Wednesday, January 23, 2008

R.I.P.

I wasn't even a huge Heath Ledger fan, but its so tragic when someone you're used to seeing/reading about just up and dies. I just got word this morning (time difference, I was asleep) and was shocked. He was definitely a great actor and its unfortunate that there will be no more Heath Ledger movies, no more sightings on the streets of New York, no more Brokeback Mountain-esque performances to blow you away. He was only 28 and he was talented and beautiful and he's dead. And the worst part is that he has a 2-year-old daughter who will never get to know her father... at this point they don't know if it was suicide or an accidental overdose or what, but that little girl is going to have to live with that legacy... just sad all around. God Bless.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Finals...

This past week has been insane… it’s been such a long since I was a student, I forgot how this whole studying thing worked… finals are not fun!

First, I spent an entire day at the Sorbonne registering for my spring semester which runs through the end of May. Last semester, I took the program that included 20 hours/week of grammar courses, phonetics courses and optional conferences (literature, film, French civilization). I barely made it to my required classes (grammar/phonetics) let alone found the time to go to the conferences—it’s a shame, it seemed like they would have been the most interesting classes. But with my work schedule (and budding social life?), I don’t have time to take all of the classes offered so I wanted to switch to a 12 hour/week program which would save me a good deal of money, free up my schedule and not require me to wake up at 6am every morning to go to school. But there’s a silly requirement that a foreign student must be enrolled in 20 hours of courses per week in order to qualify for a French visa; so basically I’m paying extra for the privilege to remain in this country legally. Sweet.

Anyway, once that was out of the way, I had to study for my final. A 3 hour exam on all the things I was supposed to have learned this semester… too bad I didn’t start paying attention till the last week of class. So I spent the night before the test cramming until midnight with a couple classmates and teaching myself the difference between passé composé and imparfait. My final was on Saturday afternoon in a massive building on the outskirts of Paris. There were about 50 rooms in the building, with each room holding 300 students. 4 pages of vocab/grammer short answer questions; 1 dictation; 1 composition where you had to describe a person you like for 2 pages (yes, I wrote about B).

It was tough! Everyone walked out of the room totally shaken and unsure about how they did… 3 hours seemed like a long time at first but it wasn’t enough! There must have been about 5 questions that I left unanswered... oh well. Our results will be posted on February 7th. I have friends who have to pass the test in order to stay in the country… and if they fail, they owe their government (who paid for the program and their living expenses) about 5,000€. Thankfully, I don’t need to pass—enrolling at a school is just a cover to stay in the country and the Sorbonne is a nice, prestigious name to put on the resume when I start job hunting next year. Passing would be nice though!

(courtyard at the Sorbonne)

Friday, January 18, 2008

The End of Rock...

Can’t believe I forgot to mention this (it must have been because I’ve been on my deathbed for the last 3 weeks, bronchitis/asthma): THE ROCKER IS GONE. He finally did it. Packed up and left Paris for Shanghai. He’s been talking about moving to China since I first met him and he finally found himself a job out there. While I was in Tunisia, I got a call from him saying, “Come have a drink with me! I’m moving to China next weekend!” And of course I’m like, “OMG! Nooo! You can’t go!” And he was like, “Ok, stop it. No time for crying now, I gotta run” lol, he’s such a jerk, I love him!

Anyway, his farewell party was 2 weeks ago at a tiny bar near my apt. B was there too—his best friend is good friends with the Rocker. I was a bit nervous b/c all of the Rocker’s friends (the cute French boys that I’ve come to know from house parties, clubs and such) would be there—and since I’m never with B, they always take the liberty of acting really flirty/touchy-feely with me. We dance, play drinking games, that kind of thing. It’s all in good fun of course; just not the kind of fun I’d like to have in front of the bf… and there are a couple who have asked me out. Plus, I know what the Rocker is like and all our silly flirting is just how our [strictly platonic] relationship works. I just didn’t want him to say anything stupid in front of B.

