My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Monday, January 30, 2006

bless the day you came my way

This weekend I was blessed with good company.

Saturday night I found myself crossing the Seine, smoking and laughing with two strangers. Two strangers that knew me before we even met.

Charlie and Ari are students from Yale studying in Paris through a study abroad program. I met Charlie through my blog, and we agreed to meet up for drinks when he arrived in the city. He brought his friend Ari along, because she was the one who introduced him to my blog.

Sitting outside of Starbucks clutching my tea, they spotted me immediately, and Ari waved her arms from across the street.

I hesitated. I hesitated because there’s nothing more awkward than waving at somebody who’s actually waving at the person sitting beside you.

But it was them. “You look exactly like you do in the photos in your blog, so it was easy!” Laughed Ari.

I felt at ease with them instantly, heading up St.Michel towards my favorite sushi spot, laughing about the fact that they know almost everything about my life here.

The conversation flowed all night, from dinner, to drinks at a trendy bar in the Marais that they’ve named their own. They both ooze optimism and enthusiasm, excited to finally be in Paris.

Just being with them reminded me the beauty of living here.

Later in the night, I left them, an undrinkable Bloody Mary, an infinite number of beautiful gay men, and the smoke filled bar so I could wake up in time the next day for another rendez vous.

I have no doubt that they kicked back a few more cocktails after I left, and that Charlie managed to catch the eye of every male in the bar.

I walked to the metro, across the bridge, and through the small streets of the Latin Quarter, giggling into my scarf at all the owners of the Greek and Italian restaurants who tired to lure me in for a meal.

I woke early Sunday morning and took off on the metro for my next rendez vous.

I arrived on time at Harold’s aunt’s apartment, ready for a long day of walking and another trip to the Indian quarter.

She was painting a large canvas of women in long colorful robes.

Marie Cecile, her friend, was already on the sofa, smoking rolled cigarettes, her beautiful French face with its usual serious expression.

Soon Harold arrived, along side his cousin Damien, and Damien’s father.

They all arrived with their large careless grins, Damien’s father with a long ponytail and a leather jacket.

Soon we were all packed into the metro riding towards the Indian quarter. I felt good in this random mix of people. They’re the kind of people you don’t mind brushing up against, the kind of people you can walk with in a comfortable silence, or scream and laugh with, knowing they’ll join you before they judge you.

Walking through the Indian quarter beside Damien and his torn up jeans, he put his over-sized headphones on my ears. I walked through the streets, taken away by the reggae music pumping into my system.

I was aware of my colorful surroundings and yet removed by the music, and let my company choose a restaurant as I bobbed my head.

Lunch was good. I had a three-course meal for 7 euros, and a mouthful of flavors to go with it. I had a samosa, a vegetable curry, and a bright orange cake laced with cinnamon and raisins for dessert.

Afterwards the six of us took off walking. We walked out of the Indian quarter through streets laced with African vendors, towards les Buttes-Chaumont for another visit of this ravishing savage park.

This time the lake was frozen. Birds tip toed on the water with a strange curiosity. Harold made my heart stop with fear as he walked onto the lake, and became the first man I’ve seen to walk on water.

Afterwards we walked through Belleville, with its small shops and charming courtyards, and stopped for hot drinks at a local pub. We walked up to the Belleville park where the sun was setting over Paris, a fog lying gracefully over the Eiffel tower in the distance.

We walked through an Asian district. We walked down streets with bohemian apartments, paint chipping off doors as if it was meant to. Past bright blue shutters, a bright green Brazilian restaurants, and a man who claimed he loved blondes.

We walked for hours in comfortable silence, scattered on the sidewalk, eyes engrossed in the sights around us.

We walked past the busy bars of Oberkampf, the bright sky turning into a midnight blue.

After hours of walking made our way back to Harold’s aunt’s apartment.

In her small colorful living room we drank mugs of sweet Indian Chai tea, and then moved on to aperitifs.

Eventually I wished them all a good evening, and took off on the long metro ride home.

I added my face to the sea of people on the metro, sat beside a man in a long green African robe, and read a book of poetry.

