Saturday, January 28, 2006

Les Puces des Paris

Today, Fred and I went to a giant flea market in Paris. There were many beautiful antiques, as well as rows and rows of clothing, shoes, scarves, etc. After looking at fine china, beautiful trinkets, and lovely wood furniture, we walked away with a pair of Adidas and a $15 pair of pants.

The absolute highlight of the flea market, however, was when Fred noticed that a 55 year-old distinguished looking French man was whistling the song "Don't Cha" by the Pussycat Dolls, featuring Busta Rhymes. If you're not familiar with the lyrics, here is a sampling:

Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me
Don't you wish your girlfriend was a freak like me
Don't cha
Don't cha
Don't you wish your girlfriend was raw like me
Don't you wish your girlfriend was fun like me
Don't cha (haah aah)
Don't cha

Shortly before moving to Paris, Fred and I went to AsiaSF, where a beautiful transvestite performed this song flawlessly!

Sorry, I lost myself for a moment. Here are some pictures . . .

*Click on photos to enlarge

Flea Market
The Pussycat Dolls

Le mot du jour: "Chocolat"

The word of the day: "Chocolate"

A few photos from chocolate shops around our apartment . . .

*Click on photos to englarge

From the top:

"A Few Words to Cure Your Pain"
"It's Long, It's Good" (What can I say, we live in Le Marais, the Castro of Paris.)
"Tell me yes"
"It's good for the morale"

Dam = "To the great pleasure of . . ."

Merci= "Thank you" (I know it's insulting to even translate this word, but I couldn't think of anything to write. But, seriously, thank you for reading my blog!)

Et plus de chocolat . . .

And more chocolate . . .
with a little more class!

*Click on photos to enlarge


I had taken these photos several weeks ago. I just came across them and decided to share them. It's been very cold here (about 4 degrees Celcius/39 degrees Fahrenheit), but hasn't snowed since the holidays. Once in awhile it gets cold enough to produce a few flakes here and there, but I'm too busy making sure I don't step in dog droppings to notice.

Isn't that a cute patio? Won't it be great during the summer? Yeah, it's not ours. At least we won't be in this apartment during the summer. I don't think I would have been able to contain my jealousy. I probably would have water-ballooned our neighbors as they sun-bathed. A terrasse [terrace/patio] is a real rarity in Paris.

*Click on photos to enlarge

Friday, January 27, 2006

Oh, baby!

It’s incredibly dry in our apartment. The cold air and the constant running of the heater is wreaking havoc on my skin. I thought I was being smart purchasing baby oil. I figured it would be easy to slop on after my shower. On our way home from shopping, I noticed fine white lines in the crevices of my hands. Eager to test my new product, I asked Fred to get the baby oil from the grocery bag and give me a squirt. To my surprise, it was gel, not oil. Quite fancy, I thought, although a bit perplexed considering gel is usually a drying agent. I rubbed it between my palms and a slight lather appeared. I kept rubbing until the lather subsided, however, the moisturizer left a sticky residue. Oh well, I figured it was a “time-released” formula that would be absorbed as needed. That night, I massaged the gel moisturizer into the heels of my cracked feet and put on little thermal booties for ultimate hydration. The next morning, I stepped from the shower and massaged globs of this wonder product onto my damp skin. But the water seemed to make the gel even more stubborn than before. It refused to absorb! This time I took a good hard look at the bottle, which read: “gel lavant corp et cheveux pour bebe”. Something wasn’t right. I could make out “body” and “hair” and “for babies”. I rushed for my dictionary for confirmation. It ends up that I had been moisturizing myself with a baby cleanser/shampoo combo. Having no time to shower again before French class, I hovered over the sink with a face cloth washing the cleanser from my skin just as one would wash a real baby. I did ask Fred if it was a moisturizer before purchasing it. Apparently something was lost in translation or he wasn't listening. I suspect it was the latter.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Yes, yes, I love that Madonna song too, and so does everybody else in Paris, including my upstairs neighbors, my next door neighbors, and the bar behind us. I need to express my frustration, however, with the people that hang up on me. I feel like the biggest idiot. When the phone rings, I don’t even want to answer it because I know what’s coming: a big dose of humiliation. The other day, someone called for Fred. I was trying to give them Fred’s work number and they kept correcting me. I was getting very frustrated. Finally, I realized that they were giving me their number and they were correcting me because every time I said Fred’s number, they thought I was incorrectly repeating back the number they had given me. Usually telemarketers hang up on me when they figure out I can’t speak French. Which on any other occasion would be a blessing, but under these circumstances, it’s a slap in the face and a reminder that I can’t even handle the most of basic conversations.

Friday, January 13, 2006

911 / 411

It’s interesting, the small things one notices when moving to another country. The emergency sirens, for example, have a different rhythm and tone. I find it slightly less obnoxious than the one in the U.S., but maybe that’s because every apartment I rented in San Francisco was within one block of a fire station. Sometimes, however, I feel like I'm losing my mind. And it all has to do with the French siren. I definitely heard it once, loud and clear. But now I hear it all the time. My ear is like a seashell, host to the constant un-uh, un-uh, un-uh.

