Thursday, November 30, 2006

diet plans

You guys, seriously, stress is the best diet ever. Ok, second best diet. Mono is hands down The Best Diet. But stress is doing what no amount of exercise and 0% yogurt could do for me. The weight is falling off. I'm asking for belts for Christmas this year.

*editted: Yeah, both those diets are great but ever since yesterday I have been looking for the link to this site in French about a diet that is not only supposed to make you lose weight, but its supposed to make you lose weight in your waist, butt, and thighs while gaining inches in your chest. Like magic. It was developed apparently by a Dr Alain Delabos and some morpho-nutritionnistes who analysed loads of data to discover this unique and amazing regime. Its called Mincir sur Mesure. I don't mean to sound snide, but I do have my doubts about things like this. I'll still probably give it a try some day. As proud as I am of losing these last few kilos that I have been working at for months, it would be lovely if I still fit into one or two of my bras. I read about this on a web forum where there were a dozen women claiming that it worked miracles. We'll see. Maybe I'll do it with my blog, and keep track of all my measurements for your fun and entertainment.

Or maybe this is just going to be my sneaky way of explaining away my miraculous increase in bust size someday without admitting to a boob job...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hair cuts

Ella has been having a fit every time that we try to brush her hair- and in all fairness, it was so long and curly it was impossible to avoid getting knots in it. So after talking about it with B, I took her to the hairdressers this afternoon and we cut off all her curls.

She looks awful.

I think my mom is going to kill me when she sees what we've done.

I also got my hair trimmed this afternoon, but it was actually a huge improvement because instead of having weird little Ming (who cut it last time because I was so desperate) I got my regular stylist, Guy. It looks way better then it did after the original cut because Guy is fantastic and spent about 15 minutes just re-styling the fringe. But its always a bit awkward with him because he doesn't just cut my hair, he sort of molests my head. You know how sometimes it just feels weird when someone is shaking your hand, like maybe they hold on a little too long? or their hands are a bit too sweaty? Well, thats what it is like when he is cutting my hair. First of all he puts his face about 4 inches from mine (so I feel him breathing on me) and is constantly readjusting the tilt of my head by putting his hands all over my face and then slowly slowly brushing the little cut bits off my face. I feel like my intimacy is less invaded by my bikini waxer. So I keep cheating on him with other hairdressers. Every time its the same thing - no one is as good as Guy. And then I come crawling back, begging him to forgive my infidelity.

But I just know- if I ever tell him that B and I broke up, he would totally pounce on me. Figures I would have the only heterosexual male hairdresser in the free world.


I've already mentioned once or twice that Ella had my personality, which is not an entirely positive thing. I've got a bit of a temper and I'm impatient and I tend to shout a bit when I need to blow off some steam. Once its done, I feel fine and am over whatever made me mad in the first place. But then I have to deal with the fallout... This past weekend due to lack of sleep and stress (although that is no excuse) I got irritated with a friend, which quickly turned into anger, which resulted in me saying a few things I really shouldn't have. Now I am feeling horrible about it and trying to apologize. Maybe I took the cowards way out by sending an email, but sometimes when someone is so mad that you know that don't want to speak to you, its the only way. Now I am waiting for a reply. And waiting and waiting. The worst part is that I don't know if the message has been read and I'm being ignored or they've just not seen it yet. And I behaved so badly that I don't think I have the right to start harrassing them with phone calls and other messages. I feel like the waiting is part of the punishment that I deserved. Can you tell I went to Catholic school when I was little?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tete d'Ella

I almost forgot to mention that on Friday, we went and picked up the plaster bust of Ella. It changed a bit from what I saw the day that I was over at the studio with Rosy after we talked about a few things that I wanted to change and I think that I am pretty happy with this. One of the biggest changes was that she made the face more "smiley". You can't tell so much from this angle, but it did really alter things. To be honest, I probably preferred it when she was more serious, even though she looks much sweeter this way. My favorite part is still the pigtails- they are like little wings coming off the side of her head. The plaster is much rougher there as well, which I prefer. The hair is overall not as rough as I wanted but Rosy felt like it wasn't right, considering how blond Ella is. I didn't argue because I think its important to see this as a work of art by an artist and not just a "photo" of Ella. I think that giving Rosy my opinion once was enough and the rest needs to be her vision of the piece. Now we just wait for the bronze to be cast. She said that it will probably be sent down to the foundry today and we should have it at the beginning of January. Now we just have to decide what we are going to do with the plaster- we are thinking about giving both the sculptures away. One to each of our parents. For now, we don't actually need them, I suppose, since we have the actual baby in our house, and I think that maybe the grandparents would enjoy having a bust. On the other hand, I think that it might be a little bit presumptuous. I know that they all love Ella, but maybe not enough to have her disembodied head on a shelf in their house?

And here is a quick photo of the ring that B gave me last night. Its obviously not the first choice ring but it is pretty. Thank goodness he didn't buy the two that I looked at. I tried to take the photo of it actually on my finger but I couldn't quite manage to focus the camera using only my left hand so you can't tell how big it is on my finger. Its not very small, but I wanted a really dramatically big ring. I suppose this is better because it won't go out of fashion so quickly. What a shame to have a beautiful expensive ring just lying in its box because it looks old-fashioned. Its weird though having a ring on my right hand. I am having a hard time typing today because of it.

Its such a gray day today. Really miserable out and I think it must be having too much of an effect on my mood because I just am feeling really upset about all the little things that have been going wrong lately. A little bit overwhelmed by the list of things that I want to get done before leaving for the States. And so you can imagine the state I was in after the concierge, Maria, came up to talk to me this afternoon. Ella had left some toys down at her house the other day when she was babysitting and so she brought them up to me and then she asked if I had something that I wanted to talk about with her. I knew exactly what she meant- we hadn't spoken to her yet about our apartment being up for sale. Do you know she got all teary and said that she would be so so sad to see us leave but understood that maybe we wanted a garden for Ella, etc. I felt horrible. In fact, I had said to B last week that I was upset about the idea of leaving because of Maria and I really didn't want to be the one to tell her about us moving. He said that I was being silly, but look. I was right. I told her that it wasn't sure that we were going and that we hadn't started looking yet so she shouldn't worry.

Maybe its just the idea of the move thats making me feel a bit sensitive about everything. They say a move is one of the most stressful events in your life. Just because the actual physical move is not happening quite yet is no reason for the stress to hold off. I just have to try and fit in some time to really relax and take care of myself before flying home to the States. I need an afternoon at the spa I think, if only I can fit it in with all the stupid apartment visits. Maybe I can also get in a Bikram Yoga class before I go. That always makes me feel so drained that I don't have any energy left for worrying. Its like my mom's doctor was saying to her (regarding her high blood pressure) - if you don't have the time to take care of yourself, that in itself is a stressful lifestyle. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 27, 2006

Weekend recap

Last night, I was in bed at 10:30 and after reading for about 5 minutes, I turned out the light. I haven't been to sleep that early probably since Ella was an infant and I was in a constant state of sleep deprivation. And not only did I manage to go to sleep early, but Ella took pity on us and didn't wake up until almost 9 this morning. That means that I managed to get 10 hours of sleep (that last half hour was one of those rare moments when B and I managed to both be in bed at the same time without Ella bothering us, with neither of us needing a few more minutes of sleep. Half an hour isn't very long, but definitely long enough to get the week off to a good start...) Finally, FINALLY, I feel well-rested.

This past weekend was just too much. We had people over Thursday, Friday, a houseguest all weekend, people over on Saturday night. I didn't get home until 3:30 am on Saturday but had to get up at 9:30 to start making food for the people we had invited over for brunch. Then we went to the jewelery show and had people over for dinner. And once everyone was gone? We had to clean the house because we had people coming to visit the apartment at 10 am the next morning.

I had to really squeeze alot into a very short weekend, but in the end, it was so great to see my best friend from uni that it was worth every bit of exhaustion. She is so much fun and really inspiring because she just lives her life at 100 miles per hour every day. While it does make me a bit jealous to think that with a few different decisions on my part, I might be living her life right now, I mostly feel incredibly proud of her. Anyways, I think that a bit of jealousy is a good thing. It motivates me to do things and make that extra bit of effort- exactly what I need right now while I am sort of letting the whole job search float along aimlessly. I don't actually think that I would ever have succeeded the way she has or will ever, for that matter, even given the most perfect circumstances. Besides being incredibly intelligent, she is just one of those people that is so driven that she stands out from the ordinary. I feel lucky knowing her. And I hate that its been a year and half since I last saw her. I am promising myself right now, in January after we get back from Christmas holidays, I am booking a ticket to NYC to go and visit her and hang out for a few days, just us girls- no babies or husbands hanging around. Its an effort to keep in touch with old friends, but whenever I get the chance to see old school friends like L, I'm reminded that it is absolutely worth the effort.