He sang to himself, and I read, stopping at the end of each poem to look up at the faces around me.

I no longer feel alone in this city.

frozen lake at Buttes-Chaumont
Belleville Sunset
the revolutionaries
watching the sun set over Paris
painting people in gold

"The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;"

-from Galway Kinell's Saint Francis and the Sow

My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Friday, January 27, 2006

anything for you and your gros bisous

When I was leaving, he ran to the door to kiss me goodnight.

Usually he yells goodnight from his bedroom, but tonight the nine-year-old boy I care for caught me at the door and planted one on my cheek.

He's a funny young thing. This week I planned an outing to see The Chronicles of Narnia at a cinema on the Champs Elysées. In the morning he was fine with the plan, but when lunch came around he was screaming and crying.

"I won't go to the cinema! I hate the cinema more than anything! You're mean! I won't go!"

It lasted hours. Soon the girl was crying too, afraid we wouldn't be able to go because of her brother's meltdown.

He was furious, shaking, and gave himself a headache. I took him in my arms and made him take deep breaths. "I'll do my best to make this a good experience," I told him, "we'll get candy before. We'll have fun."

At one point he mentioned he was afraid something in the movie would scare him. I think this was the root of the meltdown.

Eventually through humour and persuasion I got them there, armed with a bag of cookies and candies, the young girl carrying her bright pink umbrella up the Champs Elysées even though it wasn't raining.

I spent the entire two hours of the movie on the edge of my seat, afraid a scene would be too scary for him or that he would want to leave.

Afterwards we walked up the Champs Elysées under a dark sky and flurries. We walked past the tourists, past the giant glowing Louis Vuitton store, and up to meet their father.

He wouldn't admit to liking the film afterwards, but I watched his face grow engrossed with the film as we watched it.

While I was preparing dinner the father whispered to me: "He's too stubborn to admit it, but he won't stop talking about it and it's obvious he loved it!"

I was relieved that the parents were impressed with my motive to go on this outing. They saw my good intentions and thought it was a great idea.

These days my efforts feel appreciated, and after four months I feel I've finally gotten into the hang of things.

There are good days and bad days. Every day I push myself to the limit, to edge of my patience, whether I've slept the night before or not. Sometimes I want to pack my bags. Sometimes I want to pull my hair out, scream, and cry along with them.

But every day bonds go stronger. I grow stronger.

And honestly, it's all worth it for a kiss on the cheek.

My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

scattered like a Picasso

The sky was grey and heavy.

Cool gusts of air snuck into my jacket.

Bare tree limbs stuck up into the air and over the fence of Le Jardins des Tuileries.

I snuck into WH Smith with all the other Anglophones for my fill of English literature. Stacks of shiny new books at exuberant prices caught my attention, but not the bills in my wallet. My fingers raced through cookbooks and stole quick tips, but I lef the books behind and sent myself back into the streets.

I walked le Rue Rivioli, my ears drowning in heavy American accents, my eyes tired of seeing tacky tourist sweatshirts and t-shirts with sayings like "Paris University: Sex Professor".

I made my way up into Les Marais, to admire beautiful men holding hands, and up to the Picasso museum.

I walked through quickly, only caught by one painting of a woman on a bed. I imagine her and Picasso were lovers. I imagine they'd made love all night, and while she lay half asleep, naked on his bed sheets, he felt compelled to paint her. I imagine she liked it.

I left the museum and wandered to more English bookstores, looking for a book that doesn't exist, and making a list in my head of books I might buy next time.

I walked past les bouquinistes. I tried to take a picture of a vendor, but he watched me pull out my camera so I took pictures of the Seine. He looked at me, grinning under his cap, and offered to take my picture. I blushed and said "Non merci," because I was more interested in the sights around me.

I felt like my eyelids were being pulled open and everything around me seemed to enter into my system.

And I can't help but wonder why Picasso chose to paint one woman beautifully, as she was, and the rest with their breasts at their feet and their faces in their stomachs, body parts more scattered than my mind.