At night, I leap from the sofa and ask Fred if he can hear it too. He almost always responds no. It taunts me like the little boy who cried wolf. What if there were a real emergency when Fred is at work? Will Bilbo and I escape alive? I love Bilbo, but he’s not like one of those cats you see on the PAX channel that senses earthquakes or warns of odorless gases seeping through an air conditioning vent. No, we will both die.

I wonder if it is my version of an imaginary friend. Perhaps I am that desperate for excitement. Maybe working from home is really getting to me. I searched the internet for clues. Possible diagnosis: excessive ear wax (no); Menieres Disease (huh?); hypothyroidism (maybe, I'm unable to lose weight - oh, with diet and exercise you say? No, then.); head injury (possibly); Lyme Disease (I did go to a Neneh Cherry concert in 1988); stress (likely).

Noises followed me to the streets. I was certain that at least 25% of the people I passed by were talking to themselves – not into a discreet cell-phone ear-piece, to themselves. I told Fred of my experiences, but, again, he said that he had never noticed such a thing so I assumed I was hearing voices. We dined with Olivier (the nice one from the wedding) the other night and I asked him if he had noticed it. He said never, although he did admit to humming to himself as he walked down the street.

Last night, we hit the mother lode. Fred and I were eating dinner in very close quarters when a man came in and sat at the table next to us. He proceeded to strike up a conversation with himself. Fred couldn’t deny it. Finally, a witness! I was dying to know what he was saying, but Fred wouldn’t eavesdrop (another reason I need to learn French!) The man seemed competent. He was well-groomed and ate with utensils.

When the waitress dropped off his check, he started talking with her, a lot. Having been a former waitress, I could feel her pain. Especially here, where the tip is included, you really have no incentive to entertain your patrons with conversation. I mentioned to Fred that the man seemed lonely (I had seen him look over at us a few times during dinner, like an eager child hoping to get picked for Red Rover).

I told Fred that he should chat with him while I went to the bathroom. Fred did not, of course. So when I returned I took it upon myself, the U.S. Goodwill Ambassador, to ask him “Vous manger ici beacoup?” [You to eat here a lot?] And, for the next hour, there we sat, speaking to Francois our new best friend. He spoke English very well. He worked in London for 2 years, 25 years ago (and yet I can't remember my French lesson from yesterday!) He was very kind and interesting and shared all kinds of information about history, his family, his health, etc.

As Fred and I walked home, I realized why people here talk to themselves. Because they can end the conversation at their convenience. They don’t have to put on their scarf (hint one), put on their jacket (hint two), move to the edge of their seat (hint three), say “it was nice meeting you” three times (hints four, five, and six), stand up (hint seven), take three steps back (hint eight), or look at their watch multiple times (hints nine through twenty) . When they're done talking, they're done talking.

Although I’ve solved this mystery, I still don’t know why there is a siren in my ear. Perhaps it’s trying to warn me to listen to my husband and not talk to strangers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dear Anonymous . . .

Apparently there is a pervert among us that goes by the name “Anonymous” who is curious about the nature of Bilbo’s fetish. It’s an annoying habit that he picked up at the SPCA (I can only assume, or Fred conditioned him during the 2002 NBA play-offs, I still don’t know), but he loves to be petted while he’s eating. We can’t even stand up without him running in front of us and meowing as he attempts to guide us to his bowl. We can’t break him of it. It’s the equivalent of buying your kid candy in the grocery line just to shut him or her up. It’s a test of wills and he wins every time.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Does the Rally Kitty want a Belly Rub?

It’s amazing how low a man will sink to satisfy his insatiable appetite for sports. Fred, a huge San Antonio Spurs fan, greatly misses watching NBA games on television. Luckily, he’s able to chat on the Spurs forum; however, he misses out on a lot of the action because the games are usually televised while he’s sleeping. The morning after game day, a sleepy-eyed Fred stumbles to the computer to check the scores. Sadly, he continues to put the same amount of pressure on Bilbo aka “The Rally Kitty”. The Rally Kitty, however, does benefit from the difference in time zone. Instead of being subjected to queries of “Are the Spurs going to win Rally Kitty?”, “Isn’t papa nice to you Rally Kitty?” and “Do you want your fetish Rally Kitty?” (Don’t even ask about this last one) for an entire basketball game, now he only has to hear them for about 15 minutes before Fred goes to bed. What scares me though is that Fred has gotten really into watching darts, yes, darts and snooker – what the non-obsessed refer to as pool. Every so often, he'll exclaim with glee over a bulls-eye or a pocket-shot while I sit in astonishment. So next time you’re flipping through the channels and you ask yourself “Who in the world watches this?” Now you know: Frederic R-----y, Paris, France.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Don't Forget to Floss! - A Cautionary Tale

Bilbo’s crafty. He snuck through customs with a rotten tooth and a gum infection. Just before we left the U.S., we took Bilbo in for his yearly check-up and to get his travel documents. His vet told us that he was due for a teeth cleaning (we had no idea just how ready, but before you go calling the Humane Society, he’s only 4 years old and another vet had told us a few months prior that his teeth were fine). Thus, just weeks after traveling 15 hours on an airplane, we decided to reward him with a visit to his new vet in Paris.

