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lost in paris.


Perhaps being surrounded by women en masse these past few weeks has induced my monthly lady loch ness to arrive two weeks early. Being on a six-month tampon strike, finding a maxi pad in a fashion office surrounded by models teetering around in the dressing room in barely-there g-strings, would be like trying to find a taxi on a Saturday night on Boulevard Saint Germain. Not impossible, but not likely.

With only ten minutes to spare, I used this small window as an excuse to leave the showroom for a much-needed break of fresh air of this early spring-like afternoon and went on the search for the closest pharmacy. The showroom is located in the 8th, a neighborhood that I don't know the inward workings of, I was told by the receptionist of the office that the closest pharmacy was on rue Marbeuf, with implications that it was so close that he need not offer further directions. 

Making a few turns here and there, I found myself on Avenue Montaigne with the Plaza Athénée in front of me and the Eiffel Tower to my far left, asking myself, where the hell is rue Marbeuf? The name itself was already starting to annoy me. I blindly (and moistly might I add) walked up this fancy pants avenue where I passed the gleaming storefronts of some of fashion's biggest names. While numbingly looking at an overpriced bag displayed in a window I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection alongside an airbrushed campaign ad, and it was not good. I looked pale, tired and blotchy around my eyes, not to mention that I have been waking up in the morning with a sore neck from the weight of my hair being tightly confined in a ball at the nape of my neck. Two more days, two more days...

In front of Dior, my instincts told me to cross the street because making a right would have led me closer to the Seine. Surely the receptionist who was industriously solving issues, working to make the world a better place would have told me that the main body of water that runs through Paris would be a beacon in finding this Marbeuf pharmacy. Walking further up the famed Avenue Montaigne, not wanting to get too close to the end as I would be greeted by the Champs-Elysées, I had to make some moves and ask for directions. I passed the chichi restaurant Avenue and looked down rue Francois 1er where the cafes on this warm afternoon were pouring with patrons. I forgot that this part of town is really for the beautiful folks who lunch crowd. I haven't been here during the lunch rush since my tax filing days at the somewhat nearby office. Arousing scents of coq au vin, beef (origine française, I'm sure), rich sauces based with sauteed onions, a faint trace of cigarette smoke mixed with the low hum of French chatter transported me right back to 2011. Having fully moved on from the grief of those days, I didn't mind reminiscing of yet another life gone by, even if the geography has pretty much stayed the same.

I walked into a building that seemed official enough, figuring they would at least point me in the direction of where I should be going. I walked in one door and was immediately greeted with another. Pressing on the door, it was locked. Okay, I thought to myself, I guess they're closed, perhaps for lunch and turned to the door that I had arrived in, which was now locked too. Great. I knew all too well where I was. I was in a bank. And I hate banks here, as some of you know. What I found strange was how I didn't recognize it sooner as pretty much all of the bank insignias and color schemes have been branded into my cerebrum. Was I that tired?

It was then that I heard a voice on the intercom asking what my business was there at the official bank of Iran, while then including that they don't do money exchanges. Crouching down and screaming into the metal square that was presented as my source of communication, I explained that I was slightly lost and if they knew were rue Marbeuf was. Well, they were far from impressed with my request, and responded by buzzing the door, the first one, to let me out. If I thought Sociéte General were snobs, well the Iranian bank made them look like a batch of newborn kittens tumbling in the field.

I then asked a well-dressed gentleman coming out of an apartment building whom I was pretty sure would help. Immediately, he detected my accent and proceeded to give me the directions in English. Okay, so I'm not one of those expats who gets offended when I'm responded to in English. Just like I would enjoy having a conversation in French in New York, sometimes people just want to practice their English here. It's fine. The only teeny tiny problem with his directions in English was that once I started circling the neighborhood a bit and saw the Champs-Elysées and all of its massiveness approaching, I realized that he had confused his left from right, and basically gave me conflicting directions. Luckily it didn't take long for me to realize this and was able to back-step to my destination to middle school maxi pad bliss.

On my walk back to the office, I recounted this to Aurelien, enjoying the last seconds of my break before returning to my remaining eight hours of the day I had left. When I got home last night, I had a gift waiting for me on the dining room table. Aurelien feels that if I am going to be adamant about not having a smartphone where finding things like Marbeufs would not at all be an issue, I'd have to accept the next best thing: a map. So now in my bag, I have the Paris Plan Eclair (in hot pink) which has every single street corner in Paris. It only took four years, but better late then never, eh? 