My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

when everything turns to gold

I often have my head in the clouds.

This morning I walked up to the hairdresser’s, eyes locked on the blue sky, trying to figure out why the sun only seems to show up on the weekends in Paris.

Soon after I was racing out of the hairdresser's towards the metro, my kitten heels clicking against the pavement, my hair lighter and flapping in the wind.

I met Harold at the Gare de l’Est and we took off to a nearby neighborhood filled with Indian restaurants, grocery stores and boutiques.

My pupils enlarged at the sight of the gold jewelry, the colorful saris, the boxes of fish on the sidewalk, and stores packed with bulk bags of curry, paprika, cumin, rice and beans. Porcelain skinned Parisians were replaced with a variety of dark faces, and the smell of baguettes was replaced with that of chapatti and poppadoms.

Focused on food as usual, we decided to find a restaurant. We settled on a 100% vegetarian restaurant with a photograph of a blue baby wearing gold jewelry and an attractive menu. The restaurant was full of Indians, a few Parisians, and had one table to spare.

Wanting to taste everything available we shared two large dishes: one with poppadom, served with a side of spicy eggplant with tomatoes and a yoghurt dip; and another dish with a large rice crepe stuffed with curried potatoes, served with a side of spiced coconut and curried vegetables. Everything came with mounds of exotic rice, laden with beans, peas and spices.

Between bites and groans of pleasure we shared sips of a thick banana smoothie. We proceeded to finish the feast with a dessert that tasted like a marinated doughnut, and a mug of sweet and creamy chai tea.

The meal was amazing. Fresh. Packed with flavor. A sigh of relief from the simple children's food I'd been cooking all week. What’s more, the entire feast came up to 19 euros. You can pay more than that for a salad and a Perrier in Paris.

We waddled our way out of India town towards le Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Les Buttes-Chaumont is the only garden in Paris that isn’t overly manicured and cut to perfection. Instead, a sunken boat sits in a large pond, and nature grows wild everywhere. ‘Buttes’ translates to hills, which the park is full of. You can hike up any one of these tall, grassy hills to admire the rooftops of Paris and dream of the day you can fly.

When the air started to turn cool, we walked out the park, where we passed a smiling bride and her wedding party, a Carrousel, carnival games and a row of ponies being led down the path.

We took a bus to la Place de la Republique, where we bought a large bag of sweet and sour candy from a street vendor, and walked to his aunt’s apartment with sugar coated fingers. We waited for his aunt in the stairwell, reading prose by an Indian writer. She arrived soon after with another cheeky French woman, and allowed us into the apartment for tea, coffee, good humor and eventually aperitifs.

With the arrival of aperitifs-a port wine-came Harold’s cousin with the interminable smile, and a photographer friend of the family, donned in a black suit jacket and hat.

With the aperitif flowing, so was the conversation, covering every subject from the importance of the size of a man’s manhood, to starting a revolution. No subject was taboo, and I was comfortable as ever, lounging back on a large floor pillow and laughing into my port. When Harold’s aunt hugged her son tight for daring to dream of a freer world, I knew I was in a good place.

I left with an invitation for lunch and wanderings next Sunday, an invitation to pose for the photographer, and the satisfaction that comes from good company and conversation.

When I arrived back at my apartment, a small letter from Canada had been slipped under my door.

I closed my door, closed up the day, and said goodnight to a day drenched in gold.

lovers in the light
parcs des buttes-chaumont

My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

the oyster is mine

I walked into the patisserie this morning, my hair swept back into a chignon, and breathed in the smell of bread baking.

While waiting in line I took in all the pastries: the heavy almond croissants doused in icing sugar, the intricately layered mille feuilles, the thick pains au chocolat and the apple tarts with woven dough, revealing their soft apple insides.

I smiled at the man behind the counter and he wrapped up my baguette without me saying a word. We wished each other a good day as usual, and I left smiling, practically strutting in well-being.

I’ve been struck with happiness, health and self-assurance this week. Suddenly French formalities make sense and I can walk with ease in this culture.