The bad news: Bilbo had two teeth pulled. The good news: It was half the price it would have cost in the U.S. (Trust me, I know. Only he didn’t have to wear a retainer with a fake tooth that turned purple at the sight of red wine for the better part of a year!) I was curious why this was so. I told Fred that I thought the vet was skimping by not sanitizing instruments or using anesthesia. He defended the vet and said it’s because he doesn’t make a six-figure salary and, therefore, doesn’t have to charge as much. I reminded him that U.S. doctors have to make that much because they have $200-$400k in student loans (which he knows and understands, but I felt like saying it anyway).

Bilbo had to stop eating at 10:00 p.m. the night before his appointment. It was torture watching the little guy come up to us being nice (for a change), purring, and walking toward the empty space where his food and water used to be. In the morning, I waited for Fred to get dressed then I hopped out of bed, grabbed Bilbo, threw him in his travel bag, and pushed them both out the door. I couldn’t stand it. I started to cry.

Fred picked Bilbo up 6 hours later. When he came out of his bag he had a little white rag tied just above his right front paw. He looked just like Adolfo “Shabba-Doo” Quinones from Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. It was so cute and made all of the stress worth it, at least from my perspective (of course, Fred removed the bandage before I could get a picture for you! I tried to restage it, but neither Bilbo nor Fred would let me). I threw a piece of cardboard on the ground and put on “Days Go By” by Dirty Vegas, but Bilbo was a huge party pooper and wouldn’t perform (apparently the vet did use anesthesia).

P.S. For all of you Bilbo fans (and my sister), don’t worry, Bilbo is all better and eating a ton!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Suffering Through 2005

Fred and I went to a New Year’s Eve party hosted by Fred’s work colleague. It was nice and overall I had a good time. I spent a lot of time speaking with a guest, Olivier (not the nice one from our wedding), who had studied and worked in London for five years. His English was excellent and he was sitting on the sofa, making him an easy target.

You’d think I would be grateful to have someone to talk to. But in this case, silence would have been more entertaining. Things started off around the word “twat” a cute little word he had picked up in England. I told him that in the U.S. that word is considered offensive by most (I assumed it had a different meaning in British English). He said, no in fact, it was very offensive, more offensive than the c-word.

Shortly thereafter, he told me that his ex-girlfriend, who was pregnant with their child, had broken up with him on Christmas Day. Perhaps this is why he was fast to bring up the word twat. He explained that he didn’t want to come out that night, but he felt he must to save himself from jumping out the window at the strike of midnight. (I considered calling a taxi in the hopes I could get him back home by 11:59 p.m.) I wanted to tell him that his girlfriend, who already had a child from a former boyfriend, sounded like a mess. I guess I didn’t see the point, considering that probably was the only woman that would have him.

The conversation moved on to the topic of work. He is a scientist for an oil company and spoke of his position as if he was worthy of a Nobel Prize. He told me that his job was very exciting as he often traveled to Congo on two-week boat trips to assess off-shore oil production. He laughed as he told me of the immigrants who worked on these boats for months at a time. That it must be awful for them, but apparently they needed the money. He said there was a dog on the boat at one point, but it “disappeared” – insinuating that the workers had eaten it. I wanted to tell him that the dog probably committed suicide, jumping overboard to avoid another two-week trip with him. (It was at this point that I began to suspect that the child probably wasn’t even his and was conceived during one of his many boat trips, but I didn’t raise the issue because the thought of him paying child support for another man's baby delighted me.)

Continuing on his self-important tirade, he volunteered that he used to work at the CEA (where Fred currently works), but only for eight months. He found it boring and believes that the CEA is a place where a scientist should go when he is in his 50s, not when he is young and full of passion. Yes, spending two weeks on a boat in the Congo away from your future child and easy girlfriend, eating dog sounds thrilling. He's drilling oil, not curing cancer.

We moved on to the topic of geography. Fred entered the conversation and asked Olivier if he was originally from Bordeaux (he was a guest of Fred’s friend from Bordeaux, a natural assumption). He said (knowing that Fred was from Bordeaux), “No, I don’t like Bordeaux”. I wondered how this extra bit of information was helpful, but was soon distracted with jealous thoughts toward "his" future child and how lucky the baby would be not to have this jackass in his or her life.

We moved on to the U.S. I asked him if he had visited. He shared that he had been to Minnesota, New York, and Boston and that he couldn’t stand Boston because it was “trying to look like a European city”. Hello, idiot! Who do you think founded Boston? Yes, Europeans, who presumably designed and built the city. This I told him (without the idiot part, which I assumed was implied). While we were on the subject of the U.S., he took the opportunity to tell me that he didn’t like the American accent. I saw that as my opportunity to shut-up and stop torturing him with my beastlike grunts.

I scurried away to find my husband, and just in time! A few moments later, we rang in the New Year! And it was fabulous to be away from that loser, but mostly fabulous to be in Fred’s arms! On the train ride home, I couldn’t help but wonder what a better year 2006 would be had Olivier stayed home.