connect!

building relationships: part deux.


Hello, gorgeous!
Neither are my buildings, but a girl can dream...

Living in an apartment building is sort of like a petri dish; an experiment of human interaction where it is susceptible to bizarre incidents, random drama of strange characters from different backgrounds who otherwise may have never crossed paths had they not somewhat shared a living space. The night before my departure back to New York, we had witnessed a rather colorful incident in our building.

It was set, I was in for a quiet night. My bags were ready to go, waiting for me at the front door, my passport and official documents were in order, my plane outfit set out on the couch (stand-by passengers using employee family passes have to abide by a dress code), and my wine was chilled. Simple!

With a glass of Bourgogne Aligoté in my left hand and my watering can in my right, I was going to kick off my raging eve with giving my window herbs the watering of a lifetime. Due to the scorching temperatures, watching these poor guys fry during the day, I have been miscalculating just how much they need and end up watering the sidewalk below. Luckily our street is extremely quiet where pedestrians really are few and far between. At least that's what I tell myself....

At that thought was when our doorbell rang.

Oh no!

I knew this day would come. Someone was coming up to complain about my sloppy watering job. Merde! I expected to open the door to a pissed off neighbor, drenched, and holding a puppy who was also drenched. Freaking out, I closed the window and hid the evidence of the watering can behind the curtains and suspiciously opened the door.

Standing in the hallway was not a drenched neighbor and his puppy but an extremely attractive Japanese girl with full, flowing dark hair, sporting a wee little outfit, who was looking at me expectantly. Bonsoir?

"BonsoirI'm sorry to disturb you but have you seen my cat? She's grey." she asked.

Had I seen her cat? Well if this wasn't the opening of a film where I had been painfully miscast...

Screaming out to Aurel in the living room, I asked if he had seen a grey cat lurking around the building. Earlier in the evening he had been in our cavernous Silence of the Lambs basement to collect the suitcases, and he offered the possibility that the cat may have crept in behind him and was locked downstairs.

Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to see a cat since I had to leave mine back in New York four years ago, I agreed to join the investigation. So it may have just been my imagination but looking back, I noticed the girl, our neighbor, fluffing her hair up and adjusting her low cut dress. It wasn't until I saw her display a look of total disappointment at the announcement of my participation in the kitty hunt that I knew the hair fluff was no coincidence. Apparently I was miscast in her scenario as well. Some girls, I tell you...

The three of us walked down to the first floor, opened the basement door, and voilà, there was kitty. (So much for the hunt.) Crouching low on the first step of the basement, the cat who goes by the name Yoko, had little dust clusters stuck in her whiskers and her white paws were spotted black from the dirty floor. 

Mystery solved. Back to drinking wine.

But not so fast!

Just as we were wishing our neighbor a bonne soirée, the apartment door of Helena, our gardienne ferociously sprung open. Our building manager is such a sweet woman, petite and lovely, and there has not been a morning where I have not caught a genuine smile on her face. Well there is a first for everything... 

Storming out of her apartment in a fury, she addressed our neighbor  who was heading back to her apartment, next door to Helena's.

"Attendez! Attendez! Attendez!" she screamed, pointing her finger in the air.

The neighbor stopped, and with a yawn put Yoko the Cat down to scurry off into the courtyard. My neighbor didn't appear at all alarmed by the gardienne's aggression, and looked at Helena as if she was ready for what she was going to say. Us, on the other hand, were most certainly not.

"I'm going to say this in front of witnesses!" she threatened, "If I hear you and your boyfriend beating each other again, I will call the police!"

Beating each other? Ça va pas! It really is moments like these that I place hope that my comprehension is off. It was the second time she had said it, and Aurel's look of total shock that confirmed that I was correct the first time, and that we have neighbors...who beat each other at night? All I could think of was little Yoko and her unfortunate exposure to domestic violence. Poor thing.

"I don't want to hear your bizarre sex games either," Helena continued, "I live right next door. It is not correct!"

It was getting juicier by the sentence, but we felt a little weird standing there and feigned being distracted by the evacuation floor plan that was hung on the wall. Unfortunately, we couldn't leave as we were situated behind the line of fire, and would have to interrupt them by squirming between them in order to get to the staircase. 

"I know, Madame," my neighbor explained to Helena's accusation of her sex games, "But I am sick in the head." 

