Sunday, November 25, 2007
And sadly, although the location of our hotel here in Leblon is fabulous, our room is located right beneath the events room and we have been unable to sleep due to either weddings or wedding preps or wedding clean-up. The upside is that B has said that he won't be paying for the room last night due to said noise and so we can maybe spend an extra night at our gorgeous hotel in Buzios.
The beach is beach-y, but the waves are specatular! Huge crashing waves pounding the sand and its all churning white foam washing away your flip-flops, and drowning surfers and salty spray. Would like it much better if the drinks didn't cost so much on the beach. Basically, we paid 15 euro yesterday for a beer and a pina colada. Call me a lush, but on my tropical beach holidays, I like there to always be something coconutty in my hand and at those prices it is not happening. In fact, prices here seem to be more or less the same as Paris. I'm sure that there are cheap places but everyone keeps freaking us out with stories about getting mugged and warning us to stick to the nice well-known places. I hadn't really thought of Rio as dangerous but now I'm too skittish to test out my theory. Skittish and sober- bad combination.
Anyways, this afternoon (after changing hotel rooms) we are heading up to Corcovado to take photos with the Big Jesus and then over to Copacabana beach to oggle the girls in their brazilian strings. Talk about buns of steel- yesterday we bumped into a bunch of Samba dancers, as you do, and their asses were a sight to be seen. Honestly, the feathers and sequins were just distracting from the real show, which was their amazing physique. I could do Power Plate every day for a year and I could still only dream of looking like that. Sigh. This really is a country of have and have nots.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
(side note: Ever since Ella was a baby, B has called her Peekachoo. Its too early to tell for sure, but I think from here on out, she will officially be known as Peek-a-blue)
Just got home from the interview and it went ok. Not fabulously well, and I was irritated on my bus ride home thinking of all the brilliant interviews that I did for stupid jobs while this interview, for a job which seems even more perfect now that I have the inside scoop, was just average. I lost my vocabulary a bit. Also, I like to practice in my head the answer to questions like what is your strong/weak point, etc. I didn't do that so I ended up sort of floundering around, which is such a waste when its easy to have a good answer down pat. I couldn't think of the word 'transacation', which was just nerves. I didn't have to deal with any direct questions about my French level, which may be a good sign (she didn't see any reason to ask me) or a bad sign (it was so evident that I am NOT bilingual). Hopefully, I'll hear something before holiday.
I had a bit of a crisis this morning which sucked up a bunch of my prep time- I didn't know what to wear and had no one to ask for help. I know that this is a very traditional French company so I thought that a black skirt suit would be the right thing, but B told me to wear my grey Sonia Rykiel pants suit. I tried them both on and I still liked the black suit better but I realized that I don't have any good black office heels. I decided to wear my new animal print Manolos, but got super worried that even with a black suit and black tights that it would be a bit too flash for a very buttoned up business. I decided at the last minute that changing into my new glasses would balance out the heels, because glasses are nerdy and serious, everyone knows that. Ooo- I just realized that maybe it looked like I was dressing up as 'naughty librarian'. Gosh, I think that the leap from stay-at-home mom to financial wizard may be more of a shock to the system than I thought...
Anyways, I came home to an empty house because Ella's grandma picked her up extra early; I didn't even get to say good-bye. I figured it was better that way because if they waited for me, maybe Ella would get upset and then the poor woman would have to sit in Paris traffic with a screaming toddler, and frankly, just trying to keep sane while battling traffic is enough for one person.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The worst part is that I had decided that I would take advanced French classes, starting in September, because any job I would want to have at this point would be one where I would have to have a really good handle on the written language. If you are just some office gopher, it doesn't matter so much, but I couldn't get by on my "street" French any more. I told B my plan and said that I wanted to start looking around at programs, although I thought it best to do the Sorbonne course. He immediately said, "No no no. What a waste of money! You can do it at Berlitz and my office can pay for it because... (very long complicated explanation that somehow involves cheating the tax man or something. Sorry, I didn't really pay attention. Suffice it to say, its the sneaky sort of thing only a Frenchman would think worth the effort.) So I agree to let him sort out the inscription and I wait. Except a few weeks go by and he doesn't say anything. For various reasons, he put me off every time I mention it and voila! I get an interview for my dream job, which appears to require me to spend my days writing reports in French and who has still not started French class? Why, me! And suddenly B has changed his tune and said that it wasn't him putting off the classes, all I had to do was make an appointment at the school. He looked at me blankly when I repeated back to him all the excuses he had made over the past 3 months, as if he hadn't the slightest idea what I was talking about.
