28 May 2008

Post-Paris groceries

I was let loose in an American retail supermarket today. I'd barely rolled into the produce section proper when the power went out, for a second. This happened yesterday, too, but the power didn't come back on for a while. Anyway, I stood there with my big empty shoppin' cart wondering if I should go further. What if the power went out for good, and I was stuck back there somewhere in complete darkness? The power didn't go out, although there was a brief thunderstorm, at least a recorded one that signaled the routine misting of the produce.

Here are some highlights, aside from the ones in pink-toed-Texas A&M-flip-flop-wearin' girl's hair.

Tropicana
Coastal Groves Raspberry Lemonade
Um, because it sounds delicious. Also, American juice cartons are double the size of French juice cartons. Go figure.

Horizon Reduced Fat milk
Deeply miss lait entier, but this will have to do, as it did before.

Diet Dr. Pepper
Hell yeah! Miam-miam! as the French say. Am going to drink it with ice cubes!

Kellogg's
Special K Red Berries cereal
To replace the berries cereal of the Champion or Monoprix variety. Am guessing it pales in comparison.

yogurt
That's right, all lowercase yogurt. Supermarket was missing the rest of the yogurt aisle.

Thomas English Muffins
Yes. Good with butter. Would be better with Président butter.

butter
All lowercase again. American retail supermarket brand.

Zapp's Cajun Crawtators potato chips
Need I say more?

Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
Am hoping it tastes like the mushroom soup my father and I shared with krokets at the Roosendaal train station.

I couldn't find lardons. Sure, there was bacon. It just wasn't cut into small strips or cubes and parceled into an infinite number of brands. I also couldn't find sorbet (but Blue Bell does make a Southern Hospitality Ice Cream—Homemade Vanilla with chunks of pineapples, roasted pecans and a strawberry sauce swirl). Last week I requested sorbet, and my parents returned with sherbet.

To those of you who are in Paris a bit longer, enjoy your grocery store before it's back to American retail supermarket. But don't worry, Zapp's and Dr. Pepper await you.

Love is everywear!

27 May 2008

Contents

If you were wondering, Who's that girl [supposed to be] on the cover of Fingertips? well, it's 26-year-old Mia Ball. No, not Kristin Scott Thomas, as you might have guessed from the cover. Or Hilary Swank, as you might have guessed from page 1. Mia Ball—you don't know her. But apparently, in 1995, she'd been modeling for Fingertips for seven years, poor girl. And she fit Gap Kids? A mini skirt from GAP KIDS!, no less. Yeah, let's not go there.

The feature Remember Me? should be good. I mean, it's a reunion, a "Fingertip put together date." Like talk show make-overs and Oprah giveaways and Fingertips' own Cover Contest. It's been 36 years since they last got it on (pardon my crassness, I've been reading fuckin' Stephen Clark's A Year in the Merde), and what surprises do they have for "eachother?" Is he gay? Is he a woman? Is she a man? Is she still a woman and, multiple divorces à la Lily van der Woodsen later, wants to get back together with her old flame? Speaking of Lily van der Woodsen, check out her and Bart's wedding website. What do you think of the music? Slightly Addams Family-esque, no?

The feature Just Us Four—models reminiscing about a shared vacation (photo shoot?)—may be fodder for my therapist. Had I always wanted to stay at a Marriott hotel? My family tended to stay at the trusty Holiday Inn. Never Motel 6, but never Marriott, either. And, why, do I still want to be a model?

Love is Everywear!
I don't want to wear love, you stupid magazine. I want to be in it! Oh.

Pretty in Pink
I still haven't seen this movie. But you have, right?


Nonexistant word count:
alikeness, lustrious, Marriot, oldy



26 May 2008

At your Fingertips

In February 1995, when I was eleven, I began work on my first magazine, Fingertips. At the time, I was probably "reading" my sister's Seventeens and Sassys and wanted to make my own. I can't say what inspired the name of my magazine.

Thirteen years later, I'd say I wanted to create a girls' guide to everything (almost everything, since I hadn't kissed a boy yet). I wanted to create something readily available and accessible—something at your fingertips. A magazine to help you feel good to your fingertips. At a time when maybe you're living life by your fingertips.

The February issue became the February/March issue, which eventually became the February/March/April/May/June issue.

The Fashion & Beauty feature Pretty in Pink ("You've seen Molly Ringwald's dress in the movie. There are many more! See what's pretty in pink.") reminds me just a little bit of the current NAFNAF ad campaign. It features five dresses (one design, five shades of pink) with "the most talented pig in Paris."

