Friday, September 28, 2007

Edith Wharton

I’m currently reading Edith Wharton’s ‘The Age of Innocence’ and keep stumbling upon these amazing passages. This woman was absolutely brilliant (that’s not even a strong enough word really) and it’s a crime that I’ve only just discovered it. Plus, she moved to Paris from New York, just like me, so I feel a great affinity for her. I’m now trying to get my hands on everything she’s ever written (I’ve just finished ‘The House of Mirth’, another doozy).

I always keep a notebook with me to jot down interesting quotes or verses that I come across so I wanted to share a couple:

“He bent and laid his lips on her hands, which were cold and lifeless. She drew them away, and he turned to the door, found his coat and hat under the faint gas-light of the hall, and plunged out into the winter night bursting with the belated eloquence of the inarticulate.”

“Half the width of the room was still between them, and neither made any show of moving… Now his imagination spun about [her] hand as about the edge of a vortex; but still he made no effort to draw nearer. He had known the love that is fed on caresses and feeds them; but this passion that was closer than his bones was not to be superficially satisfied. His one terror was to do anything which might efface the sound and impression of her words; his one thought, that he should never again feel quite alone.”

About the French #1

So I always heard that the French are the biggest hypochondriacs in the world but I never really knew to what extent until I moved in with one... Now I know I have no right to speak ill about the extent to which people go to feel good (just ask my acupuncturist or dermatologist or internist or masseuse or physical therapist or ENT or chiropractor...) but this is just a tad bit ridiculous: the inside of my roomie's bathroom cabinet...

Home Sweet Home...

My current apartment is the absolute cutest. It’s in the 17th arr. in Paris which is sort of comparable to the UES in New York. I live on the 2nd Ave side as opposed to the Park Ave side of the neighborhood. The thing about Paris is that since its so old, its rare to find a building with an elevator… so you’ll climb 1,000 steep, winding steps to get to your apartment every day—old people, babies, they all do it. I guess that’s why the French are so damn thin. My roomie is great, a 27-year-old French girl named Florence who works at FIT’s sister school in Paris (she’s taking me to a few shows during fashion week by the way—so excited!) coordinating events and things.
Interesting fact: I found out from the couple I met last night that Natalie Portman lives in my neighborhood! She moved here about 2 years ago. One of their friends chatted her up at a random house party, without knowing who she was, and learned that she just loved Paris so she bought a flat here. Cool huh? First I live in Madonna’s old building in the East Village, then I move into Natalie Portman’s neighborhood in Paris…

Anyway, here are a couple pics of my apartment, the view from the kitchen, the courtyard inside the apartment building (I love that aged look that the interior of the building has) and the street that I live on. Oh! And a picture of my house key! It really opens the door to my apartment, how cute is that?

A date (?) with the Rocker

One of my favorite quotes is by Helen Rowland and it goes: “Why does a man take it for granted that a girl who flirts with him wants him to kiss her—when, nine times out of ten, she only wants him to want to kiss her?” Truer words have never been spoken.

Had my date with the Rocker last night. I called him from work around 5pm and we’re chatting a bit… then he starts rattling off these things he has to do that night, including meeting a scalper on a street corner to buy tickets to the rugby world cup and going to his friend’s apartment for drinks. Then he goes, “So what do you think?” and I’m thinking he’s cancelling on me so I’m like “Wait, what are you asking me?” And he says, “Do you want to come with me to my friend’s house and have a drink?” Romantic, huh? Anyway it gave me a chance to meet some new people…

It was a couple, a Dutch girl from Amsterdam and her French boyfriend (who is the Rocker's childhood friend). The four of us are sitting in the living room, listening to French music, drinking wine, eating and talking-- they were really interesting. They met in Bolivia 4 years ago-- the boyfriend is a documentary filmmaker who’s been travelling the world for the last 8 years capturing the int’l music scene for public TV. The girl just finished her masters in something political and works for an NGO but moonlights as a singer. It was a very refreshingly mature evening, considering I’ve been hanging out with college kids as of late. And I really like the girlfriend, we totally hit it off (a new friend perhaps?) and it turns out her birthday is one day before mine. I told her that I had nothing planned for my 25th since all my friends are back in the States and she invited me to celebrate with her—she’s rented out a bar in Amsterdam and is inviting a bunch of friends from France to come out and party for the night, then crash at the flat she keeps there. Thankfully I’m not shy about thrusting myself into people’s lives so I’m definitely taking her up on her offer! If I can’t celebrate with my friends, I think this may be the next best thing.