Arg. Its not his fault. I should have just signed up for classes after a week went by with no news from him. If I really thought it was important, I wouldn't have let all this time pass while I did nothing. Its just so frustrating to think that no matter what I do tomorrow, this job is probably going to slip through my fingers. Even if they don't notice that my level of French is not up to par, I know that it would be pretty impossible for me to bluff my way through my trial period, if I did manage to get hired. Being fired would be humiliating, which is probably a bit worse than just being a bit frustrated.
Oh, well. Nothing I can do about it now. I'll just go to bed tonight, clinging to the hope that their office produces their reports in English.
Anyways, I didn't spend all day crying about my appalling French. I also listened to the Mika CD and danced in front of the mirror, pretending that I was trying to make Ella laugh but really it was just because I liked the music so much. (I'll admit it, sometimes I like have a little kid around because you can excuse any dorky behaviour by saying it was a joke to make the baby laugh.) Ok- I know that this isn't a brand new release and I think I might have already heard every song on the CD, but I loved it! Its such fun fun music. I even took a break from my studying to install I-Tunes on the new computer so that I could have the music on my ipod. Which didn't actually work. I had to go and wrestle with my broken laptap to get it uploaded, but hey. I think that we have firmly established my total lack of techie skills.
AND I had one super good piece of news today- B's stepmom is picking up Ella on Thursday morning to take her to the country. We don't leave for Brazil til Friday night so that means I get a bonus day and a half at home with no baby. I am almost more thrilled about that than I am about the Brazil holiday. I have soooo many things to get done and now I finally have a fighting chance at getting through my list. Plus, we get to have a wild Thursday night out and we don't even have to get a babysitter!! Even crazier, I might be able to meet a friend for lunch. For me, that is like the Holy Grail- 2 hours in the middle of the day to eat a relaxing meal, without having to drag anyone out from under the table or dash home before the bill even arrives or just sitting down at the table and realizing that someone drew a giant 'E' on my trouser leg with pink marker.
Right now, I am trying to decide between having another glass of red wine and doing some more serious interview prep. On the one hand, I need to go through a few more things for tomorrow. Like what am I going to wear?!!! On the other hand, the bottle of wine is a 2007 Beaujolais which is lovely, if you haven't tried it yet. (Rasberries. Very fruity and drinkable.) And we bought Season 1 of Heros this weekend, which has turned out to be a lot more fun to watch than I thought it would be. Hmmm. Tough one.
Monday, November 19, 2007
- on top of 8 million things to do for Christmas preps and holiday, I have a MEGA IMPORTANT job interview on Wednesday; I would love to work for this company and the job description is like reading off my CV, but this being France, I know that I have atleast 5 interviews to go before I get an offer and I am trying not to get my hopes up. All the same, I have been studying up day and night to be prepared for everything and anything
- Got my hair cut super short. I went in for a trim and my stylist said that long hair was boring and I should just whack it all off, do something much more modern . I just cannot be bothered to have an opinion on hair styles, so I said, "Go for it. Anything you want." Its very... Victoria Beckham. I like it. I've gotten tons of compliments so I think he chose well. But like I said, I do not have any space in my brain right now for thinking about my hair so it is what it is.