But of course, he does it. In front of everyone, in front of B, he gives me a big, long hug and bisous and says, “I love you, my darling. If I could, I would marry you. And that’s no New York bullsh*t”, looks at me for a couple seconds, rubs my cheek and walks away. And I’m just like, uhh… and peek over at B out of the corner of my eye and he’s shaking his head and has this slight smirk on his face. Not sure what that meant…

Then, throughout the night, all of the Rocker’s friends came over to say hello, give me a hug & bisous, chat or try to get me to dance and I would make a point of immediately saying, “This is my boyfriend B” so they wouldn’t say/do anything foolish. The funniest reply I got from one of the boys was: “Wow, your bf is really good looking”. B’s only comment about the whole thing was a tight-lipped, “Well, you have a lot of friends here… how do you know these guys?” He’s a good boyfriend.

Anyway, I’m really sad the Rocker is gone! Apparently he was hanging out with Eva & Julien the night before the party. And at the party Eva told me, “The Rocker really loves you. He was talking about you all night”. He really is a sweetheart. Aside from the drugs, sex-craziness, ADD, insanity he’s an amazing person. He introduced me to some amazing, lifelong friends, he nearly got me arrested, he took me to some really fun parties… and I could always count on him for a phone call at midnight on a Wednesday screaming, “What are you doing?! Sleeping?! Get the fu*k up and come meet me at this bar!” lol, he is an original, that’s for sure—it’s so funny that our first night together would turn into this great friendship. Saying our goodbyes that night, the Rocker told me I have to stop by China and see him when I do my Southeast Asia trip this fall (yes, I'm going backpacking for a couple months, more on that later)… maybe I will! Me and the Rocker partying in Shanghai, now that would be one for the storybooks!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

More Wine...

Had an interesting evening with Grapes last night… I was cramming for my 3-hour French final with a couple classmates at Starbucks and I get a call from Grapes saying, “Hey, want to come over and help me finish my wine?” After 3 hours of straight studying, all I wanted was alcohol (free being even better) so I said sure. I showed up at his loft around 9pm to find a full-on house party. Apparently, his last wine tasting class was full of cute, blond, southern American college girls in town on holiday so he invited them to stay after and drink more wine with him. Naturally, there are 3 girls on top of his bar dancing to “Crank That” by Souljah Boy and a few more girls grinding together in the corner… nice. Gotta love American college girls (French girls would be mortified)!

Anyway, we’re all hanging out in his place, drinking, dancing (minus myself) and chatting. They actually turned out to be sweet so the night wasn’t a complete nightmare—it was actually a lot of fun. We ended the night with more drinks at Favela Chic. Around midnight, we left the bar and Grapes offered to walk me home. He put his friend in a cab and we walked to my apartment and the discussion turned to B… more about my needing to break up with him and date other people. At one point he told me that he wanted someone too so I should find him a girlfriend and I said, “No, I quite like you being single” and he said, “Right, so I can wait for you”. I was a bit tipsy :o) Strange thing: it turns out that we’ll both be in New York at the same time. He’s going to be in NYC for business in a couple weeks and it just so happens that it’s the same week that I’m there… can’t wait to hang out with him on my turf.

Today, B and I had lunch and he asked me what I did last night so I told him I hung out with Grapes… he was not happy. Particularly after I mentioned that we would be in New York at the same time. Ah well… I just learned that Mr. B and his “friendly neighbor” were hanging out again the night before. Not sure if I’ve mentioned her before, but this is the girl who lives across the hall from him. The one who was looking at me crooked the night B and I kissed for the first time; every time I spoke to him she would give me the evil stare and I assumed she was his girlfriend… turns out she’s just a very friendly neighbor. Anyway, she likes to stop by his place at 2am to ask for help moving a heavy piece of furniture or ask for aspirin. Who, pray tell, knocks on someone’s door at 2am to ask for casual favors? Needless to say, I don’t trust the bit*h. So maybe this was my way of kind of getting back at B (in a completely subconscious way, of course)… totally immature and stupid, I know…

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

OH.MY.GOODNESS.

