Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'm baffled

I'm baffled as to why otherwise sane women that I know would choose to do without a cleaning lady when they have the means to pay for one. Honestly, three hours a week only costs something like 30 euro. For a measly 30 euro, who would choose to clean their toilets, scrub the floor, change the bedsheets, and iron their husband's shirts themselves? This isn't about any person in particular, its just sort of a general befuddlement that I have had for awhile now. Granted, some people might wonder why I need to have a cleaner for 9 hours a week (3 hours Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), when I live in a shoe box and don't work outside the home (so one could argue that I have nothing else to do with my time but clean and iron). Fair enough- three times a week is maybe a bit excessive but I've gotten used to things being really orderly so now it would be impossible to scale back . Besides, I feel like there are a million other things to do with my time besides clean. How unimaginative must you be to not be able to find better things to do than clean? Hmm. Very curious.

Of course, today for the first time ever, I had a babysitter come to take care of Ella so I could do something for myself on a Saturday afternoon. Since B always works Saturdays, its really my least favorite day of the week. All my friends are busy doing family stuff with their husband. Their are lovey dovey couples everywhere you look. The shops are too full of working people frantically trying to cram a weeks worth of errands into one afternoon. I generally end up staying home or venturing no further than the park on the corner. So this was very a very exciting development, I had all kinds of suggestions for things for the two of them to do to be sure that I would be free of Ella for the entire afternooon, and how did I end up spending my three free hours? I actually went to the grocery store to do a massive shop and then I sat home to wait for the delivery. I know, I know- what was that about lacking imagination? But what do you do when there is not a scrap of food left in the house and the shops are closed all day Sunday?

Actually, there was techinically enough food in the house to get us through til Monday but the problem is that I am on this crazy diet and unless I have all the allowed foods in stock, I tend to go a bit crazy and tear into the old Easter candy. Is it any wonder that I have only lost 3 pounds in 3 weeks despite being Miserable and feeling completely Deprived? I'm the worst dieter ever. I finally decided that even though I was weak with hunger I had to start including some serious exercise into my day otherwise this would be the Diet That Never Ends. At this point, I would be happy to lock myself in a sauna until I sweated off 4 more pounds in water weight just to see the magic number on the scale so I can stop dieting, for pete's sake. How desperate am I to just bloody loose a few more pound? So desperate that I very nearly bought a package of dodgy 'diet pills' at the parapharmacy yesterday. As if that would work, right. I was kind of hoping that there would be some sort of placebo affect, but then I realized that I didn't have enough cash and I couldn't bear having B see the charge on my card, forcing me to own up to my craziness. I could be crazy, just so long as there was no paper trail, I guess. Really, its the psychology of dieting that kills me. I could happily eat yogurt for breakfast, plain vegetable soup for lunch, and poached chicken with asparagus for dinner, washed down with a pot or two of green tea but serve me the same thing and call it a diet, suddenly I am dying of hunger and fighting with ella over the old M&M's we find in the bottom of my purse. Clearly, I don't need a trainer so much as a psychologist...

Anyways, I am going to have to fall off the wagon tonight since B made dinner reservations for us at Atelier du Maitre Albert. I love that place, although I think the the Venn diagram of traditional french brassierie cuisine and low-fat, no-carb eating would show zero overlap. Its going to be a long Sunday, if I am going to have to do penance by surviving on nothing but vegetable potage and green tea.

Another gorgeous day in Paris; I am out on the balcony right now watching the bateau mouche cruise up and down the river. Every single one of them is packed to the gills with tourists, but I can understand that because the boat tour of Paris is one my top recommendations to visiting friends. Everyone is in short sleeves and sunglasses. Ooooh- a bride and the wedding party just wandered past! I want to get married again and have the party on a boat! The ladies all look so pretty in their hats and summer dresses and the men look so hot in their suits and sunglasses. Hmm, for all my complaining about this small apartment and grimey grey irritating Paris, it can be really wonderful with Paris throwing these perfect Hollywood moments at me, when I least expect it.

