Sep 29, 2009

A life less ordinary


Yesterday's post serves as the perfect example of why I should never press "publish" in the middle of the night, when I can't sleep and I'm feeling sorry for myself.

Because I just end up looking for excuses and blaming hapless passerbys. Like that guy. Yup, I'm talking to you, buddy.

Let's get something straight. I know exactly what I want. If I were so inclined, I could laboriously describe in excruciating detail, every little molecular component that comprises what I want.

Knowing what I want is not the problem. The problem is that getting what I want is not entirely dependent on me, and the bits that are dependent on me are scary.

Which means that what I need isn't advice. What I need is to get a grip.


Anybody got a grip I could borrow?

Sep 28, 2009

Te adhibe in consilium

When you're in the throes of your second mid-life crisis (or the continuation of the first, depending on how you look at it) there is one thing you can be certain of: you will get lots of advice.

Like this.

Dad: Don't quit your job. Wait, you already quit your job? Then hurry up and get another job.

Mom: Get married. Have kids. Drive safely. Stop buying so many shoes.

Best friend no.1: Always date more than one boy at once. Start your own company. Then hire me.

Best friend no.2: Write poetry. Open an inn. Give me your shoes.

Best friend no.3: Write a screenplay. Move to California. Become a blonde.

Most recent date: Sort yourself out. You're a mess.

... you don't say...

Sep 23, 2009

Day 3

So what does one do when one is enjoying one's first week of freedom after having quit from a premiere consulting firm?

Well, first, one avoids answering the phone. Because one is employed in France, and one has to give three months' notice, which means that technically one is supposed to be working. Ouch.

True, I could have asked to be relieved from my notice period, but three months worth of paychecks is difficult to forego if you're Res and have a) an overpriced apartment and b) a slightly problematic shopping habit.

And so I got staffed this morning (yup, you guessed it, it has to do with banking...) But I made sure I accurately "managed expectations" and ended up spending the entire day in my neighbourhood shopping - I mean, walking. Not bad for a day's work. Let's see how long I can pull this off.

Also on the to-do list today was to give notice on the afore-mentioned overpriced apartment. The apartment I love more than anything that I've managed to get my grubby little hands on in the past year. The apartment that is so unbelievably cool it actually makes people put up with me just so they can be invited to see it. The apartment that I have barely spent more than 72 hours in since May.

By Christmas, this beautiful apartment and I will be parting ways. Come January, who knows where little Res will be resting her little unemployed head? Another smaller, more affordable apartment in Paris? Back in the burbs with the parents? Or in a beach hut somewhere in Jamaica? (You never know, some Jamaican boy with a beach hut might be feeling generous... In fact, if you are such a boy, can I just mention that I am relatively tidy and come with my own coffee machine.)

Sep 22, 2009

Et Dieu créa Stephen Fry

I adore Stephen Fry. Absolutely. Adore. Him.

One of the highlights of my life is when I ran into him in Oxford. Literally. Little Res was young and innocent(-ish) in those days, a perky and pesky 19-year old thing pretending to be a grown-up and having champagne cocktails at Oxford Uni student union. Très cool. Except that I was there celebrating having placed very respectably in Oxford's inter-varsity debating competition. Suddenly much less cool. Of course, nerd is the new chic, so whatever...

Anyways, there I was, champagne in hand and just bubbling over with sparkling, intellectual banter when the clumsy chubby girl inside of me performed an intricate and altogether graceless manoeuver which caused me to smack straight into a tall, large man's belly.

The belly of Mr. Stephen Fry himself.

While I don't recall being able to mutter anything more witty than "Oh", I truly feel that we created a strong personal bond that day. In fact, if Stephen was into short French chicks with American accents, he would clearly fall madly in love with me, propose and father all 12 of my impossibly clever children.

Which is why I'm VERY upset that no one told me that Stephen Fry has a blog...

So here it is. Enjoy. And tell Stephen I say hi.

What a difference a day makes

It was 11:02 on Monday when she countersigned. The final act. The thing that sealed it.

At 11:03 I was a free woman. Sort of.

