Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Weather check: green buds, dude!

The trees are well on their way to full bloom status, with giant green buds about to burst. I love it.

Cute men below!

I had one of those fuckfuckfuck moments last night.

I left work by 6:30 in order to enjoy the long, sunny evening (we just turned our clocks ahead this weekend). I did a little shopping on Rue Montorgrueil, enjoying the sights and vibe, and then started climbing those stairs to my apartment. I put my key in the door, turned and pulled. Nothing happened. I jiggled the key, pulled harder, and still nothing. Etc, etc, etc. I kept doing this, more and more frantically until I realized it wasn’t the key or my technique, but the door was busted and I wasn’t getting in. Fuckfuckfuck!

Naturally, I didn’t have the number of my landlord (trust me, I do now) and it’s not the kind of building where you can knock on doors, trying to track someone down. So I decided to wait out front, hoping for Alexandre to roll up on his bicycle.

As I sat chomping the baguette I had just bought, without the cheese I got to go with it (yes, I bought cheese and bread for dinner), I noticed there was a little office right next door, with people still working. Perfect. I could ask to use a computer and then access my work email, which had Alexandre’s phone number.

Okay, so that’s all the long way of saying, I was flustered and anxious, and only more so when I entered this cool little office where five cute hipster dudes were hanging out and working. I tried bumbling my way through the French explanation of what I needed and finally one of the guys told me in English to go ahead and use his computer. As I sat there, trying to retrieve this phone number, slowly pecking at the French keyboard, they all sat around talking.

Perfect opportunity to meet some guys, right? To make some friends? They run a little event planning company, right next door to my apartment. Perfect opportunity to score some party invites, right? I wish. They were so cute, but so damn aloof. Some random American girl just barges in their office, and it didn’t phase them one bit. They weren’t curious or concerned. And my French is such crap and my mind was racing, I wasn’t equipped to seize the opportunity.

Later, after Alexandre came and got me into my apartment (hopefully the locksmith came today to fix the door), AJ and I decided that the seeds have been sewn and seize the opportunity, I shall. We decided I should play the eager, smiley American—maybe a big American cross between Julia Child and Jessica Simpson—and bake those boys some chocolate chip cookies!


It had to happen. I stepped in dog shit this morning. At least it wasn’t the warm, squishy kind. But still, I’m wearing my one and only pair of Manolos. Merde. Merde!

Oops, I did it again

My second week at the office, I managed to walk in what I thought was the direction of the hotel for 45 minutes, only to wind up beneath the Arc de Triomphe, like a human boomerang. Now that I’m in my apartment, in a different part of town, I’m proving again just how bad my sense of direction is.

I set out for work quite confidently: I had to make my way in a southwestward direction towards the Place de la Concorde, where I could then connect with the start of the Champs-Elysée. I was walking, walking, walking when I suddenly saw that I was in the 9th arrondisement (the street signs tell you which arrondisement you’re in). The 9th?? But the 9th is north of where I started… there’s no way I walked in the exact opposite direction that I wanted?!

But that’s exactly what I did. I still have no idea how I managed to go 180 degrees in the opposite direction, but when I looked at the map, there was no denying it. I was shocked by my abysmal navigating.

Monday, March 30, 2009

French phrase of the day: Le pouvoir de la pensée positive

Def: The power of positive thinking.

It’s a theme that I want to tap into more and more. I’m not about to pick up The Secret (though if someone left it at my apartment, I’d totally read it), but I think there’s something to it. I think that’s how I wound up here.

Good numbers

If I needed any validation that I think an awful lot about food, here’s a tally of my labels so far:

Eating (18)
Wandering, Just Because (14)
Culture and Customs, Language, Working (13)

Milo (5) won’t be happy.

La petite coeur

Before I came over to Paris, several people told me to expect tons of paperwork and bureaucracy. They didn’t lie. This will be my fourth week here, and, each week, I am getting contacted by someone to do something for someone else.

This morning I had an appointment at the medical controller’s office. I essentially had to be screened to ensure I don’t have TB and am otherwise healthy enough to be employed in France.

When I arrived for my 8:30 appointment, I thought it was going to be a proper doctor’s office. Instead I joined a sea of other immigrants (strange, I am an immigrant now), waiting outside the building. At 8:30 on the nose, the door was unlocked and we were all herded under the sad florescent lighting, through the sad, linoleum hallways that are universal fixtures at government offices. Then it was a lot of sitting around, waiting.

It was probably about 9 o’clock before the doctors arrived. The first check-in was just your basic height and weight recording and eye exam. But it was classic: I was wearing my tall boots, which did not come off for either the height or weight measurement. The doctor just looked down and eyeballed how tall the heel was. The eye exam was equally quick and sloppy. I wore my glasses.

More waiting, and then a chest x-ray. As I waited, I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with my Blackberry, which was a good thing since I never received any sort of manual or explanation to go with it. I discovered it has a camera.

More waiting and then a review of the x-ray with another doctor. He told me I have a small heart. A small heart!? I took this personally. I always considered myself to be big-hearted. Then he took my pulse—twice—because he didn’t believe my heart rate. My (small) heart beats only 47 times a minute. He was impressed and assured me this was a good thing. The average beats 60 times a minute. The doctor’s own beats 53 times a minute.

Then it was more waiting to be told what to do next (go down the hall to the next office) and then even more waiting there to be told what to do next (fax my forms to the police department).

Two hours out of my life and now I know that I don’t have TB but I do have a small, slow heart.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

London > Paris

I just returned from a beautiful weekend visiting Chris, Dana and the kids in London. It is so crazy and so exciting that, after 15 years, I will be living within a couple hours of my brother again. And now he has an incredible family that is also my family.

On the train ride home, I had strangest sense of comfort and familiarity—mingled with a heightened self-awareness I think you only feel when you travel alone or move somewhere by yourself.

It was so familiar as I have taken so many Sunday night train rides back to the city. It's always so nice: you have your snack and reading material, reflect on the weekend and look forward to the workweek, and have no choice but to relax and enjoy the ride. But at the end of the line, pulling into the station, it was always New York. Now, even if it’s only for six months, Paris is my home. The jostling and schlepping at the end of the ride thrusts me in the middle of a foreign city that is filled with different sounds, patterns, people, habits and light.