I'm in the market for a new laptop and I was flirting with the idea of getting a Mac but decided, since I mainly need word-processing stuff, to just stick to a PC. Umm... have you guys seen the new MacBook Air?!? It fits inside an interoffice envelope! Apple is seriously out of control... but I'm SOLD!

http://www.apple.com/macbookair/#ad


Friday, January 11, 2008

Toni Morrison

I was walking down rue Oberkampf on my way to pick up donuts and ingredients for the romantic "welcome back/merry christmas/happy new year" dinner I was cooking for B the other night and suddenly I got that heart-swelling, content, intense, overwhelmed, grateful feeling... the one that just makes you stop and think: "I am so happy to be in this amazing city, in this exact moment, feeling this right now."

Then this morning, I'm lying in bed reading 'Jazz' by Toni Morrison and there are all these references to New York and I remembered the things that still take my breath away when I'm home: driving into the city over the Brooklyn Bridge, walking down East 7th Street at sunrise on a Sunday morning... These passages reminded me of my love affair with New York and I wanted to share a few:

"You have to understand what it's like, taking on a big city: I'm exposed to all sorts of ignorance and criminality. Still, this is the only life for me. I like the way the City makes people think they can do what they want and get away with it." (pg 8)

"They weren't there yet and already the City was speaking to them. They were dancing. And like a million others, chests pounding, tracks controlling their feet, they stared out the windows for the first sight of the City that danced with them, proving already how much it loved them. Like a million more they could hardly wait to get there and love it back." (pg 32)

"Like the others, they were country people, but how soon country people forget. When they fall in love with a city, it is forever, and it is like forever. As though there never was a time when they didn't love it. The minute they arrive at the train station or get off the ferry and glimpse the wide streets and the wasteful lamps lighting them, they know they are born for it. There, in a city, they are not so much new as themselves: their stronger, riskier selves." (pg 33)

And this was a nice little quote about love:

"I envy them their public love. I myself have only known it in secret, shared it in secret and longed, aw longed to show it-- to be able to say out loud what they have no need to say at all: That I have loved only you, surrendered my whole self reckless to you and nobody else. That I want you to love me back and show it to me. That I love the way you hold me, how close you let me be to you. I like your fingers on and on, lifting, turning. I have watched your face for a long time now, and missed your eyes when you went away from me. Talking to you and hearing you answer-- that's the kick." (pg 229)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mrs. Cruise

This post is totally random but I was just getting my celeb gossip fix on dlisted (my obsession) and came across some pics of TomKat... can I just say that I think that Katie Holmes is absolutely stunning? And she is working the fashion thing too... she must have gotten herself a damn good stylist because she was not that chic pre-Tom. And I LOVE Suri, she's the cutest. I think Katie may be my new favorite celebrity... she seems sweet. But why does everyone hate on the girl?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fashion Story

Finally submitted my first article to the magazine and here's the feedback I received from the editor:

"I love the article. This is definitely what I am looking for. This is the kind of article that will fit well."

The issue hits newsstands in April/May and will probably be online too, so I'll let you all know as soon as it comes out! Fun!

Friday, January 4, 2008

I [Heart] Tunisia

Let me begin by stating an interesting fact: Tunisia is blessed with 355 days of rain-free, cloudless, sunny skies a year. You know those 10 days during the ENTIRE YEAR that they get rain? I was there for 3 of them :o)

That being said, the trip was absolutely phenomenal! I never thought I’d have a chance to get to Africa so soon, it was thrilling just to be on the continent for the first time. And being a safe, peaceful, touristy-friendly country, apparently Tunisia is a good segway to the continent for Africa-virgins like myself.

