Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ladurée bar

Yesterday while walking to the Palais de l'Elysée to see if we could manage to spot Crystal's husband on duty, we came across these huge réligieuses in the window of a fancy bakery:And then it was off to the new Ladurée bar, which is located just next to the regular Ladurée store on the Champs-Elysée.
While I really liked the décor, I was not a fan of the service. The serveuse was first overly-pushy and in our faces, and then when we'd finally decided what to order, she completely ignored us. It took ages for Kendra & Crystal to get their (too weak) tea, and she messed up our order of macarons, giving us a vanilla one instead of coconut. (The others are black current & violet, dark chocolate and salted butter caramel). And then they overcharged Crystal for her tea, not looking the least bit sorry about it either.
The chairs, while esthetically cool, were too close together and hard to get out of - plus the shape of the bar made it hard to talk in a group. It curved in and out, meaning you always had your back to someone and couldn't really talk to more than one person at a time. Overall verdict - I'm glad I went once to check it out, but the extremely high prices (12€ for a kir) and the bad service will definitely not make that place a regular on my list of bars to hang out at.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Today marks four months that I've been in Paris. It's also Fab's 30th birthday. That makes me laugh because he's been freaking out about turning 30 for about two years now, so I'm picturing him waking up and feeling all depressed.

And in just a few days, it will be six months since we broke up. Which is crazy because sometimes it feels like ages ago and sometimes it feels like yesterday. At my lowest point, a friend told me that once I hit the six month mark, things would start to get better. I remember thinking at the time "My God, six months of feeling like this?? No thank you!" And I am so relieved that was not the case.

In other news, I have been enjoying the fabulous weather we've been having lately. The leaves are starting to turn and they make a lovely contrast with the bright blue sky. There's a high of 70°F today - it hasn't been that warm in ages! It has the makings for a perfect Sunday afternoon - walking around with a friend, and then meeting up with the girls for champagne & macarons at the Ladurée bar. Happy four months in Paris to me!

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

I love the internet. Besides being a lifesaver during my time in Bretagne and giving me some absolutely wonderful blogger friends, it is currently allowing me to listen to last night's presidential debate in its entirety. I'm about half-way through and am still not blown away by Obama - did anyone else notice he was stuttering a lot? I mean, I agree with most of what he has to say, but he just doesn't "speak" to me the way he seems to do to a lot of other people.

I also have to give a shout-out to RhumRhum mania last night - it was LOADS of fun. I haven't laughed that much in a long time. I am so lucky to have found such a great group of friends here. The only downside is that I have so much fun with you guys that it's constantly making me push back my goal for these next few months - ie. meet more French people and speak more French. Things would be different if I was sitting home alone all the time, but there's constantly someone doing something. Rhumrhums last night, "the dark knight" tonight, "mamma mia" & the new ladurée bar tomorrow - it just doesn't end! But who can complain about that?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Let's play "Spot the Blogger"

So I happy to announce that I am officially out of the funk that I've been in for the past week! I was over-whelmed by everything that had to be done and all the changes occurring and often felt like I was just barely keeping my head above the water. But the large majority of the craziness is now over and I will finally be able to get back into my old routine.

To celebrate the end of the insanity (and my last night in the chambre de bonne with the wonderful view), I invited an extraordinarily large number of people to my "Ever wondered how many people can fit in 15m2" party, and then prayed that they would not all show up at the same time. The fact that the RER B was on strike (yet again) kept some people away, others were out with the gastro (poor Antipo!) and yet others did just not show up (*ahem* fingers pointing to a certain FWAB). There ended up being 15 or 16 of us there, so roughly one person per square meter. It was a tight fit as you can see from the pictures, but a ton of fun. It was also a surprise for me to realize that most of the people I know in Paris didn't really know each other, so it was cool that everyone finally got to meet. So thanks to everyone who came, I had a great time!!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's missing from this picture?

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Monday, September 22, 2008

I have had a very busy past few days, running around being neurotic and trying to prepare things for my new (temporary) living situation. More to come on that later.

For now, I will just say thanks to the old and new friends I met up - the few hours we spent together offered me a small respite from the insanity that was this past week. So thanks to Sarah, Lauren, Anna & Kendra, Kyliemac, Aimee and Loulou. I'd also like to say major thanks to Leesa & her husband Alex for helping me transport a clic-clac across Paris - on a Sunday morning!!! It was very kind of them and I really appreciated it!

In other news, Saturday night we all got together to celebrate the wedding of Lisa and Georges. It was a wonderful night, filled with good friends and excellent food (thanks Georges!) and I wish them all the best for the future. For those of you not on Facebook, here's a compilation of our party fun:
And now back to the moving insanity....