- I finally got my Brazilian visa. With all the stupid transport problems in Paris, I didn't manage to get over there last week. I popped in today with Ella and had it straight away- plus, they gave me a 5 year visa, which is a bit weird. Anyways, that went fine, and then B called and asked me to meet him to do computer shopping. So rather than take line 1 home, I tried to get a bus to the Opera. Long story short, no buses, and Ella fell asleep in her stroller, so I ended up walking all the way from Alma Marceau to Sully Morland, which for those of you not on top of Paris landmarks is a long fucking way to walk in the cold. I was just about home and I heard Ella moving around, so I stop to talk to her and see that she has taken her hat off. Its not on the ground, its not slid down behind her, its not in her hand. She clearly took it off and tossed it when I wasn't looking and its gone. Which would have been no big deal if she had been wearing her own hat. But no. See, she was being a typical two-year-old and refused to wear her own hat today.But it is so cold out, that I asked if she would rather wear my brand new gorgeous soft hat that I bought only after searching for something perfect for the last few weeks. I know you are not supposed to call your kid names, especially on the internet, so I won't. But I'm thinking them really hard right now. This is a thankless job, if you hadn't noticed, and I am suddenly much more motivated to go and spend my days with grown-ups and not small people who scream at me from the other room to come and pick up the booger on their finger.
-Ooh- just got a call from B. He has bought me a new laptop. I was really hoping to replace this one with another Samsung but no luck finding them in stock at places in central Paris. And since it is impossible to move around Paris at the present time, I ended up with a Toshiba, for not better reason than the fact that it is a 17 inch screen with a number pad on the side and they had it in stock. One more thing off my To-Do list.
-Remember the stupid French girl that I said was useless and I wouldn't work with her anymore? Well she called me to say that she was free all week for babysitting if I needed her. SO, being a strong believer in second chances, I said I must have misjudged her and asked her to come the next day so that I could go to an appointment. The day arrives, and due to transport problems, I ask if she can come an half hour earlier and she says she will try. Instead of a knock on the door, I get a phone call at the appointed hour - she went out to the banlieu in the middle of the transport strike and was shocked to find that there were no trains to get her in to Paris. So she would have to cancel. Okay, either this girl is phenomenally stupid or ridiculously optimistic to think that she had a snowball chance in hell of getting a train in the first place. But worse, I had no time to find a backup babysitter so I had to haul Ella with me across Paris in the cold to my appointment with the optometrist. (People, if you saw the horrible glasses I have been wearing, you would know that it was not an option to cancel this appointment. I NEEDED new glasses).
- So I got new glasses. They are the cutest! B wanted me to get some very rectangular tortoise shell frames, but I picked out a brown metal pair from MaxMara which I love. There were some sort of big plastic frame Phillipe Starck frames which I thought were really cool and B thought made me look even more dorky than the former glasses so that didn't work. But here is the crazy thing- the frames cost far less than I expected, I was really happy when I found out the price. But due to the fact that I am practically blind, the actual glass cost 500 euro. That is about the same price as having laser surgery on one of my eyes. When I saw the bill, my mouth hit the table. Honestly, next summer I am absolutely having the surgery and getting rid of my glasses forever.
- How is it that 5 close friends have had babies in the last month? In a way, it is very practical because if the metro ever starts running again, I'll run over to my fav baby boutique and pick-up 5 of the same gift, through them in boxes, and do one drop off at the post-office. But honestly, I wish they all could have just squeezed their legs together tight for a few more weeks so I didn't have to think about this til after Christmas.
-And this may not be news to anyone else, but geez, I cannot believe how every single person in this city is in a vile mood due to the transport strike. EVERYBODY. We are all just bitching at each other at the drop of a hat and I am so ready to go on holiday. Doesn't even have to be while you are trying to get on a train/bus/etc. It could just be in line at the grocery store. Its just that you spend all day fighting to get from one place to another and then once you get there, you have to worry about how you'll get home. Stress stress stress. Dear French workers, you are a bunch of moan-y assholes. Give me back my metro. Love, nicole (Except not really love)
Monday, November 12, 2007
On Saturday morning, B took off work so that we could try and make some kitchen deco decisions but it wasnt' meant to be. We drove all the way out to the marble warehouse- only to find that it was closed exceptionally for the holiday on Sunday. Because they not only take off the holiday but ALSO the eve of the holiday, when the holiday falls on a Sunday. Talk about having to read the small print. Geesh. So we drove all the way back to Paris and managed to get Ella to danse class, then thought we would pop into a few tile stores on Blvd St Germain while we waited for her.