I look forward to sharing the first issue of Fingertips with you. Stay tuned.

23 May 2008

Once, there were tulips.

What's wrong with this picture?

Last weekend, my dad and I visited our old house in the southern Netherlands. It was a Sunday evening, and through the windows I could see people doing whatever is they do on Sunday evenings. Sitting on the couch, that sort of thing.

They were people who weren't us, people who didn't know us, people who probably didn't care that we used to eat there, sleep there, laugh there, cry there, live there. Maybe I had expected to see us—younger versions of us—in there. If I felt anything, I felt that it wasn't ours anymore.

Once, there were tulips. Once, the neighbors' children and I built a giant castle out of snow.

Back at my parents' house, I searched through every album and finally found this photo. It's probably something like twenty years old.

Oversharing

My first day back in Houston, I woke up around 6 AM next to my laptop. I often sleep next to it. In bed, I read emails and this Sunday's New York Times Magazine's cover story by Emily Gould about the dangers of blogging and "oversharing." As I read Emily's story, I considered deleting Billy, my Facebook account, my Flickr account—everything. Well, almost everything. I figured I should stay on LinkedIn, as I need a job.

Obviously, I haven't deleted anything. But Emily Gould got me thinking.

Back in 2006, when I was 24, my life was cozy and safe. I had just been promoted to associate editor at the publishing house where I’d been working since I graduated from college, and I was living with my boyfriend, Henry, and two cats in a grubby but spacious two-bedroom apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I spent most of my free time sitting with Henry in our cheery yellow living room on our stained Ikea couch, watching TV. And almost every day I updated my year-old blog, Emily Magazine, to let a few hundred people know what I was reading and watching and thinking about.

I identified with the 24-year-old Emily Gould, minus the job and the boyfriend and the cats and the Greenpoint apartment. But I do spend most of my free time watching TV, if America's Next Top Model, Gossip Girl, and The Tudors downloaded from iTunes count. And I update Billy almost every day, sometimes several times a day. (I wish I'd thought of Ann Magazine.) On average, I get about 14 people per day. Granted, someone in Kentucky Googles "where does fondant au chocolat come from?" and, bam, he or she is looking at Billy.

After reading Emily Gould's article, I went back to sleep and dreamed that my school had flooded, and we were all picked up in Hummers.


In the afternoon, my mother drove me to our dentist, in Chinatown. Our dentist, a family friend, talks to you, in Mandarin, as he cleans your teeth. Sometimes he asks questions, to which I somehow respond, most of the time with an "Uh." Generally, the questions are yes or no questions. But today, he asks, "So did you learn anything in Paris?" Actually the Mandarin literally translates to something like "Did you yield any harvest?"

I really don't like this question. Yesterday, a Customs Officer asked me this, too. I told him the Customs Officer that I didn't know. But I tried to answer my dentist. In Mandarin, of course.

"Not only did we have architecture class, we had a movie class…"

"Oh?"

"And we had walking tours. Lots of walking tours. Led by a woman who knows a lot about walking tours. And I got to practice my French."
Last September, I wrote about the Texas Renaissance Festival (I didn't go), after which my sister commented that I needed to post the picture "to convey the full glory of the moment." I think the first photo does this. In the second photo, I am modeling another dress that was probably too expensive.

21 May 2008

Short film

My last day in Paris I stayed in and packed. I left my flat once to buy a baguette and a pastry. I was hoping for a warm baguette—it's unlike anything else—but no luck. The man at the bakery also seemed fed up when I decided that, after he had wrapped an éclair for me, I also wanted a slice of tarte aux pommes. He let out a little puh and said something like, You want a box?!

No, I said, don't worry about it! Geez.

My dad's been here a week now. He came to take me home, essentially. Maybe he was worried I'd accidentally miss my flight. While I packed, or watched Gossip Girl and napped, my dad went to see the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, for which I lent him my camera. "Did you take some photos?" I asked.

"Yes."

"Did you film anything?"

"No."

Perhaps the best films are the ones you didn't know you were making. You know you love me. xo xo

video

18 May 2008

New food blog

After thirteen years of being a vegetarian, my friend Laura is eating meat. I was there for her first bite. You can read about it in her new blog.

I am not Morgan Spurlock, and I don’t particularly want to be supersized. I am not going to try to eat as many species of animals as possible in the next two and a half months, nor am I going to try to see how high I can push my blood cholesterol levels.

Nor do I wish for this to be a food diary of the fatuously enthusiastic "I ate this! Then I ate that!" variety. Food blogs are not necessarily relevant to anyone aside from the writer, and I am not so narcissistic as to think that what goes in my mouth is in and of itself a fascinating topic.