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My 15 minutes of fame

So Monday night, I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in an interview that will (hopefully) be part of a documentary about Americans in France. The plan is for it to be aired the night after the elections, on one of the France télévision channels.

I was extremely nervous at first, especially once I found out the interview was going to be conducted in French, but I loosened up after a glass or two of wine. The funny thing is, knowing that the target audience is mainly francophone, I didn't really feel 100% free to state my views. I have often been accused of being too forward or direct (and rightly so), but after a few years in France, I've learned to sort of tame down or hold back my viewpoint depending on my audience. But many of you out there know how I get when I've got one too many glasses of wine in me, so I'm a bit nervous to see what they actually use.

There's also the slight problem of me not really remembering much about the actual filming so I'm wondering if I didn't have more to drink than I thought I did.....oops! I do seem to remember waving my arms around a bit manically while talking, which generally is a sign of me being either very excited or three sheets to the wind. Maybe Jen or Veronica can confirm or deny??

All things considered though, I don't think I was drunk during the actual interview, I think it was the bottle of wine the random Cordon Bleu student bought us at the end of the night that did me in. He bought it right before closing and I ended up drinking two glasses of wine way too fast. But I'm wondering now why they even let him buy it if they were planning on closing 5 minutes later? Either way, I did not need those last two glasses and I paid for it the next day.

So I am both looking forward to and not looking forward to see if our short interview made it into the documentary or if it was cut in the editing process. He had about 60 hours of film for 52 minutes of actual air time. I think he'll probably use at least some part of our group conversation because he said we were the only "youth opinion" he had, plus he was all excited about having Veronica be the token black person. Which to me spoke volumes about French culture, but whatever. Now there's only 50+ days to count down to see whether or not I made a fool out of myself (in French) on national television!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why I will never date a Monop livreur

The scene: A bourgeois apartment in the 5th. The two young children are sleeping soundly in their beds and their super-nounou is reading Le Figaro and waiting (im)patiently for the parents to come home. All of the sudden, she hears a knock at the door and thinks "Now who can that be?"

Monoprix Delivery Dude: Hi, I have a delivery for Mme X
Super-nounou: Okay, I'll take it
MDD: Do you have money for the payment?
SNN: Oh, it's not paid for? Nope, sorry, they didn't leave me anything.
MDD: Will they be back soon?
SNN: Hopefully in a half an hour.
MDD: )àç&"é'! It's my last delivery of the night and I just want to get home. I've been working since 10am.
SNN: Silence (Why is he racont-ing me his vie??)
MDD: Fine, I'll just wait for them to come back.
SNN: (waits for him to go back down to his truck so she can close the door)
MDD: (waits for SNN to invite him in)
SNN: (no way in hell is this guy coming in here, Mme X would kill me. or hell, maybe he might kill me)

*akward stand off ensues for a few minutes*

MDD: So....are you a student?
SNN: Nope.
MDD: So you watch the kids full-time then?
SNN: No, I also have another job.
(mindless small talk for about ten minutes and then comes THE question SNN had been desperately trying to avoid)
MDD: So...are you single?
SNN: (makes the fatal error of saying Yes)
MDD: What are you doing later on tonight?
SNN: Sorry, I've got plans.
MDD: And after?
SNN: Nah, I'm not interested.
MDD: Why not?
SNN: Cuz I just got out of a long term relationship and I'm not looking for anything serious right now.
MDD: But you do go out with guys?
SNN: I go on dates every once in a while, yeah.
MDD: But nothing serious?
SNN: No.
MDD: Why?
SNN: I told you, I'm happy with my life and I don't really feel the need to have a man right now. I'm taking care of myself, I don't have to cook or clean for anyone but me....(why I am even justifying myself to this guy?)
MDD: But what about your sex life?
SNN: ??????
MDD: You do sleep with the guys you go out with, right?
SNN: Umm.....no
MDD: What? When was the last time you had sex??
SNN: (Why do I keep answering his questions?? Why am I not telling him to fuck off and then slamming the door in his face?)
MDD: Non, you can't be serious? That's not healthy!!
SNN: I don't know, I'm feeling pretty fine.
MDD: No, I'm telling you, it's not good for your body. I could never do that. You should really remedy this (*leaning in*)
SNN: Uh.....thanks but no thanks.
MDD: Are you free tomorrow night? Maybe we could go out?
SNN: Um, nope, gotta watch the small childrens tomorrow night too. (picks up the phone and tries to call the mom for the millionth time - where on Earth is that woman??)
MDD: What about this weekend? It doesn't have to be a serious relationship, just sexual.
SNN: (DUDE - just give up!) Nope, busy this weekend too.