Its so beautiful here on the balcony, once all the leaves fill out the trees- its like sitting on a fluffy green cloud. I'm thinking that I might just sneak a little glass of rose champagne from the bottle in the fridge because a sunny lazy Saturday afternoon like this one deserves to be celebrated a little. Ooops- spoke to soon. Ella just came to sit by me with her new drum set, all the better to admire her aural assault.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spring is here

I hope I'm not jinxing anything by saying it outloud. Today is absolutely 100% gorgeous, with a blue sky and a big sun and all of the terrasses are full and so instead of getting my errands done this afternoon, I went shopping for summer clothes. I couldn't find anything for myself so I came home loaded down with bags of clothes for Ella, which makes me mad; its one of those mom things that I said I would never do. On the positive side, I started packing her summer clothes for the Turkey vacation and I think with this last shopping trip I can call it a day. The bag will be full and it should be enough to get her through two weeks. I can take that off my To-do list.

I wandered through the new lingerie department at BHV today on my way through the shop and noticed something that I had seen this past weekend while on a lingerie spree. You see older women and middle aged women with no make-up, frumpy clothes, and hair sticking up in every direction ever so carefully choosing the laciest, sexiest lingerie you can imagine. I love this idea that sexy lingerie is such a basic in the Frenchwoman's wardrobe that even when she is completely indifferent to more public aspects of her appearance, she never just throws in the towel and buys plain cotton briefs. I think that this is almost the opposite of American women.

I have a half hour before I need to go get Ella from daycare so I need to quickly put in my pilates DVD and squeeze in a workout. I went out with B and some friends of ours last night to Casa San Pablo on rue Sevigné and totally blew my diet. In all fairness, I had been trying to get a table at this restaurant for probably a year and since I finally managed to call for a reservation far enough in advance to be successful, I decided that I couldn't waste the opportunity by sticking to dried ham and mineral water all night. BORING. It was so worth it- the food is great and its cheap. We got three tapas menus for 16 euros each (12 plates in total) and it was more than we could finish. I would recommend this place but it only has like 10 tables and I am hoping I might manage to get another some day. So don't go, just admire from a distance.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

sorry about the long break

Lent snuck up on me this year and for several reasons, I decided that I needed to have my Lenten efforts be directed towards taking a break from the computer. I only allowed myself a half hour a day on the computer (including emailing), no blogs, no games. I think it was really good for me. In any case, it needed to be done just so that I could prove to myself that I can live with out the internet. I had started to wonder if it was even possible anymore.

I wish I could say that I got tons done in the free time that I gained, but actually, I didn't launch myself into any particular project. Stuff happened, of course, but you would think that all that extra time would have allowed me to end third world hunger or carve a replica of Mount Rushmore, or I don't know, find a job but it just didn't happen.

God- what did I do with my time?!? I know I thought that I was busy so let me bullet point, for maximum effect:

-The first big event, and what contributed to my blogging hiatus, was The Haircut That Nearly Destroyed My Will To Live. Last year in November I let my regular haircutter give me a radically shorter cut. It was cute but I didn't think it was perfect so when I got a recommendation for a really awesome new place in the 6th, I thought I would try it. It was more expensive than what I normally pay, but I figured that short haircuts are harder and it would be worth it. So I made an appointment for a cut and a color. I ended up showing up about 15 minutes late because I got lost getting there. I guess that they were a bit irritated because of that and didn't start on me for another 20 minutes. I pointed out more than once that I absolutely had to leave at 5 to get my daughter from daycare and they said no problem. Except it ended up being a huge problem. The guy rushed through my cut and when I got home I was horrified. It wasn't even the same length on both sides of my head. It seriously looked like the cut I gave my Malibu Barbie with a pair of cuticle scissors back when I was 8. All lumpy and sticky-uppy and weird. Maybe 'short bus' is the adjective I'm looking for? Anyways, I called back and was like 'Dude, you have got to fix this.' No problem he said, come in right away. And clearly I belong on the short bus, because I went back and let him cut my hair a second time. All that happened is that I had a different terrible haircut, only this time I had almost no hair left on my head so there was no fixing it. I think I can honestly say that this was the worst haircut I had ever had- and ironically, it was also the most expensive. I wore alot of hats for the next couple weeks (thank god for the miserably cold spring we had here in Paris) and then I crawled back on my knees to my regular guy, who fixed with his wonderfully talented hands. It was still horribly short but atleast I no longer look like an escapee from Cell Block 8. I'm due for another haircut next week, so I think I can officially put this horrible horrible experience behind me. But remember the morale of the story- never cheat on your hairdresser or you will be walking around for two months with the folical equivalent of the Scarlet Letter.