Really. This was the response.

"I know you are," Helena responded, "But that doesn't mean that I don't need to sleep!"

Wait, so they have discussed this before? That's kind of weird, right? And furthermore, what the hell goes on in our building? Helena continued on with her laundry list of complaints ranging from the clacking sound of her heels, loud calls to Japan, but the conversation kept rerouting back to violent sex and beatings. 

Once our neighbor, who, by the way was completely unphased by any of this, had retreated back to her apartment, Helena turned to us and transformed back to the sweet woman that we know. It was as if nothing had previously transpired. Helena entertained us with casual small talk about the weather and vacation before giving us a hug and heading back in for the night. The two of us stood there stunned, shocked, silent...and decided to leave to take an evening walk to get a glass of something stronger than chilled wine.

Just when you think you are going to have a quiet night in, you get literally pulled out of the confines of your own apartment and dragged into a mini drama. Aside from learning that there are some questionable characters in our building, I also learned to not mess with our guardienne, this woman is a force not to be reckoned with. It was my perfect send off from the City of Light, would it have gone any other way? Doubtful.

patience is a virtue.

 Lily pads at Parc de Bercy
by me via Instagram

These past few weeks of my Parisian summer have been just ideal. The lingering hot days, summer chick lit reading, sporadic glasses of rosé on café terraces, and catching up with friends has put me in full vacation mode. While Paris has been good to us this summer, I really am looking forward to heading to the States in a few days, making a stop in New York to continue this summer samba.

Each day leading up to my departure has been jam-packed with errands and small tasks. Setting up the apartment for our dear friend Charles who will be house-sitting, a pre-vacation wax at Body Minute, and a trip to my local supermarket to pick up fun French stuff like wine, apéro snacks and cookies to give out to friends and family. 

Crossing off the market trip today, I had the pleasure of experiencing an extremely rare occasion where there were no lines and several cash registers were open. When does this ever happen here? I guess Paris in the summer really is a ghost town.

Choosing the closest line, I stood behind a man who had a six pack of bottled water and two boxes of quinoa. Perfect. Dazing off and going over what else needed to be done before my departure, I had realized that about 5 minutes had passed and that neither he or I had had moved. Honing in on their conversation, I learned that he was making some kind of exchange or return. These kind of transactions take long almost everywhere, but listening to the complexity of his "case", it became clear that he was going to be there for a while.

This aisle was out.

I turned around to the empty cash register behind me, made eye contact with the cashier, walked over and proceeded to set my items down on the conveyer belt. Bending over in my basket, I put down the final bottle of wine. Looking over at her, I had expected her to start ringing up my items. Silly me, never expect things here, especially when any level of customer service is involved. Rather than starting my purchasing process, she had gone ahead and opened her drawer to begin counting her bills. Was she not open? I didn't want to distract her from her count (there is nothing more annoying than that), so I stood there, waiting. Once I saw her going into the larger bills, I meekly asked her if she was open. 

No response. Okay.

The cashier behind her was open and available and was handing a receipt to a departing customer. As quickly as I could, I gathered my things and made my way to now my third cashier. Before making it over, a woman wheeling two of those grandma caddies (see here) exploding with groceries, swooped in before me and began to unload her seemingly two week supply of sustenance. 

Of course, the woman didn't know that I had been attempting to make my purchases, for now, three aisles, but it felt good to think that she did. In response to my silent accusation, I let out a huffy sigh and a mini c'est pas possible. Ridiculous and useless, I know, but it felt satisfying to be stereotypically French and grouchy for a second. 

Then, a tag team of two women stood behind me on the line, looked over the aisle of the counting cashier and asked each other if she was open. I was going to chime in complain about her but they were already en route and were promptly rung up. Not wanting to be on the longest line in the market as the woman in front of me had barely unloaded the first caddy, I made my way back to the aisle with woman counting money who was handing change back to the two women. After setting everything down (again!), I made eye contact with her and mouthed a sheepish bonjour. At this point, I felt pretty dumb.

It was then that she SLAMMED down her "aisle closed" sign right in front of my pile of goods. 

Come. On.

So now, I felt really fucking dumb. But there was nothing I could do other than breathe and just go back to the line where I had come from. It was turning into a bad joke...