To be perfectly honest with you, the whole experience turned out to be rather anticlimatic. I wasn't expecting a marching band, or fireworks, or a giant Mexican wave, but a hug would have been nice. A couple of "woohoo girls". The perfect pop of a champagne cork. Something.

Instead I lolled around the office for a few hours, doing nothing in particular. For fun, at lunch, I went up to the cafeteria to shock people but despite the brief shadow of jealousy that passed over their features before the stern looks of disapproval returned, I tired of that quickly.

And yet, something was bound to happen. I could feel it. This was an important day, dammit, this was the beginning of the rest of my life. The moment I would be able look back to and say "ha! there it is! right there!"

So I started small. A smile. A spontaneous date for a harvest weekend. A writing partner. Macaroni & cheese and a glass of red wine.

All in all, a not too shabby way to top off the day I quit my job.

Sep 16, 2009

Et Dieu créa la femme

There is an art to procrastination. And I am currently perfecting it. So quiet, please. I'm concentrating.

In the course of my artistic endeavours today, I watched CNN's "Revealed" on my favourite designer, Diane von Furstenberg. Now 63 years old and effortlessly glamourous, without the slightest surgical alteration, Diane had this to say on the subject of aging (I'm paraphrasing):
"I loved my life, I would hate to have any of it erased."

I thought that was nice. Then again, if you're Diane von Furstenberg, life must be pretty sweet anyway, wrinkles or no.
Fortunately, if you can't be her, you can at least wear her dresses and hope to channel a little timeless chic that way (which is what I'll be doing at the wedding this weekend; careful, boys!)
So ladies, repeat after me:
Feel like a woman. Wear a dress. (And some outrageous heels. And sexy lingerie. And maybe some dangly earings. And mascara. And - damn, it's hard work feeling like a woman, where the heck are my sweatpants?)

Sep 15, 2009

C'est la rentrée

That's it. Summer is over. Yes, yes, I know, officially there are 7 days to go, but let's not kid ourselves. The miniskirts and flipflops have been stuffed in the back of the wardrobe, the black trouser suits thrown on, it's only a matter of time before we start singing bloody Christmas carols.

[excessive whining redacted by censor]

As far as vacations go, however, mine ended on a definite high, complete with great spying adventure reminiscent of the Cold War in the company of the James-Bond-esque Wentworth. A man whose greatest claim to fame is to be the only person alive today to have been punched by a cat. God only knows why he's not in the Guinness Book.

And so the fearless Wentworth and I embarked upon a quest across the Iron Curtain to locate, approach, and photograph the house my mother was born in. In a bizarre turn of events, on the way we encountered various members of my family hundreds of miles from where they were supposed to be, were practically rendered deaf by church bells, shrank by at least 8 centimetres, were fed flaming aluminium swans and attempted to break into a hotel. And I would tell you more about all those things but then I would have to take you out back and shoot you.

Suffice it to say, the mission was a success.

And now I have a few other things to sort out.

Sep 8, 2009

Everybody say Ohm

So I went to the Tuileries yesterday afternoon and got picked up twice in the space of 20 minutes. Twice! It's not like I was even wearing anything special (jeans and a T-shirt, nothing to write home about, really). I guess it's that soft scent of dying summer in the air that sends these boys' hormones all a-flutter. Hey, I'm not complaining; though I did decline both the coffee offered by straight-to-the-point gentleman no.1 and the "verre" offered by chatty Rémi, my second suitor.

And I'm telling you, it's a good thing the sun is shining, I'm still on vacation, and I appear to be attracting men who have nothing better to do than to wander around the park in the middle of the afternoon, because otherwise I'd be spending my time battling furiously to repress the onslaught of a major anxiety attack. As it is, I am teetering on the border of mild hysteria with a dash of melodrama and a sprinkle of self-pity.

There are several perfectly good reasons why this is happening which I won't get into for the moment (and no, it's not menopause) but it's threatening to take the fun out of my vacation. Especially when I've promised myself I wouldn't shop (new Aubade underwear and a few T-shirts from the Gap don't count as shopping).

So I'm sticking to a strict regimen of green tea (totally zen, right?), sunbathing (vitamin D, very good for zen-ness) and my first Parisian pilates session tomorrow morning (there's a zen master in me just dying to get out and say ohm).