Which brings up that unique sense of heightened awareness: about your surroundings and also what’s going through your mind. It’s so liberating and exciting to have no routine and so few obligations right now. Everything is so fresh and new. Anything is possible. I love this feeling that everything is forming around me. It’s like sculpting or painting when it’s only possible to shape or form these impressions at the very beginning. As time goes on, the magic of being so aware and receptive will fade and everything will be ordinary again. I’ll still love Paris, but I’ll never see it with these same eyes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pastry check-in

Given my obsession with sweets, I’m pretty impressed with myself.

I would say I walk by at least 23 patisseries and boulangeries every day. At least. And probably six to eight street creperies. And I probably see about 17 or 18 people chomping on pastries on the sidewalks.

And yet the only sweet I bought for myself this past week was one wee Pierre Hermé macraroon (oh, it was sooo good). So last night, I indulged in an almond croissant.

Sure they’re typically for breakfast, and this one had probably been in the display case for 12 hours. But it was heavenly. Soft but crunchy, buttery and flaky, filled with almond paste, and dusted with confectioner sugar and almond slices. They really have their pastries down here.

Wowing the clients

I had my first client presentation for Hennessy yesterday. It was classic.

Four guys from my office and I went. We walked. We started on one side of the Arc de Triomphe, entered a tunnel, and emerged five minutes later on the other side of the historic landmark. I love it.

There were two clients: one guy who was so straight, and so French (suit, tie, not one facial expression throughout the presentation), and a young woman who didn’t say anything the whole time but sat next to him and looked good.

I created the presentation in English, and I presented it in English. But I’m not sure why. I would say my bit, then turn to my (bilingual) colleague, and he would say his bit in French.

In all, it was probably a 15-20 minute presentation. Followed by a 60-minute conversation. All in French.

I sat there, doing my best to look engaged and agreeable (these days, my forehead hurts at the end of the day from scrunching it for hours on end in that oui, oui/I’m following you expression of complete comprehension). I could decipher the occasional word and understand certain points of the conversation but the truth was, it was pointless to try to follow and I was so exhausted from all of the bluffing, and I really just couldn’t stop staring out the window at the Eiffel Tower.

The little things I love

• The efficiency of the Metro
• The way little French kids say “maman!” and “papa!”
• The warm, pinkish glow of the streetlights on side streets
• That I can look out the window and see the Pompidou Centre while I shower
• The way they prune and shape the trees
• The warm yeasty, buttery smell of boulangeries

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

International smorgasbord

I went to another small soiree with JP and Kyoko last night. It was at their friend’s apartment in the 20eme, which is filled with Lebanese cafes (yum, the smell of sweet tobacco).

Their friend is Brazilian but grew up mostly in London and speaks with a British accent.

His friend, a native Frenchie, was also there, en route to Poland.

Kyoko is Japanese, and she and JP (fellow American) came with their roommate who’s German—from Freiburg of all places, Aim!

I ate sushi, they had steak. I brought the Pierre Hermé chocolates.

Crash and burn

After a couple weeks of elation, energy and enthusiasm, what I am now is exhausted. Oh. My. God.

Apparently nobody knew that I’m not actually supposed to work while I’m here.

It’s been an intense week. Between getting to know my accounts, understanding new processes, overcoming language barriers with technology and people, and actually trying to be creative, my brain is drained.

And that’s just at the office. I’m still trying to unpack and settle into my apartment, figure out my commute, get to know my neighborhood, study French, write…

I know, poor me.

Word of the day: baguettes

I feel like Sally Field (they like me!). One by one, my colleagues are approaching me, starting conversations, offering help, being really nice. It’s great. Today they even invited me to lunch with them. We ordered in sushi, and I learned a new word: baguettes.

Nope, not the bread. It’s their word for chopsticks. I guess a loaf of bread does look like a wooden stick…

Weather check: phooey

Rain: check
Wind: check
Cold: check

There’s nothing to like about the weather this week.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I think it’s magic

When I was in Paris last New Year’s, I found myself walking through the quartier Montorgueil. I had no idea what it was, much less what it was called, but I was charmed by the narrow little streets and the indie shops and bars that were on them. And then I came across the actual rue Montorgueil with all the boulangeries, fromageries, florists, cafes, epiceries, etc. and—forget it—I was smitten.

When I returned in the summer, I sought out the neighborhood. I wanted to walk through the streets again. I snacked all over rue Montorgueil and did some window shopping. And now I’m living here. It’s just crazy. It makes me really happy. But I think we all have to be aware of these things that make us, if not happy, then at least sit up and take notice. Why do they do that? What does it mean? I think if we all think about things that really matter to us, even if it’s on the most subconscious level, they have a way of reappearing and entering and sometimes even changing our lives.

First ballet: comme ci, comme ca

I went to the ballet tonight and was strangely unmoved. I wanted to fall in love but after nearly two hours, I only got the goose bumps once.

French word of the day: Vachement

Def: Amazingly or extremely so.

As in Milo est vachement mignon. And je t’aime vachement, tous!

Weather check: where did this come from?

After nearly a week of flawless days—blue skies, temperatures firmly in the fifties—I awoke to grey fog yesterday. Not only had the sun gone away, but when I went outside, I was rudely greeted with that raw, damp chill. Ugh, winter, I thought you had gone away.

American speak

I absolutely love my new neighborhood, le quartier Montorgueil. It’s a maze of little pedestrian streets that are chockablock with cafes, markets and boutiques. One of the shops I passed on Rue Mandar this morning had me giggling:


It’s a cool looking shop—a hipster men’s store with jeans, tees and sunglasses that you’d see on the Lower East Side—but I wonder just what that name is supposed to mean?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another Sunday ritual

If you follow the pickled cabbage droppings through the Marais, you will find your way to the Rue des Rosiers. This is where the best falafel sandwich in Europe is said to be. And, after wandering around for a couple hours and not really feeling like sitting for one of my usual salads, it’s where I gravitated towards this afternoon.

I was very excited. I had really wanted to go to L'As du Fallafel when I was here last summer but I ran out of eating opportunities. Today was the perfect time.

Or so I thought. Rue des Rosiers is a legit pedestrians-only street in the Jewish quarter, so it’s largely closed on Saturdays, making Sundays a zoo. After fighting my way upstream for a few hundred feet (I really need to figure out my metric conversions), I spied L’As du Fallafel.

But, wait, is that… no, it can’t be… holy crap. The line was probably about 30 people deep, no kidding. I can’t imagine wanting to eat falafel that badly.