Through many conversations with other nannies, I’ve come to understand my role as an au pair. I've learnt that every problem is not my fault, that all children are difficult, that no situation is perfect and that we’re all exhausted by the end of the day.

I’ve stopped seeing myself as Cinderella and have realized we’re all cleaning up after somebody else. I can see that the kids work hard, as do the parents, and I am not as deprived as I once believed myself to be.

This week a homeless man fell asleep in our building, just outside the family’s apartment. I saw him lying on the hallway floor in the morning, and still half asleep myself, smiled and said “Bonjour,” while thinking nothing of it. He smiled back then returned to his sleep.

Later I was told he wouldn’t leave, and I had to take the kids to Mcdonalds while the police got him out of the building.

It was a strange event, which switched up our routine, and made things a little more interesting. The kids faces lit up when I yelled: “Guess where we are going? The wonderful…the miraculous…the fantastic…Mcdonalds!” I honestly hate the place, and they smell like urine here, but the kids love it.

If the kids love it, I might as well too. I love it when they’re happy. When they’re happy we laugh, we play, we joke around, and my days go by with ease. These days I find myself looking at them with adoring eyes when they make scenes in public, yell swear words, and get dirty looks from more refined Parisians.

I’m even learning to manage the tears and screams, which no longer play with my stress levels so much.

The air is changing. I can feel it. And something inside of me is too.

By writing and focusing on small goals, by considering my own happiness, my whole world is opening up.

My eyes are open, my heart is open, my mind is open.

I feel like this giant oyster of life is opening up to me, telling me there’s still a pearl left inside.

I'm afraid of oysters, but I’m pretty in pearls, and I’ve realized that sometimes you have to push your boundaries to get what you want.

My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

just give me a day to take you away

On Sundays Paris takes on a whole new rhythym.

It's a day to walk hand in hand, to take photos along the Seine, to go out for crepes, to stop in cafes, to try out your rollerblades, to go to museums and to take a day off for pleasure.

In the morning I walked down to a Sunday market near my apartment for fresh produce. Screaming merchants and rows of fruits and vegetables always give me my country fix. I went to my favourite vendor, always with a grin, and always boasting about his produce, and bought carrots, broccoli, apples, pears, beetroot and tomatoes. I stopped by a mediterranean stand and bought fresh hummus. I bought everything I needed at the first few stands, and spent the rest of the time feasting my eyes on the rest of the scene. There were roasted chickens, giant blocks of cheese, beets the size of my head, rows of fresh bread and discount make-up and clothing thrown into bins. I walked home with my goods and feasted on a fresh salad and a mound of hummus.

In the afternoon I took off to the Marais, where I met Mirka, a Czech au pair, in front of le Musée Carnavalet. We had planned to go in, but once again the sky was so blue that we knew doing anything indoors would be a shame. So we took off wandering, exchanging au pair horror stories and personal details. I led the way, exploring new streets, and when Mirka looked at me and said: "Do you know where we are?" I smiled and told her no, but that that was the way I liked it.

I split ways with Mirka in the metro with a kiss on each cheek and a plan to meet next week so that I could introduce her to sushi.

In the evening I took off for another rendez-vous with my Columbian friend Tatu and his friend Fernand. Fernand, another cheeky Columbian with love in his eyes, led us to a row of authentic Japanese restaurants, hidden in the back streets around the Opera. It was a trip to Tokyo; far from the touristic Japanese restaurants Paris is full of.

Every restaurant in this district was packed to the brim with Japanese, with no room left for our foreign bodies, but eventually we found a place with a few tables to spare. The restaurant was large and felt like a cafeteria. Under hydrogen light bulbs there was a kitchen in the front, with seats all around, and men throwing gyoza and vegetables into broilers by the second. Hungry diners dug deeply into their big bowls of noodles and rice while the chefs ran around in the centre.

We ended up sitting with a group of Mexicans Tatu and Fernand quickly befriended in the line. I had fried pork and vegetables along with a cold sake wine. It was simple food with simple prices, quickly prepared and simply served. But it was satisfying, and as Fernand pointed out, it would be wrong for me to complain when I had licked my plate clean.

