Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Friday, February 27, 2009

Seen on my way to work today

An old shack that managed to withstand last month's storm:A not-your-average church:
A bull-fighting arena:
And, a couple baby goats. Because who doesn't love those??


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Absolutely hiLARious......

at least when you're in a champagne+jacuzzi-induced happy place.

I saw this on someone else's blog the other day and just about died laughing. You type '"your name + needs" into Google and then you post whatever comes up.

So let's see what I need. In order of appearance (though I did leave out all the "needs" that referenced Uncle Sam and/or any small animals named Samantha, lol), we have:

Samantha needs to take a leak pretty bad apparently. Actually not too far from the truth.

Samantha needs to look at her own style before making judgments on others. Not this Samantha anyways - I can barely dress myself, let alone judge other people's clothing choices....

Samantha needs just a little getting used to. A vérifier, but probably not too far from the truth....

Samantha needs frequent transfusions.... OF RHUMRHUMS!!! yes please.

Samantha needs a good home. More true than the person who wrote this could ever know. Though I have a feeling that the Samantha they are referring to just may be a dog.

Samantha needs sex to make her life tick. *AHEM* No comment, there are parents reading this blog.

Samantha needs help. Umm??? With what exactly??

Samantha needs a coffee, if you are going to Starbucks now. (Rhino75, this one's for you). But actually I'm more of a Chai Tea Latte kind of girl. But hey, beggars can't be choosers, right?

Samantha needs to study up on the language. Which one? French or Finnish? (Or maybe both...)

Samantha needs to leave Lindsay and MARRY ME. Hmm, maybe swinging the other way would solve my problems....the rhumrhums bartender does seem to have a thing for me....and that would solve my rhumrhum transfusion problem....

Samantha needs a shower. Considering that I probably smell like duck poo after today's customer visit, this is probably not too far from the truth. (Hopefully rhumrhum girl does not mind eau de duck poo).

Samantha needs 3 turns or 66 more slayer points in order to reach the next level. I don't really know what this is referring to, but I'm putting it in for Ms. Kyliemac because of the slayer reference AND because the url had the word "zombie" in it.

Samantha needs healing vibes!!! Yes. Yes I do. I would really like to go skiing this weekend, and definitely could use healing vibes for my back. Send them my way. ALL OF THEM. This means you. Yes, you reading this right now. Go on, what are you waiting for??

Samantha needs some pixie thoughts. Not really sure what this is, but if they go along with the healing vibes, I'm all for it.

Last but not least: Samantha needs to get some rest now. This one hits the nail on the head - going from working 2 hour days to 14hr days takes some getting used to.

And on that note, bonne nuit !


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Carnaval, Paris-style

I braved the cold on Sunday to head out near Père Lachaise cemetary to watch the Carnival Parade.

As usual, click to enlarge the pictures:And my very favorite character from the entire parade - some people crack me up!


Monday, February 23, 2009

Too bad to be true?

For the French speakers out there, check out this article on This seriously cannot be true, il y a trop de choses qui ne collent pas dans son histoire....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The joke's on me

I had to laugh last night after seeing "He's just not that into you" (or "Ce que pensent les hommes" in French). It was like watching the past 10 months of my life, all wrapped up into one tiny chick flick package. First, you've got the couple who's been together for 7 years but who are still not married. And then there's the unsuspecting wife who gets cheated on & subsequently left for a younger woman. And then there's the girl who deals with the guy who uses social networking sites to pick up chicks. And last but not least, there's the single girl surrounded by all her married friends. Welcome to my life.

I guess I should at least be glad I didn't identify with the character (played by the same actor who plays Margine in "Big Love") who kept sitting by the phone waiting for every guy she met to call her. That's not really my style - though I guess on the other hand, I haven't really met any guys that I liked enough to sit around waiting for them to call.

I don't know - while I've never read the book, I do sort of subscribe to the "He's just not that into you" philosophy. I mean, there's a lot of truth in it - if a guy really likes you, he's going to make an effort to call you, to see you, etc. An interested man isn't going to be nonchalant or unavailable or constantly making excuses. But so why do we as women continue to make excuses for them? Why do we tell our friends crap like "He's just scared of commitment" or "He's intimidated by your intelligence"? It's just makes things that much harder on them. Figuratively speaking, if he's not trying to sleep with you, he's just NOT THAT INTO YOU. And it sucks if you're into someone who's not into you, but all you can do is stop wasting your time and try to find someone who is.