And the jewelry show was great as well. I found a ring I loved by Brigitte Ermel but I don't see it on her website. It had an 11 carat round pale pink stone (from Brazil but some weird name that I have never heard of) and it was set in pink gold, with little diamonds in a circular design all around the band. But it was really expensive for what it was and B was not totally won over. I did try on the Polymnia ring which you can see on the site, with a 13 carat fushia tourmaline surrounded by pink sapphires in yellow gold but it was slightly out of our budget at 11,000 euros (and just to clarify- by that, I mean it was WAY out of our budget). Figures that it was the one that I absolutely adored. In the end, I found a ring at a different stand with a cabuchon stone set in brushed yellow gold (will post a photo when B brings it home). I couldn't decided between the aquamarine and the dark green tourmaline so B negotiated with the man to buy both of them. Obviously, that is so ridiculously generous that I just said thank you, but also,I do think that it is a bit silly. They are big rings, I could only wear one at a time so what on earth will I do with two? Since we didn't have any money with us, B is going back this morning to buy them, but as he was leaving the house, I did say that maybe he should just choose one and then I can go and find a pair of earrings somewhere else. Then, I was thinking even more about it, and I really loved the Brigitte Ermel ring with the pale pink stone. Its so girly. And its really smooth and heavy, the lines of the ring are just what I like. I actually dreamed about it last night. So when he popped home a few minutes ago to pick up some papers that he forgot, I told him that maybe I would rather he didn't buy me any jewelry this year and next year I could get the more expensive ring? He said no, he's buying one right now. So thats that. I'm sure he's not going to bring home the one I really really like. But the second choice is pretty as well so I have nothing to be disappointed about. Its just that I prefer to wait to have the perfect thing rather than something less than perfect right now. Only, its a present so I don't really feel like I should say much either way.

Days where the biggest dilemma is choosing which piece of jewelry to buy are my favorite. If only they came up more often. And the icing on the cake? All this frantic effort to keep the house clean, entertain endless streams of guests, and go out all night has resulted in a totally unexpected weight loss. I was actually terrified of stepping on the scale today because I've had so many big, rich dinners lately and have had no time for yoga. I figured that I was going to see a scary big number. Instead, I've lost about 3 pounds over the last week. This is the turning into the best day ever.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Apartment for sale

living room
Originally uploaded by nicole_gt.
As I've said, we've been showing the apartment since Wednesday. Its been a bit irritating because we have had some people come by and just waste our time. Plus, its such a pain to get up early (for me) and dress and straighten the house when there is 99% chance that it is all for nothing. But today, there were two visits and both of them were really serious.
The first visit at 10 am - which I nearly had B cancel because I was so tired after the dinner party last night- was with a woman in her 40's who has children in school and currently lives in the 15th. She did a very thorough visit, even asked to see the cave and the garage. She had passed by the building the day before to check out the neighborhood and the exterior of the building. Then 15 minutes after she left, she called back and made an appointment for this afternoon for her husband to visit. Of course, if the husband doesn't like it, it won't go any further. But, if he likes it, I think that they will make an offer straight away.
At 11, there was a visit with a woman, probably the same age as me, and she stayed for 45 minutes. Her boyfriend actually is in Shanghai right now, but they are currently living in the Marais. She took lots of photos to send him plus, I sent her the photos that I have so that she could see things a bit better. She loved the decor and kept wandering around the apartment, asking where I bought this table or that lamp. It actually seemed like she didn't want to leave. I actually would like to sell the apartment to both of these people- they seem really nice and I think that all the neighbors would like them. And when people admire your house, it feels like you would be leaving it in good hands.
So, it seems like we are getting closer to selling much faster than I expected. I'm completely freaking out now. I love this apartment. Its so pretty! And I'm leaving for 4 weeks of vacation- what will happen if we sign the papers to sell before I go? I will come back in January and have to find somewhere for us to move to plus pack up this entire apartment. And it is going to take months for B to agree to buy something new.
I'm just feel a little bit afraid that we will never find anything as nice as this. I can't tell B- moving was all my idea. Now that he smells the money, he'll never change his mind anyways. I better just get used to the idea...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Roland Mouret Dress

Finally today Ella woke up from her nap at a decent hour and we were able to go out for a walk. I ran over to the Gap on rue de Rivoli and saw that they had changed the windows, the Roland Mouret dresses weren't there any more. I quick went to the women's floor and was looking everywhere to see if there were even a few left but I couldn't see anything but crappy wool sweaters and scarves. Finally, way in the corner, there was 1 rack of dresses, and even luckier, they had everything in a Small/Petite. The dress that I had my eye on, the red jersey with balloon sleeves that is in the photo, was gone but I tried it on in black. They had a navy blue one- the "Jessie"- that I decided to try as well. The blue dress also had the balloon sleeves, a scoop neck and a wide stitched border. The fabric wasn't as flimsy as the black dress and it looked so much better on. It was a 119 euro (compared to something like 69 euro for the black dress), which was a bit more than I wanted to spend but totally reasonable considering what a classic looking dress it is. And its quite sexy because when its belted, it gives a really beautiful shape and its definitely a mini skirt on me. Probably would be great with navy blue leggings. Maybe I'll have a look for those when I get back to the States. For now, its just the thing for dinner on Sat night, with the blue Miu Miu shoes and a big gold medallion necklace. I'll need to dig out my really big gold hoop earrings. As soon as the batteries charge for my camera, I'll post a photo. Posted by Picasa


Its the easy way out, but today I am going to make a list of what I am thankful for. I think its a good idea anyways because too often I am struck by the fact that I am incredibly spoiled by all the wonderful things I have in my life and still spend enormous amounts of time complaining. I should probably spend one day every week writing about all the things I have to be thankful for.

1. I have a wonderful, generous, patient, loyal husband- who is an amazing handyman, which I never would have put on my list of "Must Haves" for Prince Charming, but in retrospect, its one of his best qualities (I'll call it "usefulness")

2. For a healthy child, relatively speaking I suppose. She probably isn't the nicest kid you'll meet, or the prettiest, or the smartest, or the one that sleeps/eats the best, or is the most obedient, etc etc but then I don't know that I really care. As long as she is healthy, I am thankful and happy for her.

3. Even though I moan about how bored I am spending my days at home and I long for a real grown-up job where I get to spend my days thinking Important Thoughts and talking about them with Adults, I am thankful that I have been able to spend all of Ella's babyhood with her. I can just enjoy these lazy days with her at home and in the park, going back to the US whenever I feel like it for long holidays with my family. And on top of it, I don't have to worry about the money we don't have since I am not working. That is probably the best thing. Not appreciating all this is stupid and it definitely makes me a spoiled brat. Promise to remind myself every morning how lucky I am.

4. I'm thankful for having such a big family that is so close. My sisters and brother and parents, all my cousins and aunts and uncles, my grandparents- every time I go home I feel so smothered in love, everyone stopping by the house to say hello and wondering how long we'll be able to stay and if we want to come for dinner or go out or if we need anything. I feel like no matter what happens to me, whatever bad thing I have to deal with, I don't have to be scared because I have this huge safety net. I see it like a spider web, stretched across une grande vide springing back whenever something heavy falls on it. I think thats always been the reason I've felt fearless and ready to take up any crazy opportunity that fell into my lap. The one real regret that I have about my life is that I live so far from home.

5. I am thankful that I was brought up to appreciate the things that I have. Where I grew up, most people were very very poor and I think that its so important to see that you don't need very many things to live; you don't need a lot more than that to be happy; and the most important things have nothing to do with money.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ella's latest milestones

Home sick
Originally uploaded by nicole_gt.
Originally, I started this blog so that I would be a bit better about keeping track of Ella's milestones. In fact, I'm still not that great at it. I keep thinking of things I should write about and then by the time I sit down, I can't remember for the life of me what it was.

This afternoon, I decided to keep her home from garderie again. But look at that sick little face- I had to put her to bed. (This is actually a photo from before she got the eye infection, trust me, she's not a pretty sight). I really need to get out and do a few errands (have decided that I need to run into Gap and see if they still have any of the Roland Mouret dresses left. I would love the red one with balloon sleeves for this weekend) but she fell sound asleep and I can't bear to wake her up. Its probably the more "neighborly" thing to do as well- they say that conjuctivitis is incredibly contagious and rather than start an epidemic at the garderie and hope that all the other parents don't decide to stone me, I'll just keep her with me. For one more day.