-Celebrated Ella's 3rd birthday. Oh yeah, that was pretty big. Will definitely do a photo post because it was so awesome and a very lovely friend of mine brought her photographer husband along to immortalize the event so I have a ton of great photos.

-Celebrated my birthday in serious style. Honestly, I was pretty surprised that it turned out so fabulous because normally I insist on being on vacay when I blow out my candlesand this was the first time in years I spent my B-day in Paris. The beginning of March is such a shitty time to be hanging around Paris. Everything is grey, the sky, the buildings, everyone's clothing, my skin, my attitude- and it just makes you want to put a gun to your head but then also taking time to remind yourself about how old you are getting? Recipe for disaster. This year, somehow, the vacation just didn't happen (now I remember- we kept talking about different plans, I would spend something like 10 or 12 hours organizing things and then just before I booked it all, B would say, "Actually, I really feel like doing that..." This year, the gun was pointing in his direction) and my birthday was probably one of the best. B took off at lunch to come and take care of Ella so I had a nice long bath and then skipped off to the salon to get pampered, I got dressed up and met my girlfriends at a sexy new Champagne bar that I highly recommend (cucumber/melon champagne cocktail- so nice!), then B came and picked me up to whisk me off to dinner at Les Ombres for a fantastic meal watching the lights twinkle on the Eiffel Tour. Perfection.

-My birthday present was a new painting from our favorite galerie and one of our favorite artists, Pietropoli. If you look on the site for Pietropoli, it is Tableau 2 under work 2007-2008 but I can't link to that screen. I love this painting and the nicest thing is that after the vernissage, we went to dinner with the galerie owner and the artist and I was able to talk to him for ages about the painting we bought and his other work. Of course, we still haven't hung the painting because we don't have any place to put it, but that is just a detail. I'm sure one day we'll be the lucky owners of a house with enough wall space for all this art, so I just have to be patient.

-I spent 5 days in NYC with one of my best best girlfriends and had an awesome time, as I always do. Of course, this girlfriend is so motivated and ambitious that even in her unemployed state, she puts me to shame. She had just gotten back from hiking in the Guatmalan jungle, looking at artifacts and skeletal remains in caves. She keeps her Facebook page totally updated. She was at the gym everyday, and to top it all off, is currently planning on hiking to Mount Everest Base Camp. Hmm. I was feeling pretty good about having cleaned out my closets up until I spent a week with her. Still, so nice to have some time away from B and Ella even though I did end up missing them tons by the end. The highlights of this trip were picking out the tiles for the kitchen when I visited the Ann Sacks shop, buying a beautiful dress at Rebecca Taylor, which was destroyed in its first wash (oops), going nuts in the Jonathan Adler boutique (if only I had brought two suitcases!!), and then missing my flight home... Lucky for me, I have a ton of airmiles and managed to get on a flight the next day but I can tell you that for a few minutes there, it was looking like this was going to be the most expensive weekend in NYC in the history of weekends. Well, as far as my husband was concerned, anyways.