Anyway, back to the Rocker. I got up to leave around 11pm and he said he’d walk me home. Turns out he’s been living in Spain, Buenos Aires and China for the last 3 years or so and is just in Paris for a temporary layover till he moves back to China in December. He doesn’t work yet (its seems like all French people under 30 are unemployed but have about 4 advanced degrees) so for the time being he’s just bumming around. We get to my apt, he gives me the obligatory bisous (kiss on the cheek) and walks away… I’m thinking, ‘Ok…?’ So when I got up to my apt I text’d him asking, “What time do you leave tomorrow?” (he’s going to a 3-day birthday party at a villa in a town near the German border this weekend) and my phone rings right away. He asks if I would like him to come back (I thought that was funny and a bit presumptuous)… but we hang out in my room, chatting (he gave me more reasons as to why I should run for the hills immediately), drinking wine, and he leaves about an hour later (get your mind out of the gutter folks!). It was fun… and that was my night!

I don’t think dear old Helen would mind if I amended her quote for the 21st century to read: “Why does a man take it for granted that a girl who kisses him wants him to sleep with her?”

Still, I’m definitely intrigued (and I love meeting guys with cool friends, it tells you a lot about a person)… we’ll see what his next move is.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My new career

So I started this new job… working as an executive/marketing assistant for a computer software company based in Ohio. Basically my job is to do sales/marketing stuff (organizing trade shows, working with the PR agency, ad buys) in between making coffee and filing papers—in actuality, I spend my days gchatting and keeping up-to-date with the latest Hollywood gossip on Perez.

I’m getting paid in Dollars so they can skirt the heavy taxes that the French government charges to incorporated companies… sounds a bit sketch, but whatever, its money and I wasn’t even expecting that. Its funny b/c before my boss hired me he said, “I think you’re great. My only concern is that you’ll leave in 6 months when a fashion company in Paris comes knocking at your door”. I told him that I was not looking to get back into stress of the fashion world, that I wanted to find a work/life balance that one couldn’t have when working in such a demanding field as fashion and publishing… Ha! If Chanel called me up tomorrow, I would be out of here with the quickness! But for the time being, this is fine…

Here’s a pic of my office. It’s just me and my boss (he’s English) in this tiny little space. So its quite a skill to pretend to look busy when he’s sitting 2 feet away… but the office is on the Champs-Elysse which is something like the equivalent of working on say Broadway & Spring in the city…


Went to a Nigerian party at UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) the other day. My friend Temi has a friend who works for the UN and she scored me an invite. Basically it was a big event held in the auditorium of the UNESCO headquarters in Paris with live music by a popular “Iroko” group in Nigeria (like African samba) plus singing and dancing followed by a huge buffet. The audience was full of lots of African dignitaries (from France, Nigeria and all over the world) who came to take part in this tribute to Nigerian culture. It was also a call to maintain and develop harmony and equality between the races so there were a few speeches about world peace and international unity.

The coolest part was that the singers would go out into the audience and bring people up to the stage to dance with them… so you’d see these regal African women in their cultural garb breaking it down with middle aged white men in European suits. It’s funny, having grown up with a lot of Africans, it kinda just felt like home. Ultimately it was just this big 2 hour party, everyone was having a blast (except for the mad dash for the free food at the end... why people always gotta be ghetto?). Although I was deathly terrified that they would grab me next… thankfully I had just switched out of my aisle seat and they took my friend up there instead :o)

One guy I met at the party is a huge Chelsea supporter so we’ve started a nice little rivalry. He lives next door to an English pub so we’ll be giving each other sh*t this season and watching matches together when we can. Which of course means we’ll get to be great friends. Aww, makes me miss my United friends…

My First French Date

Went on my first date with Cell Boy last night (literally the guy who sold me my cell phone. He was really cute so I asked him out... I know, so unlike me for many obvious reasons but I'm in Paris now so all pretension goes out the window)… he’s definitely very sweet and very cute but a bit too normal for me. He’s a country boy—he likes staying at home and being with his family, or cooking or playing with his dog. He says he MUST get at least 8 hours of sleep per night otherwise he can’t function (I mean, who sleeps for 8 hours these days?!). Other than that, he escapes Paris every chance he gets and goes to his mother’s house up North. He doesn’t like to travel because he hates to be alone—so he’s never left France (he’s 27!). Which is all well and good (who am I to judge?), but it’s the complete opposite of me—I’m a city girl, I like to go out with friends, go to bars, travel, meet new people, stay out late... we're SOO different. But I think he’s very sweet.

At the end of our date he said he had to go home and feed his dog… I totally thought that was a blow off but then he asked me out for next week. Strange. But I'll go out with him again; it will give me something to do.

But I have a date with The Rocker tonight... he’s a bit crazy so he’s more my type... lol and he’s very sexy so we will see!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Arrest

I met this guy, we'll call him Rocker (not to be confused with The Rockstar, my fling from earlier this year) b/c he looks like your typical American rocker—super cute, long messy hair, scruffy beard, cool clothes (as Nicole Ritchie put it, "the kind of guy who looks like he smells but he doesn't"), through Cancun (the boy I met at the house party). Rocker and I were introduced at a pub during the Rugby World Cup match, France v. Ireland, and he looked like an asshole and was slightly rude so of course I immediately took a liking to him. You know those guys that look like trouble, like they will break your heart... exactly the kind of boy I always fall for. Anyway, he called me up on Saturday night (at 11:30pm... who asks a girl out that late anyway? Assholes...) and invited me to this house party in the 19th arr. I was already out with another friend so I told him I would try to stop by a bit later.