So, milestones. I think we have talked enough about the First Eye Infection Milestone. More noteworthy is the fact that she has started saying "Please." It actually sounds more like "Peee?" but a good start. I have to be totally honest and admit that the only words that she says absolutely clearly are "Maman" and "Daddy". She will repeat after me really well when she's in the mood and sometimes I can figure out what she is trying to say when I listen to her jabbering, but it seems that we have gone backwards a few steps in the language development. I'm not worried, because she is bilingual (and clearly understands us in both languages) and these kids tend to take longer to start talking. Still. I'm so jealous when I hear other children her age talking so much more. I suppose its a bit of the Competitive Mommy in me but also, I just want to know what she is thinking. I'm dying to talk to Ella and start listening to her funny baby logic and little baby monologues. Soon enough. I'm sure that when we are in the States and she is surrounded by English she will improve like she did this past summer.

She is a total monkey and loves any sort of physical challenge. Her favorite way to watch tv is with her arms propped up behind her back on the sofa and her toes on the coffee table, making a bridge. She adores hanging from the bars on the jungle gym and can out hang most kids twice her age, she must have the strongest little grip of any 20 month old in town. She did jump out of her crib once but hasn't tried that again so I think she scared herself pretty good. She does yoga with me in the morning and has mastered the Sun Salutation. But she only does it if I am already in the pose, so I can't get a photo! It is so cute it kills me.

Her favorite toys are her crayons, her blocks, and the musical instruments. She likes to drag stuff on electrical cords around (I have bought her rolling toys but its not the same. Extension cords are a million times more interesting). She colors like a star, and will do circles and lines but not too much coloring in. She has colored on nearly every wall in this house- thank god for those fantastic Vanish sponges. When she writes on a wall, she quickly comes to get me and pulls me over to the spot, then points to it and says, very gravely while wagging her finger, "Noooo." So, she gets it, but she doesn't quite get it.

Which brings us to her behaviour. She is generally lots of fun, a bit rowdy and noisy, very interested in her games, and she doesn't fight with other kids over toys. Whenever I ask at day care if she has been aggressive with the other kids, they insist that she is perfect. I only ask because I see that when a bigger kid tries to take something off her, she jumps right into the fight. But so far, she's all defense. She has got a pretty rotten temper though (this is where the similarities between us are the most obvious), but we have been pretty liberal with the Time-outs and I can see the benefits. Now, if she throws a toy and starts yelling, all I have to do is ask if she needs a Time-out and she calms right down. When she does go into Time-out, she might yell for the entire minute, but when I go to ask her if she is ready to come out, she always smiles and gives me a kiss and it is over.

That is actually a huge milestone for us- she will finally give hugs and kisses on demand. We tried and tried to get her to do it before and it was very much on her terms. She was never a really cuddly baby, she wouldn't really fall asleep in my arms or in bed with us. She always wanted to be facing outwards when we held her, more interested in the world going by then in either of her parents. This is a fantastic stage because she is still enough of a baby to carry around in our arms but its fantastic the way she will run up to us and throw herself into our arms when we get home. Unadulterated love. Its why you become a parent, isn't it? And I have a feeling that it doesn't last forever...

She will hardly eat these days. She loves a bottle of milk morning and night. She will eat a yogurt in the am and sometimes in the evening if I hit on just the right thing, she will eat a good meal. I've totally given up on lunch. The other night, she loved the vegetable potage with rice that I gave her but the night after, she wouldn't touch it. Broccoli and fish was great one night but I had to force it down the second time it was offered. Generally, gnocchi, peas, and hotdogs are great, but it really depends on her mood. She's not exactly picky, since she's eaten nearly all the different things I have tried to give her, but she acts like she is just not hungry most of the time. Of course, she still refuses to eat potatoes in any form (although she did eat a few fries the other day.) She doesn't like cookies or cake which is something to happy about. On the other hand, she adores chocolate- not so much that we can bribe her to do something but almost.

She likes to pick out her own clothes and will sometimes throw a fit if I try to insist that she wear something particular. She loves Dora anything. She likes to ride the metro and always picks out someone in the crowd to wave to and smile at. She loves to go into my dressing and try on all my necklaces. When we put her to bed at night, we lay her down, close the door, and give her a tetine and a stuffed animal and she goes to sleep like an angel.

And then we miss her so much that we sneak in and watch her sleeping, pointing out to each other how sweet she looks, with her curls stuck to her forehead and her little chubby hands clutching her puppy and her fat little legs thrown over the covers. Its probably at those times that we love her most. I don't know if its because we can finally relax and forget all the responsibility that goes along with a baby - she's not moving, she can't hurt herself, she doesn't need anything. Or maybe its because she is still and we can finally really look at what we've got. Doesn't matter why I suppose. There are probably too many reasons why all that love just suddenly balloons up inside your chest and squeezes everything else to the side. But what a perfect way to end the day.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


There is an apartment across the street- its about 20 meters away so actually there is a good distance between the buildings- and I admit that I occasionally leave the curtains open just so I can watch what everyone is up to. Of course, they are looking right back, and I should have learned my lesson because I have been caught in compromising situations once or twice (that is another post...) but it was all worth it for what happened tonight.

There is a family with several kids and they are sort of trashy. I cannot imagine what they are doing with a massive apartment right on the Seine. A trailer park seems much more their style. I don't know, maybe they are really classy up close. Anyways, I am intrigued.

The room on the very end of the apartment, so the one closest to my living room window is the oldest son's room. I would guess that he is about 15 or 16. So when we first moved here, he must have been about 12. He would stand in front of his full length mirror and do karate moves all evening. It was so funny. He'd pose...and pose... and then- BOOM! Karate Chop! I would go and sit with the lights out in the guest room so I could watch and giggle (also, we didn't have cable when we first moved in, if that helps explain things.)

But, you know, he's been growing up and doing less karate and I peak over, but nothing interesting has been going on. But then, one night, I thought I saw a girl putting her shirt back on. But he has a sister or two. And he's only like 15, so I didn't think too much of it. Then the other day, there was some noise on the street so I looked out the window and again, I saw a half-naked girl pulling her clothes on. This time I knew that my little boy was growing up!

So tonight, again, I see him and the girl in his room. Fully-dressed, but then, it was quite early in the evening. I was sitting on the sofa and noticed lights being switched on in the kitchen of their apartment (which is like 3 windows, this is an awesome flat) and in the living room, in the front of the apartment. All of a sudden I notice a flurry of activity in the boy's room- clothes being thrown on, pulled off lamp shades, hair being smoothed down, school books being yanked out. Hilarious! That kid was totally going to get busted for having a girl in his room!

I hate to leave you hanging, but I don't know what happened next. I can't completely see into his room, and its winter so I can't hear them yelling (if yelling is what ensued). I do think he's a bit young for this. I mean, it was only yesterday he was playing Bruce Lee in his little tighty-whities. And now he's stuffing a girl in his closet?

Sunrise, sunset.