Sounds so easy on paper, right?

Or not.

I recently listened to "This American Life's" V-day podcast and it was rather depressing listening to physicists talk about how low the actual probability is of actually finding The One. Or even thinking about the idea that there is only ONE person out there for us. But check out Episode 374 if you've got a spare hour:

Somewhere Out There: Of all the 6 and a half billion people in the world, what are the odds that any two people are a real match? Stories from people who know they’ve beat the odds, and the lengths they’ve gone to do it—including an American professor who sings Chinese opera for anyone who'll listen, to get one step closer to his mate, and two kids who travel halfway around the country to find each other and become best friends.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Wednesday night, I went out with Kendra and her co-workers in order to celebrate her upcoming birthday. We met up at the office of one of her co-worker's husbands (got that??) and sat around drinking pricey champagne & watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle. Not a bad start to the night. Then we were off to another bar for a quick drink before our reservations at Addis Abeba, an Ethiopian restaurant in the 9th.
I'd never had Ethiopian food before, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. There weren't many options on the menu, and we pretty much had a choice between the meat (17euros) or vegetarian plate (15 euros). After about half an hour, they brought out these huge family-style serving platters. This one was for four of us, and took up the whole table: But the best part was, there's no silverware involved! You get a plate full of these spongy crepes, and then you just tear a piece off:
and then use it to scoop up the food:It was a really fun experience and I'd definitely recommend trying it at least once. Though once you added in the wine & everything else, it was a bit too pricey for me to make it a regular on my list.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

I just wanted to report back and say that I went to a NORMAL osteopathe yesterday. I was extremely surprised, the only thing I had to take off was my watch & my glasses. The funny thing is, I almost would've preferred to disrobe - the clothes I was wearing weren't exactly conducive to being twisted into bendy shapes!

He was cute in a yuppie, born-in-the-5ème kind of way and he was nice & funny. But sorry ladies, he's taken - he's married to a psychiatrist and is expecting his first child in May. During our hour-long session, he did some chiropractic moves and he also used homeopathy & acupuncture, so he was pretty progressive for a male French doctor.

I'm not feeling 100% better, but he did say it would take 2-3 days for my body to heal after the adjustments. I can say that I do feel better than I did at this time yesterday, so I'm somewhat hopeful.

Either way, if anyone ever needs to see a chiropractor, I would definitely recommend him. And just an FYI, we spoke in French, but he worked in England for a bit so he also speaks decent English.

PS. Sorry Dawn, I didn't end up seeing your lady - I called her on Tuesday & she couldn't get me in until Friday, plus she was pretty gruff on the phone!!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A pretzel is a pretzel is a pretzel.

Except when you're in France and it's called a "Bretzel". Those crazy French, always having to be different. Yesterday afternoon, I headed over to La Défense (the business district) in order to meet up with Crystal at the mall out there. And what a mall it was - it was huge and very American, with a great food court. I will definitely be going back there.

But the reason of our visit was this : Bretzel Love. It's a new pretzel chain that opened in early January, and they offer (duh) American-style pretzels. I had a bit of trouble finding it at first, and my attempts at asking at the information desk were met with complete and utter disdain. "But Madame, this does not exist! Look at the map! There is no "Bretzel" anywhere on the list!" Luckily I am now skilled in dealing with your standard unhelpful French woman (I wonder if I could put that on my CV....), and I was finally able to convince her to look on a newer list, and oh! what do ya know! there it was. I was bestowed with a "Second floor" and a hand gesture that seemed to indicate it was somewhere off to the left, so off I went. Though it did make me wonder about all the signage in the mall, and how they deal with all the stores that come and go...

On to Bretzel Love. It was indeed a very American-looking pretzel stand:
The guy wasn't too happy with me taking pictures, so sorry about the glare. The sweet flavors: pretzel stick, sugar, cinnamon & praline.And the savory: pretzel hotdog, plain, salted, parmesan & onion:I had a cinnamon pretzel with caramel sauce, and to be honest, I was kind of disappointed. The pretzel was a bit tough & dry, though maybe they're made that way on purpose to cater to the French market. The caramel sauce was also very French, ie runny & slightly burnt tasting (think the caramel that's in the flan au caramel you buy at the supermarket), and not rich & creamy like I was expecting. I've heard good things about their pretzels though & Crystal said that the previous one she'd had had been a lot better, so I think I'll give them a second chance.