Enter Mme X, who comes running up the stairs and looks back and forth from MDD and SNN. "SNN, can you wait a sec while I run and get my checkbook?"

But SNN was already long gone.....

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

One of the things that was nice about being in Bretagne was being able to go to actual supermarkets. Since I was working 10-12 hr days, I often didn't have time to take a long lunch, so I'd run to the local supermarket to get a quick sandwich and some fruit.

My last day there, I was waiting in line and I noticed the kids in front of me pointing at something. I turned around and saw this:I couldn't decide if it was really sick or really funny, but it still made me laugh anyways. :)

PS. Sorry for the fuzzy image, like I said yesterday, I still haven't figured out how to use the focus on my new phone!!

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Home again, home again, jiggity jig jig

Is there anything better than waking up, throwing back the curtains and seeing this? Notice the blue sky and the lack of rain! You're not in Bretagne anymore ksam.
I got in late last night, and man, was it nice to sleep in my "own" bed. Btw, to update you guys, the mom is letting me stay here until the 24th (yay) in exchange for watching the childrens (boo).

It is so nice to be back in Paris. It's like a completely different planet. My trip to Bretagne is already starting to feel miles away. For those of you that don't know, over the past year, I've slowly been transitioning from my role of interpreter to being an actual full-time technician for The Company. It's very challenging, especially since I don't have an engineering background, but I seem to have a knack for it. So this time around, I visited 7 clients on my own, and I'm extremely happy with how it went. I really feel like I can offer them much better service than they've received in the past, and I think they're excited about it as well (well, as excited as a French person can be, lol).

As I was leaving Bretagne Thursday evening, I drove through a huge storm - I started thinking "Oh man, it's getting dark and I've got another couple hours to drive in this", when all of the sudden, I noticed this huge, absolutely beautiful, double rainbow in front of me. Arcing right over the "Welcome to the Pays de la Loire" sign. I swear I almost started crying - there was so much significance in that big, churning storm behind me (ie the past & leaving Bretagne) and the beautiful rainbow I was driving towards (ie the future).

Unfortunately I haven't yet figured out how to work my new phone yet - plus I was driving in torrential rain - so the pic doesn't even come close to capturing its full glory. But I'm telling ya, it was massive and covered the entire sky. And then yesterday, just a few minutes before arriving at the train station, the exact same thing happened. Another huge storm, followed by a massive, arcing rainbow in front of me. I haven't seen a rainbow in years, and here I see two in less than 24hrs. It's so cheesy, but I really can't help thinking it's like a sign that the worst is behind me and better things are up ahead.I don't know about you, but I'm crossing my fingers.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Alright, now on to the good stuff. I met up with the nice (ex)SIL the other night. She told me all kinds of interesting gossip, most of which made me feel even worse for Katell. How f**ked up is that? I'm feeling bad for the girl who stole my boyfriend. (Okay, well, to be fair, she didn't steal him - she just put herself out there and he took the offer. She was cheating on her own bf though).

Apparently though the night of their crémaillère/house-warming party, all the "kids" had a huge blow-up about me, and suprisingly enough, it was started by Fab's younger sister. No other than celle qui m'a envoyé chier after we broke up. And then his other sister and the nice SIL started in on him about how he was a huge coward, how what he did sucked and how he was moving too fast with this girl - apparently he even cried, and the SILs did too. Fab's stepbrother tried to distract poor Katell during this time, but obviously she could still hear what was going on. How's that for a "welcome to the home we're trying to build together" party?

On top of that, it's been about five months now and he is still saying "nous" and "on" in reference to me, even in front of Katell. He does it pretty much every time they have a family get-together. They all went to Brest this past Saturday to celebrate his older sister's birthday, and he did it again there, in front of the whole family. Katell elbowed him in the ribs and they all just kind of froze, not knowing what to do. Granted, I still talk a lot about Fab too when comparing experiences, but I don't have a new bf.

She also said his older sister & her husband don't like Katell, and are still pissed that Fab didn't tell them we'd broken up. They found out when they showed up for Fab's dad's retirement party over a month later, and saw Fab there with someone who was not me. Can you imagine? How awkward would that be?

It was really nice to see her again and to catch up on what's been going on with the family. For as crazy as they were, they were the only family I had in France. And is it bad that all of this makes me feel better? Like I haven't been forgotten? I mean, sept ans, ça s'oublient pas comme ça, right??

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Monday, September 8, 2008

What to say?