But I sort of did still want falafel. And I was hungry. So I decided to go to one of the less acclaimed, but still very popular competitors on the street, Chez Marianne. The line there was a more bearable 10 or 12 people long. It moved very slowly and as I got a little closer, I noticed the couple ordering hand the falafel guy a piece of paper. Then I started noticing the signs saying you had to get a ticket inside—at least that’s what I think those French signs said. I asked the guy behind me and he confirmed, oui, you need a ticket from inside. So, I turned to get a ticket and immediately lost my place in line. Strike two.

Moving on, I came across Chez Hanna. There was a small group of people at the window, which seemed to be moving pretty briskly. This time I noticed pretty quickly that everyone had a receipt in their hand. I put two and two together and went inside to order and get my ticket, then returned outside to wait in another (thankfully quick) line for the sandwich. Finally.

So then I became one of those walking-eaters, with hummus smeared across my cheek, leaving pickled cabbage in my wake. Part of the allure of these sandwiches is the size: they’re so monstrous—a pita, jammed with hummus, warm, crispy falafel, shredded carrots, diced cukes, pickled cabbage, fried eggplant, tahini and harissa—that they’re served with a fork. I loved it, but not enough to go back anytime soon.

Ananas secs

Look! I found a place to get my dried pineapple.

The thing is, I’m going to be tempted by chocolate bars and bonbons, caramels, fruit cakes and other French treats that I don’t even know about yet.

Like these little petal-shaped things. I don’t know what they are but I have a feeling they’re really good.

These are all different flavored caramels. Can you imagine?

This is A la Mere de la Famille, a wonderful lost-in-time candy and chocolate shop that's been open in the 9th arrondisement since 1761. I was struck by the Easter basket window displays as I was walking by and stopped to admire. Wouldn’t you know, I found myself going in.

I think the key is to go with a list or a craving—otherwise there’s just too much to sample, and too much damage that can be done. My strategy will be to return every time I’m craving dried pineapple and try one new treat.

35 Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre

Saturday, March 21, 2009

No more hotel – hooray

My hands are all pruney from the crazy cleaning I’ve been doing and my legs are protesting the multiple trips up and down the six flights of stairs, but thank god I’m out of the hotel.

When I look at the view I had there, I tell myself that it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t—the view, I mean. It was quite nice.

The problem was, I couldn’t perch myself in the window all the time. The rest of the room was pretty much the shits.

It also overlooked the Montmartre Cemetery, which was cool. But, I swear, there were ghosts. Sometimes Milo would go bonkers, looking up at the ceiling, all over the walls, chasing invisible things across the room.

Usually though, he just parked it on those nappy hotel blankets. Those blankets were so gross. I always made sure that only the sheets touched my face.

I am in!

I’ve been off the computer for a couple days due to moving in: cleaning, schlepping, unpacking, arranging, settling in. I have a long way to go.

But I am sitting atop Paris in my little apartment! I love it.

This is the view out the big south-facing window.

And so you can see the Pomipou, I zoomed in. (The funky looking mass in the background.)

That’s my kitchen window. Isn’t it so cute?

How awesome are Parisian rooftops? And chimneys??

(More soon. The apartment itself is a bit of a disaster at the moment.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Demain, rue Grenata

Tomorrow is moving day! Photos, updates and hopefully a happy girl soon...

Pastry check-in

Two days in a row without any sweets—take that, suckahs!

But tomorrow morning, we have a creative department breakfast. There will be croissant and brioche, pain au chocolate and Nutella, yogurt and juice… looks like I’m not the only Sweet Freak in Paris!

What I really need right now

A good downward dog. I haven’t been to the gym in two weeks. I miss my yoga classes. But I refuse to put my hands on this hotel’s carpeted floor.

The (simple) sweet life

I’m obviously not living like a monk in Paris. But the rinse-and-repeat pattern* that has arisen from living in a hotel, out of a suitcase, with no social agenda, has offered a few insights:

• You can afford a daily sweet, in terms of calories, when you’re not going out for dinner and drinks every night.
• When you’re not going out for dinner and drinks every night, you save yourself a lot of money. And the occasional hangover.
• There’s something to be said for limited fashion choices. It's a hell of a lot easier to decide what to wear when you’re deciding between four pairs of jeans and Chucks, flats or boots.
• When you use your brain like a muscle, it gets tired. And you sleep well. Unless you have a cat that likes to wake you up a few times each night.
• When you write, it’s nice to have a set time at which you sit down at your desk.
• I can’t imagine a life without email, Facebook or blogging.
• I can only imagine how enriched my mind might be if I weren’t always on email, Facebook or blogging.

* Wake up, do some Michel Thomas French lessons, walk to work, work for a few hours, go to Cojean for lunch, work some more, walk home, eat, email, write, read, go to bed.


There’s just not a lot to report today. Except I have a small head cold, Milo ralphed all over the hotel floor this morning, and work is really busy.

On the positive side, I’m in Paris!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More snapshots of Paris

Pictures coming soon, I swear. Until then, a few more hits from past visits:

Richard Serra in the Jardins des Tuileries.

Fresh at the market.

Les Velibs!

Café Select in Montparnasse—if you haven’t already, you should read Elaine Dundy’s The Dud Avocado.

Ode to artistic genius.

American speak

An option from the vending machine:

Corny Big

It’s a cereal bar, cloaked in chocolate. Sounds fun, if not nutritious.

Weather check: on the verge

The forsythia is in full bloom—bursts of yellow in the parks—and the dogwoods and cherry trees are right behind it. Little green buds are emerging on the tree limbs and you can hear periods of manic bird chatter.

French phrase of the day: Se démerder

Def: To get yourself out of shit.

Merde is a word we all probably learned in high school. Merde. It’s fun to say. But making it an action, getting yourself out of shit (or a shitty situation), is just awesome.

Braindead at 9

Yesterday was one of those mentally exhausting days. It started with some Michel Thomas French lessons and work on my book proposal in the morning. On my walk to work, I was fired up, a million things buzzing in my head. Fantastique.

With three projects, things are busy at work. One of my meetings was a brainstorm session with the art director whose English is on par with my French—just the two of us, no one to interpret. I would love to record these conversations and replay them later when I do have a handle on French. My sentences must be this blend of completely convoluted garbage and the most obvious, elementary thoughts. But, it worked (ca marche!)! It was challenging and used up a lot of brain cells, but it’s sort of fun, too.