Again, the universe was just giving us the middle finger, to make sure that we know that nothing about this project is going to be easy, because we wandered into Carrelages du Sud which has gorgeous gorgeous stuff, so much that I was like a kid in a candy shop. Each drawer is organized like a mini tear sheet, with different floor tiles, wall tiles, and countertops put together so that you can see all the different possibilities. It is just a huge inspiration looking at their stuff. And they have a design service. So rather than lay awake nights trying to figure out what stupid tile to put on the floor, I could have walked in this shop a month ago and had it all done in an hour or two. Sigh. Of course, B and I saw a sample of a gray wall tile with metal bands running through it and fell in love immediately, thinking that it would be perfect on the two walls nearest the eating area in the kitchen. B thought it was fairly well priced when he read the ticket - 80 euro. But then the salesman explained that it wasn't 80 euro a m², it was 80 euro a tile. A tile, my friends. That means that it is about 500 euro the m². And we have atleast 4 or 5 m² to tile. So we are still thinking about that...
This morning we went back to the granite warehouse (for the 3rd time) and I think that we have made the decision. We are either going to use a very light colored stone called St Croix or a more gray and beige called Jura for the countertops. Its going to mean a few months of treatments on the stone to make it impervious to staining, so we'll be covering everything with plastic and glass and wooden cutting boards to try and keep it clean but I think will be worth it. I really think it will look a lot more elegant and expensive using a very plain stone than some wild marble. Of course, as we walked out of the lot, we both looked whistfully at the slabs of white Carrera marble and the beautiful Calcutta Gold. The thing about the stone countertops is that even if they get destroyed, they aren't that expensive and it won't be that much of a disaster to have them replaced. On the other hand, the white marble is more fragile and more expensive, so its just too risky. OR is it...
Anyways, I can hear little miss E banging around in her room while she supposedly rests. Generally, I would just leave her to it for the entire nap period, figuring she'll fall asleep eventually but today I think I will just take her out with me to run some errands. Did I tell you that I thought I had found a new daytime sitter? And this sitter told me she would be available all last week? And then everytime I called, she was unavailable? Well, originally I was going to have her babysit today so I could get some stuff done. Now, I am so pissed off about how unreliable she is that I think I'll have her just once more, so I can pay for the 4 hours she did babysit and then fire her. Honestly, if she is like this the very first week of work, when she is trying to make a good impression, how can I count on her at all? Maybe I am too impatient but I just cannot stand when people waste my time. I want to pay someone who wants to earn money, not someone who acts like they are doing me a favor by coming around occasionally to watch tv while my kid takes a nap. Maybe its the same everywhere but I have to admit that I have had a fairly long string of bad experiences with my French house help and their rather shabby work ethic. I want to grab some of these people by the shoulders and give them a good shake while explaining that having a work ethic is actually a good thing.
I better just plan on staying in on Wednesday. If I run into a crowd of striking fonctionnaires, my head will probably explode from suppressed rage.
Friday, November 09, 2007
B and I went out last night to see the film Supergrave (I think the original title is Superbad). Obviously, B choose the film although I agreed that I thought it might be good because the main character, Michael Cera, was so great in Arrested Development. I can't lie- I laughed really hard. Not at everything- I'm not the 15-year-old boy that the film is aimed at, but enough to have made it a good night out. I like Judd Apatow films. I like Seth Rogan. (And now I may be stating the obvious but..) I am not a film buff, I have no pretentions in that direction, but when I pay a fortune for a night at the movies, I want to be entertained. And sometimes, when I am playing with Ella and I see her laughing like a maniac over the stupidest stuff, I get a bit jealous trying to remember the last time I laughed that hard. Its a sad truth that when you are an adult, going about your day in the ordinary way, you just don't laugh out loud very often. It feels good to laugh, I believe everyone of those studies that supposedly proves that laughing can cure illnesses and improve your health.
