel will chime in to defend one of them with a "Ouais, c'est ça!" or a "Je suis tellement d'accorde...". The notes have gotten so bad that they have now lowered themselves to correcting each others French grammar in red pen. 

Yeah, Jim Croce would so not correct grammar or take the time to look for a red pen.

Staying out of building politics, Aurel and I oblige to the anonymous letters, roll out the trash when the opportunity arises, and just keep to ourselves.

Up until recently...

The notes have now been including this on the bottom:

"For translation in English, knock on Camille's door on the third floor, left" 

I'm not paranoid and didn't immediately think it was for me, but when my neighbors stopped "bonjouring" me and started "helloing" me, I realized that my jig was up. I had been outed....as The American. 

Cue in dramatic music to emphasize a shocking reveal.

It wasn't until I finally met my neighbor across the hall who introduced himself as R.V. (pronounced Hervé)...from Paris* who filled me in on the building gossip. He asked me if I was the American who talks loud on the phone each night to "Terry" out in Los Angeles? I confirmed yes. He then told me that I was the main suspect of throwing regular trash in the recycling bin. One, damn I talk loud on the phone and two, because I speak English on the phone, my neighbors think that I don't read French nor do I know how to recycle?

Logic.

R.V from Paris thought the accusations were absurd and if it was going to be anyone, undeniably it's the English fille au pair who lives in the studette on the top floor who doesn't speak French. I explained to R.V. from Paris that I actually don't take out the recycling, it's Aurel who handles waste management chez nous, that if it was me, I needn't knock on Camille's door on the third floor to the left because I perfectly understood the notes before concluding that the bandit is still out on the loose, and he/she may just be French. I added that last bit as a courtesy to relieve Camille of her on-call translating duties. 

So this recycling crisis has now opened a whole new door with my relationship with R.V. from Paris as he now keeps asking me join him for happy hour at the café downstairs, and has been inviting me to walk his dog with him. I really can't tell if he's hitting on me because one of the times he "asked me out" was out in front of our building and he blew a snot rocket in front of me. Mixed signals, I tell you.

We still haven't gotten to the bottom of the recycling bin scandal and while I resent being a suspect solely based on my nationality, I can't help but laugh at once again, yet another situation here in Paris that makes me go hmmmm.

This morning, I don't know how this happened, perhaps Facebook is now monitoring my thought process or there's a hidden office in our building, but they suggested that I "like" R.V. from Paris. Apparently he has a fan page with over 600 likes. Of course, he does.

 What about you? 
Is it just me who has lived in "colorful" apartment buildings or is stuff like this the norm?

*To protect his identity and where I live, R.V's first name has been changed. His name is actually more ridiculous. Sorry guys...

One Broke Girl.



So these past few months while scrambling for a job I must have been extremely vocal about my lack of funds, as well as my love for Los Angeles and my days as a broke Hollywood waitress. I guess my love song to the City of Angels made it's way west (waaaaay west) because a few weeks ago I found both worlds colliding when L.A. based website Broke Girl's Guide asked me to come up with the Paris edition of their new column "2 Days, 1 City 100 bucks".

Could I come up with a two day plan for 100 bucks in Paris? Absolutely! I could make that stretch in a week! But since this is supposed to be a piece encouraging visitors to come and experience Paris on the cheap, I had to spare them from prepackaged food from the Monop' or the fresh mint and shrimp summer rolls that you can pick up for two euros at almost any Chinese restaurant. After all, I'd have to assume that readers following my guide are not coming to Paris to eat Chinese food. Once the reality of the assignment set in, I really had to go through my rolodex of spots in the city to provide a cohesive program for the fellow broke and ultimately hip chick traveling to the City of Light.

Airfare and housing excluded, this is how I'd entertain myself as a tourist with 100 dollars in gay Par-ee. Enjoy!

Two Days in Paris with 100 Bucks

Thank you to the ladies at the Broke Girl's Guide 
for including me in their new travel column! 

Update: This article can also be found on The Huffington Post!

ahoy from normandie!


