Saturday, December 30, 2006


I just liked the look of this because it reminds me of D. He loves ramshackle buildings of all kinds. It's in an area of the 3rd arrondissement that a friend loves for its quiet charm -- close to the bustle of the Marais but the masses haven't discovered it yet. I feel like it's all mine!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hot like fy-ah, or burning down the house

I was thinking of my far-away fondue-loving friend (probably because I was looking at a mouth-watering fondue recipe on the Chocolate and Zucchini blog last night). She has an elaborate setup and makes the best lamb and shrimp to dip in the oil. I don't know what she does to it, but I'm always happy to eat the results. One New Year's Eve we had too much champagne to pay attention to what the oil was doing. Burning. She (I?) dropped it and the oil spilled, and we looked down to see a trail of merry flames on the hardwood floor of her apartment. Silly champagne giggles amidst the mad scramble -- and luckily no harm done. I know, I know, not funny.

Happy holidays, fondue fiend!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sacré Coeur and bracelets out of the blue

Surely Christmas Day would be a good time to wander around the steep hills of Montmartre. It would be less crowded, and we'd have space to enjoy the vast views of the city and its people from a prime spot in front of the Sacré Coeur. And yes, I confess that I also wanted to work off some of the buche de noel I'd eaten earlier.

As we climbed the first of the many, many stairs, a pushy little guy intercepted us. At first I thought he was asking for money, but he was trying to tie a bracelet on D.'s arm! I burst out laughing. D., so much nicer than I, put him off with a gentle, "Non, merci. Merci. Mer-CI..."

We climbed farther up the stairs and turned to watch Paris spread out in front of us. The same pesky little guy popped up in my peripheral vision. This time he was trying to tie the bracelet on a meek-looking man burdened with an unwieldy camera. Bracelet man was pretty aggressive. He plucked at the tourist's jacket and zigged and zagged into his personal space while the poor tourist tried to pull away. He scared him with his unexpected bracelet offensive. Oddly, this took place over a long period of time. The whole vignette unfolded in some surreal slo-mo that ended when the tourist fled.

I'm positive the tourist will go home with exaggerated tales of how dangerous Montmartre is.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The saints are coming

First I couldn't get the song "The Saints are Coming" out of my head.  I thought it was U2 and...somebody.  (My brother-in-law, the biggest U2 fan in the world, would be aghast to know this.  He actually chased Bono through an airport in Ethiopia once, waving his passport to look like like a press pass so he could get close to him.  He wound up with the gift of Bono's glasses, which are custom made for him. That's not the only time he's chased and met him either; once he snuck into some kind of EU session in Brussels to get to him.) 

Then I realized I didn't know what the hell they were saying in the song, so I googled it to find the lyrics.  I ended up in the wikipedia entry for the song, originally sung by a Scottish punk group called The Skids. Never been into punk, wouldn't have known that, understandable.  

But.  Because I was traveling around the time this happened, I guess, I missed the huge news about the reopening of the Superdome in New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina and U2 and Green Day playing the song together live before the Saints game there.  I didn't know they were giving the proceeds to Hurricane Katrina charities.  And I never saw until today the video that depicted the redeployment of troops from Iraq to New Orleans to help the victims.  If only.

It made me wonder how residents of the Lower Ninth Ward are getting by, and what the U.S. government is doing to help long after the spotlight has moved elsewhere.  If you go to youtube, you can see plenty of firsthand footage of people driving through the area.  I'm going to track down the documentary "When the Levees Broke." A friend from New Orleans said I really need to see it.  

D. used to ask me how the social net works in the U.S.  What if you get really sick?  What if you lose your job?  In Denmark, if you lose your job and you have a dog, the government makes sure that you have money to cover the cost of dog food.  

Something to think about. Ho ho ho.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

La Bague de Kenza, or death by Algerian pastry

I can't move again, but this time it's because I found paradise. It's conveniently located right down the street from me. Gooey, rich pastries with almonds, honey, and pistachios. I walk past every day but today I just couldn't resist.

La Bague de Kenza
106 rue Saint-Maur - 75011 Paris
01 43 14 93 15
It really needs a photo to do it justice, so here is the sublime Chocolate and Zucchini post I found:

I love where I live.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Where's my café crème?

This is what I've been thinking about today:
I'm instantly a huge fan of Chez Pim's beautiful blog. I've been in a coffee quandary, too! I even started my giant afternoon walk with a trip to a cafe in my hood that was mentioned in comments. It was closed. For the day? Forever? I don't know; I'll try it again another time.

The giant afternoon walk lasted for four hours and left me utterly motionless, probably for the rest of the evening. I thought I should see the fabulous windows of at least some of the grands magasins. It was like playing in highway traffic. Don't mess with Christmas shopping tourists. What was I thinking?