Another busy week

I was just sitting here looking through my agenda and it is going to be another busy week. I am getting exhausted just thinking about it.
I should be getting ready to go to a conference this afternoon about Women CEO's but I was just on the phone with B and it sounds like he is not going to make it home in time for the hand-off. Irritating. Its partly because he is busy at work and partly because he doesn't want to get into it with his brother. Working with family can be nice and flexible but also hugely constraining and today is one of the bad days. Its not that I ABSOLUTELY had to go to this conference, I mainly wanted to use it as a networking opportunity and since my cards were messed up once again by the printer, its was probably going to be fairly unsuccessful in that sense. I just would really like to dress in clean clothes and leave the house to talk intelligently with adults after 4 days of Hell with Ella.
She has been very good for how sick she probably was. She will sit down and take all her medicine without a fuss, even the 2 nose sprays. Well, with the exception of the eye drops which she hates. I honestly have to sit on her and pin her arms down with my knees otherwise there is no way to get the stuff anywhere near her face. I hate it. She does stop crying immediately afterwards so I suspect it is not so much that it hurts but that she hates getting water in her eyes.
The cleaning lady cancelled AGAIN. I have told her that I will keep her on til the end of the month, so give her a bit of notice, and we would talk about what would happen after that. Obviously she figures she is fired and isn't bothering with coming any more. I haven't paid her for the days she did come, so if she never comes back, atleast I won't have to pay for that. And since I am gone most of December for holidays in the States I won't have to worry about paying her for my vacation time. What a disaster she turned out to be! And since she works for a friend of mine as well, the friend has been sending me mails apologizing for the cleaning lady and saying that it must be a misunderstanding, etc etc. This is the 4th time she has cancelled since the 20th of October. I understand that she is completely unreliable, but other than that, I understand nothing.
So naturally, our ad went up on the Internet today and B is being deluged with calls to make an appointment to visit. I will have to try and keep the house fairly spotless, which is a real chore with Ella developing inventive new ways to make messes everytime I leave the room. Today I gave her some apple slices (because she specifically pointed to the apple and said please) and while I was cleaning up the peel in the kitchen, she took a slice in each hand and started rubbing them on the furniture. Why? I have no idea. After I shouted, she gave them to me and then ate the rest. Did those two pieces maybe smell like lemon Pledge? She gave me a very long explanation but since we still don't understand a word she says, it will have to remain a mystery.
I got an email from an old school friend saying that some friends of his from Wisconsin were going to be in town this week and maybe I could meet up with them? I immediately said yes and shot off an email but actually its going to be tough to figure something out since I don't have much time. I feel really flakey backing out when I agree to stuff like this, but it takes up so much time to try and meet people who don't know their way around the city. On the bright side, they are just on rue Rosiers, so atleast its not too far.
I have visits to the apartment every morning this week,which is good, I know. I just have very little hope about it actually resulting in a sale. Lets be honest- this is France and everything takes 10 times as long as it ought to. But it could happen. Of course, then I would be frantic about leaving for a month and not being able to visit apartments for us to move in to. Basically, if we sell quickly, it kind of sucks, and if we sell after months of visits, it sucks. I'm starting to sound a bit cranky. I must need a nap.
OK- I'll focus on the positive stuff. I have my best friend from uni coming to visit this weekend. We are going to have a fantastic time even if she is only here about 24 hours. Must remember to reserve dinner somewhere fun on Saturday night for all of us. Maybe Cab? Haven't been there in ages. Maybe ManRay? They have a new chef since last time I was there. I'll need to check on which club nights there are on Saturday. Don't want it to be like last time I was at Manray, Asian Student Night. Somehow, I wasn't spotting the man of my dreams in the crowd...
I have some other friends coming to Paris on Sunday to have brunch at the house and in the afternoon will be going to the jewelery show at the Bourse de Commerce. I went last year (with no money, how stupid.) and it was so much fun. I found dozens of things to lust after but sadly could not convince my dear husband to come along so actually buy something. Then he spent the next 4 weeks moaning about how difficult it was to find me a present. This year I am going with my checkbook and if I love something, I am bringing it home and telling him to wrap it up nice and put it under the tree. He'll cry at first, but he'll thank me later.
I am supposed to meet my Apec job search advisor tomorrow but I may cancel because I haven't done a single thing all month and seems like such a waste to go all the way to the 14th just to say that. Besides, I would love to have the time to go to the spa for a facial. I need my bangs trimmed and I would like to get my legs waxed.
And of course, Thursday is Thanksgiving. I know, I promised B that I wouldn't do a huge dinner party, but that doesn't mean I can't do something a bit special just for us (and maybe maybe one or two friends...). I saw a suggestion to cook a coquelet in place of a turkey for a small Thanksgiving dinner on some website and that has inspired me. Besides, I have cranberries in the freezer, cornbread mix (for stuffing) and canned pumpkin- how could I ignore Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pink eye

So not only was Ella up at 7 am the night after the party, which nearly killed me as I was desperately in need of a sleep in, but she was in a foul mood. Turns out that she was not just trying to torture me but in fact had come down with conjunctivitis, just when I thought I had managed to cure her cold. On Saturday, we stayed in the house and tried to sleep off our respective ills, but by Sunday morning, I knew that we would have to see a doctor. Ella woke up with her eyes glued shut with yellow crusties and screamed the house down when I tried to wash her up. We had SOS Medicine around and you can see that it must be Very Serious because he prescribed 10 different medicines. Honestly, I will never cease to be amazed at the amount of stuff that French doctors prescribe for even the most benign things. I mean, Ella looks disgusting and is clearly in a bad mood over it all, but I am sure that there are cancer patients with an easier drug routine. On the Internet, people were saying that simply washing out the eyes with contact solution containing boric acid would cure things. It definitely was helping Ella, but the doctor that was here nearly called Child Services when I told him what I had done. Even with the Doctor Approved Eye Drops, it takes about 3 people to hold her down for the application (and since we are only 2, the drops seem to be going just about everywhere but in her eyes.) Worst part? She can't go to daycare while she has this so I have her home with me all day to day. Pray for a speedy recovery, please. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 19, 2006

wine tasting dinner

wine tasting dinner
Originally uploaded by nicole_gt.

So everything went really well. Was super organized all day long. Even had time to go and get my hair blown out*. B was off first thing in the morning to IKEA and came home with a table and another 12 wine glasses. We didn't actually need more glasses, per se, but I thought it would look nicer on the small table to have two different sizes of glasses. Also, they were so squished together no one would have been able to keep track of their glasses if there wasn't atleast two different sizes. Now our bar is absolutely bursting at the seams. I have 23 small IKEA wine glasses, 12 large IKEA glasses, 6 martini glasses, 11 amber colored wine glasses, 8 old-fashioned glasses, and 6 shot glasses- plus the 36 crystal wedding wine glasses that are in the buffet in the dining room. After this last party I was almost ready to say that maybe I should scale back my entertaining until we have a bigger place, but actually, I should do a bit more, considering I must have enough glassware for a party of 100. On the other hand, I needed to run the dishwasher 3 times on Saturday and it took me ages to wash and dry all the crystal by hand (but I am not complaining. There is a certain zen pleasure I take in washing the crystal and seeing it all lined up back in the cupboard- sparkling and perfect.)

The food part of the dinner went perfectly, although I was a bit panicked when I started cooking the lamb and realized that the massive pack of meat I bought was full of weird, useless cuts that I couldn't use. I ran to the grocery store and bought another pack of meat, but I think I should have probably taken two extra. EVERYTHING was eaten, which I I take as a bad sign. My favorite thing turned out to be the white beans, which were so amazingly good. Actually, there were beans left, but not very much. I had them for both lunch and dinner today, on toast with a poached egg and a bit of parmesan. I think I could live on that for the rest of my life. And it wasn't very difficult to make, as the beans were canned, only I used homemade chicken stock in the broth and that makes such a huge difference in the taste so I won't be able to make them very often. Also, the sauce for the lamb was gorgeous but I don't think that very many people tried it, as the meat wasn't very moist and didn't really need a sauce. It was all very garlicky as well, which shouldn't have surprised me (I did spend probably an hour altogether peeling dozens of garlic cloves...) but it did taste very... peasanty? Robust? Whats a nice way to say that no one was attacked by a vampire that night on their way home?

I think I was a bit too preoccupied by the organization and didn't actually get to chat enough because I had to ask B if he thought everyone had fun or if it was too dull. He said it was a silly question because everyone got on really well together and talked and talked. Of course, most people knew each other vaguely but there were no awkward pauses in conversation, empty silences. He's completely right, I was just being a bit paranoid about having seated people wrongly (of course, as soon as everyone had their place I realized exactly who should be next to who, even though I spent the whole of Thursday night switching cards around). In fact, if there was one thing that I would complain about its that the conversation was so lively that the sommelier couldn't really talk much. He came over to chat with me and said that rather than give speeches, he would just go around the table since he didn't want to interrupt things. He was right, it would have been a bit of an atmosphere-killer to start a long discours on wine in the middle of things, but the next day, I felt oddly disappointed considering how perfectly it all went and I think it was because we didn't really learn anything about the wines he brought. The only reason I have even a vague idea about what we drank is because he left the open bottles for me. Its my fault, because he asked several times how exactly I wanted to do things and I didn't have a very good idea. I said that I am sure he could do it very well on his own, since he has done so many dinners. Next time (shhh- don't tell B that there is going to be a next time, he's hardly recovered from Friday) I'll try and sort it out so that we actually take some time to talk about each wine individually. Maybe everyone else will hate that- I get freakishly academic and detail obsessed at the most inconvenient times- but I think it would then justify the title of Wine Dinner. Friday night was really just A Dinner with Wine Picked Out by Someone Who Knows. He also kept all our glasses full, and in retrospect, how handy. That might have been worth the money, in and of itself.

By the way, Olivier, the sommelier, was adorable and couldn't do enough to make things go smoothly. He was in the kitchen helping before dinner, cleaning up before I had chance (when it was actually me throwing things on the floor in a last minute organizing panic), and checking in all night to make sure that I was happy with how it was going. I just really think he is such a nice guy and I'm mad that I wasn't v. selfish and had him seated next to me all night. Again, must note that down somewhere for the next time we do this...