I managed to get out of there within 35 minutes, sweating from all of the physical activity I had done from playing musical aisles with wine bottles. But I guess that's what I get for being impatient, I should have just waited on the first line! 

It looks I'm getting myself ready for New York, the land of folks who don't have a second to spare and who would have gone into absolute hysterics (not that I was practicing total zen over here) had this happened there. Can you imagine? 

It was certainly a practice in patience, but am looking forward to the second leg of my vacation where I won't need to practice any. Can't wait to see you crazy New York!

the great went.



 Image by me via Instagram

Do you guys remember that Nelly song "Hot in Herrre"? The one that goes "I am gettin' too hot, I'm gonna take my clothes off"? This would be the only way to describe what's going on here weather-wise in Paris. It is blazing and nothing I own seems to be cool enough that I too feel like takin' all my clothes off.

I have to say, I really do love the heat though. I didn't grow up with an air conditioner and braved scorching New York City summers with an oscillating fan and a spray bottle, so to me, this is what summer is all about. I figure it'll be cold soon enough so we might as well enjoy these fleeting days of endless picnics, rosé, effortless dresses, and friends.

If I had to have one complaint, one teeny tiny one, (almost quite literally) it would be that the bugs from outside are seeking refuge in our "cool" apartment. Compared to the sweltering heat outside, our flat must be an improvement for them, but it's still pretty toasty in here and am not open to sharing my space with creepy crawlies. I have an almost irrational phobia to bugs (I couldn't even finish the film adaption of William S. Burroughs' "Naked Lunch",  just to give you an idea), and because of them, I now have to keep the windows shut. Shut windows in almost 95 degree heat is a joke, so I myself have been seeking refuge elsewhere at either the nearby library or park. 

If we weren't hot enough here, things are about to get hotter. (Cue in sizzle sound effect.) In a few weeks we are leaving for our honeymoon, the big adventure à deux, or "The Great Went" as I keep branding our honeymoon as.

Take a guess at where we're going...

No, really guess...!

We are going to :::drumroll please::: 



A common reaction from American friends and family has been total confusion. With Greece, Italy and Spain being just next door, why would we go to California? Because California is freaking awesome, that's why. Also, Aurélien has never been and to a European who grew up watching American television and movies, this, is an exotic destination. He is so excited that he has been whistling Tupac's "California Love" for several weeks now, which has sort of taken the toughness out of the song and made it sound more like a farty ringtone on a Nokia phone.

I really can't wait to show off the town that I once called home and to expose him to the local culture like authentic taco stands, out of work actors, The Coffee Bean (!!!), and building pool parties. But could you me a favor, guys? Cross your fingers for a celeb sighting for Aurel. He can't go to LA without at least seeing one pretty person. It would just be wrong. We're shooting for a goodie like a Gyllenhaal sib, a Coppola spawn or Jason Bateman, but you know, Tori Spelling will do. Just putting it out there...

These are our exciting travel plans for the summer...
Are you heading anywhere?

the ex files.


Rainy days no more.

Figurative and literally speaking.
 
So I have been on the fence about posting an event that recently took place. While I know that I don't have to share every part of my life on the blog, this one has been sitting on my mind for a few weeks now. Because I do receive a steady stream of emails from heart broken gals who follow season one of the blog, and who want to know how long it takes to get closure, I felt that it was somewhat of my responsibility to share the meeting I recently had with my ex. "The" ex. 

I am someone who after the dust has settled, tends to lightly keep in touch with most of my exes. Unless they did something really fucked or were proven jerks during the entire course of the relationship, I don't see a reason not to. I prefer to live life giving people the benefit of the doubt (sometimes too much and for too long), and don't see a reason why not to have a distant and cordial acquaintanceship with someone who at one point was considered a best friend.

It had been two years since I had seen MF and I couldn't help but want to know what he had been up to since his cafe in the Marais is no longer. Why I wanted to know, I'm not sure, but I'll just chalk it up to simple human curiosity. Speaking to Aurelien first, I told him that I was thinking about giving MF a call, and oddly enough he'd had an email correspondence with the girl he had dated for years before we met and was going to ask me the same thing.
 
With that easily settled, I called MF who was happy to hear from me and immediately extended an offer to meet for coffee. A mix of laziness and anxiousness -- if those two emotions could coexist -- I canceled our "date" twice. Why didn't I just cancel altogether? I feel like this was something that I needed to have happen. He was the ghost, this mystery of my former life in Paris, and I was seeking that sense of closure, even if I had ended that chapter long ago.