My week at the showroom is coming to a joyous end, and am considering it being my last, well, at least at this house. This week has been awful due to some small restructuring where pretty much my position has been blended in with interns, temps, and cleaning ladies. All I can think of is "What would Blair Waldorf do?" Certainly not accept this. After four seasons, I think it's time to move on...

 In happier news,
Perhaps this is what I really should be doing during Fashion Week... 

Update: 

Why yes, yes I do...  
I found this postcard today in the Marais. I had to buy it.
Here it is sitting proudly at our place.


13 comments:

  1. You didn't have a plan de Paris in your purse like most Parisians do?! About time you did!;) Seb is a sweetie, he really is:) I bought Paris du nord au sud after a few visits there and couldn't do without it!:)

    (When you saw that you were heading for les Champs, why did you not simply go to the big Monop there? They would have pads.)

    And why the tampon strike? Boy, you are turning French!;)))) A friend of mine (who's French) treated herself to a very ecological moon cup:) Maybe that would be your thing?;)

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    1. No, I never bothered to buy one because it's not terribly often that I'm lost, and I figured after almost 4 years, I wouldn't need one. Haha, think again! I SO needed one last week.

      I wasn't aware that the Champs has markets and pharmacies. I pretty much have blinders on when I'm over there, just trying to get from point A to B. Good to know should this ever happen again!

      No tampons for a while and it's been nice. Although I have to shower twice a day during my cycle, I really feel like I'm releasing toxins, just getting it all out and not (for lack of a better word - sorry) plugging it up. I'll go back to them this summer though!

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  2. I surprised there isn't a Parisian equivalent of the A-Z, which is all I use in London (to be honest, even with a smart phone, I've never much moved past using as, you know, a phone, with very occasional texting, and as a way to access my e-mails at the day job, I only have it for my 'other' job because people can pay me at craft fairs through it)

    Glad you found it in the end anyway, I'm on a 20+ tampon year strike, we've never got on...

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    1. What is the A-Z? Is it just like a book with small maps of each corner in town? If so, we have one...or rather, I have one now!

      It's been nice going tampon free, glad it's not only me! : )

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    2. It's the entire map of whatever city it's for, that runs on forever and ever through the pages of a tiny book, but has the most enormous index in the back of every street in alphabetical order (well the London one's huge anyway!) They usually have a larger scale for the centre of the city.

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  3. Usually France is crawling with pharmacies, I'm surprised you didn't just run into one! Is that a picture of the map? Cute!

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    1. I know! You would think it would have not been a problem since they are everywhere! I once counted 6 pharmacies on one street. But on this super expensive street, there isn't one. I had to go down a few side streets, but not knowing the neighborhood and wanting to avoid the Champs, it took a while.

      No, this picture is from a vintage map I found on line. My map is pretty basic, no frills. Boo.

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  4. This area can be tricky if you're not familiar with it and especially if you're in a rush. Avenue Montaigne would be like what New York's version of Madison Avenue? I know exactly where you were standing in front of that restaurant Avenue with your beloved Nina Ricci across the street. Something as common as a pharmacy is really nowhere in sight! You have weave a bit.

    I understand you wanting to avoid the Champs! I would too especially if I was on a "lunch break"!

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    1. Yeah, I'd say Montaigne is comparable to Madison, mostly luxury commerce. Had I seen a pharmacy ANYWHERE surely I would have stopped, but between Dior, LV and as you say, my beloved Nina Ricci, one was not presenting itself! I had to make a few turns.

      And yeah, a big NO to the Champs-Elysees on maxi pad run! Hahaha!

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  5. The Champs has the coolest pharmacie in the city, all be it a bit too far from the ave Montaigne!
    My map is orange, just like everything else in my hand bag, and I never leave without it tucked in next to my smartphone. Maps are the best!!!!!

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    1. Yeah, I was trying to avoid the Champs with my small window of time. Which pharmacy is it? I actually had never noticed pharmacies along the drag, just Abercombie and crappy restaurants!

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  6. Never mind the surprise at not having a map, you don't have a SMARTPHONE! how do you survive without a computer/ your life/google, in your pocket? LOL!....

    what is the reason for this?

    So glad I am past all the tampon/ pad, PMS, feeling icky, lookin awful, bloated, nonesense......age has it's advantages!

    Love Denise

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  7. Girl I think you need to get a smart phone..

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