These past ten days have been full of so many ups & downs. I don't even want to know what my blood pressure is right now. The fact that I'm writing right now from V-town isn't helping either. I don't even know what to write. There are so many emotions turning around inside me that I just feel exhausted.

V-town is chez moi, and it's so odd to be back here. Walking around, it's almost like these past five months never happened and that nothing has changed. My stores are still there, my restaurants as well. I still run into people I know. I can still rattle off directions to tourists looking for X street or Y magasin. It's like this was all just a bad dream and I could walk right back to our apartment and see Fab waiting for me. (Note: this is not what I want, it's just how I feel).

But I guess I've always been like that - with the exception of this last trip, every time I've gone home, I've fallen back into the rhythm of things so easily and it's like France never existed. And now it's happening here as well. It doesn't make it any less painful to be here though. In Paris, it's easy to pretend that I've always been there, that my time in Bretagne didn't happen. But now that I'm here, it's pretty much right up in my face and I can't ignore it. My shoulders feel heavy and my mind clouded.

I'm doing such a bad job of describing this, aren't I? The one thing that's clear is that I cannot wait until Friday night when I can get out of here. I'm tired of my clients asking me why I don't live in V-town any more. I'm tired of trying to figure out what I think about the apartment scam. Speaking of which, I've been touch with the girl several times now - she tried to go porter plainte, but the police told her it was a civil affair (same as they told us). Today, she tried to go file a report at the Tribunal de Grands Instance, but they deemed that she had not been scammed, and told her that I had to do it instead. She believes that we are victims of the scam that Pauline referenced in her comment, and I'm starting to believe her. But for my mental health, I think I just need to let it go. I can't wait to get back to Paris and get my whole housing situation sorted out. I hate having all of this hanging over me. I want a home, I need stability.

Sigh. Can someone please bring back the carefree days of summer?

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

I couldn't make this up if I tried...

**Scam Update**

The other guy has basically given up since he thinks that, as a black man, that the police will pretty much tell him to go f**k off since we don't have any hard proof. He's also worried that she will turn around and porte plainte against him for defamation and he's had some past troubles so he wants to stay clean this time. So I asked him for the girl's number and decided to call her myself.

The first time, she was all defensive and acted like she had no idea what I was talking about (as if the dude hadn't ever called her) and that she had no way, under no circumstances, ever sublet her apartment to qui que ce soit. I told her I didn't want any histoires, I just wanted my money back and that was it. She said she would call me back later. She did, and then had this whole story set up about how she actually had sublet her apartment out to a guy during her vacances, and she thinks he's the one behind all of this. And how she's a victim too because he never paid her for the rent like he said he would, plus he turned around and scammed us. So the only solution is that all of us go porter plainte together at the police station. I asked why she hadn't said that the first time around, and she said it was because she was worried I was from the agence immobilière and she didn't want to get into more trouble since she already owes them so much money. I talked to the other guy about it afterwards, and he is still sure it's her and that she's just doing this so she appears innocent as well.

I keep going back and forth - there were times when I really believed that she had no clue what was going on. She really did seem upset at the idea that random people were walking around with keys to her apartment, and she kept asking me if her stuff was still there. And I mean, she was even ready to pay for me to come back to Paris this weekend so we could go to the cops together ASAP. And she's called me four or five times since to try to convince me to come back. But still, I keep coming back to the fact that she is in all this debt and yet still managed to go on vacation for two weeks. And that she wasn't honest with me right away about subletting her place. It just seems like every time one of us talks to her, she says she'll call us back, which makes it seem like she needs time to make up a story. So I don't know. She called again this morning and woke me up, but I told her I would call back later. Either way though, I'm stuck - I can't prove anything and if the other guy gives up, it's pretty much over....

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Yuri just sent this to me, and I thought it was too good not to share:

Some day my life will be made in film...

Alright, so things just keep getting stranger and stranger.

Given that the guy knew the apartment, building & area so well, we figured it had to be someone she knew. I did some searching online and ended up finding the girl on Facebook. I looked at her profile & her pictures, and I think it's possible that her boyfriend is the guy I gave my money to - except he had black hair in the pictures instead of bright orange. William and the other guy are less sure though. I also found out that they are currently on vacation in Portugal (a beach in Mexico wasn't a bad guess after all).

Meanwhile, the other dude found proof that she was several months behind in her rent so she was being evicted September 30 and that she also owed EDF a lot of money. *Light bulb* anyone? It seems highly probably that they've done this in order to try to cover her debts. So I spent Wednesday sleuthing around online and found a ton of information about her boyfriend. I found out the his real name, his brother & sister's name, I have his landline and know that he lives in the 13ème and that he's a student at the Conservatoire Libre du Cinéma Français. I also found out his parents' name, address & phone number. Thank you Internets. The other dude found her mom's address (but unfortunately not her phone number).