Finally setting the day, when I told Aurelien, he laughed because that was the day he was planning lunch with his ex and her new boyfriend. I swear we did not plan an "ex" day. We do err on the side of being cheesy, but we're not that bad.

Getting ready for the coffee date, I was strategic on how I presented myself. Unlike some of the heart-wrenching post-break-up meetings we had where I got all dolled up with coats of DiorShow Mascara, sky-high heels, and hair flowing in the wind, clearly demonstrating my desperate hope to rekindle his flame for me, this time my intentions had severely changed. With my hair pulled back in a braid, very light make-up (no mascara!!) and Carmex Vanilla chapstick, I arrived in my flats and simple summer dress. This was not a "look at what you missed out on (snap!)" meeting. (Although I had spent months back in the day fantasizing about it.) Those days are long gone and I sincerely hoped he was well, and would share that he had met someone more suitable for him than I was.

I arrived at Café Cannibale in Oberkampf (incidentally where I had my rehearsal dinner), grabbed a seat outside and waited. I admit though, I was a little nervous. But why? I was not expecting anything more than to catch up, this wasn't two years ago, so why were my hands shaking? 

Indecisive on what to order, as coffee I feared would make me more jumpy, wine in this heat would make me boozy, I ordered an overpriced Perrier with lemon and took a deep breath. As usual, he was late, but for the first time since I had known him, I was actually grateful for his tardiness. I needed these few minutes to myself.

"Bonjour, Madame, shall I now say?" I heard.

I looked up and there he was. Pretty much just as I had remembered him; just a little more gray, a little more filled out, a few more lines around the eyes, but more or less, the same. It was then, that any nervousness I was consumed with disappeared. I know this person. We had spent a lot of time together, and there was no reason to feel ill at ease.

Coming prepared, I came armed with things to talk about: a few proofs of the professional wedding photos that had just come in, snapshots of my little students (I'm really starting to miss them!), and a mental list of things and people to mention that we have in common. I learned that like me, the break-up was a turning point for him as well and that he lost touch with many of our at-the-time mutual friends, citing with a shrug that you don't have to stay friends with everyone forever. Life takes its course and people part ways. It's natural evolution. 

I liked that. It also amused me that he seemed not in the slightest afflicted by this. C'est juste comme ça. Ah, the French.

We lingered at the cafe for a little over an hour, exhausting all of our conversation topics before he asked, "Don't you think you got married a little soon?" he asked. "I mean, didn't we just break up?"

I fucking knew it! I knew something like this was going to come out! He just can't help himself, never could. This coming from the guy who told me he was going to marry me a week after we met! N'importe quoi!

I laughed it off and explained that to me, if I don't know after spending two years with someone if they are the one to marry (or at least be with on a permanent level) then perhaps they aren't the right one. We aren't exactly spring chickens with the luxury of having another decade to contemplate, and entertain those fun on/off, love/hate relationships. That's what the gruesome 20s were all about.

Standing outside his nearby apartment to say goodbye, I could not help but reflect on the last time we were standing in that very spot. February 2011, in the winter rain with my suitcases, waiting for a cab to pick me up. Fast forward two years later to this day, with the blazing heat beating down on my shoulders, being a happily married woman. To someone else.

Never, did I think the events would turn out the way they did. Nor did I want to. I was hellbent on making something so broken work, even if my infinite happiness was at stake.

Turning to open the door to his apartment and me heading to the nearest metro, I stopped myself mid-step and turned around on the sidewalk. Looking back at each other, with an unspoken understanding we knew that it is probably the last time that we will ever see each other. And with that, we waved au revoir.

Everything happened exactly the way it was supposed to. And to be clear, my happiness is not solely derived from the fact that I am now married. My contentment comes from surviving some rough patches here in Paris, and owning the wisdom of appreciating the present and the people who I am lucky to have in my life.

It's funny how we imagine the path of our life to go in one direction and once we relinquish it, things tend to turn out even better than you had imagined. Now that's something to be thankful for. With that, I wish you all a bon week-end.

bleu, blanc, rouge!