Most of the dinner conversation was a mix of Spanish and French that had my head swimming in sake and languages. But the company was warm. The latino culture always makes me very aware of how cold my own is. I always feel reserved, quiet, and lacking in sexual experience. Even the way they speak screams sex. I would look like an idiot if I started rolling my r's and speaking at their speed and rhythym.

After screaming some Beatles songs in the streets with Tatu, I left these loud, beautiful individuals in the metro, and headed home. They invited me to come along to hammam steam room, but I wasn't feeling steamy, and knew that this would somehow lead to drinks and lack of sleep afterwards.

If there's anything I like about working hard throughout the week, it's that when the weekend comes, every moment is richer than a butter filled croissant.

It's been a delicious weekend, and I'm ready for the week ahead.

camera happy tourists
caroussel in the sky
look both ways
childhood memories
skating at hotel de ville
hotel de ville skating

My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

in love again

A golden sun poured over the city today.

The romance I had longed for seemed to be sewn into the air, down every back alley I took, and in the eyes of strangers who held my gaze.

I sat in La Place des Vosges with a double cafe creme, under a heat lamp, at a small round table with wicker seats, intimately close to the other small tables.

I scribbled in my journal and stared into the park infront of me. I watched a man in a colourful scarf kick a ball to his son. I watched a man pedal by on his bicycle, a small basket at the front. I watched an old woman inch by with fur around her neck and red lipstick on her lips. I watched the park guard with the large gut wave his finger at children.

I spent the day walking main streets and back streets. I went into a couple of my favourite stores to scout the sales and yet found the crowds to be suffocating.

I walked into small boutiques and admired clothing by Parisian designers. I stopped in a small English bookstore and American foodstore to comfort my eyes with familiar sights. I peeked through gallery windows and stopped in small shops with fun gadgets and kicknacks for sale.

I was afraid to spend too long in any shop, and avoided museums altogether, because I wanted to make the most of the bright blue sky.

When it finally turned dark I took myself out to a sushi bar for dinner and feasted on sashimi and rice. I dined happily alone, eating what I could of the towering plate of sashimi before me. Who knew raw fish could make a girl so happy?

Walking home, I waited to cross the street with a small hunch backed lady. She had a scarf tied around her head and a long winter jacket. When a woman wizzed by without stopping to let her cross, she screamed "Oh that's charming!" I laughed and nodded my head. "These drivers," she said, "I'm sorry if you're a driver...but they can be so rude." "I don't have my driver's license, don't worry," I answered. And we proceeded to talk about driving, about Canada, where I'm from, and about the cold. She tugged a little at my low rise jeans and said "You must be cold!" I smiled and told her I found it amazingly warm today.

France is filled with little old women who love to speak to strangers. These women hold a special place in my heart. I'll be one of them some day. I love sporadic conversations and am always happy to come across one. You'll find them at markets, in the grocery store, or crossing the street.

We went our seperate ways at the end of the street, where she wished me a good night, a good year, a good life, and good luck in eventually getting my license. I wished her all the best.

I walked the rest of the way home under a full moon, full of love for this city again.

green godesses
shady heads
accessory queen
place des vosges
night walking

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
wich is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

-e.e cummings

My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Friday, January 13, 2006

when did romance become old fashioned?

There have been no croissants in my life lately.

No lover under my bed covers.

No cigarettes in my ashtray.

No sunshine on the Seine.

I am optimistic and push through every day with a smile on my face, but these days there is little romance in my life here.

The other day I was walking home in the rain from the park with the kids, freezing, rain seeping into my shoes, carrying a scooter which kept smacking against my leg, one hand gripping cookies and a wobbly umbrella, my fingers blue with cold. I could only see a morsel of the Eiffel tower, the rest covered by fog.

That’s how it all feels sometimes: covered in fog. The dream, the beauty, the happiness and confidence I used to carry so well.

I’m sick of having a six-year-old girl boss me around. A girl who puts me down and hates to see me win at anything. I’m working on enforcing my authority, of sharing some of the dramas with the parents, and on not throwing her out of her bedroom window.