I ended up showing up at the party around 2:30am. He introduced me to a couple people as ma copine (my girlfriend) then proceeded to ignore me so I went off in search of people to talk to. I ended up spending the night talking to a group of French people who had just got back from studying in Australia and were really in awe of the fact that I was from New York.

Then around 4am, Rocker finally comes to find me, drapes an arm around my shoulders all possessive-like and says “I’m taking her home, lets go”. So we leave the party with his best friend and get into his car. He casually says, “I hope the police don’t stop us, I’m really drunk”. My drunk self didn't think, "hmm, maybe he shouldn't be driving then"… I’m just like "ok whatever”.

And of course, the police stop us at a random checkpoint. They give him a breathalyzer test which he fails so he’s sent off to jail for at least 24 hours!! Meanwhile, his car is sitting in the middle of the street and the police want ME to move it—problem is, it's a manual which I don’t know how to drive. But the other girl with us didn't have a license so she couldn't drive it. The police give me a breathalyzer to see if I am ok to drive (I was just under the legal limit), takes my passport and asks me a million questions, then sends us on our way.

The girl and I spend the next hour trying to drive the car home, unsuccessfully… finally we give up and she calls her ex-boyfriend to come and rescue us since we're stuck in the middle of the street in one of the dodgiest parts of Paris with drivers cursing at us in French to get the hell out of the way… the ex shows up about an hour later, too drunk to drive (plus he had his license taken away the week before for drunk driving)… so he parks the car in an alleyway and we all get on the train and go home… I stumbled in around 6:30am.

So that was my first experience with the French police—the entire time, the girl and her ex were blaming the situation on Sarkozy (France’s new conservative president whom the young student population have a fierce dislike for), saying he’s the one who’s implemented all these tough sanctions and France isn’t want it used to be, blah blah blah… all I’m wondering is what the police plan to do with all my information…

Sunday, September 16, 2007

An 80's house party

My English friend Temi invited me to a house party being thrown by her boyfriend Rhose's college friend on Saturday night. It was in a huge triplex townhouse in the 20th arr., which is a very rare find in Paris. The theme was 80’s so everyone was dressed up except for us and one or two other people. I spent most of the night talking to a group of about 5 French boys—having sparked a conversation with one of the guys about his “Fat Tuesdays” necklace and bonding over our shared memories of Spring Break in Cancun (don’t ask).

One of the guys (we’ll call him Cancun), was really cute but I couldn’t tell if he was gay or not. He was dressed in full 80’s gay-club attire: neon blue spandex leggings, under short shorts with a mesh muscle shirt layered under a neon pink tank top tied up at the navel and high top Converse All Stars (how I still managed to see he was hot is beyond me). Eventually he made some reference to getting married and having children, and the sexiness of women so I decided he may be straight after all.

We all exchanged numbers and they’ve promised to call me and take me out next weekend. I’m definitely going to give Cancun a call though… he may very well be my future husband!

One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s much easier to meet guys in this city than girls. French girls aren’t as quick to befriend other girls and can be a bit standoffish… and I do miss having girlfriends around to talk to. I’ve never been one of those girls who “have only guy friends because I don’t get along with other girls”. I much prefer girls (sorry boys! I do love you!)…

Anyway, that was my first Parisian house party, a good night!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Cell Phone was Stolen!

I was sitting outside at a doner kebab restaurant in Les Halles today, a touristy shopping area in Paris (like Soho), waiting for a friend to meet me. We were on our way to a music/political festival in the suburbs north of Paris so I put my phone out on the table, to the right of my plate, so I wouldn’t miss her call. I’m minding my business, eating my meal and a guy comes over, taps me on my left shoulder and asks in French “can I talk with you?” I just said “I don’t speak French” and turned away. It lasted less than 3 seconds, but his accomplice had already stolen my phone and run off! I didn’t even know it had happened until I looked down a couple minutes later and realized my cell was gone! lol, thankfully it was a cheap pre-paid phone with about 2 minutes left on it.

The thing is, Paris isn’t a violent city (you’re very unlikely to get shot here), but it has some of the most ridiculous incidents of theft anywhere. I’ve heard stories about people walking down the street talking on their cell and having their phone snatched from their hands. Or women having their purses stolen while sitting at a traffic light… literally their purse is on the passenger seat and a person on a scooter will drive up, break the window, snatch the purse and speed off. Its insane! I don’t think thieves are that bold in New York.

Oh well… welcome to Paris!!