Photos by moi via Instagram

Every time the 4th of July rolls around here in France, like Thanksgiving, I'm always a tad disappointed and extremely jealous of my friends and family back in the States enjoying festivities and such. This year wasn't too bad, us blogger gals got together for cocktails which resulted in a late night hotdog run in the Marais. So it was sort of all-American, but I was still waiting for the sky to trip the light fantastic in red, white and blue.

Unlike Thanksgiving though, France's version of the event takes place a mere week later just moving the colors around a bit; bleu, blanc, rouge, voilà! Previous disappointment: dissolved.

So how did I spend my Bastille Day...ok fine, Quatorze Juillet? My day went something like this....

I woke up promptly at 10 am, forgetting it was France's Independence Day and thinking we were under attack as the French Air Force was blasting their planes over the city heading to the Champs-Elysées. Every. Single. Year. I forget that they do this, as well as rehearse a week in advance, and sincerely get freaked the eff out. It really is that loud. Walking out onto the street with one eye open in my pajamas, I was able to capture this shot.


Mind you, this was taken with my phone with no zoom, that's how low these guys were flying. Scary stuff.

Being up already and not wanting to go inside to make coffee on the beautiful day we were blessed with, Aurel and I recreated a scene from our first Bastille Day spent together and treated ourselves to Starbucks. (I know, like so French, right?) The difference this year (besides the obvious big one) was that Aurel wasn't sleeping over in my chambre de bonne where he was constantly smashing his head on the ceiling, and he also didn't have to borrow the only large t-shirt I own, which happens to be a pink Hole t-shirt that has a huge gold glitter heart on it. He totally walked through the Marais in this. 

I wished everyone in Starbucks a rejoiceful "Happy Bastille Day!" (with a slowly bobbing fist pump) and received complete silence in return, followed by a "We don't really say that to each other."

Well I do.

Our day then lead us to the park where we had a picnic, and because the sun is just blazing over here at the moment (finally!), when I opened the Tupperware bin that contained my little salad pour deux, the heat had wilted and practically burnt my lettuce! The leaves were steaming, smelled funky and had turned brown in just a little over an hour! Thank goodness for our watermelon backup plan.

Then on this fateful day, I discovered something pretty freaking amazing. I knew that park had a water fountain somewhere, well was at least hoping, and once I targeted a park ranger, I asked him where it was. His response to my question was -- wait for it -- sparkling or flat?

Paris, are you freaking kidding me? You have sparkling water fountains?

Clearly I went for the petillante option and had to document it otherwise no one, my mother specifically, would have believed me. 



As the night fell, we went to dinner with Aurel's friends in the 12th, which was pretty much a ghost town because everyone is either away or was along the Seine, much closer to the action. And the night was capped off with my very first Fireman's Ball (he he he). For those of you who don't know, on the 14th of July, many of the firehouses host parties where they sell cheap booze and have musical entertainment. The rocking cover band at the station in 12th had us dancing until 3:30 am (So much for going for a drink), and resulted in me, once again, trying to get the French to do the damn Electric Slide. One girl was in support of my campaign, but everyone else (including my husband who just snapped photos of me looking like a complete idiot), weren't having any of it!


Having celebrating several 14 Juillet here, this one was by far the most festive one for me. While I will always feel somewhat like a guest here, this year I felt just a little more included in the holiday. Perhaps it is because I am understanding this culture more or more....that, or it was that forth (fifth?) glass of pamplemousse rosé.  Happy Bastille Day everyone! There, I said it...again.
 

What happened two years ago yesterday?
When in France... 

live and let live.


Recently, I read a fantastic article about injustices in life that we can't help and will just have to accept. All of the items on the list were for the most part accurate, giving me a chuckle here and there. It was the final item that struck home for me. It read: "There is going to be someone who looks at your life, even when it has absolutely no bearing on their own, and feels personally affronted enough by your decision to be an asshole and make disdainful comments about it. This is only a poor reflection on them, and realizing they don’t matter as quickly as possible is the best course of action you can take."

I'm pretty sure I shouted "Amen!" when I read this last part. How many of you out there decided to do something off the beaten path, adventurous, glamorous, or even scary, and found that it seemed to piss someone off? But their disdain was so subtle where you almost felt like you were the crazy one? I felt tinges of this my first year here, and suspecting that my life abroad was making some people uncomfortable, I went out of my way to not talk about it. I was in no way special because I had uprooted my life, and wanted to make that clear, but at the same time was truncating my own needs by putting a lid on this huge part of my life.