It’s not all bad. I’m getting very good at my job. I do everything I’m asked and more, and no longer receive daily complaints. Instead I’m thanked for teaching math tricks, sewing part of the girl’s jacket back together, making good meals, and for leaving two happy children at the end of the night.

Yesterday I stayed in with the young boy, and worked extra hours watching him, as he’s been sick. He was incredibly easy to care for. I made him spaghetti, hot chocolate, and drew him Yoda. He seemed happy. I read while he walked around the room talking about Star Wars battles. He does this for hours. I nod and smile and try to read my book.

I plan on writing a lot more. I plan on finding the romance that brought me here in the first place, and has brought thousands of writers and artists to Paris throughout time. I want to immerse myself in art and culture and remember what makes my heart beat.

I plan on writing honestly.

I don’t care to lie anymore. I don’t want to fill the page with lies and clichés because I’m afraid of saying how I feel.

I feel lost here. Honestly. But I’m holding on tight to the dream that brought me here in the first place.

It's early Saturday morning and I have the weekend ahead of me. I have streets to wander, the winter sales to check out, museums to visit, cafes to try, and my favourite drinking partner meeting up with me tonight.

I might even stop for a croissant. I want it warm, buttery, flakey and melting in my mouth. I want it to bring me back to the romance.

My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

i've known too many goodbyes

Something hit me in the stomach the moment they left my apartment.

I've been spoiled by their company and it's hard to let them go. It's hard knowing I won't see their faces for another 6 months. I should be used to it by now. But I'm not.

Having my parents here has been nostalgic. Tonight I sat in an Italian restaurant with the both of them, in the 16th arrondissement, and remembered what if felt like to be someone's child. I am no longer a mysterious foreigner with them, I am a daughter, a part of the family, and their baby. I'm their youngest, and the only girl.

Part of me found it hard suddenly losing my independance. At first I was uncomfortable being in such a familiar cocoon. But I eased into it. It didn't take long for me to start laughing at my dad's jokes or to start holding tight to my mother. Suddenly I didn't have to take my pretentious Parisian surroundings so seriously. I didn't have to fend for myself on every account. I had people to fall back into. People who would catch me, then pour me a glass of wine and let me bitch.

They had highs and lows in Paris. A shitty apartment and then a better apartment. My mother's wallet being stollen. The weather being uncomfortably cold. They got to see past the romance that a short stay and a nice hotel will blind you from. They used to always tell me "But you're in Paris!" When I would complain. They were always understanding, but now they really understand. They've seen how tired I look at the end of the day.

When I look at my mom and my dad and I see myself.

I laugh like my dad. I have the same taste buds as my dad. I have the same curiosity for small shops and back streets as he does. I love to tap my feet to a heavy jazz or blues beat like he does.

I dream like my mother. I stare off into the distance and walk for hours, deep in thought, in the same way she does. I gasp at beautiful clothing, and hold onto beautiful poetry in the same way she does. And like her, I often think too hard. I think it's a strength and a weakness for both of us.

The only time I grow annoyed with them is when they remind me too much of myself.

But for the most part, I adore them. They are the most understanding, open minded parents I've ever met. They dance, drink, curse and speak honestly about how they feel. God they're amazing people. Even if they weren't my parents I'd want to invite them over for drinks and dinner.

Even more, they adore me. And I'll always love them for loving me.

My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

you make this life possible

They’re leaving soon.

The three beautiful individuals who have been lighting up my life these past few weeks are leaving. Tomorrow morning my brother leaves Paris, and two days later, so do my parents.

The last few days have been like a crème brûlée: hard and sometimes dark on the outside, with grey skies and screaming children, but sweet, warm and savoury underneath, with moments of laughter and love with my family.

My father treated me to lunch at a location of my choice. I chose the restaurant in Fauchon, a large gourmet food store in Paris, which is quite the crème of the crop. We were served beautiful food by snotty waitresses with pink scarves around their necks, and enjoyed a two hour lunch in a classy setting. I couldn't get over the fact that you got a fresh face cloth to dry your hands with everytime you went to the toilets. Even more impressive was their fresh lemon tart, which being true to its name, was the freshest we have ever tasted.