In my haste to get home, I forgot to buy coffee. Tomorrow morning is going to be a bitch.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Polonium pearls of wisdom

This morning I went to meet my new friend Polonium 210. I was afraid to tell her about the little club from the other night. I remembered that last week she’d told me, “You know, there are places you shouldn’t go in Paris…it’s not safe.”
“Like where?” I’d snorted with all my urban bad-assed-ity.
In a hushed tone: “Like…the 20th.”

I just have to add here that all my Polonium 210 peoples have certain characteristics in common. You basically need to have a diamond-encrusted front door for them to grace your humble abode, and all your stuff needs to have DOLCE & GABBANA stamped all over it (doesn’t matter if it’s bootleg). Hell, I don’t hold it against them. It’s only been in the last few years that they've achieved the ability to roll with all this bling.

I didn’t tell her where I’d gone.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Last night I was coerced into going out to a club.

I rarely do that anymore. Years of working at music companies sucked the joy out of being in dark, raucous venues. When you have to go out for a living, you start to really want to stay in and make it a Blockbuster night. Aside: I have to give props to Blockbuster, a company I despise, for indelibly imprinting their stupid ad in my subconscious. That’s how I eventually became BFF with Netflix, the most perfect service ever invented.

Back to last night. It was a beautiful, drizzly night, perfect for cuddling up in bed. But damned if I wasn’t going to be social (a resolution that’s a byproduct of an article I’m researching). D. and I bundled up and headed out, just in time for the drizzle to become a steady rain. We traipsed through puddles and hiked up the steep hills of the 20th arrondissement for a long time, because I hadn’t bothered with the Gmaps pedometer and thought the place was nearby. I’d forgotten about all those stairs in Pere Lachaise…what elevation is that neighborhood, anyway? We finally got to La Flèche d’Or, in a converted former train station. Drenched and disgruntled, I was all ready to hate on this place. I’d read it was an indie-rock/electro venue and thought, “Oh great. Williamsburg redux.” I do NOT like Williamsburg.

But a strange thing happened: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang sang me right out of my bitchtastic mood. I liked their music. I liked the venue. I liked that I didn’t have to do battle with a coat-check Nazi. I looked around and, after a while, noticed that I liked watching the scruffy, hair product-laden crowd with its wide age range from boy toys to old geezers. We never found the friend we were supposed to meet, but I got my people-watching fix and I had fun. I’d even recommend it to friends.

I think I’ll go back.

La Flèche d'Or,
102 bis, Rue de Bagnolet , 75020 Paris
Tel : 01 44 64 01 02 -

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Use me, says Paris

Paris is even more beautiful than usual when you don’t have to get on a plane and leave it. The city takes on a certain gleam when you actually use it, instead of tiptoeing around gazing at it in awe. This week I mastered the art of exercising in jaw-dropping places, squeezing in runs at the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Île Saint-Louis & Île de la Cité, and the Promenade Plantée. That last was today. It was a brilliant day whose sky rebutted the rainy forecast. Most runners made eye contact when we passed each other, a bunch of naughty children kicking up our heels in the most beautiful playground in the world. (Or maybe I’m projecting, and it was just me looking at them like a nutjob, thinking we’re sharing some little secret.)

But… it’s hard to carry a camera while running. So I still haven’t taken any pictures.

P.S. Who lied and told me that the French don’t run? The Promenade was chock full of runners. It was definitely a high-traffic area. Don’t try to tell me all of those people were American.


Busy week.
Congrats to my little sister for her tenure track job offer from Smith College. It also sounds like a couple of other big ones are not far behind...All the hard work is paying off, sis. I'm so proud of you.

Monday, December 04, 2006

iPod on shuffle

I saw this survey on The Assimilated Negro ( His instructions, my iPod answers.


So, here's how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...

Opening Credits:
Wagner: Tristan and Isolde, Was traumte mir von Tristans Ehre? - Wilhelm Furtwangler
Waking Up: We Run This - Missy Elliott
First Day at School: Bellydance music - don't know the artist or title
Falling In Love: Le Desert - Emilie Simon
Fight Song: Me Gustas Tu - Manu Chao
Breaking Up: When It Hurts So Bad - Lauryn Hill
Prom: Safe from Harm - Massive Attack
Life: I'm the Toughest - Peter Tosh
Mental Breakdown: Sugar, We're Going Down - Fallout Boy
Driving: Erotic City - Prince
Flashback: Where's Your Head At - Basement Jaxx
Wedding: Raid - The Constant Gardener Soundtrack
Birth of Child: Ai Du - Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder
Final Battle: Sweetest Tabou - Les Nubians w/Casey
Death Scene: Russian Unit 3 - Pimsleur Russian Language Course**
Funeral Song: I Can't Stand It - Dennis Brown
End Credit: Ya Rayah - Rachid Taha

He's right about the "oddly appropriate couplings." The death scene is a Russian lesson? Absolutely Litvinenko.
But where is my beloved Arabic music? Mostly this makes me realize I need to delete some junk from my iTunes library. Fallout Boy. Come on. That was purely a curiosity download.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The little things

There are so many details of daily life that are different in Paris, little components that delight me. I cook in what looks like a Betty Crocker Easy-Bake Oven that was popular when I was little. The washing machine is a taller, skinnier version of the ones I’ve always used. The apartments are set up in a series of small rooms, like the Kirkland House Library. French women don’t get fat, French appliances don’t get fat, and French real estate doesn’t get fat, either.