My flight was at 10:30am on December 26th which put me into Tozeur around 1pm. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I was greeted with beautiful sunshine, 70 degree weather, bright blue skies and palm trees. Once through customs, I got into the 4x4 that would take me to the hotel. The hotel itself was pretty blah. It looked great on the outside, but the rooms had just the bare minimum, which was pretty shabby and cheap looking at that. But hey, you get what you pay for! I was just praying that I wouldn’t get “The London Rash” (Paula and I got eaten alive by bedbugs in our hotel in London last spring—let’s not talk about it).

Day 1: I spent the day wandering around Tozeur. The hotel was at the top of Avenue Touristique, the main strip lined with shops and restaurants. I walked to the end of town and back again which took about 2 hours since I was constantly stopped by someone trying to sell me something or propose marriage (those Tunisian men are no joke… I can’t count the number of times I heard: “Gazelle! Where you from? African?” and I respond: “No, American”, to get back: “Ooohh America! You married?” lol, insanity). Afterwards, I sat out on my balcony and read until it was time for dinner. The coolest part was walking home as the sun was setting, the sky a dozen shades of pink and hearing the prayer calls from the mosque nearby. Amazing…

Day 2: Went to a museum, then I walked to the shopping district and picked up a bunch of knickknacks. I bought two jellebas (where in hell am I going to wear those? The vendor told me they’d be chic for a summer night in Paris… yeah, sure), two ceramic decorated plates, a little wooden drum, and a stuffed camel that plays a popular Arabic song when you squeeze it. Obviously I spent way too much money, even with the haggling, but I figured they needed it more than I do. One guy was telling me that he hadn’t sold anything in over a week and would take whatever I would give him for a little bejeweled jewelry box… although this could all be part of their plan! lol, oh well. At 3pm I left for my first excursion. I was partnered with a French family… husband, wife and their three adorable kids ages 3, 7 and 9. We boarded our 4x4 and went to Nefta to see the old town medina. There was a group of kids playing in one of the courtyards and when we passed, they all stopped and waved with big grins on their faces. At one point we stopped for a moment and two 4-year-old Tunis boys ran over to where we were standing. They were chasing each other and trying to hide behind my legs. And every time I spoke to them in English they screamed with laughter and tried to repeat the word… it was the cutest thing. Then out of no where, I feel a tiny little hand slip into mine. I looked down and one of the little boys was smiling up at me… just standing there holding my hand and wouldn't let go until we left. It nearly melted my cold heart; I will never forget that little boy. Next we drove through the desert oasis to get to the dunes overlooking Algeria to watch the sunset… the vbiew was incredible but sadly it was cloudy that day so we didn’t get to see much of a sunset. We did get harassed by the little Berber kids (nomads who live in the desert) who were trying to hawk their cheap jewelry though. Next we went to the sites where they filmed the English Patient and Star Wars. While driving out there, we passed a massive white tent smack in the middle of the desert. There were lights flashing and music playing… it looked like a wild party mirage. Our guide told us it was the Prince of Serbia who was out there hunting birds for the week. Hmm, must be nice…



my tour guide/driver


Star Wars film location

Day 3: Full day trip stopping at significant points on along the way to Douz, gateway to the Sahara Desert. We left at 8am and this time I was paired with a French couple and it was only the 3 of us on this trip. Our first stop was Chott El Jerid, the famous Salt Lake. Basically it’s a massive lake that is completely dried by the heat, leaving just crystallized salt in its place; and when the sun shines on the surface it glitters like a sea of diamonds. The next few stops I couldn’t tell you where we were—everything was explained in French and no one could translate… I did climb some big rocks and hold a falcon. Eventually we ended up in the place I’d been so anxious to get to: THE SAHARA DESERT!! We were outfitted in a traditional getup to protect us from the wind/sand, chose our camels and were on our way. We rode about 20 mins into the desert, passing people on dirt bikes, quad bikes and other camel riders. At one point, we met a “desert cowboy” who took each of us horseback riding—I’ve never galloped on a horse before, let alone through the Sahara. It was the scariest and coolest thing I’ve ever done. Next we stopped by the 40km (24.85 miles) Camel Race which was part of the annual “Festival of the Oasis” event that was going on in Tunisia that week—pretty wild. After lunch and a couple more stops, we returned to the hotel around 6pm.