My mother and I bought more lingerie, and admired the lace, ribbons and embroideries on bras at exuberant prices. Afterwards we sat in a noisy brasserie, ordered cafes, and talked heart to heart. Mother to daughter. Woman to woman. We both agreed that if we wanted to succeed at anything, we had to believe in ourselves. And although I’ve heard that phrase countless times, this time it actually meant something.

My brother and I bought each other drink after drink last night, and moved our bodies to electro music in a smoky underground club. It was body against body, everyone shaking to the beat, as three female Djs took the stage. The most surreal was a young Danish DJ, who had a beard drawn on her face, and appeared to be on the verge of insanity. She flung her arms violently as she screamed English lyrics, singing song after song about women she'd loved. I loved her at first, until her singing became yelling, and her music became noise. We cheered when the next DJ replaced her.

We also finally got all for of us for dinner at Le Grand Colbert, an old restaurant famous for its typical Brasserie cuisine of oysters and fish, and for its scene in the film Something’s Gotta Give. We had a bottle of wine, good food, and a playful waiter who gave me all the attention I wanted.

We got back together tonight, when I visited my family in their Montmartre apartment. Their apartment is stylish and comfortable, and a vast improvement from the apartment they first rented but had to move out of. I took them to visit my Turkish family at their restaurant, where we were lovingly welcome, and served generous portions of meat, rice, and fries for a very price. It felt good introducing my family to the one family that really makes me feel at home in Paris.

Back at the apartment I curled up into my mother and didn’t want to leave. But I knew the sun would rise the next day, or the sky would atleast turn a light grey, and that there are things to be done; children to fetch from school.

I said a final aurevoire to my brother, who I won't see for months, and took the metro home. I got off a stop early, walked across a bridge that reveals the Eiffel tower in the distance, and back to my apartment, to my present life and reality.

salade fauchon
place de l'opera
le grand colbert
boulangerie bio
portrait of my mother
i saw this girl in the bathroom
the crown is hers
god i love her

My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

it's not child's play

God my life in Paris is sexy and glamorous.

I'm back to wearing a Harry Potter backpack as I totter down the street with four other bags and two tiny children.

I'm back to having my clothes pulled at, my face rubbed at with dirty hands and my purse full of cookies and crumbs.

I'm back to making wolf noises, throwing chicken nuggets in the oven and making funny faces in the mirror with a child perched up on my back.

This afternoon I was walking down the street with my hand to my ear, miming a cell phone, screaming "Where are you? I'm on le Rue d'Auteuil!" To the little girl who screamed "I'm on the next street, I'll meet you in a second and we'll take the metro together!" Back to me. Half the people that passed us couldn't help but stare and laugh.

If there's anything good about this job, it's that everyday I'm forced to let go and become more down to earth.

When I arrived at the apartment on Monday, after not seeing the kids for two weeks, they both screamed, smiled and cheered. The young girl jumped into my arms, then dragged me to her room to show me her christmas gifts, and then swung me in circles as we danced around the boy's room.

"I forgot that you were here, but as we were heading back, I remembered that Gillian would be there when we got back, and I was really excited!"

Her small French face, which I've seen turn to a horrible frown on various occasions, was beautiful and beaming. All of a sudden both of the kids seemed adorable. It didn't matter that they've made me scream more than I ever have in my life, they were ecstatic to see me.

Today I worked ten hours straight with them for the first time. But I came out alive. The tantrums are growing shorter and my patience is growing longer.

I'm making an effort not to sweat the small stuff. I'm reminding myself that I'm human. I'm taking more walks, eating better, sleeping more and re-discovering my passion for coffee and it's effect on me.

I've made a conscious decision to enjoy my time here. To frequent brasseries for overpriced cafe cremes, to look in boutiques I can't afford, to eat fattening pastries and walk the Seine as much as possible. I don't want to embrace the French culture, I want to make love to it.