The waiters in cafés don’t shoot you pointedly dirty looks if you park yourself in their sections for hours at a time. I’ve lost hours this way getting to know new friends.

I read somewhere that one end of my favorite neighborhood street is a “hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism.” I take that with a grain of salt; all I know is that my favorite butcher is there, everyone who works there is friendly, and their mouth-watering rotisserie chicken (apparently halal = delicious?) is two euros less than the same version right next-door to me. I tend to frequent the hotbed.

Habibi, I’m happy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Just say no

I’ve noticed that French people like to say non.

It makes me think of a Portuguese guy I met in Horta, who was affectionately named Johnny Paradise. That wasn’t really his name, but the Dane mangled his real name and this moniker stuck. Besides strumming his freaking guitar at every opportunity, Johnny Paradise liked to talk about his ability to speak five languages, and how that had lead to his working at a travel agency. He’d manage to work, “Well, you know I can speak five languages…” into every brief conversation at least three times, lest anyone forgot. One of the things he said about the French was that their initial response to any idea, proposition or random thought was always, “Ce n’est pas possible.”

I hate to admit that Johnny Paradise was right.

I dissolved into giggles a couple of times while trying to open a bank account with different French banks because he hit it right on the money -- intonation, expression, and all. Thanks for the heads up, Johnny.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Running through Paris

I went running tonight through the streets of Paris. The lights of the Eiffel Tower were twinkling at me, the Louvre was all lit up like a beauty queen, and I had my own private moment of thanksgiving.

On a completely unrelated note, will the dollar please stop its drastic decline against the euro? This is killing me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Beatdown on the Avenue de la Republique

Yesterday I saw two young women drivers go ballistic at each other in the middle of the Avenue de la Republique. One on a scooter, one in a car. Out strolling and exploring my new neighborhood and the ones nearby, I’d been looking mainly up at the buildings with frequent glances down to avoid skating through poo. I was jolted out of my blissful reverie by harsh invective. Then shrill invective. It only took a second to locate the source by following all the turned heads on the packed sidewalk. What was it? Car Driver had hit Scooter Driver, who apparently proceeded to lose her mind. She yelled at Car Driver at the top of her lungs. She got off her scooter in the middle of the roundabout. She stomped menacingly closer (still yelling) to the mini car that Car Driver wielded so ineptly. Car Driver responded with her own piercing screams, popping veins, and contorted facial expressions. This sent Scooter Driver over the edge, and, still wearing her helmet, she started pounding on Car Driver through the half closed window. Not for one punch or two, but for a prolonged time period – long enough for me to wonder a) if I should call the police, b) realize I can’t actually speak to the police; I don’t know the requisite fighting verbs, c) wonder if other bystanders might call for help, and d) ponder whether people would generally observe the smackdown but mind their own business in the end. Whatever. It was long enough for my thoughts to go wandering down these paths and a few others. Then they each drove off and the bystanders dispersed, shaking their heads reprovingly and sighing about how violent people are these days.

I lived in Brooklyn for a long time, but this is first time I’ve witnessed a beatdown administered through a window.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


We loaded up our little secondhand car (nicknamed “Hubbley-bup”) with all of our possessions, feeling proud that the packing each month for each city gets a little tighter, a little slicker, a little faster. Proud that we keep chunking material goods away with a nonchalant, “We don’t really need that.” The first round move, when D left New York to sail solo across the ocean and I parked myself in a sublet to wait and worry, was a debacle. Now I’ve got it down to a science. 30 minutes to tuck everything away.

The drive from Belgium was alternately quietly drizzly and stormy. Both of us were quiet and wrapped up in our anxiety about how this apartment would look and whether we’d even be afforded the chance to like it. Real estate roulette. After Anthony-from-California pulled a disappearing act on Saturday along with his apartment, we knew it was a possibility that we were driving for 5 hours for no reason. When the phone beeped to tell us that it held a message, my heart sank. No need, though. It was only a warning that the landlord-to-be was running late. So we arrived an hour early for the original appointment, scurried around in the rain trying to check out this famously trendy area with its mélange of inhabitants, then gave up and sought refuge in the car for the last hour. At ten till the hour we rushed to the building’s front door. “Should we wait for her outside?” No. She’d given us the code for the first door. We went into the vestibule and pushed the buzzer with her name on it. A few seconds passed, and nothing happened. A lady happened along, and we both whirled towards her with hopeful expressions on our faces. Are you…? No, sorry.