To thank the writer for her excellent post, I left a comment saying that the final item rang true for me, and knowing that she lives in Paris (otherwise I would not have even brought it up), I had mentioned I had experienced this from some folks back home after I jumped the pond. Within seconds, I got a comment to my comment from an anonymous user (they always are, aren't they?) accusing me of bragging and that is probably why I pissed everyone off. It was such a quick assumption with absolutely no foundation that sadly was all too familiar. I immediately regretted dropping the "P" bomb because it automatically gave me that stigma, unfairly allowing that person to feel justified to criticize me. 

Why is it that we have to carefully curate how we present ourselves because we live in Paris, or for that matter, anywhere deemed interesting? There are so many rules that I find many of us delicately follow. We are careful not to demonstrate too much happiness because that would be showing off. What about excitement? Nope, that's out too. Don't you dare enjoy that grapefruit-hued sunset sparkling off the Seine! And if you do, you better enjoy it silently sans hashtags. But on the flipside, don't show any discontent because that would be deemed as complaining and not being grateful for what you have been "given". Okay, well what about being annoyed that a former French boyfriend bemoaned that the back of your thighs resemble the dimply skin of a moldy orange? Well you're in Paris, so being offended is just plain bratty. It's so frustrating. Why can't we just be? 

A common theme that keeps revisiting me in my 30s is understanding and accepting that you can't please everyone; a personal character default derived from my own Virgo perfectionism. Not everyone is going to like what you do, and more often than not, it is a reflection on them. When I find that I am fighting to defend myself, I take a deep breath and remember an AA saying that my dad would throw around in moments like these: Live and Let Live, Man (well, he added the 'man' part). I'll do my thing, you do yours, and when I have that occasional really awesome day (like pictured above), don't make me feel like asshole for it.

What about you?
Have you had any of these growing pains after 
making a big life change?

all the world's a playground.


Image via moi on Instagram

With the school year wrapping up, the last few weeks have been less about exploring the wonders of the English language by following the curriculum of games, songs and cut-out shapes I had been given as learning materials, and more about the babysitting portion of my job. Per the request of the parents, for the remaining weeks of June I was allowed to let the tiny tots loose at the park for as long as they liked, distributing snacks on command from a Spiderman backpack. 

Seriously, you guys, how is this my life? 

But as a friend recently put it, "You don't get your dream job here in France. You get a job." And this one is mine for now.

Spending more time than I had ever this school year at the park, I observed the division of classes, social groups so to speak. We had the French moms who smoked, the French moms who didn't with their Le Bal (or whatever "hip" restaurant or organization) tote bags and organic snacks, the Portuguese grandmothers who would only talk to the lone Portuguese au pair who when alone, was always on the freaking phone, the African nannies who somehow always managed to get the park benches, the American moms, and randoms like me and the Danish au pair. 

Oh, did you think I meant the social groups amongst the kids? No. The kids are not at all segregated like us: "the adults." 

I know, how sad.

Okay, so in this conglomerate, which group do you think I easily fit into like a worn-out ballet flat? 

Did you guess the American mom group? That they would welcome a fellow expatriate into their circle of conversation? Well, you were wrong. The American moms are mean. 

It went a little something like this: The French moms who wanted to practice their English would chat with me until they grew bored or exhausted speaking in their second language, the French moms who didn't care about English spoke with each other (this group also fell under the French Moms Who Smoke category), and the American moms...well, at first they were nice to me when they thought I was another American mom. They soon realized I was not when they heard my kids speak English, tipping them off that I was the nanny. 

"Oh," the said with total side-eye, "We thought you were an expat mom like us, but you're just a babysitter..." Dis. After this revelation, we never recovered and despite my attempts, I was ignored and no longer welcomed to sit with them in the park. Major diss. I don't pride myself on being necessarily cool or anything, but didn't playground politics fall to the wayside post 7th grade? Apparently not and I was stunned. Just stunned.

Never mind the fact that one of my kids is crucially blonde, another has dark hair and deep olive skin, and one is overtly part Asian. How did the Americans think that I pumped all of these kids of the same age out of me in one year? 