I also plan on taking more deep breaths. I stress myself out too much. It's time to play.

My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

"bonne année!" is what they say

The night started in Montmartre.

My brother and I made our way up to the small apartment my parents have rented for two weeks. I was armed with vodka, heels, and fake eyelashes for the occasion.

When we got off at Chateau Rouge, a sketchy metro stop near the apartment, swarms of people were trying to push through the barriers without paying. The funny thing was that the metro was free for New Year's. "C'est gratuit!" One voice shouted at those trying to cheat the system.

I made us all dinner in the small apartment, frying up some meat my dad had bought at a nearby butcher's. "It's lamb," he said, but my dad's still mastering his French, and the butcher had actually sold him pork.

My brother and I started in on the vodka while we watched Amelie. Minutes later we were running down the same stairs Amelie leads a blind man through, and then our metro was flying past Abesses, a stop where she sees her love interest searching for photographs.

All the metro passengers were dressed for the occasion. Older women in fur coats, young woman with tinsel wrapped around their hair, and a group of young girls laughing, all wearing bright red lipstick, one with a long yellow gown, purple tights and platform sandals underneath.

We got off in the Oberkampf area, and as we passed three young woman on the street, I noticed one had an accordian. Minutes later she was playing the main song from Amelie as we headed up the sidewalk. There was magic in the air.

We went to a club called Nouveau Casino, attached to Cafe Charbon, and found there were about two people on the dance floor. We headed to the bar in Cafe Charbon and each ordered a vodka tonic.

While seated in a booth by the bar, the music stopped for an instant, and was replaced with "Dix...neuf...huit...sept...six...cinq...quatre...trois...deux...un...bonne année!"

We were stunned. In one small moment we went from being in 2005 to 2006. We clinked glasses and talked about our wishes for the new year.

When I went up to the bar for another drink, the bar staff was singing happy birthday to one of the workers. He was a dark skinned young man with thin dreadlocks and a charming face. I told him to get me a vodka tonic, and a drink for himself, on me. After we clinked glasses he told me it was also my birthday, and refused to let me pay.

After a few drinks we danced to a couple of bad techno songs on the club's dance floor, with what we both agreed were some of the worst dancers we have ever seen. You couldn't help but feel embarassed for the poor guy in the white sweatshirt, jumping around awkwardly with his fist in the air.

Afterwards we headed back out into the open air and walked for hours. We must have walked half of Paris. We screamed "Bonne Année!" With all the other young drunks while my heels clicked heavily on the sidewalk. We stopped for a Nutella crepe, after I'd spent the last half our talking about how badly I wanted one, and came very close to tasting heaven. We walked through the Marais-the wonderful gay district-where a young Italian man told me I was beautiful, then saw my brother, and announced that he was also beautiful.

Around 3:30 in the morning we were tired, cold and hungry. And like everyone else in Paris, we wanted a taxi. I became fierce and ran ahead of some other couples to grab us one, which sped us home, past the Eiffel tower, and back to my warm apartment.

It was a good start to the year. I was drunk, happy, with someone I love, and in Paris. I have no complaints.

My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

looking back on 2005

This year I said goodbye to Toronto, to my friends, and to my life as a sexy young journalist...
Toronto view
moonbeam cafe
toronto's underground passage
journalism girls
frat party
I visited L.A...
born to be a biker
When summer rolled around I spent a month alone in our old house in the South of France, where I wrote page after page and remembered the beauty of solitude...
my writing space
I then experienced a summer full of visitors, love, late nights and long conversations...
me and the boys
the women dance
mediterranean summer
music in the streets
feeling the effects of the festival
When summer ended, I moved to Paris, where my life as an au pair began...
how blue
le bricolage!
I was graced with many visitors...
in my apartment
saying goodbye with champagne
where do I look?
walking with my brother
maman and i
I finally turned 19...
And I got to enjoy my Christmas vacation in the South of France and in Paris with my family...
my little mother and i
happy to be back south
i get animal friendly
dad and I and le Polidor
mom and dad ride the metro

It's been a good one. Happy New Years everyone.