A minute later a teeny, dark-haired girl bustled into the doorway laden with bags and packages, and this time the response was affirmative. I tried to be careful not to show my excitement, since I hadn’t seen anything inside yet. But she was friendly and casual and easy-going, all things that the others had not been. She didn’t demand a gazillion papers. She just pointed out a few things that were quirks of the place and asked if we thought we’d like to take it? It was so easy. I stopped holding my breath.

And now we live in Paris.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Polish plumber

Just perusing the NYT. There are so few skilled workers in Poland that they'll have to hire peope from Germany, Ukraine, and Belarus?


This village suburb of Antwerp is beautiful. For a short visit. Meaning a week, max. D.’s family’s house is nicely secluded, set far back from the street with forest for protection in front. The same forest extends far behind the house. It’s a special setup; apparently the neighborhood doesn’t allow anyone to retreat so far anymore. Gotta love that Stepford spirit. Most of the other houses line up uniformly within easy reach of the bricked streets. There also must have been some edict for them to cut down all trees in the vicinity, too, and they’re all naked.

I’ve always hated ‘burbs of any kind. I can still feel the profound sense of relief I had when I moved away from my parents’ place in the soul-smothering, brain-numbing sticks of Atlanta to go to Boston. No more driving everywhere. No more in-between. Choose either the city or the country and commit to it.

I feel that same sense of stagnation all around me here (made worse by the constant presence of one family member who doesn’t work, go to school, or do much of anything besides watch TV – but that’s another entry). The forested barrier is closing in on me like some kind of leafy prison door. Must leave quickly.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Laura's NYC Tales/The Chris Rock story

I love this story:
Laura, when is your book coming out?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fingers crossed

I haven't written much, not wanting so many variations on the same old thing. But...we might have an apartment! If this works, Anthony in California, I love you. Small, so be it. I don't care anymore.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


We drove from Antwerp to Paris with giddy anticipation. We're going to find an apartment! we thought. A stringent search through the PAP website had yielded a "loft-like" studio close to 50 square meters, and it might work as a home and a place for D. to paint. The owner answered our email promptly, a first in our Paris Craigslist experience (have the French caught on to the wonder that is CL? In NYC I used the site to get my apartment, my bike, my language lessons, and pretty much the rest of my life).

We parked easily near the prospective score. A reggae shop near our destination was a good omen. The guy had given us the codes to the first and second locked doors, indicating we should go to building X. Is that like cellblock X? I'd worried, picturing a compound of large, identical high-rise monstrosities. I'd pushed those thoughts aside. We needed to check out every possible option. The front of the building was fine in an ordinary way, and we entered the interior walkway. Rows of windows faced each other, albeit not too closely. The hallway and stairs of bulding X looked old and ill-kept, but the 3rd floor apartment boasted double exposure and lots of light. Too bad the gauzy curtains would have to be kept closed to peering neighbors across the way. No oven. A raised bed. I silenced all my objections and answered, "Yes, I like it," to my husband's hopeful, questioning expression. I could see that he was thinking, "I can paint here!" and he'd already put the stamp of approval on it. So we left an extensive dossier with the owner, hoping that he didn't aspire to identity theft. Does he shred those papers afterward? I wondered desultorily. I decided it was best not to think about those things, either. Much less common here. I hoped.

Afterwards we drifted to a nearby comfy cafe, where the bartender waved us breezily to any open table. Clearly he failed to convey that to the waiter, who was perturbed by our meager order of two cafe cremes. He pressed his lips together and stopped shy of a full roll of the eyes. We didn't care. We were protected by twin cloaks of apathy; we'd have plenty of time to win him over with our new apartment down the street and all. We'd be there all the time. We'd be regulars. He'd welcome us with open arms. All we had to do was wait to hear from Mr. XXX, the owner. He'd winked at me as we left, a message I understood as, "It's all yours."

On Monday evening, D. got the email: "I've rented the apartment. Sorry."

Maybe that wink simply meant, "I'M all yours."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

We had a sweeeet split-level loft in Brooklyn, but I couldn’t stand my next door neighbors on one side. That’s the thing about apartment living. You’re joined at the hip to all kinds of people against your will. I should have known these two would be trouble from the moment they knocked on our door to welcome us to the building. They came bearing gifts in the form of cut-up slices of cantaloupe.
Beware of people who are overeager. Healthy reserve is a good thing.
At the time I thought, “What a nice gesture. Awww…” Much later I saw its true ulterior motive: noseyness.
I wonder what our neighbors in Paris will be like.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The scratches

When D. and I arrived in Denmark to live on our friend’s boat, we found she’d had an unpleasant facelift. It looked like Freddy Krueger had caressed both sides of her hull with his long, razorbladed fingernails. We were taken aback; the last time we saw this gorgeous creature in the Azores her body had been in perfect condition.