Giving up on "my people" and the French moms, next up, was the African nannies. Scurrying to the park early to grab a seat on the bench, once play time officially started, I found myself book-ended by six nannies, and stuffed behind a line of clunky baby strollers. My little ones, demonstrated scrunched up little faces of disdain as they were forced to go through an obstacle of baby care paraphernalia to get one little cookie from me. Hey, it was character building for them. Work for what you want, guys!

Now in my new digs, I realized that I should have thought of this sooner. I was included immediately, no questions asked. With zero interest in brushing up on their English skills, and a full-time passion for talking major shit about the families they worked for, they had me entertained. I could not contribute in the family-bashing because I actually really do like the families that I work for, but sharing my own antidotes on life in Paris, I think they got a kick out of me, or rather my accent. I'm sure they were making fun of me with the side remarks that I didn't understand, but it was better than forcing myself to read the book that I am currently struggling with, or being shunned by my "compatriots."  

I guess I shouldn't be so shocked by the social divisions in the park. Unfortunately, this is something we deal with every day, where I can't help but wonder if we will ever outgrow these petty politics. Literally and figuratively speaking, I guess we never do leave the playground. Food for thought, right there...

For me, vacation has officially started, so I bid a farewell to the park...until next September.

parklife.

Back when I was single, or rather, freshly dumped, I used to hate, and I mean HATE when I was told that the right one "is out there". Out where? Out in Jersey and fate was supposed to somehow transport me there to meet this really awesome guy? I have never actively looked for love, being alone as you read from my last post is not a fear, I was just sick of constantly being broken up with. Seriously, I was starting to think that there was something gravely wrong with me. Like did I have halitosis and no one was telling me?

Thanks to the guidance of my friend Thomas who tried to uplift me during those painful days that in no time I would go back to being my slutty self (thanks?). With that, he introduced me to the French dating site Adopte Un Mec. Not looking for anything serious, this cheeky site where I was able to place dudes in my shopping cart and rate them as "favorite products" was beyond perfect and at the same time, so very wrong. (Can you just picture the outrage if this was a site for men and they were able to put women in shopping carts?) Going on a handful of dates that you can read about here on my Girls Guide to Paris piece, unexpectedly, I also met my husband. 

Two years ago yesterday, Aurel and I strolled through Paris, finally stopping in Jardin du Luxembourg to drink soda and talk about music. It's kind of weird that all of this is documented here on a blog, but I'm thankful it is, it makes looking back so much easier! Wanting to recreate that day, I squeezed (squoze?) my over-30 thighs into the same dress I wore that day, and planned a full picnic in the park with rosé champagne, expensive munchies from Nicholas wine shop, and shrimp with American cocktail sauce. 

And it was rainy and cold. 

Of course, it was, this is Paris.

Well, guess what? That wasn't going to stop me from having my already purchased picnic. Using everything "parky" we have in the house, pulling my herbs and plants out from the window, I created the garden in our living room. And here's how it turned out....


 Voilà! Instant park.
Plus I didn't need a coat!

With the left over sky blue tulle that was my wedding veil, 
I created a "canopy" to protect us from mythical rainfall.

Setting out all candle holders to give our park a moonlight hue.
(merci Kristen and Gwan!)


My fresh mint and basil, hopefully not insulted that they were
being used as mere props.

And even though we cannot see the Eiffel Tower from 
Jardin du Luxembourg (or can we?), in my park, 
we can and there she is!

It was the perfect recreation of an already perfect meeting. 
I guess the right one was "out there". 
Thanks Adopte Un Mec from saving me a trip to Jersey!

Bon early week-end à tous!
And to all of you in the States, Happy 4th of July!

when a stranger calls.



This past weekend Aurél was at the rock festival Rock Dan Tous Etats up near Normandy; a gift he offered his dad to thank him everything he did for the wedding and to have a weekend bonding trip tous les deux. I was asked if I would like to come along and before he could even finish the question and I quickly said no. I really am not a fan of outdoor summer festivals. Like really not. Shocking right? You'd think it was me stage diving at Lollapalooza (even if the lineup in '95 was pretty epic), but no, so not my thing. 

I did in fact, go to a festival a million years ago when I was 19 called The Gathering of the Vibes up near Bard College, and it pretty much confirmed my prejudgements. Aside from the scorching heat pounding on my young, vulnerable and supple skin, the few recollections I have is the thick and dense mud that my tent was propped up. The consistency, as my foot sunk down several inches with each step, as well as the curiously foul smell, lent to suspicions that we were living on top of human feces for the weekend.