The final great thing about the dinner, IMO, was the flower arrangements. I went to that florist on rue St Antoine, Comme Ca, whom I LOVE and found these fantastic branches of berries. They always have exactly the thing and I don't know why I am so lazy and waste my money at Monceau Fleur every week. Of course, my first choice was actually branches of orchids that were lime green spotted black, with very spidery flowers on long branches. They were still in the packing boxes, not yet priced, and I had to change my mind when they said it was 30 euro a branch. Plus, they weren't at all what I had in mind. (I guess that I could have just changed all the table clothes for something white. Oooo- with black silk runners. How gorgeous would that have been? Not very "autumn-y", but v elegant). But these berries where just thing. Austere, seasonal, perfect with the table linen, plus they were only 10 euros all together for 2 tables and I can keep them in a vase for the next week or so while I have house guests.
So, all in all, a great party. No one was swinging from the chandelier, no one was ridiculously drunk, we were in bed by 2 and woke up tired but no hangovers, which makes me feel like it was all a bit too grown-up and boring. I'm such a malcontent. It all went perfectly, I was showered in compliments, and I was actually functional the next day. What more could I possibly want?

* When will I learn my lesson and stop telling them "with a bit of volume"? Every single time, it seems that I come home with my head covered in ringlets. Friday night I spent a frantic 10 minutes in the bathroom with some Frizz Ease and a flat brush trying to calm my White Girl Afro. In all fairness, my hair does curl very easily, but I don't think that "volume" means "Shirley Temple curls" in french. And then, when they spin me towards the mirror, they ALWAYS say "Regardez! C'est Nicole Kidman!" (Look! Its Nicole Kidman!) I hate Nicole Kidman. Is it any wonder I don't leave a tip?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I know I said that this party was no big deal...

But I'm getting a bit stressed out about it. I am exhausted, partly due to the cold that I am catching (thanks to Ella and all the other little snot monsters at day care incubating god knows what kind of supergerms) and partly due to the fact that all my finely laid plans are getting messed up this week. I have nearly every minute scheduled so when something goes wrong there is a domino effect.
I don't even want to get into it, but suffice it to say, I have to fire YET ANOTHER cleaning lady. What is this curse that I have brought on myself? Why do they all act like its not a real job and they can just show up whenever they feel like? Christ, I cleaned hotel rooms for money when I was younger, I know its a real job and I thought that I conveyed that whenever I hired someone new. I kind of don't want to fire this one because she cleans really well and is fantastic with Ella. But she has cancelled three times in 4 weeks, and every time it was absolute chaos here as I had something going on and absolutely needed the house clean. So, here's hoping that 2007 will be the year when I finally find the cleaning lady of my dreams. Thats all I want for Christmas. (PS B, if you're reading this, I am lying. I want jewelry please. The very sparkly kind.)
What else? I will post a photo soon of the "scarf" I am working on. It really is a mess, but it is such a mess that it is actually starting to look quite kicky. My sister and I have this theory that the key to looking cool is that one thing has got to be ugly/weird. All the rest can be pretty and impeccable, but one item has got to kind of throw you for a loop and then you look good. So when this scarf is finished it might be just the thing- my Go To Scarf. This is probably just a burst of optimism. Its more likely to end up lining some cat's bed, I suppose. Still, I live with teh hope that I am not doing all this for nought.
So yeah, this dinner* is going to be for 17 finally. That is pretty ambitious. I still think that its going to go fine, and really I think that 8 people for dinner is just too boring unless everyone is really really fun. With 17 people, there will definitely be a good atmosphere. The food is sorted. Have bought all the appetizers from Picard (thank god that Picard is a socially acceptable- and yummy- alternative to cooking it yourself). All the guests are bringing things so that takes care of cheese and dessert. Have borrowed chairs. Have borrowed extra soup spoons. Have bought the flowers (actually branches of berries that look so fantastic on the table. I really love how it looks). The chicken and veal stocks are cooking right now so I can throw the food in the oven to braise tomorrow afternoon and have it all stewing away while I do last minute things. I still have to go to IKEA tomorrow to buy a second table because I really can't fit everyone on the first table. Need to do place cards. Need to pick up one or two things at the shop. Can't think of anything else.
Its good writing things down- reading that back, I realize that I have hardly anything to do tomorrow. Well, that is if the damn cleaning lady shows up.
Will definitely try and remember to take some photos to post. Think I should take advantage of Ella's drug-induced nap (her cold medicine puts her out for hours. Must make a note of that for emergency situations...) and try and sneak in a nap myself. Right now the only thing that could really mess things up is if I get violently sick overnight. But I'm not even going to consider the possiblity. I am stuffing myself with Vitamin C and chicken soup until I turn orange and start clucking. See you on the other side.

* Actually, someone made the comment to me that maybe? now that there are more than 15 people coming? its no longer a dinner but more like a banquet. I kind of like that. A banquet. Like at the Elk's Club. We should all wear matching hats, I'm kind of partial to a red fez. It is a wine dinner. Surely by the end of the evening we'll be drunk enough to have invented a secret handshake and an oath of loyalty to the Grand Poobah. Definitely check in on Saturday for a party recap. I'm starting to think this is gonna be fun.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday lunch with my mother-in-law

On Friday, B asked what I thought about inviting his mom over for lunch one Sunday since we hadn't seen her in ages. I kind of agreed that, yes, it would be nice to see her but I was really busy and it was actually quite a lot of work for me to organize a lunch so it would have to be when I had some free time, but its true that since Ella and I were leaving for the US at the beginning of December we would have to do it now or put it off til January... Bon, bref, I tried to say no without saying no. He heard "Absolutely, why not this Sunday?" And so, Saturday morning before he walked out the door for work, he left some cash on the table and said it was for groceries, he called his mom and she could come to lunch on Sunday. And she said that she would be happy just to eat eggs because she was just coming to see Ella and I shouldn't make a fuss. Right. I'm old enough to know that when your mother-in-law says don't make a fuss over me, it means 4-courses and the good china.

I would have liked to have been able to shout a bit but its true that I didn't say "no" so I put the cash in my purse and kept my mouth shut. I won't lie to you and say that I didn't think about using the money to go back to the Maria Luisa sale. I did. But I really do have too many shoes. I don't have enough love to go around to all of them. They are like little abused foster kids, being shoved, unloved, into my cupboard, only allowed out in the daylight once a month.

As evidenced by the stack of dishes in our sink- this is after the dishwasher was already loaded up once- I managed a dinner nice enough to get a compliment out of her. Wild Mushroom Soup. Roast Pork with Prunes, Shallots, and Chanterelles. Endive Salad with Pear. Raspberry Tart (from the shop. since real French ladies don't bake cake I knew that I could give it a miss as well). It all went really nicely actually, although I did get slightly irritated with B this morning.

I was in the bath*- natch- and of course, Ella insisted on coming in with me so it ended up taking ages before we were both clean, dry and dressed. When I came out of the bath at 11:15 (B had invited his mother for noon and she is always right on time, no retard de politesse de 15 minutes) I expected that he would be dressed and the living room would be straighted up and he would be ready to go to the market for the last minute things. Instead, he was lounging in his robe, eating what I imagine was his 7th yogurt of the morning, watching Top Gear Extra, not a care in the world. Considering that it was his mother that was coming to dinner, I don't think I was out of line telling him to get his lazy ass off the goddamn sofa and into some pants ASAP, punctuated by a few slammed cupboard doors. But honestly, it was his mother. I hate when he does shit like that and I have to start nagging him to do his "chores"- as if I'm his mother.

Maybe to make up for that, or maybe just because he really is a fantastic husband 95% of the time, he cleaned up all the mess once she had gone and is even in the kitchen right now (at 10:45pm) scrubbing those pots that were sitting in the sink. He is totally forgiven- but now I feel like I owe him. God, scrubbing pots at 11 at night? He's a saint!