At the office until 7. By the time I had dinner and got back to the hotel, I was glassy-eyed and fading. I sat at my computer, attempting to get some writing and emails out, but had to unplug and crawl into bed with my book and cat.

The little things I love

• Velibs. Especially that they’re adding more bikes and that more people are riding them.
• The way they put potatoes underneath the chickens at chacuterie rotisseries, so the spuds get soaked in all the flavorful fat.
• That the prices of everything are listed in the window displays.
• Ping-Pong tables in the public parks.
• The size of the cars (think small!).
• Little shelves in front of the cash registers that you can put your bag on while you dig in your wallet for money.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pastry check-in

It occurred to me this morning that I still haven’t had a pain au chocolat. What’s up with that?? I’ve been here for nearly two weeks. So despite my healthy breakfast at home (one kiwi and a cherry yogurt) I stopped into a patisserie a few blocks from the office and bought my pain au chocolat.

The first bite gave me that happy rush: A gazillion little layers of fine, buttery pastry dough, coiled and baked together in soft-crunchy perfection. The chocolate part of the pastry was modest—just a few spots of it. But it was particularly rich and just a titch melty—a heavenly combo if ever there was one. Besides, I’m learning that just a little taste of the sweet stuff can give you just as much pleasure as an overload.

French men

Many of you are convinced I’m going to meet a “l’homme francaise” here in Paris.

And Julie asked recently: How are the boys in Paris? Particularly cute? Charming? Aloof?

I’ve been pondering all this myself, of course. And I would say men here fall into two camps: Rive Droite and Rive Gauche.

Rive Droite men are sharp, coiffed and classically handsome. They walk purposefully, carry fine leather bags and stare you in the eyes.

Rive Gauche men are dirty and sexy. I walked by a guy in Saint Germaine with longish hair in a headband, wearing baggy jeans and a cardigan and he was so… hot. Who knew??

I have no idea what to expect of the men here. But if I steered my fate to Paris, then maybe un homme is the next thing coming. A girl can dream.

La pudge

Megan asked me if I’m going to become “a pudge” with all this eating. If history tells us anything, oui. (And better a “pudge” than a “sourpuss” as Bambi used to call me, right, Meg?? lol.) I put on 15 pounds when I spent a college semester here.

But now, with more living and eating under my (elastic) belt, I’ve learned a few key things:

• Only buy top-quality treats. They’re more satisfying so you eat less.
• You don’t have to eat the whole pastry. Even if it was tres cher.
• If you do have a two-pastry day, pick around the cheese in your salad and don’t dip into the bread basket.
• Always take the stairs.

But lest I sound like too smugly secure in my French-women-don’t-get-fat mentality, please share any tips you have! I know I will need them as I’ve tasted only a pittance of what this city offers—and you better believe I’m getting after all of them while I’m here.

The absence of Uggs

I saw a woman in Uggs on a scooter this morning and it made me very happy. Not because there are so many chicks on scooters here but because I haven’t seen any Frenchies wearing Uggs.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What I really need right now

A manicure. I haven’t had my nails done in over two weeks and they’re so long and my cuticles are out of control. I hate long fingernails. And Paris is definitely not New York with three nail salons per capita. Maybe, like Milo, I’ll have to get de-clawed.

Thank god for bilingual people

Ever try coming up with a video concept with someone who speaks a different language?

The people here are really nice and most everyone is bilingual. But I've been trying to concept with an art director whose English is about as good as my French. It's funny, to say the least—lots of "Comment dit-on 'cutting-edge' en francais?" and "Repetez plus lentement, s'il vous plait." Luckily we are also working with a flash designer, who doubles as an interpreter.

Ca ne marche pas pour moi

I discovered something that’s not cool in the new office: the towel situation in the bathroom.

It’s one of those weird neverending scrolls of cloth towel that I have never understood and have always thought of as the antithesis of sanitary. I thought they went away in the 70s, in fact, but apparently they’re alive and well in Paris.

(But at least I haven’t come across any Turkish toilets.)

French phrase of the day: Ca marche

Def: That works

It’s what everyone says in the office; it's like saying 'okay/we're good to go' to end a conversation or confirm a meeting.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

An ace Sunday

What a day. By the time I rolled out of bed, had my coffee, did a little work and got ready, it was nearly noon. I made a beeline for Rue de Martyrs. The idea was that I’d start my day with the pastry I had decided against yesterday. But when I arrived at Arnaud Delmontel, the line was not only out the door, but down the street. I swear, more people wouldn’t have been waiting if the patisserie was giving away eclairs and baguettes for free. I was shocked. And sad—there was no way I was standing in the line so I couldn’t realize my morning pastry fantasy.

I did go inside the patisserie, however, to get the name of the treat I had yesterday. I felt like an idiot for not writing it down so I would know what to order next time. It was a patte d’ours: a bear paw. Awwww…

Next stop on the day’s grueling itinerary was the organic market (marché biologique) on Avenue Raspail. This is a Sunday market that Zack and I discovered back in 2001 (we were here for 9/11) when we stayed in Saint-Germaine. I returned on both visits last year. I just love walking through and soaking up all that food. Okay, I did enough of that yesterday, I know. But this was a quick visit. It was a gorgeous day and I wanted to fait du velo!

I got a Velib, headed back to the right bank, making my way by the Bastille Opera (The Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler on the calendar; got a ticket for next Monday), and up the canal. It was just a fantastic ride. With a beautiful spring day, everyone was out biking, rollerblading, strolling, and sitting along the water and at outdoor cafes. The energy is infectious. I biked way up to the 19th arrondisement and back down along the other side of the canal; then, through the charming streets of the Marais; and, finally, to the highway along the Seine, which they close to cars on Sundays.

This bit is amazing for the views alone, but it gets really clogged with pedestrians. Before peeling off to return to the streets, I biked through a long tunnel in which the streetlights cast an aquarium-type, soft bluish glow. With the other bicyclists' headlights shining and occasional ringing of bells, it felt like being in a fantastical under-water world.