Our friend relayed some vague story about an encounter with a fishing trawler in a lock but the details didn’t really add up. He seemed less than eager to talk about the debacle and our incredulous questions eventually tapered off. Luckily, insurance will cover the massive paint job that has to take place now.

Nice weather or not, people walk up and down the docks looking at all the yachts. They check out the rigging, peek in the windows, and stand with their hands behind their backs inspecting every inch. I think of the marina as a boat museum, and living here is like living in the Met. Someone is always observing/analyzing/assessing. The people looking at our friend’s boat have gotten predictable. Their eyes usually wander from top to bottom, then do a double-take when they reach the hull -- then a flurry of agitated Danish ensues. Even though I don’t understand, it’s easy to tell by their body language that they’re saying, “How the hell did they do that? Amateurs!”

I wish I could tell them that my expert-sailor boy is most certainly is not responsible for this mess.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Averted shower disaster

This morning I had a close call.

Let me back up. Since I became a nomad on a sailboat in July, one of my main quests has been finding access to hot showers. Clean bathrooms that have showers with strong, blasting water pressure. Bonus when they give you big, fluffy towels and soap, but they're marinas and not spas. It's a result of going for days without being able to have one. And of being a person who usually bathes 2 (in winter) or 3 (in summer) times a day. I know that's too much but I do it anyway, usually. I've been pretty enamored with this marina because the showers closest to our boat, although not free like the fantastic ones in Falmouth, fit the bill.

I packed my shower bag and walked over there this morning, only to find the doors locked. Was this because of yesterday's Perfect Storm that had nearly flooded the docks and left me in tears because the boat was too high for me to reach? I tried to ask a worker who ambled by, but he didn't speak English. One of the things I've noticed about Denmark is that everyone speaks English... until I need practical information, at which time they all run for cover.

I decided to take a chance and continue to the showers that are a little farther away. In these, the water pressure is lacking but the rooms are luxuriously heated. I hesitantly reached for the doorknob, just knowing I was going to get shot down. It turned. They were open. A sigh of relief escaped my lips. It's the little things!

I ditched my clothes and turned on the knob, dropping in my 5-kroner token. As if to reward me for my inconvenience, the hot water stuck around ten times longer than its allotted, meager 3 minutes. I even washed my hair (a huge endeavor you'd understand if you saw my hair).

This 40-minute sequence of events is so inconsequential but it made my day. I left that shower whistling and smiling at everyone I passed.

Monday, October 30, 2006


What a morose mood I was in yesterday. Luckily it blew over and I’m all sunshine now. Listening to my “jubilant” ipod mix, which includes:

Jind Mahi - Bend it Like Beckham soundtrack (I have an insane love for that movie)
Lebanese Blonde – Thievery Corporation
Me Gustas Tu – Manu Chao (just discovered Manu last year)
Shadows of Ourselves – Thievery Corporation
Supermassive Black Hole – Muse
Didi – Khaled
Senegal Fast Food – Amadou et Mariam w/ Manu Chao
What You Know – T.I. (read some blog recently in which the person mentioned she had no idea who T.I. was. I wanted to tell her to listen to this one as an introduction. This song gives a very laid back, NYC-in-summer vibe)
Loosen Up My Buttons – Pussycat Dolls w/Snoop Dogg

This playlist is like the Red Bull of music. It’ll rev me up so I can hunt for an apartment.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The search for a home in Paris

This week has been oddly limbo-ish. It got really cold here after a huge gale that left the boat rocking and rolling all night. Everyone in Denmark has decided to stare at me when I walk by, and I'm not sure if these are signs of love or if they want to punch my lights out. Suddenly I miss urban life. I've been constantly thinking of moving on to Paris and feeling a little impatient at not being there yet. I'm staring at apartment listings all day long, to the point that my head aches and my inquiries become gibberish. D. found a huge, fantastic loft that we didn't move on quickly enough, and someone else grabbed it out from under us. I wanted to kick myself for hesitating. I want to email everyone who blogs from Paris to ask, "How the hell did you find your apartment? Is there a fabulous agency, worth its fee? Or is it all word of mouth?" Everyone has horror stories but where's the how-to manual? I refuse to live in a tiny little miserable space and pay an exorbitant amount for it. I want to know what the secret is. There must be one. Waah.
Yes, I'm wallowing in it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Changing a boring life

I'm writing this in gale force winds. The boat is jiggling me around like some kind of crazed salt shaker.

Yesterday a friend of mine wrote an email telling me that her life in New York is pretty boring. She works, sleeps, occasionally goes to a cool place like BAMCafe. At the end of my time in the city I felt stagnant and bored, too, no matter how many things I crammed into my schedule. There was a persistent malaise. I guess that's why I gave up my steady job, my loft, my whole world, really, to go sailing. I wanted to see the non-American parts of the world and come out a much more fascinating person. I haven't been fascinating for a long time. Granted, most people I know opted for adventure right out of college, so I could just be having a mid-life crisis. 1/3-life crisis. I don't know how to communicate all this to my friend, who has a much more responsible and well-paying job than the one I left. But her routine is her prison. If I say that to her, I sound judgmental. At a loss, I advised her to read, my new favorite blog.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Is it negative of me to think I won't find work in Denmark without speaking Danish? Am I crazy for thinking that? Because I've been accused of being a naysayer. Am I?