And I had to laugh when Crystal pointed out the table next to us. You can't really see because of the glare, but the little sticker on the table is of a person in a wheelchair, indicating it's the handicapped table. But what exactly makes it handicapped? It was exactly the same as all the other tables in the eating area....Anyways, check it out if you're ever in the area. Next on my list is a parmesan pretzel with pizza sauce!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Question for the universe

Why is it that the less you have to do, the less you get done?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Today marks my first ever Valentine's Day spent single since I started dating.

I'm not really sure how I feel about that.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Back to the drawing board

I'm so frustrated right now. I went to look at an apartment for rent Tuesday night, which meant I had to cancel my date with Crystal. (Btw, I'm still really sorry about that dear!!). Unfortunately it was all for nothing too - there were at least 20 people in line in front of me and another 20 or so people in line behind me (with more arriving as a I left), meaning I, the little old foreigner, had little to no chance of getting the place. It wasn't perfect, but it was a decent apartment at a good price and the location was okay too - about 10 minutes walk from where I live now.

But even though I have a CDI (permanent job contract), am gone half the month for work (equals no partying) and make a lot more than your average French person, the competition is such that pretty much no one will take me because I don't have anyone in France to act as my guarantor. No one** wants to rent to some random foreigner when there are stacks of Frenchies with parents willing to sign their life away in order to get their (adult) child an apartment, no matter how much you make. It's just so frustrating - I explained my story to her, and offered her to give her the contact info for previous landlords as references, but she wasn't having any of it. All she cared about was renting to someone who had a stupid garant in France. I understand that law is on the tenant's side and that it's really hard to evict a non-paying locataire (especially during the winter months), but I think a lot of owners are taking it way too far. Sigh. Things are so much easier when you're in a relationship with a Frenchie and have French in-laws who can sign for you.

Which is why I decided to put this out there on the internets with the hope that someone out there may hear/know of something. It doesn't really matter to me if I live alone or in a colocation, but what is important is the location. I would much rather stay where I live now than live in the suburbs or on the outskirts of Paris. For my mental health, I need to be in a place that's active & transport-friendly, with easy & fast access to the city center (& the train stations). So if anybody hears of anything in the next few months, please pass it on my way.

I guess the good thing is that for the moment, I'm not desperate - worst case scenario I stay here and continuing being able to save tons of money on rent. But on the other hand, it'd be nice to have a place bigger than a size of a walk-in closet. One that has a real bathroom and a place for guests to stay and that I wouldn't be ashamed to show to my family. Y'all know what I'm saying.... though actually, if you've never lived in Paris, you probably don't! *S*

**I should clarify here that there are landlords out there willing to rent to foreigners - they just charge prices that are even higher than normal!! Or their apartments are in sketchy neighborhoods, lol.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I did not leave the house at all Monday. I'd planned on it - I'd wanted to check out the last of the soldes and then head over to Aimee's café to say hello. But Metéo France's dire predictions of rain and gale-force winds kept me inside. I was only slightly bitter that night when I realized that their forecasts were several hours off and the wind didn't really pick up until around midnight.

So I thought to myself "Well, that's okay, you can go out Tuesday instead." Unfortunately what I did not know was that there was a huge student protest scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. I ran into my building's concierge in the hallway, and he told me it was expected to be a violent one. They'd removed all the cars from the streets and some of the small stores had even decided to close up shop for the afternoon. I still had plans to go out and profite of the last day of the soldes, but my plans were foiled again when I got downstairs. The were hoards of policemen on the streets and they weren't letting anyone in or out of the residential buildings. So back upstairs I went, to watch all the fuss from my window:The whole thing seemed rather peaceful to me - but then again, I guess it's better to err on the side of caution, you know how these things can turn on a dime. Just look at Leesa's experience with a much smaller student manif that took place a week ago. It seemed fine to me as they went by my place but it had practically turned into a riot just a few blocks later.