By the time I emerged back into daylight, around the Place de la Concorde and through the first arrondisement, my legs were burning and my knees, aching. I was all too happy to ditch the bike and walk again. I headed up to Montmartre, where I:

• Had proper nourishment with a salades gigantes. Yes, the one that’s topped with fried potatoes.
• Bought a pair of jeans—my first purchase here, actually (not counting a couple books yesterday). But they were on sale, and they fit, and we all know that if you find a pair of jeans that actually fit, you have to buy them. Especially if they're on sale.
• Meandered up the hill, enjoying the quiet residential streets (where I passed a fondue restaurant I actually went to when I was a student), but not so much the souvenir stands, piano bars and tourist overload at the top.
• Bought a demi-baguette from Coquelicot. It was warm.

I told you: an ace Sunday. And I am exhausted.

It’s in the jeans

My jeans have that nice roomy feel as of late, making it easy to convince myself that I’ve dropped a couple pounds. It must be from all that walking!

The truth is more disgusting. I haven’t done laundry since I’ve been here. So that “roomy” feeling is really just distressed, stretched out denim begging for a turn in the washing machine.

(In my defense, I tried to do laundry last night but the hotel’s machines were broken, and they're getting fixed on Monday. Fresh jeans are just around the corner.)

There are many beautiful things in Paris

The making (and obliteration) of a Nutella street crepe is just one of them.

Weather check: spring on the horizon

Yesterday I wore my winter coat, but got to leave the scarf and gloves behind. This morning, I woke up to brilliant sunshine and a 10-day forecast of temperatures in the mid- to upper-50s. Can’t wait. My plan today is to get a Velib and work off yesterday’s pastries.

French word of the day: une souris

Def: mouse

Because ma petite niéce wanted to know how to say it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pastry check-in

It had to happen. Today was a bit gluttonous.

It all started on Rue de Martyrs, which is an awesome little market-filled street, much like the Rue de Montorgueil near my new apartment. It’s food paradise, and I love walking around and admiring the piles of clementines and artichokes, smelling the stinky cheese (fromageries) and seafood (poissonneries) shops, ogling the patisseries and boulangeries… I even enjoy the butchers (chacuteries) with their coils of sausages and terrines of pates because the food here is taken so seriously that you have no choice but to appreciate it, and maybe even genuflect before it. It’s glorious.

I had read about Rose Bakery, started by an English woman who married a Frenchman. It’s supposed to have lovely scones, salads, sandwiches and the like, and I wanted to give a try. But not bad enough to wait in the line that was about eight people deep when I arrived (I hate waiting in food lines). I took a gander at the salads, tarts and baked goods—which did indeed look worth some waiting around for—bookmarked it for a future visit, then beat it across the street to Arnaud Delmontel. Sure, his bread is incroyable, but what of his pastries?

Oh! Oh, so, so good. I should have written down the one I chose. There were just too many to choose from and I stood before a very patient shopkeeper for many long minutes, trying to decide. The one I finally decided on was similar to a pain a chocolat except it had a different shape and was filled with pistachio almond paste. It was so fresh and delicious; the pastry, so flaky and buttery; it made my heart flutter as I strolled down the hill eating it.

My quest for the day was to check out a bookstore down on Rue de Rivoli so I carried on southward and, wouldn’t you know, I crossed rue Saint-Honoré right near Michel Cluizel. I took this as a sign that it was time to have my first bite of chocolate in Paris and got one—just one, so don’t talk to me about a lack of restraint—marcolat, the crunchy, praline-filled, macaron-shaped chocolate that I had discovered last year in Paris.

I then hit a couple British bookstores, which were wonderful (I swear, I could blow all my savings when a bookstore is new to me.) and meandered to the Marais. I figured it was time to add a healthy salad to the pastry and chocolate that were mingling in my belly.

But it was one of those days where I just couldn’t find the right place to eat. I went back to the café I visited last weekend, but they were done serving food. And I was getting tired and cranky. So I wound up at a very mediocre place and had a very mediocre salad that suffered from too much oily dressing. I hate mediocre food. It just shouldn’t happen—especially here.

So I felt gypped. Which was my excuse for searching for another pastry. Which was a bad idea. Never make a shotgun pastry decision.

Even though I had conveniently made my way to Rue de Montorgueil, the market-filled street near my new apartment, where the patisseries should be good, mine wasn’t. I had a plie du chocolat, which was similar to last week’s Pain Suisse, but drier.

To repent, I had half a mini-quiche and fruit for dinner.

Bonjour encore, mes amies!

Today was a good day. I got to talk to my dad, mom, stepfather, brother, niece and nephew (who have the cutest little voices). And my cousin Betsy gave me a shout-out on Facebook. And then there are all the awesome emails: Jules, Mer, Kerry, Connie, Zack, Alex, Mel… thanks everyone for staying in good touch, being so supportive and indulging me with this blog. It’s so nice to have you here with me.

Friday night in the city

Last night was a fun Parisian night. Nothing crazy, but so not my typical night in New York.

I walked from the office on the Champs Elysée to the Marais, where one of Ben’s friend’s was having a launch party for her new company. Twilight here is nothing short of magic. The way the limestone buildings soak up the fading light and the way the streetlights—many of them, that old lantern style—glow against a deepening blue sky… have I mentioned how much I love it here? It’s magic, I’m telling you.

So the walk was nice. As was the party. Melissa is amazingly friendly and a bit kooky—exactly the kind of friend I’d expect Bennie to hook me up with. So that was fun. And I met and really enjoyed talking to an English artist, Charlotte Mann, who was there with her boyfriend, who was, as a guitarist, part of the night’s entertainment. (Another part of the entertainment was getting tattooed by a trannie, but I only saw that on my way out. Otherwise I’d have a badass American eagle on my forearm.)

Then it was on to the Canal Saint-Martin to meet JP and Kyoko for a bite. They’re taking a painting class (adorable) through the city and brought along their teacher, who’s half Belgian, half French, and every bit the bohemian artist. It was a nice dinner at Café Valmy: quirky, relaxed and very French. The perfect way to finish the week—my first week working in Paris.

Friday, March 13, 2009

“How has the food been?”

That’s one of the questions Kerry asked in her last email.

Pas mal.

I’ve been here for eight days and so far: one plain croissant; one almond croissant; three pastries with varying amounts of chocolate chips, almond paste and fruit; a Nutella crepe; strawberry cake; red velvet cake; one coffee macaroon; and one bag of Haribo gummies. Can you believe I haven’t had a pain au chocolat yet?? Or any chocolate bonbons? I can’t.