* As I was laying in the bath this morning, and no doubt linked to the fact that I had all sorts of cooking stuff going through my head in order to organize my morning, I started thinking about how one time I heard someone say that they didn't like baths because its like sitting in dirt soup. And its just stuck in my head. Probably every other time I take a bath I ask myself if it isn't maybe totally disgusting to be laying there IN DIRT SOUP, rather than totally relaxing and decadent. Dirt Soup. Thats so gross. Posted by Picasa

Martini Moms

I was just reading this article in the Sunday Times about the shocking idea of mothers organizing cocktail playdates. Apparently, some people think that it is irresponsible to drink in front of children and therefore psychologists and developement specialists warning that "mothers are in danger of becoming alcoholics and their children are at risk from drunken driving on the way home." Frankly, I'll take the risk.
Since Elizabeth has fled Paris for sunnier climes, its true that my afternoon drinking has diminished considerably, but I could not survive until B gets home in the evening if I didn't allow myself a glass of wine while watching Ella in her bath. By 7 o'clock, I have had it with her, even if she has been in a good mood and I just need to relax. It never even occured to me that it might be a bad idea to let her see me drink. The argument is that she will begin to think that the only way that one can relax is with alcohol and therefore as she gets older she will search out alcohol in order to relax and then she will become an alcoholic and die a horrible death. Again, I guess I'll take the risk.
I don't feel like I need to adapt any more of my life to my child's. There is a point where the child needs to learn that they are not the center of the universe, other people exist, and that she will need to adapt to them and learn a bit of empathy. I might have had a child but I haven't had a personality tranplant. My child has to fit into my life, and my life involves a glass of wine on a very regular basis. Seriously, if there had been a law stating that once you had a child, you couldn't drink, I would have been much better about remembering the Pill.
Anyone interested in launching the Paris branch of Martini Mommies can contact me via email.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I (heart) patxi

Those red heels have already paid for themselves. Last night I wore them out to dinner and guess who kept looking over his shoulder at me all night long? Yes, Patxi, the one and only. Star Ac candidate extraordinaire. Clearly, the red heels don't even have to be seen to amp up your sex appeal. They just have to be in the room and minor reality tv celebrities are throwing themselves at my feet. Well, I just want to promise everyone right now that I will only use my superpowers for good, and not evil.
Although, posting that link to a site that you cannot get out of is actually quite evil.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Georgina Goodman python heels

Thanks to La Coquette, I managed to make it to the Maria Luisa braderie before they sold every single thing in the shop. There wasn't much choice when I got there this afternoon, but still, SO HARD to make a decision. Thank god I had a hair appointment or I might still be standing there with 6 pairs of heels lined up in front of me, doing calculations in my head to squeeze the most shoes out of the remaining euros in my bank account. Seriously, 50 euro for these heels? Insane.
Also got a pair of Manolo's, but they are a bit more summery so they are going right back in the box and up to the high shelf with the other sandals. I really had to struggle not to buy a pair of purple satin Manolo heels as well. It would be so ridiculous because when do I wear bright purple? But on the other hand, its such a great look, I think, when someone is dressed all in black with a really fabulous pair of heels. The sale is still going on tomorrow... maybe I'll have to use up my grocery money and just buy them. How often do I get to go to sales like this one?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

At the Place des Vosges

At the Place des Vosges
Originally uploaded by nicole_gt.

Ella looked so sweet today- she was wearing her big girl school clothes with her brown buckle shoes. Its so cute but its so sad to see her dressed like that. She really isn't a baby anymore. And I know that I really didn't enjoy her very much as an infant. This is so much better, so much more fun, when she can be this funny little person with a huge personality letting me discover something new about her everyday. But still. I sometimes sit with her and notice her chubby little baby feet, or maybe her big round baby cheeks, and I get this tightness in my stomach because I know, next time I look, they might not be there. I feel like I have to enjoy this as hard as I can because for the next 30 years or so- I suppose until Ella has babies that I can moon over- its over.

Like I said, infants are such hard work for so little return, but biology has done something to our brains and its fruitless to try and resist them.

I love this photo because it makes her look so little, reminds me that I can relax a bit because I have more than 5 minutes to enjoy her. We got kicked out of the little park next to our house when it closed at 5 so, since Ella wasn't ready to go in yet, we walked over to the Place des Vosges to play for a bit longer. It was already quite empty by the time we got there. It's one of my favorite things, to just hang back and watch Ella to see what she decides to do, with no one to give her instructions or suggestions. For once, I had my camera in my bag so I could snap a picture. While I played with the settings, she set off across the park- headed for the water fountain I would guess. Not a backward glance to see if I was following her, not a moments hesitation or nervousness to be on her own. It really does seem like she went from being a squalling baby to an invincible little girl in a night. Amazing.

Proof of my insanity

Proof of my insanity
Originally uploaded by nicole_gt.
I need an intervention. I'm turning into Bree van der Camp and I don't know what to do to stop. Let me start at the beginning.
I mentioned that we were going to have an estate agent come to the apartment this week. Well, B told me this morning that he had made an appointment for Friday at noon. We wanted the cleaning lady to straighten things up a bit before anyone came round but that was going to be the sum total of our preparations. The house is in pretty good shape, there really wasn't anything special to do.
But then B went to work and left me alone to start planning my day. In all fairness, I didn't really have any other big plans but of course I immediately started thinking that I didn't want the person going into my dressing room before I had everything organized and behind closed doors, so I spent the morning in there. I ended up reorganing most of the cupboards, but I make such a mess when I am getting ready to go out, that its practically a weekly event.
Then I went to put a pair of shoes in B's cupboard and thought 5 minutes of rearranging would make it look much nicer. The previous owners had had a menusier install a really expensive closet organizer thing and I knew that I would be showing it to the agent. So I went through his cupboard- which took slightly more than 5 minutes...
I took a break for lunch and decided that really the only other thing I should probably do was the coat closet in the entry. The electrics were all in there and the agent would definitely be needing to take a look and since I moved in our winter coats, scarves, and hats, it was just a disaster. After Ella went down for her nap, I started taking things out of the cupboard and as I wiped the dust off the walls I realized that there was no point. It was never painted since we moved in and it was filthy, so I might as well just repaint the entire thing. It would look a million times better. We had just changed the doors on the hall closets so it made sense to make the inside look as nice as the outside, right?
2 hours later, I finished up. It wasn't a perfect job, but once everything would be put back in, it would be fine. I even ran down to the cave and dug out some boxes, covered in brown silk, that I hadn't been using and put our hats and scarves in them. I was totally satsified with what I had gotten done and would have stopped there, but Ella was still sleeping. So I decided to tackle the mess in my office.
I had been telling myself that I didn't have to worry about the office because one room would make no difference. And it was just too big of a mess to sort out in one day, etc. But actually, once I started cleaning, it went fairly quickly. I stepped back and looked at the bookshelves and realized that what really made it look a mess was all the different colored spines of the paperbacks. I love having lots of books, but honestly, they were just cheap paperbacks, bought mainly in airports and they looked cheap.
I pondered this for a minute and then I noticed the massive stack of white paper sitting on Ella's drawing table. B had brought it home last week for her to color on- but it would be just the thing for me. I can't take credit for this fab idea. I actually saw it once in a decorating magazine and loved it. I decided that I would make dust jackets for all my books out of white paper and write the name in pencil on the side. That way I could keep all my books around me but it would still look nice. I present photographic evidence- you decide if it is truly insane to have done this or if its so pretty that it was totally worth the effort- agent or no agent coming to judge my apartment.
I realize now that this was an insane thing to do. But I seriously have no judgement when it comes to deciding when I am going over the top. Ask my family, who have been suffering with this for years. Ask my friends, who will tell you how I can turn a simple coffee brunch into a 4 course sit down meal if they arrive 30 minutes late. Ask my poor husband who never trusts me anymore when I propose a simple project around the house, because he knows in about an hour I'll be introducing him to the architect that I hired... I don't feel like I am doing too much, I fell like it would be lazy to stop at good enough when, you know, I've got atleast a half hour of free time to kill. Its only in retrospect when I see the insanity. Of course, another theory would be that I have a bit of energy to burn. Clearly knitting is not enough of a hobby.
So really, this project is just par for the course. Its actually going quite fast- won't be finished by noon tomorrow, I don't think. But I can do about 40 books in an hour, so maybe... seems like it would be lazy to just lay in bed and sleep when it would only take another 4 hours to finish. And it looks so nice that I will be really happy to see it done. And...
here we go again.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My favorite dinner


This is absolutely my favorite eating-in dinner- Roasted Cod with Hollandaise and Fennel Puree. I was reading someone's blog today discussing Thanksgiving dinner and they were appalled by the idea that something as disgusting as fennel could possibly be included in the menu. That entry must have lodged itself in my brain, because when I went to the grocery store this afternoon and started wandering through the aisles looking for inspiration, I knew exactly what I wanted as soon as I saw the fennel.
If only the recipe was a little bit healthier- you are supposed to saute the fennel in a half cup of butter, before pureeing it and adding a half cup of cream. I suppose one could play around and try to cut the butter down to the bare minimum and add 0% yogurt instead of cream. But I hate doing that to my favorite dishes. I feel like its better to eat the real thing on very rare occasions rather than gorge myself on some pathetic substitute every other day.
B always makes it very easy for me- I looked at the bowl when I finished pureeing everything and I figured I would be eating it for the rest of the week. He took seconds (plus, I suspect, a few more spoonfuls during the transfer to the tupperware) and he has told me that there should be just enough for Ella tomorrow for lunch.
He is awful that way- if there is anything nice left on the table he'll very discreetly polish it off while in the kitchen straightening up. If I didn't keep a bit of an eye on things, he'd probably weigh 800 pounds by now. Posted by Picasa