Unfortunately though, I'm less convinced today than I was yesterday that we will get our money back. The other dude called her last night and said she freaked out and acted like she didn't know what was going on - but I reminded him "Look how calm the guy that stole our money was - there are some good actors out there. Maybe she was panicky because she knows she's been found out". Plus, she changed her facebook status to "F*** sirote des bons cocktails en étant recherchée par la police" (F*** is sipping tasty cocktails while being hunted for by the police). Does that sound like someone who's innocent to you? To me, it sounds like elle se fout de notre gueule!!

The problem is, if they were really in Portugal last Tuesday, we can't prove anything. vAnother hypothesis I have though is that it was the boyfriend that I had on the phone while I signed the lease and it was a friend of theirs actually at the apartment. That person had her keys & put them back in the mailbox before leaving, so it has to be someone they know. If it was a thief, they would've just kept the keys. But how to prove it?

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Just call me Dick Tracy

Ok, I have a major update regarding the apartment scam, but I'm going to wait to post about it until I see how things play out this afternoon/evening.

Let me just say though that the gardienne is definitely NOT in on it - she's about 60 years old and is just the remplaçante for the regular one (who's on vacation). The building is absolutely huge and she's completely clueless about pretty much everything and everyone there.

Secondly, sublets are apparently illegal in France, which is why I have no legal rights and why I cannot file a report. However, the other guy and I have been playing detective and we now *think* we know who the guy is and how to contact him. Hence the "waiting to see how things play out this afternoon" bit.......Sorry to keep you in suspense, but I promise there will be a good post coming tomorrow!!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

J'ai pas le moral, je suis fatigué(e)....

People have been asking about my new place. I don't know how to say this, so I'm just going to come right out with it - the apartment I thought I had was a scam and my 1500€ are gone. Long gone. As in probably buying some con-artist Frenchie drinks in Mexico. En gros, this guy pretended to be the renter of the apartment and rented it out (separately) to both myself and a Parisian, giving us both a full set of keys. I believed him because I signed a contract, got a receipt for the deposit & the first month's rent, a copy of his passport, a copy of his EDF bill and three different phone numbers for him. But I first became suspicious when I went over there last Friday and saw that none of his stuff had been moved out. I immediately called him (and the other two numbers provided) but all of the phones were off. I also emailed but didn't get any response. I became more and more worried as the weekend went on and decided not to move in Sunday as planned. I came back Monday and found someone else's stuff there, but no one home. And then I went back last night and knocked and it turns out the guy had also signed & received the exact same paperwork as I had and had just moved in Sunday. We went to the police to file a report, but they unfortunately laughed in our faces, saying it was our own fault for not going through an agency. Now we are going about it on our own, trying to find who the real owner/renter of the apartment is, and if they're aware that someone else is going around giving away keys to their place. I guess you can never be too careful.

So that's that. I've freaked out enough over this these past few days (which unfortunately involved several nights of heavy drinking and one shameful night at poor Princesse Ecossaise's house) and now I am sort of over it. Yes, it sucks, but I can't do anything about it and I need to dedicate the little energy I have left to finding a new apartment, and finding one urgently. The problem is, I'm leaving tomorrow on a business trip and won't get back til mid-September. So I'm missing two weeks of apartment hunting in the prime housing season in Paris, which leaves me feeling a little more than depressed, not to mention desperate. There's nothing I can do about it while I'm gone though, so I'm just going to try to put it aside for now and focus on my trip. But please, for the love of God, if you know of an available rental or even an apartment share, please send it my way!

The one bright spot in my week was scoring a free ticket to a private Tryo concert sponsored by FNAC, promoting their new album. They are one of my favorite French bands, and my knowledge of them goes way back to when I first met Fabrice. It was the only CD he brought to the US, so we listened to it pretty much constantly for two years. I knew the words without even knowing what I was saying. There are still certain songs that are difficult for me to listen to (ie. the ones that were "our" songs), but that wasn't enough to stop me from seeing them in concert as it's something I've always wanted to do. And it was a nice respite from all the stress of the past few days, if only for a short while. So here's a brief clip I took of them, before a big security guard came over and told me there was no filming allowed:

video

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I've been seeing signs around Paris for the past few weeks now, advertising the reopening of the Collège des Bernardins. It's a 13th century building that's been completely restored. There will be an open house on September 5, 6 & 7 from 11h-18h. I will unfortunately be out of town then, but hopefully some one else will go check it out and take pictures! The pope will also be giving a short speech there on September 12 as part of his visit to Paris.