But it hasn’t been all sweets. The French are coo-coo about chicken, so I’ve had a lot of chicken: chicken and frites, chicken and couscous, chicken sandwiches and chicken salads. That’s a lot of chicken.

Many of the bistros serve amazing salads – this has been one of my sources of chicken. One of the salads I’ve fallen for is just lettuce, tomatoes, chicken, hard-boiled egg, cheese and fried potatoes, served with a basket of bread. (I tell myself this is healthy.) At one of the places I’ve had this salad, they call them “salades gigantes” and, indeed, they’re huge. I started laughing when the waiter placed this salad, topped with so many fried potatoes that it looked like a bowl of chips, in front of me. But it was so good, I nearly ate the whole thing.

My other favorite thing so far is the “sandwiches toastés” at Cojean. They’re basically just paninis, but the bread and ingredients are to die for. Today’s special was mozzarella, tomato and artichoke, but it also had some creamy spread. Amazing, I tell you.

And the yogurt is also awesome. It’s creamy and flavorful, without that weird faux sweetener taste.

The food’s been great.

French word of the day: moue

Def: pout, grimace

Like a good little model.

The little things I love

• Women in suits who drive scooters
• Men in suits who drive (almost always impeccably clean) taxis
• The way the bakeries tie up pastries
• Tree-lined streets
• How seriously they take flowers and flower arranging
• The spraying of sidewalks in the morning and flushing of the gutters at night
• The sublime smell of the boulangeries and patisseries

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rue Greneta

That's the address of my Parisian dream pad.

I got my first choice of apartment - yay! It's a special little place. You have to climb alotta, alotta stairs to get there, but then you're rewarded with tons of light and views of the other Parisian rooftops, a bit of the Pompidou Centre and the Sacre Coeur.

I am happy. And will grow herbs. And when it's not sunny, I will listen to rain falling against the windows...

The competition has sandwiches

I noticed on my walk from the metro to the office that Publicis has a giant building across the street (noticeable thanks to the Michele Saee façade). Then, later in the day, I was tipped off that it has a “drugstore” and that this drugstore is a good place for a sandwich. Always hungry for a good sandwich, I went.

To get to the bakery/takeout section, you have to walk through an international newsstand, bookstore and gift store fobbing the likes of Hello Kitty, Shu Uemura, Marc Jacobs and Kiehl’s (I can’t get away from the stuff). The takeout lunch selection was similar to Cojean, my new favorite lunch spot, but not as good and a little more expensive. So why ever would I return? The drugstore has one important and dangerous advantage: Pierre Hermé macaroons! Merde. I’m in trouble.

(Okay, so with a quick Google search, it turns out the Publicis drugstore is, if not legendary, has at least been around forever and serves more than Hello Kitty and sandwiches.)

French word of the day: haute talons

Def: high heels


Jealousy, shame, horror!

Those were my reactions to Paris-based Alexander Lobrano’s list of New York food he misses for Tuesday’s posting on The Moment.

I dunno—I already found places for bagels and “American pancakes” and it seems there is so much ethnic food as well as buzzed-up restaurants. The list surprised me.

But yesterday’s insights on unbeatable French goodies were more inspiring. And hopeful since I’m one-week new to the city. I’m putting a good dent in it, too, since I’ve already had Arnaud Delmontel’s bread, Pierre Hermé’s macaroons, an obscene amount of chicken (almost daily) and naturallement, I’m dining alone.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The new girl at the office

Being the new girl is so awkward—especially in a foreign culture. Do I make eye contact or keep to myself? Smile or act nonchalant? Introduce myself or speak only when spoken to? And how do you say in French:

Where do I get Post-It Notes?
Where is the bathroom?
Is there a phone list?
What do people do for lunch?
Is it okay if I close the window?
When will my computer be ready?
How do I get to the main conference room?
How much is the coffee machine?
Will you be my friend?

Dig if you will these pictures

I wish I had my camera to share some of the views from Paris. Instead:

Picture this: Big fruit bowls around the office, so you can snack on a banana, apple or clementine.

Picture this: Peeking outside your office window to spy hundreds of people strolling down the Champs d’Elysée. (The Champs d'Elysée!)

Picture this: Sitting across from the L’Arc de Triomphe for lunch. Just finding a seat on a bench and eating your lentil salad while staring up at the massively impressive L’Arc de Triomphe.

Ha. And picture this: My face this evening when, after 45 minutes of walking home and sort of thinking I knew where I was going, looking up and seeing L’Arc de Triomphe. Again. I had unknowingly walked in a giant circle, like a boomerang, returning to the very place where I had started. That’s when I bought a package of Haribo gummies and hopped on the metro.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

American speak

It’s way too easy to feel intimidated and inferior when you don’t know the mother tongue. But every once in awhile I see bad or funny English and smile with a titch of satisfaction.

Seen on Champs d’Elysée:
Sexy Furs
Crazy Prices

A few spring fashion trends

If you come to Paris and want to be au current, here’s what I can tell you’ll need—at least this is what I gather from my vigorous window-shopping:

• Ray Bans. The Top Gun Aviators are over. It’s all about Risky Business Wayfarers. The more 80s the frame color (red! white! royal blue!), the better.

• Little cowboy booties. I’m surprised to see so many boots in the spring collections. But I guess if they’re ankle-length and/or open-toed (seriously), and especially cowboy-themed, they’re must-haves for your feets.

• I don’t know how big of a trend this is, but it’s one thing I see in cute boutique windows and that know I’m going to break down a buy soon: a cute little purse—just big enough for phone, keys, lipstick and cash—to sling across one shoulder.

Will there be a Parisian dream pad?

So, I had a good day of apartment hunting. An exhausting day. But I guess since I’m trying to decide between three apartments, I’m in good shape.

The day was cold and rainy, not exactly inspiring, but I trudged along with the real estate agent and an Ogilvy HR person, both of whom were super. Since we made the rounds to 11 apartments, I won’t bore you with the blow-by-blow. But, of the 11 places:

• Seven were on the right bank, three were on the left bank, and one was on the Ile St Louis. (Oh, if only that space had had a better layout, I would be living in the epicenter of Paris!)
• Five were walk-ups, the other had lifts.
• One was especially enormous, three were too sad to contemplate; a top-contender isn’t available until April 8; and all the others were okay, but eclipsed by my top three choices.