As a kid, before ever setting foot on French soil, I had two very distinct images of what I imagined the country to be like. One picture I had was a quiet and rainy scene near the Eiffel Tower without tourists or those pests who aggressively jingling souvenir keychains in your face. There was a just a couple smooching (wearing berets, of course!), and Madeline and her classmates shuffling by in a pack in their little yellow hats. 

The second image I had was of fishermen and sailors up north (although I didn't know it was north) on an overcast day, wearing pea coats and striped shirts eating seafood on a dock, and listening to jazz. Jazz? That's kind of specific, I know. My father was a jazz drummer by night and my grandmother was a jazz singer here in Paris, so jazz was a big part of my life coming from my dad's side of the family.


Having done the kissy Eiffel Tower scene several times, I had been itching to experience my nautical fantasy, complete with striped shirts, hats and shellfish slurping. I wanted it all! Apparently, I'm not as mysterious as I think I am (okay, I don't think I'm mysterious at all), and this has been somewhat of a reoccurring subject because for our annual autumn getaway, Aurelien offered me a weekend in Normandie to live my dream. On this gorgeous fall weekend this faux-risienne and her beau set off to the storm the coasts of Normandie! Finally!

The first stop on our tour was the quaint village of Honfleur.


Why yes, that is a rainbow to the right.


Ahoy.
Yes, I said this several times during our trip.

Oyster corpses.
I mauled these suckers like a beast.

Jolie France, indeed.

 
Aurelien never fails to find street art.
Of course there was a Space Invader in Honfleur.

Do you know how many striped shirts I own?
About 25. I'm obsessed with sailor chic.
I really held back from adding to my collection.


Look guys! 
I'm totally storming the coasts of Etretat!

 Brrr. It was cold.
Good thing I had my handy little beret to warm me up
while looking out onto one of Etretat's famous cliffs.

A natural cave formed below the cliffs.
I have to admit, I was a little creeped out in here...

..and then Aurelien shared that the Germans hid out in here as well as other nearby bunkers during WWII.
Yeah, that did it for me. 

One last peek in the cave before escorting myself 
out of former nazi territory.

So "villagey".

To end our Normandie getaway, an impromptu photo shoot in my striped shirt (that I inherited from the late Jacques O'Lantern)
in Le Havre just had to be done.

Last looks out onto the beach...

...before heading back home, crossing the Tancarville Bridge.
It was like a mini version of the Whitestone Bridge!

...and just like a kid, I was depressed to leave.
I heart Normandie.

The ride home was long as we sat in congested holiday-end traffic. Apparently, everyone else in France had nautical fantasies that they too needed to live out before the year-end. French radio didn't help much either in curing the side effect of fatigue and boredom; a derivative of lightly riding the break pedal while looking out onto a bloodbath of endless red brake lights. In fact, the radio made it worse with its non-stop radio "chat" and the rotation of the most random American pop songs. Phil Collins fans really should consider moving to France. To be fair, we did hear my favorite Gainsbourg song "Elisa" four times in two hours. God, I love that song. I wonder why...

It truly was a fantastic and picturesque end to my two weeks of vacation that I was granted after only a week of starting work. Now the kids are back in school which means so I am. I hope you all had a lovely weekend! At for the last time, for nostalgia, ahoy!

This Little Piggy Went to the Bank.


Before moving to France, I really tried to anticipate all of the situations that I would get into; the misunderstandings I'd encounter due to language barriers and cultural differences. Aside from my personal crisis of 2011, nothing has surprised me too badly. Even in my early days here, the culture shock wore off within weeks, and I'd like to say that I adapted fairly quickly to French living.

Haha! Think again! Forgetting that I'm still and always will be a foreigner here (regardless if I'm getting married); I was handed with yet another reminder that I know nothing here.

With her fashion week paycheck in hand, once upon a time, an American girl walks into a French bank....

To open an account in the States is really quite simple: You walk in with money (or sometimes even without), you ask to open an account and within thirty minutes you have an account number, starter checks, and a little welcome packet. Easy as pie.

Here. Not so much.