Although, having said that, ancedotal evidence in our own house at the present time is a bit weak. This morning, B and I overslept and I thought that I would have to skip Gymboree since I wouldn't have enough time to take the metro all the way there. B told me to just call a taxi, so finally I got all our stuff together and we jumped in a taxi. I wasn't paying much attention to Ella since we had the most retarded taxi driver alive, who got in nearly two accidents within 50 meters of our house and then took the most ridiculous route imaginable to get there. We were almost there when we got stuck in a traffic jam near the peripherique. By this time, the meter was at 21 euro and we only had 10 minutes before our class started. I asked him to drop me off because I was going to take a tram instead. All of a sudden I noticed that Ella had a very odd look on her face- and before I could even wonder why, she started SPEWING vomit every where. Well, no. Not everywhere, mainly in my hands and then once I managed to get it out of my purse, into a diaper. The driver was having an absolute fit, I actually think he was nearly puking from the smell. We came straight home (and amazingly, with a puke-y kid in the car, he managed to do the return trip in a quarter of the time.) and I put Ella straight to bed.
Its only noon, and already I have spent 35 euro on taxis. I have another 20 euro of dry-cleaning to drop off. I cannot get the smell of puke off my hands, despite having washed them a good half-dozen times. And I have an entire afternoon of cranky baby games to look forward too since I can't take Ella to daycare now. TGIF does not apply to motherhood.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Of course, I deserve a bit of a treat, since last night I went to Bikram yoga, once again. I have been brilliant lately and gone on a very regular basis, resulting in some very good results. Obviously, results would be slightly more impressive if coupled with some sort of healthy eating plan, but I am not a saint. I don't need to weigh 50 kilos to find happiness. I am more than satisfied with a flat stomach.
Oh, and I also got my hair dyed yesterday. I don't know if its all the exercise or the phase of the moon or what, but my hair had grown about 2 cms since my last color 6 weeks ago. Thats insane. So I asked the girl to do something to help it grow out better. I was thinking of maybe going a bit darker, but adding a darker color on the underneath bits. She decided to go a more honey blonde and in the salon, I liked it. Today, I'm not so sure. It makes me look sort of .... blah. The color seems a bit too uniform. Or maybe its just that the color matches my skin to closely. It looks flat. And also slightly more reddish than I originally thought. I am going to give it another day and another washing to see what I think. Maybe I need to go back and ask her to do something else.
But balancing that out, I popped over to the Brazilian consulate yesterday morning and managed to complete my visa application with minimal hassle. I really didn't expect to get away with only 2 visits. Of course, it wasn't all smooth sailing. I had mainly been reading the visa info in English, since it was all specifically aimed at Americans so I thought that the visa cost 100 USD, pretty shocking in and of itself, right? Well, if you are in France applying for the visa, then it costs you 100 EUR, or roughly 40% more. Can you believe that scam? I think my chin hit the counter when the woman told me the price. Seriously, I don't care how fantastic Brazil is, it is not worth an extra 100 euro to me. Still, I was so happy to just be done with the application, I handed over my money without too much regret.
And I do have more important things to spend my money on. Tomorrow morning I am going to get in line at the Maria Luisa Braderie. Last year I got 2 gorgeous pair of shoes and I only managed to get there on the 3rd day. If I can go on the first morning, I have warned Bruno that I may need a small donkey to help get my bags home. Of course, he suggested that I might need to spend the evening convincing him that these will all my very worthwhile purchases, necessary for my survival... That man has no morals. Honestly, what a girl will do for a pair of Manolos...
PS if anyone knows when Christian Louboutin is doing his vente privee, let me know!! I have been harassing all the fashion insiders I know to have this info, but no luck so far.
I love this kitchen! I found the image via thekitchendesigner.org and it really got me thinking.
We finally heard back from the marble/granite wholesaler re: the stone we had picked out for the countertops. They sent us a photo of the sole slab that they had in stock and it was awful. It had a huge section at the top with no variation in color so it looked more or less like concrete, while bottom half was speckled with small "stones". It wasn't pretty at all so we said "No thanks". Now we can't figure out what we want to replace it with.