Here's a short video I took - you'll notice at the end of the video that the crowd goes up the street as far as the eye can see (grr, Blogger wouldn't upload the video, so I had to upload it to YouTube instead and lost some of the image quality in the process):

And I'm not really sure what the point of this thing is, but I had to laugh at the dude carrying the Breton flag. You'll always see a few of them at any manif, no matter what the protest is about.This is one of the biggest protests I've seen in front of my place though - the people just kept coming and coming, for a good solid two hours.The whole thing was followed up by a bunch of police vans:and then of course bringing up the rear were the street cleaners. They do a good job, ten minutes after it ended, you'd have never known a massive protest had just taken place.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In case anyone is wondering how they can help our Aussie friends, Katia suggested donating to the Australian Red Cross, which you can do here. My heart goes out to all the people that have lost their homes, and even worse, family members in the fires.

And the animals, the poor animals.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Sunshine & fresh air can always do you wonders, and it was with that in mind that I headed out to the Marais with Jasmin. I'm a little bit ashamed to admit that it's an area I've never explored - it's so close! It's just across the river! It's everybody's favorite quartier! But what can I say, I'm a rive gauche kinda girl. But Jasmin can be a pretty convincing girl, so we decided to head over there for falafels and then walk around a bit. I don't know what it is about falafels, but I can never finish one and I always feel sick after eating them. In fact, I still feel full this morning. Which is a bummer because I have an absolutely enormous bagel from this shop, sitting on my counter & just begging to be eaten:It just may need to become a bagel, egg & cheese sandwich for lunch.

I was surprised at how many shops were open on a Sunday - over where I live, all the shops are shut. We wandered around, looking at the last of the sales, and I found this lovely hat, spikes and all. It's just too bad I didn't find that before Miss Leyla's wedding.... lolAnd then I put on my boxing gloves and beat the crap out of a punching bag. Okay, well, I didn't really - I just pretended, must to the horror of my fellow French shoppers. Or maybe that should be Ka-sam? Okay, okay, bad joke. But it made me laugh, and when I saw the resulting picture, I immediately thought of Fab and one of his favorite song:

Because really, what's funnier than a white-ass French farmer trying to sing American rap?

Cuz you don't really wanna f*ck with me....


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I had all these big plans when I moved to Paris, thinking I would explore a different quartier each week. Instead, I have basically just made my life in the 5th, going anywhere within walking distance of my apartment. So Saturday, when Yuri was in town after coming back from a fabulous trip to India, I asked if she wanted to go walk around near Opéra. It's an area I go to at least once a week, but that I've never explored - I basically just do an aller-retour between the movie theater & the metro stop.

So we took advantage of the sun and just mosied around. And I was once again reminded of why I love Paris. You can be walking along, and then you turn a corner and you have a view like this: I was like "Whoa, what the heck is Sacré Coeur doing there??" And thus my commitment to continue (ie. start) exploring Paris was renewed.....but maybe when the weather is a bit nicer.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I dare you not to laugh

Dear Mr Branson,

REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008

I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit. Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at the hands of your corporation.

Look at this Richard. Just look at it:

I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?

You don't get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it's next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That's got to be the clue hasn't it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in:
I know it looks like a baaji but it's in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you'll be fascinated to hear that it wasn't custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It's only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.

Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what's on offer.

I'll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it's Christmas morning and you're sat their with your final present to open. It's a big one, and you know what it is. It's that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about. Only you open the present and it's not in there. It's your hamster Richard. It's your hamster in the box and it's not breathing. That's how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this:

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking it's more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It's mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird. Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.

By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it's baffling presentation:
It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn't want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above. I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.

Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on:

I apologise for the quality of the photo, it's just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson's face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel:

Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I'd had enough. I was the hungriest I'd been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen.

My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations:

Yes! It's another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff. Richard.... What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I'd done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.

So that was that Richard. I didn't eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can't imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.

As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It's just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it's knees and begging for sustenance.

Yours Sincererly...


Monday, February 2, 2009

Le nouvel an chinois

Yesterday, the lovely Juliet and I headed over to the Place d'Italie to check out the Chinese New Year Parade. Colors & costumes abounded. (click on the image for a larger view)