I’m basically trying to decide between a magical top-floor space that’s like living in a little treehouse above Paris (Look! You can see the Pompidou Centre from that window! Look! Le Sacre Coeur is out that one!); a huge one-bedroom that has more space than I would know what to do with (along with a comfy couch and flat-screen tv that’s bigger than anything I’ll ever own); and a cool, but somewhat dingy apartment (it has a loft, overlooks a courtyard and is owned by a New Yorker) in the Marais, my dream neighborhood.

Alas, nothing was perfect but to have three good options is not too shabby. I’m going to sleep on it and let the agent know first thing in the morning what my preferences are, and then we'll take it from there. I will be happy with any of them.

Friends are good

I know it's silly, but I'm really happy Milo is here with me. lol.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Snapshots of Paris

Until I get my digi camera in action again, here are some photos from past Paris adventures. These are things that stop me in my tracks and give a squeeze to my heart.

Inside the Pompidou

Just one of the gazillion breathtaking fountains

Scooters everywhere

Banksy's everywhere, too

Ah, Pierre...

Weather check: still winter

Still wearing my scarf, gloves and winter coat and, man, are they getting tired-looking. Or I’m just tired of looking at them. I can’t wait to bust out my new leather coat from Comptoir de Cotonniers and ditch the winter accessories. Hopefully by week’s end…

The start of the adventure

It’s so fun to be at that point in my journey when everything is unknown and hopeful. I have no idea where I’ll be living in two weeks, how I’ll be feeling in two months, what I will have experienced, who I will have met… And yet I also know that I will look back on this moment, when everything was so fresh and unknown, and remember what it felt like. Right now. To have everything be and feel so new; to have nothing but the giant unknown ahead of me and for anything to be possible.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cut Copy keeping me company

Have you been listening to Cut Copy? If not, run out and snap it up. Or download it, I guess, this being 2009 and all. Time Stands Sill is one of the greatest songs ever (“Time stands still when I think of you.”)

They do like their bread

Clichés are awesome because they’re so often true.

When I was walking “home” this evening, I took rue des Martyrs because I know it’s filled with all the neighborhood markets that I love: fromageries, epiceries, butchers, boulangeries and the like.

I love that the French flock to their neighborhood bakeries in the evening to get their baguettes fresh from the oven. I was surprised there wasn’t much of a line at Arnaud Delmontel, who won the Meillleur Baguette ’07. This is the bread they serve at Hotel Amour, and it was fantastique.

The line at Montmartre’s Coquelicot, on the other hand, was literally out the door. This was good because otherwise I would have gone in for a pastry. Today was my first pastry-free day.

First impressions: Sundays in Paris

I got off to a late start today and decided to walk west into the residential 8th and 16th arrondisements. Ho-hum. The neighborhoods were desolate, nearly 100% shut-down. But it was grey (classic Paris weather), I was tired (I blame JP and Kyoko for keeping me out so late!), and it felt right.

I continued my journey into the 7th, the 6th, 4th, 3rd (where I stopped for the perfect salad) and was finally on my way back to the hotel in the 9th and 18th in the evening hours.

I walked away (ha! get it?!) with a few ideas about Sundays in Paris:

• They will be my exercise day. God knows what’s going to happen to my body without a gym membership. Sundays seem the perfect time to don the ugly American sneakers and get active. They shut down the highway along the Seine, which will be a brilliant place to take a Velib.

• Stay away from the residential neighborhoods. Nearly all stores, cafes and restaurants are closed. The streets are empty and echo with dishes clattering in upstairs kitchens—which makes me feel sort of sad, albeit in a beautiful way.

• Hit the Marais and Montmartre. Both of these neighborhoods were packed and had festive atmospheres. It was like the whole city knew where to be. I was in Montmartre around 7, and even the boutiques were still open, people were shopping, the cafes were packed, and there were lines out all the boulangeries.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pastry check-in

I was bad today and got a second pastry.

The first one I got was in the 10th arrondisement. I did a solid walkabout today, trying to get a better feel for the 9th, 10th and 11th arrondisements before my apartment hunt on Tuesday. This rustic-looking boulangerie had what was called a gourmandise poire, or something like that, and it had three things going for it:

1) “poire” means “pear” so it was this slice of pear cake with chocolate chips. So the first thing going for it was the pear and chocolate combo. Beautiful.

2) The almond paste. God, I love almond paste. If my mouth wasn’t full of the beautiful chocolate and pear combination, I got a nice taste of almond paste.

3) And the third thing was the caramelized bits of this cake. Another element of pastries that instantly catapult then into very special territory.

It was a pretty dreamy pastry.

Then, later in the day, I decided to check out the boulangerie Lionel told me about: Coquelicot on rue des Abbesses in Montmartre. Ah, I’m going to like Lionel. This place is awesome.

He told me they have great bread, so I was expecting just a walk-in boulangerie. But it’s a bit of a casual restaurant, too. Maybe a little like Le Pain Quotidian back in New York, but smaller, cooler and French.

I walked in that warm, yeasty, fresh-baked smell was incredible. I wanted to take away something for dinner so I got a slice of quiche. But as I was waiting in line, of course I was confronted with an irresistible case of pastries. There was something called Le Coeur: a pink, heart-shaped cake-y thing. I knew that meant it would be like strawberry cake, which is one of the best things ever, and not easy to find. I got it.

Mon dieu, it was incredible. Flavorful—sweet, but not sugary-sweet—and firm but moist. It was worth the guilt of a second pastry. Then I noticed the sack it came in, which says “Mangez des gateaux plus souvent!” Or, “Eat cake more often!” Je l’aime.

Advice for the new girl

From Michael: Watch a lot of French TV and don’t download American shows and movies from iTunes. The former will help me learn the language and the latter will just guarantee my staying reliant on American culture and influences. Be here.

From our waitress at Hotel Amour: Paris is a city of villages. The best way to be happy here is to pick your village wisely (i.e. wherever I find an apartment will determine a lot of my Paris experience).

The crap hotel

I’m back at the hotel - it's one of those efficiency hotels with a kitchenette. It's sort of the shits. I’m sleeping on a trundle bed, right around the corner from the Moulin Rouge. Seriously. It's not horrible, but it just feels sort of skanky. I’m spending Tuesday with an agent, looking for flats so keep your fingers crossed for *the ultimate Parisian pad.* Ha.

It still doesn't seem like I’m going to be living here - I can't believe it.