Chott El Jerid (the Salt Lake)



Camel Race

Day 4: Our flight departed at 4:50AM. IN THE MORNING! Who in their right mind decided to schedule a flight take off that early? For what purpose? Anyway, it was pretty funny because the organizer didn’t want to tell us when the flight was scheduled to leave until the very last second. For days I kept asking and he was just like, “Don’t worry, I’ll let you know soon. But you’re confirmed”. I guess he didn’t want to ruin the trip with the bad news until the end. Anyway, we got back to Paris around 8am (flight was delayed of course… what kind of delay you could have at 4 in the freakin’ morning is beyond me but hey)

One funny thing was the reaction that I got from the French women while I was there (about 90% of the people staying in my hotel were French). Now French women in general aren’t the warmest and friendly people on earth, but try being a single girl alone on a vacation where NO ONE else is alone. Talk about being given the cold shoulder—all those women were so suspicious, they seriously thought I had some kind of ulterior motive for being there! Meanwhile, the men were very nice, offering to have me join them and their family for breakfast or dinner; and if I ever did take them up on the offer, I was given the death stare the entire time by the woman. It was nuts! They totally thought I was some hooch out to steal their husband/boyfriend! Pretty funny.

But anyway, the trip was great. It’s interesting to see the lives of the people who live in the 3rd world—makes me think of how much the rest of us have. We have so many ways to amuse ourselves its pretty ridiculous. Meanwhile, in a country like Tunisia, teenagers literally spend their day riding up and down the dirt road on a slab of plywood on wheels pulled by a donkey. But it looks like they enjoy their life so who am I to judge. And on the other hand, you'll see the random guy with his faux hawk, converse sneakers-- looking as Western as anyone. Anyway, I feel so blessed to have been able to go there! And I can’t wait until I can go back to Africa—I’m dying to see Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya


*While I was in Tunisia, my copine Shelby was just getting back from a week-long vacay in another part of Africa—the Seychelles (an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa) with her boyfriend Nicco. She's a fellow expat like me—quit her NYC magazine gig to move to Florence for a few months and is just having a time of it down there. Anyway, I'm just too jealous for words and had to share the picture slideshow from her fabulous trip. Like does this place truly exist? It looks like something out of a postcard! I know where I'm honeymooning... check it out here

BANNED!

Can't believe I forgot to mention this... smoking is officially banned in Paris!! As of January 1st, no more smoking allowed in public places. How fantastic is that! I just remembered when I was having lunch at a cafe today and noticed a customer step outside to smoke. I was like, "hmm, that's strange... wait a minute, where's the thick cloud of smoke thats always wafting around in here?". And then I remembered that the law went into effect with the start of the New Year! A waiter actually mentioned it the other night! YES!!!

ps-- sorry to all you smokers who will have to stand outside in the cold now

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Year's Eve Celebrations... Paris-style

Had a really nice New Year's Eve... this year I decided I wasn't going to go too crazy about finding the perfect party, the perfect outfit, making it the perfect night. I just wanted to celebrate living in France and bring in the New Year with the people who have helped make this experience what it is so far. First stop was my copine Anne-Cecile's new apartment on Faubourg Saint-Antoine. She invited about 20 people to her place and we drank champagne, ate and danced from about 9pm till 12:30. I actually ended up meeting two girls in town on holiday who live in the East Village! So random... but we're meeting up when I go out there in a few weeks. From there, I went to meet with my Swedish gay boyfriend Carl... he was at a house party near my apt in the 11eme with a bunch of random French "industry people": filmmakers, stylists, singers, designers, etc. We hung out there chatting and playing Nintendo Wii till nearly 5am, then I limped home (sober, thank God) in my 4" platforms...

the fabulous Ms. Anne-Cecile

video