Totally. Sorted.

Everything. Is. Under. Control.


Sep 3, 2009

Itsy Bitsy Res

I've been feeling rather introspective lately (or as The Analyst puts it, "philosophical", which I like because it makes me sound clever rather than self-obsessed). I've noticed that generally when people have no idea where they're going, they start looking back, as if the past held some kind of a clue. And it might.

So I looked back.

And found this photo.

This is Res when she was a baby. You can tell because it says "baby" on it. In case you were going to mistake me with a small sea otter or a large loaf of home-baked bread.
In fact, this is the first ever picture taken of me, on the first ever day of my existence. If you look really closely, tilt your head to the side and squint a little, you can sort of see the lawyer/consultant/frustrated writer that I would grow up to become. No?

So let's see if we can find some clues.

Personally, I think I look pretty fat. And rather sleepy. Maybe this means I should move to Spain where people eat and sleep all the time (no offence to my lovely Spanish friends). Except I don't speak Spanish.

I also have those long, skinny fingers stretched out as if I'm reaching for something. Or playing a piano. Maybe I should learn to play the piano (damn those 18 years of violin lessons).

Also apparent is my rather disastrous taste in clothes and lack of eyebrows. Both of these problems have been fixed by now, though, so I think we can look past them.

Right, well, that wasn't terribly useful. Unless I am actually supposed to be a Spanish-speaking, piano-playing, fat, eyebrow-less person.

Which could be right, but then there's this photo, which clearly indicates I have a hidden passion for sheep (oh dear)...

Sep 2, 2009

Marcel, Bernard, James and Res

The Americans are a pretty cool bunch. With the notable exception of a certain former President, and despite what the rest of the world thinks of them, they're generally quite clever and have invented lots of useful gadgets like the telephone and the ipod and electricity.

But when Americans want to be really cool, they steal stuff from the French.

Like Frank Sinatra's "My Way" (originally Claude François' "Comme d'habitude").

And kissing.

And then there's Le Questionnaire de Proust, which was first stolen by Bernard Pivot before getting knicked again by James Lipton for Inside the Actor's Studio. Maybe not quite as cool as kissing, but also a fun way to get to know someone.

So here are the 10 things you always wanted to know about Res, using the Lipton version.

1. What is your favourite word?
In French, catimini. In English, serendipity. Apparently I like words that end in an "i" sound. Makes them sound happier.

2. What is your least favourite word?
In French, meuf. In English, grunt. But to be honest, if used in the right context, all words are great. It's not their fault some of them don't sound as pretty.

3. What turns you on?
Kissing (I'm not French for nothing). Dancing. Someone who looks me in the eyes. A boy who lightly places his hand on the small of my back when we're crossing the street. Hold on, was I supposed to pick just one?

4. What turns you off?
Vulgarity. Violence. People who have no passion.

5. What sound or noise do you love?
The sound of the cello. I'm serious. It's beautiful. Also the sound of someone who whispers 'I love you' and chokes up a little when they do it.

6. What sound or noise do you hate?
Yelling. Especially if followed by the sound of someone throwing something at my head.

7. What is your favourite curse word?
Saperlipopette. But to actually use: Putain de Bordel de Merde. 3 for the price of 1.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
More like what profession wouldn't I like to attempt... OK, seriously though, novelist. Less seriously: stand-up comedian, ballerina, cellist, Christiane Amanpour, Coco Chanel, someone who gets paid to hike all over the world (what would that be called?!)

9. What profession would you not like to do?
Is it bad if I say consultant?! Hmmm... cleaning lady. Already painful enough cleaning after myself. And arms dealer. Or pimp. Or banker. Not that those things are the same in any way.

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Come on, everybody's waiting to throw you a big party! Champagne's on me!

Good day sunshine

The sea's at a balmy 27°C. The pool at an even balmier 29°C. The sky is turquoise blue. The air smells like lavender and eucalyptus. I think there's a pretty fair chance I've actually died of swine flu and gone to heaven. Which is totally fine by me. I'm even feeling good about my muscles aching from the hike yesterday. The only thing missing are my girls (and boys). Though the parents are pretty cool too. (si si, je vous aime!)