There will be photos soon

I took a picture of the gorgeous Pont Neuf with my digital camera. But of course my camera cord is packed in some box traversing the Atlantic right now so I have no way of uploading it to my computer. Sigh. After all my careful planning, organizing and packing, I blew it on a couple fronts: my camera cord and battery; a bunch of Paris guidebooks (I mean, *duh*); and the phone situation. But not having a phone is more of an Ogilvy thing — my Blackberry was supposed to work here — but alas, it doesn’t and I’m incommunicado. At least temporarily. And I have to say, it’s okay.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pastry check-in

I have only had one croissant. That was this morning. Yesterday, I had a Pain Suisse, which was like a pain au chocolat, shot full of, what tasted like vanilla pudding, and chocolate chips. It was so-so.

But I just had a Nutella crepe, which, I’m sorry, is just one of the best things in the world. C'etait incroyable.

Whose life is this, anyway?

Who opened this door for me, and why? Seriously. Wandering around the LV flagship, the Champs d’Elysee foot and vehicular traffic flowing outside the windows, I had to stop and ask myself: where did all of this come from??

It’s like a cliché: coming to Paris, the fashion capital, to work on one of the most recognizable and successful luxury brands out there. It’s a dream come true. And it’s happening to me. I can't stop wondering why. C’est fou.

In a word, fantastique

I went to work today and, I must say, the Ogilvy/Paris office is pretty damn cool. It’s that classic (beaux arts? neoclassical? Je ne sais pas) style with soaring ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, balconies, the works. But it’s jammed full with modern office furniture. I love it. And then there's the sixth floor terrace, on which you practically bump your nose against the Eiffel Tower, can spit on the L’arc de Triomphe and take in the entire city. Seriously, it's incredible.

I had a quick lunch with Frederic at a spot I’m sure I’ll go back to: a take-out joint with good salads, sandwiches and soups at good prices. Afterwards, he walked me over to one of the other two Ogilvy buildings to meet the general CD on LV. Just classic. Classic CD (head to toe black), classic French (older, charming, gracious, and yet a little aloof), classic CD office: gorgeous Corbusier furniture, giant windows overlooking the traffic outside, big desk in the corner and campaign outtakes and photos scattered about. We went through one of the current campaigns and then I was set free for the day.

I went to the LV flagship, right in between the two Ogilvy offices, to check it out and start immersing myself in the products and, I have to say, I sort of wanted to buy some stuff! A lot of stuff, in fact. I’ve never been into the brand, but they have some gorgeous bags and clothes. Of course I bought nothing. Just a Nutella crepe on the way home.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bonjour mes amies

I made it. I'm here! The trip with Milo was sort of crazy, sort of funny, physically exhausting, but in the end, not as horrible as dreaded.

After all my mindful planning, I did run out of time on Wednesday and couldn’t get to everything I wanted (sorry the bathroom’s not spic and span, subletter). But after talking to Adam, it occurred to me that I should book a car service, which was the best decision of the day. The driver I had knew exactly where the USDA office was and was really nice and sweet, despite the demonic meows coming from the back seat.

I guess I should back up: in order to bring Milo to Paris, I had to have a microchip implanted under his skin and he had to get a couple vaccinations. That was right before the holidays. Then I had to go back to the vet right before departing to get a Certificate of Good Health, which basically says he’s healthy, not carrying any parasites, and not being used as a mini drug mule. Then that certificate has to be stamped by the USDA. It’s quite the process. Or at least it seems so when every visit entails carting an unhappy cat and paying a lot of cash.

Since I didn’t have time to send the certificate to the USDA (I got it on Sunday; was leaving on Wednesday), I had to make a pit-stop at their offices near JFK. They were surprisingly quick and friendly. My first good experience with a government office in quite awhile.

But the trip from the apartment to their JFK offices was heinous. Milo was squawking the whole way, despite the half the pill to sedate him I had given him a few hours prior. And when he freaks out in his carrier, he either pees, poops or vomits. This time, he pooped. So the whole ride there, I had him in his carrier on my lap, so I was basically sitting with the lovely smell and thoughts of cat crap in my lap. Amplified by his meows.

I scooped most of the turds out of the carrier at the USDA office (and, importantly, gave him another half-pill to sedate him). But one remained. Or he crapped again between the office and the airport. In any case, by the time I got to the security checkpoint, there was another turd in his carrier.

But this I did not know.

So after the mini-triumph of getting him past the Air France weigh-in at check-in (another back-story: Air France sets the limit at six kilos, or about 13 pounds, for carry-on pets. And that’s with the carrier. I lied to the agent’s face and said Milo was 13 pounds. She asked me to put him on the scale and I nonchalantly put the carrier on the scale. Either she didn’t have the heart to send him to cargo, she didn’t want to deal, or the scale was broken, but my fat cat passed! We were cleared for boarding.)

I had to take Milo out of his carrier and walk through the metal detector with him in my arms (for which he wore a snazzy purple harness and leash, just in case he tried to bolt. And I wore a crummy old sweater since I knew I was going to get cat crud all over). The carrier had to go through the x-ray machine.

Imagine the chaos of the security line from the last time you traveled. People are all rushed, the TSA employees can’t be bothered with you, they’re too busy gabbing with one another, and you’re on the grungy floor in your socks. Now imagine doing that with a terrified cat in your arms. Not fun.

I was trying to get my boots back on after walking through the metal detector, they were asking to look through my purse, and I noticed the carrier coming through the x-ray machine, turned upside down. And then, as I was bent over, trying to wrangle my boots on, Milo still clinging to me, I saw a turd on the floor! Oh, the horror. Everything was so frantic and in disarray, I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to just bolt. But all these innocent people in their socks! I couldn’t let them step in cat crap and then have to sit on a plane for six or eight hours. Nasty. I grabbed one of the wee wee pads from Milo’s bag (just because I’m moving to Paris doesn’t make me instantly chic) and cleaned it up. Got him in the bag, got my boots on, and got the hell out of there.

After I washed my hands and cat scratches (twice), I made my way to the gate, set Milo’s carrier down gently, collapsed into a seat, and just started laughing. Ridiculous.

From then on, Milo was a champ. Thanks to the sedative, he was pretty placid the entire flight and even the taxi ride from Charles de Gaulle to the hotel. Permanently scarred, for sure, but doing okay.

Je suis ici!