So did I want to go to the festival up North? No. A simple no surely would have sufficed but you know me, there's always a story on why.

With Aurél gone for the weekend, it meant that I was home...ALONE. Ahhh! I screamed at the top of my lungs running in and out of every room and jumping on the bed eating cereal! I wish I had done that, I really should have but no I had a weekend of dates planned with moi, turning my weekend into a spa getaway in Paris. What a diva, I know. The weekend consisted of living room yoga sessions, Velib rides to the market, experimenting with new recipes, applying homemade facial scrubs and masks using the herbs and ingredients I have in my kitchen, self waxing (ouch!), toe painting, wine tastings, champagne toasts and dancing with myself in my living room. I'm just going to say it: it was pretty awesome. I really need to entertain myself more often. I show myself a good time!

Just as I was writing this post to you, recounting on my weekend "getaway", my phone rang. And it was private.

"Allô?"
"Allô." the voice on the receiving end whispered.
"Who is this?"
"Tu sais." he continued to whisper.
"No, I don't know. You called me. Who is this?"
"Je peux pas te dire."
"You can't tell me? You must be trying to reach someone else. Ca arrive. Ciao."

And I hung up. You have got to be kidding me? My first weekend alone and I'm getting pranked? N'importe quoi.

20 seconds later, my phone rang again. Private.

"Oui?" I said with somewhat intrigue. 
"Pourquoi t'as accroché?" he said, again still whispering.
"Why did I hang up? Because I don't want to chat with someone who is unwilling to identify himself. Simple."
"Tu me connais."
"I know you? Okay, so what is your name?"
"Je peux pas te dire. Y a trop de monde ici."
"You cannot tell me your name because there are a lot of people there?"
"Oui."
"Okay, whatever. Good night."

I hung up. The phone rang again.

"Ecoute, if you don't stop calling, I can have this call traced with SFR. It's possible."
"Je sais que tu es toute seule."

He knew that I was alone. At this point I was beyond freaked out and slithered over to the corner of the room to pull my gauzy curtains shut. Nestled in the corner of the room with my egg white mask starting flake off of my face, I stayed on the line because I wanted to know how much information this fucker did in fact have. It was a combination of Scream or my worst fear When A Stranger Calls. I let my imagination entertain thoughts that he was in my bedroom hence why he could not speak louder. Quelle horreur!

Every time I asked him a question about something specific about him or me (so he could confirm his claims that he knew me) he was unable and would ask me mundane questions like, what I was doing. This somewhat eased my fear, and perhaps he was merely a dumb prank caller.

"Look, I'll stay on the phone with you if you just give me one piece of information about me. Like what's my name? You want to scare me, that much is obvious, so come on, scare me. What's my name?"

No response. Just heavy breathing. 

"I thought so." I hung up. Just as I was dialing Aurel, the action was interrupted by guess who?

"Sir! We're done here!" I snapped.
"Tu me connais, je te jure." he continued on.
"I know you, yet you won't tell me your name. Communication amongst humans don't work this way."
"Je comprends," 
"If you really understood, you would stop calling."
"Je veux parler avec toi."
"And I want Ugly Betty back on the air." I let out an exhale to display my exasperation. "Okay, what does my name start with, just the letter, allez." 

Still crouching tiger hidden me in the corner, I waited for an answer. Scrambling to respond he whispered "S". 

"Wrong answer, good bye. Also I called the police," I lied, "So if you bother me again, expect a visit from les Po Pos. Bonne nuit connard."

CLICK!

For the sake of brevity of this post, I compacted all seven of his phone calls into three, but the reality was that this guy called me seven times! After my final threat, he never did call back. I can't help but wonder if he will bother to call again, after all he still has my number. On a side note here, I have never been prank called in French, and as freaked out as I was I couldn't help but think, "damn, those are some pretty good conjugations going on! And the use of the subjunctive? Pas mal, Madame, pas mal!" You can take the girl out of Alliance Française but...

I finally got in touch with Aurél and he told me that there are crazy people that just dial random numbers and he just happened to luck out with getting a young female to pick up, and it was only by coincidence that he knew I was alone. I would really love to think that and will continue to do so....until he calls again. Dun, dun, DUN!!

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