After having doors literally slammed in my face by several banks that I foolishly thought I could just mosey on into, I was ready to give up on doing it myself, and planned on using my French life preserver that I call Aurel. It wasn't until I passed a bank on the way home that I figured to give it one last try. For the sake of keeping the company's identity anonymous, we'll call this bank Shmociete Gjeneral. 

As expected, the woman denied my request after I went through my entire narative about how I just signed my work contract, I'm American, I would like to deposit my paycheck, and then go to H&M to stock up on winter basics. Her affirmative nod to the winter basics bit was probably the only reaction I got from her. The rest of what I was saying was being wasted on someone who was clearly disinterested in my situation and well me, for that matter. She waited for me to finish, handed me back my passport as if it was a pair of soiled panties, and proceeded to escort me out of her precious bank. Request so denied.

Being inquisitive by nature, I just had to know why I wasn't a desirable candidate. I had a nice amount of money to start with, I was willing to pay the annual fees, and once I received my bankcard, these people would never have to see my face again. All good points, right? I then had a breakthrough. I knew exactly what was going on here. How could I have been so dim?

I turned to the woman before stepping out. "Just tell me," I said in a low hush before looking left and then right, "Is this like when a Catholic wants to become a Jew and the rabbi refuses three or four times just to test their willingness and dedication to convert?"

Silence. So naturally I continued for clarification purposes.

"In this case, I'd be the shiksa," I explained while pointing to me, "And you'd be the rabbi." 

Well I got part of this sentence out before she turned her back and was gone.

Coming from New York and attending over 45 Bar/Bat/B'Nai (twins) Mitzfahs, this analogy made perfect sense. I even practiced how I'd approach the rabbi back when I myself wanted to become Jewish, so I too could join in on all the fun. I'm sorry but a Confirmation party could never rival a well-done Mitzfah. For example, Lindsay Gold's Condé Nast themed Bat Mitzfah? It doesn't get much better than that. Each table was a different magazine cover...with her face on it. The Vogue table showed little Lindsay in a velvet puff-sleeved Betsey Johnson dress looking dark and mysterious. The Bon Appetit table pictured her cooking with a plaid apron and chef's hat on with an "extra" - presumably her grandmother. And my personal favorite, the Golf World table that had Lindsay posing provocatively in hot shorts on a golf cart. 

Pure. Genius.

Anyway, I'm getting way off track here. My point is that my willingness to become a member of a French bank was evident, and I even had a paycheck from a fancy French fashion house to back me up.

Now I understand why my French interns in New York were absolutely astonished after I sent them down to the bank to open their American bank accounts for the year. They didn't understand why they were offered 50 bucks to thank them for opening it, and were each given a white teddy bear fashioning a t-shirt with the bank's insignia printed on the front. Not having yet lived in France, I just figured that they were excited to speak English and to have an American bank account. Little did I know...

After calling Aurel in total confusion over why I can't spend my hard-earned money, he made a few phone calls, sprinkled his French fairy dust and found one bank that was willing to take my money: the bank in the post office. I guess this is where all of the unqualified applicants go after being rejected by the fancy banks? I have no idea but it feels good to finally be making euros, leaving my exhausted American bank account alone for a while, and to not have to explain to every server and cashier in town how to swipe an American ATM card.

Just one more thing checked off on ma vie française!
 Ca fait du bien!

Bon week-end a tous!

What happened a year ago today?

Major Cheese Factor.


And no, I'm not referring to a follow up to my Francoversary guidette photo shoot. Although another shoot is planned. Don't say I didn't warn you. This time when I say major cheese factor, it's literal.

I'm going to start off by disclosing yet another deep and dark secret about me. Here goes...after over three years in Paris, it was only this weekend that I had my first ever raclette. First. Ever. I know, absolutely ridiculous. I've said it before and I'll say it again: What kind of faux-risienne am I? Although raclette is not Parisian, as it is a dish that was originated in Switzerland and the mountainous Savoy region, I'm still a shameful addition to France and its culture! How could I have just tried it?

Popping my raclette cherry, Aurelien and I drove out to Fontainebleau for mulled wine, melted cheese mayhem, to meet some of his family who was in town from Toulouse, and to break the news that our wedding in New York has been canceled.

Good times.