Ode to my bain

Today got off to a really slow start once again. Every time that I start to wonder how other people get so much stuff done, I remind myself that other people are generally fed, bathed, and dressed before noon. I'm a disaster although whenever B runs a bath for me, I am doomed. How can you rush through a bath? Its just not possible.
I probably have pretty simple tastes, as far as the real bathing afficionados are concerned. I like a really big deep bath, which I managed to squeeze into our bizarre little bathroom space after HOURS of brainstorming and sketching (thank god I didn't have any real work when I was at Paribas or this post may never have come to be.) I like using bath salts instead of bubbles, especially Kneipp Lavendar Bath Salts although why oh why do they have to turn the water highlighter pen yellow? I feel like I'm stepping into a pit of nuclear reactor run-off water when the steam is rising off the surface of a glowing yellow bath. I've tried other brands and, for the price, this is the best thing you can buy, so I stick with it.
I don't use soap on my skin since everything irritates me- what luck that Ella has inherited this trait. Now I have cabinets full of special dermo-pediatric soaps for her, that I suppose I could try out, but I just don't see the point. Its not like I dig ditches for a living. I'll stick to water and an all-over scrub with a loofah. This last part is the most time-consuming but if I don't really scrub the dead skin off my legs, when I get them waxed, its like being fileted and they end up just ripping off the skin. I learned that lesson very very quickly.
And then if I have a cup of coffee and a new magazine, there is no way that I can finish up in less than 40 minutes.
Of course, once Ella could walk, my lovely lazy mornings seemed like they would become a distant memory. Since I couldn't trust her to run loose in the other room (although sometimes a Baby Einstein video would keep her occupied for a quick 20 minute soak) I generally had to shut her in the bathroom with me. That always made for a very relaxing bath... But, I think that Ella has become used to this lazy routine and she has adapted her own little morning ritual. Now there is hardly any sense in changing. In fact, after an amazing developmental leap that occured this morning, I may have to take more baths.
As Ella is very much a girly girl, she actually doesn't mind spending time going through all the treasures I have stashed away. I have one box in the bathroom that is full of sample lotions that I have gotten after going for a facial, or when I buy products. She LOVES playing with these. Occasionally she gets the cap off and squirts everything out but since they are just samples, the damage is limited. She sits and goes through the box of lotions and when she gets bored with that, spends some time dropping them in the water with me. Lately she has become very much attached to my Emergency Home Waxing Kit, so much so that today she actually put it in her stroller to take with her to school. She takes the pot of hardened wax and stirs it with the little wooden paddle and then comes over to me (particularly when I am doing my yoga and she knows that I won't be moving around) and wipes it on... areas that one would wax in an emergency. (To be honest, I have a real fear that this is going to be one of those random memories that sticks with her into adulthood. Waxing is pretty traumatic to me, and I have had years to try and get my head around the logic of paying a stranger to pour hot wax on my most delicate bits and then rip it off, provoking the closest pain I know to childbirth. Poor kid hasn't got a chance.) If she gets really bored she starts running in and out of the room, leaving the door open which means that I have to try and hunker down as low as possible in the water to avoid the draft. Except for today, when the door was wide-open and the recent cold snap meant that the draft was more like a wall of cold air, she actually shut the door when I asked her to. Only took 20 months but she finally proved her intelligence. I would rather have this than her singing her ABC's, just for anyone out there who wants to prove how much smarter their kid is.
But it gets better- then the phone rang. She looked at me and I said, "Go and get maman the phone! Quick!" She loves the phone, as all babies do I suppose, and so she dashed out to grab it, amazed that I was telling her to touch the phone rather than shouting at her to put it back. She came toddling back in as fast as her short little legs would carry her and proudly handed me the phone, while I lounged in the water. My very own be-diapered butler. How fantastic.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I'm a bit low on inspiration tonight, so I thought I would post a photo of the view out of my window. I love this view in the winter time when the leaves are off the trees and we can see all the lights. Its like Christmas. Of course, the downside is the bateau mouche and the spotlights that they shine practically in our living room. Small price to pay, I guess.
I better enjoy the view now. We are having a real estate agent stop by this week to give us an evaluation and then we are putting the place up for sale. I have seen an ad for a place in the 6th that sounds perfect- 140 m² to renovate and the price is well within our budget so the renovation would be amazing. I haven't visited the place yet because we will have to atleast start negotiations on a sale for this place before it will be worthwhile. I remember the last time we were searching for a flat (2 years worth of trolling, how could I forget that hell) and its so awful to see a place you love disappear. Of course it was mostly due to B's hesitating and constant second guessing and general paranoia ("Well, it seems like a great deal, but obviously that means that they are hiding something and in fact its a money pit!"). I don't think I could live through that a second time. And now that we have a child and I am unemployed, divorce is much less tempting.
Of course, with our marriage contract, I would get half of the profits when we sold this place, which is still more than enough to get me a really sweet pad of my own. Hmmm. I'm sure it won't get to that point, but still, I've learned that negotiations always go much better if you have a really good plan B. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

Despite what this says, they broke the mold after they made me
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Even though all I wanted to do last night was lay on the sofa, eating take-out Indian dinner, and watching some stupid DVD from the Videobox on the corner, I had babysitter coming so B and I decided that we would force ourselves to go out and do something.

Actually, I really had wanted to see the new Alain Chabat film and it came out on Wednesday so a quick check on showed it playing at 8:30 at Les Halles and we grabbed our coats and dashed out the door. After dragging myself for miles through the Chatelet metro station on Thursday nights to go to knitting class, I refused to take the metro to the cinema. I love the metro, I take it whenever I can, I prefer the metro over a car for almost every single voyage I need to make in the city(because my impatience far outweighs my snobbisme) but I have very rapidly developed an aversion to Chatelet. Maybe its because I've been walking through there at the end of the day when walking through the tunnels is like wading through a human swamp. Its not just the smell, the air actually feels thick. Disgusting.

Last night was one of those gorgeous fall nights when there are no clouds so the moon was as bright as the street lights. It was cold but not so cold that you could see your breath, just right for walking. And I love walking through the Marais at night when there are almost no cars and you can just stroll down the middle of the streets, peaking in people's windows. So after arguing about time constraints -I swore that it would take us 10 minutes to get through the station to the cinema, and since the walk was only 20 minutes, it was very possibly faster to just go on foot. B just said, "You're wrong" and "Those heels are too high for you to walk in, we'll never make it in time." Oh, ye of little faith. We did walk and we did get there in 20 minutes, but there were only 6 seats left for the movie by the time we got to the front of the line. No way was I going to sit in the front row for the film so we decided to quick go over to Opera to see the movie there at 9:30. And to go there we had to take the metro so we ended up wading through the stench after all. Seriously, they should sell Hazmat suits at the entrance.

We got tickets for the movie at the next place and it was totally worth the hassle that it took. We loved the movie (I thought that the whole adoption storyline seemed a bit confusing. I definitely feel like it was added as an afterthought and it didn't really make sense.) But it was excellent for a French film. Most of the time I think that French films are just a lot of mutual masturbation. Everyone thinks everyone else is great and they don't actually do any editting so there are about 10 minutes of really great cinema and an hour and a half of blah blah blah. Its such a shame because there a so many films I think I would love if instead of filming the rough draft of the script, they actually did one or two re-writes before starting the cameras rolling. This film, was really well editted and there was almost nothing extraneous. I am totally not a cinephile so that is the sum total of my opinion on French Cinema.

Which makes my addiction to Voici and all the gossip about French cinema stars all the more pathetic...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

the morning after

the morning after
Originally uploaded by nicole_gt.
This is the trail that I found this morning leading from the hall to the bathroom. I think that says it all- laddered tights wrapped around the handle of my bag, mangy roses from random acquaintance sticking out, gorgeous yet dangerous heels kicked off immediately and abandoned, T-shirt inside out, coat in a pile, underwear stripped off- all of it emanating a smoky fug.