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Every morning I allow myself the guilty pleasure of reading blogs. In the absence of English books, I go back into the archives of my favorite blogger and nibble on her life month by month. Not in chronological order, for some reason. Her blog leads me to others. Suddenly hours have passed and I’m still sitting groggily in my pajamas with a cold half-cup of instant coffee. Then I feel guilty for not sending out a productive flurry of pitches and receiving a subsequent flurry of checks. I worry a lot about finances lately, so I’m off.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The ties that bind

Yesterday an email rolled in from The Distant Father-in-Law (TDF). TDF lives in a faraway country on a faraway continent but still apparently within striking distance. Or maybe his power to wound just knows no boundaries. In a few words he managed to make it clear how little his son’s birthday, a date that incidentally doesn’t arrive for another month, means to him. Usually there's no mention of birthday greetings at all, but this email included a line about believing the birthday “is sometime around now.” It’s a simple line that made me see red. I’ve obviously never been a father and he’s got seven kids, but no matter how many times it happens surely you’d remember when each of them was born. Their birthdates don’t stop being special because they’re one of many. It was a clear message intentionally conveying how unimportant the date is to him. I guess it’s not my fight and I can’t say this to anyone, but it makes me appreciate the vast distance, lack of contact, and usual apathy. Most of all it makes me furious and bitter on behalf of the person I care about most -- a man who unfathomably harbors no bitterness about the past and this cold father who is oblivious to him.
You make your own family in this world.

Feeling the chill

Gumbo Girl is in Denmark. Gumbo Girl's weather-appropriate clothes are in New York City. This is a problem.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Paris apartments

I think we’ll leave as soon as we arrange an apartment in Paris, which is like pulling teeth. To sum it up: little boxes (not kidding, yesterday I saw a listing for 10 square meters) for lots of money. Shady people trying to trick me into living outside the peripherique. Oh, hell no. I’m not moving to the City of Light to be outside the City of Light, dawg. I need a cafe, a patisserie, a museum of some kind and a river right outside my doorstep. Preferably with lots of eye candy, too, although based on my prior visits I may have to give up on that. I haven’t been knocked out by legions of handsome Frogs on my previous visits.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Will hungry nine-year old boys eat anything? Possibly.

Last night I made dinner for our Danish hosts, the family who has kindly let us invade their boat. I decided to start cooking the day before because a) I hadn’t cooked for 6 people in a while, and b) I’d certainly never done it in a constricted galley. I wanted to make something tasty and mouth-watering. Aaah, I know, I thought. Soup. D. always makes a delicious soup of various vegetables with ground beef. That’s what I have in mind.
The first alarm bell should have been my incomplete shopping excursion, from which I returned at least four ingredients short. In the spirit of improvisation I pressed on. When D. found me at the stove stirring a thick mass of green and brown blobs, he looked concerned. Did you add water? No. Broth? No. A look of dismay flitted across his face, but he quickly rearranged his features as my hackles visibly rose. Whatever, baby, he acceded, and tossed in some red wine when I turned my back.
The time came for our guests/hosts to arrive, with nine-year-old and seven-year-old in tow. There’s something bizarre about welcoming people to their own property, but it was just a moment of awkwardness. They very sweetly presented me with a birthday gift; they’d heard about the whole forgetting-of-birthday debacle. A DVD (yessssss….highly coveted these days. See David Caruso entry.) In return for their kindness, we all squeezed around the table and I presented them with my soup, which was by now masquerading as a stew. Eyes widened and a flurry of salt-shaking ensued immediately after the first bites. I noticed our lady host and her seven-year-old petered out discreetly after a few mouthfuls, but our gentleman host kindly ate his fill. And miraculously the nine-year-old hoovered up the dish in its entirety, leading to the question in the title.
D. thinks they headed straight for the kebab shop when they left.
Next time I’ll make something with a proven track record. Usually I’m a pretty good cook, I swear.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I don't have an international cell phone

Just looked at the Times. Guess I need to take care of that.