I didn't mind the dark brown that B had picked out, but I don't like the idea of dark floors-light cabinets-dark countertops- light walls. So whats the alternative? Maybe light colored countertops and dark walls? After seeing this kitchen on a decorating blog, I started thinking that maybe a really bold wallpaper would be just the thing to give our design some direction. I went on the Cole and Sons site and found this paper, that I LOVE:
The drop is 80 cm, so I think the pattern must be quite large. I need to see it in real-life and think that BHV carries this brand so I'll try popping over there tomorrow, I think. B probably won't be thrilled with this pattern, but I think that it could really work, since that red/orange color looks to be the same that I used in our office- Red Earth by Farrow and Ball. I like the idea of keeping our color scheme consistent throughout the entire flat. We could do the countertops dark brown, maybe even use this marble, since B fell in love with it when he saw a sample of it. The floors could stay dark chocolate brown as well. We stopped in at Raboni on blvd Henri IV last week and looked at some dark chocolate brown floor tiles with a very subtle leather grain pattern to them. The only thing that held us back from ordering them was the fact that they only existed in a 60 x 60 model. Then, we can use a chocolate brown pain in the niches. The only thing that bothers me a bit is that there is a gold accent in the paper (which I really like) which would maybe class with the stainless steel appliances. Hmm.
The other minor problem would be that we would have to change the wallpaper in our hall/entry. Right now it is a beige on white leaf pattern and it runs right up to the kitchen door. I like pattern, but even that would be a bit much for me.
I don't know about this. It would take a lot of bravery to commit to orange flowered wallpaper and gold veined marble in the kitchen. Even on paper, this idea scares me. Maybe I'll keep looking for a wallpaper just a teensy bit more subtle.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Just as a side note- you can totally tell that Ella is half-French every time the yogurt comes out. That kid acts like I have handed her a bag of chocolate if I give her one of B's cheap Monoprix brand plain, low-fat yogurts with cane sugar. She is sitting next to me right now, scrape-scrape-scraping the bottom of her second container so that she doesn't miss out on even a drop of the yogurt-y goodness. Of course, her American side still shines through, as she is staring at the tele with a look at total adoration, watching an episode of Dora the Explorer.
Now, in an effort to win myself a few more minutes of computer time, I asked her to open up the packages of dishes that I bought at Habitat this afternoon. I ended up getting a few set of giant cups and saucers, in a soft taupe color and a half dozen mugs, in the same color. I saw other stuff that I liked in bright colors and typical Habitat patterns, but I took the boring option in the end. First of all, I knew that B HATES wild colored stuff. And secondly, I feel like, every time I go to Habitat, I see a million things that I think I need, choose something that I think will be incredibly cool, only to get home and realize that it is the worst of bad taste, cheaply made, and end up shoving it to the back of the cupboard where it will sit for 5 or 6 years til I feel like I can throw it out without too much guilt. Last item bought at Habitat: 6 plastic plates, I giant platter with crazy tropical flower/bird design in neon yellow, hot pink, and orange. Number of times used? once. Number of years sitting in my cupboard? 4 years. Sure, it probably only cost me 30 euro but still. I always go there before a party, thinking that I'll just pick up the one implement that I am missing and end up walking out with a bag full of crap. Hopefully this time I did OK, but only time will tell. I'll be packing up the entire kitchen in about 2 weeks, to have it ready for the renovation work starting the beginning of December - when I am away on vacay. I think that I will use this opportunity to just ruthlessly clear out my cupboards.
I am a very firm believer in "Organized desk, organized mind", except I stretch that to include every cupboard in my house. I think that its the best feeling in the world to walk out the front door with a giant bag of useless crap that has been cleared out of some closet. It feels like I am throwing my problems in the trash. God, there are probably lab rats that have a more complicated psyche than me, but there it is. I am a simple girl with simple needs.
Anyways, I needed to get a few more mugs since we have invited friends over for brunch on Sunday. Its been ages since we've done this and such a shame since I love having big lazy sunday afternoon meals. On the menu are Bacon-wrapped polenta egg cups; Goat cheese biscuits with chevre, smoked salmon and homemade red-pepper jelly; choco-banana cupcakes; fresh bread and croissants with jam and nutella; fresh orange juice and coffee. Yum.