And yet, I still took off all my make-up before going to bed. I might not have enough sense to come home at a decent hour (the least of last night's errors...) but on some things I am inflexible.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Admin Friday

Today I have a pile of "admin" work on my desk to get through; making appointments, returning emails, organizing the wine tasting dinner, buying plane tickets. I put this stuff off as long as I can and with any luck I can do it all this afternoon while Ella is at daycare and be done with it for atleast a week or two. I wish I had an assistant who did shit like this for me. It would be totally worth the price.

This is fantasy I can get off on- no more paper work, no standing in line at the post office, I would obviously have her do the grocery shopping. I could have her do all the returns for the clothes that I decide not to keep. She would be in charge of firing the cleaning ladies (I am slightly irritated at Shirley, the current femme de menage, for cancelling Tuesday's cleaning in order to spend the entire day at someone else's house), which is becoming a full-time job in and of itself.

Top of the list today is plane tickets. I found really well-priced tickets for Ella and I for Christmas and asked B if he wanted me to book them today, along with his, if he could give me his dates. He sort of shrugged and mumbled and generally indicated that he didn't want to talk about it- which ALWAYS sets me off. If he would just say "no, don't do it today" I would love it. But instead I have to beg and plead to find out what is going on. He finally said that he didn't know if he would actually be flying back to the States with us for Christmas because he thought it would be too much to spend, since we have so many taxes to pay between now and Christmas. Obviously, this is a huge thing, cancelling Christmas with us but he acted like it was just some minor detail he hadn't quite decided on yet. And the worst part was that he was using the excuse of not having any money for tickets but then he had asked me last night to look into booking a weekend away in Sardaigne at the beginning of December. I think that I am just going to call his bluff and buy my tickets and let him sort out the rest himself. Honestly, I don't believe for one second that he wants to miss Christmas with Ella. I think that his father has probably been complaining about us not being in France for the holidays and rather than mention that to me (which I don't care about anyways) he is trying a different tack. Its not going to happen, so he might as well just give in now and buy a damn plane ticket rather than doing it at the lastminute like he did this summer.
Thank god that I kept my American Express card - I know, I am only supposed to use it in emergencies but in my world, missing Christmas at home constitutes an emergency.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fat Girls Do it Better

I have a subscription to French Ella, which is a bit silly. I tend to get very excited Sunday night, thinking about it waiting for me on the Welcome mat first thing Monday morning. Then when I stumble to the door (checking no neighbors are lingering in front of the elevator to see me in my robe and glasses), I snatch it up and rip off the plastic, only to be horribly disgusted to find ANOTHER cover story about Monico Belluci and the difficulties of being a mother and an international sex symbol. Of course, every other Monday, the story is about Isabella Adjani and her Strength. Gripping stuff.

So I am always, every Monday, surprised at how disappointed I am with the mag. With a bit of luck, there is a good restaurant suggestion, maybe an interesting travel page, but generally its just really blah. Not smart enough to force my way through in the hopes of improving my mind, not trashy and mindless enough to be escape reading. So I was more than surprised at how much I like one of the articles in this last weeks issue.

The article was called "Les Rondes Font Mieux l'Amour", or "Fat Girls Make Love Better"- a title guaranteed to catch your eye, but actually, there was something behind the catchy title. The idea that the article was putting out there was that a fat girl is less narcisstic than a skinny girl and so is free to enjoy herself and focus on the other's pleasure and her own.

On the other hand, a woman who is prepared to starve herself to achieve "the perfect body" looses herself and becomes the object of her own desire. It becomes impossible to loose control in any way- physical, sexual, emotional- and she then cuts herself off from the ability to have an orgasm. Once caught up in this endless quest for physical perfection, its hard to deal with the carnal side of sex- its sweaty and wet and messy and smelly. And while attaining physical perfection is a sort of attempt at seduction, its a seduction which is detached from the act, a demonstration, and one becomes so obsessed by the idea of how one appears during sex that there is no real participation.

I've had really funny relationship with my body since I was pregnant. I know that most people feel like it is an experience that puts them at ease with their body but for me it was the opposite. I felt like I lost so much control that I have been desperate ever since then to manage my body. Its even more bizarre because having spent years doing gymnastics and dance, you would think that I had worked through all these control issues. I used to be really at ease with my body and definitely, when sex was involved, never gave it a second thought what I looked like. I felt really comfortable in my skin. But now, I have all these issues. And I know that I am the same weight as before, the same size as before, but it all feels different and I am not as comfortable with being naked. It's to the point where I think it is affecting my sex life and thats why I am so glad that I read this article. It puts things in the right perspective. There is still a chasm between being intellectually aware and emotionally in synch with the idea but its a start.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

So, at what point do you decide to ditch your flakey friends?

I had plans last night to go out with some girlfriends. I actually made plans with my friend Mimi, who always goes out with a certain group of single girls- among them the Russian, the Model, the Fashionista, the PR, the Rich Student, etc- who I don't know very well, because they are all single and working and I spend some nights out with my husband, some with our married friends, and some with my mommy friends. Our social lives aren't the same obviously, but they have a big overlap. They don't mind if I come along because I more than pay my way and I don't compete with them for the single guys. I like them because I get so horrifically bored talking about real estate, finding a good cleaning lady, and nice parks for kids. I absolutely need to pretend atleast once a week that I am what I was- although as they all start to reach their 30's, once a week is enough of that lifestyle, which starts to seem a bit desperate and forced. Its like how in the last season of Sex in the City, you started to laugh a bit less and feel bad for them- praying that Carrie and Big would sort something out before the episode where she receives her first issue of AARP in the post.

I hadn't seen the girls this last weekend, so I was going through my emails and looking at the invites I had for parties on Halloween night and thought it would be fun to do something with them. It was already Tuesday afternoon, so a bit lastminute, but you know, everyone had Wednesday off, so I didn't think it would require that much organization to get people to go out. I talked to Mimi and she didn't have any plans. I sent her the invites I had and said I thought it would be fun to go to Regines, I hadn't been in ages. She was more interested but said that she would give some other people a call to see if there was anything really really good going on and would call me back at around 8:30/9. That was perfect because I had planned a big dinner at the house and didn't want to leave until after.

When B got home, I checked that he didn't mind doing some babysitting- I knew that he had plans for Wednesday so atleast it would be a fair trade this week. I made dinner and we sat down with wine for a nice meal, but we finished and there was no call from Mimi. I blew out my hair, fixed my make-up, but still no call from Mimi. Now, Mimi has been known to cancel- especially when it is just girls going out and she will be paying for herself. Realizing that it was almost 9 and she hadn't called yet, I rang her up so that I knew our plans and could pick out something to wear. No answer. I left a message but was already seeing red. I flopped on the sofa and said that I wasn't changing my clothes until she called me, that ?*!&*§ I just knew she was backing out and I had been really looking forward to a fun night out. Right in the middle of my tantrum, the phone rang- it could only be Mimi. I sent a silent apology her way and jumped up for phone, happy to have been completely wrong about her flakey-ness.

So I tell Mimi how I was just moaning about how sure I was that she was going to cancel, she had fallen asleep on the sofa and wouldn't be coming out, and wasn't I silly? Yeah, not so much. She tells me how her two other girlfriends, the Russian and the model, got in a fight on Sat night over which club to go to and weren't speaking still today. She was still planning on meeting with the Russian until the Russian pointed out that everything near the Champs was paying at the door, which she didn't want to do so she wanted to go to the Casbah. But Mimi pointed out that we would NEVER get taxis home in that neighborhood. So they decided that in any case, there would be too many awful people out on Halloween and everywhere would suck so it would be better to stay home. Didn't I agree?

Oh, well when you put it like that...

What really happened is that all the Wallets decided not to go out and so the single girls decided that it really wasn't worth a night out. I hate these girls sometimes. I get that they go out 4 or 5 nights a week so one night in is no big deal. But I have so much planning to do! I have to get a babysitter, I have to make sure Ella is gone the next morning so I can sleep off my hangover, I have to make sure that B has a night out in the cards so that we can have equal alone time. But then, its not like I have a back-up group of girlfriends; this is it. So really, the question of "When do you dump your flakey friends?" is totally rhetorical. I'll keep putting up with it until I have an alternative, which yeah, is easier said than done.

To top it all off, I couldn't even sit home and open up a bottle of champagne to drown my sorrows because we cleaned out all our stock before dear (champagne-swilling) Elizabeth left town and now the cave is filled up with red wine. Sitting home and drinking a bottle of red wine is not nearly decadent enough to make me feel better, so instead it was Pellegrino and an early bedtime. But I swear, if those bitches don't make it up to me this weekend, we are finished.