ON THE ROAD; Lessons I Have Learned in My 15 Minutes of Fame
You are an idiot if you travel internationally without a cellphone that will work internationally. Meet such an idiot: me.
October 10, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Having a birthday last Sunday has made me pensive and recalcitrant about posting entries. For the last few years, I've turned these milestones into festive events, surrounding myself with a security blanket of friendship to blot out the creeping moodiness. I don't like my birthday, much in the way I don't like New Year's with all its taking stock and resolutions and that goddamned ball in Times Square. It feels like I'm being called into account about something. This year I'm far away from my friends in New York, missing many of the little things that make them special. I couldn't e-vite everyone to my favorite bar to laugh and drink and celebrate with me.
D. is working incessantly and tumbles into bed exhausted by 9pm every night, when he loses the valiant fight to keep his eyes open. I can't even be mad at him for forgetting that Sunday was my birthday; in fact, I felt guilty for not busting my hump, too, so we could commiserate. We spent the day in Copenhagen, wandering through Vesterbro and Christianshavn. The day was tinged with an air of melancholy. It's all a state of mind, but I couldn't get rid of it. I know it will pass.
I kissed the nape of his neck tenderly when I went to bed last night, and he sighed contentedly in his sleep.

Always talking about the weather

Guess what? It's about to rain again. How unexpected in Denmark.
Just kidding, Denmark. You know I love ya.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Linking to other blogs

Still getting the hang of this and feeling like a Luddite. At least I didn't completely screw up the link below. Shout out to The Assimilated Negro, whose blog I just found.

The Assimilated Negro: The Time I Got Arrested For Holding A DVD (Part 1)

The Assimilated Negro: The Time I Got Arrested For Holding A DVD (Part 1)

Friday, October 06, 2006

A burgeoning obsession

Must. Have. Movies. I got very excited when I found Rob Pegoraro's Washington Post article from May 2006 ( that said this:

AOL's In2TV site ( ) offers free streaming video of 30 older Warner Bros. series to anybody running Windows XP-- although you need to install a plug-in if you run Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. The commercials are easily ignored ads outside the video frame, and the video's quality has been good every time. (You can download a separate "Hi-Q" program to view these shows in a higher resolution.)

The single best TV-viewing option online, however, comes at ABC's Web site ( ). From now through June, it's offering free streaming video of "Alias," "Commander in Chief," "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost." And it's doing this without requiring any new software; the video clips play in the Flash browser plug-in already on nearly all Windows and Mac OS X machines.

The commercial breaks consist of just a few 30-second interactive messages from one sponsor. Video playback briefly paused twice on a home DSL connection at the larger of two playback sizes but was completely pleasant otherwise.


Poor David Caruso

Sometimes I'm gung ho to send long emails full of all kinds of fascinating tidbits to my friends. Then I realize that it's just my mind jumping erratically, and maybe that email would be better off in life as a blog post. After all, the blog's purpose is to keep my insanity under wraps. Some of this morning's randomness:

1. Has David Caruso always sucked as an actor? Back in the day he was on NYPD Blue. He left that show after his unmet salary demands. He had superstar status in his own mind -- the nerve of him. I don't remember him stinking like a ripe cheese, though. The point is I've never watched CSI until a few weeks ago in Normandy when I caught a few episodes on tv. Good for learning French, not so good for vegging out. Seemed interesting with all the forensic science, but I only took in about 20% of the dialogue. So when D and I were sitting on the boat wishing for something mindless, CSI came to mind. I paid (idiot...) to download an episode of CSI Miami called Rio.
Mamma mia. What a stinker.
David Caruso's wooden John Wayne I'll-get-you-pilgrim delivery literally brought us to tears of laughter.
"That's right, Eric."
"We're going to get him, Eric."
"I'll leave when this is finished, Eric."
How is this show doing so well in the U.S.? Can someone explain this to me?

2. Why can't Netflix have a version of their service that's like iTunes, so I could just watch their lovely huge selection of movies on my laptop? I don't think they'll mail those little red envelopes all the way to Denmark for me. Maybe I need to suggest this to them. Someone suggested YouTube, so I'm going to check it out. I'm thinking about movies constantly because, thanks to my excellent foresight when moving, I don't have any more English books. And man, am I jonesing for English magazines.

3. I've lost interest in reading the New York Times from cover to cover. It seems much less important than it used to be.

That's enough erraticism for now.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Navel-gazing in Denmark

Woke up this morning to a rainy, windy Denmark. It's rained every day several times a day since I've been here, actually, but I don't mind and like it very much (not having to transport myself to a 9 to 5). Today D is going off to do some non-artist work, and I regret that he has to leave our cocoon. I want to stay in bed but I rouse myself and get up to offer moral support. I don't cook breakfast for him. It doesn't occur to me until it's too late. When he leaves I'm awash in conflicting emotions: indecision about when to leave for Paris to start our new life there, resolve to get writing, nostalgia for my circle of friends, wonder at being alone in an unfamiliar country whose language I don't speak or understand, paralysis at the thought of letting anyone read the ramblings I write. Who wants to read what I have to say? Who am I kidding? And time is passing. An approaching birthday and an email about next summer's college reunion remind me all too well.
The rain just began again.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Thinking back on Normandy