-A Temporary Omnivore in Paris

14 May 2008

Oh, rain.

After weeks of sun, it rained and cooled down. I've been trying to stay cool for days with pastis, a haircut (yes, another), and a box of mini Picard ice pops. Although they were a hit with my sister and brother-in-law, I'm pretty sure we were all thinking the same thing—too mini. The ice pops are no bigger than your average thumb. But they do come in five "fun" flavors: Coca-Cola, orange, lemon, strawberry, and pineapple.

On a similar note, Sadaharu Aoki's ice cream looks delicious. My sister was probably so excited by the photos that she didn't catch that the ice cream is only sold in the Port-Royal and Vaugirard boutiques. She also believed that they were macarons (not to be confused with macaroons)—her favorite—with ice cream in them.

After drooling over shoes and bags and pretty much everything else at Printemps, my sister and I set off to find this ice cream at 40 Boulevard Haussemann. At this point, I had only had coffee, so I was ready for this jelly. In short, we see all of Galeries Lafayette (including the roof, which offers an impressive view of Paris) as well as ask several salespeople, in French, about Sadaharu Aoki's-pâtisserie-that-sells-ice-cream-macarons before we find Sadaharu Aoki's corner at Lafayette Gourmet. Sans delicious looking ice cream. But my sister does buy a box of macarons that were pretty effing delicious. We sat in Square Louis XVI and ate a few of them. Then it rained.

13 May 2008

The non-judging Breakfast Club



Since I watched episode 16 of Gossip Girl, which I religiously buy and download from iTunes, I've been, obviously, dying to watch episode 17—no pun intended. Having to wait for the next episode to appear on iTunes is definitely one of the downsides to living in Paris. If I see the title "All About My Brother" again, I'm going to scream. "Woman on the Verge." We Americans in Paris want Woman on the Verge. Before I do finally get to find out what exactly Serena did—aside from killing someone—I will have watched all the best clips I can find on YouTube and even some cast photo shoots in front of a green screen.

For those of you who don't watch because there aren't any gay characters, well, you can watch now.

Unfortunately, episode 18, cleverly titled "Much 'I Do' About Nothing is the season finale. But, thank god, there will be a second season with 24 new episodes this fall.

12 May 2008

<3

I've been meaning to post a link to the winning entry of the Modern Love College Essay Contest held by The New York Times.

Want to Be My Boyfriend? Please Define

Apparently, The New York Times received 1,200 essays from 365 schools in 46 states and Puerto Rico, including mine. Here is an excerpt:

Later, you find yourself in a LDR with A Real Catch who rolls his own Gauloises cigarettes and drinks mate. He writes you five-page letters from medical school. He writes you beautiful emails. This is before people are using Skype. Before long-distance lovers are checking in with each other via video calls. Pixel-perfect 1280-by-800 resolution. This is before your monthly expenses consist of cigarettes, Skype Credit, and airplane tickets. No more mixtapes and postage stamps. In any case, your LDR lasts about eight months.

I'm so full, I can barely blog.

These days, the green lawns are covered with Parisians and tourists alike. They read, sleep, snack, smoke, play the guitar (ick), tap away on their laptops (some parks have Wi-Fi). As scarfs and boots disappear, tattoos and berry-colored toenails appear. We are wearing much less, but we are not eating any less.

At all hours, brasseries, cafés, restaurants spill over with customers. They sit under the hot sun, facing the street, sipping cafés or Coca-Cola with a lemon slice and a few less ice cubes than Americans like myself are used to. But I don't mind.

Tonight, I ate at Le Bistrologue yet again. Pastis, charcuterie, souris d'agneau, Côtes du Rhône, and fondant au chocolat. Souris d'agneau translates to lamb shank but "literally means 'lamb mice,' most probably because of their shape," writes Clotilde Dusoulier of the food blog Chocolate & Zucchini. At "The Logue," as my flatmate calls it, the lamb shank is served next to a heap of couscous with small raisins. The lamb falls off the bone; it is delicious. The fondant au chocolat was comparable to cold mousse, served in two one-centimeter slices. Not really what I was anticipating. Order the crème brûlée instead.

My neighbor Mike had the confit de canard. Back at his flat, Mike described feeling like a beached whale. Across the hall, I'm so full, I can barely blog.

Speaking of Chocolate & Zucchini, my sister arrived Paris with Clotilde Dusoulier's new book, Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris. I will let you know if her recommendations are any good.

07 May 2008

On blogging and things at large

If only I were as prolific as I was during charrette.