-Before destroying my new dress, I wore it to an amazing party on a yacht moored at quai Henri IV, just a short hop from our apartment. It was the weirdest thing- a girlfriend called me up at around 7 on a Sat evening and asked if I wanted to go to this party with her that same night. I was free and it was close by so I was in, but still, I asked her for some details. Who was giving the party? She didn't really know. Uhm, who invited her? Well, a girlfriend of hers, but it was still really confusing as to how this other girl got the invite. Ooo-kay. Well, then, what was the party for? Should we bring something along? No no, just show up early so we didn't have to do the boat cruise down the Seine. Its not the first time she dragged me along to some dodgy party but I hadn't been out in awhile so I said yes. Well, it was the best party with a live jazz band followed by an awesome DJ. There was open bar/champagne all night long and really really nice nibbly food. Everyone was gorgeous and rich (judging by the clothes anyways). And no one had any idea who was throwing the party. I stayed until nearly 2 and the main table, being guarded by two enormous bouncer/security type guys, was empty the entire time. Rumor had it that it was a party thrown by some Saudi prince. Who knows.

-I went back to the States suddenly because my grandfather died. Maybe I'll write more about that later but for now, I'll just say that it was fantastic to be able to go back for everything and in the end Ella and I had a really nice little holiday with my family. Even managed to get my mom's mountain of old photos sorted out. The task of putting them into albums is not going to be done for years, I would imagine, but even getting this far feels like a major accomplishment. If you had any idea of the hell I have been going through every year putting together the annual Photo Calendar for my parents, you would know that this will change my life. Or atleast improve the two weeks before Christmas, time I have normally spent rifling through drawers and boxes and old half-filled albums.

-B launched himself into a new home improvement project while I was away and changed our wood floor with a new one. It looks great and it was a huge job for him to clear out our house, all by himself, and then put everything back again, so I really appreciate it. BUT there is still painting and stuff that hasns't been done following the kitchen building work. I am tearing my hair out!!! We have piles of paint cans on the floor in our bedroom. There are boards and a set of shelves piled in the corner of Ella's room. The ladder has to be moved continually from one resting spot to the next. Tools are jammed under tables and in corners. B has a dozen plastic bowls scattered around, holding things like kitchen switch plates, bedroom door knobs, screws that need to be put in some particular place, etc. I tried to be very excited about the new floor but inside I was screaming "When are the ?/§%µ* kitchen renovation project going to end?!!??" I am guessing, possibly, it will happen before 2009 but I wouldn't put money on it.

-And I have just wound up the planning of our big spring vacation which looks like it is gbing to be AMAZING; two weeks in Turkey to celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday. We are in a beautiful little boutique hotel in Istanbul for a few days so we can see the sights before flying down to the Mediterranean coast for a Blue Cruise on a lovely private yacht, followed by a week in a villa in a charming and remote village from which we can visit all the great archealogical sites in the area. Seriously, how awesome is this trip going to be? The planning nearly did my head in, the days and days it took to sort everything out, but I really insist on staying in beautiful places and I don't (can't) spend a fortune. Its always possible to meet those two criteria but naturally all the best places are booked early so I had to google hard to find good stuff and you really have to have no shame re:haggling for the best price. It takes time though. I really ought to start adding a bit on my CV about my talents as a travel agent considering the amount of time and energy I put into planning our holidays.

So there it is, all up to date. Now, that I am over my bloggers' block, hopefully I can get back to regular updating. Once Easter ended, I wanted to start writing but it seemed like there was so much to talk about that I didn't know where to start. I also hired a new babysitter yesterday, someone to come during the day and take Ella for a few hours so that I can go to the gym and get some bigger projects done. This should also give me the time to do a bit of writing. I had been really dragging the last week or so, feeling overwhelmed by everything that I needed to do; I had the feeling that I wasn't getting anything accomplished. Oddly, I've noticed that I get this way nearly every spring- really exasperated with my life and negative about things. Maybe its because the sun is taking too long to arrive? I really can't figure out why, and I can't seem to avoid it either, so hopefully being proactive about things this year will head off the worst of it. Dreaming every night about laying out on the boat in the Turkish sun should do its part as well, to keep my spirits up.

Well, here's to getting back to blogging (and hoping that eventually someone notices...)