Normandy is a physically imposing place, and you can't help but be struck by its beauty. I didn't mean to make it sound like I didn't like it. I loved being surrounded by that. The house has such huge potential – 6000 sq meters of property, a main house that is rare in its sheer size and will be even more stunning with a minimum of $300,000 of renovations poured into it, colombage to die for, a floor in one room made of rare tropical wood that no longer exists and, when polished, is purple in its hue – but we don’t have the money or time to invest in it at the moment. It’s an incredible deal for someone who loves the craftsmanship and the intricate woodwork of the time. The flip side is that it’s challenging to live there now, while it’s unfinished. I don’t need fancy surroundings, but I need a few more comforts than we had there. Phone, internet connection, and finished floors throughout would do it. I wish we could buy out the big brother’s half and hold onto it for another 10 years. Take a look at Normandy property prices. It will be so valuable. Ah, well.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Friendly Danes

The sailing vein continues for me and D. These folks
are all expert sailors since Denmark is surrounded by
water on 3 sides. We're in a beautiful marina in
Helsingor (Elsinore) with a direct view of Hamlet's
castle and Sweden just in sight across the water.
There are nearly a thousand boats in this marina. Our
friend's boat is very luxurious and very beautiful,
and we weren't on her for 2 seconds when the couple
behind us in a Beneteau 46, who spoke English, invited
us aboard for beers. We hung out with them for a
while, then they led us to the town's big grocery
store in their car. I continue to be impressed by the
magnanimity of the Danes. I'm almost as equally
impressed (in a different way) by the 65% income tax
the guy has to pay. Ouch.
Last night was Culture Night, and all of the
businesses were open late and municipal buildings open
for touring, etc. We visited a bunch of galleries and
tried to see where D can line up studio space. Our
Danish friend, angel that he is, talked to all the
artists for us and then reported back in English. It
was essentially a street festival, too. We had an
elaborate tour of the town hall which, since we speak
nary a word of Danish, was quite funny. I kept
giggling at inappropriate moments. We ended our
evening by walking home to the accompaniment of a
giant display of fireworks over the water.

Monday, September 25, 2006


D. and I were in rural Normandy until a few days ago. I planned to fly back to New York to work for a while, but I was less than enthusiastic about enduring another long separation from him. We were outside a tiny village where his beautiful eighteenth century house, a former barn that’s only partly renovated, is. It sounds very romantic and luxurious. In truth it was a rugged, pastoral existence camping out in the middle of cows, mud, and very large spiders. The barn is surrounded by massive fields of corn and mysterious-looking green things. It’s pitch black at night, no familiar streetlights illuminating the world. The silence, broken only by unidentified rustling, is eerie to me. I’m such a city girl, and when I hear countryside noises I’m scared and feel like I’m at Camp Crystal Lake. No car alarms or horns, no screaming fire engines. We rarely see any other people unless we drive to the nearby village, and then everyone commences staring at these two rare, foreign creatures. Several times I had the urge to slap a couple of people upside the head in the grocery store because they gaped openly, but then I reached deep inside to retrieve my fondness for Le Pen-leaning French farmers.

Obviously a wifi connection is out of the question. I had withdrawal symptoms without my computer crack. The nearest cybercafe was half an hour’s drive away. In fact, I just wrote everything in Word and dropped it into the blog when I got to Antwerp and the beloved, ubiquitous internet.

D. was furiously working on the barn and indulging in all sorts of hard physical labor. Machetes, tractors, unnamed tools. When he wasn’t sweating, he was dealing with sneaky real estate agents to put the whole shebang on the market.* I just listened intently, trying not to smile all the time (which, I hear, is a typical American failing). My French is still in its Me Talk Pretty One Day stage with a 10-second delay to boot, but at least listening to Normandy FM and watching French tv helped my comprehension.

During the nearly two weeks in the country we revised our plans again. A Danish sailing friend from Horta invited us to live on his big yacht, so we’re going there for a few months before we move to Paris. We can work there and replenish the rapidly depleting funds. He even has a group of friends who are artists – great news for D. It sounds crazy to keep changing our plans but after thinking it over we decided we’d never get such a chance again, Within a couple of weeks I’ll be living in Denmark! Now I just have to find my winter clothes, although it’s not as frigid as people think. The weather is on par with London’s or Amsterdam’s. I can handle that.

*Does anyone want to buy a giant, completely underpriced property that needs much love and renovation but will be stunning if you have the time to put into it? Get in touch...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I miss my books.

When I left New York City for good I gave away all my books. Ten years' worth of accumulated library. Those little suckers were my friends, and I miss them sorely. Yesterday as I stood in a Brussels FNAC looking at the two square inches of English language books that I could choose from, I couldn't help but think of my books being lost to me forever. Well. Forever is a little melodramatic in these times of But you get the point.
The Farming of Bones. Lolita. Expat. Nigella Bites.
How could I let you go?

On a completely separate topic, I've decided to stop emailing friends who never write back.