We brought over two bottles of wine (not stolen, might I add) to soften the blow. We figured that we'd hit them with it once everyone was nice and liquored up. Well, that was the idea at least.

After sharing this unfathomable tale that has been imposed upon all of us (including you, readers!), his family had somewhat of a mild reaction. What a relief! Naturally, his parents were offended. His step-parents and grandparents just nodded their heads in confusion, then disgust. His aunts and uncles quietly absorbed the information, holding back an immediate response. His 12-month-old niece dramatically threw her baby bottle on the floor. And his younger cousins, I'd like to say was in complete denial but I think the only thing they could process was that next summer's vacation in New York had been canceled. You gotta love teenagers and their thoughtfulness.

After going into the details of this mess, within ten minutes, the conversation had shifted; there was laughter, my vin chaud mug was refilled, and slabs of cheese were melting to perfection in the special raclette machine on the table - a regression back to the simplicity of my Easy Bake Oven days. 

I love the French and their reactions to drama. In this case, they listened, stated their opinions, made a few huffy noises and a few putains (or putaings from the Toulousians), some left to have a smoke - and it was done. I have a feeling that it will never be spoken about again, as they were already on to plan b: our wedding in Paris!

Masking the embarrassment of my family drama with wine and melted heaven slathered on potatoes, I felt the comfort of this dish exercise its power over me; rendering me completely helpless. Suddenly, I had no problems. I had cheese. Please be advised that raclette is not a force to be reckoned with, or to be taken at all frivolously. This traditional dish severely threatens your relationship with skinny jeans and all other form-fitting articles of clothing. For someone like me who has more of a fat tooth than a sweet tooth, raclette puts me at serious risk.

As we left his mother's house to spend the night over at his father's place, I wanted to thank her for my first ever raclette. What I should have said was: "Merci pour ma première raclette". This is where endings and the importance of pronunciation comes in to play, because what I said instead was: "Merci pour ma première raclée". I thanked her for my first beating.

Thank God she's used to me by now.

Bringing Up Bébé.



So I have a wee announcement to make.

It's good news this time, I promise. Really, I'm trying to be easy on you guys, and control the level of cray that I've been throwing your way these past few months.

So without further ado, I'm proud to announce that...

I finally got a job! Like a real one with a CDI work contract, health benefits, and what I have been itching to get my grubby little hands on these past three years: ticket restos! Finally, I'm able to tap into all the goodies that come along with getting a work contract in France. I feel so official.

You thought that I was going to announce that I was pregnant, didn't you? As if! That's a blog post for like 2016!

So the big news is that I'm working now. Is it something as glamorous as working in fashion? I'm sorry to report that it is not. Despite my experience, I've finally had to face the fact that French fashion companies don't want to hire me full time. 

Is it the most original job for an expat with native English speaking skills to obtain? Pfff. Hardly.

Do I like it so far? Hmmm. Like may be a bit strong.

So what am I doing? Are you ready?

As of two weeks ago, I have been hired as an English "instructor"....for French children, which is fancy pants talk for saying I'm going to be a nanny. At 30. I am a nanny.

Well, as they say, in France you don't get your dream job.

You get a job.

My kids are all boys, and have already challenged me by writing fesses on the blackboard, wildly entertaining themselves over their assumption that I don't understand that they wrote "butt" in French. They clearly don't know me. That was probably the first word I learned in French. 

I've had one tell me that he thinks his mother is having an affair because she is always at chez Antoine, and life is hard because his boredom consumes him in waves. He's 3.

And I was never really on board with the blanket statements that seem to be all the rage in America, that French kids are better than American kids. Saying that, I must report that I had to give up my afternoon snack of raw string beans to my 5 year old because he told me he was obsessed with raw greens, and he just had to have them, s'il vous plaît. Maybe there is something to be said about French kids and their eating habits, or maybe the raw food movement is finally hitting the toddler demographic. If so, I blame Gwyneth Paltrow.

This is an unexpected turn of events that I'm actually enjoying. These muchkins keep me extremely entertained with their side comments, tiny, breathy oh là làs, and their reluctance to speak English.

So on to the next chapter of my life of bringing up bébé....en anglais.