I'm not here for much longer (in Paris); I could begin a countdown. But I'd rather not (fifteen days).

When I feel at ease somewhere, I like knowing that I'm going to be there for, at the very least, a month. But that's no longer the case. So I'm a bit sad. But wherever I go next, depending on the three-letter word (begins with a j), chances are I'll be there for a while. Maybe I can finally put up some bookshelves. And marry new books with old ones. Acquire some wine glasses.

On a happier note, I await, first, a friend from Houston, and then my family—sister, brother-in-law, father. When my father arrives, a trip to the Netherlands is in order, as I haven't been back since I left seventeen years ago. Whoa.

06 May 2008

The Three States of America

Her Majesty's swan takes you to my latest Flickr set.

I'm back in Paris from a weekend in Reading, which happened to coincide with the May Day bank holiday.

Friday evening I arrive at the beautiful St Pancras International, where I am greeted by a smiling friend whom I haven't seen for more than two years. There's something nerve-racking and wonderful about searching for a familiar face in a crowd. Especially when that face is the French version of Clive Owen or Paul Rudd.

From Paddington, my friend and I take the First Great Western to Reading. Though having chosen the Quiet Carriage, we sit behind a group of kids drinkin' beers and naming celebrities from A to Z. They're on J or R, I'm not sure. My guess is J.

"Julia Roberts!"

When they are stuck, Big Guy One shouts, "Drink while you think!" The dark-haired girl comes up with "Drink till you think!" Which they all love. From time to time, the girls pause to point their thin silver cameras at themselves. All their photos will look the same. Later, Big Guy Two gathers the girls round. You wonder which one he likes.

"Smiles all around!"

That night begins a faithful routine of—more or less—apéritifs (pastis), saucisson, wine (red, French), cheese (Reblochon and Époisses de Bourgogne), bread (sourdough), and digestifs (whiskey). And in the morning, coffee and crumpets.

Saturday we go to London. A stroll through Hyde Park, a nap on the grass. By the time we've crossed the Millennium Bridge and arrive at the Tate Modern, the sky has changed from blue to gray. Hungry and a bit tired, we have a bite at the Tate Café 2—egg mayonnaise and watercress on sourdough bread for me and ham, rocket and fontina cheese focaccia for my friend.

Sunday we go to Oxford, which, for a Harry Potter/Gossip Girl fan, is a treat. Rosy-cheeked Nate Archibald types biking with lacrosse gear. Chuck Bass types at historic The Turf Tavern. Half expect to see Gwyneth Paltrow as Sylvia Plath biking by (except it was at Cambridge where Sylvia Plath met Ted Hughes).

Monday, my first bank holiday, is spent at The Hobgoblin (2 Broad Street, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 2BH) trying different ales and, as my departure looms, hoping for time to stand still.

But reality sets in. Back at St Pancras, at the Eurostar terminal, I say hello to a black man at the x-ray machine.

"Konichiwa," he replies.

"I'm not Japanese."

He thinks for a second. "Ni hao."

"Yes, that's right. But I'm American, so I speak English."

"You come from America? California? New York?" As if America is made up of these two states.

"Texas."

"Oh wow, Texas."

"Bye."

01 May 2008

On Wi-Fi

For $29.99, you'll never have to ask "Is there wireless?" again.

Here at ThinkGeek we're pretty lazy when it comes to technology. We expect our gadgets to do all the busywork while we focus on the high level important tasks like reading blogs. That's why we hate to have to crack open our laptops just to see if there is any wi-fi internet access about... and keychain wi-fi detectors, we would have to actually remove them from our pockets to look at them. But now thanks to the ingenious ThinkGeek robot monkeys you can display the current wi-fi signal strength to yourself and everyone around you with this stylish Wi-Fi Detector Shirt. The glowing bars on the front of the shirt dynamically change as the surrounding wi-fi signal strength fluctuates. Finally you can get the attention you deserve as others bow to you as their reverential wi-fi god, while geeky chicks swoon at your presence. You can thank us later.
ThinkGeek

Or you can just refer to The Washington Post's list of Wi-Fi hotspots.

What do you wanna do?

Have visitors in Paris? Here are some ideas:

Lay out or picnic with a friend (or a group) on Champ de Mars, the long, formal garden between the Tour Eiffel and Ecole Militaire. The view of the Tour Eiffel from here is just fine.

Visit the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature) for an array of taxidermy, organized in the many rooms of the Hôtel de Guénégaud. 62 rue des Archives.

Have a Leffe or two at Café Hugo at Place des Vosges. Wi-Fi too. 22 Place des Vosges.